August 29 – Tuesday

It rained, thundered and lightninged off and on all night long. The lightening was, I believe, sheet rather than fork (although I never poked my head out the of the tent to look), and the thunder was way behind it so I concluded it was fairly far away. The rain came and went – every time I thought it was going to stop I would hear it coming again – like a train in the distance that got closer and closer and then was upon you full force.

Everything was totally soaked when I got up, but I packed the tent, fly and ground cover up and just stuck it in one of my waterproof bags hoping I could dry it out later.

We were on our way right at 10 – as we left Dax there’s a large figure of local sprinting hero and Tour de France green jersey winner (in the sixties) Andre Darrigade in one of the many traffic circles. Traffic circles (round-abouts as they call them here) are really big everywhere in Europe, and many have arrangements of trees, flowers, statue, etc.

Headed southeast towards Pau, but turned off the main highway before we got there. Stopped at a road-side park for lunch – beautiful little pond and lots of trees in a very lovely valley in the foothills of the Pyrenees.

It was a nice day so we decided to keep going down into Spain. Went thru Oloron Ste. Marie then took the road over the peak of Col du Somport rather than going thru the tunnel, and passed into Spain somewhere near the summit. We did hit some rain along the way, but it wasn’t too bad.

Continued south to the town of Jaca then turned west for a bit thru very flat, dry countryside. It already seems very different here than the French side of the mountains – smaller, scrubbier trees and drier looking.

Turned south again onto a quieter road and after a bit came upon some spectacular red stone outcroppings and mesa – saw a sign for a campground and decided it looked like a place we could stop for a night or two. It’s a very lovely place in the middle of an olive orchard.
Spread my soaked tenting stuff out on the wooden fence to dry, then we went down to the restaurant for a drink – sat on the outside terrace looking across the swimming pool and on to the red rock formations – not a bad spot to relax! The wind started to pick up so I went back to check on my hanging tent gear – it was dry enough so I set up under an olive tree and went back down to the restaurant.

Colin left at one point and when he came back told me I better peg down the tent again – the wind had uprooted it and the only reason it hadn’t been completely blown away was that the campervan was in the way. He had stuck a couple of the pegs back in to hold it in place until I could get back and re-set it. Once I’d pounded the pegs in again and thrown all of my bags in to hold it down I figured it’d be ok.

Had a lovely dinner of steak with mushrooms and rice, then went back down to the restaurant for another glass of wine – very nice dry red, probably local. The wind had picked up again and the sky was full of black clouds so we moved inside the restaurant. There are lots of paintings right on the walls that are very colourful and interesting.
Back at the campervan we chatted for quite a while, then I moved back to my tent intending to read for a bit but was so tired I just turned my little light off and fell asleep.

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