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East of Eden

on Tue Apr 10, 2018 6:01 pm





22 hours of travel on 6 trains brought us from Langenfeld Germany to Montargis France.
331k of biking in 6 days took us along the dirt path of the Canal d'Orleans, the beautiful Loire Valley and into the heartland of France where we arrived at our first host farm.  Read the blog post about our first bike trip in France.




Langenfeld Germany > Montargis France
>Combreaux
>Meung-sur-Loire
>Blois
>la forêt domaniale de Loches
>Azay-le-Ferron
>Domaine du Verger































































































Last edited by OrgonitePlus on Tue Apr 10, 2018 6:36 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Re: East of Eden

on Tue Apr 10, 2018 6:03 pm




10-Apr
12-Apr
 
13-Apr
14-Apr
15-Apr
16-Apr
17-Apr
18-Apr
19-Apr
22-Apr
26-Apr

Domaine du Verger > Bordeaux
>Langon
>Fontet
>Buzet-sur-Baïse
>Valence-d'Agen
>Montauban
>Grisolles
>Deyme
>St-Martin-Lalonde
>Carcassonne
>Avignon
>La Bergerie

Train
Train
25k
57k
59k
59k
30k
50k
61k
40k
Train
53k























































































































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Re: East of Eden

on Tue Apr 10, 2018 6:04 pm






18-May
 
19-May
20-May
21-May
22-May
24-May
25-May
26-May
27-May
28-May
29-May
30-May
31-May
01-June
02-June

La Bergerie > Orange
>Tours
>Savigny-en-Véron
>Saint-Mathurin-sur-Loire
>Montiean-sur-Loire
>Nantes
>Blaine
>Rochefort-en-Terre
>Rohan
>Cahren
>Carhaix
>Roscoff
>Cork Ferry Terminal
>Cork (downtown)
>Clonakilty
>Glensallagh Gardens

25k
Train
63k
61k
78k
69k
62k
74k
72k
58k
56k
87k
Ferry
30k
52k
52k













































































































































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Re: East of Eden

on Tue Apr 10, 2018 6:06 pm



571k in 10 days of biking.  Starting in the southern reaches of West Cork we headed north, circumnavigated the Berra Peninsula, cut through Macgillycuddy's Reeks in Co. Kerry, traveled along the coast of Co. Clare, and into Galway for a few days rest before heading to our next host farm  outside of Portumna.  Read the blog post for the scoop on this hilly ride.



26-Jun
27-Jun
28-Jun
29-Jun
30-Jun
31-Jun
1-Aug
2-Aug
6-Aug
7-Aug

Bantry > Castletownbere
>Kenmare
>Killarny
>Banna Strand
>Kilrush
>Doolin
>Kinvara
>Galway
>Aughrim
>Sunny Meadows

50k
66k
53k
53k
83k
78k
45k
44k
63k
36k









































































































































































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Re: East of Eden

on Tue Apr 10, 2018 6:07 pm






462k in 8 days of biking.  Starting in Galway City we headed west to the coast of the Connemara region, then headed north, and passed the Twelve Bens, Connemara National Park, and the Kylemore Abbey before arriving in Westport. From Westport we cycled west on the Great Northern Greenway to Achill Island and onward to Keel and Keem Beaches before heading back inland and arriving at our third Irish host farm. Check out our blog post, Fox Weddings, for the details of this ride. 


31-July
1-Aug
2-Aug
3-Aug
4-Aug
5Aug
9-Aug
10-Aug

Galway City > Spidal
>Gurteen Bay
>Clifden
>Renvyle
>Westport
>Keel, Achill Island
>Castlebar
>Mill House Farm

20k
78k
32k
44k
68k
70k
74k
76k





























































































































































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Re: East of Eden

on Tue Apr 10, 2018 6:09 pm
October 26, 2014
[size=68]PARIS OR BUST[/size]






Here it was, the beginning of October and the weather in Alsace was holding out.  After a mild, wet July and August, the continued sunshine was much welcomed in NE France, and it made us begin to reconsider our plans for the last ride of our trip. We had originally thought that we would train down south from Truttenhausen and do a few days riding in the Pyrenees before arriving at our last farm stay, but given the good weather up north we opted to bike from Truttenhausen to Paris where we could leave our bikes and train down south without all the hassle (and cost) of lugging the bikes on and off trains all the way across the country yet again. It was over 600km from the farm to Paris and we only had 8 days to do it in, so we had set ourselves up for our most ambitious ride yet.
Our early departure that first morning made for a brisk coast downhill out of the Vosges mountains and into the wine growing foothills that surround the farm. Those first few pedals away are always awash with mixed emotions: we had made strong connections at Truttenhausen, making it difficult to leave, but the feeling of freedom, the near sensation of flying as we cruised downhill drew our minds away from their comfortable roosts in anticipation of another stretch of uncharted territory.
By mid-morning there was promise of another sunny day. We stopped in a nearby town for dinner provisions and a pastry treat and continued north along the foothills of the Vosges. This was familiar territory from our previous day trips in the region. In hindsight we took for granted this stunning landscape and the lovely sunshine and regrettably neglected to pull out the camera once. 
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By the end of the first day we connected up with the EuroVelo 5 which took us west over the Vosges mountains along the Marne-Rhine canal and into the Marne Valley.
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That first night we shared a campsite almost exclusively with Germans on holiday for the Day of German Unity marked by the removal of the Berlin wall. Many of the travelers were here for the rock climbing along the cliffs of the mountain pass.
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We passed one quaint ecluse (lock house) turned private residence after another along this canal path, completely oblivious to the fact that this would be our only significant section of dedicated cycle path of the entire trip. By midmorning on the second day the canal path ended and we were left to navigate zig-zagging country roads and mid-sized autoroutes the rest of the way to Paris.
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On top of the road conditions not being ideal, the landscape was not particularly stunning once we left Alsace and made our way into the department of Lorraine. Also it began to rain, and continued on and off for the next 6 days.
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Brief moments of sunshine allowed us to snap a few photos or eat a quick lunch, but it never let up for too long.
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It got to the point where we were happy as long as it wasn't pouring on us as we traveled along autoroutes with semis speeding past.
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A few times we were temped off-road onto the dirt track that occasionally accompanied the canal that we were roughly following west to Paris. Often this provided a nice break from the traffic but a few times the path unexpectedly ended and we were forced to navigate rough roads to the nearest main road, or worse, back track to the last overpass.
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A few moments of color and beauty reminded us of how much we loved being on the bikes, which was helpful on these long wet days of riding. Day two was a record breaking 105k in the saddle.
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Most camp grounds in France close at the end of September with just a few staying open until mid October. Some stay open year-round but that seemed especially uncommon in this part of the country. Other rides had often provided multiple camp options on any given night, but this ride we struggled to find the sites necessary to piece together our entire route. This château camping in downtown Bar-le-Duc was probably the most stunning.
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Another stunning stop along the way was Place Stanislas, in the town of Nancy.
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The scale of this pedestrian space is spectacular and makes for a great place to hold installations and other seasonal displays, like the town's grand Christmas tree. When we visited the town was hosting an installation of rural themes with a clear modernist aesthetic. Educational horticultural displays were interspersed with outdoor furniture crafted from sometimes unconventionally reclaimed materials. It was very well done and seemed to add to the grandeur of the space rather than detract from it.
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Apart from the square in Nancy much of Lorraine was a little rough around the edges. This changed immediately once we entered Champagne. The grape fields are vast, orderly, and immaculate, and an air of wealth seems to permeate the place. Our campground the first night in Champagne was on a vineyard that offered better shower facilities than most of the hotels we've stayed in.
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Along with the lux accommodations that night came violent wind and rain. The next morning, day 7, we were exhausted from several nights of poor sleep, and the rain wasn't letting up. We were still two full days ride from Paris and as much as we wanted the satisfaction of biking the whole way, we wanted a warm, dry, wind and rain free night's sleep even more. We biked to the nearest train station and made it to Paris by mid afternoon.
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We weren't staying long in Paris as this was just a quick stop off to put our bikes in storage and catch a train down south. We were graciously hosted for one night by our second WarmShowers host, Laurence, in the lively Montmartre neighborhood of the 18th arrondissement. Laurence has also done several WWOOFing stays in the last few years so we had plenty to talk about. Thanks Laurence for a lovely meal, a good night's rest, and for holding a few of our things until we return to Paris in November. Heide's handmade bike bags were admired and her helmet was given royal placement.
With the bikes in safe keeping we had the luxury of boarding a TGV rapid train which got us to Lourdes, near the Spanish boarder, in just 5 hours. 30k south of Lourdes, in the Luz Valley, we will be lending a hand for the next 3 weeks at our last WWOOFing placement, Ferme des Cascades
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Re: East of Eden

on Tue Apr 10, 2018 6:10 pm
[size=68]MY LIFE AS A GOAT[/size]



Patrick Lee Coughlin

Established in 1975 on difficult, hilly land above the Luz Valley in the Pyrenees Mountains, Ferme des Cascades has seen its fair share of transitions. Starting from nothing, Jean-Michel Gabriel purchased 2 acres of steep, marginal land per year for seven years and built up a barn, dairy, and herd of goats. In 1990, a young british gal named Susie, who was traveling through to Spain with visions of eventually moving to South America, was lending a hand on the farm. Tragically during her stay a fire started in the hay and burned everything down. Susie ended up sticking around to help rebuilding the farm, dedicating herself to the care of the goats and the cheese making, while Jean-Michel rebuilt and expanded the farm to eventually include sheep and cows. In the last few years the farm has taken on three new associates in their 20's to continue the farm as Jean-Michel looks forward to retirement.  



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The farm has grown to include a large shop selling about different 90 products from the farm, including booties and g-strings(!) crafted from sheep and goat hides.
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Our well equipped apartment was situated above the barn, on the edge of the cascading river that is the farm's namesake. The views of the surrounding peaks and the town of Luz below were stunning. Our first nights stay saw the first snow on the peaks.
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Fall is the quietest time of year on the farm, so our stay was not the typical WWOOF experience. Jean-Michel was taking vacation as the animals themselves were also beginning their 'vacation' period. The sheep and cows, who had been grazing on high mountain pastures all summer had stopped giving milk, and the goats were winding down as well. Our first few mornings we awoke before the sun and milked the 50 goats by hand for the last few times of the season.
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We found that we both enjoyed being up before the dawn milking and feeding the animals.
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Our first week was the busiest of the three, as there was much to do in preparation for bringing the sheep and cows in for the winter. The barn needed to be cleared of a year's worth of manure, roughly 300 tons or 700 cubic meters. Fortunately the majority of the work was done by machine, but we still needed to get the tricky bits by hand.
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Once the barn was cleared we headed up to the estive, the high summer pastures, to clear out the cabin and bring the animals down to the farm. Pompom, the donkey, made hauling stuff down the mountain much easier.
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The grass was getting thin on the upper pastures and the gals would be lambing soon so it was time to bring them back to the farm, approximately 10km down stream.
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A quick head count before we head down.
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The sheep were happy to stay in a group as we make our way down. Any dawdling and Fig, the well trained sheep dog, encouraged them along. Honestly the hardest part was getting them to slow down, and on the steep bits it was especially difficult to keep up.
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Heide does a head count back at the farm, not an easy task with 60+ moving units.
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Surprisingly it is the rams are the most affectionate and curious amongst the herd.
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George in particular seems to enjoy human company.
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Before their wool gets covered in straw and poop from sleeping in the barn it is time for them to get a haircut.
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A professional was brought in to do the shearing and we lent a hand directing the sheep and bagging up the wool, which will be used as insulation.
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Everyone looking a bit naked after the trim.
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Once the sheep and cows where back on the farm we settled into the routine of leading the animals out to pasture at sunrise before having our own breakfast; a pace to the beginning of our day that we truly enjoyed. 
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While the sheep and cows must remain fenced in, the goats are allowed to roam the hills unsupervised. They either lead themselves back to the farm in the evening or stay out for multiple days. Given that they were not being milked we did not need to round them up and bring them back to the barn. During the milking season, WWOOFers typically stay with the goats during their afternoon grazing period and then guide them back to the milking parlor for the evening milking. 
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In the dairy we helped make the last few batches of chèvre, as well as washed and turned the aging cheeses. A job we were well familiar with from our time at Truttenhausen.
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Given the fact that there was little work in the milking parlor and dairy we were available to take on other projects. One task needing attention was mending the fences around the farm pastures that had been unused all summer.
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Another job was building dry stone walls in an effort to create level ground in a garden set in the hilly landscape.
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Susie had a few small projects that she was excited to tackle with our help. One was to experiment with tanning animal hides with natural methods, such as soaking them in bark tea.
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First we scrapped the fatty tissue from the hides.
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Next we cooked up some bark tea and left the hides to soak. In a few weeks Susie will remove the hides and let us know how successful it was.
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Our work was often interrupted by puppies looking for some affection. 
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As if puppies weren't enough we were fortunate enough to see the birth of the first few lambs of the season. They were needy and adorable. Heide gladly helped out with the bottle feeding.
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It wasn't all work though, and on our first weekend we hiked up to the Ardiden Lakes and spent the night at the estivecabin.
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 It was gloriously warm and sunny and we had hoped for a swim in the lake, but we did not give ourselves enough time to make it all the way up to the top lakes that were deep enough to swim in. It was still a beautiful hike and a nice break from the farm. 
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We were lucky to have the opportunity to experience the estive in the off-season without any other workers around or jobs that needed attending to.
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We relaxed and read and Heide wandered off to find a spot in the stream to have a dip.
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Heide whipped up a delicious meal over a campfire with our meager rations.
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Our second weekend off we borrowed the car and headed further into the mountains to the UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Cirque de Gavarnie. 
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We lucked out again with the weather for our ramble up to the falls and back. The autumn colors were on full display.
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