to the beach!

Today we ventured to our first French beach… sort of. I dragged Bill away from his chance to read Harry Potter to go back to the lake where Kaitlyn and I went earlier this week. Only this time we went to where I’d seen paddle boats and the like for rent.

                        The beach was filled with people laying on their towels getting a tan and smoking. (someone tell me again why the French are so healthy?) The only women with one piece suits on were old, extremely fat, or me. Even the pregnant women wore two piece swimsuits. Oh, sure, you could say that some women had on a one piece suit since all they were wearing was the bottom. Bill said he didn’t notice all the boobs swinging around the beach. One pair I saw was attached to an overly skinny, overly tan woman and it looked ridiculous. And, sure, there was the little boy (about 18 months old or so) who wore absolutely nothing.

                        The beach wasn’t what we think of as beaches. It was not sand. It was rocks. Not comfortable to lay on or to walk on.

                    When we first arrived there were no boats out in the water and Bill thought maybe there was a problem with the rental place. No, no problem. It wasn’t 2pm yet… the guy was still on his lunch break. But at 2 there was a line10 people deep waiting to rent boats.

                    We got on our boat with all of our stuff (didn’t want to leave it on the beach) and peddled out to the middle of the lake. Not really the middle, the lake is huge, but pretty far out. Some wind surfers went by us. So did some sail boats. That lake is the windiest spot I’ve been to around here. Normally unless there is a storm there is no wind at all.. one reason Grenoble is so notoriously hot and miserable all summer long.

                    Once we got to the “middle” Kaitlyn said she wanted to go swimming. She saw others jumping in the water off their peddle boats and Bill had told her we could do the same. Until he put his feet in the water. OK, here’s the thing. A lake 900 meters up in the Alps fed by the snow melt and blessed with a constant cool breeze does not have warm water. It has cold water. Very cold. I had no intention of going in and was trying to convince Kaitlyn that we’d go in at the shore where you could go just knee deep. But Bill hates to disappoint his little girl and he eventually gave in and splashed into the water off the back of our little boat. He looked darn cold. Ice-cube like even. Kaitlyn on the other hand squealed and swam and thought it was great. We could barely get her back into the boat to return to land. We had only rented the boat for an hour and time was running out when she finally relented.

                    Back on shore, Kaitlyn dragged Bill then me into the water with her to swim. After that numbing experience we somehow got her back into the car to head home.

                    On the way down the mountain, Bill realized he hadn’t seen some statue of Napoleon someone had told him about… so we turned around and went back to see it. Bill said it’s apparently the spot where Napoleon was met by the French army when he marched back into the country after his exile. I admit, I know very little about French history so I just take his word on it. Maybe I’ll remember to look it up on the internet some time.

                    At the bottom of the hill we stopped again. This time, at a spot marked with red and white police tape and flowers and burned out candles. It is where a week ago a buss load of Polish pilgrims plunged off the road when their bus lost control. I had no idea when I drove to the lake earlier this week that I’d driven right by the wreck scene… driven down the same mountain road that the bus had. There are signs saying it is a 12% grade, but it didn’t seem any worse to me than any of the other crazy mountain roads I’ve driven around here. Even a bit less crazy because it was wide enough for two cars the whole way up and down. At the sight where the bus had crashed, you can look over the cement barricade and see where it sheared off tree tops then you can see the charred ground where it hit and burned. There is a giant chunk missing out of the barricade (sort of a cement guardrail) where the bus went through. Bill saw the skid marks coming around the corner just before where it hit… those I didn’t see. Seeing what I did was sad enough. I felt the need to add a flower or relight a candle there, but had no way of doing either. Bill took pictures… but this is an image I’ll never forget.

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