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Two vehicles pulling in next to my tent this morning prompted me to pack up and get out. I stopped by the office, now open, to pay for the previous night. An exchange followed along the lines of, “We were full last night” and “I’d stayed at the campground and would like to pay”. At the same time I gave up, she decided that perhaps she could accept my money anyway.

15 kilometers down the road I came to a citadel by the side of the road, built in the mid-1600s to protect the bay. Not as impressive as the earlier fortress back in, hmm, Hungary? The citadel has a sister fortress on the other side, and another sibling built on an island in the middle of the bay (now gone).

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The GPS does a terrible job of picking the perfect route, as I tend to want slightly less highway in automotive mode, and more in bicycle mode for less wandering. On the other hand, the GPS does a great job of identifying cycle tracks I don’t otherwise know about, which today provided some 20 km of following an old rail line in the middle of the countryside. Boring countryside. Everyone knows that vineyards occupy much of this part of France. Unknown to most are the planned forestry sections – trees lines up in perfect order to be cut for timber. Long stretches of road exist with nothing but pine trees standing in array

The temperatures still rest well below where they have been much of the trip. Instead of seeking out shade I now avoid it for the warmth of the sun. The temperatures dropping, I am of course headed hundreds of kilometers north, continuing the pattern of cycling the wrong way. Great weather today for cycling, with the sky finally not threatening rain. Reminded me of the museum painting from earlier in the trip.

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I settled tonight in a hostel in the city of Saintes. The Abbaye aux Dames resides in the city center, and the hostel resides in one of its wings. Saintes still has the old Roman gate, as well as a Roman amphitheater, which I hope to visit tomorrow morning before I leave town.

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I took a shower this evening, and found that Soap Dish joined the kindred spirits of Spoon and Towel (and other assorted items). Of everything lost the easiest to replace. Soap Dish is the hardest to keep track of, as each shower provides a slightly different way to lose it. I can even remember where I left it on the shower floor. I found Soap Dish later this evening when moving things around; Soap Disk had ended up in a different pocket, foiling its escape.

After three days of rushing north to get to the ferry, I’ve discovered a few  problems with the plan of getting on a ferry on the 11th, with the 12th as a backup. First and foremost, I can’t cycle to either Cherbourg or Rosloff by the 11th. The back roads add enough distance to make arrival likely on the 13th, and with no shoulder but good road quality, traffic on the larger roads passes uncomfortably quickly. Even for that circumstance, weather would have to hold for seven days, and no days off. I’m not enjoying pushing hard to get there; the roads climb enough to make non-stop pushing difficult.

Revised plan: tomorrow I visit the amphitheatre, and then take a train to Rennes. The should put me about three to four days ahead of where I am now, providing some breathing room. I’d always planned on three weeks in Ireland. I intentionally cut that short to visit with Fabrice, but I’m ready to move on to Ireland instead of another six days in France.

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