This morning to the west the sky threatened storms, yet to the east a beautiful blue sky promised warmth and sunshine. With rain to start at 5 pm, Sam and I took an early start at 9 am on the Via Rhona towards Orange and Avignon. Sam targets a McDonalds every day for both calories and wi-fi, and we identified one 40 km out as a planned lunch destination.
While we could see clear skies ahead, the western sky continued its advance. I kept hoping we could outrun the edge of the storm – in vain. By 11 am the western sky won out, and a gentle rain began to fall. By 11:30 am rain passed the point where it could be ignored, so we took shelter in a bus stop to encase our gear in plastic bags for additional weather-proofing.
While we stopped at a couple of castles today, we passed even more by in the driving rain. In Montelemar, a few twists and turns through town brought us to a wall and a steep switchback on the road. I headed up, Sam followed leaving his bike behind. Upon reaching the entrance to the castle I wandered in; Sam headed back to his bike when we realized I might be a while.
While waiting in line to buy my ticket, the woman in front of me caught her purse on the glass on the counter, and shattered the glass, spilling fragments across the floor, and cutting her leg, causing a slight delay in my ticket purchase. The castle itself was another hybrid of restored castle and nouveaux art museum. In this case, the art did not interfere with the castle, well-restored but open for exploration and review. I hurried a bit more than I wished, between having left Sam behind, and needing to make more distance down the road.
The banks of the Rhone today presented mostly vertical cliffs – spectacular Often nature carved caves out of the cliff face.
The castles often presented on tops of those cliffs. As we made the final run into Orange, I saw an awesome castle, Mornas Fortress, on top of a cliff, and while I stopped to admire from a distance, we passed it by. I’m tempted to head back tomorrow, even with the 15 km in the wrong direction.
Sam and I are a good match for cycling. Both of us like to know where we are, and between the two of us keep a good pace and don’t stop often. While I hoped to make Avignon today to weather the forecast storms tomorrow, by 5 pm there was little chance of that, and we began to discuss accommodation for the two of us. Tired and wet, I had little interest in camping, only to then have to pack up in the rain in the morning and cycle out. We talked about a hotel, but stopped at the campground. With the camping cost of 25 euro for the two of us, we stood in the rain debating options. The manager of the campground came outside and suggested a cabin for only 5 Euro more. Sold!
After a dinner in the “cafe” at the campground, the sky cleared leaving a rainbow in the distance. As night deepened, the rain returned. I next head south and west to Avignon, and Sam heads south an east towards Nice, so tomorrow we’ll go our separate ways. Sam being a bit ahead of schedule plans to spend an extra day in Orange in a hotel. I don’t know which of many possible plans I will follow tomorrow. The weather in the morning will decide.