seek drive climb

Simplify our lives, meet new friends, climb new crags. Go Goose Go.

Post from the Past : Reunited with the Goose

The following is a post lost in the annals of the blogosphere...enjoy: After our lengthy and eventful busride (a guy in in the back got busted for smuggling hash!), we arrived in Plüderhausen tired but glad to be close to home. We had told Kaddi's folks that we would be there close to 8:30pm, as our bus was originally supposed to arrive in Stuttgart at 7:30pm and we figured about an hour for our travels to Plüderhausen. BUT we didn't get in until close to 11pm and despite our incredibly tardy arrival time, as we literally threw the crashpads off the train, Erik, Kaddi's father walked toward us with a big smile and a warm welcome. Once we reached their home, Cristal, Kaddi's mom welcomed us into their home with hot mushroom soup and fresh baked bread. This welcome was indicative of our entire visit; every meal was amazing, fresh from the garden and homemade. Cristal used the Thermomix for practically every meal; this amazing invention chops, dices, blends, purees and even cooks. Unfortunately, they do not offer the Thermomix in the states. It is unfortunate as I truly think that it makes cooking easier. I may be able to get one in Canada, thus bypassing the 220 to 110 volt issue. We ended up staying with Cristal and Erik for two nights and then made our way to Geneva to go see our new friends, Stephanie and Morgan, whom we met in SA.

Though our stay in Plüderhausen was relaxing and needed, we were so excited to jump back into the Iron Goose and continue traveling the way that we originally intended. We couldn't wait to get back to our home on the road, where we are able to camp in the wild and go wherever we choose.


We wanted to take our time during our drive, so we decided to stop in Constance, next to Lake Constance, as recommended by Erik and Jochum, a close friend of Christy, that we also met in SA. The drive was beautiful. We arrived in Constance and a guy on a scooter gave us a thumbs up; though this was not the first thumbs up that we had received but this one turned to be a bit more significant. After parking and taking a walk toward the lake, a man came up to us and began admiring the Goose. It turned out to be the same guy that we saw earlier on the scooter. He was so excited and asked us if we needed a shower or wanted to go get a beer. He gave us his card and told us all about his Syncro group, made up of nineteen Syncros in the town of Constance. They were having a BBQ that weekend and would love for us to come and join them. We really wanted to stay but knew that we were expected in Geneva later that day. It was Friday and since Steph and Morgan work during the week, we wanted to be able to spend the weekend climbing with them, so we had to decline the invitation. We wished we had created more flexibility for ourselves so that we could begin taking advantage of these random encounters, as you never know who you are going to meet on the road when traveling in a Westy. The VW Westy community is a good one and we all tend to join together no matter where in the world we encounter one another.

Fighting the Rain

We are back in sandstone paradise, but as before, paradise is a little soggy. I anticipated that there might be some rain (turned out to be a LOT) when we were back in Fontainebleau, so we devised a plan for making camping a little more comfortable. While still in Fixin we stopped by the Brico Depot, France's Home Depot, and for a little over $13 we built an awning for the Goose. Using some two meter PVC piping, 45 degree joints, some basic hardware, a few bungees, a cheap tarp and some magnets, we constructed a quick setup/breakdown system that utilizes the jack stand points on the van.

The PVC pipes fit into the jack points and attach to the tarp with wing nuts. The end of the tarp "attached" to the van has ducted taped neodymium iron boron magnets every 30 centimeters. Then we use the two remaining rivets to run bungees to random points on the top of van and two guide lines borrowed from our tent and stake them into the ground.

So far the system has held up well in three storms; the magnets detaching only once in a very windy storm. In that case we made the guide lines a little less taught and the magnets stayed for the remainder of the winds. While the whole side of the van is not covered, the area by the sliding door stays dry and makes life on rainy days much more enjoyable. It also sure as hell beats buying a $1000 Fiama awning….


PS - We are going Tarantino nonlinear for this post. We stopped in Geneva before returning to France, stay tuned.

Cooking my 31st birthday meal under our new creation

Döner Macht Schöner

Germany is known for it's beer. Bavaria is know for the high concentration of breweries in it's region. Nürnberg is know for the highest concentration of breweries in all of Germany. Germany is know for it's high concentration of limestone crags. Frankenjura is known for the highest concentration of hard limestone crags in all of Germany. Nürnberg is 40km from Frankenjura. Sounds good, no? We were to arrive in Nürnberg the evening of the Germany and Italy match in the Euro Cup. Unknown to us, Moritz and Julia were planning to go watch the match at a public venue. Due to poor planning and construction on the autobahn, we arrived later than expected. Moritz greeted us outside when we arrived in "Little Istanbul" or as what he called the southern ghetto of Nürnberg. Yet, as far as ghettos go, the area was more like the outer sunset in SF than Hunter's point. Due to the amount of Turks in the "ghetto", this area could also be considered "the home of the Döner", the German version of a burrito, insofar that it costs €3 and is a cheap meal that is quite suitable after a hard day of climbing.

Steve met Julia and Moritz in Rocklands last year. Moritz is almost as tall as Steve and they are both obsessed with climbing hard and training hard; they are like two peas in a pod. They climb at about the same level and are able to use similar beta; Steve truly enjoys climbing with Moritz.

We arrived in Nürnberg on a Thursday, as we planned for a full week in the city; we wanted to have a German garage check the Goose. We figured that if anyone would know how to fix the van, it would be a German, being that Goose was born in Germany.  We were still having our coolant issue and we just can't figure out how to fix it ourselves. Steve has been religiously reading forums to help him problem solve but it seems like the more he reads, the further down the rabbit hole he goes. We ended up bringing it to a garage, called N&M, on Monday, explained the problem (well, not all of it but most of it) and they found that part of the radiator was clogged and that the temp sensor for the water temp was old and needed to be replaced. When we picked it up on Tuesday, Goose was definitely acting better but still after a 45 minute drive on the autobahn, the minute we slowed down, Goose's temps were rising again. Not to the level where he is about to overheat, like before, but definitely reading temps above normal, but since it wasn't heading toward the super high temps, we thought maybe, just maybe, they had fixed our issues. That was until Saturday when we headed out to Frankenjura with Julia and Moritz and began to overheat. Once more Goose was acting up and all we could do was unscrew the cap on the expansion tank to release the pressure that was preventing the coolant from flowing. The coolant is getting stuck in the overflow and then cannot push back through to the expansion tank because of the pressure inside the tank. We have no idea why the pressure is building up in the first place. So,a week after our first visit to N&M, we went back and thoroughly explained our issues. The mechanic listened to us but decided that he had absolutely no idea what was wrong. He claimed that it shouldn't make a difference whether the engine was idling or being pushed at 80kph, it would overheat either way, but when he ran the engine all day, it resulted in no overheating and perfect coolant distribution. He kept it for another day, but found nothing wrong. Thankfully, he didn't charge us for his efforts. Once again, we were frustrated and annoyed, as we knew that our coolant problem was going to be a continuing thorn in our side.

We were psyched to head to Nürnberg to visit with Julia and Moritz but we were also psyched to hit Frankenjura, another climbing destination known for it's short, steep but often run out routes. Unfortunately, between our car and the relentless rain during our ten day visit, we spent more days in Nürnberg at the apartment than out on the rock.

We arrived on a Thursday, spent Friday in town sorting ourselves out and headed out to Frankenjura Saturday morning. We received a message that Kaddi, her brother Christian, and some friends were going to be climbing as well, so we headed out early to meet them at Kalte Wald. Though the weather was pretty warm, this area stayed pretty cool and had a nice array of routes from 6a to 7b. There were a couple of really fun 6a's and a great 7a called Stracciatella (sp?) that I enjoyed, while Steve, Moritz and Kaddi worked on a couple of 7b's that seemed to serve them well.  It was a great day and we were excited to see what else Frankenjura had to offer.

After a full day of climbing, we went to do what everyone in Bavaria does at the end of the day in the summer and headed down the road to the Biergarten. The beer in Bavaria is varied and plentiful and ALWAYS tastes good, except maybe the smoked beer, which Steve says tastes a bit like drinking bacon. Not only are there varieties in beer but there are also varieties in non-alcoholic beer; they even have several types of alcohol frei hefeweisen and they were all fabulous. Thank you Bavaria!

After the biergarten, we all were pretty hungry. Moritz knew of an awesome restaurant next to a pig farm but unfortunately, they were having a private event, so we headed to another place in the sweet little town of Pottenstein, right in the center of the Frankenjura region. Noone had been there before but it turned out to be one of our best meals yet. Steve and five others ordered the schäufele, while I ordered another smaller pork dish, as I had had the schäufele two evenings prior and I couldn't finish it the first time.

We were told that the schäufele was one of the best folks had ever eaten; it was pretty fantastic, the rind was perfectly crisped and meat just fell off the bone. We all rolled out of the restaurant after our huge, hearty meal and went looking for a place to camp for the night.

Though Moritz and Julia headed back to the city, the rest of us camped out in one of the very few bouldering areas in Frankenjura.  At around 10pm, it started to rain. We all sought refuge in our respective shelters, Kaddi and Christian and Wupi (Christian's dog, who is a mix between ewok and a wookie) sleeping under a cave with a couple of hard as nails  boulder problems. The rain continued throughout the night, along with a lightning and thunderstorm. It rained all throughout the morning as well. Despite the rain, Moritz and Julia STILL drove out to meet us, as promised. After several hours of relentless rain, Kaddi and friends decided to head home, as they had a long drive back to Freiburg and Basel, Switzerland. While Moritz and Julia gave Steve and I a quick tour of some other nice climbing spots on the way back to Nürnberg.

We dropped the car off on Monday at N&M. Julia has off on Mondays and being the amazing host that she is, took us around the sites of Nürnberg. Nürnberg is a cool little town; it has a central area which is only for pedestrians and maybe bicycles, like so many other cities in Europe; why aren't there more of these in the U.S.? I can only think of Boulder and Burlington off the top of my head. It is so nice being able to walk around, stop at a cafe, go shopping and never have to worry about cars, lights, etc.

For the rest of our stay in Nürnberg, it either rained or was hot and sticky. Limestone sucks when it is wet and does not dry too quickly in heat and humidity. Though we did have three more days of climbing in Frankenjura, we still have yet to truly experience all that place has to offer. Since we need to go and pick up our van in Germany in September and were promised that Jasper Bote would be there if we returned, we are planning on spending another week or two in Nürnberg to give Frankenjura another chance. Though Moritz and Julia will be in South Korea during our second visit, we will have a new base with Melissa and Jasper on the northern end of the city. But don't worry, there are Döner shops there as well...

Just want to give a shoutout to our amazing hosts, Moritz and Julia. You guys were so amazingly hospitable and we hope that we didn't cause too much strife in your life. When we think back to our stay,  we will warmly remember Döner macht schöner, your amazing training gym, great food, great beer (including alcohol frei), Crankenstein and your incredible hospitality. Thanks again you two and we can't wait to climb with you again soon! -C&S

PS - more posts soon hopefully. :)

Chains in the rain in Spain....I mean Italy...

Monday morning we woke up having previously discovered the trailer trash of Italy (we stayed at a truly crappy campsite/trailer park, where trashy Italians live on the weekends, which included pools with no water and Pierre, the resident bunny rabbit) We needed to use the Internet so that we could see when our registration was to arrive and to see what was happening with our rental in Croatia, so we headed to Torri d'europa for our Vodafone Internet hook-up.  An hour of web use and then some food shopping at the COOP (the Italian supermercato that was probably the best market we've found since the superCarrefour outside of Font, actually even better) and then off to the local crag in Trieste.

Though it had been raining when we woke up, we had waited for the rock to dry and figured that about four hours of no rain was good enough for the limestone...when we arrived we checked out the crags and the rock was dry, yippee! So we hiked down to the overhanging area since there was definitely a threat of reoccurring rain.

The hike was a bit steep and muddy and included a rope for support. We hiked down and began to look for some good warm-ups when it began to sprinkle.

iPhone topos are a bitch....

Well, we could deal with a little rain but we decided to go to the truly overhanging crag where we would be shielded. The climbing was a bit harder, mostly a rang of 7's with a couple of 6's and a couple of 8's. Being that I was not quite comfortable with the limestone yet, Steve was going to be the only one climbing these routes. We started on La Fontana, a 6c+. As Steve started the line, it began to drizzle once again but since this was mostly overhanging, we were still dry...that is until the 4th clip, where he had to climb over to the head wall and it started pouring. I wasn't able to look up as rain was pouring into my eyes. Steve fell at the 5th clip, having hit a hold that was completely sopping (no grip there), but he was determined to finish the route. Four more bolts and he was done...did I mention that he had to clean it as well, as I wasn't gonna do it in the rain. By the time Steve finished he was drenched and it was consistently pouring. We looked at the other routes and though most of them were dry, the last bolt or the chains were over the lip or in the rain...we decided to pack it up and try again tomorrow...we're stuck here for at least another day until our registration arrives and we might as well take full advantage...our hike out was wet, muddy, steep and a bit treacherous...think Michael Douglass and Kathleen Turner à la Romancing the Stone...wish we had taken a pic...

Trapped in Trieste

We left Osp around 8am since we knew we had a long drive to Hvar. It was going to be about 6 hours to Split and then we had a 2-hour ferry ride to the Island. We arrived at the Croatia border at 9am and pulled out our passports. Got stamped and moved to the next window. The police woman behind the glass asked for our passports again and then the papers for the car. We handed her our passports and then the insurance card from our international insurance. No, she said, the papers for the car. I went into glove compartment and pulled out the registration and handed it to Steve. She repeated that we needed valid papers and that what we gave her was not correct. We figured that she had just never seen them before and was confused. She pointed to the date and we realized that we had just handed her our expired registration and our current registration was not in the glove compartment. WTF! She told us to go to Customs and then pull over to the right into a parking area. We pulled forward 3 feet to a guy dressed as an officer. Steve:"Are you the customs officer?" Guy:"What?" Steve:"She (pointing back) told us to go to customs. Are you the customs guy?" Guy:"What?" Steve:"Are you customs?" Guy:"yes, go park"

He motioned for us to go and park.  We parked and hurriedly searched every place where the document might be. We looked on the license plate and sure enough the sticker was valid but the registration was nowhere to be found. Another officer, male this time, approaches the vehicle.

Officer:"do you have anything to claim?" Steve:"No" Officer:"your car tested positive for substances. Do you smoke? Steve:"What do you mean?" Officer:"Our system shows that your vehicle has substances." Steve:"What?" Officer:"Your vehicle is positive for substances.Tell us now and we will charge you small fine but if dogs find more, you will be arrest." Steve:"What kind of substances?" Officer:"Your vehicle is positive for substances. Tell us now and you will be charged small fine." Steve went to the side door and pulled out his half empty bottle of Scotch and I pulled out the two packs of Indian cigarettes. Steve:"That is all we have." Officer:"We will bring dogs to search your car." Steve:"Okay, fine. Whatever you like. We don't have anything."

The officer then walked away and the female officer came back.

Officer:"You do not have papers for the car, so you must go back." Steve:"Okay, when we come back will you take a copy of our registration?" Officer:"No copy. Must be original." Steve:"Okay. Thank you."

The officer directed us into the opposite direction and boom, we were back in Slovenia.

Flustered and incredibly bummed, we began to drive back to Osp. We had no idea what to do at that moment; all we knew is that we needed Internet to get in touch with Steve's parents to see if the registration was back in our papers at home. At this point it was 11am, meaning that it was 2am in California, so there was really nothing that we could do now.  We knew there was no Internet in Osp, so that wasn't an option. We figured that we could go to Lbuljana, the capital of Slovenia to the embassy but it was Saturday and they weren't open or we could go find Internet in the next closest city, Trieste, Italy. Proximity won out and we headed into the sinewy, matrix of Trieste centrale for a fruitless journey of Internet searching.

Not Psyched...

Still Not Psyched...

Alice, our trusty GPS, failed to bring us to the local bibliotheca. She took us instead to a church immediately outside the center of town; I guess she figured that we needed some angelic assistance. A waitress at a local cafe told us to that we could get free wifi at Terre de ropa...we pretended to understand her directions and we headed back into the matrix.  As we began driving, Steve exclaimed "McDonalds", we had forgotten our trusty wifi connection in France and that all claimed that the golden arches would always provide free wifi.  We plugged in McD's to Alice and she began directing the middle of a highway! Yet upon our arrival to Alice's bunk destination, we looked over and saw a large sign Torri d'Europa. We quickly realized that this was the place that the waitress was talking about all along...we found a parking lot a few blocks away from the sign. It was a mall but supposedly it had free wifi, so we just did not care. At this point it was about 2pm and we knew that we just needed some info. We tried to sign on but to no avail  we saw there was a McD's on the 3rd floor but again, no internet there. It looked like the supposed "free wifi" was bullshit.  I decided to ask the people at the Vodafone store; I figured that they would know.  They told us to go to the 3rd floor, near the cinema and that we should be able to log on from there. We walked back up to the 3rd floor; there seemed to be free internet but We could not figure out how to log on, as a Userid and password were necessary. We headed back down and I stopped back in the Vodafone store and explained that it still didn't work (using broken English and hand gesticulations with a couple of Si, Si's and Grazi, Grazi's thrown in). I think that they felt bad for me; one went into the back with my iPad and typed in a Userid and password for their network, the network in the Vodafone store.  That is what we used for our Internet for 90% of our time here. Torri d'Europa became a second home for us in Trieste.

We found a campsite, the local climbing crag here in Trieste and contacted Steve's folks with the unfortunate news and the hope that the registration was indeed in our important documents box and was truly left by accident...


Emilie and Raul

After we left our SF friends and the gite in Moigny-sur-ecole, we decided to head south to an area Scott and Kaddi recommended called Petit Bois. Since it had been raining for some time we thought that the weather and the rock may be better the more South we went, since Steve and MK had that experience while Ginny and I were in Paris. Petit Bois was a great area, tons of problems on both the blue and red circuits, and also included Big Dragon, a problem that Steve wanted to get on, which completely suited his style. This was the area where I began to  understand the essence of mantling and smearing.

We didn't arrive there until late in the afternoon but since it doesn't get dark here until 9:30pm, we still got to climb quite a bit. No one was around, so we decided to camp there and see what was up; we didn't yet have the 411 on how to camp for free here in Europe,so we weren't quite sure where we could stay and where we couldn't. After a bit, another car rolled up. An older guy, probably about 52 or so, got out walked over to Big Dragon (Steve had not gotten on it yet) and began to have some goes. He worked on it for about 45 minutes and then grabbed his pad, packed it all away and took off. Guess he was working on his proj...he got through the first two moves before packing up, not bad.

While senior working his proj, a panel van drove up, parked and started playing some techno music. No climbing, no hiking, just techno. We thought this was a bit weird but hey, we were in the small town of Saint-Pierre de Nemours, who knows how these folks roll.  We cooked, ate, and snuggled in for an episode of Dexter. By the end of the show, another van showed up,  we just assumed it was the techno boys again and went to sleep.

We slept well and enjoyed our first night on our own. Steve got up early, as he was eager to get out climbing again. Unfortunately, I woke up with a sore throat and a cough, so Steve let me sleep in. After his first climbing session, about fifteen problems, he decided to wake me up and make coffee etc. he noticed that the car that drove up the night before, was not in fact the techno boys but another Westy with another couple. Emilie, a Canadian Quebeçois, and Raul, who was from Spain, came over to wish us a good morning (our CA plates had inspired them to come by and chat). We chatted for a few moments and then they went off to eat breakfast and get ready to climb.

Steve's second session was with me. We climbed a bit on both the blue and the red circuit. I worked some of the red problems that included mantles and very crappy feet; they were great fun. After 20-30 minutes we were chatting and climbing right along with Raul and Emilie. We went up to work on some reds, whites and a couple of off-piste climbs together; the more crash pads, the merrier! We climbed together for 3-4 hours until the rain started again. After a couple hours, Emilie and I decided to go shopping on their mountain bikes while Steve rested up for his third session of the day.  Raul and Emilie traveled with their mountain bikes so that they could camp for a while and just use their bikes to get around. There were two markets, the Lidl and the Carrefour, .5 mile away from where we were camped.

We got back and unpacked and my cold began to come back full force. I decided to rest, read and take a nap while Steve was ready for his third session of the day; he finally began working on Big Dragon but after several attempts and raw tips, it just would not go. He got to the second to last move (the crux) but today was not the day. More chatting and hanging with Raul and Emilie, then dinner and sleep. Petit Bois had served us well.

It rained that night. Again and harder than previous nights staying there was just not an option. So we all planned on moving on, but agreed that we would meet up later that day or in the evening at the Hippodrome de la Solle for camping.  Raul and Emilie became our new camping and climbing buddies during the rest of our Font trip...

Emilie and Raul have been traveling for the past two years in their van around Spain and France. Intermittently, Emilie will get a job so that they can continue on their travels, as Raul is in school finishing up his degree in Computer Science. His classes are entirely online, so he just needs to make sure that he has Internet and juice for his computer and he is good to go; he can work from almost anywhere until the end of the semester when he may have to go in for a final. He is able to  live in the van, climb and travel but must also be diligent about getting his work done.  Since it rains a lot in Font, he is able to take advantage of those days and go to the local library and use the SFR Free Wifi.

Raul and Emilie have figured out how to live simply and inexpensively while still eating well and climbing a lot. We learned a lot from them. When Emilie first took me shopping, she took me the Lidl prior to the Carrefour, showing me what to buy at the Lidl because it was that much cheaper; there were still some things that I didn't want to buy there, but overall the Lidl was the place to go. Only problem is there are not many of them. Emilie and Raul also tend to buy a lot more food than we do, as they do not have a full camper but a weekender and therefore have more room; they know what will keep and what is not worth getting but the most important food item that they introduced us to was the chocolate pack from the Carrefour. For under €2, you can get 5 bars of pretty decent chocolate. We plowed through the chocolate in Font...

They also told us about McD's. McD's is the sure fire way to get Internet. Every McD's in France offers free wifi.  They are the only place that you can truly count for getting free wifi, sometimes SFR Free wifi doesn't work but McD's always does. However, we have now found that in Germany, you actually need to buy something before getting the wifi. Once you buy something, you get a sign in  and then you are home free. We have yet to utilize it yet, but it will happen, you can be sure of that.

One evening, Emilie gave us the run down on all of the places that we should go to in Spain, along with descriptions of the type of rocks and climbs. They have been traveling and climbing for a long time, so they definitely have the 411 on where to climb and where to camp. I don't know if we will be able to hit all of the places they mentioned, but we will definitely do our best.

Here is the list of spots that we want to hit with descriptions of the rock and what is good there. We hope to hit them in the Fall, either before or after Font, but we will see... 1. Mont Serrat - great sector in the south "el vermell", "can jorba", on the north side "San Benet"(sp?) - many smaller areas within this place - conglomerate rock - vertical and slabby (sandbagged) 2. Rodeller - limestone - "kalandraka" (Refugio) - overhanging 3. Bruixas - limestone - in Terradets which have sport multi-pitches (very few) many need some additional gear - overhanging 4. Siurana - limestone - slabs and vertical...(sandbagged) 5. Montsan - conglomerate - raco de misa, overhanging 6. Margelef  - conglomerate - everything, has pockets, every grade, vertical and overhanging - other side of Montsan- about an hour away 7. Villanova - good sport multi-pitch - limestone 8. Cavallers- good multi-pitch - granite - good wall for reg sport climbing African wall- good bouldering as well b4 multi- pitch.

Two days before we headed off to Germany to meet Scott and Kaddi, Emilie got word that she was hired by the Canadian government to work on trail maintenance in Alberta. She was off to work for the next 3 months in the forests. Raul still had 6 weeks left of school, so he was going to have to stay behind while Emilie went back to get ready for work. Both were pretty sad that there home was about to split up for a little while but Emilie was already looking to buy a van to live in once she had reached Alberta; Raul would then fly to Canada to meet her and live in the van as well. Once she completed her 3 month contract, the plan was to go into the U.S. and head to Indian Creek in Tennessee; they had been dreaming of climbing there for quite a while. So, U.S. folks, should you want to do some top class climbing with an incredibly chill and skilled couple, hit us up and we will connect you.

What a coincidence that we met Raul and Emilie; they were the perfect couple to meet as we began to embark on our journey. They knew all the ins and outs of van living and how to live on the cheap. There are a lot of differences between our journeys, as our trip includes a LOT more driving and a lot more destinations but we will utilize their tips and our experiences with them for the rest of journey. Thanks guys for helping to make our adventure that much better!



The vans camped out at the Hippodrome. Got cut short as it started to rain...

San Francisco in Moigny-sur-école

Château de Fontainebleau

It took us 5 hours to get from Calais to Fontainebleu.  Well, not really Fontainebleau, actually Moigny-sur-école, a small town on the outskirts. There was a plan to meet our good friends, Ginny and Marykate, who were staying in a gite close to the climbing.  Upon arrival, we parked our van on the street and knocked on the door of the address we were given.  A man came out, looking a bit confused. In my broken French, I asked about our American friends.  He had not seen our friends, nor were they staying at his house. At this point, we had no phone, no wi-fi (wee-fee en francais), no way to contact our friends.  I remembered seeing a phone booth in town, so we decided to attempt to make one last contact. We drove over to the phone, parked and as we are getting out of the car, we see a car pull up next to us. We are about to get out when we hear someone yelling at us. We look over and see Daniel Won waving to us from his rental car.  Our friends found us!

As it turns out, Daniel noticed a van with California plates parked outside while pulling into the courtyard of the gite. He did not think much of it but mentioned his observation to the others (Ginny, MaryKate, Chris and Dave). Immediately, Ginny sent him out to find us.  As luck would have it, the van was no longer there.  He decided to drive through town to see if he could locate us, the phonebooth being his first stop. And voila, we were found!

The gite has a large courtyard, a perfect place for parking the Iron Goose. Thankfully, we have had a house and a large space to reorganize our lives prior to truly living on the road. The first 5 days staying with our friends at the gite has been the most incredible start to our new life.  We have had a wonderful time visiting with our friends; climbing (climbing in Font is phenomenal), eating (although, we could do with less cheese, baguettes and croissants and Daniel's insistence on getting more every morning) and socializing (the conversation and companionship has been indispensable).

It feels like a small part of San Francisco has come with us to bid us farewell and we wouldn't have it any other way.  Thank you Ginny Evans, MaryKate Meyerhoffer, Chris Deegan, Dave Alfaro and Daniel Won for making our first stop the best ever!

Greetings from Font, Corinne

Day 1 in the forest

The Goose rides again!

This morning we set out for the train station to make our way to Chatham. Once there a taxi took us to the docks and we began the inquiry for the van. It was suppose to be unloaded and waiting in a warehouse, but the van was still in it's shipping container. Mark at the shipping company informed us it would only take twenty minutes to locate and unload the van. True to his word the container was brought in and the van rolled down to greet us in no time. The excitement quickly wore off when we discovered that the van would not start. We had feared this may happen. Firstly the battery had not been disconnected, per instructions from the shipping company state side, and against our better judgement. Secondly, when the van gets below a 1/4 tank and is parked at steep angles (or out at sea for 26 days) the tank can release some air bubbles into the fuel line. The tank was actually more around 1/8 and upon inspection the clear fuel line leading to the injection pump was completely void of fuel. Luckily we had dealt with this once before and knew the solution. Crack the injectors and and try to start the van. This would hopefully pull the air out before entry to the cylinders and allow fuel to flow. We setup to do this, but after a few seconds of cranking realized the battery did not have enough juice to crank the van long enough to start. After hooking up the battery to a forklift we tried again. This time the van cranked well, but the fuel would not pull through. The tank was too low. Mark, being a true English gentlemen drove me (Steve) to the petrol station. I bought two five liter jerry cans and filled them with diesel. Once back at the docks I emptied one jerry into the van. We tried again to no avail. I knew to get fuel to pull into the injection pump I need more than just power the pumop could provide. It would have to be gravity to the rescue. I disconnected the fuel line from the fuel filter and jammed a funnel into the end. Another chap from the shipping company started to pour diesel into the fuel while Corinne cranked the van. The van spurted and choked, whizzed and spat; fuel sprayed from the injectors. Unburned diesel spewed from the exhaust and finally....the van did not start. I cursed and spat. We tried again. More fuel down the funnel directly into the injectors and after much sputtering and fuel spraying all over myself and the poor fellow helping me, the van came to life. We tightened down the injectors, pack the van, shook everyone's hand and drove directly to a petrol station and filled up with diesel.We grabbed some terrible sandwiches from the petrol station and hit the road. After about an hour of driving we arrived in Dover and found our way to a camp spot atop the white cliffs. Thanks for the camp location Jed! After taking a stroll to see the cliffs, sheer vertical chalk-white walls, we traveled back into town to the Swingate Tavern. It was live Jazz Thursdays. The psyche was high. We ordered Yorkshire Pudding with roast, decidedly British, and Chinese stir fry, decidedly...not. The Yorkshire did not compare to my moms, but it nevertheless, hit the spot. The jazz music was surprisingly good and we stayed for a few hours. Tomorrow we head for Calais via ferry. France, here we come!


The shipping yard. The van is inside the container!


Booyah! (or so we thought)