Home at Last!
I've been on the road for three weeks. While it was an incredible adventure, it's great to be back. The first two weeks were taking advantage of Tour de France related media opportunities in New York City. The last eight days were spent in France completing research for my new novel, The Tour. To say that things went fantastic is an understatement. I've already written several drafts of the novel and needed to find locations that would be suitable for certain scenes. In nearly every case, the places I found turned out to be better than my wildest expectations, and I'm certain that the book took a giant leap in the right direction.
It was a very unique experience, though, as my brother-in-law, who speaks fluent French, was unable to travel with me at the last moment. I brushed up on some basics of the language, but basics don't go too far when you need to have a real conversation. I could often ask for what I wanted (or at least, I thought I knew what I was asking), but could seldom decode the answer. My inability to communicate plus the tight schedule I was under to visit all of the necessary locations resulted in near total isolation.
On a typical day I'd be on the road by 7 a.m. I'd visit a bakery in a small town and buy a pastry for breakfast and a baguette for lunch. Then I'd try to find other groceries like fruit and water or juice. I covered over 300 miles a day (much of them on winding switchbacks and multiple trips through confusing round-abouts), and one day I exceeded 700 miles. The road system is complex and I took more than a few wrong turns, even though I worked hard to map things out in advance. I took lots of photos and pulled over frequently to jot notes about what I was seeing. The sites were incredible. France is a breathtaking country in every respect. When the sun went down I'd buy dinner, then eat it in the car while I drove to look for a camping spot near the place I needed to start the next day's journey. My tent was never set up before 9 p.m. and typically not before midnight. So, while it was a wonderful experience, it was far from relaxing and not at all the sort of trip to France that the average person in their right mind would take. On the entire journey I ate at a sit down restaurant a total of one time (and what a great meal it was).
I've got a huge pile of backloged work, and I particurlarly need to get the final drafts of the new book completed, but I'm energized by the experience and can't wait to get everything down on paper. I'll do my best to keep this blog updated now that I have reliable computer access.