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Thrill Ride!

October 13, 2006

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Going through impossibly ancient narrow streets, hairpin turns, and ridiculously steep inclines in rush hour traffic is a not what you want to see in an overloaded camper in a foreign land, but that is exactly what we got on our thrill ride. Just more insanity trying to get the blog up. I don’t have the pictures to show it as I was too busy experiencing it and praying to take any pictures, but this blog is set up so I have to use one picture.

I don’t want to scare our families, it could have been much worse and we were never in serious trouble, but it was definitely a ride we will never forget. The trouble with our GPS “Florence” is she does not take in to consideration that we are in a camper, so it can get hairy in a city when she tells us to turn into a street where we do not fit and then “recalculates” us into more scary streets.

It all started with our blog quandary of trying to find wifi. There was so much to see in Burgundy that it filled up fast, so we needed some time to go thru the pictures and fill in places where I just wrote a little because of time. That takes longer than what one thinks. Then DaVinci has to go thru and get it ready to upload and that takes time. So we ended up getting a very late start which is why we ended up in rush hour traffic to add to the mix.

We actually can get wifi here in this campground, but it is Orange and for subscribers only so does us no good since they have no one time use options.We had planned to start at Mcdonalds which is nearby and hoped they had free wifi. Well they did have free wifi,but it was like in Paris, we could not get into
the site that we need to in order to upload. There must be some firewall there or something that prevents us from doing that as I could get to my mail and other places.

So we wasted some more time there and then had to go to plan B.I had found a site which listed free wifi in all of France and copied those onto my hard drive at our last chance at the internet. They listed three places for Lyons. We also thought of the Kyriad hotel as that is where we found it last time. We found all of those addresses on our Nuvi GPS easily. So we decided to start with the Kyriad and hope they had wifi and off we went into the rush hour traffic. There was added pressure too because we had to be back at the campsite before eleven and it can take hours to download if the connection is slow.

The exit was only three miles down the A6 and we thought it should work out fine once we got thru the rush hour back up. But it must be in an old part of the city as we could see it was a greater challenge as soon as we got off. It is not easy following a voice (which sometimes does not come when you need it to) into the dark of night in a strange city. It started to rain to add to the drama. We went over bridges and thru tunnels.

When it led us up those hairpin turns on a very steep incline, I started getting very nervous. Eventually we did find it, but then it got worse as of course there was no place to park. Past it just two blocks,we ran into some VERY narrow streets to a point where they seemed to get impossibly restricted for us. But the question became how to get out as there was traffic everywhere in cars and on foot and we have blind spots.

It is starting to get tense inside our vehicle as well. Mozart wants to yabber on and ask convoluted questions at the wrong time, the GPS is no longer directing us as we have already reached our destination and DaVinci definitely does not want to hear my nervous comments or suggestions. The roads are getting tinier and we seem to be getting boxed in. We may be on a van chassis and as long as a van, but we are a lot wider and higher. We suddenly find ourselves in a bad situation that seems to be getting worse and are totally lost.

He swerves into a street, stops and wants me to get out and tell the traffic to back up. I am totally flummoxed on how exactly to do that, but I get out to try. Frustrated with my inability, he jumps out and tells the guy behind us in English that he will have to move back. There are cars lined up behind him, so he responds in French that we will have to go down that street. (Or that is what I assume he is saying by his hand signals). We get back in the camper and try, and with luck eventually make it back to the hotel.

My suggestion when we first went by was to pull into a large driveway that had a gate in front of it that was directly across the street. It was next to some stores that were now closed, so I assumed it was parking for them and would not be busy. Wrong! It was not until after we pulled in that we realized that it was for an apartment complex behind the stores & by the time we figured that out, someone was knocking on our window and talking to us in French while his car was right behind us wanting to get in to his parking place.

We told him in English,that we needed to back up, so he quickly moved his little car out of the way. I jumped out and tried to direct us out back into the street safely without hitting car, pedestrians or property which was no easy feat as it was crowded. DaVinci of course had the impossible task of driving thru all of this.

Now what? We decided to turn left which we almost did the first time and lucked out with a gas station being close by, so we pulled in and parked. Whew. Meanwhile, the clock is ticking so first we check for
wifi where we sit, then DaVinci goes in to check it out as we still do not even know if they have wifi.

He comes back to say that they do ,but one needs a code and you can only get that if you are staying in the hotel. He had sat down in their restaurant and ordered a cup of coffee as he opened the laptop to see if we could connect. We have even considered staying over night in a hotel to get wifi, but they were full up for the night.

I suggested that perhaps he could ask if we could just pay to use it for a short while which he forgot to ask about. So he took Mozart (who loves hotels) with him to see if that would be possible and they returned triumphant. Yea! We finally had wifi connection and it would only cost five euros. So we all went in and got our two laptops going as soon as we hit the lobby as it still was a race against time. We had a little trouble with the number, but in due course, got on.

Thankfully it was a faster connection than we have had lately, so amazingly we got it all up in fairly short order and even had time to have dinner there which they seemed to want us to do. The dinner closes at nine, but they let us wait til almost 9:30. Everybody there and even the two men who talked to us in French earlier were helpful and kind. Mozart did a great job of entertaining herself while we handled this.

But we were not quite out of the fire yet as we needed to get back home before the campground closed and we would be locked out for the night. The good news is we were no longer in rush hour traffic and could be guided by our GPS, but we still had to make our way thru the maze in the dark and there were more thrills to come.

The worse was when our GPS “Florence” led us down the steepest incline I have ever seen. A narrow ancient rode with walls on both sides just barely big enough for us to fit thru. Straight down! I am very grateful that it was not raining hard at this point and silently pray. DaVinci goes very slowly in the darkness. The hardest part about these situations is not knowing what is ahead and ones imagination can  run wild and pop up some interesting disaster images into your consciousness.  I could just see us losing control and speeding down this hill due to our excessive weight and crashing into everything like a scene out of a movie,but of course that did not happen and perhaps that was not even a possibility. Still, I was relieved when we got to the bottom safely.

A few turns later and she led us to a narrow bridge across a river, but we could not go because they had a bar across that we could not fit under. I can not blame these things on the GPS as we would have run into the same things using maps. In fact we never could have done this wifi run without GPS, as it certainly would have been much harder trying to deal with maps at night.

Finally we got back on the highway and were just three miles away from our exit and the area we knew a little. It is hard to tell sometimes exactly when the GPS wants us to turn and I jumped the gun on the exit and encouraged a too early exit into a gas station pull over just before it. We could easily just get back on ,but apparently a big truck did not like that as he honked loudly at us as he zoomed by. We have never seen so many trucks on highways as you see here and they are always in a hurry.

Finally we made it back to our campsite with only minutes to spare. We were all glad and grateful to hit the sack!

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