30 May 2024

The visit and the driving

Where to begin? Yesterday with Bob and Norma was a real treat. We laughed as we recounted events in our shared past, which goes back 50 years. We mourned friends passed away, and we compared our thoughts about current events and our plans for the future. We sat at the dining room table for three hours enjoying food and wine together. I didn't take any pictures. That would have been too distracting.

It had been several years since my last drive up to the train station up in Blois. That's where Bob and Norma were arriving after spending a couple of days with another friend of ours in Paris. I set out at about 10 a.m. — after a couple of last-minute delays — to go get them. I was stressed out about the drive. I wanted to take the route I used to drive at least once or twice every year back when I used to travel a lot more than I do nowadays.

Nothing cooperated as I made my way up to Blois. There was road work going on behind barricades in several key spots and I had to backtrack and figure out an alternate route. I didn't want to be late; I had told Bob and Norma I'd be there at the station when their train pulled in. I worried about finding a parking space once I got there. I ended up driving behind a slow-moving behemoth of a big rig truck, along with six or seven other cars, on a narrow winding road and began wondering if I'd ever get to Blois.

When I finally arrived at the station, I found that the parking lot where I had always been able to put the car in the past had been turned into a big pedestrian esplanade. It was beautiful, but at that point I didn't care about esthetics, I just needed to park the car somewhere. I drove past the station and came to an intersection where a red light stayed red for what seemed like 15 minutes. As I sat there waiting and fretting, I suddenly noticed a little sign that said to turn left to get to temporary train-station parking. The temporary lot was kind of rutted and muddy, and it pretty full. After driving around in it two or three times I finally found an empty space.

It turned out that I was in the station about 10 minutes before the train came in. It was a little late. And then there they were. It wasn't raining, thank goodness, because it was a hike to the station from the parking lot.

I decided to take a different route for the drive back to Saint-Aignan. On that route, there's a tricky intersection where you have to turn left to go right or right to go left. I missed the turn toward the right that I wanted to take. It didn't matter so much, because the three of us were in the car, already having a detailed and fascinating conversation Remember, we hadn't seen each other in at least a dozen years.

At some point, I came to another intersection I recognized, but the road off to the right was closed. At that point, I told Bob and Norma I was officially lost. We'd get there sooner or later, I told them, and I had called Walt from the train station to tell him how much road work was going on all over the place so not to worry if we were late arriving for lunch.

After I admitted I was lost, Norma asked me if GPS might be helpful. Probably, I said. She pulled out her cell phone, handed it to Bob who was in the front passenger seat, and he got it going. Two or three road closures later we finally came to the town I wanted to find. From there I knew where I was and how to get to Saint-Aignan. We were at least 30 minutes later arriving than I had thought. We laughed a lot about our bad luck and how narrow and curvy the little country roads were. In France, you can always expect life to be full of adventures.

After our three-hour lunch, Walt drove Bob and Norma back to Blois. It was raining pretty hard at that point. I told him if he'd drive I would clean up the kitchen. It's a deal he said. On his drive to Blois, he had to cope with rush hour traffic coming out of Blois at the end of the workday. And as he was leaving one of the little towns along the way, he suddenly realized that a police car with lights flashing was pulling up behind him. Merde, he thought, as he slowed down and prepared for the worst. But the police car flew right past him without stopping. It was headed toward an emergency of some kind, I guess.

Walt's drive back to Saint-Aignan was uneventful, he said. He took a different route to get back home. So between the two of us we had driven four different routes through the countryside in one day to get to Blois and back. It really was a lot of excitement for us two country bumpkins.


  1. So glad you had that time together! Driving can be an adventure as we get older.

  2. Driving in France can be an adventure, but it also so pretty there.

  3. What an adventure! So glad you had this lovely visit with your friends.

  4. Does the WAYZ app work in France? It is a GPS app that will tell you about roadwork, the presence of police vehicles, and of course the best route to take to get to your destination. It has saved our lives on numerous occasions! Highly recommended for situations like what you encountered! Jim

    1. I have downloaded Waze. It seems that 2 million French people use it for GPX.

  5. Holy cow, what a story! So glad you had time together, all four of you. Woo hoo!

  6. Google maps will do all the navigation too - turn right, go thru the next set of lights, etc. - you can get it in different languages. And different accents like Australian or British English or Canadian.

  7. I have used google maps for navigation in the past. I had the impression that the Android people had removed that capability. I'll have to try it again.

  8. I am sorry I missed lunch! The commute would have been too far from Illinois. It has been 11 years since we have been with you and Walt.


What's on your mind? Qu'avez-vous à me dire ?