Russ tells me it has been hot, dry and windy at home. I guess I’ll refocus on enjoying this cool here. It has rained almost every day since I’ve been here. I don’t mind the rain so much, coming from a thirsty land, rain is always welcome. I have to say God has been really good to us. It seems as if the rain stops and the sun comes out, just when we need it most. The most is when we have to walk long distances to get somewhere high in the mountains. So, I am enjoying the cool/cold weather. They tell me this is unseasonably cool; I’m not sure if I can believe them or not. I had to borrow a warm coat to keep myself from freezing! I brought mostly sleeveless tops and shorts, but my shorts have seen daylight only once, and my tops have been multi-layered with warmer clothes! Still, in one more week I will be home to the hot, hot, Texas summer!
We had an "amazing race" week last week. We went to the Bavarian Alps and saw Hitler’s hide-away, saw two of King Ludwig’s castles, Hohenschwangau and Neuf-schwanstein. We toured a Salt Mine in Berchtesgaden, went to Paris to see Versailles, palace of the Louis XIV, the sun king. In Paris, we took a boat tour on a river craft they call a bateau mouche, took a "petit train" around the 800 hectares gardens of Versailles, went to the top of the Eiffle Tower on a cold windy day I might add, and then did the Amazing Race thing to get back to our train on time!
We did the race act because our boat tour was late getting back to the dock. Our tour dropped us off in a different stop than where we started, so we were disoriented. Our first question to a guard was to direct us over the Trocadero. This turned out to be up a very long flight of stairs and around a corner. There are soldiers all over Paris, all of them heavily armed. There was a "manifestation" or demonstration while we were up in the tower so perhaps that is why there were so many armed soldiers in town. My question to the lift operator solicited this reply.
"This is Paris; we have them all the time."
We dashed into the strange subway system, crowded with rush hour workers, read the map to no avail, so once more we asked for directions. It took a while to get our information, because we were not really sure where we wanted to go. Finally, a nice worker sent us to the correct ticket booth. Our minutes were ticking away. One thing everyone learns in Europe; trains and subways leave exactly on time. We had about 30 minutes to get to our unknown destination at rush hour! There was a scene beside us; apparently, a young student had tried to do something illegal. He was crying and trying to explain, but the end result was they called the police on him. We wanted to help, but we were running out of time! We packed into the subway and headed for St Lazare station. When we reached the station, we had no clue as to where to go next. We exited the wrong gate, so I asked the ticket agent where to go. Unfortunately, I managed to get one of the snotty Frenchmen who are extremely rude. After several exchanges of ignorance, he finally let us back in to the station to exit out the other end. Picture, if you can 11 people, 4 children and 7 adults, racing in between people calling excitedly to one another to hurry. The kids were great. They recognized the urgency of the situation, and ran for all they were worth. Did I also mention it was the last train to Normandy and our little vacation cottage? We worked our way through the underground tunnels to the main train station only to find there were 22 tracks going out! Another quick French conversation with a polite woman this time, and we made it to Track 22 with eight minutes to spare! I never thought I’d be so glad to sit in a seat. We have laughed about that dash for days, but it wasn’t funny at the time!
Our little cottage in St Pierre was perfect. It was set in a quiet country setting, reached by a narrow one lane, hedge bordered road. We only met one oncoming car in our many trips in and out. The roads in many of these small towns are incredibly narrow! I’m glad I wasn’t doing the driving. We thanked our host for his hospitality when we left. The only gripe we had was the lack of toilet paper. I was forced to "borrow" some from the other cottage that was unoccupied at the time. I like this European "on demand" hot water system. We never lacked for hot water, even with 11 people.
Our weeklong journey finished with the D-Day beaches. As I watched my grandchildren scampering through the bunkers overlooking the beaches and down into the huge shell craters I cried for all the broken-hearted mothers who never saw their sons again. It was right that the children played where their forefathers paid the ultimate price, but the sorrow was just too much for me. The war memorials were even worse. I wish that all of our protestors could stand in front of the endless rows of crosses and see what their freedoms have cost! Point du Hoc, Omaha, Utah, Vimy Ridge for the Canadians all sites of horrible loss. I wept again at all the nameless graves, so much heartache, for so many families. I ask again that you pray for all the families of our precious troops. We have several families in Richland that are facing this horrible unknown in the East. My son will be leaving in a few months for a long deployment. We owe all our troops an unpayable debt. I know I shall never forget those shell holes and crosses!
This next week is a rest for me before I head home. I’ll take this week to enjoy my family and store up time and memories with them. They change so quickly at this age. Kaitlynn is becoming a young lady, Dustyn is headed for middle school, and baby Bryson is no longer a baby! Tomorrow is never promised to us; so each of us must enjoy today to its fullest. I hope you all have a blessed and cooler week. See you soon. May God bless our country and guide its leaders.