Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Check Out Our New Neighborhood!

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With the help of our awesome friend Bryan, we have decided to improve our website with better pictures, more functionality and easier to find posts.  So we have changed platforms, domain hosts and migrated all of our data over to a new site.  That is really just a lot of technical info that just means we have moved to a new neighborhood.

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Wednesday, February 21, 2018


We drove five hours east from Lacanau on the ocean to the department (i.e. region) of Dordogne and a small village in Perigord Noir called Sarlat-la-Caneda.  It was a nice stop in the french countryside and halfway to our next destination.

Since arriving in France, we had been staying in AirBnBs with no problems at all.  The owners had been nice and all of the apartments were the perfect size for the three of us so we felt pretty confident each time we arrived in a new city.  This time, in Sarlat, the owner was not very responsive to emails and texts and didn't provide advance instructions regarding check-in.  So, we stopped at a cafe and had a beer waiting to see if our pre-paid reservation was a hoax.  It wasn't until 6pm that we heard back - about 15 minutes before we booked another place. We would only be staying for two nights so we made the best of it and set out to enjoy the town.

Sarlat is a 14th century town built around a benedictine abbey that is primarily known for it's savory food including foie gras (goose liver) and pate with vegetarian options like cepes (wild mushrooms) and walnuts.  We had a delicious dinner (minus the foie gras and pate) and then headed out the next day to explore the region.

We found our way to Chateau de Beynac.  This medieval castle atop the limestone cliffs above the Dordogne River was the center of many battles during the Hundred Years War where one side of the river was French and the other was English.  Even Richard I, also known as Richard, The Lionheart, King of England was once a baron of Beynac.  While we were there, the castle was closed for the season so we walked alone along the cobblestone streets, with history oozing through the bricks.
One of the largest rivers that runs through central France
Our AirBnB (double doors behind Kala)...I'm not sure how we figured it out, but glad we did
Home sweet home for the next two days
The town glows yellow at night
Walking around town
Just another night at a restaurant while Mom & Dad have dinner
Darn - the Creperie is closed
Too bad the distillery was closed
The Sarlat Cathedral at night
The back of the abbey
Lanterne des Mort (Lantern of the Dead) -  built in the cemetery to serve as a light for the dead to find their way
"Feudal castle of Beynac, 12th and 13th centuries.  Private Property.  Open all Year.  Paid Parking"

Walking around a 12th century castle
Kala playing around 12 c. castles.
The village cemetery 
Overlooking the Dordogne
What if this was your neighborhood?

They even had bars (very cool bars) on the windows 800 years ago
The limestone caves at the top of the village
I'm liking the french countryside

Of course there are grapevines, it's France
At the bottom of the village, looking above the caves to the Chateau de Beynac
A village garage.
If you're interested in staying in the village for holiday, this would be a very cool place.
You can barely see the steps as they wind down and around for the moss that covers them
Near Beynac, there was a truffle festival the week after we left.  As long as a dog can tell the difference between the good ones and the poisonous ones.
Worth picking?
For those who are adventurous, hiking across France, this is the way to go
A viaduct - a span made of partitions of equal length transitioned over land.  Over water, a span is called a "Pont"  This is different from an aqueduct which were used by the Romans supply water to cities.

Random bamboo growing along the train tracks (I'm guessing not indigenous)

Wednesday, February 14, 2018


When in France, do as the French - which obviously means drink more wine.  First step, learn as much as possible about wine, and what better place to do that than Bordeaux.

Bordeaux was an hour drive from Lacanau, so we spent a morning learning a great deal about the different regions of France, the different grapes that are used to make Bordeaux wine, all about the vines and how they are grown and alas the tasting.  We learned that you're supposed to hold wine glasses by the stem, not the base, as your hand would warm the wine.  Who knew?  We also learned how to read french wine labels, which, as it turns out, are very different than the labels we are used to reading.  For example, the wine is not labeled "Cabernet" or "Merlot", it is simply marked by the estate that produced the wine and perhaps the region.  It is up to the buyer to know what varietal he is buying.  Also, only first production wine from a particular year is allowed to be called "Chateau" - all others from that year must use another name.

We passed our class and headed out for a quick dejeuner before returning to Lacanau, feeling ripe and a little more educated about the french culture.
Learned quite a bit about wines and vines
The wine regions in France - they all use a different combination of grape varieties
Colas, our sommelier

Walking the streets of Bordeaux
Most locals travel by bike not car

Plaza de Quinconces

Saturday, February 10, 2018


Lacanau-Océan (pronounced "lack-a-now, oh-see-en") is a small community in the south east corner of the Bay of Biscay.  It is really a summer oriented vacation spot so for us to be there in mid-January was what we would call in the US, "Off season".  The four days we were in Lacanau, there was also a pretty big weather system in the Bay of Biscay so the winds and waves were trés forts.  Another reason to keep the crowds at "bay". 

We arrived after a three hour drive from La Rochelle and I could barely open the car door as the wind was blowing at least 35 knots.  Baxter and I looked at each other and had the same reaction - so nice not to be on the boat in those waves.  We found a great place for lunch and had a quick pizza and beer and then found our AirBnB apartment. 

Each morning we would go for a run on the beach, usually in the rain and with wind blowing sideways.  On our run back we would pay our respect to the ocean and spend an hour picking up trash.  It was pretty rewarding as we found everything from laundry baskets to oil filters to potato chip containers - and of course, water bottles.  The waves were huge and it was easy to see how Lacanau is one of the biggest surf spots in France.  If only we had our boards and wetsuits, but unfortunately, they were back on Terrapin in the UK.  We watched while Kala enjoyed the surf and loved every single second of the beach. 

Public Service Announcement:  Please, please, please, never buy another water bottle again.  There are reusable containers in every shape and size to fit whatever your preference is - please never buy water bottles. They just end up in the ocean and on the beach.  #turnthetideonplastic #takeyourown #dontbuymoreplastic 

The wave forecast while we were in Lacanau

Monday, February 5, 2018

Sweet Chessie

It was a cold day in Georgetown, SC in November 2012 when Baxter and I met a dog named Chessie with her Mom and Dad, Ted and Maggie.  We had arrived at the Georgetown Landing Marina on "Stella Blue", our Tartan 37, heading south towards the Bahamas.  Ted, Maggie and Chessie were sailing "Sunday's Child", their Tartan 30, also heading to the Bahamas.

Kala and Chessie immediately hit it off and became instant friends.  They swam together, shredded coconuts together, Kala even let Chessie take a nap in her bunk on Stella Blue.  Two years later, when Ted and Maggie visited Baxter and I in Utah - Kala took her friend Chessie up to Dog Lake in Mill Creek Canyon.  Chessie was Kala's first true friend and every time they saw each other, you could tell they were friends forever.

We heard last night that Chessie is no longer with us.  It really is heart-breaking and hard to believe.  We know Chessie had an awesome life with Ted and Maggie and gave as much love as she possibly could.  

Thank you Chessie for the sweet memories and good times!  We'll see you over the Rainbow Bridge!
Chessie in Staniel Cay Exumas, 2012 - before the wild pigs came out of the bushes and Maggie shouted "Pigs"
Shredding coconuts together (Chessie on left, Kala on right)
Chessie napping on Kala's bunk
Kala keeping a close eye on her friends

Preacher Bill, Naked Dan ("Arcturus") with Chessie, Ted & Maggie at Norman's Cay in the Exumas
Pretty Chessie girl
Utah, 2014

Chessie Selfie