Jnster: the story of an outdoors enthusiast in NYC and wherever he wanders...

Sunday, July 31, 2005

One optimized week of vacation in France :-)

I'm just back from one week in France. I had time to do lots of thigs, much more than what I have time to tell now...

By the way, I just walked home past Petco and saw a woman with a big iguana on her shoulder: yes it is a crazy city here!

But let's go back to the point: my vacation in France.

The highlights were:
- Katia and Arnaud's wedding day in Alsace.
I was so happy for them, they looked like the happiest couple on earth:I don't have any worry about they long-term marriage...
It was the first wedding of friends I am attending, quite a big emotion.
And I had the chance to meet most of my friends from INSA there, it was really a great gathering! As it seemed to me, there's an ever growing part of them who's migrating from France to Switzerland. Sign of changing times for engineers?

- Visit to my parents and my grandparents that I hadn't seen for quite a while...
I was very happy to meet all of them, especially my grand parents that I see even less often. I was as usual trated like a king, having fantastic chinese meals, and my mum in vacation, all dedicated to her son-visiting-from-the-US.

- Visit to MurMur, my former regular climbing gym in Lyon
The goal was to know if I had bettered my level while training in NYC. I know the style of climbing would be quite different. MurMur is a huge gym, with most routes at least 10m high and big overhangs. So my testpieces were routes in NYC-gym style: short, but very technical. The result is that I oversighted a 6b+ and 6c (a thing I could never do in the past, i.e 2004 ;-)), and climbed big overhangs: overall my level has improved, I'm really happy.

- Meeting my sporty lyonnais friends
Geoffroy hosted me at his place, and I met most people I really wanted to see. Sorry Eric S and Anne-Lise, among others, we couldn't arrange any meeting... Next time, or CU here :-). I found everyone in good shape, very much into sport and travel, as usual... It felt good to meet these friends, with which you feel to have a lot in common

- 4 days in the Alps, trying to climb mountains as planned months in advance...
Our original plan was to climb Barre des Ecrins and Domes de Miage, and finally I didn't climb any of those... We actually changed our plans (with Geoffroy) at the last minute, because of dangerous conditions in the couloir we had chosen for Barre des Ecrins. We headed to Chamonix instead, and summited the Aiguille du tour, via a semi-original route (Day 1 +1400m non technical, Day 2 +800m technical, -2100m). It was harder than what I had expected but we did pretty well.
After meeting friends in Les Contamines, we started the next day for les domes de Miage with reinforcements consisting of Violaine and Nicolas. We had to stop around 9am before the Col des Domes, because of low visibility, snow storm, a painful ankle... Better luck next time. Nicolas was particularly disapointed as it would have been hos first mountaineering summit.
(Day 1 +1500m, Day 2 +600m, -2100m).
4 big days overall. I thought I would sleep like a baby in the plane, but I didn't... And I didn't feel much jet lag. Let's wait a few more flights to say I'm the master of jet lag :-)

Conclusion: after a total of 10 days (New York to New York): I have a feeling that I almost have two homes, one on each side of the Atlantic. I mean everything still feels very familiar in France, and so does New York after coming back. I had been expecting a big cultural shock when going to France, and no such thing happened. So I'm still very much French :-) And I have more friends over there...
I know I won't be living in New York for too long, definitely not for all my life, but I feel good here... Summertime, and the living is easy, maybe anywhere in the world... If only it could be the same for Elise...

Katia & Arnaud,married indeed Posted by Picasa

Typical view of MurMur Posted by Picasa

Galcier du tour Posted by Picasa

The rocky Aiguille du tour Posted by Picasa

Jn & Geoff at the summit of aiguille du tour Posted by Picasa

Nico & Geoff Posted by Picasa

Getting ready with rope and crampons at early morning Posted by Picasa

climbing up the Glacier de Tre la tete Posted by Picasa

Violaine is still happy Posted by Picasa

Snowing hard, reminder of Colorado? ;-) Posted by Picasa

Jn Posted by Picasa

View from the hut (Refuge des conscrits) Posted by Picasa

Geoffroy over the crevasse Posted by Picasa

Nico jumpin' Posted by Picasa

going down after the snow storm Posted by Picasa

Les Domes de miage from St Gervais Posted by Picasa

Friday, July 29, 2005

Les retrouvailles des montagnards: Jn et Geoffroy au sommet de l'aiguille du tour Posted by Picasa

Monday, July 18, 2005

Home Sweet home?

It's quite funny to look at New York pictures on the blog while being back in France for a few days...
Anyway, I jst have a few spare minutes for the blog.... I think the next post will be accompanied by pix when I'm back in NYC...

The picture shows a building which collapsed in the Upper West Side last week, on 100th and Broadway...
It was in the process of being demolished, but just collapsed by itself. People were really scared, but no one was seriously injured...

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Quiet Week End

A Week end spent entirely in NYC.
Aude, Elise's sister is here, while Benoit and Magali are still around, relocated in Brooklyn until August...
Here a few pictures.

I'm flying back to France this Friday evening!

72nd st marina, on the Upper West Side, steps from home Posted by Picasa

Central Park Posted by Picasa

Park Ave, looking south Posted by Picasa

Elise with her new SLR, on the Belvedere castle Posted by Picasa

Central Park, the great lawn Posted by Picasa

The reservoir in Central Park Posted by Picasa

SoHo Posted by Picasa

Saturday, July 09, 2005

In search of the mysterious loon

Hey, it's time to tell a little more about last 3 day week end in the Adirondacks...
First of all, it seems like it's so remote, so out of this world... But actually, it's "just" upstate NY. Same country, same state as this crazy NYC...
So the thing is you just have to rent a car in Manhattan, drive 6-7 hours north, past smallish towns with "South Park"-like names (e.g North River, North Creek etc), and you end up in the middle of pine trees and spruce deep forests. You are in... Blue mountain lake, NY.
Actually the town was so small that there wasn't even a decent grocery store to buy water in another form than Gallon or mini bottle!
We have to drive to Long Lake to find those, and even some fuel for the stove... sigghh, relieved... this trip in the middle of nowhere was getting out of control for me...
Even on a 4th of July week end, we somehow managed to find a campsite with vacancy, next to long lake, and just had enough time to pitch the tent and make a quickie ascent of Blue Mountain (650m elevation difference). It was different than our usual US hiked: steeper and shorter. Can I say French Alps sttyle?

The next morning, we returned to Blue mountain lake to rent a canoe, drive to the bog river with the canoe on our sporty Chevy Monte Carlo coupé (why do they always give us these beautiful cars??) and we could start our real canoe trip. Paddling, paddling, paddling, carrying the canoe for a short portage, paddling, paddling... The sensations were really great, just floating on calm water, sourrounded by nature and animals noise. Almost no tourists!!
It was fairly hot and we were just thinking about diving to the water.
We met a park ranger in her kayak, and she indicated us a few campsites for the night.
Finally, we found the perfect location, the most beautiful campsite ever maybe, with a tiny beach for us, on an island, and sheltered by pine trees. The water was really warm (much warmer than the Atlantic Ocean in Montauk) and the afternoon swim was deliciously relaxing...
Just before sunset, we decided to explore our island, first on foot and then with the boat. All the animals kind of woke up at this hour. We saw a deer and her baby coming to drink at the river, and heard many strange noises. Is this a wolf? No, it must be a night owl or something... Didn't see anything so it was still a mistery...
The sky turned pink and violet, and it was absolutely beatiful... Couldn't hear or see any track of civilization around... Not even a plane in the sky...

The next morning, we woke up very early to try to encounter other animals. didn't see any big mammal, but we finally saw was thing was making this strange wolf/owl-like noise: it's the loon, a kind of small duck! They are particularly abundant in the part of the river...

So the mistery was solved, we could go back to NYC, just in time to see the 4th of July fireworks. Richard invited us at his friend's place on York Avenue, so we had a nice view, kind of the same as what was on TV at the same time! Nice fireworks, but nothing like as one to remember for a life time...

Blue Mountain Lake from the summit of Blue Mountain Posted by Picasa