Thursday – Leaving Le Puy en Velay

We spent the night at the relais du pèlerins gîte, immediately across the street from the house Sage rented last summer. In the morning, after a quick petite déjeuner, we walked 5 minutes to the cathedral for the traditional Pilgrim mass and blessing, which had begun a few minutes before we arrived. Afterward, the priest spoke to the group (40-50 people), of whom the bulk were from France, but with Asia, Australia, North America, and elsewhere in Europe also represented. We were given a prayer of blessing to carry with us … and then we were dismissed to begin our walks.

View of Le Puy-en-Velay as we began our walk.

The two of us about to set out.

View back up the Cathedral steps after descending.

Morning fog over the city, shrouding the cathedral and statue of Mary

A reminder of how far it is to Compostela

Countryside above Le Puy.

Lyon to Le Puy en Velay

We spent Tuesday morning walking leisurely around Lyon near the Part Dieu station. We caught a direct train from Lyon to Le Puy. Interestingly, a direct train was not available in this route last year due to work on the tracks near Le Puy.

The track goes west from Lyon to St. Étienne, then generally follows the valley of the upper Loire towards Le Puy. Total trip was about 2:15, with 6-10 stops along the way. The scenery is spectacular, with many tunnels and rapids within the course of the river.

Our train had many passengers who were planning on beginning their walk of the Camino either Wednesday or Thursday.

We walked from the Le Puy train station to our hotel in the southwest edge of the city center.

In Lyon

We’ve checked into our hotel, washed our clothes, and ourselves, and are about to go exploring and then out for dinner.

We took the Metro from the Part-Dieu area to the old city of Lyon. It’s a quaint area, situated at the confluence of the Rhône and Saône rivers, with much evidence of the city’s past as a silk manufacturing center and, of course, many traditional restaurants.

View of the street from our restaurant in the city quarter of Lyon

The Lyon Cathedral is dedicated to John the Baptist and dates from 1180.

West front of Lyon Cathedral

Carved wood piece from Lyon Cathedral. The panels on the doors in the center appear to depict the list of John the Baptist

The pilgrim trail that runs from Geneva to Le Puy passes through Lyon in the old city, and we saw evidence of it on the path we took last night.

Although David took a nap in the afternoon, I was able to resist the temptation. I woke this morning at about 6:30, after turning in about 10:00 last night. In other words, minimal sleep disruption from jet lag (so far!).

This afternoon, we take the train from Lyon to Le Puy. We’ll have the rest of the day in Le Puy plus all of tomorrow. On Thursday, we begin our walk.

Waiting for the train …

Since our flight from O’Hare was not only on time, but actually about 30 min early, we have time on our hands waiting for our train to Lyon, where we’ll spend the night.

Our time has been filled in part by an evacuation of the train station, which lasted about 15 minutes. All very even-tempered, but definitely in earnest. Evidently someone had discovered an unattended package, leading to an investigation. As it turned out, there was nothing sinister going on.

After a coffee break, we’re now waiting for our train – due to arrive in about 20 minutes. As you can see, we’re not the only ones waiting.

Second, longer training walk

After a busy week and a horribly cold and rainy Friday yesterday, I’m out again for a longer training walk along the streets, highways, and by-ways of the Fox Valley. It’s a little over a week until departure, and a few days after that when we begin walking. So the greater duration and distance are important. I’m breaking for lunch after 7.3 miles, and I’m not totally exhausted!

My outbound route took me upriver along the Fox through a wooded area below Riverside Cemetery. Due to yesterday’s strong rains, the trails were a bit muddy. And to my delight and surprise, there were trillium in the woods.

Trilliums in the woods below Riverside Cemetery

By the end of my walk, I had covered just over 12 miles — our planned daily average during our three week walk. It’s reassuring to think that that daily distance is within my reach.

Practice walk

With my departure for Le Puy-en-Velay not too far in the future, I’m training for longer walks. Today’s is taking me west from home and south to the Fox River at Lutz Park on a beautiful, blue-sky day.

To my surprise, there were not only Canada geese at the park, but also swans. Or so it seemed. On closer inspection they were decoys–perhaps a strategy for weakening the geese’s sense of entitlement.

I was pleased to be able to see the Main Hall cupola and the Lawrence Memorial chapel steeple (about a mile down-River) visible under the Memorial Drive bridge from the riverbank.

What a beautiful setting!


Car on slippery road

On the bus headed to O’Hare, beginning the UW Continuing Studies trip to Morocco. It’s quite snowy in Madison, with slick roads and slow-moving traffic. All in the interest of contrast with our ultimate destination, I suppose.

[Later:] Has been slow going on I-90, especially near Janesville interchange, where several trucks were off the road.

Our driver never missed a beat, though he’s about 35 minutes behind schedule. Not an issue for us, as our flight doesn’t leave until 6 pm.

Extreme Makeover Camp at Moon Beach

Pat and I, along with 13 friends, are part of a group of 1stCongo folk helping out at Moon Beach camp in Vilas County, WI. the photo below shows the misty morning that greeted us yesterday; today is comparable. Even so, we accomplished a lot yesterday (Pat stacking wood and raking; Steve scraping and prepping for paint, assuming the weather dries out). We were serenaded by frogs in the bog upon arrival Sunday night, scolded by a pair of phoebes whose nest is on our cabin porch, and summoned from sleep this morming by the call of a loon. Blessings abound!