Friday, August 17

Moments and Memory

The bags packed and ready to go. We hired a seven passenger van for the road trip to France. Now, lest you think a seven person van in Holland also has room for seven person's luggage, I must dissuade you of that notion immediately! Consider it a mini minivan.

being the operative term.

Undaunted, we crammed every nook and stored items in every cranny, then strapped ourselves in for the ride.

The route we planned toward Praz sur Arly would take us past Brussels into Luxembourg on our first night. Second day road tripping took us through bits of Germany where we lost track of the highway we needed to be on, then did some backtrack and took the road through France. Ultimate destination: The French Alps! Specifically, the village of Praz sur Arly tucked high in the hills.

And now, without adieu, I give you the memorable moments of our week in the hills.

1. Singing at the top of our lungs "We are a family, such a happy family..." as we started on our way. This song comes to us by way of our good friends in Arizona (thanks, M!) and includes a verse for everyone in the vehicle by descending age. Yeah, that's seven verses. One for Grandpa, one for Grandma, one for me--because I am older than Don, one for that cute boy I married, then for Ian, Emma, and Andrew in succession.

2. Playing with Andrew's new race car in the parking lot of the hotel as we waited for the check in. Toy cars go really fast down hills!

3. Sightseeing in Luxembourg.

4. Things like this:

5. And this:

6. And this too:

7. Starburst for breakfast.

8. McDonald's for lunch. (Okay, that's really not a highlight but I didn't want anyone thinking we were eating any such thing as fine french food on this road trip with kids.)

9. Stopping for groceries in Chamonoix. We discovered a big chain store there in France which feels something akin to walking into a Super Wal-mart. (Strange, the things that make you nostalgic). The best part of this particular stop was watching my Mom dig deep into her high school French of 45+ years ago and ask an employee where we could find toilet paper. En voila! The search was a stunning success.

10. The chalet style homes we rented for our stay. Two small apartments on the third floor, each with a tiny kitchen, a bedroom, a bathroom with a tub--no shower, a toilet and a set of bunkbeds in the hallway. Is there a word for something this cute? Quaint doesn't even cut it. There is just so much atmosphere and coziness there. Sleeping at the Caribou II chalet simply makes the experience. Makes it perfect.

11. Waking in the mornings to see goats grazing on the steep hillside. And stunning cloud cover breaking over the mountaintops.

12. Little walks into the village, long explores through the forest, throwing rocks into the stream.

13. Playing cards at night around the kitchen table. Laughing until I cried listening to my Dad's stories and anecdotes.

14. The train ride up the steep mountainside of Mount Blanc. The train pitched at so steep an angle you could lean into the ride and not lose balance on your feet. Like this:

And at the top of Mount Blanc? This (in August!):

15. A long car ride homeward replete with laughing, snoozing, car counting games and not-without-enthusiasm singing for Andrew's entertainment. Finally, a crash and burn kind of sleep in our own beds and the pleasant sensation of a thousand memories etched into our psyche.


  1. Even with the Starburst and Micky D's I just LOVED reading this.

    I'm so happy your family had such a trip.

  2. What lovely fun! Snow in August! Gotta get that family song from you, though DH is not the best of singers...

  3. ehat adventures you are having! Even though I know I could never pick and move to a foreign country, I am jealous of all of your amazing experiences.

  4. In spite of the mini mini van, your trip sounded positively delightful! Brought back a lot of memories from my travels around there.

  5. SMID-
    Even with Starburst and Micky D's I just LOVED the trip. Best food in the world to me is a fresh baguette from the bakery. Mmmmm.

    It was such a trip to play in the snow up there! And yes, of course we'll teach you the song. And you too can annoy all around you by belting it out in public places.

    It is an adventure. Sometimes I have to pinch myself to remember it's real. Don't sell yourself short though, if I can do this, you could too.

    It is a gorgeous area and we really did have a grand time. Even stuffed tight in the miniminivan.

  6. I love that summer snow- great description, Jenn

  7. Oh, that sounds awesome. I fondly remember road trips with my family as a kid and can't wait to do those types of things with my husband and kids. For now, I'll just enjoy hearing all about YOUR great adventures. :)

  8. I love your pics and your post.

    So glad you all had a good time. It does me good to know you guys have such good times together! :)

    Welcome Back!

    Now, have a good weekend.

  9. What a fabulous trip! And not just because of the places you went, but the way you all seemed to enjoy each other so much. I'm glad you had a wonderful time. And that snow? Wow!

  10. Starbursts & Micky D's & snow in August - oh my! Great pictures, too!

  11. Awww, mannnn! I wanna go!

    It sounds like it was an absolutely LOVELY trip, miniminivan and all!

  12. Beautiful pictures. It sounds like you had a ton of fun. :)

  13. Hold on. You're older than Don? Oh, you saucy little minx, you. You and Demi Moore, eh?

    Love the pics, natch. I have a similar one of me at the top of Mont Blanc about a thousand years ago. Sigh. What a lovely place.

    I'm glad you had such an awesome trip! Thanks for sharing it with us!

  14. Oh, that sounds SO wonderful!!! I'm so homesick (so to speak) for Europe! What a grand family adventure!

    Also, Jenn, thanks for all the e-mails - as you'll see tomorrow, I've been grouchily sitting at my desk for days on a school task (except for yesterday when we went to work a Renn Festival) so I'm behind on EVERYTHING!