Par Lay Voo Fron Say?

Here I am, cruising down the highway heading back to camp from spending the morning in Tampa. Off to the side of the road I see two people on bicycles, all decked out with the whole nine yards of camp gear and a big blue Smurf tied onto the handlebars.  They are keeping a good pace, clearly they are not novices, and have likely been at this for a while.


There I go, day dreaming about the last time I was on my bicycle.  Wishing it was here. Missing those summer rides with my friend Joy, and feeling a little homesick.  I look in the rear view mirror and see the couple shrinking away to nothing as I continue south down the road. 


Back in camp I have plenty to do!  Today is the day to shake things out.  Sandy beaches equals frequent tent cleaning.  As much as I love my family, there are days when I really wish they could pitch in with the chores!  I suppose I could just give in and create a sandbox in the tent. 




So about an hour or so into my cleaning spree, I look up and out to the road, and what is this I see?  Two bicyclists and a Smurf, slowly coasting into the West Campground.  Not just any two bicyclists, but the couple I saw hours ago at the edge of Tampa.


Oh my!  Now THAT is a long ride!  I was so excited I couldn’t stop from running right out to the road to greet them!


“O-my-gosh I saw you hours ago on the road in Tampa!  Wow, this is amazing, how long have you been riding?” I am in total awe and excitement, and they are laughing and looking at each other.


“Yes, we ride long time today. But very boring. Ugly on the road.” The girl responds.

“And so tired, and many cars.” the guy says.


Picking up on their thick accents, I ask “Where are you from?” 


“We are from France, yes, wee.”


Wow.  Whole new appreciation and respect for their athletic prowess.  I have thousands of questions, but clearly they need to get to their campsite, set up and rest.  They invite me to stop by in a bit. 


I’m thinking about their journey down the highway.  They must be knowledgeable about the outdoors.  I hope they are. Where will they put their food without a car? It’s almost 3:00 so I decide to walk down there.


The tent is up, their gear is spread across the picnic table, and they are in the final stages of organizing.  We greet each other.  Thirties something, Valerie and Clement from France.  Wow, very inspirational.


“Thought I should give you fair warning about the raccoons.  They are everywhere, so you need to keep your food secure.”


“Oh yes, we know of this, we keep this in the tent?” Clement replies.  It really isn’t a question, but more of a statement.


“I don’t know if that’s a good idea, they will not hesitate to come into the tent for it.” I warn.  “And they will come looking for food any time day or night.”


“No!”  Valerie laughs, “ziss is not true? She looks at Clement.  They proceed to explain that they are very familiar with wildlife, and describe their journey.  It would appear they’ve just about seen it all….


Valerie and Clement have made a commitment to travel by bicycle, 6 months and 6,000 miles, to see the United States.  Their journey started in Seattle Washington where they entered the country, and will end in Miami Florida on January 30th.  They have traveled down the California west coast, and then along the southern border of the United States to get to Florida.  They have never had a raccoon or any animal come into their tent. 


“Well, guys, that was then.  Now you’re here.”  I no sooner said that, then low and behold, a raccoon had gotten onto the picnic table bench and was digging through Valeries duffel bag.


“OHHH noooooo Clement do somesing!  OHHHH!” They are both scrambling to shoo the coon away. Valerie is gingerly retrieving her things from the ground around the table.  Clement picks up a piece of broken palm bough and flings it at the masked bandit as it dashes over to the mangroves with a piece of something in it’s paw.  They are shocked, we all break into a laugh.  The raccoon hovers in the safety of the mangroves with it’s prize.  Clement tries to throw a piece of shell at it-but hits the branches.  Then I, the stealth hunter, make a fierce growl and stamp at it and it scurries away, dropping the headband.


“I am not so good with the aim” he sheepishly admits.


“No worries.” I always hate to say I told you so, but, hey, I told them so……


It will be a long night for them at Secret Spot Park.


Still, this couple is at the top of my list of being the all-time coolest adventuring couple ever.  The next morning as they are on their way out, we talk more, and I invite them to Minnesota for a Boundary Waters adventure with me.  It’s only fair for them to see how the northern part of the country lives.  That sounds good. 

We talk about the things they’ve seen, their favorite stops, and how long they sIMG_1044pent planning their trip.  They promise to let me know when they hit the Miami city limits, and complete their journey. We exchange contact information and hug goodbye. 



                                                                    Safe travels my friends!

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