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16 May 2010


Mossy, Cormac, Henry and I lay in a field of wildflowers, a dome of dusty blue overhead with a sliver of moon. We listened to the sun disappearing below the land and the crickets set up their choral din. The boys spontaneously picked daisies and set them in my hair, each taking turns. This lasted a total of three seconds before one of them started chastising another, but it was so unforgettable that it seemed to last a lifetime. I think I was having a French moment.

Mamut with human

This day's minutae will be turned inside out...because I feel like it. Most families dream of taking their kids to places that maybe they always wanted to go but there was no money, or they went and it marked their lives forever. These can be locales such as Disneyland or World, Sea World, maybe Graceland or perhaps the largest cross in the Western Hemisphere down there in Oklahoma. Apparently Americans carry these dreams overseas and influence the European populace at large as EuroDisney is the No. 1 visited attraction in France. We are not so different, except that our tastes run counterculture to the choices above.

Rubes' 'this is so lame' look

Today we made a Mama dream come true and went to Prehistoparc, replete with full sized-mammoths being speared to death by Cro-Magnon, a furry version of a WWF wrestler going head to head with a wooly rhinocerous, a cave lion roaring at a cowering man/woman while he/she shrieked in a strange Franco-Neanderthal get the picture. If you don't, see below. It is set in a tract of beautiful deciduous forest with moss covered rocks and the sun filtering through to a small stream flowing through.
The figures were all life-sized and set in place within this forested landscape. Of course, you might not want to look too closely or you'll see the horribly outdated anthropological interpretation of the paleolithic human of the 1970s/80s (and the speaker box in full view behind the lion's derriere).

En Route

Previous to this aventure fromageux, we bushwhacked our way up the bramble covered path behind the gite to a trail that led up to the top of the limestone ridge. It was a great little hike that got us a wide view of the Ceou valley. At the top we realized we'd made a wrong turn and stood on the grounds of some manor house. We crept out to the little winding road and passed the little hameau of , which sits atop this ridge. We felt a strong desire to never move again. On the way down, Ruby discovered some rock shelters we'd missed and we looked around carefully in all the crevices just in case someone had hidden a cache of fabulous Solutrean points but, alors non, just some cobwebs and spiders. At this point Mama's jetlag set in and I had to take a little nappy in order to fully appreciate my next adventure (the one above).

, En Abri

So, we have heard it is cold and miserable in Kansas. It is, of course, not miserable here but it is cold. Much the same as when we left, with most days threatening rain, but never quite making good on the promise. Mossy bravely jumped in the unheated pool here today in a rare ray of sunshine and leapt back out like a frog in a fire (no pun intended French people). It is supposed to be beautiful tomorrow, though, so we hope for warmth!

After saddling ourselves with the appropriate memorabilia from Prehistoparc (two rubber bouncy balls and postcards) , we flung ourselves into a short addendum adventure to La Roque St. Christophe, a crazy cliff that rises straight from the Vezere river valley floor up several thousand feet and contains the remains of both prehistoric and "troglodyte" cliff dwellers.

One car wide approach to la Roque. Approach with all speed and recklessness as possible

I read this in French on the website before coming and I could have sworn that troglodytes were bizarre creatures of the trilobite era that scooted around on the swampy ocean floor..or in caves...or something like that. But apparently they were cliff dwelling people who built wooden forts into these rocks (18th century/19th). I guess we should read the brochure. Anyway, it afforded us the chance to obtain a rarity in France, one that we dream of every moment: a to-go cup of coffee (at le snack bar).

The Vezere valley is a place we will find ourselves in again and again. It is the seat of prehistory in the area and the largest concentration of prehistoric human habitation in France. This is where Lascaux, Le Moustier and Les Ezyies-de Tayac can be found, among many others. The river isn't quite as wide as the Dordogne but a beautiful meandering one as seen from above.

And, last, the quintessential red flower of the Perigord noir, something akin to a California poppy, but more delicate and purely red. It is everywhere, in rocky soil, in cliff faces, in fields. And so it's found on tablecloths, dishes, towels and everywhere. It reminds me of the surprise lilies that pop up on the lawns of Lawrence..a gift from nowhere and for no one in particular.


  1. I am speechless. It seems you have wandered into a fairy land with surprises at every turn and something for everyone. Everyone must be having a great time. Right?

    Is Ruby your photographer? The photos have been wonderful and give a better sense of what's happening. Just like a picture book.

    We are totally at your mercy upon arrival. Pick up time is 6:22pm on Merdi, 25 Mai at the train station in Gourdon.

    It would probably be better to send you an email with pertinent facts.
    M & S

  2. Jason must be the photographer because he isn't in a single one.

    Thanks for writing so much and so soon. Keep them coming. I love reading your blog. It's like a book that I read one chapter a day.

    Good night.

    Maggie: open up a simple gmail account and then when you sign in, you will be listed as whatever name you give, and not as anonymous. Or, if you have a URL, click on the "comment as" box, directly below the comment text box and click on the one above anonymous, that says, "Name/URL" and type in the name you want to use.

  3. It is a beautiful picture book - well done! So lovely, it's our bed time reading.. and we can't wait to share the adventures of the day.

    Keep it up please! We have a request for more pictures of food.. ; )
    ..and of course all the kid pics you can manage to upload!

  4. Molly! this is fantastic, we are all armchair traveling right with you. Thank you for sharing so many details.....and tell Ruby, I have a photo of you at the same age with the same expression! Love to you all... please post a picture of Jason, either driving or miming!