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Day A8 - Good roads, ugly weather
March 5, 2013                    Les Issambres to Cogolin                            14 miles
Flags in wind

I've been pretty lucky with the weather so far. But today I got a reminder that it can turn ugly.

Fortunately, I didn't wait around for the Les Issambres hotel's expensive breakfast, and an early departure from there saved an hour and allowed me not to worry about a late arrival at Cogolin tonight. But, independently of my departure time, the weather forced me to concentrate on getting the job done, and I made good progress. Who has time to take photographs in wet weather, or chat to locals when the wind howls?

So today, as with tomorrow, ugly weather has meant few or no photographs.  When the wind blows and it rains hard, the mind concentrates on just a few things - staying dry, making walking progress, and avoiding accidents.  Photography isn't even on the to-do list.

Most of my route today was unavoidably coastal, and so susceptible to winds. I'd say they averaged 45 mph, with gusts much higher. Luckily, they were generally from behind - which didn't stop the buffeting. Another plus for half the route was a wide bike track - no bikes out today - which separated me from the traffic. Occasionally, the bike track ran in a gully shielding me from the wind as well, but occasionally means "not often".

The normally-somnolent Mediterranean spawned whitecaps and waves that crashed on the shore and sometimes across my road.

With the wind came some rain, enough for a good "50-percent soaking". No question of using my tiny umbrella in these winds. I made it to Ste. Maxime and could have stopped for breakfast, but relaxing one-third through the day is too complacent for my nature. Instead I bought a liter of milk (liquids and 500 calories), and drank that while leaving my emergency can of fish untouched, and just pressed on.

If you've been following the February 2013 scandal of British horsemeat entering the European beef supply, you'll know why I discussed that serious matter with my imaginary hiking friend, Hobson, when he joined me in a McDonalds to shelter from the wind.

"I suppose you want to discuss this news right here?" I asked Hobson, motioning towards the golden arches.

"You bet I do," said Hobson, licking his lips. Then he turned to the counter clerk, and came right out with it.

"I'd like a Horseburger," said Hobson, "with, err, French fries." At this, Hobson giggled.

The counter clerk looked stern, and pointed to the sign that said, in French of course, "100% All-Beef Hamburgers".

"Yeah right," said Hobson, taking a plastic cup out of his pocket. "And make it snappy, or I'll send it off for analysis."

Yes, folks, Hobson is back.

I covered my 14 miles to Cogolin (pronounced cog-oh-lan) in a quick 6 hours, anxious to dry off in my hotel room. But the hotel was closed for lunch (a late event by our standards), as evidenced by a locked front door and a "gone for lunch" sign, so I waited an hour outside getting colder and colder. When no one was there a quarter-hour after their posted re-opening time, I got the local visitor center to call them. After another half-hour, when the hotel finally opened, I pleaded discomfort to get a room with a tub.

There is absolutely nothing better than a hot bath after a soaking hike on a cold day. But, wait, that's not quite true. There is nothing better than a hot bath after a soaking hike on a cold day followed by a beer in front of a roaring fire in a pub or brasserie. Today I got the hot bath and was very grateful.  

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 2013 Daryl May