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Eating with Sauvages

Day 4 ended up in a farm collective originally built by the Knights Templar. They still exist, I stayed in an albergue they own in Spain last year. Now it is owned by the government and is mainly a restaurant with two gites and an auberge. It is called Domain du Sauvage.

I was greeted at the entrance to the farm by a sign that said “wild horses live in the woods keep your distance.” A kilometer later I found the alleged wild horses. The complex of massive stone buildings is in the background.

Earlier I had to thread my way through a herd of dairy cows on the move.

A few times today I wondered if I was in Wyoming. This is very rural and again I saw few people and lots of cows. I walked through three villages and on paved roads and saw not one car on the road.

I had hopes of a snack and coffee at this restaurant but the sign said “Ferme”. I lucked out, remembering an apple in my pack

The auberge is around the back, quite nice, and they resisted the temptation to pave a sidewalk to it to keep you in the moment.

Lunch was fantastic, €12.50 with a glass of Hefeweizen. Some of my trail friends have shown up; Rose Marie and the Canadian sisters Marguarite and Michelle.

Wandering loose the Via Podensia in France.


If the Camino across northern Spain is a moveable feast, and Portugal a slug fest, then in France it is a walking holiday.

There are ancient chapels built in improbable places, like this on high above Monistrol dedicated to Mary Magdalene.

Cows on the road.

Eight sided medieval castle tower here at Le Creax

Dessert at a cafe after lunch on the trail of an excellent sub sandwich purchased from the bakery as I was leaving this morning.

I walked with Edith this morning and learned some French. I met her two nights back at the gite. I’m now ahead of her so we may not cross paths again.

Landed at a nice gite in a tiny village with 4 French guests.

Dessert was apple pie with white cheese (yogurt?).

The Beast of Gévaudan

There are varied representations of this legendary beast all over town.

It is reputed to have killed a hundred people, mostly women and children; some kind of wolf? Hound of the Baskerville?

This bridge in Monistrol d’Allier was built in 1888 by the Eiffel Company, who also built the famous tower in Paris. Note the flower boxes at the other end.

I walked close to Dallas today. A local told me the Texas city was named from here. The City of Dallas has no good explanation, so I’m going with this one.

This sculpture is of salmon in the river.

This 12th century church is simple but exquisite, built on top of a cliff.

Dinner at the gite last night- lentil salad (a local crop), sausages and mashed potatoes, fruit and cheese, and chocolate cake. With wine and good company. €32 includes the bed, dinner, and breakfast.

The 12th century church in Monistrol (there seems to have been a building boom that century ) depicts Jesus as the risen Christ as the gardener speaking to Mary Magdalene outside the tomb.

Still wandering loose in France.

Far from the madding crowd

I met more cows than people on the trail today. Surface was volcanic gravel or grass. Little on roads.

This guy is like a ranger who maintains the Camino. He told me about a more scenic (less road walking) traditional route. I took it and was by myself. Well marked, walking on grassy trails, gorgeous country.

I stopped in this church in Bains from 1125 at his suggestion.

I finally realized a big learning experience from last year’s Camino:how to enjoy traveling alone. This trail requires me to speak French, be careful about navigating, plan for enough water and good for the day- not like in Spain! It’s work! I had a blast today and kept a good attitude. My body is holding up ok so far, the problematic foot and back pain from prior walks were minimal.

My Caminho Portugeus in May with Kay was the most incredible experience I’ve ever had. This may end up be the most incredible solo experience. I’ve asked lots of people for directions. I had two people pull their cars over today and get out to congratulate me and told me of their Camino experiences ( at least I think that’s what they were saying). No one seems to speak English but they are friendly, helpful, and the bread is really, really good.

Pilgrimage: Wine, Women, and Song?

By the time I reached Le Puy en Velay, in southeastern France, I was beginning to feel lucky. I made all my connections, two airplanes and three trains, but the last two were tricky. French trains are fabulous but they don’t always show up where you expect them. I only made it because people I had asked questions of- is this the right track for the train to Lyon? – came back to me to tell me the track had been changed. The French National train app also told me to go to track A at the last second, and people were running so I did too. Just made it in as the door

They are having a renaissance festival in Le Puy. Pop-up camps with a bar and everyone is in costume. I was their first customer. Spiced Wine

The familiar shells

Bon Chemin. Le Puy was great. I did partake of some spiced wine but not the women and song. Pilgrim mass at 7 am was great; I got a blessing from the priest. I told him I did not understand most of it but it seem to me to be about love. He told me being a priest is all about love.

Support for Dark Sky Community Recognition in Fredericksburg

I am helping the City come up with letters of support for the continued effort to improve outdoor lighting in our community be being recognized by the International Dark Sky Association as a Dark Sky Community.  We have been working this direction for some years here, beginning with a two year effort to get an Outdoor Lighting Ordinance. If you would like to submit a letter of support for this, see my example below, which I wrote as President of the Friends of Enchanted Rock.  Send me a PDF copy if you can, or snail mail copy to the City at 126 W Main Street, Fredericksburg TX 78624. The application says about letters of support: “…support for dark Skies from a wide range of community organizations such as chambers of commerce, local electrical utilities, IDA chapters, lighting retailers, homeowners associations, and others.”  I would add to that “Community volunteers interested in seeing this prestigious designation awarded to Fredericksburg.” The 2017 Supernova (Fireworks Galaxy) was taken by Ken in his Putnam Mountain Observatory west of Enchanted Rock SNA.

September 1, 2018

IDA Board of Directors, International Dark Sky Association, 3223 North First Street, Tucson, AZ 85719-2103

Dear IDA Board Members,

The Friends of Enchanted Rock has adopted Dark Sky education as a primary mission along with preservation and recreation. We are a partner with the Park staff in hosting Dark Sky events, including an annual Enchanted Rock Star Fest and star parties. Because Fredericksburg is the gateway to Enchanted Rock State Natural Area, we are also involved in the promotion of these objectives in that city. We heartily endorse the City of Fredericksburg’s application to be named an IDSA Dark Sky Community.

The Dark Sky movement initially came to Fredericksburg with some individual initiatives from a local astronomer, but the Dark Sky Team from Hill Country Alliance quickly picked up the ball and began the process which led to the adoption of an outdoor lighting ordinance by the City.  As a member of that team I found unqualified support from City Staff, who had already been requiring night sky friendly lighting in new commercial construction projects for some time. The proposed ordinance was drafted by Ken Kattner and presented to the City Council by myself as Co-President of the Friends and a resident of the City. The Friends continue to be involved in the movement with involvement in this application and in lobbying City Council members about the issues. Dark Sky tourism continues to grow, both at the Park and in the area generally.

Dark skies at Enchanted Rock are near and dear to our hearts, and the rapid growth of new construction and people in the Texas Hill Country make this effort critical for us.  We will continue to focus on this in partnership with City Staff and Council members.


Robert C Deming, President

Via Podiensis Next

I’m leaving for Paris on September 10 to walk the Via Podiensis  from Le Puy en Velay to St Jean Pied de Port. Like any of these adventures, it is a long way (450 miles) and there is no telling what will happen. I’m going solo; just me and Google Translate. I studied French in high school and college, so I think I’ll do OK with the communication. Getting to Paris will be a flight from Austin to JFK, then to Paris.The first real challenge will be to get from the Charles de Gaulle Airport to the train station, then to southern France. The cover photo is from a hiker currently on the trail; I’ll replace it with my own when I get there.

I have friends who have been in some of these places who have told me the place is magical. It will also be hot sometimes and rain sometimes and there is a lot of up and down. I’ll be carrying my trusty pack with a single change of clothes, rain and cold weather gear, a small sleeping bag, and not much else. This is a very rural route and I understand that there aren’t always restaurants or grocery stores, that one must take a little back-up food. Lodging is not in the hostels that I am used to, it is more gites providing meals. The trail is known as GR 65 and is maintained by the French government. I have a guidebook which doesn’t get good reviews. Most of the walkers are French, the trail greeting is not Buen Camino (Spain)  or Bohm Caminho (Portugal), but Bon Chemin.

That’s about all I know. You are welcome to come along, in person or by this blog. I am 66 years old, single, and in good health. I have a scallop shell and a guidebook and a map on my iPhone ( and enough money in the bank. I’ve walked two Camino so far.

What could possibly go wrong?