Monday, July 11, 2011

Charleroi to Black Beetle Camping

We started to do some climbing as we delved deeper into Belgium.

And then found another watery route to follow.

Somewhere along this canal Joshua realized he had a broken spoke. After some shopping for food we stopped under a bridge for lunch and a quick, rear-wheel, spoke replacement.

This is the Stein Lock Ring tool. It has a place in my heart close to the Stein Bottom Bracket Lock Removal Nut tool. Does Stein make a whole bicycle that fixes itself?

Merci boucoup, Ft. Bragg Cyclery, for selling us this tool. Second time we needed/used it...

For those wondering, total elapsed time: one hour. Most difficult part: keeping my hands clean so that I would not foul the rim tape. Note the flip-flops. These are my new climbing flip-flops.

We headed towards Charleroi, a large city, thinking maybe we were already in the mood to take a train to Trier and continue to Switzerland via the Rhine. Or maybe we'd get some supplies. At least a coffee by the water? A hotel? We definitely needed a bank and it was this need that drove us (at least me, Joshua) into the city even after we realized it was going to be a shit-hole cluster fuck. The road into town was non-stop traffic (American city style) and there was trash (as in bags of trash) piled on the side of the road. In the city center, everything was under construction with entire streets torn down to dusty gravel. On the plus side, everyone was friendly. I (Joshua) had my longest conversation in French ever getting directions to a bank. We parked at a cafe for a coffee and a Coke. Then we hauled ass out of that place without even considering a train or a hotel. Our advice - avoid this city.

Ramona did an amazing job navigating us out the city. She says she was driven by necessity. I think she is really good at wayfinding in cities. This is what we saw as we left the city.

I guess this is cool. In a way.

On our way out of town, we saw a lot of amazing machines. It is possible that you could have heavy bits of metal thrown onto the path in one spot (there were warning signs). Given our experience in Belgium so far, we were very worried that the canal path would just end and we'd have to turn around and backtrack into the city.

Sometimes they provided a 'deviation':

On loose gravel.

But even at the gravel pit, there was some space to go by. Feeling fuzzy.

We didn't even try the campsite that was listed on the map - just found a really nice spot in the woods and set up a really lovely camp. This one was far more secluded as it was nestled deep in the woods under a beech tree. There were ticks again, but far fewer. This time, the fauna of note were these dawdling iridescent purple beetles that were intent on marching en mass across our picnic blanket. Another fantastic dinner with a salad. We went to bed early and slept well knowing that the odds of someone happening upon us were nil. The morning was beautiful. We rose early and broke camp in record time. Our route for the day was planned and we more or less agreed that we would stop early and take a rest day the following day. From the map we could tell there were a few lakes in our future and we thought lakes meant campsites and swimming. We decided to prioritize a shower (or swim) and laundry.

- rolling post

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