Sunday, September 30, 2012

In Which We Become the Bike Tourists Who Carry Hammocks

The weather forecast wasn't great, more wind and rain planned for the day that should take us almost to Castelsardo. Not cold, but cool. Not really raining, but really humid. And not sunny. Surveying the multiple maps, which each had some useful features but lacked other necessary information, I determined that this day might include our biggest climb. It looked like the road would go up and down a bit, then up over something kind of big (the road zig-zagged on the map. maybe we need better maps) and then down again on the other side. We are pretty cocky at this point. I mean... the Alps? What is a 1000m climb anyway?

Italy continues to give great cloud

The road did indeed do what I thought it would. We did some minor climbs, had some incredible descents, and then settled in for a spin up a fairly significant mountain. The past few weeks did us proud and we reached the top fully thrilled at how not difficult it felt. The view was gorgeous. The little town at the top multi-colored and silent. My camera, a solid underperformer in mixed light situations.

This climb gave us an incredible reward. Again we just kept going down and it felt like we were well below sea level before the road flattened out. Not having a tight schedule, knowing this is the last bit of bike vacation, I think my brain went right into a state of pure appreciation of everything that happened. The climbing was good. The descending was excellent. And the campsite we arrived at was our favorite.

Not long after we pulled in, a really nice couple from New Zealand showed up on touring bikes loaded up. I looked over and exclaimed, "Oh look! It's us!" We stopped by and found out that they had started from Paris and been touring Spain, and they'd just arrived that morning from Barcelona. We asked them the burning question: how long is that ferry? Only about 12 hours. Relief. We shared our campsite map since they were heading in the opposite direction and were going to find a lot of campsites closed. September 30th. Season is over.

And this is when I tell you that we are now the proud owners of two parachute silk hammocks. Worth every ounce of weight they added to our overly heavy bags. We spent most of the afternoon reading in our hammocks. Seriously.

We did also go to the beach, where it was windy and too cold to swim.
 But looking east, to where we're headed, everything looked just fine.
that small lump is Castelsardo

In the morning we reluctantly packed up. If we could have, we'd have stayed again at this campsite. It was really lovely with it's short little pine trees and terraced tent areas. But they were closing that day so we headed east and slightly south again in the direction of the last open campsite before Porto Torres. 

We decided to not take the main road across and instead take the slightly longer route around the coast and through Castelsardo. Which meant a climb right off the bat. Our decision seemed like a bad one, until we started rolling toward the coast again and came around a corner and BAM! breath taken away.


I don't think photos will do it justice, but we were gobsmacked. The sunlight was patchy and made the many-colored buildings glow a bit where the light hit them right. We took a bunch of pictures.

 it's too bright to look into the sun

We rounded the bend and saw some roadies stopped right on the road in town, considering a broken chain. Joshua has all the parts, and he quickly helped them out. We heard what sounded like dramatic thunder. But how is that even possible, the day is so nice?

Thunder is exactly what we got. We also got splattered with big, fresh-off-the-water raindrops from a storm that seemingly came out of nowhere. Okay, it came off the water. We watched it come as we pedaled south-east, hoping that we'd stay on the edge and not get soaked. By some miracle, that's exactly what we did. However, later on we did get soaked. We reached the campsite for the evening while still quite wet and with rain still coming down. My thought as we were riding alongside the giant wall and tattered flags of the campsite was: Stoked that's not our site for the night. Then I saw the sign, recognized the name, and told Joshua that this was it. 

We checked in and then just waited out the rain under the awning of the office. The rain just kept coming. We were mostly dry thanks to our big ol' ponchos. No hurry. Less than 10k to get to Porto Torres in the morning. We'd be staying in a hotel, too, because we had a 6am ferry and didn't want to do that 10k during a pitch black morning.

When the rain was almost done, we headed back up the road to a restaurant we'd seen. Lunch time was upon us and we were hungry. We proceeded to have aperitifs, a four course meal of very fresh sea food, a bottle of Sardinian wine, dessert, coffee, and grappa. This is what we've been saving for, right? We spent a good two or three hours in that restaurant, no doubt contradicting the expectations of the wait staff who probably looked at our sloppy outfits and weird sandals and thought we'd be ordering a cheap meal. No siree, bring it all out. 

When we emerged, the weather had transformed completely. Actually we watched it happen and left when we felt it was hot enough to call a beach day. We set up camp quickly, including the hammocks, and headed across the highway to the waiting sand and sea.

looking back towards Castelsardo

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Hello Sardegna Sardinia


Whole new world. We got off the boat in the early morning and immediately found the tourist info office. It was closed. We had some cappuccinos at the cafe nearby. Joshua went over to look at the open hours and came back to say it was closed all day today. Alright then. He asked if I wanted to double check. So I did. The door was open and a woman gave me an armful of potentially helpful bicycle maps and pamphlets, including a cycle touring booklet and a mountain biking booklet with maps of planned routes. Whoa. I did not take everything. I did take the campsite map that had the closing dates of most campsites. Many close on the last day of September... our ferry to Barcelona from the other side of the island is on October 2nd. Hmm.

Joshua noticed that on one map the ferry to Barcelona was marked as a 36 hour ferry. Now, that is not what the website said. I had a document stating we'd be on the ferry for just under 12 hours, starting at 6am. I had not booked a cabin or chairs or anything - just deck space. But for a 36 hour ferry we might have chosen differently. Nothing to do about it now, though, and we felt like focusing on the vacation we were having.

To get out of Olbia we did some loop-de-loops on the freeway and off-ramps. Eventually we figured out the right direction and the road got smaller as we got farther from town.


The scenery was surprisingly familiar. Like central California, or that one stretch of the train trip between LA and Santa Barbara just before you go through the tunnel. Green brush in a different set of shades and tints and big rock outcroppings. Quite stunning. It was very hot and humid. The new haircut does not trap dripping sweat in the same way.

Mostly we followed the coast that first day, but we did some pretty good climbing, too. Surprise climbing. We got a couple of good suggestions from the bicycle touring Sardegna booklet guide, but for the most part we were just on the only roads from here to there.


This is the last leg of our tour. We have five days to go around the northern coast of Sardegna. The "fast" route is across the center of the island, a mere 110kms. So five days should be plenty. But it turns out that this is a big island with big mountains. Do I minimize planning just so it'll be surprisingly challenging? In any case, we only have to average about 40kms per day to go around the whole north coast, which is much less than normal. But it's so hot.

 fortunately, beaches are a thing here.
 at our first campsite at Capo D'Orso the first thing we did was go swimming.

Okay, maybe not the very first thing. When we showed up the woman at the front desk saw my passport and immediately said, "Sprechen Sie Deutsch!? Nein, ich spreche kein Deutsch." She was mimicking what she thought would be my first question: do you speak German. And her answer was no. I responded in Italian, saying I speak Italian and only a little bit of German. She might have thought I was joking. When Joshua and I spoke to each other in English, she was like, "Wait! What language do you speak?" Then she explained her initial reaction and laughed at herself heartily. She was very funny and kind and gave us some free Internet time. We told her about house sitting and that we'd come from Olbia that morning and she just looked at us with a pleased and dumbfounded look on her face. I gave her the links for the house sitting sites.

Our story is getting more compact. We live in other peoples' houses when they are not at home and want someone there, either to care for pets or just to watch the property. We work online most of the year. In summer we ride our bicycles long distances, going from one house sit to the next in some roundabout way.

But we've never seen a tandem like this before.

holy compact tandem!

The next morning we did some more unexpected (and probably unnecessary) climbing and got a fantastic view. Corsica is barely visible in the distance. The town below is Palau. The islands are part of the National Park - Isole Maddalena.


Instead of going all the way around the top of Sardegna, we cut across on a smaller road, skipping Santa Teresa Gallura. While it had been steamy in the morning, near lunchtime we had a bit of cooler wind and the threat of rain. It wasn't cold, really, but cooler. We stopped and had lunch on an ancient stone wall with very little idea of what to expect from this little road.




Not too shabby. The weather stayed overcast and the wind built up momentum. In our favor.

We reached the coast on the other side, at Rena Majore, a super weird and deserted "community". Nobody was home. An old man fed some stray cats and then drove out of town again. We stopped and took in the view. It was pretty stunning. Then we looked down.

This is such a beautiful island. The big money maker is tourism. And yet people are dumping full trash bags, tires, and mattresses at a pull out along the coastal road. How very depressing. Don't people recognize that as ugly? I mean... facilities exist and you can put your trash in dumpsters in plenty of places. What is the deal?

We arrived at a campsite that was planning to close the following day. Things were shutting down. Most of the trailers were closed up tight. It was very windy and a bit cool. No swimming at this spot. But they did have hot showers, a bar with Internet, and a very interesting shop in which we spent more time than necessary. Postcards, mostly, for us. We looked at the camping pillow sized packages containing parachute silk hammocks. They'd make great pillows, right? And they're so light. Wouldn't it be amazing to hang up a hammock on our next ferry? Or even our next campsite? Are we nuts? We decided to think about it and go back in the morning if we were not, in fact, nuts.


The Morning After

We woke up on top of one of the highest points around, with a cloudy but not wet day ahead of us. Once again the sunshine came toward us as we packed up quickly and prepared for a very long descent.



We were riding around to a very small and likely low traffic road that heads through the remaining mountains to the coast just north of Genova. That night, the 25th, we were scheduled to stay at an Airbnb.com listed apartment about a 10 minute ride up from the coast, and the following night we were taking the ferry to Olbia, Sardegna from Genova. Rather than take the busy route through the valley, we'd gone up and over Passo della Bocchetta and we were not done climbing.

But after the day we'd had, we expected to have a relatively calm ride to our apartment for the night. Or, we hoped to have a calm day. It was also supposed to be short, because we were meeting our host at 2pm. By 9am we had our rain gear on against the cool wind we were expecting as we plummeted down the mountain

The downhill was intense. Very fast, long, and steep, and our hands were again aching long before we reached the bottom. The light through the clouds traveled quickly across the mountainous landscape and we quickly lost sight of the Mediterranean. There were leaves falling and it felt like the season was changing. Then the air became warm around us, and in town where we made our first decisions of the day we were in a completely different climate.

We made our turn, took off our rain gear, and started heading up again.


Not only had Passo della Bocchetta been more of a climb than we were prepared for, but we'd endured an earth - and eardrum - shattering storm for much of it. I think we were both hoping to not have to climb much. I wanted the road to kind of turn and wind around the side of the mountain, but instead it started the unmistakable hairpin back and forth of a steady climb to the top of a mountain. A sign indicated that we were going towards that really, really high point we had seen from our campsite. Damn.



We both felt pretty good, though. Considering. In our spinniest gears we traveled upward again. It got colder. A man in a little red truck passed us with what looked like cement bags in the back. Then we saw his truck pulled over in a driveway. And then he passed us again and stopped. This little red truck is the kind you see often in rural Italy - the cab is a two-seater, and there's really only room for two people. It's very narrow and the bed looks like a mini-version of full-sized trucks. Maybe only a foot deep. The bags were full of stale bread.

He asked if we were going all the way to the top to see the monument up there. I tried to explain that we were going over to a town on the other side. He had no idea what I was talking about. I got worried that we were on the wrong road, doing some climbing we didn't need to do. But I described it a bit better, and said the name of the town at the top. It finally clicked for him and he told us to load up our bikes.

We hesitated. I think we were both grateful and enjoyed the idea of getting a ride. But didn't we put ourselves out here to ride our bikes? I would never have asked for a ride. But we're not stupid, either, and we unloaded the bags, threw them in back, and then lifted the bikes in on top of it all. Just as we were loaded up another man appeared on the road, someone who knew our new friend, and offered to take one of us up. But since we were ready to go, our driver declined and off we went. Joshua rode in back with the bikes and I sat in the cab.

The man was a baker and was heading home after a day that started at 3am. I explained that we were riding up and over just because it was fun to ride bikes - we were not in a hurry but we like to travel by bike, long distances, during our vacation. "Vacanza..." he said while shaking his hand in that decidedly Italian hand gesture that evokes both sarcasm and sympathy and means something between "that's rough" and "daaaaaayyyuum" and "hey, whatever works".

He was very kind and it was fun to talk to him. The first flexing of my Italian language skills for any significant amount of time. It only took us 15-20 minutes to get to the town at the top. He pointed out his home when we passed it along the way. He said he also had sheep, chickens, and a garden. He was going to get some lunch and then go home for a nap. He described winter, when he had to get himself out of 2 meters of snow at 3am and down the mountain to the bakery before anyone else was awake. Light fires in the ovens, warm up the kitchen, bake beautiful and delicious breads. It was hard to imagine the humid and hot almost jungle-like scenery covered in snow.

Every once in a while he yelled in a friendly voice out the window to Joshua "Joshua! Tutti a posto?"

At the top we thanked him profusely as we pulled all our bags and then our bikes from the back of his truck. He probably saved us two hours of climbing, or maybe he just reminded us how nice it feels to have someone do you a favor.

And then? We bought some mountain top pastries and headed down the other side.


I failed to take photos of the bikes and Joshua in the back of the truck. I'm sorry. 


The road was very low traffic and very tiny. It was beautiful and the entire ride down was again kind like floating in a dream that hurts your hands. The air changed again to a warmer, softer, wetter texture. A wind blew from below and the influence of the Mediterranean was even more apparent as the flora changed from wet, hot jungle-like deep greens to dry-looking, small-leafed, chaparral-like bushes. The road we were on was the new road, but the old road was still there. In the photo above you can see the new bridge on the right and the old bridge on the left. People used to walk up this way to their tiny farms on steep slopes.

We were a bit early for our meet-up, but we didn't mind. There were no cafes or restaurants where we could hang out, so we poked around trying to find the exact location of the apartment. And once we found it, which took a bit of time, we found an Internet signal floating around, which we used to pass time and collect emails. We ate those pastries, which turned out to be the best cookies ever made.

crumbly, buttery, flavorful, perfectly sweet

Oh, and there was this dramatic train bridge.


Our hostess met up with us as arranged and she is a friendly, smart, and interesting woman who showed us around before heading back to work. It rained on and off throughout the rest of the afternoon, our tent and wet things all out on the line the whole time. There were some very handy info pamphlets about Genova left by our hostess and we figured out that we might be able to take a boat-bus, the NaviBus, to Genova in the morning. Sounded better than riding along the large road beside the freeway. We ended up watching a Harry Potter movie with Italian subtitles and going to be early.

And in the morning, in no hurry, we packed up and shipped out. We rolled down into town and straight toward where we hoped to find the NaviBus, and just as we stopped to try to figure out where it would dock, one came in to a nearby jetty. We rode over and got on just in time. Luckily they took bikes. Just a few Euros each.

the "Jolly Verde"
Genova from the water

Once again, our city day was taken up mostly by errands and practicalities. We bought a map of Sardegna and a couple of books in English. Joshua fixed my broken front derailleur cable. Oh yeah, that's right, I couldn't use my front derailleur - the cable housing had finally given way that morning and so my speed was limited to my smallest chainring or whatever downhill momentum I could gain. Oh well. While I asked at the tourist info office about a bike shop, Joshua fixed the situation, making a new ferrule from a presta valve cap. Those things do have a use! And good work Joshua.

Then we found an outdoor cafe at the end of a piazza where we ate lunch. The owner or manager admired our bikes. He had a fancy road bike leaning against the building by the door to the cafe. The piazza, having a dead-end, was a great place to leave the bikes. The owner/manager said he'd keep an eye on them, so we locked them to themselves and took off to see some of the city. And to finally get a haircut and drink prosecco.


Finding the ferry terminal entrance for a cyclist isn't the easiest thing to do. We put our Los Angeles traffic riding experience to work to get to the passenger terminal, but ended up uncertain since we were technically "vehicles". We did board through the passenger terminal, but we had to take a tiny elevator. My bike barely fit and Joshua had to put the bags in the elevator and carry his bike down the stairs. We got all the way to the reception on the boat - bikes stowed, bags lugged up two or three escalators and one flight of stairs - and found out we were on the wrong boat. Grimaldi sends out two boats within an hour of each other from docks just next to each other going to two different cities on Sardegna. Travelers beware - we showed our boarding passes to three people and none of them noticed we were getting on the wrong boat. Only when the reception guys had no key set up for our cabin number did they look closely.

It was tight, but we made it to our actual cabin on the right boat before it left the dock. Dinner was a delicious picnic in the cabin, we strolled the very windy deck looking at Genova's lights, and slept deeply until the boat started to pull around to the port at Olbia.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Flat Piemonte

After a very restful night at Cascina Nuova, we headed out in the morning with the recommendation of another agriturismo outside of Novi Ligure. With not much else in the way of camping options, we figured we'd try that out. We cycled into Valenza on the lookout for groceries and managed to find a gigantic grocery store agli Stati Uniti. I bought way too many groceries because Joshua had been worried we wouldn't have enough food. And then he got really mad that I'd intentionally bought all this extra food for him to carry. Good one, team.

We rode out of town on Strada Provinciale 78, a fairly large road. We took a right onto a smaller alternative that went toward Riverone and then Montecastello, where our map indicated that there was a bridge across the Fiume Tánaro, a not insignificant river that flows south-north into the Po. The ride up was beautiful, a kind of peaceful and not overly challenging climb through very quiet countryside that just kept getting more lovely. Little farms in little valleys and a cherry tree farm on the top of a ridge. The morning was overcast and we had bouts of insignificant rain. A mere 8kms and a decent descent later, we were in Montecastello, keeping our eyes open for that bridge. We were hoping to avoid Alessandria - big city. But, no bridge appeared.

We looped back through town and stopped under a tree in a little pull-out to have a snack. It rained. A man pulled in and got out to open his gate for his car. I went over and asked him about a ponte, and he said that there once was one, but it had been washed out a long time ago. The closest was back where we'd come from. Or to go through Alessandria. Dangit. We retraced that lovely little ride, going back up the hill we'd come down and then enjoying the long, slow downhill to Riverone and the 78. Okay, cross the bridge here, take the slightly bigger road.

Strada Provinciale 82 took us over the freeway and under the train tracks. In a small town we headed for the church tower where we assumed (correctly) that there'd be a bench to sit on. Lunch time. Lunch with the Madonna and her... snake. And some giant hibiscus flowers.



This day showed us some of the Piemonte that I expected. Kind of a lot of this:


Lots of pedaling over flat landscapes and not much to gape at. We reached the edges of Novi Ligure and were relieved. We were both ready to be off our saddles. But coming in from the north-north-west was awful. We kept seeing signs that said good stuff was coming up - Novi Ligure, city of wine! City of cheese! City of bread! City of history! But all we saw was industrial outskirts under a grey sky. It was probably the longest 4kms we will ever ride. Once in town we stopped at the first gelateria and bought cappuccinos and gelati. We did ride through the old center and it was pretty nice, but we cruised right through and headed for Cascina degl'Ulivi. On the way out of town we were already on a tiny road that twisted and climbed, a nice change, and under trees and passing old stone walls and (probably) old villas inside them. We wound our way up and found ourselves in another little paradise, where many people were having celebratory lunches (it was about 3pm). There was an outdoor eating area full of people from children to grandparents. They had a magnum of Veuve Clicquot.

We asked about a room, got settled in, and then wandered the farm. They make wine. There were grapes. And a couple of goats. And some exotic looking ducks. A handful of cows and a horse. And marama puppies - the white guard dogs preferred by shepherds (like Joshua). We cooked our own dinner but bought the couldn't-be-more local wine. It was good.

waiting for black rice to finish boiling

We'd hoped to meet the people running the place, but they were kind of running around and it was Sunday night, so once that was over they disappeared. Ooooh well. Overcast weather, drips and drops of rain here and there, and two days of climbing over the mountain range that runs all along Italy, the Appenini, to get to Genova, in our future. Early to bed.

And pretty early to rise. Our room included breakfast, which we had at 8:30am. Then we were out the door and back on the road. We continued on the curvy, climby roads in the neighborhood, heading up and through and back down the other side of little towns perched on top of steep hills. It was overcast again and downright foggy on the ridge tops, but quite warm. Right in the clouds.


But the scenery was varied and beautiful, with lots of steep vineyards in tight valleys. Unfortunately, not the kind of weather my camera can handle.


It did then pour for a minute or two. And one layer of clouds parted.


We made it to Gavi in good time and we did some gaping.


 And stopped for a cappuccino and a snack.


From Gavi, it's most definitely uphill for a while. Our friends at the bike/river center two days before had told us about Passo della Bocchetta, a beautiful climb up and over to get to Genova. They said something about bicyclists doing it often or a race or something. It seemed like our best bet for a quiet route towards the Mediterranean. We turned onto the 160 in Gavi and started to do some relatively chill climbing. The sun kind of came out and it was still a warm day, humid but not uncomfortable. Again, two layers of clouds.


a villa

We did not have a plan for the evening. We hoped to wild camp somewhere, or make it over the pass, or stay at an inn along the way. Just winging it. But we needed water.



At Voltaggio we turned into town to see about a water fountain and perhaps another cappuccino. As we were stopped in the square, it started to rain for real. It poured. I stood under a tree and Joshua looked for some water - yes, very funny. And at one point we put our water bottles out in the rain to let them fill that way. It was raining that hard.

In Hamburg we bought these bicycle ponchos which we've been using a bit. They're huge and cover the whole cyclist from hands on handlebars to butt on seat. Mine is orange and Joshua's is day-glo green. Don't worry, there'll be photos shortly. We stood in the rain, staying mostly dry, hoping that it would pass. We were there for at least 10 minutes. When it started to lighten a bit, we rode off thinking we'd knock on a door and ask for water. Then we saw the water fountain.

The road narrowed the farther we went. We were following a small river that turned into a small stream at the bottom of a narrow gorge. The wind started to blow in our faces. This narrow valley is lush and green and meanders up, up, up.


Narrower, steeper. Windier, rainier. There's this magical combination that most bike tourists know about, and it's when some things are against you, but the other things are not, so you just don't mind. Like when it's raining and you're enjoying the scenery, but it's not windy. Or when it's windy but sunny and the hills are rolling up and down. This is not what we got. We got the complete package of "you-shall-not-pass!!!"

What could I mean by that? The heavens opened up. The rain started in ernest again as we climbed up a steep narrow road and wind whipped down from ahead and told us to turn back. It got darker. We hadn't had lunch yet.

tried to take a picture

wet, but determined

We got a couple of rain breaks, kind of. But mostly it just rained, got windier, and got darker. And then the thunder started. Just a little rumble that got closer really fast and then cracks of lightning were shattering just above our heads and we could feel the thunder in our bones. Water streamed down our faces, a puddle formed at the front of my poncho. Just keep pedaling up the hill. Stay warm, right? It was the kind of thunderstorm that creates an instant river flowing down the road and makes you think you should not take shelter under trees - we were drenched, the temperature dropped, no lunch, we were in the wilderness riding our bikes up a long hill toward an 800 meter high pass. Keep pedaling.

It felt kind of like this for a very long 30-45 minutes.


What can you do? Keep pedaling.

We took a break in a pullout when it seemed to be letting up a very little bit. Looked each other over, looked at the rain, "we should keep moving and stay warm", "okay, let's go". Maybe we exchanged the sentiment that a hotel tonight might be nice.

The road did that thing where it felt like each turn could be the last and then we'd be at the top, but it was not the top many times. The storm did pass over us, with lingering thunder and lightning and a slightly less blinding rain. As it got lighter again and less wet, the wind also died down. We kept climbing.

When we did finally reach the top, it felt sudden. There it was, Passo della Bocchetta. It was still a bit rainy and it was cold, we were soaked so we quickly changed into dry clothing under our ponchos and added a plastic layer of rain gear to try to stay dry and warm. Thank goodness for wool.


Joshua went around the corner and said the wind was howling on the other side, so we'd be better off where we were. Going down the other side while we were wet and it was cold out didn't sound good. And we hadn't had lunch.

 And then this happened:

What the heck is that? Could it be? Is it coming this way? We just stood there watching as it did this:


Seriously. Oh right, it's only 3 in the afternoon. That's the Mediterranean.

It went from this:

the grey thing in the middle is the place where they put the names of the winners of this race.

To this:


Maybe it took 45 minutes. Maybe an hour. We just stood there watching because we didn't know what else to do and it was stunning. The clouds were clinging to the ridges below us and wisps of mist would billow up and dissipate at a visible rate. The view was constantly changing.

At sometime when it was still cloudy but we could see that the line of blue sky was headed our way for certain, a dude on a bike came from above us on the rocky path, on a mountain bike, rolled down the the road, turned back, and rode back up. What? There's a video about it here:

video

Heh. We were thrilled. There was a picnic area just above on the path and we set up our clothesline and dried out all of our stuff. We had lunch at a picnic table and realized that the city we were looking down on was Genova. We walked up one path to see what was there, but headed back to the campsite because it wasn't sunny and we wanted to be in the sun. A sign said that we were in the park - the Parco Naturale delle Capanne di Marcarolo - a park we'd been in for quite some time. Rules of the park are that you can't camp, unless you're above 900 meters, then you can stay for one night. Yeah, okay, whatever.

Some clouds did roll over again in the early evening, but we had sunshine until it set behind the highest ridge to the west. We watched the clouds coming in from over the Mediterranean with an eye for another storm. A few people stopped by the picnic area. One man had lost one of his bocce balls a few nights before and Joshua had found it while scoping out a good spot for the tent. Another man had come up because he had been stuck at work and needed to go for a drive and clear his head - we asked him if he thought it would rain again and he said, "No, fanno un giro." The clouds were going around (literally: making a turn) and we wouldn't have more rain overnight.

This is the border of Liguria.