Provence, France Day 17

The glider flights got moved up, so it’s gather together and head out.

BW and Jason check in, fill out the forms, and so on, then we all drive down to the runway area. This is a big field with a couple of narrow runways and a lot of open down a tiny road. A trailer off to the side is for the next stage of checking in.

And this is a busy place.

Lots of gliders parked, lots of cars parked. Guys sitting at a table in the shade of the trailer to do the paperwork, help with the planes, or pilot them. Everyone is very friendly, and incredibly efficient. This is what they do all day, every day, and they’ve got it down. It’s a smooth system.

The plane! The plane! Photo by j a-b.

Despite this, nothing would have gotten me in one of the gliders short of the sort of catastrophe depicted in the movie 2012. Even then, I might pull a Woody Harrelson.

The sun is baking hot, the shade scarce, little tow planes (I think they have two working constantly) land, someone runs out and pulls the tow line to a glider, hooks it. Inside pilot and passenger wear parachutes in a closed cockpit. The tow plane makes its run, the glider follows, lifts, lifts, lifts. Up they go until they reach a height or speed (Maybe both?) that does the job. Tow line disconnects, glider glides off, tow plane circles back, lands, does it all again.

Gliders also land regularly, on runway or the open field. Someone hops in a golf cart, rides out, and they roll the glider back for its next lift.

I’m sure there’s more involved, but that’s how I see it.

BW and Jason meet their pilots–two of the guys sitting in the shade. A couple of other people are already out at planes preparing for their adventure. I use BW’s complicated camera to take a picture of him and Jason by a glider–then pass the camera to Kat.

BW, Jason, plane. Photo by NR.

My girl is anxious, distracts herself taking pictures. I realize my stomach is behaving a bit like I’m going up–remind it I’m not.

I see BW get his parachute, then Jason his. After the flight, Jason tells us when he gets the parachute he thinks: Oh yeah, this is real.

Guys in the planes, Kat and I on a bench in the sun.

Tow line connected for BW. Tiny little tow plane heads off, glider goes up, and up. I’m following Kat’s instructions to try to get a video of the take off. I think it worked.*

Controls at lift off. Photo by j a-b.

Then he’s up there, and the tow plane circles back.

About the same time, Jason’s airborne.

Their flights will be 30 minutes. For awhile I can follow them both–BW goes left, Jason right. Then I lose sight of BW’s plane. They went over our resort, and off over the lake. 

The view of home away from home. Photo by BW.
Selfie. What? Me Nervous? Photo by BW.
Lac de Sainte Cassien. Photo by BW.
Hills, roofs, trees. Photo by j a-b.
Coming in for a landing. Photo by j a-b.

I watch Jason’s longer. Jeez, he’s really up there! And they fly over Fayence and Callian. It’s a long time, thirty minutes, to wait (or pace a bit in my case) More gliders take off, some land, more people arrive.

Then I see what must be BW’s plane making its circle to land. I bet it’s bumpy, that touching down again. Minutes later, I spot Jason’s, and now he’s back on the ground.

Kat needs some hugs, and as she says if there’s ever a next time, we won’t watch.

Apparently it’s really hot in the cockpit–BW said his phone died for awhile. They both took lots of pictures. Jason reports a glide reminded him of the downsides of flying–take off, landing, occasional turbulence. Other than that, all good.

BW, pilot and certificate. Photo by BW’s camera, operated by kat.
Jason, pilot and cert. Photo by kat with BW’s camera.

An adventure is in the books, and we can drive on to Fayence for lunch.

And there on the steep, narrow streets we find a restaurant open after two for lunch.

Jason spots Hawaiian pizza, BW some exotic pizza, and I go for the classic Marguerite. Kat orders a salad and an extra plate as we’ll all share. 

The reward for the wait. Photo by kat.
The reward for the adventure. Photo by kat.

It’s just fabulous pizza–all agree. Perfectly baked and seasoned. And a nice chance to wind down post-adventure.

After I buy some herbs to take home, and hunt for another pair of woven shoes. They don’t have my size in what I’m after, but they do have Kat’s in her choice. I’ll be grateful for the ones I already have–and check on line, just in case.

And that’s enough for all of us, so home we go. Kat takes a nap. I turn on the TV for a bit to see if I can find more news on Hurricane Harvey. It looks very bad, and as I learned this morning, is very bad. Please, anyone and everyone in that path, be safe, be careful. I’ll be following the news as much as possible from here.

We leave a little early for our dinner here, as we have panorama plans. We’re going to use the kids’ playground very close to our villa. This is a fun little place, with wacky props for our project. We discuss, set marks, timing, POVs. At one point, we consider staging me and BW on the larger seesaw. This fails due to weight differential.

The only pano clue among the lot of today’s photos. Photo by kat.

In any case, we plotted it out, did the job, and had some laughs. It worked! I believe we’ll reveal the results tomorrow–as we plan to do another here at the villa today.

It’s dinner time. And what’s that we hear? Thunder! Some really cranky thunder. I see flashes of lighting in the distance. Maybe it’ll rain.

Mais, non.

I hope, again, it rained somewhere.

Dinner is lovely, as always. We’ve enjoyed every single meal here, at every venue we’ve tried.

Desserts. Photo by BW.

Today, our last, dawns beautifully. We’ll stay close–we have that pano to stage and produce. There’s packing to face. Another workout on the terrace. For the reader who asked about outdoor space at home? I live on the side of a hill–not much natural flat space. But today, I’ll enjoy the view and the air while I sweat it out.


*Note from Laura: video worked perfectly, haven’t figured out a way to get it to load here.

In today’s #randomkatness:

Succulents in shadow. Photo by kat.

19 thoughts on “Provence, France Day 17”

  1. Man, even just experiencing the glide through photos my stomach flipped a bit. That will never be in my future! Now I want pizza! Harvey’s knocking at my door. I’m not answering. Still have power at this moment. Lots of reading in my future!

  2. My little Daddy took a glider ride in Frankfort, MI (near the sand dunes of Lake Michigan) on his 80th Birthday. His lady friend who came with us, decided to go up also, so it was seniors-in-the-sky with diamonds day!!

  3. Really enjoying reading about your vacation. I LOVE that you take the time out to write blog posts. SO appreciate that! Is it just me or does Nora not eat breakfast? Sorry, but I’m just curious!

  4. Great blog! Glad you were able to relax so much on this trip. Except on BW/Jason’s last adventure. I would be so nervous also. Look forward to pano. Safe travels home and see you at the September signing!

  5. Glider ride sounds fabulous! How exciting and thrilling…but I would be alongside you and Kat! Elstwise I would be hyperventilating!!

  6. Would love to try the glider. It is going on my bucket list for sure! Thanks so much for sharing your holiday adventures. I am a little sad to see it end as I don’t know if I will ever make it to Provence. Safe travels home!

  7. My stomach did rolls in sympathy with the glider rides. I like Jason’s comment about it reminding him of the worst of flying – take off, landing and turbulence. The Ariel photos are lovely and a wonderful addition to all the others as a reminder of a great vacation. The succulent is wonderful; we have lots of them in California – good plants for drought. And the desserts look divine.

  8. My thoughts on gliding run right along with sky-diving. Why leave a perfectly good airplane while it’s in the air? Why go up in a plane with no engine at all? They strike me as similar and SO not on my bucket list. They both depend on things made by man, and we’re so flawed. Add bungee-jumping to that while I’m on that bent. Glad everyone was able to enjoy pizza after, and now I want pizza – lol. Safe travels home and thanks again for sharing your adventures!

  9. Two of my daughters decided to try sky diving and I went along to watch, as I knew I would be so very nervous if I wasn’t there. The first went perfectly, and she had a perfect landing. The second daughter jumped, however the parachute did not open. Looking up into the sky I could see her parachute floating away and her and the instructor falling toward earth. Unknown to me, the instructor cut it away. A second backup parachute opened and they had a rather hard landing which bruised her badly. That was seriously the most afraid I have ever been. No glider or sky diving EVER. Love your books and your lovely vacations.

  10. I beg to disagree with Jason – the takeoff roll is the best part of flying! I am a bit of a plane geek and love to fly. I love the feel of flying so fast down the runway, the feel of the thrust from the engines.

  11. I have been loving this blog. Feel like I was there myself. Also brings out a bit more of the Nora we all love! Can’t wait for next JDRobb book or Nora book. Love hearing about you and your family!

  12. Enjoyed all your posts so much! Thank you for taking the time to let your fans live vicariously thru you in France. You rock!!

  13. My late husband and I used to go to the little airport in the town we lived in and watch the gliders on the weekends. Some owned, others rented. He loved watching, but I would not get in one!!!

  14. So fun! I noticed that Jason’s photos are captioned J-AB. Can you share what that stands for? (I poked about to see if it was mentioned elsewhere but didn’t see anything.) Thanks!!

  15. I see where you gifted Eve with your very descriptive fear of flying. Re: your comment on the heat in the cockpit- my daughter-in-laws sister is early 30’s, a mom of 4, & a commercial pilot- flying intercontinental jets. I bought her a silk undershirt- keeps you warm in winter. I don’t like bulk, & i wear mine thru the cold.

    I’ll be sorry to see this travelogue end- not as sorry as you will be to come home, I’m sure.

  16. Thank you for such an incredible look into your vacations. Nora you are such an eloquent writer that I am always able to see whatever you describe. I love your friendship with your kids – my husband and I are also blessed as our adult children enjoy traveling with us. Kat, you are an amazingly insightful photographer. Travel safely! Laura, thanks for all of your hard work! We appreciate it!

  17. I laughed at the glider flight descriptions & thought of watching Guy Fieri jump out of a plane last night on his show about the family vacation. They were at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, TX. (have some folks there we haven’t heard from yet–wondering) and his oldest son has skydiving on his bucket list; & Dad has to come along. Dad hates heights! But he goes along; They’re diving attached to trained sky-divers & they do wonderfully. Guy insists he didn’t look down the entire time, just up & out, but loved the floating part after the parachute triggers. He also wants to see his son’s bucket list; to tear it up!

    I agree with the earlier commentator; why jump out of a perfectly good air plane??? But admit; a glider ride would be fantastic!

    It’s been wonderful reading all of this, Nora! Thank you for sharing!

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