I Hate Sue.

That’s the name we gave the voice on the rental car’s navigation system. We programmed her to direct us about 500 kilometers across France. Instead of doing as instructed, Sue gave us a Tour de France, all the way to the Mediterranean at the end of a major holiday. We were stuck, bumper-to-bumper, for hours. At one point she broke down, blurting out impossible directions, one after the other. We turned her off, stopped at a rest area (French toll roads have them every ten or so miles) and went analog. We bought a road map. With Sue’s help, what should have been five hours turned into nine.

My wife and I are walking through the Dordogne, a relatively sparsely populated area with gorgeous ancient stone villages and friendly people. We’re using the Grande Route, a well-marked network of narrow country roads and farm paths. Day One was about 10.5 miles; not all that bad were it not in the high 90s. A few too many steep hills and a wrong turn or two complicated our journey. After eight hours, supposedly a kilometer or so from our destination, I waved down a car. The driver took us to the hotel; about a 20 minute ride. Luggage was already in the room, a few steps from a great pool. The bartender made a Panache: half lemonade; half beer, on the rocks. Nothing is more refreshing after a very long and hot day on the trail.

A few days earlier we drove up Mt Ventoux in Provence. The temps at the bottom were mid-90s; the top (about 6273′ elevation), 15° cooler. Mt Ventoux is a frequent stage on the Tour de France, and the day we visited, an impressive number of amateurs were pedaling up and down. The mountain’s bald top can be seen across Provence. We ascended the north side. About two-thirds of the way we passed a smallish ski area. There’s one on the south face, as well. Some quick research indicated that high winds and limited snow pack make for icy and limited seasons.

Pepito leads the way.
Credit: Jon Weisberg

Day Two, feet hurting, we rode part way and hiked another 8-10 miles. About an hour in, a black and white dog with the face of a Russian wolf hound joined us. He seemed to know the route, occasionally departing into wood and field; always reappearing. We shared sausage and water with “le chien.” Later, he protected us from an aggressive hound as we passed his turf. Several hours later, arriving at our destination, hotel staff took him to the vet around the corner. The chip reader located the owner. We learned later our four-legged friend’s name is “Pepito.”

Taking the day off today. Time to rest our own weary dogs.



Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows closed its 2016-17 season on July 15, the latest date in the resort’s history. Here’s pic we are sharing from snowbrains.com that shows conditions on the list day. What a season! Sixty feet of snow! 200 days of winter operation! Snowiest month on record (283 inches in January)!

Good to the last drop a Squaw Valley, CA.
Credit: RogerRomaini/Snowbrains.com


The July 3 edition of The New Yorker magazine has a short story titled “The Adventure of a Skier.” The author is Italo Calvino, and it describes a group of awkward young boys forcing their ski movements and a beautiful young girl making graceful turns with no apparent effort, using knowledge-based skill. Why the magazine chose to publish this winter story about chaos and order at the height of summer is a matter of speculation. Placed in our current political context, it makes sense.


Alta‘s 2017-18 passes are now available. As with most areas, savings and bonuses are available with early purchases.

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