Vacances Normandes - Day 5

Back to the other side of the Cotentin peninsula for another lighthouse and then into cheese and cider country.
this is where we stayed for the last two days, the Brown Owl House.  A very nice couple that lives in this restored barn.  Great chocolate lab.  We were the only guests.  Philomena is from London via Ireland and Pierre is from Normandy and said they aren't going to do the B and B thing anymore.  We asked why and she said with hesitation that she would tell us the day we left.  for 2 days we wondered what horrible thing could have happened, suicide? murder?  They were very nice though
so finally she told us as we were leaving they are quitting the B and B thing because they are getting divorced and the house is for sale.  

Jen was filming with the GoPro out the window and got stung by something and her hand started swelling up.  It got bigger than this and her whole hand was swollen.  The joke was that it was turning into a hoof and she would be full cow if we didn't get out of Normandy asap.  

lovin' the grass swirls in normandy

a few roads on the GPS are dead ends because they end at this.

had to stop the car because someone loves horseys

Baie D'Ecalgrain is another instance where you're driving a long the beautiful fields with short stone walls of Normandy and then you come up over a hill and BAM! the bay and the ocean are in your face

house up on the bluff

at Chateau de Canon they have this petting zoo, 3 "Luxury" tree houses for rent, tons of apple trees for their cider gig and a huge chateau on an amazing property.  We drank and bought their cidre and pet some animals that aren't normally all in one field together 

I didn't know that pigs literally eat mud but they were munching away on it.

its hard to trust goats because they are wall eyed and you don't know where they are looking and they have horns and will ram your nuts.

the luxury tree houses didn't look so luxury, awesome for kids though but maybe not 200 euros a night awesome.

should photoshop unicorn horns on them.  Not pictured, the un-magestic donkey's just 5 feet to the right of them.

but here the Peacock is the king of the roost.

you can see one of them is starting to get rowdy and started head butting the map.  The map is but paper and behind it are my fragile fragile shins and knee caps so I said ok little buddies no more map for today.  If you've never seen a goat ram something they really know what they're doing and even a little kid like this could give you a major owwwie.

Vacances Normandes - Day 4

Phare de Gatteville on the Cotentin peninsula and Mont Saint Michel
At a height of 247 feet (75 m) it is the third tallest "traditional lighthouse" in the world. (wikipedia)  It's still active.  365 steps
afraid of heights.  

white on white on white ghostship far out

All of Basse Normandy (lower normandy)

after a few hours you're driving along and suddenly behind a winding wheatfield road... BAM!  you see this

It's Mont Saint Michel, it's an island commune, last census in had 44 people living here in 2009.  It's 100 hecacres (247 acres).  On top is the monestary and abbey.  It's a UNESCO site and now filled with tourists galore, tourist shops, tourist restaurants, tourist logings (yes you can actually sleep on the island inside the castle walls) etc...  Despite these sad facts its still super cool.  If you go in the afternoon after the tour buses are gone there will be less people.  We went around 5pm and it was fine.  You have to cross a long long bridge to get to the island.  From the far away parking lot to the island they estimate it takes 45 min by foot and 10 min by free shuttle bus.

another cool thing is that when the tide comes up it compeletely covers the salt marshes so it really looks like the castle is emerging from the water.  The sad thing is that the construction project to allow the water to flow completely around the island isn't done til next year so we missed it.  A thing that makes me feel a little better is that it hasn't truly been an island since 1879 so a bunch of people have missed out too.

Inside the walls

a final parting shot.  After this it was getting late and finding a place to eat the famed Agneau pré salé (salt marsh grazed lamb) was going to be hard since things close even earlier than they do in Normandy.  We made the hard and disheartening decision to eat it at one of the restaurants near the parking lot/tourist center.  Inside it was 75% asian, Koreans and Japanese.  It was disappointing but the food was decent... but outside we could see bus load after busload of Japanese tourists headed for the island to see the castle lit up.  FYI it looks like the disney castle lit  up so if you're a 6 yr old girl it might be your thing.  No judgements here.  Go to Mont St. Michel in the afternoon keeping in mind it takes a while to make it to the island and the amount of tourists will be ok.  Lots of inspiration to be had here.  The sight of it brings on a feeling of awesomeness when you see it appear before your eyes.

Vacances Normandes - Day 3

D-Day beaches and the American Cemetery
a stop in Bayeux known for having the super old Bayeux tapestry.  We took a look around the town, waited in line to see the tapestry but then decided to jump out and continue on.

D-Day was June 6th, 1944.  The allies crossed the English Channel and landed on the beaches of Normandy including Utah and Omaha beaches.  They were met with a sh!t storm from the Germans and at least 10,000 allied lives were lost on the first day.  It's the largest amphibious assault in history.  We prepared for this day by watching the storming the beach scene in "Saving Private Ryan" and episode 2 of Band of Brothers where Easy company parachutes into Normandy.  It definitely helped to understand the lay of the land and appreciate the gravity of this area of Normandy. 155mm Long Tom canon used by the Americans.  You always hear about "88s" in Band of brothers so I guess this canon is double the size of the canons that constantly tortured Easy company.

these things were put on the beach to prevent Allied tanks from landing and causing havoc on the beaches and to complicate aquatic landings.
the storming of the beach happened at low tide to ease landing, i'm guessing it made it easier to avoid hitting the metal obstacles too.  After watching the beach scene of saving private ryan I can't believe how far it is from the surf to the hills and cliffs.  These guys crawled their way there under mortar and gun fire.  10,000 allies died on this beach.  I could count the number of families enjoying the beach on 1 hand.  Its an erie feeling being on this beach.  How many years will it take for this to not be a ghostly beach?  I'm guessing it will be within my lifetime.  Look at WWI,  I have no connection with that war, I never knew veterans from that war.  If this happened 100 years ago would I be building a sandcastle on this beach and having a picnic?

I saw a bunch of German tourists and families.  I wonder what it feels like for them visiting these memorials.  It must suck to be vilified for generations gone past.  Even I feel it being raised in America.  That little german girl put her flip flopped foot on the monument and made me think it was pretty disrespectful especially because of the language she was speaking.  I guess any kid could have done that though.  But I instantly felt that because the Germans have been vilified (and it should just be the WWII bad guys that get that bad rap).  

A Newfoundland!
cool pruned trees at the Normandy American Cemetaray

9,387 soldiers and 4 civilians memorialized here.  The ultimate sacrifice.
plan of attack via the English Channel

I turn around and I see Phil Oliver, Luke's dad from London.  The last time I saw him was in Kentucky at Luke and Ellen's wedding.  What a coincidence to randomly see him amongst this section of headstones on this vast property.  It is truly a small world

that's the Atlantic ocean in the back.  This is a beautiful memorial on a bluff overlooking Omaha beach, one of the beaches the Americans stormed on D-Day

Here rests in honored glory a comrade in arms known but to god.  So many of these here.  A cool museum, the sereneness of the bluff and the ocean below juxtaposed against the violence responsible for the 9000 plus WWII remains memorialized here brings about feelings, at least for me, a WWII enthusiast.  This place has weight, it's a fitting memorial.  Memorials like this abroad and in the states fall to neglect when the US government comes to budget stalemates and funding gets cut.

Germans!!!!!  up on a cliff, Point du Hoc on Omaha beach, that the US Army ranger assault group captured this area fortified by the germans.
inside the concrete bunker.  Envoke WWII 1st person shooter video game mode.
the landscape if full of huge craters from shells from Allied bombing and from warship in the channel.  Nettles

serenity and nature after violence equals eerie meloncholy sunny days by the ocean.

We drove on to the Bed and Breakfast we would stay at for the next two days.  It was really in the middle of nowhere and by the time we got there they said there was nothing open so we ate with them and drank lots of wine, Calvados, and Pommeau