Before we left for our trip, I had some wonderful and honest conversations with a few friends who are the mothers of four kids. Each of these women is really inspirational (I’m looking at you, Darcy, Claudia, Andrea, Vinita!) in her ability to care for her family, have a great sense of humour, make time for her friends and contribute to her community in a meaningful and significant way.
Every single one of these women was really excited for us and our trip and our time together. And each of them had similar questions about food and logistics – because that’s something they are always organizing.
I promised them that this blog would be honest and I would share what life travelling with your family is really like.
I specifically promised Andrea that I’d write about when we were somewhere totally beautiful and someone had a meltdown from being hungry. Because that’s how things go sometimes.
So here goes.
We’ve been heading towards Le Mont St. Michel for the past few days, watching the kilometre markings on our trail signs go down. It’s been gloriously sunny and the cycling has been beautiful – lots of pretty towns, fields of cows and other folks running, walking and biking on the route.
This morning we woke up at 6:00 so we could get an early start. We were rewarded with a surprise lunar eclipse, the first the kids have ever seen.
Everyone worked together, eating breakfast at first light and taking the tent down, even though it was still dew soaked. We were on the road by 8, waving goodbye to our fellow bike traveller, Tony, who was cycling back to Italy. It was a chilly 5 degrees, but we were pumped about our early start.
The route was mostly downhill, along a Voie Vert, or converted railway. We pedalled hard and arrived at our campsite – which turned out to be quite upscale – by noon.
While Anna Sierra and Jasper checked out the trampoline and bouncy castle, Derek and I had cold drinks on the patio and juicy apples that fell out of the tree while we were setting up our tent.
Since the campsite even had a swimming pool, we went for a dip before heading off to Le Mont St Michel.
It was the kind of day you dream of when you’re planning a big trip. We heard that this evening was going to be one of five times in the year when the tides are high enough that the island is completely surrounded by water, so we packed lights, hoping we could stay for a magical sunset.
Everything was lovely – we biked to the shuttle, I had a chance to admire the transportation demand management strategies put in place to make the island Abbey experience pedestrian friendly & we climbed lots of 1000 year old steps for a view of the salt marshes.
But by 5:30 we were hungry, snack less and just realized that the bars and restaurants served only drinks between lunch time and supper time and that the little shops didn’t have much to eat except for souvenir cookies and sweets with butter which Jasper – who is lactose intolerant – couldn’t eat.
So we scrapped our magical sunset plan (sorry Anna Sierra!) and headed back to our bikes in search of a grocery store. According to our good friend Google, there was one 500 metres away. By this time Jasper and Anna Sierra had taken over all logistics because Derek and I were so hungry it took everything we had left just to get off the benches we were sitting on and find and unlock our bikes.
Half an hour later, Jasper was digging into apple sauce and his very own box of Oreos (there are a lot of ingredients in Oreos, but no dairy). Derek, Anna Sierra and I were eating salt and vinegar chips, an entire box of chocolate biscuits, yogurt and slightly stale (but peanut-free) granola bars. Fortified, we parents started feeling like we might be able to ride the four kilometres back to our campsite so Derek could make minestrone soup with extra beans and pasta.
We’re looking forward to biking on towards St. Malo tomorrow, but not before we stock up at a proper grocery store. As our friend Darcy always says, “The fun lasts as long as the food.”
Hope you’re all doing well!