The kids and I found special gifts to celebrate Derek’s birthday and on October 4, we partied!
We were staying at a four star campground in Brittany. Many of the smaller municipal campgrounds are now closed for the season, but the larger upscale ones, especially in the more touristy area, are still open. We have a camping book that lists campgrounds by town and includes their closing dates which we now rely on.
Since it’s the low season, the rates are very reasonable – about 20 Euros per night. When we do find an open municipal campground, it’s pretty fun to pay 8 or 10 Euros only. (Anna Sierra suggested that we include more useful information on the blog so that other people can take trips like this, so I’m throwing in a few logistical details.)
But getting back to the birthday celebration…there was a nice recreation room with tables and chairs and Foosball (aka babyfoot in France) and a ping pong table so we had breakfast indoors (after we sang Happy Birthday, of course.) These days it doesn’t get light out until 8:30, so it was nice to be warm, cozy and bright.
Then Derek opened his gifts. Jasper got him a small book of D-Day stories from the Juno Centre-carefully chosen to be lightweight. I got him ping pong rackets that I found at a grocery store since most campsites and a lot of public parks have ping pong tables and Anna Sierra got him a fleecy bathrobe to wear on the way to the shower like all the cool retired guys in the camper vans who we meet at the campgrounds. He loved all his presents!
Usually for Derek’s birthday we go hiking by Lake Placid and admire all the turning leaves in the peaks, so it was very special to pass bright red ivy and some maple trees to remind us of those trips.
Our ride was gorgeous! We followed the canal into Rennes. As well as locks, rocky cliffs that reminded Derek of the Barren Canyon, villages, an aqueduct, and a group of travellers from Gatineau, we discovered some great public art and just a little bit of rain at the end of the day. The kids and I had fun joking that we had arranged everything just for Derek.
In total we rode 85 km, our second biggest distance of the trip. Anna Sierra has her heart set on her first century, but we’re not quite there yet. With fully loaded bikes and stops for meals, bathroom breaks, shopping and sightseeing, we usually find 50-60 km the right distance.
We finished Derek’s birthday with warm hospitality from Manuel and his son Étienne, who hosted us (via Warm Showers) in their beautiful apartment in Rennes, told us about hiking in the Alps and fed us hot tea, leek soup and pasta.
Anna Sierra slept so well she said when she woke up she thought she was in her own room at home!
Happy 42nd Derek! It’s so fun that we’re able to be on this wonderful trip together. Spending your whole birthday together reminded me how lucky we are to be sharing all this time.