Thursday, August 20, 2015

Vertaizon to Billom

It wasn't great weather to go hiking on Saturday. Our plan had been to go up into the mountains for a linear trip, then phone JP to come pick us up. Plenty of lunching spots in villages along the way - no need to haul a picnic.
But then, well, the higher elevations were all in clouds still at 10, so we changed for a walk on the Limagne plain. Didn't have the right map for that. My road map will all the trails marked has Clermont at the eastern edge of the paper, and we were going east of that. Then I have lots of booklets with trails, but those are all loops, either too long or too short or too far away. Whatever. Let's just go.
But we should go tomorrow, M argued, when it will be much nicer out. It's so inflexible of me to not want to change the plan again.
Well, if it were just me, alright, let's cancel today and go tomorrow. But it isn't. At first JP was to meet us at a nearby lake, about 6 and with fixings for an after-hike repast together. Then, well, we'll call him in the midafternoon, just come get us to take us back to the car (or, M back to her car). Now I should call when half the morning has gone, to say never mind today, just keep yourself free to ferry us around tomorrow? No. If that makes me 'rigid', so be it.
It's about 6km from Vertaizon to Billom according to the road sign. Twice that if you're going by dirt track and trail. About noon we start pausing for blackberry bushes, then later that baggie of cookies in my sack comes in handy. A village we pass is pretty much deserted. Ah, yes, it is August 15th, a holiday. But there will surely be stuff open in Billom. Billom is something of a local tourist destination, with its cute medieval district and renowned purple garlic.
We get to Billom. Nobody. Not a soul.
Even the cats are on vacation.
Ah, there's a restaurant open!
Yes! There must be something! we are starving!
Oh, the people are so nice. They will serve us, though it is already 1:30 and we do not have a reservation. Is that blueberry tart there in the display case? We will have that. And some steak, please. And this nice half bottle of wine.

And then back outside. It's cleared up some. In the corn fields sometimes there's one sunflower in the middle. (Yes, there is one in this photo)
It's been a hard season, agriculturally. Way too hot, and not much rain. The corn is puny, and diseased. The sunflower fields are all sad. It's the end of the season, and it's normal they're losing their petals and turning brown, but the seed pods are mostly empty of seeds.
We were going to go on toward some other destination, but didn't find the trail leading out of Billom. Once you get on one of these hiking trails, they're pretty well marked, but if you're not on it, you're lost without a map to say which dirt tracks go through, and which strand you at a busy paved road or end at somebody's house. So we decide to make a loop back to Vertaizon. Call up JP to liberate his afternoon. Back at the car after maybe 22km

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