So, this is the basic description of the cycling portion of my trip:
The name Entre Deux Mers refers to the triangle of land that sits between the Dordogne and Garonne rivers, to the east of Bordeaux. The land here on the right bank of Bordeaux produces a variety of vintages, from the soft Merlot’s of St Emilion to the sweet whites of Sauternes. The tour takes you through this verdant landscape from south to north, stopping in our pick of the best 3 and 4-star hotels in the region.
Of many highlights, here are three:
- The chateaux of Roquetaillade and Villandraut for a glimpse into the regions past.
- The world-class red wines of Pomerol and St Emilion.
- The sweet and dry white wines of Sauternes and Cadillac.
Day 1 Arrive at Bordeaux by plane or TGV and transfer to your hotel in St Macaire, by taxi. Take some time to stroll around this quaint Bordelais village, before a delicious dinner and a good nights sleep (haha!) ahead of your first days cycling.
Day 2 Optional Round Trip to La Reole | Distance 26 miles (43 km)
After a hearty continental breakfast in our boutique hotel, a ride to the river port town of La Reole is on the cards. You’ll follow the Garonne valley to Castets-en-Dorthe before following a canal side cycle path to La Reole itself. La Reole was once the second city of the region but these days is a charming small town that sits perched above the Garonne on a hillside. The ride back to St Macaire winds through backroads and passes through the town of Langon.
Day 3 Cycle to Sauternes | Distance 23 miles (38 km)
Today you will cross the River Garonne and cycle south to the village of Sauternes in a loop through an area of forest and vineyards. The route passes the villages of Roaillan, Ozeste and Villandraut, all delightful stops for lunch. We also suggest a visit to the Chateau de Roquetaillade and the ruined castle of Chateau de Villandraut.
Day 4 Optional Round Trip Through Sauternes Vineyards | Distance 18 miles (28 km)
Sauternes is an appellation famous for its sweet wine produced by the regions rare white grapes, possibly the best in the world. The round trip route will offer you the chance to cycle through this vineyard covered area until you reach the Chateau de Malle near Preignac, a magnificent Renaissance building with beautiful gardens. Back in Sauternes, we recommend a guided wine tour and tasting at either Chateau Sauternes or Chateau Guiraud.
Day 5 Cycle to Cadillac | Distance 26 miles (43 km)
Your cycle now heads North into the River Garonne valley through several villages en route to the small town of Cadillac, which bequeathed its name to the car. The day starts by crossing the Ciron valley to Cerons and then Podensac with the opportunity to visit the Lillet distillery and see how the popular apéritif is produced. In the Garonne valley, you can visit the intriguing Chateau Mongenan in Portets before crossing the river at Langoiran and cycling to Cadillac. Enjoy the view of the Ducal Chateau from the hotel gardens with a glass of the local wine in hand.
Day 6 Optional Round Trip to St Croix du Mont | Distance 13 miles (22 km) I may double it!
Today’s optional round trip takes you out of Cadillac through some more prime Bordeaux vineyards such as Montprimblanc before reaching St Croix de Mont, a superb but less well-known appellation located on a panoramic plateau made up of vast fossilised oyster beds. Then heading back to Cadillac, you’ll pass through Loupiac, where wines have been produced since Roman times.
Day 7 Cycle to St Emilion | Distance 25 miles (40 km)
Your final day in the saddle will take you through a valley towards Targon and the Entre Deux Mers (the land in between the Rivers Dordogne and Garonne). A picnic lunch is recommended next to the remains of a Knights Templar Commanderie before continuing onto Branne, crossing the Dordogne river and cycling into Saint Emilion. Arriving at your last hotel situated at the top of the town, relax with a dip in the pool or drinks in the garden before a final well-deserved delicious dinner.
Day 8 We say Au Revoir before transferring you by taxi to Bordeaux airport or TGV station.
Should be a great trip!
Perhaps no more iconic scenic landscape exists in the American west than Monument Valley, Utah. It appears in auto commercials, travel advertisements, and most notably, the Forrest Gump movie. I think it is the most “American” of all American scenes.
Besides an iconic symbol of the American west, Monument Valley is the “sacred heart” of the Navajo Nation. Is it the pure beauty, the ruggedness, or the Navajo spirits that draw us here? Yet, it looks so familiar since we have seen it so many times on TV, and the internet.
And those who know say it looks the same, whether 300 or 3000 years ago. The sky might be a different shade of blue, since we are ruining the environment, but the canyons are as deep and the sandstone buttes as towering. The magic of wind and water has created a great work of art. The buttes reach over a thousand feet high. The Utah Arizona border is nearby, as are the famous Four Corners (where four states meet). We are in the heart of the Navajo Nation. The Navajo name for the valley is Tse’Bii’Ndzisgaii, and covers nearly 92,000 acres.
Even the valley floor sits at 5000 to 6000 feet above sea level. The sand was deposited by the meandering rivers that carved this great valley about 50 million years ago. The bright red color comes from iron oxide, like many other famous places in the American southwest. The blue dray rocks get their color from manganese oxide.
The buttes consist of three layers: a lower layer of Organ Rock Shale, the middle is de Chelly sandstone, and the top is the Moenkopi Formation, topped with Shinarump Conglomerate. All I know is looking at the formations is as breathtaking as any sight I have ever seen in the world. Between 1945 and 1967, uranium (vanadium and copper) was mined here.
The park has their own seventeen mile drive, much different than our Seventeen Mile Drive on the Monterey Peninsula. The Monument Valley has been featured in Hollywood films since 1946, the year I was born. It was John Ford’s, My Darling Clementine. Wasn’t there a song, too?? What about Stagecoach in 1938?
The most notable features in the park: Three Sisters, Mitten Butte, North Window, Elephant Butte, Totem Pole, and Yei-bi-Chai. The Wildcat Trail is a short four mile hike for almost anyone. A guided jeep tour might be the best way to navigate the sandy, and rocky roads.
Many suggest getting there for either sunrise or sunset. While I may not be able to do that, just seeing the great Monument Valley is a treasure in itself. It might even become “the photo I did not take.” Ponder that for a moment!!!!
But I will make it over to Goulding’s Lodge, for a quick look, some food, maybe a Native American craft or fridge magnet, and a quick look around the museum. And if I look very carefully, I will find a Navajo medicine man.
Just over half of Native Americans living on American Indian reservations or other tribal lands with a computer have access to high-speed internet service, according to new estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau.
The low rate of subscription to a high-speed internet service — 53 percent — in these often rugged, rural areas underscores the depth of the digital divide between Indian Country and the rest of the U.S. Between 2013 and 2017, 82 percent of households nationally with a computer reported having a subscription to a broadband internet service.
I am certain two full days plus here, sandwiched around some long bike rides are not enough. But certainly enough to feed my soul until the next time!
Arches National Park has over 2000 natural sandstone arches. The most famous is Delicate Arch, seen in countless photos and advertisements. The forces of nature for millions of years creates a unique and breathtaking scene. But no evidence of dwellings in Arches has ever been found. The first reliable date for Arches is June 9, 1844, by a Denis Julien, a French American trapper who had a habit of chiseling his name and date onto rocks in the Southwest. Before that, various Native American tribes inhabited the region, followed by the Spaniards.
Arches were formed by the combination of nature and time, with rock layers that reveal millions of years of erosion, deposition, and other geologic events. Arches is located in the high desert, with elevations that range from 4000 to 5600 feet. Hot in the summer, cold in the winter, very little rainfall, temperatures can fluctuate over 50 degrees in a day.
Much like most desert areas, the land appears harsh and unchanging. But the desert ecosystem is constantly evolving with weather, climate shifts, and geologic activity. Pollution has made an impact on natural resources, and introduced new species.
Sand Dune Arch
The arches are the park’s most outstanding natural feature. Of the over 2000 catalogued arches, they vary in size from a 3 foot (minimum to be considered an arch) opening to 306 feet for Landscape Arch.
Canyonlands National Park area has been visited for over 10,000 years. Many different people have moved in and out of the area, depending on the availability of natural resources. Canyonlands is one of the last undisturbed areas of the Colorado plateau. The area is high desert, similar to the weather and rainfall in Arches National Park.
Two unusual natural features are common here. Biological soil crust is a living groundcover that forms the foundation of high desert plant life. And ephemeral potholes are naturally occurring basins in sandstone that collect rain and sediment. The potholes foster the growth of organisms that can survive long periods of dehydration. It becomes the breeding ground for many high desert amphibians and insects.
Over time, Canyonlands was flooded by oceans, covered by rivers, and mudflats, and eventually covered with sand. Layer upon layer of sedimentary rock formed as buried materials became encased by the precipitates in ground water. Each layers reveals a different environment. Equally surprising is that each layer was flat when deposited.
Green River Overlook
Naturally, Moab itself offers plenty to do as well. It touts itself as the home of the greatest mountain biking on the planet. Jet boat rides are also available. Hiking, ATV riding and back packing are major activities in Moab. We intend to find out everything we can about this little town, located so close to these national treasures.
We are staying at the Red Cliffs Lodge after spending our first night in Salt Lake City. Red Cliffs sits on the banks of the Colorado River, and is surrounded by 2000 foot high red cliffs.
It should provide a good base for us to reach both Arches and Canyonlands, as well as have some time to rest and recharge.
We may do a combo tour with a jet boat and a 4×4, if I can talk Sheri into it. Or an hour flight over everything, leaving time for some hikes. The other option is to just drive around, stop whenever the mood or scenery strikes, and walk some of the trails. Both sound pretty good to me. It may even reach the 80s later today or tomorrow.
We arrived safely in SLC on Monday, checked in, and scoped out the Mormon Temple and Temple Square. It is a pretty impressive sight, no matter how many wives you have. Actually, a funnyline occurred several years ago, when golfer Johnny Miller, a Mormon, first became a TV golf announcer. One of the players he criticized, Paul Azinger, called him the “biggest moron I know”. When asked about his quote by the reporters, he said he was misquoted, that Johnny was “the biggest Mormon I know”.
We had a nice dinner last night at PF Chang’s in SLC. Jesse, the manager, told us to make sure to stop at Goblin Valley on the way to Moab. We plan to hit the road early today. We will keep you posted.
I had an office here back in the 70s, as well as access to a company apartment, which I did not care for. The office was in Mission Circle (Mission Valley area), near the shopping center, and most of the time, I stayed in a Mission Circle hotel. It was only a ten to fifteen minute trip over to the San Diego Airport. Not many people know that San Diego has hosted two world’s fairs, the 1915 and 1935, well before I was born. I was responsible for setting up the professional relations department, which included peer review, provider relations, and quality assurance for our company.
Downtown San Diego, where I will stay on this trip, is the home of the revitalized Gaslamp Quarter, home to snazzy bars and restaurants. And the new Petco Park is easily within walking distance from downtown hotels, the harbor, Gaslamp Quarter, Horton Plaza, and the San Diego Convention Center. Both of my sisters have some history here. One, lived just up the road in Del Mar with her husband Norm, and their two now grown boys. My youngest sis graduated from San Diego State here in the 70s.
Obviously, the climate is a big deal here, as San Diego enjoys one of the most temperate climates in the world. The population of 1.4 million would not trade it for the fog of the Bay Area, or the humidity of the east coast (or the smog and traffic of LA). Median income is about $70,000. It is also one of the ten safest cities in the US. Tourism, the US Navy (largest employer), and the port are San Diego’s big three of commerce. The border between Mexico and San Diego is the busiest international border crossing in the world. But be careful if you decide to cross!