Ballooning in Burgundy

August 3-10, 1999

Continuing after CCCC Conference in Loire Valley

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Tuesday, August 3, 1999

[from the International Herald Tribune]
1949: Naughty Bikinis

LONDON - "Miss America" of 1948 started a thirty-three-day crusade through Europe for clean thinking and bona-fide bosoms. Minnesota-bred Bebe Shopp said: "Falsies are not honest." Her campaign for clean thinking will center on the bra-and-panties bathing suit - especially the French version, which she describes as "a dab here and a bit down there and back there. So much unrestrained nudity has a bad moral effect on men, as well as on people generally. For France, maybe it's okay. But, I don't think that sort of thing is good for the thinking of people generally, which should always be clean thinking. The world needs lots of clean thinking."

Though Annie hopped out of bed hours before me, she entertained herself quietly by reading on the toilet ... she had the latest issue of Madame Figaro. Maybe Annie was pondering the wisdom of Bebe Shopp.

I finally awoke to the sound of someone being impatient with her food. The coffee cup clatter was "crescendoing" with each sip. Next it was the croissants being bitten.

Over my own coffee and croissants I read the same disturbing news that you, Dear Reader, have just mentally savored while forking down your own breakfast. How would this play downstairs at the Reception? Knowing the French character as well as I do, I figured that this would not be an easy day for France.

Becky did not feel the need for psychological counseling. The 75th anniversary of the formal German declaration of war against her country seems to have gone unnoticed in her mind. As she put it, "Ah ... it was way before anyone was born." "But, what about the Maginot Line", I countered. "Aren't your engineers still studying its design faults? Don't you worry about some future date when Panzers might once more be nuzzling your border? When, again, a knife might be poised at the heart of France?" "No", she replied. "And, aren't you confusing two wars?"

At noon Annie and I set out for Avallon by foot. Just shy of the city limits our digital watches lapsed exactly one hour. We about-faced. The return trip took two hours. We saw nothing of Avallon.

We had a late al fresco lunch at the Chateau. Annie fretted, between bites of salad, over the inadequacy of her love life. I sighed in understanding sympathy. A bottle of Grand Cru Pontaubert would have been nice just right about then.

Ballooning at
Vault de Lugny

Balloon Flight

Luckily, it was a perfect evening for ballooning. The sky was machine ice clear. I guess that the earlier mixture of an atmospheric high and low had done a good job of shaking the water and dirt out of the air. We could see for miles. There were no other balloons in the air. Odd that the Disney balloon was still fully stuffed into its factory bag and just lying there on the ground. There is something odd about that Disney operation. I have a funny feeling. It's not good.

We had a late dinner in the dark. After flying, that is.

Wednesday, August 4, 1999

[from the International Herald Tribune]
1899: Assassins Shot

NEW YORK - Advices from San Domingo, received here from Fort-de-France, state that General Figuero has taken the oath of office as President. The accomplices in the assassination of President Hureaux, who were arrested in Mocas, were executed on Tuesday [Aug. 1]. Two others implicated, one of whom was a priest, were arrested and shot at Santiago Tuesday evening.

The careful reader will have noted that it was only last Thursday that the Trib reported the death of President Hureaux of San Domingo. The executions of the folks responsible for his death took place yesterday. The trial, if any, occurred sometime between those dates. Aren't you glad that you didn't live a hundred years ago? But, I suppose the citizens of San Domingo, a century ago said the same thing about living at the time of the Irvingites.

Mike and Annie went to Beaune. One to get a haircut; the other to watch.

This afternoon I walked along the river to Avallon. On the way I glanced in at a glass "gallerie". A nude girl sitting on the edge of a shallow tub got my attention. She was watching a frog and the frog was watching her. She looked so Beckyish. I bought her for her. Now it sits in her bathroom where they can watch each other.

We ballooned in the evening. Maybe we shouldn't have. We almost didn't even get off the ground as the weather folks prophesied a 90% chance of awful skies. But, when the Disney balloon floated by all crammed with school children we took another look at the skies and recalculated our own odds. It turned out to be a very close call; and one that we should have called the other way. An hour into the flight the wind picked up to near gale force. The Disney balloon was swept into one of those giant pylon-towers that the French use for transporting vast amounts of electricity from their nuclear generating factories to those little houses in those little villages that are so far away from everywhere. The resulting loss of children was spectacular: sparks, showering shards of flaming stuff, erupting balls of propane ... and more. It was all very ghastly! Fortunately, our own balloon landed with a minimum of bother and no personal inconvenience.

Later we ordered assorted barbecues and kebabs for our dinner at a little place not far from the smoking ruins of the Disney mistake. The newest member of our chase crew was uncomfortable with this. I guess that he felt we had made an inappropriate choice of post flight relaxation? I mean, what with all the carnage that we had just so recently flown past, maybe we should have directly returned to the hotel. Were we being insensitive? I don't think so.

Thursday, August 5, 1999

[from the International Herald Tribune]
1949: Against America

SAIGON - Ho Chi-minh, leader of the anti-French forces in Indo-China, was quoted as saying that his followers used to love America. "We used to love the United States because of the Declaration of Independence, its fight against British imperialism and President Roosevelt's policy toward oppressed peoples. But in view of the fact that arms and munitions we captured from the French army are of American origin and the fact that there are Americans who think that we obey the Kremlin and the Cominform, we have changed our minds. I would like to ask you if George Washington followed the Cominform in the struggle for independence?

Only two things happened today.

The first and the longest lasting event of the day was our lunch at Marc Meneau's l'Esperance restaurant. His restaurant is conveniently located near the town of Pontaubert, though I don't think it is now a favorite dining spot among the locals. Incidentally, in one of my earlier journal entries I spoke of this, then upcoming lunch. One of your own, Dear Reader, caught the interrogatory in my tone and took the time out of her busy schedule to offer me some sage advice on how to approach what was once a famous French culinary destination ... a place that is now thinking of enlarging its car park so as to accommodate tour buses. Anyway, Mrs. Tilman Smith and her husband, Michael, of Seattle, Washington, USA offered the following words:

"Michael and I have been thinking of some appropriate comments for you to make while dining at that shabby 2* restaurant, since you have still bothered to patronize such a dump. Now, you must know that there's no one like the French when they have been scorned, so expect to be able to see their eyeballs via their nasal passages as they look down upon you. Therefore, we suggest the following for your total dining satisfaction:

"Make sure, upon entering, that you talk very loudly in an accent laced with hints of a Brooklyn native gone Texan. Then, make a real effort to make a lot of racket getting situated at your table, perhaps scuffling a few chairs around. Once seated, ask for lots of ice to go with your water. Water? Well, where is it? Even in Denny's in the good ol' USA, one can expect water. Oh, that must be because this is now a TWO STAR restaurant, instead of, what was that number again?, oh, a THREE STAR restaurant? Go ahead, make a fuss until they bring a pitcher of H2O. Finally, ask for everything cooked WELL done, because, frankly, at such a low down establishment, you can't be too careful about e-coli. Perhaps they could even fry up some of that mystery meat for you. Just make sure that the waiter, and especially the cook, know who is boss. They love opinionated customers over there. Bon Appetit!"

Thank you, Mrs. Smith.

On the bill we found:


The solid foods that came with the water were extras.

The second thing that came up today was our balloon flight. Mercifully, the winds took us in a different direction this afternoon. Though the Disney wreckage is by now probably just an unsightly pasture smudge, this reminder of what might have been us is really best left off to the side.

Friday, August 6, 1999

[from the International Herald Tribune]
1924: For Esperanto

CHRISTIANIA - The international congress of University Women has decided to appoint a permanent commission to keep in constant contact with the committee of intellectual co-operation of the League of Nations. An interesting debate was held on the question of an international language, the congress finally declaring itself in favor of an international language like Esperanto, and against the use of any dead or modern language like English.

Today was cheesy. I'll try to expand on this when I get more information.

Saturday, August 7, 1999

[from the International Herald Tribune]
1899: Golf Dispute

NEW YORK - The strike epidemic, which seems to be prevalent in the United States just now, has broken out in the domain of sport. One hundred caddies, employed by the Harbor Hill Golf Club of Staten Island, quitted work and demanded an increase in pay. When this was refused they manifested their displeasure by hooting the players and throwing stones and sticks at them as they made their rounds. Members were obliged to carry their own clubs.

1924: A Deadly Ray

NEW YORK - Mr. Grindell Matthews' claim regarding his "death ray" are preposterous, according to Professor Robert W. Wood, the noted American physicist. Mr. Wood, who has medals from some of the world's greatest scientific societies, declares that all the electro-magnetic rays of the spectrum have been thoroughly investigated and that there is no gap in the scale to permit further discoveries of this kind. A few of the known rays are dangerous, he says, but they cannot be projected. Professor Wood implied that the tests attributed to Mr. Matthews were faked. The latter declined to make any comment, saying: "I have no use for professors."

It resembled a pre-historic seed; lying dormant for millions of years. Then a splash of water refreshed it to life.

Somewhat like what happened today.

For eons, Corkscrew Balloon #3 has been lying sleepily either in someone's mental limbo or in a pending file at Cameron's Bristol factory. But, once the order came to cut fabric and fill the spray-paint cans, word had to be flashed to the bodies responsible for the images. But, where were they? E-mails to Denise went unanswered. Christen, last seen walking her dog for charity, had moved out of state. Could it be that CB3 would have to fly without the principals? Finally, a phone call from Denise provided a link to Christen. Now living in New Jersey, she promised that she would be available for Chateau d'Oex. Denise, herself, was unsure if she would be allowed to leave Florida. As the clock ticked forward the chance of seeing Denise, live, at 10,000 feet high above the Swiss Alps seemed increasingly remote.

Thus, the OFFER! It had to be made. Dear Reader, please click-off at this point in today's journal and hastily make your way back to my main page. There, convenient links will allow you to read the details of this project and to find the answers to questions that may worry you. Most important, you'll also find a handy template for use in putting together your own application; provided, of course, that you meet the minimum qualifications.

Back to Vault-de-Lugny and ballooning. Tonight's winds cruelly took us over the twisted charred remains of the other night's Disney disaster. Surrounding the scorched soil, the burned out guts of the chase vehicles were being picked over by the bereaved. They had the unenviable job of trying to separate the drivers from the picnic hams. It was a sad sight.

Our own flight was quite pleasant. We finished the evening with a tossed salad and an omelet, back at the Chateau.

Sunday, August 8, 1999

Going back to Friday. The cheesy part of the day was a wonderful cheese tasting at the Chateau. These were cheeses that Elisabeth and her mother purchased at l'Esperance: only the best of which will eventually be served to the guests of the Chateau. We tasted them as the penultimate course of our lunch.


  1. Saint Nectaire
  2. Comti from 1996
  3. Salers
  4. Reblochon
  5. Camembert


  1. St. Marie
  2. Galet de Bigone
  3. Mothais
  4. Bonde en Gatine
  5. Clieute a Hine au Marc de Bourgogne

My spellchecker went wild on this list. Anyway, I don't really remember what any of them tasted like.

In a few minutes we are going to have our final lunch at Vault-de-Lugny. Afterwards, Paul Dean will drive us to Beaune. In the mean time let me share with you a few more anniversaries ... what else took place on August 8th.

Do you know any of these people?

How about these events?

Any luck?

I have to change tenses now. It was Annie who drove us to Beaune after lunch. Paul had a few beers with his meal and he didn't feel that it was a good idea to get behind the wheel of the Previa, especially since we had to travel down the A6 most of the way. At 160kph the driver really needs to have sharp reflexes. As it was, Annie felt a little uncomfortable pushing the Previa to the red line ... and, she only had a couple of Chardonnays with her omelet. But, good going Annie ... we made it door to door in 53 minutes 11 seconds. That's almost as fast as Becky can do it in her Porsche.

Le Cep has not changed much since I was last here a few weeks ago. But, what did I expect? I even have the same room.

If this is Beaune it must be the place for moules and frites. We'll probably have an early dinner tonight as we have to leave for Paris early in the morning. Linda plans to catch tonight's Air France flight from Miami; she will be in Paris early tomorrow afternoon.

Monday, August 9, 1999 - LISA ERICKSON'S BIRTHDAY

[the International Herald Tribune]
1924: A Sheriff's Slap

ATLANTA - Can any man slap a woman's face and get away with it? The question is going to be decided in the courts, though face-slapping, where a woman is concerned, usually needs no such solution here in the south. What happened was that Sheriff A. S. Baggett stopped the automobile of Mr. And Mrs. E. C. Allen, and searched it for liquor. Mrs. Allen cursed him, he says, and he slapped her. "Under the same circumstances, I would do it again," said the sheriff. Mr. and Mrs. Allen engaged attorneys, while the court of public opinion met on street corners and returned a predictable verdict.

Up to Paris in 2hr 57min.

Pick up Linda at CDG after her 8hr 24min flight from Miami.

Back to Beaune in 3hr 07min.

Tuesday, August 10, 1999 - PAUL DEAN'S BIRTHDAY

Annie and Mike left for Italy at the first hint of dawn.

As Linda had a very long August 9th, both in the air and on the road, we ordered a later breakfast and timed ourselves for more of a daylight departure. The drive from Beaune to Siena should take Mike and Annie about 12 hours. We'll probably cover the same route in 10 hours.

Sometime today my son and his wife, along with Richard and Rosemary, will start their journey to Siena. All four of them will leave from Miami on Air France ... change planes in Paris ... and arrive in Florence tomorrow morning. At that point, David (my son) will take over this job of chronicler. I hope that he has already started a pre-journal so that this tale will be seamless. Even though David will handle things up until the time that Linda and I leave for London, I'll chirp in now and again whenever I feel like it.

Wednesday, August 11, 1999

Grouse Shooting begins.

The End of Paris.

[the International Herald Tribune]
1999: Moonstruck: Rationality Eclipsed

PARIS - In one of the most bizarre pre-eclipse events in a competitive field, the French fashion designer Paco Rabanne has called it quits in the face of an apocalyptic event, loosely predicted by Nostradamus, that he says he believes will coincide with the solar eclipse. The explosion of the Russian Mir space station over Paris, according to the Rabanne scenario, will turn the city into rubble. But, Reuters reports, spirited residents in Lyon, the major French city that lies outside the darkest part of the projected moon shadow, say that they are prepared to establish a provisional government of the post-apocalypse France, should Paris in fact be reduced to ashes.

Yesterday Linda and I covered the 596 miles from Beaune to Siena in 8hr 56min. Mike and Annie made the same trip in a little over ten hours. All of us wanted to get as far away from Paris as quickly as possible. And, of course, we wanted to get good seats for the eclipse and the spectacular end to Paris. Accommodating Sienese entrepreneurs had thoughtfully arranged rows of bleachers that not only had a commanding view of the sun but also of several stadium-worthy TV screens that projected unblinking views of the bits of Paris that would make the biggest "POWS" if smashed from above.

Linda and I were in our seats early.

Predictably, the sun was reduced to a sliver right on time. Paris, unpredictably, remained Paris. The spectators who had individually spent upwards of 100,000,000,000 lira to watch both colorful happenings were not pleased with the finish. As I have friends in Paris, I had mixed emotions about being shorted out of this widely billed double feature by the ticket sellers.

Sullenly, we went off to lunch.

While we ate pasta, the four remaining members of our balloon basket arrived at the Florence airport. When Linda and I returned to the hotel a couple of hours later all four of them were already in bed doing their best to extend the coverage of jet lag.

I think that David is due here any minute.

Up next: David's Siena Journal

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