Oct 30 2007, FRANCE

24 days and 24 nights of.....

...luxury and comfort, a nice change.

Hello everyone. It has been quite a different month for us.
Instead of making camp, procuring food every day and biking from
morning to night we have had the good fortune of staying with
friends and family in France. It's a friendly reminder of how our
life was in Iowa.

Prior to entering France we took a pit stop in Monaco. In honor of
our good friend, Dale Putnam, who was going to meet us there but
then had a change of plans, we went to the Monte Carlo Casino to
play the roulette wheel. Ward and I are not gamblers so we didn't
really know what we were doing and mind you…we don't speak French.
We had a little good fortune at the beginning but it soon went
sour. We decided to bet one more chip. Ward said his basketball
number in Grade School was 23 and so we placed the chip on that
number. Low and behold, WE WON! 170 Euros ($235 US). We obviously
didn't act as composed as the other gamblers when they win and so
they knew we were novices. We gathered our chips and cashed them in…
like we were always told to do when you win. On our way out the pit
boss called us over. 23 came up twice in a row after our win. (3
consecutive spins!) If we would have left just that one chip on 23
for 2 more rolls we could have been in the big bucks! But then, I
keep reminding myself…at least we're winners.

We then headed to Bonnieux, France (Provence, southern France).
Ward had agreed to work at the Trek Travel warehouse for 10-13
days. In return we could stay at the guide house for no charge. To
have a home for that period of time, be able to unpack your bags and
spread your things out, to buy food for more than one meal and to
not have to determine where you were going to go the next day was a
nice change. I was actually able to do some real cooking. It also
gave us the opportunity to form relationships with the various
guides that were staying there. They were from France, Canada and
the United States. After the work was done we would go on day rides
through the mountains and small villages. It was absolutely
beautiful and serene. One day a group of us climbed Ventoux, it is
a well known mountain in the Tour De France. It is 23 km of nothing
but climbing to the top, with grades up to 11%. The day was sunny,
no wind and 68-73 degrees…picture perfect for a climb of this
magnitude. Ward climbed it in 1 hour 32 minutes and I climbed it in
1 hour and 54 minutes. Luckily, Trek Travel hooked us up with some
Madone bikes…feather light. To give you an idea of its elevation,
we descended in ~28 minutes.

Our time in southern France came to an end and it was time to head
north to Beaugency, France (it's a 1 ½ hour train ride south of
Paris). Once again we had the comforts of a home as we stayed with
Ward's cousin from New Orleans who rented 2 hunting lodges (Gites)
for 3 weeks. During our 1 week stay we were able to enjoy the
company of their friends as they came and went. We got a good taste
of New Orleans entertainment! Ward's sister, Laura, and her
husband, Nyro, were also able to visit and we traveled to castles
and cathedrals with them both in cars and on bikes. The terrain and
weather in this area is much like Iowa and Wisconsin. The
temperatures are in the 30s and 40s at night and get up to 50s-60s
during the day. The trees have turned and we're enjoying the colors
of the fall. The terrain is flat like Iowa but then has areas with
woods like Wisconsin.

The train, metro, busses, and taxis all decided to go on strike on
Thursday, the 18th. (Also known as "black Thursday"). Many of the
travelers that were in our Gite were missing air flights, chunnel
rides to London, etc because they could not get to the train

Once the trains were running we headed to Paris for a couple of days
to scope out the city and to meet up with my nephew, Nicholas, and
his wife, Bethany. Not all the lines were running yet so it was a
little difficult to get around. However, we were able to visit the
Louvre (tip: 5 ½ hours only gets you through about 1/3 of it),
attended mass at the Notre Dame cathedral (this was powerful and
spiritual), and watched the World Cup Rugby Finals outside the
Eiffel Tower on big screen televisions. It was South Africa vs.
England in the finals with the being contested in Paris, both
counties were well represented by the numerous fans we encountered.
They had a rugby ball hanging from the Eiffel Tower with three big
screens showing the game. It was wild! We have been learning the
rules of rugby and have developed an appreciation for the sport….or
maybe its because I can't watch American football over here. We
enjoyed our meals in parks and along the Seine River. Ward has
become a red wine drinker since its half the price of beer over
here. I never thought I would see him cheering on a sports team
with a glass of wine in his hand. (Don't tell his friends.)

Our 3 weeks of comfort had come to an end and we have been back on
the bike for the last week. It feels good to have our routine
back. We are in Geneve, Switzerland (the homeland of my great
grandparents) and we've been experiencing cold temperatures. Rules
are meant to be broken and we've been biking in temperatures as low
as 34 degrees. We will be heading to Spain tomorrow.

CHANGE OF TRAVEL PLANS: November 15 – December 5.
We have been asked to come and help with a project in Rwanda. For
those of you that may not know about Rwanda, here is a little
background. In 1994 they had a civil war, also called a genocide.
800,000 to 1,000,000 people were killed in 100 days. Since then
they have been slowly getting back on their feet. Nuvision is a
project that was started by the president of the Kigali Rotary
Club. Currently they are trying to set up a school which involves,
setting up a library, science labs, etc. Frank Pollari, a friend of
ours from Canada, is in charge of setting up the library and we are
going for 3 weeks to be help him accomplish this. There are other
projects that are also occurring that we will be helping with as
well. We are very excited to help with these projects. As our
mission statement states: From our bicycles we want to explore the
many cultural differences and hospitalities of the world as we
respond with open arms of friendship and service. If you would like
to contribute to our missionary projects so that we can purchase
items towards the cause, etc. please send your contribution to
Decorah Lutheran Church, Attn: Budweg Missions. 310 Winnebago
Street, Decorah Iowa 52101. We'll try to update our e-group before
we head to Rwanda.

Take care,
Jacky and Ward