I am excited to be leaving on a long planed trip to France. This started with a little bucket list dreaming with the 24 Hours of LeMans making my short list. After some research, I decided to book a trip with Travel Destinations in the UK. They have a private campground situated directly on the Porsche Curves. As a first time attendee, I felt that the “handholding” that a agency would provide would be beneficial. I don’t mind camping, as this seems to be part of the appeal of LeMans. So I booked this trip 9 months in advance, as I was told they sometimes sell out by Christmas.
As the trip got a little closer, I discovered that there would be a F1 race at Circuit Paul Ricard the following weekend. I will be honest with you, I think F1 ticket prices are, shall we say, ridiculous! And I needed to get back. So I compromised and bought a ticket for the Friday sessions, which should allow me to see the cars at speed on the track, which is really all I need.
In between LeMans and F1, I plan to head to Grenoble for a night in a hotel after a week of camping. Do some laundry. Then my plan is to do some Alps sightseeing in Ecrins NP.
Knowing I will be “car camping” for the most of the trip and knowing that I have to meet airline baggage restrictions, I have carefully curated my gear to meet Delta’s requirements. I scored a nice Eagle Creek roller bag at the REI garage sale, which is the basis for my one checked bag. The first thing is that a checked bag has dimensional limits, which this piece meets with a little room to spare. The second thing is the 50 pound weight limit, which they will verify at check-in. This is where you can get in trouble. The Eagle Creek bag contains pretty much everything I need to camp. I purchased some very nice, very compact, backpackable equipment from REI manufactured by Helinox. I got a camp chair and a cot. This stuff is pricey but very thoughtfully constructed. Not only is it light but it doesn’t take up much room in your pack. I packed by trusty Mountain Hardware 2 man tent, the cot, the chair, an air mattress, one lightweight and one medium weight sleeping bag, cook set, collapsible water jug, miscl food prep items, and a bunch of dried backpacking meals. The ones where you just add boiling water. Total weight was 45 pounds, under the 50 pound limit. That leaves just a couple of things that were out of the question to bring on the plane, that being a propane single burner stove and a cooler. I plan to stop at the Decathalon store in Paris on my way out of town to get those items.
The carry-on roller bag contains my clothing. The weather forecast for Ecrins shows overnight lows in the 40’s, thus the medium weight sleeping bag and some layers. Fingers crossed but right now the forecast for LeMans and Paul Ricard does not show any significant chance of rain. On the other hand, the Alps look pretty wet. I’ve got my rain gear packed and ready to put into play.
The small mesh bag contains all the stuff I carry to make my 65 year old body survive long plane flights. Included are an inflatable seat cushion and neck pillow. Not being able to justify the price of business class, my latest gambit is to spring for Delta Comfort, which gets you a little more seat recline and spacing. Then I try and get the bulkhead seat. I couple this with what is basically a large square blow up ball that allows me to prop my legs out close to horizontal. Not quite a lay flat seat but a big help. Also included are active noise cancelling ear buds, off line music downloaded on my phone, and a Nook reader. Air time from NC to Paris is about 8 hours so I guess I’ll survive.
I’ve also downloaded off-line Google maps to my phone. I have found this works pretty well and avoids having to pay to have your phone connected to the local cell service or having to rent a GPS unit from the car rental agency. My car is being rented from Hertz.
So that’s about it for planning. If anyone is reading this and will be along my route, I would love to get together. I’m not quite sure how that happens in the middle of 300,000 race fans but start my sending me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
More later …