Vacation in France

August 22, 2007

Hello everybody outthere in farm country.

Just back from France.My family and I bicycled in La Loire Valley for a week southwest of Paris. It was beautiful and cool. About 70° -- contrast that with the 90+° here in the U.S.

In talking to a French farmer, I found that they are about as excited about the demand for renewable fuel that has lifted farm prices as we are. We rode along bike paths with wheat fields, grape vineyards, and corn as far as the eye could see. Of course, the wheat harvest is complete.

The corn looks as if itcould use a rain. But still a pretty good crop. 1 estimate 150 bu.per acre. Occasionally, we rode upon a sunflower field in full bloom.A big field of gold -- gorgeous.

I know we hear a lot about how the French are unfriendly towards Americans. We didn't find that to be the case, especially in the small town, rural countryside.On one afternoon, I was riding with another guy on a longer route(about 45 miles) and we finally concluded that we were lost. There we were on a little country road, no road signs in sight. We saw this neat little French farm house where the farmer was outside in front of the house. We stopped to ask directions. His wife came out also to help. Not surprised. They couldn't speak English. We couldn't speak French. Nevertheless, with our map and a lot of pointing, we understood where we needed to go. About that time, the grandfather came out of the house. Looking at 2 hot and sweaty lost bikers, he asked in broken English -- "Want a beer?" We didn't take him up on the offer but we won't forget their generous French country hospitality.

I found it interesting that the Europeans don't really seem to be so concerned bout the cost of fuel. Gasoline costs them 6 or 7 dollars per gallon. And we think the sky is falling when it hits 3 dollars per galion.

A familiar sight while biking across the countryside was to look on the horizon and see a nuclear power plant. I saw several. They generate 80% of their electricity with nuclear energy. What's wrong with us? If we generated more of our electricity from nuclear, that would leave more natural gas to make nitrogen.

Besides enjoying the beauty of the farm country, the friendly people, the French wine, we visited several chateaus and museums. We closed our vacation out with 3 days in Paris -- the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, the Arc de Triomphe,and more.

Now, we're back. It's so good to be home. Next week, I'll be down on the farm in Illinois.

I am John Block fromWashington.