Jim and Randy departed Langres, France, by barge! As the guests of longtime friends Tom and Lisa, they boarded "Rabelo" and off they went on a most amazing adventure via the tranquil canals of Champagne and Burgundy.
From the barge, we say goodbye to Langres atop its distant hill.
Randy (on right) and Lisa enjoying breakfast and conversation atop the barge. Tom is at the wheel in the pilot house. Lisa and Tom carry a boat on the barge, and the silvery equipment on the left is the winch by which they move the car back and forth to land. (See later photos to see this in action.)
Jim consults with Captain Tom as to the plans for the day. He learned that in barging, plans are very loose as one never knows what is ahead.
For example, "Tunnel Ferme" means "Tunnel Closed." We had to wait nearly 2 hours until this tunnel reopened to traffic, as a slow-moving boat was coming through it in our direction. This was a totally unexpected interruption in our day, and typical of life on a barge. One does not choose barge life in order to make it on time to business appointments.
Here is Rabelo in the tunnel you saw in the preceding photo. Rabelo is very wide and tall -- the maximum size allowed for barges on the canals, and here's why: note how close we are to the tunnel walls. Our time inside this particular long tunnel was nearly 2 hours.
Pastoral beauty awaited us as we emerged from the dark tunnel.
While traveling, we passed a boat that was named "Porthos." Of course we had to take a picture of a boat named for one of our favorite literary characters. ("The Three Musketeers")
Jim reads while barging along the canal. This is the life! Doing research for an upcoming recording has rarely been so leisurely.
Most people visualize famous cities and monuments when they think of France. While barging one is reminded that France remains primarily a huge agricultural country.
Here we are approaching a Lock. The house on the right is called a Lock House. In olden days, there was a Lock Master who lived in the house with his family, and who helped operate the lock. Today, the homes are rented out to people who just want to live there.
Randy and Jim pose in front of a Lock House. This one is being rehabilitated by new residents.
Here is the address of Lock House Number 2, but the sign also tells us that we have 2.6 kilometers to go to reach the next Lock.
Inside the lock waiting to emerge through the opening gates.
Here is Rabelo waiting for the lock to open.
Rabelo emerges fromt the lock. The whole process of traveling through a lock takes about 7 minutes, on average, as the water level is raised or lowered between two massive sets of gates in order to set a vessel on the right height to proceed.
Since our barge passed through so many locks on this day, Jim and Randy disembarked from Rabelo and took a long walk on the Canal banks, rejoining our friends aboard Rabelo an hour or so later.
Wait a minute...it's the end of the day and it's time "park" our barge...how can we have traveled only 3 Kilometers in all these hours? Barging is a fabulous way to travel, but it is not the fastest! That is part of the charm: one finds oneself slowing down.