Touring France and Switzerland with Mom and Mary

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May 20th 1978
Published: June 11th 2011
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Touring France and Switzerland with Mom and Mary

In early May 1978 my Mom flew from Thailand to be with us for several weeks. I took her and Linda on a business trip to Jever Air Base, a German base in northern Germany that the USAF would use in wartime. We stayed and ate a small gasthaus. While eating, the landlord’s teenage kids, Jenny and Jurgen, noticed we spoke English. Soon we were helping them do their English homework. The next day while I was at the German air base, they took my Mom and Linda on a tour of the town. It was freezing cold and they insisted everyone have ice cream. In German the J is pronounced as a Y, so we will always remember the kindness of Yenny and Yurgen from Yever. After my meetings, we drove back to Ramstein via the Benelux. A week later we would join Mom’s friend Mary, a child psychologist from Nyack, in Paris for a trip through France, northern Italy and Switzerland.

20 May 1978 Saturday. We drove to Paris to meet Mary, picking her up around noon. We drove to Versailles and toured the palace and the Hall of Mirrors where the WWI Treaty of Versailles was signed. Then we continued to a manor house in the Loire Valley near Amboise, where we had escargot for the first time.

21 May 1978 Sunday. We visited several chateaus along the Loire River, including Chambord, Chenonceaux, and Alzey-le-Rideau before heading southeast to spend the night at Loches, which also has a fortress. We checked into a hotel and then went to a restaurant for dinner. We ordered blindly from the menu as French menues don't pften mention the kind of meat, just the style of cooking. So we received various inedible parts of animals, like brains and guts. Mom swapped plates with me as she saw that I wouldn’t be able to eat it…Mom taking care of me still!

22 May 1978 Monday. We drove the small roads across south central France, stopping at the writer George Sands' home on the way to Florac in the middle of the Cevennes National Park, where we stayed at a grand hotel. We did much better ordering dinner that evening.

23 May 1978 Tuesday. We drove to the Pont du Gard, a Roman aqueduct across a river. From there we drove to Nimes. While walking to the Roman temple, La Maison Carree, Mary, being the preeminent child psychologist that she is, noticed that I didn’t stop for any Don’t Walk crossing signs when there wasn’t any traffic, while Linda always did. She eventually could help herself as the trip went on by diagnosing our approached to life. There is nothing like traveling with a psychologist to learn something about ones self! From Nimes we drove via Les Beaux to Arles, a former Roman town with a well preserved arena and baths. At the arena we watched bullfighters practice. Then we walked around town and had a pleasant dinner; by then we knew what to order.

24 May 1978 Wednesday. We drove to Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer on the Camargue to see the gypsy encampment. Each year at this time they gather here from all over Europe to venerate their patron saint. It was quite a sight. We continued to Aix en Provence for lunch, and then caught the autoroute to Cannes and then up the hills to St Paul de Vence to visit the art at the Maeght Foundation and the Matisse stain glass windows at the Rosaire Chapel. We returned to the Cannes to follow the coastal route through Antibes to Nice. From there we headed over the mountains, and spent the night in Sospel near the border with Italy.

25 May 1978 Thursday. We headed north towards Italy, but stopped in Tende to get some picnic lunch fixings. I left my keys in the car and told the ladies top stay there as I would only be a minute. Well, they got out and locked the doors with my keys inside. It took quite awhile to find a garage that could open my door. We continued on our way around Turin to the Mont Blanc Tunnel. Mary told us that she had a heart condition and couldn’t go to high altitudes. We continued hoping for the best (Note: she is still alive as she approaches her 100th birthday). Crossing into Switzerland, we turned east to Martigny, and then northeast into the mountains finally arrived at our destination for the next several days at L’Abri, a place founded in Huemoz near the ski resort of Villars by the Christian philosopher Francis Scheffer, where those who were searching for answers in life could come for as long as they needed to find answers.

26 - 28 May 1978 Friday through Sunday. We had an incredible weekend at L'Abri. We stayed at a private home and met a French Canadian girl who was backpacking through Europe. She was taking the bus to Villars when the bus driver told her that this was her stop, well short of Villars. He thought she was just another backpacker going to L'Abri. We had a chance to talk about traveling around Europe and then about her specific experience at L'Abri. I was able to answer some of her questions and she prayed to accept Christ as her savior. I also met a Ceylonese Buddhist monk who had been sent by his temple to work in Europe. He had an appendicitis attack as his plane landed in Zurich and was taken to the hospital for an emergency operation. His surgeon befriended him and recommended that he go to L'Abri. He had been there for about four months when we arrived. We talked about our background in Buddhist countries and again I was able to answer many questions he had coming from a Buddhist background. He asked me to pray with him to accept Christ as his savior. I don't normally go around converting people, but when people have questions I stand ready to answer, and this weekend was a real bleesing for me. It culminated with Sunday dinner at Francis Schaeffer and his wife Edith's home.

29 May 1978 Monday. We drove home on Memorial Day. Mom returned to Thailand the following weekend.

Additional photos below
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Pont to Gard from the topPont to Gard from the top
Pont to Gard from the top

Old Roman aquaduct
Maison Carree in NimesMaison Carree in Nimes
Maison Carree in Nimes

Perfectly preserved Roman Temple

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