Once again, we are headed north on the Rhine after an evening of imbibing. I think I am a bad influence on Tom, although, I must say, I have not twisted his arm once.
Our goal today was the city of Strasbourg, France, a large city with a large cathedral (OK, so every large city in Europe has a large cathedral, but this one is really big). We found a campground inside the city limits using the Internet the night before. Our method of operation is Tom gets us in the vicinity and then I turn on my Garmen and bring us in for a safe landing. I’m at about a 50% success (failure) rate, as good as any weather forecaster.
From Briesach,a Germany, we crossed back into France and went through “New” Briesach which is only several hundred years old instead of a thousand. Using our compass and sense of direction we found our way to Europe Veloroute 15 and onto the path that followed the Canal du Rhone au Rhine, which our guide book said would take us straight into Strasbourg (it did and it was straight).
After some countryside riding we found the canal and it was beautiful. But it was also hypnotic. Large sycamore trees arched over the path. The canal flowed clear and slow next to us. The sun sliced through the trees and if you watched for a minute, small fish could be seen. And it was flat. And straight. Laser beam straight. There were no people using the narrow canal at this point and no homes on the water. Occasionally we would bike through a water control lock, but not the type for boats, just to keep the water level from dropping too much.
We stopped for a path-side snack and we remarked how the canal and the bike route were lulling our senses. We continued on and we were all hypnotized, deep in thought, and daydreaming. I was leading and I saw a breakwater on the canal, just a long length of sheet metal, but the water flowed and gurgled over it. It was the first different feature I had seen in several hours. I made a comment and pointed, Tom looked, Ginny looked, wheels touched, and I heard the thud of bike and body hitting the ground.
Ginny was on the side of the path with a skinned knee and shoulder, but she was OK. We continued on and the adrenaline rush kept us more alert. The canal also changed personality as it started getting wider and boats appeared, and locks to allow the vessels to transit the waterway.
At first the boats were very small and as we continued on, they started to get bigger. Eventually, 50′ boats were tied up along side the canal near homes. And the boats appeared to be used as homes also.
The path led us into Strasbourg and My Garmin guided us to what used to be a campground. Bulldozers moved about giant mounds of dirt and rock. At the entrance we finally realized we would not be camping there that night. So we headed downtown to the tourist center to find a youth hostel. As we turned a corner the cathedral shot out of the ground and towered above us. It is so impressive that you could fall over trying to look at it.
Out hostel was near an elegant pedestrian bridge that arched over the Rhine into Germany. As the German World Cup soccer team trounced Honduras, 5-0, we could hear the commotion and horn-honking from across the river.