A Sense of Place:  Travel, Photography, and Photo-art
by David E. Moon
© David E. Moon, 2014  All rights reserved

March 16 Capmany --> Mieres --> Olot

Last night the wind blew up a real gale, Brunhilde bucking and swaying, her canvas top snapping, cracking, and cannonading, the wind gusting at a jet engine roar kept Sheila awake and nervous. Not being able to sleep, she woke me around 1:00 am and after some discussion and many sighs from me, we decided to drop the top and sleep below. Deciding of course was much easier than doing. I did not relish venturing out into cold gale force winds, but I didn’t find the pitch dark, stormy night I expected. Instead, I found a bright starry, moonlit landscape, the branches of the gnarled old oak trees, waving frantically and casting grotesque moon shadows like some strange animated tree beings. The wind was warm and except the incessant buffeting, opening the back hatch and removing the folded bikes was almost pleasant. When lowering the top, the canvas sides ballooned out rather than collapsing inward as they should, so while Sheila operated the hydraulics in stages, I staggered around the outside, poking the canvas in to clear the scissor struts that support the top. A particularly strong gust took me by surprise as I rounded the back of the van. Only a grab at the bike rack as I was blown passed it kept me on my feet. Finally, top down and secured, we made up the bed and retired. I had to concede that it was much quieter and more comfortable with the top down. Having survived the gale at our campsite out- side of Capmany, the lush, volcanic landscapes of the Catalonian interior beckoned and we set off for Olot, intending to explore a little of the mountains. Our route skirted small towns, the buildings and neighborhoods more recent and giving a very different feel than the generally well maintained historic centres. Just past Figueres, we took a short side trip to explore the quiet village of Pontós before continuing south through Bàscara, heading inland, through largely agricultural land, towards the moun- tains, and stopping in Banyoles for a cup of coffee and pastry. Banyoles is both an industrial centre and bedroom community of Nearby Girona. The place was a zoo with traffic jams, police traffic control, traffic barriers being blown about and traffic cones scudding down the streets propelled by the still gusting winds. Hordes of people streamed towards the lake/reservoir. In the distance we could see tents, banners, and masses of people but did not have the energy to explore the gathering. Later, we stopped to get gas and, worryingly, Sheila's credit card was rejected. We were warned that some stations do not take North American credit cards, so we will try again tomorrow at another station. Once through Banyoles we entered pine clad hills and rich green valley pastures, a contrast to the open, coarse dry landscapes of pine, olive, and scrub of the previous days. Each valley with a small village amid the fields. At Mieres, we came upon two residential complexes, one a lovely design complementing the architecture of the adjacent village and monastery, the other more modern in design and family oriented. Our route snaked through connecting passes, some forested, some with narrow strips of fields and pasture, and passed through Santa Pau before arriving at our campsite near Can Blanc, just outside of Olot. They say of Olot, "If it is not raining in Olot, it is not raining." We arrived in  the late afternoon, and it was not raining. Oak and pine surrounded the grassy dale that was our campsite and in the centre, a small hummock of lava rock supported twisted and gnarled oaks bathed in the soft amber light of the late sun and wild violets grew among the fallen oak leaves on the forest floot. Caravans, campervans, and a couple of c-class motor homes had scattered themselves about the dell and the campers lounged, faces to the setting sun luxuriating in its last warm rays before the evening chill. Just a little too late to enjoy the fading warmth, we sat inside the van and enjoyed our now customary ritual: a glass of Rioja tinto, a toast to the day, fresh bread, cheese, olives, and sausage before dinner. Dinner and dishes done, we headed off to the washrooms to do our evening ablutions before retiring.  As is our custom in the darkness, Sheila led the way with the flashlight. Lost in my thoughts about the day's experiences, I did not hear Sheila's warning about the steps. For the briefest of eternities, up and down became one and direction meaningless. As I lay, my face in the gravel, my shoulder numb, I was relieved to have regained my sense of orientation. In the next moment, feeling a complete ass, and realizing that I had done myself a serious injury, all I could think was, what an ignominious end to such a promising vacation, and how unfair  to Sheila if we have to cut our trip short. Fortunately, my shoulder was numb, not painful, and with some difficulty and strange “clunkings” emanating from my shoulder, I drove into Olot’s emergency clinic. Despite our minimal Spanish and their minimal English, the kindly folk at Olot's emergency ward x- rayed me, trussed me up, and sent us on our way, with instructions to return in 10 days for a check-up. Fortunately, I had gotten off lightly, both medically: only “una luxación de la clavícula derecha” (dislocation of the right shoulder blade), a badly bruised shoulder, and torn ligaments; and financially only 140 Euros for the hospital call.  However, two or three weeks with my right arm immobilized presented certain logistic problems. Sheila does not drive a standard shift and I could no longer shift the gears. After some experimentation with me handling the pedals and steering while Sheila handled the gear shift we drove back to camp.
Slideshow Slideshow Route Map Route Map Pontˇs Coffee in Banyoles Mieres Campsite at Can Blanc The outskirts of Santa Llogaia d'└lguema

March 16 Capmany --> Mieres --> Olot

Last night the wind blew up a real gale, Brunhilde bucking and swaying, her canvas top snapping, cracking, and cannonading, the wind gusting at a jet engine roar kept Sheila awake and nervous. Not being able to sleep, she woke me around 1:00 am and after some discussion and many sighs from me, we decided to drop the top and sleep below. Deciding of course was much easier than doing. I did not relish venturing out into cold gale force winds, but I didn’t find the pitch dark, stormy night I expected. Instead, I found a bright starry, moonlit landscape, the branches of the gnarled old oak trees, waving frantically and casting grotesque moon shadows like some strange animated tree beings. The wind was warm and except the incessant buffeting, opening the back hatch and removing the folded bikes was almost pleasant. When lowering the top, the canvas sides ballooned out rather than collapsing inward as they should, so while Sheila operated the hydraulics in stages, I staggered around the outside, poking the canvas in to clear the scissor struts that support the top. A particularly strong gust took me by surprise as I rounded the back of the van. Only a grab at the bike rack as I was blown passed it kept me on my feet. Finally, top down and secured, we made up the bed and retired. I had to concede that it was much quieter and more comfortable with the top down. Having survived the gale at our campsite outside of Capmany, the lush, volcanic land- scapes of the Catalonian interior beckoned and we set off for Olot, intending to explore a little of the mountains. Our route skirted small towns, the buildings and neighborhoods more recent and giving a very different feel than the generally well maintained historic centres. Just past Figueres, we took a short side trip to explore the quiet vil- lage of Pontós before continuing south through Bàscara, heading inland, through largely agri- cultural land, towards the mountains, and stopping in Banyoles for a cup of coffee and pastry. Banyoles is both an industrial centre and bed- room community of Nearby Girona. The place was a zoo with traffic jams, police traffic con- trol, traffic barriers being blown about and traffic cones scudding down the streets pro- pelled by the still gusting winds. Hordes of people streamed towards the lake/reservoir. In the distance we could see tents, banners, and masses of people but did not have the energy to explore the gathering. Later, we stopped to get gas and, worryingly, Sheila's credit card was rejected. We were warned that some stations do not take North American credit cards, so we will try again tomorrow at another station. Once through Banyoles we entered pine clad hills and rich green valley pastures, a contrast to the open, coarse dry landscapes of pine, olive, and scrub of the previous days. Each valley with a small village amid the fields. At Mieres, we came upon two residential complexes, one a lovely design complementing the architecture of the adjacent village and monastery, the other more modern in design and family oriented. Our route snaked through connecting passes, some forested, some with narrow strips of fields and pasture, and passed through Santa Pau before arriving at our campsite near Can Blanc, just outside of Olot. They say of Olot, "If it is not raining in Olot, it is not raining." We arrived in  the late afternoon, and it was not raining. Oak and pine surrounded the grassy dale that was our campsite and in the centre, a small hummock of lava rock supported twisted and gnarled oaks bathed in the soft amber light of the late sun and wild violets grew among the fallen oak leaves on the forest floot. Caravans, campervans, and a couple of c-class motor homes had scattered themselves about the dell and the campers lounged, faces to the setting sun luxuriating in its last warm rays before the evening chill. Just a little too late to enjoy the fading warmth, we sat inside the van and enjoyed our now customary ritual: a glass of Rioja tinto, a toast to the day, fresh bread, cheese, olives, and sausage before dinner. Dinner and dishes done, we headed off to the washrooms to do our evening ablutions before retiring.  As is our custom in the darkness, Sheila led the way with the flashlight. Lost in my thoughts about the day's experiences, I did not hear Sheila's warning about the steps. For the briefest of eternities, up and down became one and direction meaningless. As I lay, my face in the gravel, my shoulder numb, I was relieved to have regained my sense of orientation. In the next moment, feeling a complete ass, and realizing that I had done myself a serious injury, all I could think was, what an ignominious end to such a promising vacation, and how unfair  to Sheila if we have to cut our trip short. Fortunately, my shoulder was numb, not painful, and with some difficulty and strange “clunkings” emanating from my shoulder, I drove into Olot’s emergency clinic. Despite our minimal Spanish and their minimal English, the kindly folk at Olot's emergency ward x- rayed me, trussed me up, and sent us on our way, with instructions to return in 10 days for a check-up. Fortunately, I had gotten off lightly, both medically: only “una luxación de la clavícula derecha” (dislocation of the right shoulder blade), a badly bruised shoulder, and torn ligaments; and financially only 140 Euros for the hospital call.  However, two or three weeks with my right arm immobilized presented certain logistic problems. Sheila does not drive a standard shift and I could no longer shift the gears. After some experimentation with me handling the pedals and steering while Sheila handled the gear shift we drove back to camp.
A Sense of Place:  Travel, Photography, and Photo-art
© David E. Moon, 2014  All rights reserved
Slideshow Slideshow Route Map Route Map Pontˇs Coffee in Banyoles Mieres Campsite at Can Blanc The outskirts of Santa Llogaia d'└lguema