Friday, February 27, 2009

Travel Radar: Gordes

Hello Everybody!

This is Haley writing our very last post of February!

While all of you (with the exception of the Young family) are asleep on the other side of the ocean, I'm taking a little bit of time to write up last weekend's excursion to the city of Gordes (a.k.a. Minas Tirith look-a-like for all you Lord of the Rings fans)!

This city was very majestic looking and built up on a hill, so it made for great scenery! Stuart and I had so much fun going up and down random staircases, down small alleys, climbing up on rock walls, etc.

The best part? No annoying railings! If you fall 200 feet and break your skinny neck, that's your problem!

Since this isn't peak tourist season some of the shops were closed, but most of them had their wares out on the cobblestone streets, and we purchased two watercolor prints to remember our trip by! We have really enjoyed not having to battle the crowds while we're here. I think it has really allowed us to explore more, and made it seem less touristy and "herd of cattle" like.

And as always, we are so grateful that we have been given this special trip together. It's always amazing to make a comment about the scenery, something you're feeling, or something you want to do, and the other one always looks up with a knowing smile on their face and says,

"I was just thinking the same thing. . ."

I literally cannot count how many precious times that has happened between Stuart and me! At the very beginning of our relationship when we were courting, it would surprise and delight us! Now it still delights us, but each of us has come to know the other's knowing smile and nod. There is nothing like being in harmony with the one you love!

And now the part I know all of you have been waiting for. Pictures! Hurray for modern technology!

Stuart and I thought this looked similar to the White tree in the courtyard of Gondor...

We spent a few minutes in this sweet little spot talking and taking in the scenery. We're literally on the very edge of the hill, with nothing at all below us. So exciting to get that close!

Stuart, the lonely wanderer...

Haley, the lonely ponderer. . .

Well, that's all for now as we wrap up the month of February!

We're both looking forward to March and the exciting adventures knocking on our door! Mainly, 5 days in Paris by way of train, and a trip to Germany to see the Young family and the sights of Deutschland. We are so excited!

Wishing all of you a great adventure too,

Friday, February 20, 2009

Profiter de Soleil

This is what our friend Jean told us one of the first days we were here...

"Stuart and Aaaaleyy," he smiled, pointing at the sky, "profiter de soleil!"

Profit from the sun.

Wise words in a place where rain shows up at the drop of a hat.

So! What do you think we did? Stuart took the day off of work on Friday and we profited until the sun came out of our ears!

"Where should we go?" we mused. We'd been to several of the nearest towns already, and did we really want to drive two or three hours? Hmmm....

In the end, we opted to explore Pernes les Fontaines, our own little city that we'd managed to overlook in our other "bigger game" travels.

Our challenge?

They don't call it the city of fountains for nothin' friends! There are around 40 fountains scattered over this little village, and we wanted to see them all! In addition, we had seen several beautiful chapels, sweet little patisserie shops, and the mysterious inner city (complete with 13th century walls and other fascinating architecture) all from a distance. We had not yet taken up our cameras, backpacks, and tennis shoes and conquered the unknown stone gates.

This was that day.

We layered our clothes (because you know "sunny" doesn't always mean "warm") and dug two bicycles out of the Daniels' garage. With a few squeezes of life into our tires, we were pedaling towards adventure on the rutted back roads of France!

Here I've included some pictures of our extreme fountain quest. Let me just say that I'm not sure how many fountains we ended up seeing. They all began to look very much the same after awhile, and I got the feeling that we were circling a bit too.

Anyway, I've included two of the fountains. The first was the most gruesome and it's a closeup, there were other deranged figurines surrounding it as well. The second was a larger one in a quiet courtyard we found. You may not be able to see it, but the statue on top is of a bird "partaking" of a fish.

Lovely, yes?

This picture was after Stuart had stolen chocolate bread from a patisserie and was banging on the cathedral door for sanctuary (and hopefully confession). Too bad they were closed!

Now Stuart is stealing something else....a kiss from me! (Okay, so secretly I let him do it!)

Our last picture is of a typical French street: extremely narrow and stony. After about 20 of these sweethearts they all start looking the same! Still, I love the quaintness of the towns, and the houses possess a certain character that most American homes lack.

Perhaps the most interesting part of the entire day was when we ran across an iron-gated staircase. Stuart, being the extreme fountain quest leader, immediately said, "Come on!" I timidly followed, stating my fears that we may be wandering into a residential area.

Stuart insisted.

I sighed...he's the boss!

We followed the staircase...which led to another, narrower staircase, which turned into....

a staircase....

After awhile of climbing, we soon realized we had stumbled upon the stairway to heaven!

I mean the city tower!

We found ourselves in a courtyard standing at the base of yet another set of stairs. But in the end, it was well worth it. We were at the highest point of the whole city! The views were gorgeous, and everything felt so calm and carefree.

We've included a picture of one of the views, though it really doesn't do it justice!

I like that you can barely see the mountains rising in the distance.....

So, at the end of our extreme fountain quest, we hadn't seen all 40 fountains. We're not ashamed to admit it! But, we did see many beautiful things that we hadn't planned on seeing at all, including a Chocolate shop (which we will be returning to soon...yeah), an awesome little boutique with home decor, cool sundials on the sides of a church, and of course, the surprising "rooftop excursion" I just mentioned.

This is Marco Polo signing off,

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Quick Update #3


I just wanted to let everyone know I'm still here and that Stuart and I had a special Valentine's weekend together. We did lots of things, including:

1. Visiting Roman ruins at the small town of St. Remy.
2. Going to a florist shop in Pernes where Stuart picked out a gorgeous mix of roses and daisies for me. The best part? They were grown locally! The worst part? They were ridiculously expensive. They are currently in a vase on our dresser and I love to look at them!
3. Deciding to cook a special Valentine's steak dinner together! We headed to Intermarche and not only picked out steaks, but everything else our hearts desired (ice cream, cookie dough, frozen mars bars, and a chocolate beignet to boot! Don't worry! We normally NEVER eat like that!)
4. Giving a yellow rose to our neighbors Philippe and Monique because they have been so kind to us since we've been here. Philippe even went to a bookstore and requested a special travel book in English for us. How thoughtful is that?
5. Since Stuart had the day off on Monday, he took me shopping at H&M in Avignon!

All in all we had fun. We laughed, cried, and...........didn't take any pictures!

Sorry! I guess sometimes you're just too busy living the moment!

Hoping all is well with all we love,

P.S. Dana Gayle, if you're reading this...I'm showing you my vampire teeth! Teehee....

Friday, February 13, 2009

Portraits of Everyday Life #2

My Stuart Frazer where he is everyday from 8-5. You can't capture a better picture of his everyday life than this!

He is so good at his job, and I couldn't be more proud! I really believe he has a special talent for what he does!

However, I must admit that I would go insane doing his job. I'm very much the fidgety, creative type who likes to move around and be on my feet. Isn't it neat how God made us all with different strengths, weaknesses, and capabilities?

Here's to all of our sweethearts on this Valentine's weekend! Whether they are short or tall, talkative or reserved, crossword puzzle aficionados or football freaks, we are all so blessed to have been given to one another!

Happy XOXOXO Day!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Travel Radar: Palais des Papes

Hello Blog World!

I told you there was more coming soon and here I am, with details and current pictures as promised!

The primary reason for our trip to Avignon was to see the Palais des Papes, or the Palace of the Popes. This place was apparently uber popular back in the 14th century. Since the architecture around here is so incredibly beautiful and gothic, Stuart and I wanted to post some photos we took around Avignon. We hope you enjoy them....

Thoughts on the palace:

1. Cold. Extremely, stupidly cold.

2. Huge.

3. These guys were living the life. Today, lots of Christians and religious people kind of have the whole "vow of poverty" thing going on. These popes didn't have an issue with this. Though the walls are mostly bare now, they were covered with ornate tapestries and tiles when they ruled. The pope's bedchamber was ridiculously nice, with gorgeous frescoes painted by the finest artists money could buy. They had huge gardens and even personal zoos, where they kept animals like lions, peacocks, stables of deer, etc. They had tons of power and mucho dinero my friends. All of this information leads me to my next thought....

4. I think I'd make a good pope....

All joking aside, the palace was extremely interesting and there wasn't a lot of security, which means Stuart and I acted a lot sillier than we normally would have....

Stuart was going for the Quasimodo look, too bad we weren't at Notre Dame! Still, I guess that makes me Esmeralda. Not dark, gypsy Esmeralda mind you. No, this is the fair, over eager, touristy Esmeralda with museum audio phone. If there had been problems with security, I could have wonked them over the head with this clunker...

Here are some shots of the palace and surrounding courtyard. Notice the hot young man in one of the pictures. That would be my husband......

The bell tower at the palace. Very beautiful and very old.

The view of Palais des Papes. This picture really can't capture how enormous this courtyard and the castle were. It took us hours to walk through (listening to the audio guides) and we still didn't see all of it!

I love, love, love this picture of Stuart going up the castle stairs. It was such a random shot. I just said "Smile!" and he did, and it turned out to be the best picture of the whole day!

*Sigh* I love old things! This window was so breathtaking, I couldn't resist snapping a couple of pictures of it. This was on the inner wall of the palace in a courtyard we walked through. Note the details in this stone! They don't make 'em like this anymore!

Me in a courtyard...profound.

After the palace, Stuart and I decided to have something to eat at a nearby cafe and then to set off down the cobblestone streets to see what we could see. The cafe? Not so much. Our waiter was extremely rude and careless. It was the very first rude French person we've met, and it was almost too much for our hearts to bear. But! Why focus on the bad? Afterward, to my surprise and delight, we stumbled upon the shopping district. We went in perfume shops, linen shops (which actually smelled better than the perfume shops!), and even in a gourmet bakery shop where we picked out delicious gourmet cookies resting in overflowing baskets (we chose chocolate, coconut, and then one that was a cinnamon, lemon mix. Yum!)

Then Stuart (being the sweetheart he is) took me shopping for clothes! Yay! He is always so generous and knows that girls love to look and buy that sort of thing. He even patiently waited while I picked out everything, held the clothes, and waited for me outside the dressing room. I am so blessed to have such a patient man for my husband!

Here are a couple more pictures of the shopping area:

I loved this old theatre. It was so huge and majestic looking. I mean, I'd go see a play there...

And now, perhaps most importantly of all.....

Yes people, McDonald's is one step away from world domination.....

Also, all my sisters-in-law will surely recognize the store to the left we all know and love....and never ever shop at at all....right girls?

All in all, a very fun trip.

Until our next journey,

Quick Update #2

Hello People!

All is well here in France.

Yesterday Stuart and I went to church as usual in Carpentras (I'll try and get some pictures of that up soon) and then had tea and pound cake with our next door neighbors Philippe and Monique! They are such a hospitable couple, and although they don't speak much English and you all know we don't speak much French, we got along great and talked about 2 and 1/2 hours. They have truly been a blessing to us since we've been here!

Saturday found us in the beautiful city of Avignon, Travel Radar and pictures to come!

Other than that, I really wanted to update my LU friends on what's been going on in my life (although I'm sad that some of you guys haven't got blogs yet, and therefore cannot comment. *Sniffle*)

Everything is pretty much the same except that Stuart and I have a brand new niece!

Miss Elyana Ruth Wilson

We are so happy for Denise and Jonathan and also happy that the baby totals for the Williams/Graydon families are going up and up and up!

We now have:

Hannah Faith
Rebekah Hope
Zoe Jean
Zara Lynn
Katrina Joy
Shiona Marie
Elyana Ruth

and......(drum roll, please)

our first nephew due in June (compliments of Seth and Karen)!

I wonder who will have the next baby? Hmmm......

We love being here, but miss seeing all of our sweet little bright spots too.

(Denise, I know you're my most avid reader! And since you know all of this....sorry!)

There's your update!

More soon,

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Portraits of Everyday Life #1

For all of you who wonder what Haley does besides read...


Now, why she does it in ballet flats, velvet pants (note their rolled up to prevent any floor grime), and jewelry is another question altogether. . .

Call it madness, stupidity, or just plain prissiness. . .

Stuart calls it "Haley being Haley."

Perhaps we'll never know...

Windex Forever,

Monday, February 2, 2009

Travel Radar: Fontaine de Vaucluse

Bonjour Everyone!

I cannot believe I have spent a whole week away from the happiness of typing up our blog! You people are my greatest joy! You're the bright red cherry on the sundae of life, the chocolate morsels in the giant cookie of events, and the rainbow sprinkles of every frosted conversation.

In short, if you did not read the blog, there would be no point in writing the blog. Savvy?

That being said, I highly recommend our latest jaunt to anyone who happens to find themselves in our current neck of the woods. Fontaine de Vaucluse was a beautiful place to visit, not only in its physical loveliness, but in all the normal touristy ways. There were several small shops selling the best that Provence had to offer (which primarily means lavender, lavender, lavender), and for all of you less inclined to the brisk walk, the hike was very easy and could be taken at a leisurely pace. Mix in a dashing young fellow to share the experience with, and I really was quite at my ease.

We slowly made our way up, stopping to take in the scenery, snap photos, and coax the local wild life up the rocky banks (although I'm sure I have no earthly idea what I'd do with a duck if I ever caught one).

But just what is Fontaine de Vaucluse? Here's the gist:

This place sports beautiful rapids (you can rent kayaks), and a huge rocky waterfall under the shadows of impressive mountains and elegant castle ruins. Water, water everywhere if you get my. . . drift. But! The source is unknown. We arrived at the top to see clean pools of calm water seeping from under the mountains. It almost looked nice enough to swim in, if it hadn't been for the water suddenly rushing down the ravine at break neck speed. That alone made you realize the quantities of water this mountain is pumping out.

And so my fellow blog readers, what is the secret of the fountain?

A secret, that's what.

"But!" you cry. "We cannot allow this mystery to go undiscovered! Call out the spelunkers, the police, the intellectuals, for heaven's sake call out the philosophers. There must and will be an answer!"

Not this time my friends. We can only ask:

Oh man! Did all the dwarves drown down there? Gimli?


Isn't it hilarious that all those intellectual smart-alecks can't figure this out?

And on a more serious note:

What other secrets do the depths of the world carry?

Do I really want to know? Isn't it more fun to know that there's no explanation?

Perhaps the secret of the fountain is simply not knowing, but trusting.

Up to our necks in liquid reflections,

"To one who has faith, no explanation is necessary. To one without faith, no explanation is possible." - Thomas Aquinas

P.S. Of course there are pictures!

One happy couple....

I love these castle ruins! It was my favorite sight!

The rocky fall!

Stuart in front of the source. The water is coming out from under these rocks. See how calm it is?
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