So, we got up early for the egg hunt and basket discovery – special thanks to Grammie and Grandpa for their contribution to the candy pig out. Peeps and jelly beans – YUM! (Here in France, chocolate seems to be the only type of Easter candy)
For breakfast, we had hard boiled eggs and candy (what else?). The kids play a bit with their new toys while I did some research on how hard it is to get smoke out of a car. There seems to be about 1000 ways – I will list some highlights here in brief…
- An ionizing machine
- Scrub and shampoo the entire thing – once a week, for several months
- Cut up an apple and leave it to dry under your seat
- Leave fresh orange peels to dry under your seat
- Simmer a crockpot full of onions and a bit of water for a day in the sealed up car
- Leave Dial soap under your seat
- Put unused coffee grounds in a sock (clean I assume) under your seat
- Use odor eliminating shampoo
- Open the windows
- Use cat pee remover
- Replace the seats
- Replace the headliner
- Wash in Vanilla extract mixed with water
- Get it detailed
- Buy those fun shaped air scenters to hang off the mirror
- Wash in vinegar
- Kitty litter scattered all over vacuum, repeat
- Change cabin filters
- Don’t bother with detailing since it doesn’t work
- Murphy’s Oil soap
- Leave it out in the sun with the windows cracked on hot sunny days
- Take up smoking
- Dump baking soda all over inside of car,leave it for a few days then vacuum, repeat
- Put fresh eucalyptus in the car and change it every 2-3 weeks
- Buy another car
- Put a tray filled with vinegar under the hood of a cooled engine and leave it as long as you can
- Take 1/2 of a can of coffee, put it in the car, close all the doors and set it on fire (using a bomb fuse, I suppose – this I want to try just for the fun of it)
Needless to say, after all the advice, I felt like I’d rather be the bunny, pictured above, right, than attempt to rid the car of this stench. I decided we should look a bit more – a prospect André (who loved the idea of the super duper efficient vehicle purchased with almost no work) dreaded. Besides, I was the only one who felt sick in the car so was it really that bad??
It was really, really difficult to get good shots in the cavern. André did a pretty good job on this underground lake and on the large shot, above. Point and shoot girl (aka, me) doesn’t even attempt these kinds of things. The lake is part of a system of underground rivers and springs that ultimately feed a river above ground. Long ago, people used to come down here to get drinking water and, even up until 1970, the water flowing here was pumped up to be used as the drinking water for the restaurant nearby. The tour took about 45 minutes and much of that time we were just staring around, as you can see. It was an amazing place, only discovered in 1899 and absolutely immense – more than 2 million cubic meters in size. It is the 4th biggest cavern in France. The rock formations were beautiful and they even had a light and music show to display them in the best way possible. The ceiling was completely flat, like a giant lid of limestone over the whole thing, apparently this is unusual, almost 90% of such caverns have vaulted ceilings.
It was fun to get such a sense of time in such a place. Each century the stalagmites (from the bottom) and stalagtites (from the top) grow only 2-3 centimeters – this means these formations have building up for tens of thousands of years. I wonder how creationists explain away these types of things…. but I don’t care enough to look it up. We then headed back up the doline (an enormous sinkhole that gives easy (well, easy compared to most caves) access to the cavern. The bunch of scree that falls down into the hole when the sinkhole is formed is called a talus. We had our picnic at the handy tables provided. I have to say, I do a ton of picnic making. I like picnics since they are cheap and I also don’t have to do dishes.
We then headed over to the Dino Zoo. Did you know that the Jurassic Period of dinosaurs was named after the Jura Mountains? Which run through Franche Comté? Which is where we live? Well, neither did I, until now. The Dino Zoo doesn’t actually have any fossils – just lots of fiberglass models of dinosaurs, all outdoors and arranged by when they appeared in time. It was a really fun place. They had a few to play and climb on, but mostly, we just walked past models and read signs. They also had speakers hidden with scary dino sounds coming out here and there, which was fun. Griffin kept saying “J’ai peur” (I’m scared!)
This was my favorite dinosaur – the Diatryma Gigantea. In French, it is known as Grande Oiseaux Terrifant or Big Terrifying Bird. Turns out that this overgrown ostrich was the most dangerous carnivore on land for more than 20 million years after the extinction of the dinosaurs. It didn’t fly, but it ran fast and pecked up the defenseless little early mammals with it’s giant, hooked beak. How, may I ask, is it that I have never heard of this creature before? I mean, I know eagles and the like are fearsome predators, but I tend to think of birds as peaceful creatures, meant to be eaten, not something that could eat me! Another interesting aspect of the park is that it moved beyond dinosaurs to early humans and creatures like Mammoths and Megalopolis (giant deer) and onto the evolution of humans. The kids were fascinated by the early humans. I wonder if there are creationists here in France? All the art, living areas and information reminded me of when I started reading Clan of the Cave Bear – I love that series – I even tried reading it out loud to André (he wasn’t impressed). I wonder if Jean Auel ever came out with another book?
The forest around the Dino Zoo was beautiful and included a stream – it really made me miss the Wissahickon. I also found some new wildflowers. The first (nice shot André) is a wind flower or anemone. They grow in plentiferous bunches, carpeting the forest floor. The second, butterbur, I’m pretty sure I’ve never seen before – it grows next to streams. The third is La Muscarie à Grappe (Grape Hyacinth) and is growing along with the familiar Corydale and some violets. The last is more cowslip – but, strangely, it had no discernable scent! It looked the same in every other way, and I even picked a stem to see if that is what causes the odor, but no dice. Callie’s theory is that it only smells at one time of day.
Then we played in the playground for a bit (Zander was in heaven since they had swings) and headed over to the egg hunt. This was a major reason why we were at the Dino Zoo on this particular day – it seems that egg hunts are rare around here and this was the only one we could find. The path to the egg hunt was lined with giant signs featuring French egg proverbs, e.g., vole un oeuf, vole un boeuf (there’s no such thing as a small crime—it’s as bad to steal an egg as it is to steal a cow). Frankly, I think that’s bull—if you stole an egg they’d probably never notice—but a cow? Well, arriving at the egg hunt, we saw the Easter Bunny was walking around, and Griffin enjoyed seeing him. The hunt, however, was a total disaster. I think we will have to organize our own next year since these people were just absolutely clueless. There must have been 100 kids in each group (5 and under and 5 and up) and maybe only 50 eggs – poor Callie didn’t find even one and Zander had 3 stolen from him – out of his hand or right out of his bag! Luckily a kind older girl gave Callie 2 eggs (when she saw her sobbing) and I found 3 with Griffin (we gave 2 away since the younger kids got zero). Then, in the older kid area, a man started walking around tossing out handfuls of eggs. This resulted in a mini mosh pit of kicking, screaming, children fighting to get one (or, for the pushiest, their 10th). Made me so mad!
Finally we headed for home, stopping on the way at the top of Mountfacoun, where André on the day I thought he was dead. Even though it was foggy there was still an amazing view. We could see the ruins of the castle below. We vowed to return once we had our car and do some real exploring. When we got home we couldn’t believe it wasn’t even 5pm so we had a movie night with Pirates of the Caribbean – a bit scary, perhaps but we skipped here and there and I covered Griffin’s eyes! Zander loved it, of course.
Hope you all had a happy holiday as well.