While Grandma Watts was here we took a drive up to some caves in the Vercors mountains.  We had been there a few times before the last time we lived here  – it’s an amazing drive up an incredibly twisty, narrow, hanging on the side of the cliff, through tunnels, you can’t always get past the cars you meet —kind of road.  Most people we took on it felt like they were going to die.  Apparently that’s what happened about 5 years ago when a rock the size of a small house smashed a car flat and killed two people, so the road appears to be almost permanently closed now. Of course we didn’t know that – until we got up to the point where we turn onto that road about 25 minutes from the caves.  So we followed the detour- tiny winding roads up into the snow, back down, through tunnels, through villages…and to the caves almost 1hr and a half later.


We walked up to the caves and had a full hour guided tour inside – where it was actually quite cool – as it stays 10* all year long.



After we got out of our tour of the caves we walked a bit further along to a cave that holds an under-ground lake – fed by a 15km long under-ground river.


There were some real cavers there – guides taking in a group of people to explore it – so we sat and watched them ride a small dinghy across the lake, and followed their gas-fed head-torches disappear into the darkness.


From there we walked a bit further to a huge waterfall that separates into a wide constellation of smaller falls, with the hiking trail going through a tunnel right through it.


This sign just past the tunnel warned of fatal falls if you try to walk out onto the waterfall.

But who in their right mind would do that?





People’s Exhibit A: Uncle Daniel holding Jonah out in the falls when he was just a wee baby







We chose to drive home the other way round…


October recap

I realise that most of this month has gotten by without much news from us. So without further delay – here is a quick review of what went on in our part of the world over the past few weeks.


Kids Olympics

At the kids school they had an Olympiad – which looked a little bit like this:

It was a Saturday morning activity – parents volunteered to ‘coach’ teams and man the stations of the games.

It was just a fun morning for all the kids to play together -and a nice morning for all of us to get to know some other people at the kids new school a bit more.


Church Retreat

A few weeks ago we went for a weekend retreat with our church about an hour drive into the mountains from here. It’s hard to not have a good time when the setting looks  a little bit like this:

One of the highlights for the kids was the opportunity to actually make pottery on a wheel. One of people who works at the camp is also a potter – and has a workshop set up with 8 wheels.  He did an amazing lesson for the kids about how we can have our lives moulded by God like pottery is moulded by the potter.



Early Sunday morning I went for a run.  It was along a road that felt like it went straight up the side of the mountain – but the views were absolutely amazing.

watching the sunrise start to light up the Alpes
you can see the camp where I started below in the valley


on my way back down



Dead Van

Our trusty old Renault van died.  OK – that is not entirely not true…it was never really ‘trusty’  – but it was a Renault.  and it was old. And it is really dead. Susan was driving it down the hill, and she down-shifted, and then it revved up, and wouldn’t stop. She got it to roll to a stop to the side of the road and it just red-lined.  She turned the key off. And it kept on revving up at full speed. And blowing thick smoke. So she got out – and ran a bit. Then people stopped – mostly because there was so much smoke they couldn’t see through the valley. Apparently the turbo pulled off / cracked – and then sucked in all the engine oil – and burnt it up uncontrollably until it was all gone and the motor seized.  But it was from 1998 – and had a quarter of a million km’s on it. So it didn’t really owe us anything.

We had some friends who had basically the same model van – and they had christened our’s “Napoleon’s Revenge” – and I guess he finally did get it.  We will miss all the space it had.  We had some good memories over the year that we had it.  Like when it wouldn’t start and the battery was rusted in, and we had to push it uphill out of a parking lot when Susan was 9 months pregnant. Or when it used to throw up random warning lights such as “ABS”, “AIRBAG” or “STOP” for no reason.  Or how it often wouldn’t start and I had to disconnect the battery , and wait – then reconnect it.  Or when the fuel gauge used to stop working. Or when the rear windshield wiper fell off, and the front windshield washer stopped.  Or how the stereo didn’t work, and the high-beams, and the one door lock, and the remote lock.  But it did have leather seats -and the passenger seat was heated.  And we knew what it was when we bought it.

So now we are back to an Opel Zafira. Nice to down-size the vehicle when you add an extra child to the family.


Field trips

Jonah had a filed trip to some sort of National research lab down in the city.  They broke up into groups -and his group extracted and analyzed the DNA from a banana.  I don’t remember that field trip from when I was young. Matea had a filed trip just up the mountain a bit  from us, exploring how nature changes during the fall. I was one of the parent helpers on that trip.


We had a freak Fall snow storm a week ago on Saturday night. Thursday the kids were still in shorts going to school. Friday cooled off a bit. Saturday started raining. That turned to snow sometime during the night  – and did it ever come down.

Saturday evening looked like this:

We woke up on Sunday to this.


So we had our winter-wonderland sledding – where you try to avoid the blackberry bushes, and rocks, and fruit trees, and fence posts, and bamboo groves.

Discovering snow
abandon ship in 3…
..never mind.

The incredibly heavy snow also knocked down a lot of trees -and took out a lot of power lines. Our electricity was our for about 40 hours – so we kicked it pioneer style:

Since it warmed up rather quickly – later on Sunday it looked more like this:

And Monday looked like this:

There you go – now consider yourself updated.