Apparently there has been very little snow in the valley for a couple years, but we got dumped on recently (twice).
Most of the snow disappeared in a couple weeks but John captured these pictures in front and in back of our house first (February 6):
We tried something new, 'skating' style of cross-country skiing (ski du fond).
It takes practice but you can go faster on flat areas and steer better down the hills because the skis have edges on the sides instead of ridges on the bottom.
Uphill proved to be difficult, so we plan to get some lessons next time to figure out how to do it without getting completely out of breath:
We visited the Saniel family near Lyon on February 15.
Sandira was an exchange student with our family when I was in high school, then I visited her in France several times after high school and after college.
She is now married with two kids.
This was the first time in many years that we have seen each other!
The kids playing in the driveway
The kids playing in the driveway
The Saniel parents, Jean-Marie and Sandira
The kids playing in a tree
We went downhill skiing at a nearby ski area called Chamrousse, about 45 minutes from our house.
It was a beautiful day for skiing, lots of sun and excellent snow conditions:
John checking out the peaks across the way
Mike, one of several friends who came with us
A view of our valley and the Chartreuse peaks behind our house
The Vercors mountains south of Grenoble
'Sunbathers' hanging out at the top of the mountain
More mountains to climb on another day!
We drove up the hill to go sledding and happened to find a popular parapente area.
Apparently in the summer the number of gliders multiplies rapidly.
On nice days I'll look up from a walk between buildings at work and see a bunch of 'birds' floating around high in the sky.
Gliders taking off
Busy skies today!
Coming in for a landing
Minor problem with that particular landing (note the guys climbing up to retrieve it)
Pictures of the sledding outing with other Motorolans.
The kids had fun and many of the adults had even more fun.
We had races, coaxed the shy kids into trying it, and pulled kids back up the hill.
What a blast!
Doug and Devon
Some cute girls
John Arnold and Annie
Mike and Josie
Kid hauling duty
The Patterson family
John doing tricks again
Just a random shot of a horse-drawn kid (he was peddling).
Lest you think that it is all fun and games and beautiful scenery here, this is a shot to show the occasional brown, drab day while driving in the car. Sometimes it is boring, even in France.
OK, back to the fun stuff!
The first weekend in March we were invited to try another new sport called 'ski randonnee'.
You put synthetic seal skins on the bottoms of your skis so you can walk uphill without sliding backwards.
The skins allow your skis to slid forward but only slowly.
Going down small slopes takes a bit of getting used to.
But walking upwards was a dream.
We met Christiane with the Grenoble orienteering club and she graciously loaned me her second set of skis and took us for a tour.
It was really neat!
We followed a trail up a valley behind the Chamrousse ski area.
At the top of a saddle I had a bit of difficulty figuring out how to ski down (without the skins) because it was on an ungroomed area and it was icy (no new snow lately).
But going up was great.
After we were at the top of the Chamrousse mountain we took the skins off again and skied down the regular runs back to the car.
Christiane, after looking around to determine our route
A couple of newbie ski randonneers
John and Christiane
Removing the skins at the top of the slopes in order to ski down
Coming down the hill
The next day we took part in an orienteering training event.
They gave us a map that had only the contour lines and a couple other features (main roads and the rocks that some of the markers were next to).
It was informal so we had a chance to practice without pressure.
John and I both learned a lot about the type of terrain in this area and overcame challenges with a 5-meter contour interval where it was difficult to distinguish the shorter hills and spurs on the map:
John finishing up right behind me, in the rain
Whew! We're wet!
Later that same afternoon, John studying French in front of the warm fire...
When it warms up we may try something else, called Via Ferrata - like a ropes course, generally really high above the ground, but nothing technical like rappelling or ascending.
You clip into the safety cables and then make your way along the course, following foot and handholds, suspension bridges, other interesting obstacles.
I may just watch and take pictures again, but John is definitely in!
(This photo is just an example, we'll get some with John actually in the picture later.)