(1) More about 'Le Tour' and (2) Salish Sea officially named

Enjoyed the massive fields of sunflowers and vineyards while taking in today’s stage of the Tour de France.  Soon they’ll be in the Pyrenees. Before then, we’ll start seeing fields and fields of lavender.

See what I meant about the Tour being a free tour of summer scenery in France?  (See earlier posts about the Tour from a few days ago, below.)

We’re pleased to learn that the body of water at our doorstep now has a name, the Salish Sea. The large area of coastal waters off the south coast of British Columbia was officially named the Salish Sea yesterday. It includes Juan de Fuca Strait, the Strait of Georgia, and Puget Sound. If only now the Sea of Cortez in Baja, Mexico would get another name, then we’d be sailing in the right direction!  Til later, Henri

"Biggest Transfer Story of the Summer"? Paul the Octopus adventures continue

"Paul the octopus set for sensational transfer to Madrid aquarium - Spanish zoo prepared to meet 'any demands' to sign German cephalopod that predicted team's World Cup final victory."  (The Guardian, UK, July 15)

The City of Madrid "Zoo Aquarium" has offered to buy the amazing psychic Octopus, Paul, from the Aquarium in Oberhausen, Germany.  Sum unknown.
Since Spain won it all, and now prides itself as holder of the golden World Cup futbal trophy for the next four years, it seems only fitting. After all, Paul predicted the win over Netherlands, although the score was a minimal 1-0 result.
Now I am curious to know whether Oberhausen will even consider accepting this offer (the fans in Germany may object!);  how much was the offer for, and if Oberhausen does part with Paul, how will the Madrid Zoo (or anyone in fact) know if it is indeed the Paul. Who can tell the difference, except another Octopus?

Temporary Cap on Gulf of Mexico Leak

We’re all aware of the horrendous ecological damage going on in the Gulf of Mexico.  Not to speak of the suffering of innocent creatures, and the human misery.  Comedian George Lopez, host of a late-night talk show "Lopez Tonight", broadcast live from Burbank, California, calls it Gulf of “Texaco”, and said last night “We now have a Gulf divided into two sections:  leaded and unleaded.”

Today BP seems to have capped temporarily the source of the leak. It’s a test.  Let us hope this effort will be successful.  But what about the hundreds of millions of litres of oil, and the delicate habitat, plus the livelihoods based on fishing or ‘shrimping’. Not to mention the bird colonies under siege by the oily mess.  Then there are the rare manatees in those waters, and the dolphins.

There is an alternative, the Sun brings us mega-warmth and energy on a daily basis, yet it’s free.  The sun never sends us an invoice.  Something to ponder.


Tour de France - Bastille Day, "Le Quatorze Juillet"

Just watched the finish of today’s stage of the Tour de France, in the town of Gap.  This time not too much climbing, a few in the 1,000 metres and one in the 2,000 metres range.  Today the fellows had to cope however with Africa-like temperatures at least 36 degrees C.  

All that heat was making the tar on the roadways soft, creating a hazard for the riders. Especially on the hairpin turns down the Col du Noyer, descents where they zoom along at 75 km/hr.

I call this race the “Tour de Force”.  No matter what the weather is like:  rain, hail, fog, sometimes snow on the summits, or hot temperatures like today, the Tour goes on.

And as if completing one stage is not challenging enough, let alone all 23 stages of the full Tour, any rider who gets to the finish after a time limit set by the race organizers, is unceremoniously kicked out - eliminated!

Today there were beautiful camera views along the route of the Haute-alps, taken by the photographer in a helicopter.  The helicopter sent some horses running, accompanied by a lone donkey.  They’re now all immortalized, on today the national holiday of France, Le Quatorze Juillet. Bastille Day.

Hopefully these past couple of blog posts have stirred some appetite to tune into this magnificent sports race, which began already 103 years ago!  A bientot, Henri


Tomorrow is Bastille Day, "Quartoze de Juillet" on the Tour

Tomorrow, July 14, is “Quartorze de Juillet” in France. Les francaises celebrate Bastille Day.

You can be sure to see many tricoloured banners and flags along the Tour de France stage to Gap. Yes, the Tour has its history of cheaters using drug-enhanced energy inputs, but overall most of these fellows are going on their own strength.  So we have recently had the amazing Paul the Octopus and his World Cup predictions, and now the amazing bike race of the Tour de France. Ah yes, there is a Canadian amongst these 120-plus riders, with the appropriate name of Ryder Hesjedal. He grew up here on beautiful Vancouver Island and lives nearby.  We wish him good luck, or as the French say, “Bonne chance!”.  A la prochaine, Henri

Le Tour de France

From one very popular sports event to another.  Maybe this one is not well-known in North America (although there’s a Texan by the name of Lance Armstrong involved), but I’m talking about the most gruelling sports event in the world, the Tour de France.  (“Le Tour”).
Gruelling both mentally and physically.  This incredible mega-race on a bike is already into day 10, with 15 more days to go.  Today the riders had to climb the Col de la Madeleine in the Alps at Haute-Savoie.  And that was after they already been riding 150 kms on their bikes today alone!  So, for a pleasant addition, they had to climb 1 hour non-stop to the 2,000 metre summit.  Then descend at average speeds of 70 km/hr right to the end of today’s stage, where again there was another 700m climb to the finish line.

I first heard about the Tour in the Lowlands when I was 3 years old, through my father. I am not a fanatic about the Tour, but I do respect the riders efforts and love the panorama and scenery these fellows have to race through.  It’s a great way to follow the various locales and mountain regions of France.

World Cup winds down, Octopus popularity goes up

Did anyone notice the Spanish fan in Madrid dressed like an octopus? Also some people were wearing T-shirts with an octopus design.  All thanks to the amazing Paul who resides in an aquarium at Oberhausen, Germany.  See my posts below for more details about his exceptional record of predicting the match outcomes.  Paul predicted Spain’s victory over the Netherlands.

And now there is a big demand worldwide for squid or calamari, pulpo, at the fish markets world-wide!  Unfortunately, since this won’t do much to help this species.  People have a strange mindset, now thinking eating octopus will help give them psychic powers. (Like in Asia where so many species are at risk or virtually extinct because of a strange mindset about aphrodisiac powers of various animal parts.)
We have our own "Paul" as you can see beside this post. Got it a few years ago on the island of Domenica, calligraphy courtesy of Natasha.