I won’t dwell on Haute Route because I’ve long since taxed that conversation. Suffice it to say that it was hard.
At the conclusion of that heated week long race, team inGamba went to the closing ceremonies, toasted a few recovery sudsy libations, ate a handful of nuts, and prepared for late night, four hour drive from Toulouse, France to Barcelona, Spain in preparation the next morning’s early flight. Deciding that having burned 5000kJs per day for a week straight, perhaps that handful of nuts might not be up to the task of sating our appetites, we then decided to sample into the closest French bistro in touristy and bustling Toulouse. And what did we find? McDonalds.
I’m a proponent of McDonalds. I haven’t actually eaten there in years, for no reason in particular, but I find their Newman’s Own coffee to be quite tasty, the Southwest Chicken Salad with it’s roasted corn and smokey black beans delicious, and quite frankly, everything between a tasty sesame seed bun is perfectly scrumptious.
Furthermore, being in France they have the very exotic sounding, Royale. And to top it off, I went all in adding cheese! Needless to say, I had to give that a whirl, with my last name being King and all.
So one last French meal at Micky D’s tided us over and so began the lengthy journey to the United States homeland. A four hour drive, a six hour airport hotel, a twenty minute shuttle, a two hour flight to Zurich, a speedy sprint through the Zurich flughafen, a twelve hour leg to San Francisco, an immediate pick-up by our good friend Jeff, and a speedy half hour drive home.
Although home wasn’t my immediate destination. I suggested that morning, somewhere over France to the beautiful Laura that since we are landing in SFO at 4pm, why not continue our European theme, thereby grabbing the most French looking baguette, some thinly sliced breads, a trio of cheeses, a bottle of wine, and head up to the stunning Mount Tam for an evening sunset.
Whereas some people sleep on planes, the love of my life Laura does not. She occasionally closes her eyes and even feigns sleep, but she’s not actually sleeping. She takes the term shut eye literally.
So thirty hours of sleep depravation later, as I was just waking up from a long slumber, I was thrilled that Laura was still up for the Euro-culinary-hike-adventure upon driving across the Golden Gate Bridge to the Marin homestead.
As you can see in the distance above, there is a cloud cover, accurately describing this time of year Fogust during the dank month of August in the Bay Area. However, that just means that if you play your cards right (which is akin to drawing a red card at random in a deck of 52, say fifty-fifty), you just might bask in the sun atop the mountain. Voila, we were in luck!
With the sun on one side of the horizon and fog in the other direction it was an absolutely gorgeous evening.
With an even more breathtaking actual sunset.
The date of this all unfolding, coincidentally was August 20, so the very next day is the once in an eon (or however often it is) eclipse. Laura, my love, is my eclipses.
We had stopped along the way at this very European inspired market called Whole Foods to acquire the bread, meats, cheeses, and wine winner. Forgetting some of the finer points of a romantic evening, like classic dishware, glassware, and cutlery, we opted for the salad bar to-go box and some handsome silverware made of the finest Asian plastics.
With our final meal in Europe a Royale with cheese and our first meal on American soil a baguette with a trio of worldly cheeses, it was a delectable coincidence that subsequent meals — interrupted only by some airplane snacks which are far from a meal — were cheese.*
It was around this time that we had enjoyed most of our meal and downed most of our French rosè. The sun was setting and the fog was rolling in thick like a fine pea soup. The sky was lit up in spectacular fashion, and the temperature was dropping. It was time to get out of there, but not after one more question. I waxed poetic to Laura about how much fun we’ve had since the moment we met. And with that a “will you marry me” flew from my lips, a giddy yes was next, and a few smooches after that.
And then it really was chilly and getting dark and time to pack up shop. Laura and I are very happily engaged.
*For what it’s worth, one of our first dates was on Valentine’s Day and given that we were stuck in a location with no car and no food besides a refrigerator of cheese and wine, plus a few boxes of crackers, we ate lavishly that evening and have had nothing but dating bliss since then. I knew this cheese inspired meal would go over well.