To plan for France I have been buying lots of fresh flowers, wearing flowy dresses, and eating bread, cheese, and escargot. For Italy, Mark has been brushing up on his Bocce Ball and practicing obnoxious amounts of P.D.A. And for the Alps, Jonah has learned to yodel and whittle cuckoo clocks with a sharp little knife. He's only been cut twice!
Okay, in reality, the planning has been nothing short of hard work. When we had the idea last year to go by bicycle neither of us know the difference between a degreaser and a derailleur. We have biked many miles in training, gone cross-eyed looking at maps, made too many impulsive buys on the wrong gear before finding the right gear (thank goodness for REI's return policy), and downloaded hours of educational entertainment on my Android for Jonah. BTW, I will be blogging from a smartphone screen, so please excuse my "typos".
We plan to camp most of the way. Turns out, the world of bike touring is enormous and quite specialized. If you are really tough you "stealth camp", which is basically hiding out at night on private property hoping some farmer doesn't wake you in the middle of the night with a pitchfork or worse--- we might try that a few times. Mostly, though, we will be staying in overcrowded family campgrounds. Another option that we have just recently come across is an organization called Warm Showers (http://www.warmshowers.org) which is the bike touring equivalent of Couch Surfing with a less shady reputation. You show up at someone's house on your bike and they let you stay for free in hope that you will return the favor someday. Pretty Cool. And, it was started by a guy in Palisade!
The other big money saver is our stints on the farms. Through an organization called WWOOF (http://www.wwoof.org) we will be working on small, family run farms where we swap 25hrs a week of hard labor for free housing, food, and the chance to learn a skill. I hope a working knowledge of Chestnut harvesting will come in handy someday.