Wednesday, October 17, 2018

walk to Niort: dark to daylight

On Monday night, I told the family I planned to do the long walk to Niort, possibly walking to Niort and back if the route was short enough. The way Dom and Véro explained the route was different from what Google Maps was showing me: Google was saying it was only a 17-km walk to Niort's center (by the way, the town's name is pronounced "knee-orr"), but Dom was saying the bike route was over 20 km. (Dom ended up being closer; I walked over 37,000 steps to Niort, and by the time my day was done, I had walked a total of 40,100 steps, which put me under 30 km but definitely over 20 km.)

What follows is a series of "walk to Niort" posts that will allow you to witness the land's impressive transformation from gloomy dawn to bright, beautiful daytime.

I don't know whether it's the latitude or something else, but it's still pitch black outside at 6 a.m. here. In Seoul, the sky is already lightening by 5:15 a.m., if not earlier. I should have taken that into account: I drained my poor phone's battery within the first 90 minutes of walking by using both the GPS and the flashlight app. Here, at this time of year, the sky doesn't start lightening until about 7:45 a.m., which means I walked in near-total darkness along the dead-quiet marsh paths for almost the first two hours of today's trek.

I had already walked several kilometers before I took this first picture of a street in La Garette, the first town/village on my walk.

It was pretty quiet that early in the morning. Some people were out and about; they must have found it strange to see this huge foreigner just sitting on a stone bench, doing nothing while his phone recharged.

Here's a pic of the sort of bridge that crosses over parts of the marsh. I went across several of these during the early part of my walk. The sign is telling bikers to dismount before using the bridge.

Here's a stretch of wooden pathway that reminded me of a similar-looking stretch along the George Washington Parkway bike path, about a mile south of Old Town Alexandria. Dom and Véro had pointed this stretch out to me a couple times whenever we drove past it, so I considered it a landmark that confirmed I was going in the right direction.

The path took me past plenty of farmland. Here are some cows (there'll be more):

Algae or hydrilla? You decide!

The path sometimes swung away from farms and steered into neighborhoods.

Here's a house (or maybe it's actually two domiciles) that I thought had some quirkiness and character:

But the path would always swing back to the marsh:

At one point, a herd of cows became aware of me and hurried up to the fence to greet me, probably thinking I had treats like sugar cubes in my pockets. Here's the first shot of tons of edible meat heading my way:

And here's a closer look at the bovines:

I'm finishing up this post with two shots of something that has personal significance to me: pheasants in captivity. I never thought I'd see anything like this, but here we are. Pheasants are pretty but otherwise stupid and useless, which means they deserve to be eaten, as far as I'm concerned. Pheasants were all over the place during my walk down to Busan last year; seeing them on another long walk, in a different country, evoked memories.

A wide shot so you can see how they're being held in captivity:

1 comment:

  1. Great photos! Really enjoying my first trip to France (through your eyes).



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