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Have AWD, will travel

LOL Badger and me having our romantic couple’s shot while cooling off in the Ardennes

We had our first 100 degree day last Friday, and it looks like we’ll have our second today. We have been so lucky this summer because, for the most part, our temps have been great. So, we can’t complain about the current heatwave, but we’re human, so we will. It’s supposed to stay in the 90s until around Thursday next week, which sucks when you’re in a country that doesn’t consider A/C important — until we hit these days and folks flock to the hardware stores desperately searching for portable units.

Luckily, Lorayne sold us her unit (looks like R2D2), which we use in the spare bedroom to cool off. Our apartment has a great cross breeze between the front and back windows, so it’s not as bad as you would think, BUT it does get warm and stuffy.

The best, however, is our new vehicle because it can take us anywhere, so last week we did our first off-road adventure and loved getting lost in the forest.

One of the coolest and saddest things about Belgium is that you run into war memorials all over the country. We were literally in the middle of nowhere, and we came across this celebration of an American soldier’s bravery. Joe googled him, and it turns out he stopped the German’s Panzer division by blowing up their lead tank with a bazooka, which also took him out and earned him this tribute that reminds us hikers to thank those who fought for the lives we have today.

We’ve also spent the week touring towns and breweries. I’d show you pictures, but the camera on my phone isn’t working, so I take snaps with Joe’s, but lol it’s a pain to send to me to upload, etc. etc. Just know we’ve had lots of lovely trips checking out all the good Belgium has to offer. Yesterday we escaped to Maredsou Abbey with friends.

Badger appreciates the shaded walks

Today, we’re staying in Mons, but we’ll find shaded cafes to sip and dine with friends, so all is good. Mons also is doing its best to keep our spirits up despite this damned pandemic, which just won’t go away.

There are new murals and 31 elephants placed around the city, so it’s fun to walk and find these treasures. The musicians are out playing, and we’ve discovered that Badger loves the violin. Last week, there was a parade of puppet animals. They looked so real. I wonder what fun things we’ll witness this weekend.

Badger has also been totally loving our new car and our trips. He has some cute pics on his blog. Click here to see him all woodsy and what not.

On Monday I go back to work. I’m not as excited this year as I normally am. I do still love my job, and I do so look forward to seeing students again, but, well, you know, the pandemic. There are just too many unknowns right now, and we’re all feeling it. We all want to do the best that we can do, but we all also do not want to get sick, so there’s lots of uncertainty. But, we will get past this as well. The kids and I will figure out how to make it work, and fingers crossed we will all continue to stay healthy. That said I’m not looking forward to training and classroom prep with no a/c next week — tis a good thing the kids don’t arrive until the following week because I’m going to be pretty stinky and sweaty. I’m amazed the ring around my mouth hasn’t broken out from all the mask sweat.

There’s not much more for me to share other than stay safe, and that I hope you’re all enjoying your little bits of joy as much as I am. Please keep masking up despite the discomfort. I want to be able to fly home next summer and see this cutie pie (who turns two this month! And, he’s such a responsible toddler).

The Ardennes!

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We really lucked out in that Friday, Saturday and Sunday were sunny days in the 70s!  My face got sunburned — I’m no longer a vampire!  On the crappy side of things Joe got really sick, but he ploughed through and did the hikes.  We avoided the more difficult ones this time around, but we live a 1.5 hour drive from here, so we’ll be back.  I got sick toward the end of our trip, and it was wet and foggy the last two days, but it’s all good we love it here.  I’m so glad we decided to do road trips instead of flying somewhere.  We really needed a slow-paced vacation, and it totally would have sucked to abandon Joe in the hotel room while I toured Italy, Greece or Croatia (trips we’re planning down the road) without him.

If you ever get the chance the next time you visit Belgium, do try to spend a few days in Belgium’s countryside.  Maybe do Brussels and Brugge first, and then wind down a bit hiking in all that green.  There are campgrounds, kayaking, zip lining, and all sorts of outdoor adventures in the Ardennes.  Um, if you’re into suicidal motorcycle rides, there’s plenty of that too — can’t tell you how many times I screamed we’re gonna die during a crotch rocket’s crazy manoeuvre.

Dinant:  It’s an easy 1.5 hour drive from Mons and well worth it.  We easily found parking and enjoyed just walking around.  The Leffe brewery is also there, but we didn’t tour it this time around.  The highlight was that we were able to take Badger on the Telefrique, cable car, up to the Citadel, which dates back to 1040.

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Awww look at us frying in the sun on the Meuse river! Badger is at our feet.  All of the Ardennes was incredibly dog friendly.  Then again, most of Belgium is.B74362A0-4E09-4508-8BA6-696EA2D3C386E1EC46DD-834A-49CA-8457-2FFFCE95528CE9C6E757-07A0-4428-A97C-1E881F9279D4

Houyet and our cottage (I keep calling it a cabin, but it’s more than that)

We spent four nights in a cottage we loved.  The downstairs is a tight fit for more than two people, but who cares?  The backyard is everything!

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view from our bedroom window.

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We’re totally going back in the fall.  Click here if you’re interested in cottage (and noooo I don’t get paid for sharing their info; we just really liked it)

The tiny town of Houyet worked for us.  We enjoyed our hikes and day trips from there.

Just a few pics of the cool stuff we got to see putzing around in the area.

Dubury:  is the smallest city in the world, and it’s adorable.  I found a perfumery I loved, and, well, everything about the town worked for us.  Hello?  it even has a pirate bar, so we’ve gotta come back for that alone.

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Bastogne:  We spent a night here, but after a great day walking and touring (and sipping some amazing gin and tonics), Joe had a rough night coughing and fighting the cold from hell, so we went straight home after breakfast.  The town of Bastogne is more neon-lightish than other Belgium cities, but it has a lot of restaurants and shops — not to mention all the museums nearby.  We have friends and family who want to come here, so we’ll be back again to see more. The war museum and memorial park is well worth the trip.  It amazes me how we can war and maim in lands that are normally so quiet and serene.  I could write up a whole blog on my thoughts on this alone, but I’ll spare you my reflection/hurt/concerns on this.  Pray people, even if you’re an atheist (we need all the positive vibes we can get), that we manage to not go into WW3.

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I have a few more days left of spring break, so we might take a day trip into the Netherlands, or just explore around here.  Best part is I’ve got time to do whatever, including sipping coffee on my couch.

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Here’s to whatever path we go on!

Of course you can also check out Badger’s view on all of this at Badger Does Belgium.  It’s supposed to be sunny and in the 70s next week, so he and Joe will go on their first blog mission to Waterloo.  LOL deadlines to keep man and dog busy — no such thing as true retirement here!

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