Still waiting. It turns out that X is not really all that interested in travel. Perhaps I should have inquired about that at an earlier time.
That said, because to the extent that we get work, that work is most often done at home, which quickly led me to set up a schedule. Each of us gets a few hours on, a few hours off, and one full uninterrupted day a week. Usually on my day -- Wednesday -- X manages to get called in to the sound studio where he works on an irregular basis. On his day -- Sunday -- I generally pretend that we're on vacation, and take the kids on a day trip.
If you asked the kids where we went last Sunday, they would probably tell you about only one part of it: McDonald's!!!! Because they like to let everybody know how klassy we are. But the bigger and better part of the day, and the point of the whole trip, kids, was a visit to a local capital-T Tourist Trap, Le Chateau des Enigmes.
(How was I so sure that it's a tourist trap? Because if there's one thing I've learned during the past 9 months, it's this: if the establishment has a Website in English, or any person working there who speaks English at all? Tourist trap.)
Well, it turned out to be TRES fun. The chateau's schtick is that there is a "parcours" that the kids follow, with a couple of dozen stations along the way. Each station has a riddle or a puzzle that the kids have to solve. And did I mention that the entire thing is based on The Three Musketeers? So they've ingeniously figured out how to make the tour educational, literary-wise. Behold:
|Reading is fundamental, kids! This sign gave them a clue |
to find Milady, who spied for Cardinal Richlieu.
Upon finding "Milady," about whom the kids of course knew nothing, the Chateau provided a brief explanation of her role:
And this being France, even a children's attraction in France, Milady? Turned out to be a sexxxxx-ay lady indeed:
The kids' job was to find the missing puzzle piece to complete here and receive their next clue. (This is kind of sounding like The Amazing Race, no?) I should probably be embarrassed to admit how long it took me to figure out this puzzle. Let's just say that the shape of Milady's tattoo turned out to be the key.
After tromping around outside for the better part of an hour (yay, Chateau! -- I'll preview the end of this story by saying that the kids returned home just like I like 'em: Good And Tired), we finally headed to the castle for more clues. Or should I say.... the dungeon. Which provided all kinds of teachable moments about what happens to small boys who don't listen to their mothers:
|My only complaint about Rochefort is that the chateau didn't add a soundtrack|
warning small visitors to stay in school and don't do drugs.
Notwithstanding my failure to turn Rochefort's dungeon into a "Scared Straight" moment, a good time was had by all. Primarily because at the end of the tour, the kids feed their answers into a computer (which they totally had in Dumas's time, right?). All children with correct answers (or, um, parents who might have helped a little bit) get, I kid you not, diplomas. A Bachelor's in touristtrapology, I am guessing. So if you ever find yourself in the middle of southwest France with a group of kids who just might not REALLY be onboard with a vineyard-heavy itinerary, the Chateau des Enigmes is well worth checking out, or even staying overnight in their tree houses. Which are so cool that, unlike my little ingrates, your kids might even forget all about McDo's.
Blog note: With any luck, this is the last post you will see with pictures taken by my crappy iPod Touch! Thanks to Stasha at Northwest Mommy for patiently answering all my stupid questions about what kind of DSLR to buy.