Note: Guest authors John, Teresa, Mia (12), and Sam (10) Tippett are taking over the blog for this post.  Find out what JOHN wrote in his secret-travel-journal all about Joe!
Dinner at Domane des Clos

Tippett family and Belfiore family together in Provence, joined by Erica from DC!  Can you guess which kids go with which parents?  🙂

Lovely views above the Château des Baux de Provence

John and Teresa Tippett, guest-bloggers

Hi. John here…

Our family of 4 decided to pay a visit to the itinerant kingdom of Belfioreland while they held court in France.

On the plane ride to Europe, my mind wandered back to the summer of 1990. I was hoping to meet Joe (and Eli) in London to travel around Europe together after graduation. It was nearly midnight on July 4th. This was before cell phones, GPS, or Google Bing maps. How would I find them?

As it turned out, it would have been harder to miss them than Big Ben. From 500 meters away, I heard a duo belting out Billy Joel. Moments later, the glow from the neon shorts and Stanford sweatshirts was clearly visible on the sidewalk outside Parliament.  (Joe found a photo– I think I took that photo! )

london neon short.pngThat was just the beginning. In the following days, I wrote in my journal that “to travel with Joe is to feel the weight of constant attention.”

As we touched down in Marseilles, I wondered if age, 6-months on the road, or the influence of 4 other Belfiores had tempered Joe’s, um, enthusiasm for international travel.

So, here’s our report from the always entertaining state of Belfioreland.

We’ll start with the youngest of the kids…

Hi, I’m Sam.
We went to Provence for a week. It was really fun hanging out with the Belfiores. I especially liked playing capture the flag with Alexander, Sydney, and Piper. We played kids vs. grownups. (The kids won.)
First dinner together in Provence

Hi, I’m Sam Tippett.  I lost a tooth in Provence!

One day, we went to Les Baux. We saw the largest trebuchet in France. It was really cool. A man was showing a French school group about how trebuchets work using a model, and we watched. There was also a battering ram that we saw. It was made mostly of wood. It had a roof to protect the attackers inside. There was a massive log positioned horizontally that hung by a chain from the top. Once the battering ram had reached a castle wall, the many people inside would pull back the log and then release it. This would cause the log to swing forward, it’s metal tip ramming against the wall.

War machines of the  Château des Baux de Provence

We went kayaking in the Gardon river. We saw the Pont Du Gard. That is the most famous Roman aqueduct. The slant is so small that you can’t even tell that it is slanted, unless you measure it. It’s so interesting that Romans could be that precise.
We made it!  The Pont du Gard... largest Roman Aqueduct in Europe!

The Tippett family at Pont du Gard

One night, we went to a medieval festival in Tarascon. There we watched bulls running on a street that was enclosed by a metal fence. People would go through the fence and get close to the bulls, which would charge at them. I thought the people who went inside the fence were kind of reckless and not very smart.

Hi, I’m Mia Tippett…
I thought Provence would be less ancient and more country feeling. It is still in the country but they have big markets, and it feels like there are a lot of people around.
Sunflowers of Provence

Mia with the twins amid the Sunflowers of Provence. hmm.. this doesn’t feel crowded!  🙂

Our apartment
The place my family and I are staying in is a very cool place. There are many grassy areas which are good for playing capture the flag. They also have a trampoline and a pool. Though the pool is freezing, it is so refreshing after being in the hot sun all day. In my opinion, our apartment is made for midgets. To get to my room, you must climb a small staircase and duck to avoid badly bonking your head (I have done that many times).

The really fun lunch
We had an opportunity to meet up with my friend Katrina and her family and introduce them to the Belfiores. So we had lunch with them. There was a kids table and an adult table. Obviously, the kids table is much more exciting and so that’s what I’m going to talk about. We were having a lively conversation about interesting times the fire alarm had gone off. We sat for a while and most of the time we were laughing so hard we could not even talk.
After lunch, we got gelato and walked around Avignon, and visited the famous Avignon bridge and the ancient palace which belonged to the Popes.
Our kayaking trip
We went kayaking for six miles to the Pont du Gard. Occasionally we would stop to jump in the water, but we were mostly paddling. I was in a kayak with my mom. The best part of the long journey was going down the rapids and seeing the Pont du Gard. The Pont du Gard is an ancient aqueduct, built by the Romans in the first century. It’s amazing to me that it is still standing.

Trying to play with French children:
At one dinner, all the kids were tired of sitting so we decided to play outside. Shortly after we had started playing we noticed French children. We decided to try to play with them. First we were just trying to communicate, which is quite hard. But we eventually got to playing a giant game of tag.

I really like Provence, and I’m glad we were able to meet up with the Belfiores here. I can’t wait to see them again in Seattle.

Thanks, Tippett family, for guest-writing in our blog!  We had a great time seeing you and Auntie Erica.  Here’s a few more photos from other terrific activities during the week… I’m surprised none of you mentioned all the NINJA games that happened all over Southern France!
– Joe

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