My name is Patrick and I like to escape as often as possible far from the crowds and the beaten tracks.
That being said, I am well aware that this presentation is a bit short. So let’s start with…
I started walking in the late sixties, equipped by NASA which dictated children’s fashion at the time.
I loved this strange exercise and gradually perfected it, discovering very early the different means of exploration that we find today in the sections of the site. No coincidence : everything has its source in childhood!
Thus the hike,
Or underwater explorations.
On these promising bases, I continued to grow, driven by curiosity, readings and the thirst for discovery, attracted by everything that could extend beyond the limits of the known. I gradually widened the circle of my explorations thanks to the ten gears of my old bicycle, pedaling along fields dotted with poppies. Then I learned to drift under sail, to climb cliffs, to sleep under the stars, all this to finally, barely of age and finally free, go off to explore everywhere.
Still in high school, I undertook a first wet journey by hitchhiking through Ireland.
Then, after my baccalaureate, paid to lead groups, I discovered the immense skies of the Great North,
The endless roads of the New World.
I liked it so much, traveling – taking my bag, finding myself on a station platform, in a port, on a tarmac in the smell of kerosene – that I left the Sorbonne where I was bored to get employed by tour-operators.
This allowed me to live in the West Indies, in the early 90s.
Or in the Tunisian Sahara, in Tozeur, where I lived for a year and which I liked to walk around at siesta time.
Back to France
After three years of various dotted lines on the world map, I settled in Nîmes – south of France. My neighbor was a bullfighter and I felt like I was living in Hemingway’s chronicles. He guided me through the arcane world of bullfighting and I sometimes served as his driver on tours of Spain – I felt like I was living in Hemingay’s chronicles!
After living on the cheap for a while, tired of odd jobs, I went back to university in the fall while selling climbing equipment that I used to try out in the Gardon gorges, in Collias or Russan.
Then three lean years passed – but also of laughter and friendships. I got married to the woman who had shared my life since the West Indies and we went backpacking through Mexico to celebrate.
After that, I passed the competitive examination to become a teacher of literature and became a father.
First I worked in Lozère, where I loved walking in the deep snow on the shores of the lake of Charpal with my daughter in the baby carrier, then I asked to be sent to the Russian front of the National Education, in the Parisian suburbs, where my wife had been assigned as a teacher.
I had fun with my students, but the urban environment of the inner suburbs was definitely not my biotope. So I moved quickly, to return to the edge of my beloved Fontainebleau forest ten years after leaving it.
With a fellow climber, I rediscovered the joys of bouldering in Bleau.
My eldest daughter saw her little sister being born on the first day of the 21st century.
Then, with their mother, I bought and renovated an old village house, between the Seine and the forest – a do-it-yourself adventure – against a background of progressive exhaustion of I-don’t-know-what.
Polysemic crisis. Banal.
House sold, page closed on fifteen years of common life with the mother of my daughters, I offered myself a year of great vacations by taking my backpack to go air it to the four corners.
I first went to get lost on a small lost island in the Gulf of Mexico.
I walked the deserted beaches during the day, lined with vegetation where iguanas lazed about.
I also spent hours walking on the sandbanks, in the warm, clear water, with horseshoe crabs – funny 400-million-year-old creatures that gave me the strange feeling of wandering through Conan Doyle’s Lost World.
Then I returned to the West Indies, where I had lived in times that now seemed very distant. The hotel where I had stayed – and met the mother of my daughters – had been razed by a cyclone. Of the charming painted wooden bungalow where we had lived our first year together, only a poor ruined slab remained: quite a symbol!
In the West Indies, however, when I found the coral gardens where I used to enjoy snorkeling, I decided to seriously take up scuba diving, which I had only practiced as a dilettante until then.
I quickly got my first two levels and then went to visit my childhood dreams, following the tracks of Cousteau’s Calypso and the World without Sun.
After a year, changed, flunked in a way, and because I had done the rounds of my role as a teacher but still felt the need to invest myself in the world of education, I passed the competitive examination to become a head teacher: my job still today, which leaves me less free time than before but still allows me – fortunately – to go and play right and left, on land or under the sea. Which brings us to the following question:
Why this site?
Well, because for ten years, I took my daughters on beautiful free escapes: climbing mountains in the summer, sliding down them in the winter, camping on the lost lakes of the New World, road-tripping in Asia, going to see sperm whales in the Arctic, and so on: I didn’t lack ideas.
Then my daughters grew up and started to do what I had raised them to do: build their own projects. They no longer needed me to ride through Central Park by bike..
So I found myself, at 50, with vast prospects for partly solitary adventures – since the woman who now shares my life much prefers toes out to blisters oozing through her socks. So she lets me go off on my own to play the fool in the wilderness, and then arranges for me to convalesce in more comfortable surroundings.
I don’t mind traveling solo – I like the essential feeling of freedom and commitment that I get when I travel alone – but I’m not a hermit either. I like to share the anecdotes, impressions and emotions I experience when I leave my comfort zone.
Before this website, the idea of a blog was obvious. I thought that I could be alone during my outings, as I like it, while remaining connected in the evening, while writing articles, to a small circle of close or less close readers.
I created a first attempt on the occasion of my Route de Saint-Lu, to share this crazy walk with my wife, my daughters, my friends.
About Saint-Lu: it’s a joke, based on the French cookie factory Lu. As I was walking part of the pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela, whose emblem is a scallop shell, out of derision, I hung a cookie on my backpack and named my route as a pilgrimage… du « petit beurre » (the french name of this cookie). I know. Childish. But fun. The people who picked me up some parts often asked :
– Are you walking the pilgrimage?
– Yes, I answered. But not the Santiago one.
– Really? And which one?
I showed them the cookie on my bag and, after the surprise, they burst out laughing.
The positive feedback I received throughout the adventure, as well as the exercise itself, made me want to go further and I started these notebooks 2.0 in 2018.
My Idle Fantasies have been enriched little by little, as I went on my excursions, and I still have a lot of ideas to feed them for a long time.
That’s it. You know everything.