Friday, June 1, 2012

Mont-Dore No. 1

There always has to be a first day…  

Arrived in Clermont-Ferrand yesterday.  Took the 7am train from Paris, which meant that I got up at 5 am… which wasn’t the easiest thing in the world as, go figure, I came down with a super bad cold on Tuesday and felt like $#it on Wednesday.  So had to do packing and last minute prep while not in very good shape… And the night I spent with chills and waking up every fifteen minutes… Why is Murphy’s Law always so reliable and inevitable?  

I had a HUGE suitcase filled with all the cords for the project, so I took a taxi.  Slept all the way on the train.  Went directly from the train station to the Roger Quilliot Art Museum (musée d’art Roger-Quilliot), where Nathalie Roux, the director, met me and we discussed the installation I will be doing there next week. 
I had a chance to walk around the old city center, which is perfectly charming and as many uncountable times that I’ve been to Clermont-Ferrand on the train, I have never seen it.  Well worth another longer visit.
Edline (BIANCO, the artist with whom I am doing the installation), who arrived in Mont-Dore on Weds evening, drove over and we did some supply shopping including groceries and then headed to the little house we rented.  I made a stew, so we would have something to eat for a few days, without having to prepare meals every night.  We walked up to the falls where we will be installing, to see it again and get the mental process going.

Here are photos of the house and various parts of Vortex Man that awaited me on my arrival :
what greeted me when I arrived in my room

view from my bedroom window

 vortex man's torso

 We had a little session of painting in the dining room... paintingVortex Man red :

Then we drove around town getting bearings for a wifi signal, so that I can start blogging.
A good night’s sleep and we went at it full force this morning, which meant having to climb up to the top of the falls (probably about 100 feet high) (okay, there is a road leading up the back way, we didn’t have to climb up the cliff.
At the top (and the 3D photos show the precipice better than the 2D ones), we installed a pulley tied around a tree and threw 20 metters (65ft) of cord over the edge.  Yes, I made a harness from my cords and tied myself to a tree, so there was no chance of me following the package of cord and half-filled milked bottles we used for weight.

So, we headed back down to recover the end of the line only to discover that we had sent only enough line over to not even reach half-way down the cliff.  Ugh!  Pourtant, the tourist office had told us that the falls were listed as being about 35 feet (10m) high…  We were a bit doubtful at the time and estimated it to be about the 20m we had planned for with out rope.  Turns out it something much more like 30m (100ft).
So, that was a good time to stop to have lunch.  It was already 14h.  So a quick ham sandwich with some local Cantal cheese and a couple errands in town, including getting the Tourist Office to print us a DANGER sign to put on the ropes at the top of the cliff to discourage people from climbing on them or using them to approach the edge.  They weren’t designed for human weight.

Then we went back up in the afternoon, pulled the first attempt back up… doubled the amount of rope, retied a harness around me and through the weighted ends of the rope back over the edge.  Felt good, because on tugging the cord, it felt slack.  Without being able to see the bottom of the falls, we assumed that it had hit bottom.  Luckily, when we got there our sack of string ends, bobbins, and ballast, was floating in the little pool just to the left side of where the cascade was hammering down.  So, I rocked jumped across the stream, which wasn’t the easiest thing to do as some of the rocks were slick as snot and you couldn’t tells which ones were until you stepped on them.  My left foot went in pretty early in the adventure and my right one went in just before coming back.  Luckily, I was wearing water resistant hiking boots, so my socks didn’t even get damp.  Once on the other side, I used a long stick to fish a part of the string out from under mists and showering down water.  Then just rocked jumped my way back to the other shore, not having suffered any serious damage.

We then used one of the ladders that the city provided to attach a line and another pulley on one big tree up on the right side of the falls and then I just climbed up a tree on the left side and did the same.  At almost 47 years of age, I felt just like I did when I was 10 and climbed a tree.  How liberating.  How fun.
By that time it was nearly 20h, so we went back to the house and I prepared the photos and am writing the text, so that later we can go to the hotspot and blog.
Now it’s time for dinner of stew and a great red wine (Cairanne) that was good last night and even better tonight.

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