August 27 – Les Jeurs to Chamonix, France – by car (20 km, 12 miles)

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Downtown Chamonix, France. That's Mont Blanc in the background, with a couple of the glaciers that spill down the side. ^

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Florence had to work all day today which meant that Jenny and I had to figure out what to do. Florence let us use her car, so since Chamonix, France is just 20 kilometers away we figured we’d go do some sightseeing and add France to our lists of countries visited. Unfortunately, the weather wasn’t all that great for sightseeing. On approach to Chamonix the rain started coming down hard and the clouds were very low on Mont Blanc, preventing any views of it or its glaciers. We drove around town for a bit just to get familiar with the place and then, right when we found a parking spot, the rain started coming down even harder. We sat in the car waiting for it to let up a bit but then the thunder and lightning started, which was actually good because then at least I knew it was just a passing storm and that it would likely pass through soon, which it did about 15 minutes later. Over the next hour the clouds lifted and the rain stopped, so we were able to see the lower half of Mont Blanc and a couple of glaciers spilling down. After a few hours of walking around town, we headed back to Le Chatelard to meet Florence when she got off work.

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Another shot of Chamonix. ^

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Every year, there’s an ultra-marathon foot race around the Mont Blanc massif. Called the Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc, it follows a 166 kilometer route that includes 9,500 meters (31,160 feet) of total ascent. One of Florence’s friends was entered in the race this year, so we spent the rest of the evening viewing the race from several of the checkpoints. One of the checkpoints also had eating facilities, so we filled up on raclette, which is melted cheese with steamed potatoes, onions, and pickles. Raclette is the name of both the meal and the type of cheese used. The wheel of cheese is heated under a burner, and when the top layer melts it is scraped off the wheel onto the plate – very tasty.

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Eventually a few holes opened up in the clouds and it looked like there was a strong possibility for clearing. But it didn't happen - it rapidly closed in again, but at least it stopped raining. ^

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Unfortunately for the racers, the heavy rain from earlier in the day returned with a vengeance in the evening and for the first time in the history of the race, it was canceled due to the bad weather.

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Night time photo of the church in Trient, Switzerland. This was near one of the checkpoints for the Mont Blanc race, and while it's not that great of a shot, I just liked the way the church was lit up at night. It was impossible to get a proper exposure with my little point-and-shoot camera, so that's why the top of the tower, near the roof, is overexposed.

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