We've spent two days along the Loire river in a small chateau owned by Mssr and Madame de Gelis, the Chateau Colliers. The chateau has been in Christian's family for twelve generations, since the mid-seventeen hundreds. The de Gelis family is the third family to own this Chateau.
There are 150 smaller chateaus in the north and west of France that have beeen turned into Bed and Breakfasts. But these places, while wonderful to stay and spend time in, are only launching points. Throughout the Loire Valley region are massive castles that have dominated this region since the 1400s. These massive complexes are surreal in their appearance and grandeur for a native mid-western boy. The quality of their craftsmanship, the intricacy of design, and the completeness of their grounds bely their age. Moats and gardens, drawing rooms with ceilings two stories tall, spiral staircases that allow two people to traverse them opposite each other (thank you Leonardo Da Vinci!): these mamouth structures seem to be quietly waiting their rediscovery by the modern world that is in desparate need of its own renaissance (at least in the U.S.).
Ms. E. and I both marvelled at Chambord's awesome views from afar. The approach to this castle is by far the most impressive of those we visited. But Chambord spent as much time empty as it did occupied, and its interior was cold and lacked any sort of life. It wouldn't be fair to say the place was dead; it just seems forgotton.
Amboise's history and importance make it an appealing place. Its perch above the Loire is impressive. But inside, and around the ground, the castle seems quite average. It does not have the grandiosity of some of the other castles, which fits its importance in the history of the region. A lot of work was done at Amboise.
Clos de Lucê
Airplanes, parachutes, machine guns, bicycles, automobiles, helocopters, and much more invented around 1500 AD! How could one man's genius reach so far into the future? How do you unlock the imagination to fly to such heights? At Clos de Lucé, the Master's home for the last four years of his life, a group of engineers from IBM have created the machines that were borne from this man's mind. Even with our modern materials and techniques it is amasing to think that so long ago someone dreamed up so many things no one else could even fathom. It would not be until the late 1800s that bicycles would be used. Yet, here, hidden away in the drawings of this genius from four centuries earlier, were the blueprints for the "modern machine."
Imagine scribbling in your idle time the formula for time travel and the plans to build the machine to achieve this travel. Then imagine, if this is possible, leaving it in your study amongst other writings and drawings and notes, only to be discovered four hundred years later, just as the technology became available to make it happen. "We don't need a design for the time machine," one engineer would say to another. "The basic blueprint was left for us by Leonardo."
Every child on this planet should know the name Leonardo Da Vinci. Not for the myriad of things he gave us: but for the steps he never feared to take; for the dreams he pushed to their limit; and for the blueprint for human imagination. Leonardo is proof that there are no wild dreams, no aimless thoughts, and no energy so precious as that spent surfing the synaptic wonderland found within each of us.