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It made no sense to sit around. We were finally in Nice and the Riviera. The delay was obviously intended to give us some time to explore our new environs. Rejuvenated by our visit and real human contact, we piled into the van which had been neither smashed nor towed. I turned it around and forced it up the steep hill and the entrance to the Cornice Andre de Joly. Afternoon traffic was clearly heavier and fast. Cars zoomed by the entrance in both directions and, although there was no stop sign, I did the logical and sensible thing. I stopped the van at the entrance and waited for a break in traffic that would give our slow moving vehicle time to get onto the Corniche and gain some downhill speed. After another of those small eternities, a break occurred. I gunned the accelerator pedal and released the clutch to enter the Corniche. To my surprise, absolutely nothing happened. The force of gravity from van, passengers and luggage on that steep grade was larger than any force that the van could exert to create forward motion. The opportunity passed and a new vigil began. When the next break finally did occur, the operation was repeated with exactly the same result. The van stayed in place. The van might spend the year parked illegally in the back lot of the apartment. But, not to be deterred, we tried a new tack. I backed down the hill, moved far enough back to get a good start and then moved as close to the intersection of driveway and Corniche as I possibly could. The car lay across the sidewalk but, when the next merge opportunity arose, the van refused to move forward. One unwieldy solution was suggested. The luggage and passengers could be unloaded onto the sidewalk to lighten the load and get the van onto the Corniche. However, no one was parked on the Corniche – a vehicle silly enough to stop on that fast moving road would be scrap metal in seconds. So, in fact, would any persons desperately trying to reload luggage.
Desperation is the last resort of a conservative like me. Plan Z was implemented. Anndrea got out of the van and I rolled back down the hill to a position that would permit the van to start up the hill at its puny, but maximal, speed. Anndrea’s job was to scan the hill and watch for a break in traffic in the distance. She would then yell for me to start up the hill so I could move up the hill and pass into the Corniche without stopping at all. In retrospect, it was the height of folly but no alternative ever suggested itself. It was all or nothing on that one call and it was successful. I crossed into the Corniche and then pulled hard right to get onto the sidewalk and avoid the next surge of vehicles who had probably speeded up to dispense with one more tourist. Anndrea hopped aboard and we puddled into the downhill traffic at the next break. Free at last!