In 1878, on something of a whim, novelist and travel writer Robert Louis Stevenson crossed southern France's Cévennes mountains, one of the wildest and most sparsely populated parts of the country, in the company of a slow-moving donkey named Modestine. In May, also on something of a whim, my wife and I crossed the Cévennes mountains, still one of the wildest and most sparsely populated parts of the country, in the company of a slow-moving automobile called a Citroën 2CV.

Stevenson described Modestine as recalcitrant and moody, as well as "cheap and small and hardy, and of a stolid and

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Pushing the limits

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Best Laid Plans