Friday, June 23, 2006

Hopp Suisse!

World Cup fever is inescapable here...what's that you said? You didn't know that the World Cup was going on. Yeah, that would have probably been true for us too if we were in the States but now we've embraced it as our main source of entertainment for the summer. At Coy's office, they've gathered in the conference rooms for Swiss games. In our neighborhood, they've constructed a temporary stadium with a theater-sized screen and it is packed for every game. People paint their faces and bring flags and wear jerseys...to watch the game on television. We've done our cheering as well. And though Coy still claims the sport is a bit disorganized and lacks clear strategic progress (hey, he played American football, ok?), he was really into the USA v. Italy game which was an incredible game. You all watched, right?

Since USA is now out of the tournament, we'll have to choose another team to support...maybe Ghana- they seem to be having a blast on the field, so happy to be representing their country. Even their coach just looks like he's having a good time. And we'll cheer for Switzerland as well- on game days, the streets are filled with folks in their red and white.

We'll be away from the blog for a week but we'll try not to let this break from writing stretch into months. In the meantime, know that we'll be watching World Cup. Hopp Suisse! (Go Switzerland!)

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Traveling Buddies

Though it is true that
Capri pants + snowy hiking = bad idea,
it must be said that
Capri pants + Isle of Capri = great photo op!

Christine, Bef, and I just couldn’t pass up the chance to wear ours when we visited Capri on our tour of the Amalfi Coast a few weeks ago. We had a wonderful time- amazing scenery, fantastic food, and extraordinary company. It was so good to have old friends here. For me, sharing an experience has always given it a deeper sense of reality. Having loved ones come and be a part of our lives here makes it all feel more connected to our pre-Zurich selves. And I love to travel with folks. It means that the memories are shared and won’t have to be put into words or captured on film in order to be expressed. (That’s one of the things I love about being married…Coy’s my favorite travel companion!)

Here we are on the girls' first day in Zurich exploring town. Doesn't Christine look so Euro? Several people we met didn't believe she was American! I'm afraid they had me and Bef pegged before we would even open our mouths...had to be the shoes.

As blessed as I feel by the community we have here, there was just something sweet about having old friends come to visit. Laughing till tears fell, reminiscing a bit about previous trips, being asked the tough questions, and feeling really known and seen. I'm so glad that they came.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Albert Heim, I'll give you a piece of my mind

After several hours of slogging through knee-deep, wet snow in capri pants, Kacey wrote a song at 2000 meters:

"Can't feel my feet, arms are startin' to burn,
Do we know where we are? Did we take a wrong turn?
Still tryin' to find ole Albert Heim,
Can't wait to give him a piece of my mind!"

I would quote the rest, but it had some choice words that would threaten the PG-13 rating of this blog site.



So, the backstory: these are the photos of a mountain hike leading up to the SAC Albert Heim hutte. Alpine huts, or huttes (pronounced: hoo-tahs) as they are called in Switzerland, are located throughout the region with over one hundred huts nestled throughout the mountain backcountry. Typically, the huts are fashioned from stone, but they're always made with exacting Swiss precision and their own caretaker, called a Hutmaster. Now before you think being a Hutmaster is nothing but sipping hot cocoa in the lodge, consider that during a single weekend, they will often provide a home-cooked meal and cot for up to 80 hikers.

Back to us: though it doesn't look it from smiles on our faces, getting to the hutte was tough. To start, we were completely unprepared for the snow. We're not talking just a couple inches to dampen the soles of your shoes, in places, we were trekking knee deep in wet snow. Hey, in Memphis we barely get snow in Winter, much less in late June. So, Kacey begins the hike in capri pants and me in a breezy golf shirt. Second, the hike should have taken around 6 hours, but it took two full days -- on the first day we missed a sign on the way up, hiked 7 hours in the wrong direction and ended up having to turn around and race the sun back to Realp, a town at the bottom of the mountain. Thankfully, we arrived just before dark (we later learned that dark on the mountain means -2 degrees Celsius, certainly not cozy).

At first we blamed the Albert Heim Hut master for our misfortune, "He should have told us in the email that this trail wouldn't have worked," or "C'mon he didn't prepare us for this much snow!"

But once we arrived at the hutte the next day, we realized that we had only ourselves (or Coy, depending on your perspective) to blame. We didn't plan our trip adequately. We failed to consider the fact that Switzerland had had a very long winter that would affect trail access. We didn't exactly follow the advice of the Hutmaster's email.

I screwed up.

Though, in the warm, sunny, comfortable view of hindsight, I suppose getting lost in the mountains for 7 hours isn't so bad. In addition to the unexpected, but spectacular views, we learned some hard lessons about the necessity of reading your map, asking directions (before you start), and not underestimating the effect of snow on the trails.

Here's a picture of the side of the hut at 2500 meters (about 8,200ft) over sea level:


and an even better shot of the Hut at this link: http://www.sepalbin.ch/albertheimhuette.htm

So, to end, I post my new rules for hiking:

1. Don't wear capri pants in the snow
2. Not only buy a map for 25 swiss francs, but use the map
3.. Plan ahead (about things like route, sunscreen, flashlights)
4. Bring a cell phone (this is actually all that saved us from sleeping out on top of the mountain at -2 degrees Celsius. Its funny, in Switzerland the things work almost everywhere)
5. When locals look at you funny when you say you are hiking to the hut in a golf shirt, probe further...
6. And finally, bring a girl cool enough to follow you for 16 hours in the snow in capri pants

(Inset: Kacey giving me a piece of her mind)
(PS:
Later, a much sunnier, and warmer, Kacey can be seen accepting her membership to the Swiss Alpine Club at the Albert Heim Hutte, see post below.)

Thursday, June 15, 2006

The
eiffel tower
is really long &
tall as you can see
in this picture with my
two friends (well one is ac-
tually my cousin Allen from TX)
I hadn't seen my stylist that morning
and it was really windy in Paris. I think
that lady stuck between my hair and Adams
head must be thinking: vous etres imbeciles!

Welcome the newest member of the Swiss Alpine Club!

After 2 days of trekking through wet snow in capri pants (and after two complimentary Schnapps) these swarthy mountain men figured she had deserved it. Here at 2500 meters over sea level: the newest member of the Swiss Alpine Club: Uto Region.

The guy to our left is named Amin. He's been a Hut master for 14 years and was practicing his Spanish so that he could move to Costa Rica next year. When surrounded by the majesty of the Alps, we couldn't fathom why anyone would want to leave. Response: "What do you think? Even at Christmas, beautiful mountains, but no snow!" After drying out our soaking cold socks and boots, we had to agree.

The guy to our right is from the Bernese Oberland, but knew the mountains in Canton Uri like he'd grown up there all his life. He and I spent 30 minutes reviewing our trail map, finding new trails and new huts to visit. His energy to talk about the mountains he loved was endless. When thinking on our sore bones and backs, I'm slightly embarassed to think of the ease at which he moved through the mountains at 65.

Alpine Hut life in Switzerland. Truly one of the unique things about this place.

The Golden Duck

Pierre is no stranger to fanfare and honoraria. In fact, he has been the recipient of several honorary doctorates in his home town (though, it's worthy to note, the degrees created quite a buzz at the last Schlomo-Presley family reunion when Pierre's third cousin, Bill Schlomo, accused the universities of being full of right-wing quacks).

However, in spite of Pierre's sterling reputation, even we were suprised with the respect shown by the Bovine community. Here an unnamed cow in Canton Uri bows respectfully as Pierre makes his way up for a weekend hike.