23 February 2009

Ski La Dôle!

I had the distinct opportunity this weekend to get out and do what I like best. Though I'm still not at 100% I figured I'd better get after it. The chores were finished. Mom and niño were warm and comfy and content at home.

There are roughly two-trillion ski resorts in this corner of the world that range in size from massive complexes to a single T-bar or two. I had no idea where to go touring so I picked the place closest to home with the highest elevation, the idea being that I could have a look around, scope out a few peaks and passes, and acquaint myself with my surroundings. Fine. The Jura Mountains are about ten-minutes away and that's close enough. I'm still not totally sure the name of the resort I chose. I've seen three names that range from EspaceDôle (one word?), St-Cergue-La Dôle, or just La Dôle. We'll go with #3.

Saturday was beautiful. Clear, sunny skies with 360-degree views. Perfect. Sunday? Not so much. Here I am at the top of La Dôle ready to make my first ever set of turns in Switzerland!

Here I am ready to make my second ever set of turns in Switzerland! Some French guys got in the way just as the camera took the picture. Damn French guys.

I had no idea where to go touring in the Jura. I had no idea where to ski at the ski resort. I poked around for a while until I had a glimpse of some steeper lines off the top where no one seemed to be skiing. I made my way over to find nice, untracked, windblown powder. The line kept going and going and I thought: La Dôle is great, why isn't anybody over here? I skied it out into the trees. Then I found la forêt and I understood why people don't ski over that way much.

I wallowed through that for a bit until I rejoined the pistes. Then the clouds broke and I could see again.

Then I could see that my steep, long, untracked lines weren't all that steep and they weren't all that long. They were still untracked, though, and they are the steepest things around, so I kept skiing them, alone, for the rest of the day, only traversing over before I skied into the trees.

La Dôle sort of reminds me of my beloved Beav except with more T-bars, more to drink in the slope side chalets, and a giant bubble at the top of the mountain.

Still no idea where to tour in the Jura but at least some boards are back on my feet. Good times.

20 February 2009

The Eyes Of A Child 2

Because the families have been asking. A few visions of the new pad as seen through the eyes of Hank. And why not Hank's eyes? They're beautiful.

I guess this is what it means to be living in a new country with little more than what was supplied by the house. It's stark. It's bare. It's too bright in some places and too dark in others. All in all it's kind of liberating. One of those moments in time where we wish it was over but when it is we'll wish for its return. Kinda like camping except we have a few of our All-Clad pots and pans, a comforter or two we recognize, a dead computer that I fried trying to get the conversion right, a handful of Spiegelau glasses, and twenty cases of consolidated wine from a Seattle warehouse and the Elko potato cellar (more on that later). So, without further ado, Our Life Is Not A Movie Or Maybe.

And this is for Jeff. Because he asked.

A 1991 Muga Reserva and a bowl of popcorn. A wine that made its way from the Rioja Alta to an auction warehouse in Napa, California by way of who-knows-where to my brother's house in Olympia, Washington to our new home in Crans-près-Céligny, Switzerland. After two weeks of resting it was lovingly chosen to accompany a bowl of popcorn and, later, a roast leg of lamb. I love camping.

The snow part is coming soon. And probably more house pictures.

15 February 2009

El Barrio

A few pictures from around the neighborhood. Short walks with the pooches are about all I can muster with this epic bacterial infection-jet lag-hangover-cultural immersion confusion-virus I've been carrying with me for five weeks now.

It's pretty easy around here as everything is connected by paths and trails that circle not only forests and farmlands but that also lead to shopping centers and train stations. It's all very cute and quaint and easy.

Here is a not-so-cute and quaint tree that I'm certain will reach out and grab me one of these days. I have no idea what the thought process behind this creation was or is but I bet that it eats a handful of those cute and quaint Japanese bonsai trees for lunch everyday.

Crans-près-Céligny is about 20 kms outside of Geneva. Though Geneva itself is not very big (about 200,000), it's a world away. Quiet and rural. All the little villages are separated by forests and farmlands. There is no such thing as sprawl. An even farther world away than the last residencies of Santiago and Almaty.

Richard Burton died and is buried in our sibling village of Céligny. And, apparently, Jet Man lives within rock throwing distance. Other than that, nothing happens here. Ever. Perfect.

The properties are beautiful. The buildings are huge and well-constructed and neat and clean. Elko county this is not.

This little thing is attached to a part of a much larger property. I have no idea what its purpose is, maybe the Swiss version of the sheepherder's wagon? One of these days I am going to hug it.

Lines and boundaries and fences and roads to make any Thomas Jeffersonian proud. It's not called Old Europe for nothing. These people have had plenty of practice. And, boy, can they stack wood!

So until I can finally kick all this crap out of my system and Hank can get back to school full time and all our stuff shows up (car included) that we keep dragging around this globe, I'll relegate my days to walks with the dogs, raking leaves in the backyard, and stoking the oven. It seems to me that's what most of the Swiss do anyway.

09 February 2009

The Return Of Home

It's been a long haul. Remind me never to do that again. Though I'm still suffering from one of the worst colds I can remember that started nearly four weeks ago; though the house here is empty, quiet, and uneventful; though the dogs are bored; and though my two-plus years of university French that I took seventeen years ago mean basically nothing to me now, we're all here, safe and sound, and things can only go up from now on. J'espère.

I figured as much but, yes, the flight over was a killer. I didn't sleep. The four hours spent in the Frankfurt airport waiting for our flight to Geneva destroyed all excitement and interest in the idea that we had arrived on our third and final continent in six weeks and that soon we would be at a place we could call home for a good three years or so. We did our best but in an airport there is only so much fun available to a four-year-old.

Time spent in Denver was easy and amusing. We had our shoes shined and asked total strangers if they, too, were flying to Switzerland. No. Las Vegas.

Hank took the camera for a while for some random shots of D.I.A. boredom.

I'm not a smoker but if I were I think I would take residence in the Frankfurt airport. Never has it looked so cool and so creepy at the same time.

The last five hours were some of the longest hours of my life. And of Hank's. He kept awake and entertained by watching Barbie Diamond Castle. I kept awake by watching smokers enter and exit the Winston Smoking Zone.

It happened, though, and we broke through the Frankfurt fog. An epic forty-five minutes later the end was in sight. And what a sight it was. In sickness and in health we're together again and for a while the mountains we climb will be layered with snow and we'll do it because we want to. I've climbed enough of those other kind of mountains for now; they're not much fun and they're often more painful.