The past month has been very, very busy. There are many Spring activities in our village and we've tried to keep up. The 20th of May was Auffahrt, or Ascension day. It's a holiday in this part of Switzerland and each year a group of people from Oberwil go for a hike and picnic. In the future, I will add a photo page of this hike.
The following week, my Trachtengruppe, folk dancing group, also went for a hike and BBQ. Our friend Fredu planned both trips and the path of the hikes were very similar. However, the hike with the dancing group ended with a hay ride back to Oberwil. We had also stopped along the way for drinks and appetizers at a friend's house. Here's a photo of that...
The Trachtengruppe also had it's annual trip on the 3rd of June. We had a chartered bus and went to another part of Switzerland to visit Rosi, who used to live in Oberwil and is an honorary member of our group. She and her husband Fritz served a great brunch in a new room they were building and everyone danced for them. Here we are at brunch...
After leaving Rosi and Fritz's we went to a nursing home to dance. Here's a photo of everyone dancing...
During most of the time when I wasn't participating in all of these trips, I was working on preparations for the BIG trip. Today is Monday. Mädi, Margrit and I leave on Friday morning for five and a half weeks in the States. I've spent hours and hours on the computer planning our itinary and getting all of the hotels and such reserved. It's finally finished, but I'm still not ready. I have to do quite a bit around the house and garden before I leave, as well as pack for the trip. And then there's the swimming...
The past month, Mädi and I have tried to swim every single day, no matter what the weather is like, how cold it is or how busy we might be. Our goal was to swim one kilometer per day (a little less than 2/3 of a mile). Then I convinced her that we needed to swim 1.6km because that equals one mile and because I'm an American, I think in miles. Very quickly, we reached our one mile goal, and now we do our best to swim 2km per day.
In addition to all of this, I've been working on a new web site. Actually, it's not so much that it's new, but that I'm in the process of moving it. 'www.swissfondue.envy.nu' is being changed to 'www.fonduekisses.com'. I wasn't happy with the server I was using because of some bugs that are added to the pages by them. But most importantly, I never really liked the extension '.envy.nu'. I wanted a 'dot-com' and now I have one.
There's only one real problem that I encountered - the name swissfondue.com is reserved (unavailable). Herbert and I tried to come up with something that would relate to the site, be easy to remember and have something to do with us. There's a whole story behind this name 'fonduekisses' and my plan is to add the story to the web site in the near future. Until then, if you don't already know the story, you'll have to wait.
At the present time, you can still access most of the pages on the old site (if you have links to them), but I'm only adding new stuff to the new site. And the front page of the old site, as well as the main directory for the journal, will redirect you to the new site.
I didn't want to just change the name of the site and so I've also changed the front page a little bit in an effort to make it friendlier. I hope you're all okay with the changes. I'm also (always) trying to catch up with all the pages I've promised in the past. I've added a photo page for Ziebelemärit, the onion festival in Bern that I went to with Laurence and Andreas back in November. You can find it on the 'Swiss Culture' photo page index or by clicking on this link...
There's also a new photo page that I added to the 'Our Life in Oberwil' photo page index for Christmas 2003. You can get there with the following link...
I don't think you'll hear from me while I'm on the trip to the U.S. But, who knows? Maybe I'll find time to write that fondue kisses story. If not, I hope you all have a good six weeks. I'm sure we will.
Tuesday, June 29, 2004
We are one and a half weeks into our US trip. I didn't think that I'd have time to do anything with the web site while I was on the road, but today I decided to try to write a few journal entries along the way. I will also include more photos in these journal pages than I usually do. I won't have time to do a normal photo page until I get back to Oberwil, but I wanted to share some of our trip with you along the way.
It won't be easy to do too much though because my computer is sick. When I first turned it on in Denver, I found that the upper right quarter of my screen was displaying a colorful design of horizontal and vertical lines. It's still there. Although some people might think it looks like a modern, technical work of art, I find it to be very disturbing. According to technical support at Dell, I need to buy a new display or a new computer. When you're on a relatively expensive trip and have been unemployed for over three and a half years, the thought of coming up with another couple of thousand dollars is not a happy thought. In the back of my mind, I was expecting something like this. I've had enough laptops in my life to expect the lifetime of a well-traveled computer to be about two years. This one is over three and a half years old. Herbert thinks he can fix it when I get home, and I'm saying my prayers that he's right. Until then, I'll get by using only the bottom half of my screen.
Our trip has gone as planned, with no problems to date. We have also found that we communicate very well together and Mädi and Margrit are learning a bit of English. We started in Minnesota visiting Mary Jo, Mike and the rest of their family, Sherry, Steve and the kids and my son Nick. We flew to Denver and spent a few days with my sisters Linda and Barb and their families. Linda's kids warmed up to Mädi and Margrit very quickly and tried to learn a little Swiss German.
Last Friday morning, we started the big driving loop of the western United States. We've spent a day in the hot springs spa at Glenwood, Colorado. We've hiked and taken a million photos:
in Colorado National Monument...
Arches National Park..
and Mesa Verde...
We've stood on the point at Four Corners Monument where Colorado, Utah, Arizona and New Mexico meet. Yesterday we arrived at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. As I stood there with Mädi and Margrit, looking over the canyon from the lookout point by the lodge, I realized that you can never see this site too many times. I had been here with Herbert four years earlier and as a child on a family trip many years earlier. It's just breath-taking. And as Mädi and Margrit said, you can't see this in a photo. You have to experience it. You have to feel it - the rush in your gut when the depth of the expanse makes vertigo set in.
In January, I had reserved a cabin for us so that we could stay right here in the Grand Canyon. I thought it would be a tiny little thing, but we were thrilled with it. We have a large room with two queen beds, a working gas fireplace, a porch with two rocking chairs and thanks to a few peanut butter Ritz crackers, we have many chipmunk friends who have joined us as we've sat on the porch writing out our postcards...
(I later learned that feeding the animals is not only a 'no-no', but actually harms them. I thought that they were so cute and that I was being nice to them. According to what I read in the newspaper at Bryce Canyon, their bodies can't even handle our kind of food and they can die from it. Now I wish I could take back the little crackers and throw them away. For those of you who may find yourself in a similar situation in the future, with a cute little friend who just wants a cracker, let me say, "Don't do it." For those of you who already knew and may have gasped when you heard that we fed the chipmunks, I give you my solemn promise that I will never do it again)
In a few minutes, we leave for Bryce Canyon National Park were we have a reservation for a similar cabin. That makes it a little bit easier to leave here, which we need to do now.
Maybe I'll write more from Vegas letting you know that one of us is a millionaire!
Wednesday, June 30, 2004
We're not in Vegas yet. We're on our scheduled stop at Bryce Canyon. I didn't think I'd get a chance to write so soon, but Mädi and Margrit have given me some more time to write.
Yesterday, we thought we had a leisurely drive ahead of us. The North Rim of the Grand Canyon is only about 170 miles from Bryce Canyon Park. About thirty minutes into our drive, a hail storm hit. It covered the roads, turning an afternoon in late June into something that felt a lot more like a cold day in December. At one point we even had large snow flakes hitting the windshield. After everything seemed to stop, we laughed and pulled over so that Mädi could take this picture...
The hail actually got worse and piled up on the roads in a two-inch layer. I'm very much afraid of driving in snow and icy conditions. After fifteen minutes or so, I pulled over and let Mädi drive.
We made our way to Bryce Canyon and got checked into our cabin. Although the layout was the same as the one that we had at the Grand Canyon, it seems to be a much older building. It didn't really matter to us though. We were just happy to stand with our cold behinds up against the warmth of the fireplace.
In the previous three days, we had seen so many beautiful wonders of nature that I think we were overwhelmed. It was starting to remind me of how I felt when I was a young girl traveling with my family. I had told my father at one point on a vacation to Colorado, "When you've seen one mountain, you've seen them all." Mädi, Margrit and I were tired when we arrived at Bryce. We had gotten up so early at the Grand Canyon and were exhausted from driving. None of us were in a hurry to go out for a little walk to see what we thought might be 'just another canyon'. We quietly had a picnic dinner in our room, played a few games of Jass and then prepared to go out into the cold evening to watch the effects of the sunset on the canyon.
It was my first glimpse of the 'Hoodoos'. If you've never been to Bryce Canyon, you need to think about making a visit. It isn't just another canyon or one more display of rock formations. It's breath-taking. I stood there in awe, trying to imagine the past and trying to see how the transformation of land occurred to make such a site. I also stood there looking up to the sky, thinking, "How could someone see this and not believe in God?" I vowed to myself that I would come back again with Herbert, because he's never seen it and that's a pity. Here's a photo I took as we waited for the sun to set...
Margrit and I ready to take our sunset photos...
Before we went to see the canyon and the sunset, I had said that I was also going to get up the next morning to take photos of the sunrise. Mädi and Margrit told me that I could go alone. They wanted to sleep in. After seeing the sunset on the canyon, they were so impressed that they got up with me this morning and we all saw the sunrise. Worth every minute of lost sleep.
And now, we're on our way to Las Vegas. However we are going to stop as we leave the park for a short excursion. Mädi's friends had collected money for her 50th birthday so that she could take a helicoptor ride over the Grand Canyon. She was unware of this. I found out at the Grand Canyon that this only exists from the South rim. That was a five hour drive for us, each way. I had seen on the internet that you can take a helicoptor from Las Vegas to see not only the Vegas strip, but also the Grand Canyon. Margrit and I talked and decided to wait on Mädi's surprise until Vegas.
Yesterday, as we drove into Bryce Canyon, we all saw a sign advertising helicoptor rides over Bryce. Mädi mentioned it this morning and I told her about the money and about Vegas and mentioned that there was enough money for her to do both if she wanted. She said yes. Then Margrit told me that she would buy a ticket for me as my birthday gift. I thanked her but told her that I have a fear of heights and would have to decline. After a long descussion, where I was limited in my Swiss German, I agreed to go. I told her she may also have to pay for a barf-bag for me. She said that was no problem.
And so, all I can say is... I hope I'm around to write another entry.
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