Sunday, November 27, 2011

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Sunday, November 13, 2011

We Moved!

We enjoyed a day at a water park (Parc des eaux vives) in France with Kirt’s co-workers.  On the way there, this little chap hopped on the train.  Note T-Shirt.  They were Americans living in Basel but had just been to Big Bear Lake.  We had a nice chat and Junior was thrilled to pose for us. 

We were the last to arrive at the water park and it turns out that I was the only woman going into the water park with Kirt and seven of his coworkers.  We changed into our swimsuits and walked over to a big warehouse where we were fitted with wetsuit, booties, PFD, helmet and what was to be our craft of choice - a boogie board with an enclosed bow where you put your hands and forearms.  Mind you when I agreed to accompany Kirt to the “water park” I envisioned slides, fountains, children running through sprinklers, etc.  At this point it is too late to turn back and it turns out this is really a river, where features have been added to create waves and from what I got in the translation, the ultimate goal was really to “surf these waves”.  Oh, did I mention we were sharing the waves with whitewater kayakers?  We had a good time, two hours was plenty and although we came out unscathed, a guy in our group broke his foot. Afterwards, we had a nice barbeque at a park and I had the opportunity to meet some of the people Kirt works with.

A friend of ours, Nathalie Loftus, from Laguna Beach was in Switzerland visiting her family.  I took the train down to Bern and had lunch with her.

Moving day came and went on September 1 without a lot of drama.  Not for us anyway.  The elevator broke after about an hour with one of the moving guys in it.  It took an hour for the repairman to come and the elevator needed a part in order to be fixed.  So unfortunately for the movers, they had to climb three flights of stairs with our belongings.

Apartments in Switzerland do not come with overhead lighting or closets.  We used our headlamps and candles for a couple of days until we were able to shop for lights.  Kirt did a fabulous job with the installation.  We couldn’t really unpack our clothes without the closets so after the lighting weekend, the next weekend was spent at several area “brockis”.  A “brocki” is like a second hand store and they are loaded here. We managed to purchase three armoires and a kitchen cabinet at the same brocki and had them delivered.  My favorite purchase is the old kitchen piece which I have transformed into my craft center in the office. It has a great wood counter and little glass drawers.

We have hardwood floors which creates an incredible echo so we are buying rugs to cut the noise a bit.  We still need to purchase a guest bed and television in addition to hanging pictures, but it is starting to feel like home. 

In late September we hosted a fun fondue night with some guests from the U.S. Tom and Kaja Caldwell from California and Barry Cohen from Ohio.  Kirt worked with Barry in Vermont and he was in Switzerland on Omya business.  Tom has ridden Peak to Peak several times and was in Switzerland for vacation with Kaja.

Tom and Kaja Caldwell
 October was a busy month.  I went to Big Bear October 3rd and rode in my 17th annual Peak to Peak bicycle ride to benefit United States Adaptive Recreation Center.  I borrowed a road bike for the ride and had a blast.  After pedaling a hefty mountain bike with road slicks for sixteen years, I could not believe the difference!!  It felt so efficient and effortless.  OK so you still have to pedal it but thanks to Tony from Cervelo for the sweet loaner all decked out with Sram Red components.   Had a windy ride but the Owens Valley and Sierras were as beautiful as ever.  My friend Karen Witt from Truckee joined us in Bishop and rode the last day from Bishop to Mammoth with me. The ride generated over $100,000 for USARC! Thanks again to all of my sponsors out there reading this blog.

KelLe and Karen high tailing it into Mammoth Lakes
After Peak to Peak, I went to Truckee for a couple of days where I enjoyed a beautiful paddleboard session on Donner Lake and got caught up with some old friends. Next stop VT for a couple of days. Had a fun Halloween Party with the Wilson’s and ran into the Querrey’s at Roots! They just happened to be in town before returning to their nomadic life aboard the Quest.

Judy and Dan Querrey taking a break from the Quest in Vermont
I was able to see Irene’s devastation, enjoy the foliage, good friends and fine food.  My favorite part was speaking in English for two weeks straight. While I was in Big Bear, Kirt traveled to New Jersey for work.  He was able to take a few days off to tour the Statue of Liberty and visit his Uncle Jim and Aunt DiAnna.  They just bought a place in Hoboken so Kirt was able to help with yet another move :)

I flew home the 16th and the next day, Pongo and I went with Kirt to France. He was working at a plant in the Omey region.  We stayed in a cute little town, Chalons en Champagne somewhere between Nancy and Paris.  Kirt worked during the day and Pongo and I explored.  Pongo particularly enjoyed the art show in the park displaying the local children’s work.  We had some great meals including Sushi one night and Tunisian another.   Pongo was allowed in the restaurants.

I enjoyed the flowerbeds in the park and was particularly intrigued with what I believe is an Amaranthus.  The flower is huge and in my opinion resembles a well know gesture.  I'll leave it up to your imagination as children are reading this blog :) I'll include a photo with Pongo in it for scale purposes.

Two weeks ago, while Kirt was in Spain, my friend Jackie Hilton and her two girls, Kate and Shane visited from Germany.  We know Jackie from our days in Southern California and her husband Chris works for Sram. Jackie was a volunteer for USARC and completed Peak to Peak alongside me several times as did her husband.  Jackie was my hairdresser for fifteen years when I lived in Big Bear. We had three busy days of the zoo, hiking, picnicking and exploring.  Plus Kirt and I both got haircuts.

Kate, Jackie, Shane and KelLe
Last week, Kirt had work in Italy so I hopped on the train and joined him. We were in the Tuscan region in a village just south of Cinque Terra called Marina di Massa.  I took my laptop along and accomplished some grant writing, I’m enjoying that it can be done from anywhere. I went beachcombing in search of beach glass but was quite pleased to find polished pottery shards instead!  I couldn't believe what treasures I found.

Marina Di Massa

Pongo wasn’t invited on this trip so I dropped him at the kennel.  He doesn’t seem to mind and we’re guessing he actually enjoys the companionship of the other dogs.  In Vermont, we had a neighbor’s dog that virtually lived with us, plus several dogs that we did our daily walks with so we suspect he is missing that company.

I am still in German class.  This semester runs through the beginning of December.  I will attend again after the holidays.  It is a challenging language and I look forward to potentially being able to converse at some point.  I don’t anticipate that this will be any time soon. I go Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9 – 10:30 and have homework that I am “supposed” to do.  Luckily, the answers are in the back of the book.  There are 4 others in the class, one woman from Japan and another one from Australia, then a man and woman from the USA.  The teacher is German.  The Swiss actually speak a dialect called “Swiss German” which unfortunately doesn’t really sound like German.  This, as you can imagine, complicates matters. 

Over the weekend we were invited to attend a fundraising event for the international school.  George Pilcher’s (Kirt's co-worker from Vermont) kids go there so we supported the digital scavenger hunt which was intended to familiarize us with Basel.

Fall is definitely in the air and we are looking forward to seeing what winter has to offer in Basel.  Kirt has a lot of travel coming his way with Romania next week followed by Arizona and Lucerne Valley.  He plans to stay in Big Bear while he works at the Lucerne Plant.  He will take a couple of days to visit his mother in Missouri after Big Bear.  My mother will visit us in Switzerland for her 75th birthday celebration on December 31.  She will be here for a couple of weeks.  That's it for now!