Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Off to Murren, Tuesday

Tuesday, March 17th

Another glorious day in Switzerland.

Before I report on the days events I need to explain the lay of the land for those who have not been to Wengen.

To reach Wengen you drive up a narrow valley to the town of Lauterbrunnen. Vertical rock faces rise on each side of the town. On the top of the left face lies the town of Wengen. On the top of the right lies Murren. To reach Wengen you board a cog railway that winds up the steep slope on a 15 minute ride to Wengen. To reach Murren you take a tram from town to the top of the ridge and then switch to a cog railway for the ride to Murren.

From the Wengen side you can reach two main ski areas; Kleine Scheidegg-Mannlichen (which I will call the Wengen area) and, further away, across another valley, Grindelwald-First (which I will call the First area.) To access these areas one takes a large tram from near our hotel. This area is also home to the 13,000 foot Eiger and the highest train in Europe.

On the Murren side you can reach the Murren-Schilthorn area (which I will call the Murren area.) The top of the Schilthorn was the set for an early James Bond film, His Majesty’s Secret Service.

Do you have it figured out now? If not, I suggest you try Mapquest or Google Earth.

The reason I give you this geography lesson is so you can appreciate the trek most of the group went on today to ski the Murren side; cog to Lauterbrunnen, tram to the top of the ridge and cog toward Murren then trams and chairs up the mountain. The first two hours were more of a hike than a ski run but the scenery is sensational and worth the long series of trains and trams.

The snow was a mix of good groom and mashed potatoes (on the sunny faces.) At mid mountain the temperature was 6 degrees centigrade. You scientific types can convert that to Fahrenheit. Suffice to say it was warm and wonderful and most dressed down from Monday.

It was such a great adventure that it was nearly 5:00 PM before the last five wandered back to the hotel. (Gretchen and Robin Callan, Ed Meyer, Steve Sanford and Kim Kaiser)

Dick and Kay Krutch and Pam Kaiser, who are all on injured reserve, took advantage of the weather and rode the tram to the ridge/restaurant above town for a scenic lunch. With binoculars they might have seen the larger group across the valley.

Day two was a success.

The St. Patrick’s day party has been a trip tradition for many years, sustained and promoted by Jay Kane and Tom McGrath, our perennial Sons of the Irish. They, in turn, corralled every other group member with a hint of Irish blood and threw parties that are likely legends with housekeeping staffs across Europe.

This year our Irish anchors were absent so Bob Dixey and Mo O’Neil stepped up to host the big event. Lin Sanford pitched in with green ribbons for all and, in the end, a party worthy of old St Patrick was held.

Kim, the winner for forgetting his ski clothes, made some interesting discoveries while searching out spoon recipients. It seems that this is a forgetful group. Mark Mathews left his boot bag, complete with boots, at home. We wonder if he even noticed how light his luggage was. And Stephen and Michelle Turnosvsky left home without their poles.

But it was John Powis that took the spoon. It seems that John slipped away from dinner Sunday evening and returned to his room to deal with some personal matters. He opened his door and put his card key in the little slot that turns on the room lights. The lights came on. Then, fearing he would forget his card key, he removed the key and went into the bathroom to attend to matters.

John didn’t realize that, once the card key was removed, the lights would go out after a short delay. For John that moment came at an inopportune time. Suddenly he found himself in a bathroom that “was darker than the inside of a goat.” He put things away and began groping for a way out. The first handle he turned was the shower faucet which produced predictable results.

Eventually he made his way out and back to the dinner table where he made his second mistake of the evening. He mentioned the incident within earshot of someone with loose lips. John now wears the spoon.

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