Monday, March 23, 2009

Sun Continues at Alpe d'Heuz

Monday, March 23

It was another sunny day at Alpe d’Heuz but, before I launch into a report of the day I need to deal with some old business.

First, it was brought to my attention that last Monday’s spoon report on this blog was incomplete. I reported that Kim Kaiser received the spoon but cut off the reason. I have corrected that report and added last Monday’s report to the end of today’s news so you don’t have to scroll down to get the answer.

Second, several readers have inquired about the use or misuse of bidets on the 2009 trip. Apparently bidets were the subject of much discussion on the 2008 trip and the subject of a previous post on this blog, if you look at some of last year’s postings.

Sorry to say no spoons have been awarded for the misuse of bidets on this trip because we haven’t had any to misuse. Absent the bidets we are finding other ways to wash clothes and cool beer.

Finally, yesterday I reported on a group of intrepid skiers that made the slush run from the very top of the mountain to the bottom thinking that only a small group would be foolish enough to make the trek. Silly me! At dinner it sounded like everyone who put on skis Sunday made the run. It didn’t matter what time of day they made the trip, it was lousy. Typical Ski Masters travelers; there are no challenges they will not tackle. It turns out that even those skiing with guides made the run which suggests that it was not all that out of the ordinary.

The long run still was not very good.

Now for Monday skiing.

The first day the area seemed pretty big. Today, as we explored more areas, we began to discover just how big it is. Just when you think you’ve found all the good runs another one turns up. Areas we thought were too low to ski still had good snow on some faces. This is a big area and good snow can be found in the most unexpected places.

There are also some challenging areas. Round a bend at the wrong time of day and you may find yourself facing a sea of slushy piles. But they are forgiving and, other than being a bit tiring at the end of the day, you can make your way through them and likely will find firm snow around the next bend.

The on-slope food has consistently met with acclaim and this group has high standards. The first night our ski school representative suggested four restaurants in particular. I have sampled two of them and heard outstanding reports on the other two. The only complaint I’ve heard is that we can only squeeze in one lunch stop per day.

The Hotel
We were spoiled by the outstanding hotel in Wengen. The Pic Blanc is good but not quite at the same level. The dinners have been superb but the breakfast arrangement has been a notch below Wengen.

One difference in the hotels can be found in the closets. Yes, it sounds petty but hear me out. In Wengen we had lots of hangers; the kind you have at home that hook over the clothes rod. They trusted us not to steal them.

Here in Alpe d’Heuz they took their closet design from the Motel 6 chain where they assume all the guests will steal hangers. We have hangers with the little straight ends that slip into plastic holders that are affixed to the rod. The problem is that the plastic parts are so worn that the hangers keep slipping out and falling to the floor. You try again and think you have found a secure match and then, before you can cross the room, the hanger slips out and the clothes fall to the floor. Now, to be fair, not every hanger suffers from this defect but enough do that I’ve found it easier to toss the clothes directly to the floor and save the trouble of hanging them.

From conversations with the group the problem is widespread. Ah, the things one remembers about the trips.

The Sunday spoon went to Steve Sanford for tossing his ski pole from the viewing platform at the highest point at the resort, the top of Pic Blanc. Now, in fairness, Steve would argue that the wind actually was responsible for the pole slipping under the rail and there may be some truth to that. But the spoon is not about fairness and Tom Naden was pleased to pass it on.

To compound the problem the pole could only be reached via a very precarious route. His wife, Lin, was unable to watch his trek across a slippery ice face to retrieve the pole. But pole and Steve were recovered and both joined the spoon for a nice evening in Alpe d’Heuz.

SPOON REPORT for last Monday, March 16 and left off of the original posting.
The Saturday spoon was presented to Eva Sabo for confusing cattle feed for snowballs. It may have been unfair to pick on a newcomer but it was Claudine’s choice and bus days are usually slow days anyway.

Eva was able to pass the spoon on immediately to the Sunday recipient, long time SM Euro traveler, Kim Kaiser. Kim the commercial pilot who packs bags and travels many times a month. Kim who has been on the trip 12 times. Kim, who normally has his act together. Kim came to Europe without his ski clothes.

He knows exactly where they are; stacked in the back bedroom ready to be packed. But they weren’t. And Kim received the spoon.

Pam and Kim actually arrived in Europe a few days before the group and were tucked in bed in Zurich when Kim woke up with one of those “Oh S***” moments. So the next day they were able to round up some fashionable gear so he wouldn’t have to make his purchases at the ski resort.

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