Sunday
Dec042005

Haven't You Always Wanted a Monkey?

Dorinna's latest knitting project:

Wednesday
Nov232005

Austria Vacation Log: Day 6, Hike Through the Alps

We woke up fairly early, packed up and went downstairs to breakfast: meats, cheese, breads, and coffee. Before our main hike, we took a short walk through an alpine flower garden. It was quite impressive, with what seemed like every flower in the Alps, each individually labeled. We had to drag Dorinna out of there.

Blumengarten (photo credit: Daniel Hernández)

The hike started with a long and seemingly never-ending climb to a tall alpine pass called the Öfapaß. The entire hike was above tree line, so the views were continuous. And what views- cliffs and jagged peaks were in every direction.

On the trail (photo credit: Dieter Glauß)

Looking down at our Hut (photo credit: Daniel Hernández)

Mountains (photo credit: Dieter Glauß)


Michaela at the top of the pass (photo credit: Daniel Hernández)

At the top of the pass we took a short break before dropping down to another valley- the Schweizertor. This valley was a simply outstanding notch with sheer cliffs on both sides.

View down to the Schweizertor (photo credit: Dieter Glauß)

The notch led to Switzerland. I wanted to visit a new country, and it was a short flat walk, so we did. We only took a few steps across the border, but shot a lot of pictures and watched some rock climbers on the Swiss side. It was nice to visit the homeland of the Ruhs, if only for 10 minutes.

Me at the Swiss border (photo credit: Dieter Glauß)

Wall of the Schweizertor (photo credit: Daniel Hernández)

Customs house at the Swiss-Austrian border (photo credit: Dieter Glauß)

Back with the main group we climbed another 1000 feet to another pass, Verajöchli. Here we ate a true german-style lunch: salami, different sausages, cheeses, and breads. Around us we watched gliders and paragliders coasting around the mountain peaks. After the extended break we headed down, down, down a mountain valley to the Lünar See, a large reservoir.

Lünar See (photo credit: Daniel Hernández)

We walked clockwise around it to the tram station. On a day I was less tired, I would have liked the steep, exposed descent, but I was getting tired, and it was getting late.

Dorinna, myself, and Dieter at the lake (photo credit: Michaela Glauß)

Daniel and Theresia (photo credit: Dieter Glauß)

We packed into the tram like sardines with several dozen other people, all of whom desperately needed showers (including us). The tram plummeted straight down the cliff side, giving us nice views and getting us down mercifully quickly.

Tram descent (photo credit: Dieter Glauß)

We waited a few minutes before the absolute chaos that was the bus leaving. We managed to jam-pack in for the scenic ride down to the town of Bludenz. Once we got there, Dieter and Daniel went to fetch the cars- 2 more bus rides as one of the trains had been washed out from the recent floods. The rest of us sat down in a quiet shaded café and had ice cream and a “new” white wine. Dorinna bought some shoes and I bought her a wildflower book. By then the cars had returned, and we said our goodbyes to Dieter and Michaela, as they headed home.


Daniel and Theresia gave us a ride to our next destination- Reutte. The ride should have been fairly short, but unfortunately the floods had washed out the main highway as well. We took a long loop back through Germany. We arrived at the hotel at around 8:30, dropped our packs in the room, and went back downstairs for a quick dinner. For the second time during our trip, we ate dinner inside. It turned out to also be the last time we ate inside, which gives you an idea of the weather that we were blessed with. After the meal, they headed back to München to get ready for their vacation to Florida, while we headed upstairs to shower and then collapse. A long but spectacular day!

Saturday
Nov122005

Austria Vacation Log: Day 5, Post 2 of 2... bis die Berge

I woke up in the village of Vandans. We drove to a tram station, and rode a gondola high up into the mountains. Our hike (german link- has a map of our route) to the Lindauer hut (german link) was a mix of ups and downs. (A hiking club from Lindau maintains the hut). Beautiful scenery- all but a few hundred yards was above tree line. We passed a farm on the way, and lots of cows, their bells jangling in the fading light of late afternoon. When we arrived, the hut seemed fairly chaotic. It felt a lot like a hut in the White Mountains, but of course there wasn’t a word of English to be heard. Having German hosts was very advantageous, though, and Dieter sorted everything out within a few minutes. The hut was quite a bit civilized by our standards- our private room had electric lights, and there was hot water and flush toilets.


Lindauer Hütte (photo credit: Dieter Glauß)

(photo credit: Daniel Hernandez)

We washed up, put on warmer, drier clothes, and met outside for dinner. Dorinna had a cheese plate with cheese made at the farm we had passed on the hike there. I went for the pork with creamy mushroom gravy and curry rice. Three cold Weiss beers helped wash it down. We had a lot of fun making fun of the ridiculous contents of our German-English phrasebook.


Rich has a beer, and he's smiling. Coincidence? (photo credit: Michaela Glauß)

My earlier nap made it hard to fall asleep, which was just as well, as the shock of the smoke alarm an hour later was less of a jolt. It was a false alarm, of course, but quite loud. I kind of stood in the hallway like an idiot watching a German frantically trying to muffle the sound before I could finally dredge up enough German words to ask if I could help. He immediately switched to perfect English, and we kept the alarm covered until it was shut off a few minutes later.

Saturday
Nov122005

Austria Vacation Log: Day 5, Post 1 of 2Vom See...

The day started with a delightful breakfast on the deck overlooking the town. Michaela and Dieter outdid themselves with an incredible spread of breads, jams, muesli, and yogurt. Germans do NOT skimp on breakfast.

We piled back into the car and drove to Lindau.
Lindau is a great little german town on an island in the Bodensee. We walked along the lake and enjoyed hazy views to Austria and Switzerland. The lake was very nice, but had lots of debris floating in it- stuff that washed downstream from the Alps during recent floods. Reaching the harbor, we climbed to the top of the lighthouse for great views of the “skyline”.

(photo credit: Dieter Glauß)

We enjoyed coffee at a small café and met Daniel and Theresia soon after.

(photo credit: Michaela Glauß)

The town was a lot of fun. We window-shopped, admired the exterior of the town hall, and visited a nice little church.


Theresia, Michaela, Dieter, Rich, and Dorinna (photo credit: Daniel Hernandez)

Rathaus (town hall) (photo credit: Dieter Glauß)

For lunch, I had a salad with Bodensee fish fillets and an apple soda. Afterwards, we piled back into the cars and headed to Austria. I think I missed some nice scenary, as I fell asleep in the back seat almost immediately after the border.


Bells in Lindau (photo credit: Dieter Glauß)

Saturday
Nov122005

Fence Repair

It took most of the day, but it's done!

And here's the first picture from the new camera: