High in Switzerland

Switzerland 2 Comments »

Michel, Myriam and their roommate Julian offered up their hospitality once again, feeding Mike and I amazing food and giving us separate beds, fresh towels and our own key. They worked late while Mike and I explored Zurich and did some Christmas shopping. In the evenings we cooked and ate great foods, including nearly two gallons of Swiss cheese Fondue.

When I saw the Alps for the second time, I knew I wasn’t going to make it through Switzerland without paragliding again. I was disappointed at first when Michel told me the school was closed for December, but I sent the instructor an email anyway. Thomas replied promptly informing me that yes, they were indeed closed, but offered to take Mike and me flying anyway; and at a reduced price.

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Moving Fast

Italy, Switzerland, Thoughts & Reflections 1 Comment »

Moving fast has its long list of drawbacks. I always enjoy a place most when I can slow to the pace of life there, meet locals and get a feel for the culture. However, I am finding it can also be exhilarating to move quickly.

On Sunday morning, I woke up in Venice and ate breakfast sitting on the stone walkway along the Grand Canal. Then Mike and drove Northwest. The sky was blue and made for a clear cut, jagged horizon at the peaks of snow covered Alps. By afternoon, we were crossing the Italian Alps, watching the snow get closer and by sundown, crossing into Switzerland, the weather had gone from mild in Venice, to the dead of winter. The road was covered in patches snow and mountains we rode through already preparing for avalanches. I’d never seen so much snow in my life. Entire mountains, over 10,000 feet high, were completely blanketed so that not a single rock or tree was visible. All the white made size and distance difficult to estimate.

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Paragliding

Audio & Video, France, Switzerland 5 Comments »

I spent one week flying at Dune da Pyla, France and made ten high altutide flights in the Swiss Alps. Watch how the gliders rise right off the beach from the strong and steady sea winds. It felt so amazing taking off there, just being lifted off the sand and into the sky. Look how close I come to the fence when taking off in the Alps. I knew I’d make it. :o)

The Big Piece

Switzerland 6 Comments »

I met Michel in the foothills of the Alps after an afternoon paragliding. Somehow we got into a conversation about my search for the evidently unique Radio Shack device that turns a cigarette lighter into a normal outlet, which was stolen from my van in Prague. He offered to help me look for it, so we drove from Wassen to Zurich and checked a couple of stores, be still had no luck. All was not lost.

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Paragliding

Switzerland 6 Comments »

I was of the impression, despite all the knowledge and advances in science and technology; that it still was not possible for a human being to fly like a bird. I was right; it still isn’t possible, but it’s much closer than I expected! After reading about paragliding, watching videos on paragliding and watching paragliding from the ground, I still wasn’t able to fully grasp what it would be like to fly. One can’t know how much it’s like flying, until you try it and fly.

With the only mechanisms of flight being a single nylon wing and some thin lines, it is so, so simple. By leaning to the left, you fly to the left. By leaning to the right, you fly to the right. By pulling your hands downward, you slow. And like a hawk, like an eagle, entering a thermal of air rising and spiraling from the earth, cheating gravity, you rise hundreds and hundreds of feet into blue sky.

When I discover things like this, amazing things, life changing things, that have somehow existed undiscovered, below my nose for years and years, maybe even my entire life, I can’t help but wonder at the wealth of possibilities the future holds and be incredibly anxious and excited for what the next instant may bring!

Life is good. Life is very, very good.

Wonders of Weesen

Switzerland 6 Comments »

Weesen, Switzerland (pronounced ‘vazen’ in German) is one of the most beautiful places I’ve seen this year. Giant tree covered Alps of dark green and granite stand erect from a neon grass valley and a flat turquoise lake as if they had exploded from the earth just before sunrise. They seem so close; it’s almost as if you could touch them. Beyond and above are higher, stronger, grey peaks capped in bright summer snows. The valley is a checkerboard of fields, whose colors change tone with the direction of mowed grass. Fleets of cows gather under apple trees for shade, chewing and each ringing their bell like that of a lazy ice crème truck driver. Pavement paths dropped like yarn onto the hills of Weesen find their ways to peaks from where can be seen orange roofed cottages clashing wonderfully with the grass and sky and old wooden barns, whose base and doors having been eaten away by rot, barely hide stacks of chopped wood inside; hints of a long, frigid winter. The town center is a familiar northern European village, but cleaner, neater and more luxurious.

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