Sunday, June 29, 2008

A landmark has been reached!

Yes, a landmark has been reached. Payton has memorized his ABC's. Actually it is more of a landmark for me - I taught Payton his ABC's. I'm sure he could have learned earlier if I had taught him. Still we're happy for his achievement.

The tunnel isn't open yet!

I don't understand why, but the new tunnel isn't open to traffic yet. They had their ceremonies this past Friday. I thought it would be open to traffic for the weekend. Perhaps the cleanup workers couldn't work late Friday nor the weekend. Who knows? Maybe it will actually be open to traffic Monday afternoon or Tuesday.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Hwy 10 tunnel opened today

Today was a big local event. For years the Swiss Highway Department has been building a new tunnel to by-pass the Corcelles-Cormondrèche stretch of Highway 10. This stretch of road is very narrow. In fact there are a couple of choke points where you have to yield because you and the big truck coming at you won't squeeze through together. They say some 15,000 cars and trucks travel this road each day during the week. Imagine that kind of traffic on your local street. That's what it is like.

Though we won't really use this tunnel, we will use the new Rue de la Cure section. This is marked on the map in red. Our old route (red dashes) had us driving through two choke points and making a very sharp right turn to go home. Our drive home just got a lot easier.

Anyhow, today was the grand opening. Before opening it up to traffic they allowed citizens to walk and bicycle through it. I guess tunnel openings here are a big thing. At the allowed time (16:30) Payton and I biked down to the tunnel's eastward opening - the downhill end of the tunnel. From there we started riding uphill. Though we both rode I was the only one pedaling! It was nice and cool with a good breeze. The western uphill opening is actually higher than our house so it was a pretty easy ride home.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

This weekend has been a beach

Well first off, the beaches here aren't like an ocean's. They're river rock instead of sand. You need to wear shoes for both comfort and safety. It hurts to walk on the rocks. The kids - it doesn't both them, but this old man can't take it. We got Payt some nice waterproof sandals. Kathleen and I need some - Crocs just won't cut it. Still they are quite fun and relaxing. For me the backdrop of our lake beaches is much more interesting. We see many boats sailing to and fro, boat taxis cruising about the lake and mountains with forests surrounding it all.
The water is really clear. I think you can see to a depth of about 5-10 ft. Right now it has a pretty greenish-blue cast to it. This just appeared recently. I suspect it has something to do with the warmer temperatures and its effects on the water.
Today is Sunday and we'll be heading down to beach once again to spend our afternoon there. The three of us spent Friday and Saturday there too. It has been very warm here after a lengthy bout of rainy weather. Today's high is expected to be about 88°. Here is Payton in his zen position preparing for today. Well it's either that or he was watching cartoons this morning.

Here is our favorite beach. It's downtown so there is easy parking nearby, plenty of people and if we get there at the right time we get to sit under a nice shade tree with this view of the beach.

Click on the above panorama picture. See the gal on the far right - what's she doing? I don't know, but she isn't peeing in the lake. I'm pretty sure she is holding a swan feather.

The only thing missing in this picture is a Corona - which you can get here, but I don't like. Bud Light I like, but you can't get the good stuff here. Payton likes to wade out to the rock breaker and climb around. We keep a good eye on him because on the far side the water gets deep fast.Payton had just the best weekend. His Mom and me did too.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Where we've been

Here's something I do to mark where we have traveled within Switzerland and Europe. Using flag stickers - countries and Switzerland's cantons (states) - I place a new flag on the back of my car after visiting someplace within those areas. I put country flags on the left (driver's side) and canton flags on the right.

(Note that I am using my Quantum Refractory Lens!)

The country flags I have so far are USA (obviously not in Europe), Switzerland, France and Italy.

The canton flags (from right to left) are Switzerland (not a canton flag), Neuchâtel, Bern, Genève and Fribourg.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Neuchâtel area vs. Cincinnati area

Just how big, or small, is Neuchâtel or Switzerland for that matter? In the map below Neuchâtel is highlighted in the center of the circle. The circle has an approximate radius of 22 miles (44 miles across). Twenty-two miles is the distance (as the crow flies) from our Loveland home to the Cincinnati airport. The capital of Switzerland - Bern - is just outside the eastern edge of the circle.

(Click on the map to enlarge)

Any major U.S. city just dwarfs the cities and towns in Switzerland. It amazes me what all I can see here within 'a drive across' the Cincinnati metropolitan area.

Last Saturday we went up to the highest spot in our area - Chasseral Pass. It's about a mile (5240 ft.) above sea level. Our house is at about 1980 ft - a 3000 ft. difference. Our Loveland house is about 725 ft. I saw the coolest thing up there. A glider was flying around and he buzzed the mountain top. It flew by me not much higher than me, but not directly over my head. What was so cool was the sound. You think of gliders as being silent. Anything moving through the air fast is going to make noise. The thing sounded like a very quite jet plane. It was really cool. People parasail off this mountain too. We saw some of this too. I just bet that Kathleen is going to want to do this next summer.

(1644 meters = 5393 feet)
Yep, I bet she'll want to go sailing. She went ballooning. This isn't a whole lot different.

We did one other thing last Saturday, we set up our baby room. It's really more like a baby corner. Our third bedroom is now an exercise room / playroom / baby room. Yep, we're starting to get really psyched about our new baby!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Is There a Doctor in the House?

Bear had an accident. Payton says he was hit by a car. Bear must have been in bad shape because Payton bandaged him up pretty good.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Sunday in the Park

We were supposed to get some sun today - finally - so we headed down to the lake to a new park for Payton. It's a really nice park with great playground stuff, a large grass field for running and playing football (soccer) and there is a beach for swimming in the lake. We got there at noon. It was gray, but fairly warm. We expected more people, but we were nearly alone. As we had hoped the weather turned, the sun came out, the temperature went up, and it seemed like the people came out of the bushes.

The main attraction in the playground was the boat. A typical structure to climb up and on, slide down from and so forth. It was pretty cool and Payton liked it a lot. We swung on the swings. We did a little teeter-tottering. Payton needs to gain some serious weight if he doesn't want to hang with me. We played a little football. Payton took a ball in the face from one of my kicks, but he just laughed it off. We thought for sure he need a bunch of healing kisses. Nature called and the bathrooms were closed, so Payton got to pee in the bushes again.

At the park is also a race track. It has electric cars and motorcycles the kids can ride around a closed course. Payton put in many laps on the track. At first he drove like a drunken sailer, but after a few laps he just drove like a, well a 3 year old. He did good. While he raced around the track Kathleen and I had ice cream.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Rain Rain Go Away

Ever since Kathleen's Mom & Dad went back home it has been overcast, rainy and cool here. This has been going on for a week now. It looks like this Sunday may be a nice day. Our garden is in need of sunshine.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Experimenting with Photoshop Elements

It is pretty cool the things you can do with Photoshop Elements. I like this blending of photo and sketch art effect.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Quantum Refractory Lens

Since I take most of our pictures, I am not in most of our pictures. That's all about change now. I just got my Quantum Refractory Lens Attachment that allows me to be in every picture I take. I found a Chinese company selling these things online. It kinda looks like something out of Dr. Seuss. Check out the results. I think it's pretty cool, but there is an obvious downside to its use.

Payton's view from the car

Here's Payton view from my car. He sits in the back right seat. I keep the passenger seat folded down to not block his view (and to keep his often dirty feet off the seat). He's got a ton of leg room and a view almost as good as the front seat. He can reach over and roll his window down and up. My car has a child mirror so I can easily see him without turning around. He's got it pretty good. BTW, Payton took this picture himself this morning. That's me driving. We're going to go left off the round-about and just up the hill is Payton's school.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

ISN Pedestrian Rally

The parent's club at Payton's school hosted a pedestrian rally today. It was a good time. We started the day with a picnic and playtime at a nearby park. From there we took a tram into town and started our rally. We finished with a tram back to the park for more playtime, cool drinks and friendly conversation.

The organizers planned a walking route through Neuchâtel. They provided us with a questionnaire and the answers were found somewhere along the route. The questions were meant for the children to answer, and Payton did answer 2 or 3, but Kathleen and I completed Payton's paper.

It was a pretty good walk - maybe 3 or 4 km. Kathleen and Payton made it the whole way. We even learned a few things too. The best thing I learned is that parking doesn't cost as much at the train station as I thought. As long as you're using the train parking is about 60% off. I didn't know this and have been paying full price. I won't be doing that anymore.