Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Missed opportunity

We missed an opportunity today. It would have been great. Let me explain.

Today we flew from Switzerland back to the USA. It's a long flight for Kathleen and me, but it has to be forever for Payton and Parker. Payton did great. He played with his toys and watched shows on the in-flight video. Parker slept almost the entire trip.

We landed in Atlanta and processed ourselves through Customs. We needed to change terminals so we headed to the tram. Guess who was on our tram? None other than the Real Deal himself - Evander Holyfield. I turned to Kathleen and said "You know what, I should have Payton go over to him and offer him a shoulder. It would be quite a story for him to say that he traded punches with the Real Deal." Kathleen thought it was a good idea.

I thought it was a good idea too, but I chickened out. I suppose celebs like attention, but probably not on an airport tram. Anyhow, it was a good thought to remember. But hey, we arrived in the USA all safe and sound. Man it is good to be back.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

We're heading home

It's early in the morning and we are waiting for our ride to the airport, er, flughafen. We're exciting about going home. I'm not sure how much I'll post while on 'holiday', but I will try to keep up with things.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Picture of our day

Today we drove to France to do a little grocery shopping. The market in the nearest French town is open on Sunday until noon. The store was very busy. I guess a lot of other people had the same idea. (Hey Switzerland, open your doors on Sunday and people will come.)

Since we were over there we thought we would go see Le Saut du Doubs - a waterfall on the Doubs river. We didn't make it. We parked and then realized we didn't bring our shouldered baby carrier. We thought about just carrying Parker, but the walk was a little far and when hiking you need both hands free for balance. We'll just save this for another day. Here is a picture I pulled from the internet to show you what we didn't see. There are several waterfalls in our area. Next summer we will have to get serious about doing more hiking to see them. But for now we just headed home.

It was very foggy at the lower altitudes; like around our house and the waterfall. But up in the mountains it was very sunny. We noticed a lot of cars parked off the roads. We don't know why, but we assume the locals figure if it is foggy down low and no rain, then it will be sunny up high. The people seemed to be hiking - they had walking sticks, backpacks and the likes. We stopped at a lookout and took 'our picture of the day' above. Our house is down in the fog somewhere.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Toboggan Geant - La luge d'ete a la Vue-des-Alpes

Today we did a very fun thing. We went tobogganing. It was a ride much like a water slide. It's just a half metal tube and a sled you ride upon. It's 700 meters of fast fun and duh, no water.

The Marciondo kids joined us. All four kids had a blast and I have to say, all the adults did too! This is definitely something to do again.Wanna go for a ride? Watch the following video. I didn't edit it down and the first two-thirds is being pulled up the hill, but I like this part because I like hearing Payton talk. The ride itself goes by quickly. Listen at the end when Payton says ouch.

Here was the view looking back down to the lake. We were up above the fog and the Alps looked very nice.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

A drive through the Swiss countryside

Today I put my camera on the tripod, set it to take a picture every second and anchored it inside my car. Then I took a 15 minute drive from our house through the town of Corcelles and out into the countryside for a bit. At Rochefort I hung a right and headed back to the house. I took about 1800 pictures to make this video. Check it out. I think it is kind of cool.

We had a big scare, but it passed

Bear Bear Bear. Though Bear belongs to Payton, he is loved equally, if not more, by Kathleen and I. I suppose we love Bear for different reasons than Payton. Bear was given to Payton by his Aunt Janet. He has had Bear just about his entire life - almost since his day 1. To Payton, Bear is a companion at best and sometimes just a possession. But to us, Bear is so much more. He is a placeholder of memories. Payton has grown up with Bear. Bear is part of our family. To us Payton and Bear are like peas and carrots.

The SCARE came Monday afternoon. We asked Payton where Bear was and he didn't know. We did a quick search and didn't find any sign of Bear. We have lost Bear before and thankfully got him back. We have also thought we have lost him but have found out otherwise. Whenever Bear goes missing Kathleen and I panic. We searched again and again - no Bear. We were in shock - is Bear lost? Yes he was. I'm not sure how I felt, certainly a little depressed. Kathleen had tears. Payton was just sorry he lost Bear. We assured Payton that it wasn't his fault. The best we could guess was that Bear fell out of the car in the school parking lot. Kathleen drove back there Monday night to search for Bear, but he wasn't there.

Payton went to bed without Bear that night. I made up 'lost' signs. We went to school early on Tuesday to post the signs at and around the school. We gave signs to the teachers in hopes that a schoolmate found him and would return him. We heard nothing about Bear. He was missing.

Bear is a Gund Bogie bear #G15000T. Gund made the Bogie in tan, brown and cream. We have a spare bear, a brown one, we call him Brown Bear. But he isn't Bear. We found a 'brown' Gund Bogie bear on eBay. The picture looked more tan than brown so we bought him hoping he is really tan. We'll get this bear when we return to the States next week.

Tonight Kathleen found Bear. He has been returned to us once again. Somehow he got put at the back of a kitchen drawer. I thought I searched all the drawers. I guess I didn't do a good enough search. Finding Bear brought tears of joy to Kathleen. Payton was happy to have Bear again. I was too. We are so happy to have Bear back with us. It is times like this you realize just how important some things can be to you - even a matted down, floppy, sometimes stinky dirty stuffed bear.

We're glad you're 'back home' Bear. Don't ever leave us.

Saturday, November 8, 2008


We had decided earlier in the week to take a road trip today. We thought driving down to Zermatt to see the Matterhorn would be a good trip. We woke this morning to a gray and raining sky. :(

"Should we wait until tomorrow? It would be a shame to drive 3 hours and not be able to see anything. No, let's go. The weather will clear and may be completely different down south."

Anybody want to hire me as a weatherman? It was beautiful in Zermatt. Very sunny, clear skies, no wind and in the upper 30's. We're sure glad we went today.

Zermatt is a skiing and mountaineering village in southern Switzerland. It's about 10 km from Italy. To prevent air pollution, which could disfigure the town's lovely view of the Matterhorn, the entire town is a combustion-engine car free zone. I think is it a great idea. You can drive towards Zermatt but go no farther than Täsch. From there you take a cog train up the valley.

We spent the afternoon taking pictures, looking at some shops and had lunch at McDonald's. Parker pretty much slept the whole time.

We drove down one way and came back another. Going down we went by Lausanne and over to Zermatt. Going back we headed pretty much north towards Bern. We got a surprise on the way back. We zigged-zagged up into the mountains and came to a toll - $25 CHF. It wasn't a toll road though. The next leg of the journey turned out to be by car train. We drove our car onto a train, put it in park and shut the motor off. We rode in our car on a train through a tunnel in the mountain with hardly any light for about 15 km (10 miles). It was so cool and such a surprise. How often do you do this sort of thing?

Friday, November 7, 2008

Kick scootering at the lake

A couple of days ago we bought Kathleen a kick scooter. She wanted to be able to ride with Payton - whether in the drive way, around town or at the park. Today we went down by the lake where the trails are wide and smooth so that they could ride together. Payton really enjoyed his mama riding with him. Each had fun going fast, carving left and right. I myself just walked pushing the stroller for a sleeping little Parker.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Oh yeah...

The new Westside Shopping Mall in Bern

Since Wednesday's are half school days, picking up Payton is kind of a social event. You see and meet other parents you usually don't see. Today we met the grandmother of 6 yr. old Vincent. During our conversation she told us of a new Starbucks in Bern which is in the newly opened Westside Shopping Mall. We were going to go to Starbucks in Bern this afternoon and were pleased to learn of a new location. So off we went to Westside Mall.

The mall has only been open one month and is of modern architecture. It is built over the motorway (Interstate). The tunnel isn't new. It existed before the mall. Parking is all underground. Things are built vertically here vs. horizontally in the USA. A small footprint is paramount. The exterior's wood cladding is meant to 'harmonize with the countryside'. I'm not so sure about that.

Inside is pretty much like an American mall. The interior could use, well, something. It is stark white. I didn't care for it. I would have liked to see some color. Two differences I noticed were 1) no 'teenager' shops, such as Spencer Gifts and the likes. Almost all shops were clothing, but not grungy stuff. All were nice stores. The place just didn't seem like a hang out for teenagers. And 2) the food court. There was a McDonald's, but no other fast food. The restaurants were nice sit down types.

There is an 11 screen cinema which will become our cinema of choice. The reason for this - Kinder Land. A 'for pay' kid play and learning center. It is a very nice, secure place in the mall to leave the little ones while you shop, or see a movie. The price is only $2.50/hour. We left Payton in there for 2 hours today and he wasn't ready to leave. When we did pull him out he was a sweaty mess. Kinder Land has many options for playing, sliding, climbing, building or painting. What a deal!

There is also a year-round pool and fitness spa. It is said to have 18 different outdoor and indoor pools and the longest covered water slides in Switzerland. Now how cool is that? There's the Roman-Irish bathing experience. - a combination of Roman steam baths and Irish dry hot-air baths, suana and spa too. I think Kathleen will enjoy checking these things out.

Oh, the Starbucks. Well it was a Starbucks, and one attached to a bookstore. Unlike Barnes and Noble, you can't bring books into it unless you have bought them. No free rides. The hours are more convenient. It's open everyday except Sunday from 9 am to 8 pm (later on Friday, a little earlier on Saturday) - same as the entire mall.

Lastly, and this isn't so unusual, they even put in a train stop at the mall. Yep, we could just hop on the train and go to the mall. I'm telling you that the train system here is pretty cool. You can go just about anywhere. No, it doesn't quite replace the a car. But then again because of it you don't really need to have a car.

We had a good day and will no doubt return again.

(I tried something new with this post. Click on the small thumbnail images to see larger more expansive pictures.)

Saturday, November 1, 2008

A sleepy boy

Parker was crying and fussing in his chair. I went and picked him and started bouncing him on my knee. I guess he liked it - he fell asleep.