7 September 2021

So much to write about so little time.

I know I have not written as much lately, but our 5 weeks of visitors has come to an end. We had our first visitors since February 2020 the first week of August. Our son George arrived on 31 Juli, a week later his girlfriend Gabby came as well. We had a few days rest, and then Kaylee our youngest showed up. Kaylee and my parents passed in the air; so the day after Kaylee left my parents arrived. I literally just had enough time to wash the sheets, clean the bathroom, and mop the floor before I had to take off for the airport.

Those people following me, know I really do not like driving that much here. The roads are narrow and the rules are just different enough that driving is still stressful. My parents are in pretty good shape, but I was really worried about fighting their baggage and a rush hour train; so I decided to drive to the airport. That was my first mistake…..

I had been told that rush hour in Zürich is a lot worse than you would think it should be for a city of under a million people. Normal traffic, the airport is 30 minutes away; so I left TWO hours before the flight arrived. Probably closer to 2 1/2 almost 3 hours before they made it through customs. Here is the thing to remember about Zürich traffic. There are three major arteries feeding the city. These three arteries come into the city at basically two points, and as soon as the city limits are reached traffic goes down to two lanes, and very quickly after that to one lane. This can lead to bottlenecks at any time. Knowing this fact, I thought I would take the one really long bypass around most of the city. This adds a guaranteed 30 minutes going from one side of the city to the other. The bypass was stop and go about 2 minutes after I got on the highway. The GPS in my car kept recommending I take a side road; so I decided to try it. After all, at this point I still had 90 minutes, to go about 15 KM. There was one big flaw in my plan: Road Construction. After an hour, I was 3 KM from the airport. My GPS was telling me to take a ramp onto the airport highway, that simply did not exist. I could see the exit, I could see the highway, but the exit was closed. I tried for an hour, trying to find my way through town. I kept wanting to believe the GPS knew something I did not; so I kept circling trying to find a way on to the highway. Literally shouting at myself I finally said “Screw it!!!” I just picked a direction and kept driving for another 20 minutes. I figured I was far enough away that the GPS would re route me. It worked. By the time I got to the airport I was almost 90 minutes late. I parked the car, and finally found my parents patiently waiting for their idiot son!! Oh well, we had a big hug, and a lot of laughter as we drove back to the apartment.

My next driving mis adventure was Saturday. I drove the four of us to Stein am Rhein in the morning. We walked around the town and had lunch. The town is about 70 kilometers from our house. Normally an hour and a quarter to an hour and a half drive. Getting there was no problem, but coming back…. I left the town at 2 pm, and made it into my driveway at 5:50!!! We sat in traffic starting about 5 kilometers outside Zürich. I am not sure I have ever been in a non accident caused traffic jam that bad. It was so bad that Julie has decided we will never again go on the other side of Zürich for one of our Saturday Adventures!

Finally I had one more driving mis adventure this week. The one wish Dad had on the visit was to see the Matterhorn. We drove down to Zermatt on Sunday; so that on Monday morning we could take the Gondola up to the Paradise look out, and Mom and Dad could get some good pictures. Well that part of the plan did not go very well. Mom wound up getting altitude sickness. She came down for breakfast, and after about 90 seconds was back up in the hotel room. I have to give a HUGE SHOUT OUT to the staff of Hotel Julen. They were fantastic. Our original plan was to checkout, and they would hold our luggage while we explored. With Mom getting sick, we were going to simply head back home. The hotel staff kindly let us delay our checkout by a couple of hours; so that Dad and I could go up, while Mom was able to lay down and rest. Thank you again! I will certainly have to stay there again!!

So anyway, Dad and I came down from the Mountain and got Mom onto a train, and down the road toward Täsch. If you do not remember, from our earlier trips to Zermatt. That town is car free; so you have to park your car about 5 kilometers from the city and take the train into town. Anyway, we got on the road, and started home. The first 20 minutes was fine. Then the GPS told me to make a turn, and go through a tunnel. Dad brought up the fact that we did not go through a tunnel on the way there. I told him that was not odd. There have been many drives that we went through a tunnel one way, but drove around the mountain the return trip. However, another 30 minutes later, and we were discussing that: A) we were climbing B) we were going through towns we had not passed before. At that point I knew the GPS was taking us home a different route, but I did not appreciate how different the new route would be. I was not that worried, because the GPS kept saying we were getting closer to home, and it looked like it would be about an hour faster than the route to Zermatt. My passengers were all enjoying the scenic drive. I on the other hand, was to busy dodging bicycles, and making hair pin turns to worry much about the views. I finally convinced Dad to get out his phone and start taking some video.

When we stopped to take this picture, I finally realized where we were. We had just passed a sign that said Andermatt 15 KM. We were going up the other side of the “James Bond” pass. You can go back and visit my first post in January where my wife and I walked up the other side of this pass.

Furka Pass
Furka Pass in January 2021

There are two things I was thankful for yesterday. The first was the simple fact there was not much uphill traffic, as I was driving down, and the second is that Julie was not with us. Julie does not like mountain passes and she had commented as we were walking up this one that she was NEVER going to drive it.

Coming down the pass was an experience. I had to stop a couple of times for oncoming traffic. There might have been enough room for two cars to pass, but I was not sure. All I know is that at times, it felt like the right side of the car was mere inches from plunging to the bottom of the mountain, and the left side I KNOW was millimeters from losing the mirror. The speed is posted at 80 KPH. I think I got up to 60 once for about 20 meters! Part of me is scared to death to do the pass again, but an even bigger part of me wants to drive it again, with someone willing to hold a camera for the entire drive up and back down the pass!! It was something I will not soon forget!

This coming weekend will be our first “international” adventure in the car. Julie wants me to drive her to France for the upcoming three day weekend!


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