January 10th, 2015 - Chamonix, France - Day 146

With Lea's final behind us this was the first day none of us had any major commitments in quite some time, so we had an easy Saturday morning.  Lea started her new semester in Science, Peter took a Science test and moved one step closer to being done with his entire school year.  Stacie has signed up for an online Landscape Design class with a pretty famous designer in London, so she was busy working on a school project.  I revived a project I had worked on last summer and put some time into that.  It is basically a financial management app for families which we use ourselves and I want to release into the app store and Google Play Store sometime this spring.  It was fun to put my mind into something meaningful and challenging again.  

After our morning I went to the grocery store.  It seems that we have to go to the grocery store every day here.  We try to get everything we need for three days, but we always fail.  I am not sure if it is because the stores are close, or because our kitchen is tiny, but we are literally there every day.  On my way back from the store I ran into the Chamonix Saturday market, which was much larger than I expected.  I was loaded down with groceries so I did not stop, but I want to go back next Saturday.  

Once I made it back and unpacked we all made lunch and then decided to head up to go skiing.  We knew the conditions would be icy because it has not snowed in a while, but we though we would put touring skins on and climb for a while for a workout.  Lea hates ice, so she decided to stay home.

Chamonix has a pretty great bus system and we have been figuring it out ever since we arrived.  Yesterday we made a big discovery.  We had been waiting at the main bus stop in town, but once we got on the #11 bus to the resort we had to do a big 10 to 15 minute loop around the town at all the other stops.  Yesterday we figured out that if we walked another 50 yards up the street we would be at the last stop in town and would go directly to the resort, so that is what we did.

Waiting at our new bus stop

It is amazing how long it takes to get the hang of things in each new place.  Once we finally figure out how things work and are getting into the groove, we typically have to pack our bags and move on to the next spot.  This process of acclimatizing to the new environments is simultaneously exhausting and exhilarating.  Figuring out how other cultures live and operate is one of the best things about the trip, but constantly being in the mode of having to figure out how to perform the simplest tasks means you have very little energy for meaningful thought / work.  Some of the funny differences we have observed from a daily life perspective are:

  1. There is no such thing as a garbage disposal outside of the U.S. Not one of the places we have stayed has had one.  It must have to do with old plumbing is the only thing I can think of.
  2. The dryer is a machine who's time has not yet come in the rest of the world.  We have become very accustomed to air drying out clothes, because we have only had one real dryer in all of our houses.  The washer dryer combo is a neat idea that does not work at all.
  3. It is nearly impossible to buy Vanilla extract in Italy.  I am not sure what they use to bake with, but it's not vanilla. 
  4. The concept of a big box store is just starting to emerge around the world.  Life still operates in small shops dedicated to their profession, like a butcher and a baker (although I have yet to find a candlestick maker)

I could go on and on and will probably do so in a longer blog post, but this is the Daily Dump and it is time to move on.

We made it to the summit easily and got ready to head down.

Getting ready to ice skate

We were right about the icy conditions, the whole mountain was like a skating rink.  So we decided to stick to our plans and put the skins on for some exercise.  We made it to a quiet part of the mountain and started the process of getting into touring mode when Peter said - "oh crap my glove".  Stacie and I turned to see his glove blowing away in the wind, over a ridge and then gone.   Peter chased after it, but could not find it.  We made a note of where we lost it and figured we would try to find it on the way down.  

We skinned up for about 15 minutes before the going got too steep and icy so we decided to put our crampons on.  None of us had ever done this before so it took us about 15 minutes to figure it out.  Once we did we made it up for another 10 minutes or so before we decided what we were doing was not fun and we should bail.  So we stripped our skins and headed back down.  Peter and I went to find his glove and Stacie was going to meet us at the mid mountain station.  We quickly made it back to where we last saw the glove and started working our way down the steep chute it had disappeared into.  About 200 yards down we spotted a dark object that turned out to be his glove.  We were very lucky to find it, but now needed to get out of the area we were skiing in.  it was about a 35 to 40 degree slope with big rocks that was sheer ice.  We picked out way out with no major problems and then met up with Stacie and hightailed it back to town.  When we got back we complimented Lea for her wisdom in staying home.  

It was Saturday night and Stacie and I were in need of a date night, so we showered and went out for Indian food.  We arrived a little too early, so we went down the road and had a cocktail.  This was probably the first cocktail we have had in 3 or 4 months.  We have been stuck on wine forever and it was fun to have some spirits.  We had a great conversation at the bar that continued at dinner.  It had been a long time since we had been out alone and we made a commitment to do it every week from here on out.  We are together all the time, but there is something different about being out to dinner when it is just the two of us.  We don't need it often, but we do need it, just like at home.  

It is supposed to snow tomorrow and I sure hope it does.  The season has started out a little light and a nice dump is just what we all need.