Friday, July 29, 2011

Creux du Van

What can they know of love that do not know
She builds her nest upon a narrow ledge
Above a windy precipice?

-William Butler Yeats

So Brett took this week off work and we have been doing some fun things even though I’m quite mad at the weather because it’s been rainy and overcast for the past 2 or 3 weeks instead of hot and summerish.  But there have been pockets of sun in there a bit, it’s just that we never know when it will come, so we have a hard time planning ahead of time.  Oh wait, we’re not real big on planning ahead of time anyway.  Anyhoo.

So, on Tuesday we went to Creux du Van.  According to myswitzerland.com:

In the Creux du Van across Lake Neuch√Ętel, nature presents itself as a giant natural amphitheatre. Admittedly, though, the prime seats in the 500 metre high wall seem to have been reserved for the ibex!

One has to climb exactly 725 metres to find yourself standing in the middle of an arena of superlatives. This natural amphitheatre has a diameter of one kilometre and is the result of constant erosion by water and ice. It is a paradise for mountain goats, marmots, deer, birds of prey and nature lovers. The trail runs along the edge of the "arena", constantly making you feel as if you are in the front row.

We did not climb exactly 725 meters though.  I don’t know exactly how we found the road we did, but we followed it up and around and climbed most of the way in the van.  Yay! 

So this picture of the signs isn’t the best to show you, but you have to pay attention, because the sign that says Creux du Van, 20 min, points into the field.

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So we entered the field at this nice little triangular entrance with a trip-wire on the bottom.

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That’s so the cows don’t go through. 

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So we started up.

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Poor baby with a million mosquito bites on his face.  He gets eaten alive at night.  No window screens here, and even when we close the windows, they somehow get in and find his delicious baby blood.  So sad.

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There’s our van.

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Another sign marking the trail, and another cool way to get into the field.  A little turny thing this time.

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More cows in this field with us.

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Ethne went right up to say hello.

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And pet it.  (Which proves a little ironic, you’ll find.)

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Then Jethro did.

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Brown cows.

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Okay, so this picture was taken just moments before a cow started CHARGING Ethne!!!  I’m serious, it was totally scary!!!  I was behind with Hazel (taking pictures) and I looked up and saw it going for her  and it freaked me out.  I grabbed Hazel’s hand and started running for the fence (because obviously I’m really brave), but luckily Brett was the one that was with her because he actually is brave and he yelled at it and punched it and it went away.  He was MAD.  He was like, “If I would have had a stick I would have beat that  cow till it was sorry!”  Which is kindof funny.

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And then of course, the rest of the time we were all (except Brett) scared of the cows and they all stared at us with evil eyes.

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And we picked up a cudgel.

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There ‘tis.

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And we made it!

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We came to it right in the middle of the horse-shoe, so here’s one side,

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and the other.

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So this other hiker came by and he kindly took our picture for us, and he warned us very sternly about how dangerous it was along the trail because the cliffs are very exposed and that we should be very careful and maybe even walk behind the stone wall.  All in his French accent, which kindof made him sound like the French guy in the movie ‘What’s Up, Doc?”.  But he was absolutely right and we kept tight hold of our kids and Brett was quite tense the whole time we were along the trail.

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I had to kindof beg Brett to let me go out there and take a picture of me.  Not that he was worried about ME, more that he was worried about all the kids while he wasn’t keeping them in death grips.  (I wish he would have got a better picture of how high this was; just know that it was a treacherous drop-off.)

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And Jethro.  He wasn’t allowed to go to the lower edge though.  And Hazel was sad that she wasn’t allowed to go at all.  I told her every dog has his day to bark.  (Although she will not be allowed to bark in the form of going to edges of high things for a very very VERY long time.  She can’t even sit on a chair without getting bucked off 50% of the time.  I shudder to think of her on a precipice of this height.)

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Here’s a bit better view, so you can kindof get the idea.

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Ethne was delighted to find an ‘E’ rock.  It was pretty cool and she totally saw it herself.

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Sheep.  After we passed the sheep we found a little spot where we stopped and had lunch.

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Then we started back.  I made Brett go up on this other spot to get a cool picture of him.  At first he wouldn’t, but I told him how cool it would look and he sat the children down and threatened them with death if they moved (because we were again close to the edge), which you know, makes sense, and I got some perty sah-weet pictures of him.

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So, we couldn’t see the mountains in the distance like we could have if it had been a clear day, but it was still really neat.

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Then we went back to the van.  It rained a few drops on us, but that was it.  The kids wanted a story so I told a really lame ghost story, but Talmage seemed to like it and said, “More woooooo.”  Ha ha.

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This was our view of the lake as we drove down the mountain road again.

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So, a lovely outing without a single death due to mad cows or plummeting from perilous ridges.  I call that a success.

Here are some pictures of Creux du Van from my pal Internet:

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The end.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Highlight of his young life.

Probably the single best day of Talmage’s life so far.  We let him drive the car.  He was in raptures.

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