Going to Cham

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The views from downtown Cham are not too shabby!

As you can see from the picture above, views from downtown Chamonix are not hard to look at!  Right now we are making trips down the valley to town on an almost daily basis in order to get various housewares and other essentials.  Since we do not have a car yet, we take the bus and can only get as much stuff as we can take in our grocery bags and backpacks (sac a dos in French).  Hopefully it will not be long until we have most everything we need and do not have to go into town quite so often.  If we happen to venture into town at the wrong time, the bus can be a bit crowded!

The picture on the left is looking forward on the bus, and the one on the right is looking backward.  For reference, the buses are the same size as the Summit Stage buses.  The Cham bus drivers are not afraid however to pack as many people as can possibly fit.  There seems to be no limit as there must have been 80 people on the bus in the pictures above.  More than half of the people in the above pictures were little kids so they are short and you can’t see all of them in the pictures.  Emily and I were squished into our seat so as to allow as many kids from the local UCPA to squeeze in as possible.  The UCPA is like a state supported YMCA of sorts.  They have all sorts of outdoor classes for kids and adults.  On the day the above pictures were taken, the kids were going climbing.  In the torrential rain.  The UCPA people do not let any kind of weather stop them from getting outside.

The one nice thing about having so many people get on the bus at the same time, at least on a cold day, is that within minutes the bus heats up by about 15 degrees!  On warmer days, the windows are usually open so this is not a problem.  Being on the bus when it is that crowded has happened to us a few times and every time we marvel at how many more people can get on the bus when we think it is packed like a sardine can already.

It will be very interesting to see how many people are able to get on the bus when winter arrives and everyone has skis, boards, helmets, boots and packs!

The only really bad part about the bus being so crowded is that you can not see very well out of the windows because they are blocked by people and are sometimes foggy.  When you reach the “S” curves lower down the valley, the bus becomes more like a roller coaster and can make one car sick.  It is for that reason that I recommend always sitting on the right side of the bus.  It allows a better view than the left side where the view out of the front of the bus is blocked by the driver. (Pro tip!)

It seems that most trips on the bus involve some sort of adventure or interesting happenings, so I am sure I will write about it again in the future.

How’s it going so far?

We have moved to France.  I thought that was the simplest way to convey the news for those of you reading this who may not have known.  Specifically, we have moved to Le Tour, Chamonix, France.  Le Tour sits at the top of the Chamonix valley which basically contains the towns from Vallorcine all the way down through Chamonix itself to Sallanches.  I am not sure exactly how long the valley is, but I do not think it is more than about 25 miles in total.  Technically, Vallorcine is probably a little further along the valley than Le Tour, but since Vallorcine is on the other side of the Col de Possettes and the road continues beyond Vallorcine and does not continue beyond Le Tour, we consider Le Tour the end of the Valley.  Also the train runs through Vallorcine and continues on into Switzerland whereas it does not even run in to Le Tour.  As the red neck character in the classic movie, “Trains, Planes and Automobiles,” says, “Train don’t run from Stubbville.”  Well the train don’t run from Le Tour either.  Fortunately, the bus does run from Le Tour and is free.  For a while at least, the bus will be how we transport ourselves to other parts of the valley, mainly to Cham (as the locals call it).

Having been here before and living here all last summer, it has been more challenging trying to figure out what to write about.  So far, this trip seems as though we just returned home rather than moving somewhere new.  I think maybe that was the point though.  We feel very at home here.  Summit county was beginning to feel stagnating and we were feeling restless.

My number one blog fan made the comment that this move may be the result of a mid-life crisis.  I always think of mid-life crises as a fifty-something year old male buying a Porsche.  (Steve Deppe, if you are reading this, that was not a reference to you since you’ve been a Porsche guy from the beginning!)  My number one blog fan may have a point, but I prefer to think of this as a mid-life choice rather than a crisis.  Some of you may cry, “semantics”, and I cannot disagree.  Either way, we are happy here.

Now that we have been here for a few days, our routine of last summer is returning.  We usually get up and run in the morning which is always an adventure because of the magnificent trails around the Chamonix valley.  Our new place here in Le Tour offers us many different options for running each day.  Well, to clarify, options are for direction and not for up and down.  No matter which direction we go, we have to either go up first and finish with either an up or down back to the house, or we have to go down first and finish with an up or down back to the house.  Le Tour sits at the very top of the Chamonix valley so there is no option for a flat run unless we take the bus somewhere else.

After running, there is a lot of eating and possibly some work on the computer depending on fatigue level.  It is a simple routine, but one that suites us.  Now that we have internet access we can watch some of the shows we like on Netflix in the evenings, although the programming here in France is different than that in the US, so the same shows are not always available.

Speaking of eating, we have already been to our favorite pizza restaurant, Pizzeria Des Moulins.  The pizza there is always so good.  I tried something new that had a topping on it which I was unfamiliar with, but it did not matter as the pizza was still excellent.  I still do not know what the topping was, or anything about it other than it was black.  It might have been some form of truffle.  Our favorite pasta restaurant, owned by the same people who own the pizza restaurant, is only open for lunch now.  The pizza restaurant however has doubled in size and now takes up the space from what used to be a different restaurant next door.  It is also still packed every night and it remains difficult to get a table without a reservation.  The interior is also much different with used wine case lids making up the ceiling.  Sims’, Goz’s and Strongs and Carvers might find that interesting.  I will try and get a picture of it the next time we go in.

Unfortunately our favorite deli, Hibou Deli, is not open until June 17!  This is hard to deal with when you are a hungry person, but we are managing somehow.

As to our new place, Emily and I realized pretty quickly that we had some work to do in order to make it more livable.  We need new carpet.  Our current carpet is about 1 millimeter thick and is blue.  I thought maybe we could just paint the walls red and go with a Superman theme, but that thought did not get very far.  We also have to get lamps and pot holders and guest towels and about a million other things that we have not had to buy in twenty years.  It is a lot to think about and get done, but when it does get done, the place is going to be pretty spectacular.

Below is the view out of our living room window.  If I had taken the picture a little more to the left and it was not cloudy, you could almost see the top of Mt. Blanc.  I think the mountains just over to the right in the picture are great as well, but that is probably because they are very close.

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I will probably have more to share very soon, and I look forward to doing so.  If any of you loyal readers have questions or blog topics you would like to hear about, please email me at the usual place.

Hopefully some or all of you will visit soon, but not at the same time, so I will end with, A bientot!