Outdoor Lore and the Lure of a Good Cup of Coffee

Autumn … let that sink in for brief moment.

Dense fog and moisture in the air, dewy wetness on all things still green and those turning color too.Rusting leafy foliage falling away baring their now stark treed host. Dried corn plants shuffling their crinkly leaves await the harvesters blade and the pale early morning sky fuzzy misted over as the sun begins to burn through with a cool and bright effort. And pumpkins dotting this or that field or ornamenting this or that farmer stand or door steps.

Yup, it’s fallish out there folks.

And I’ve got a hankerin’ to be out there, to spend time in the thinning woods. Where green turns to rust and mushrooms show themselves off against the leaf littered forest floor, some pretty, some ugly and all of them fascinating.

Yesterday I gave in to that hankering and hunkered down the evening before to prepare my daypack for a short day trip into the local deciduous woods. The air felt fresher, the temperatures chillier and my step quicker so as to generate a bit more body temperature even though my wool mix hoodie kept me snug and warm.

It being a Saturday morning, the forest lanes and roadways (this is Germany and the woods are crisscrossed with ‘Waldwege’) were empty. I had the place mostly to myself. And as I often do, I wondered where the wild boars were. But most of all I was anticipating my first cup of outside coffee.

Clear Lake OR Camping 2012 ciaodarlingciao.wordpress.com

goodness (ciaodarlingciao.wordpress.com)

If you’ve ever made a delicious cup of hot coffee outside you may know the pleasure I speak of. No, not a cup of instant crap but the real ma-coy, boiling water poured into a coffee filter over a large cup. The result a brew so good that it nearly blends into the surrounding beauty. Ah ok, so the heady scent of a freshly brewed cup of java out there is kinda out of place as it were but it does the body good. If you prefer a good hot cup of tea would also do the trick I suppose but coffee is my choice for moments like that.

I spent some time looking around and gathering a bit of firewood, smallish bits and processed them into suitable sizes to accommodate my Bush Box multi fuel pocket stoves’ small size and then set to building the fire that would boil the water that would release the intense flavored coffee into my cup and then my mouth. It took a little while but the time spent doing the work was well worth the efforts.

Bush Box

By the time my cup was filled, the sun had begun to shine on the spot I’d selected for the coffee ritual.

I sat back and just liked being there.

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When it Rained

this summer, it filled silver metal buckets and drenched the ground.

A Peak into The Switzer Land

It’s been a while. The last time I laid eyes on real mountains. A long while actually, well over a year ago if you don’t count two or three short teasing ‘glimpses’. Yesterday I saw some real frikkin’ big ones. Up close. Made me feel small. Made me feel good.

explanatory mountain infographic

explanatory mountain infographic

The weather was … well it couldn’t have been any nicer … pure blue sky and sunshine. My face is red and the skin hurts to touch, a bit. I blame that on the sunshine and snow. Oh yeah … snow played a supporting role. The place was Grindelwald in the Bernese Oberland, deep in the Switzer Land. No, it didn’t smell like cheese nor look like chocolate although on a side note the super delicious Lindt chocolate easter bunnies were on sale in one shop at 75% of the usual not super cheap price. Scored and enjoyed 🙂

©iphoneographythis2014,©2014myronunrau

Temptation … yummi

My personal way back machine contains memory data of my having visited the area in my early teen years. This being a few years later and my interest and curiosity in the area still going strong, wife and I decided to head down there on a day trip. This we accomplished without using our car. Instead we made use of a very practical rail pass that can be purchased in advance for a specific date and what makes it oh so über cool is that you can travel with depth and breadth of the Switzer Lands by rail, city transit, water and cable car for one very cheapo cost (note: most cable car rides will cost you half the normal price and are generally not included as ‘free’ on the day ticket). Cost 40Chf per person = 32Euros = 50Cdn$ approx. Not a bad deal considering that rail travel in Europe is not that cheap. Doing the exploring of smaller countries in this fashion saves you wear and tear on your own vehicle, the stresses of navigating to new places and the near insurmountable obstacle of finding reasonable parking when you get to where you go. We hoped on the bus right in front of our place (convenience +), hopped off at the Badischer Bahnhof in Basel and this is where the fun part of the early morning began. You see, while I’d looked up various departure times from there to where we wanted to go, I neglected to also take a careful look at the multiple rail connections the various options had, i.e. times and track numbers as well as something as silly as which cities that we would have to get on and off the train and connections, hmmm.

screenshot of departures, sans specifics ... oops

screenshot of departures, sans specifics … oops

My wife was not impressed that I’d neglected that simple yet important factoid in planning … well that I’d not planned well enough. Ok, so that added a bit of stress but we managed to make the three connections without any real issues and didn’t miss any trains either, and that averted further stress. We also discovered that we could ride the ICE train in the Switzer Land without additional costs, coolio that. Note: the higher speeds this train is known for slowed to nearly a crawl in many of the more winding sections on our three hour trip. The speeds were ok from Basel to Bern.

riding the rains towards the  jagged peaks

racing on rails towards the jagged peaks

Swiss Train at Interlaken Ost Bahnhof

Swiss Train at Interlaken Ost Bahnhof

In Interlaken, (567m above sea level)  the Thuner See to the north and the Brienzersee to the south, we switched to the regional train that took us up through Wilderswil and on to Zweilütschinen. Instead of continuing on up to the town of Grindelwald (1034m above sea level), we hoped onto a bus for that (20minute) stretch as work was being done on that section of the rail line.

on-board windowsill graphic/map

on-board windowsill graphic/map

It was not yet noon when we arrived at our destination. What struck me most of all as soon as I got off the bus and raised my eyes to the view was the immensity of the surrounding mountains that ranged just west of the small valley; not a narrow valley but not that large either.

the Eiger, the town and the yellow bus

the Eiger, the town and the yellow bus

It felt good. Really good. I always feel good when I am in the mountains, when I can see them … feel them. My wife also has a similar reaction and adds that she feels like she’s come home when she’s in the mountains. These fuckers however made me feel small. Real small. It was weird. I’m walking around, looking at this or that chalet and taking in how people live here and then I look up and am blown away, overpowered by the magnitude of the towering mountain peaks right above my head. Overwhelming in the best possible sense. And to see that residents of this town had such spectacular backdrops to their everyday lives … very cool indeed.

this is the view someone has out of their kitchen window, of a quaintly solid chalet home. It's the Eiger

this is the view someone has out of their kitchen window, of a quaintly solid chalet home. It’s only one of most famous mountains on earth – the Eiger

And to the left of the spectacle continues to impress. One could spend days, nay weeks absorbing the wonder of it all.

on foot

feet

We decided to poke about a bit and set off on foot.

Wanderweg Sign

Wanderweg Signage. Eiger behind sign

we went left

we went left towards the Wetterhorn

Screen shot 2014-05-06 at 17.26.25

ferien wohnung rental accomodation

and hiked up narrow climbing paved roadways, past idylic chalet settings bedeked with small to large cow bells, and hillside pasture used by goats with jangling bells. We also saw several signs advertising ‘Alpen cheese’ for sale. This is where it gets silly. We packed a lunch, a good lunch because things are esspensivo in the Switzer Lands. Hell, we even packed a chunk of Gruyere cheese but then couldn’t resist the urge to buy more cheese at one of the local shops along with a Swiss air cured beef specialty to add to our packed lunch; of which we only ate the bread. On our meandering way back towards town and the gondola ride upwards to the First peak, we stopped and sat on a bench at a small old barn for a rustic lunch in the sunshine with a view on the Eiger.

Screen shot 2014-05-06 at 17.29.09

lunch spot

view towards Grindelwald from lunch spot

view towards Grindelwald

Screen shot 2014-05-06 at 17.27.51

more valley view

On our way back to town we heard some odd noise that clashed violently with the stillness of this alpine idyll, a loud reverberating roar that bounced out of the blue sky and off the mountainsides above and behind us.  Two Swiss airforce fighter jet aircraft were engaged in close  maneuvers, a tight circling airborne dance lest they fly or rocket out of bounds (Switzerland being smallish in size). The country has a strong and clear sense of defense. On our journey there we saw two individual soldiers in full gear including the rifle slung in front of the body with folded stock,a reminder that this folk is prepared, willing and ready to defend at a moments notice it seems. Actually we had wanted to hike up to the First peak (2168m above sea level) but were told that since the recent ski season had wrapped up not too long ago that conditions on the upper hiking trails were ‘difficult’ and for the most part closed. Ok, gondola time. With our special travel day pass we scored half price tickets and hopped into a small four person gondola for the (much to our uniformed surprise) half hour trip up to the peak from 1034m in Grindelwald.

gondoling up to the First from Grindelwald

gondoling up to the First from Grindelwald, Schreckhorn 4075m

Screen shot 2014-05-05 at 23.00.16

Eiger 3970m center image

Screen shot 2014-05-05 at 23.00.48

Finsteraarhorn 4274m above the valley floor

Screen shot 2014-05-05 at 23.01.24

Schreckfeld gondola station, turns 90º and heads up the last little stretch to the First.

author way above sea level

author way above sea level

We hung out a bit up there, soaked up the brutal sunshine, ate a few of our packed goodies, ordered something to drink and headed back down to the Bort gondola station at 1570m from the First  From there we decided to hike back down the rest of the way to town because it was such a beautiful day and after all we’d wanted to hike in the first place.

hiking down towards Grindelwald

hiking down towards Grindelwald

alpine spectacle

alpine spectacle

idyllic scenery

idyllic scenery

Edelweiss flower info The day after: our legs are a bit sore, our exposed skin got burned, our spirits are lifted and the memories rock. Go visit off season, it’s less busy 😉

The Switzer Land, it might be small, but it's really big too.

The Switzer Land, it might be small, but it’s really big too.

2014©iphoneographythis,2014©myronunrau

Small Village, Big Parade

2014©iphoneographythis, 2014©myronunrau

Snow is colder

It’s carnival season German style. Colorful garb, musical cacophonies, flying candy and fist fulls of confetti tossed not only prettily into the air above the heads of parade viewers, nay … sometimes this vile paper pretty is tossed directly, deliberately  into the faces of the public, sometimes even savagely massaged into the hair and down the necks of the now hapless parade visitors. Some of these are even dragged from the relative obscurity of the side of the route into the middle of the action where they are ganged upon by members of the carnival cliques and suffer unspeakable carnival mayhem.

This being Rose Montag (Rose Monday), revelers take to the carnivalized streets celebrating something I understand little about. Here in Baden Wuertemberg is it also known as Fastnacht.

This little village I live in posted signage last week announcing road/street closures for today and when I asksed I was told about the carnival parade. The day is also taken off by many of the celebrants. I too had it off.

Warm up music blasted through and between the buildings of this downtown village style neighborhood and that made any sane calm thought to naught. So I decided to join the curious and hangers on. And now I have a badge as proof of my admission payment of 2Euros. I paid to be entertainingly molested by noise, color and bands of wild celebrants, most comfortably anonymous behind carved wooden masks or cheaper yet convincing synthetic copies of these cultural works of art and ancient master pieces of the season.

Below is a selection of todays ribald and raucous celebrations played out by seasoned characters, long versed and immersed in the local customs of the various cliques, groups of celebrants.

 

Screen shot 2014-03-03 at 15.27.29  Screen shot 2014-03-03 at 15.28.18 Screen shot 2014-03-03 at 15.28.37 Screen shot 2014-03-03 at 15.29.04 Screen shot 2014-03-03 at 15.29.30 Screen shot 2014-03-03 at 15.29.58 Screen shot 2014-03-03 at 15.30.21 Screen shot 2014-03-03 at 15.30.41 Screen shot 2014-03-03 at 15.31.33 Screen shot 2014-03-03 at 15.32.04 Screen shot 2014-03-03 at 15.32.32 Screen shot 2014-03-03 at 15.32.55 Screen shot 2014-03-03 at 15.33.35 Screen shot 2014-03-03 at 15.34.11 Screen shot 2014-03-03 at 15.34.30 Screen shot 2014-03-03 at 15.34.53 Screen shot 2014-03-03 at 15.35.19 Screen shot 2014-03-03 at 15.35.43 Screen shot 2014-03-03 at 15.36.07 Screen shot 2014-03-03 at 15.36.58 Screen shot 2014-03-03 at 15.37.17 Screen shot 2014-03-03 at 15.37.57 Screen shot 2014-03-03 at 15.38.21 Screen shot 2014-03-03 at 15.38.51

all photos copyright 2014©myron unrau, 2014©iphoneographythis

©myronunrau

Quote of the Day

Bittersweet October. The mellow, messy, leaf-kicking, perfect pause between the opposing miseries of summer and winter.
Carol Bishop Hipps, (Author)  “October,” In a Southern Garden, 1995

Admittedly this month which heralds the now not so distant and decidedly less delightful seasons suffered a rather messy beginning, however today was a good day. That nearly perfect kind of day goodness one senses deep within, with the only exception that I had to perform some sort of manual work (thankfully out of doors) that kind of put a wee crimp into the absolute leisure of total submission of simply enjoying this day sans distractions. Today was strikingly similar to the perfect spring day but the exact opposite of that, hence the above quote for this day. And it was windy too.

2013©myronunrau

Charming Stuff from Days Gone By or “Scheiss Chanderli!”

It’s a Sunday morning. Well, outside anyways. Inside I’m still in bed, my head full of dreamy bits, my body asleep and relaxed. It’s not early, it’s not late. A relatively quiet time. Even asleep I can sense the quieter Sunday morning solitude  and I enjoy the abbreviated traffic noises from the main road that cuts through this village through the open window of my bedroom.

On weekdays the traffic noises begin to build around 04:30 and I’m certain most of that early morning rush is bakers on their way to their trades but on Saturdays and Sundays it is relatively calm out there.

What the hell am I writing about? I’ll tell you. It’s the Kandertalbahn.  Go look it up on Facebook if you want. They have a page. It is an old steam driven railway line that runs the same stretch back and forth every Sunday for tourists, the curious and hobbyists from the first day of May all the way through the 20th day of October.

2013©myronunrau

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yes it’s quaint, it’ pretty, it’s historic, it’s old, it’s in working condition, it brings in money and tourists, but it also is loud and irritating to many who live along its iron line.

Between Wagons

Between Wagons

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
Sure, it’s lovely to see something from days gone by, watch something like that chugging  back and forth, forwards and backwards along track through a picturesque, lush and fertile bucolic valley landscape of farm fields, small quaint villages that lie 2 or so kilometers apart from the next and green capped forested hills. What’s not to like about that?

©2011myronunrau

Bucolic southern German landscape

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
No argument there, but sorry no, I’ve not ridden it yet; not when I lived here as a teen nor since I’ve been back. In fact I was planning to do that this summer but that urge shrivels on my ‘things to do’ list every time that shrieking noise makes me cringe, six times every Sunday. And the worst of it is that sometimes I wish that I could somehow prevent that blasted whistle from issuing it’s evil sound. No surprise though that if I lived further away from the tracks I wouldn’t really give a rats ass what kind of noise that train made but what I’m afraid of is that if I were to visit somewhere else and heard such a whistle, I might believe it to be sunday.

©2013myronunrau

Light Detai

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What gets me and what I can’t get my head around is that this is Germany after all, a peace and quiet loving folk. They are known to enforce the Sabbath strickly where naught is done around the house if it makes any kind o f ‘working’ noise on the Lords day; one does that on Saturday. It’s not like N. America, not at all. But that damned infernal noise is apparently ok. Go figure.

2013©myronunrau

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I just heard the last shrill whistle blast of the day, for this whistle stop.

Now I get to listen to the receding if still muffled and audible whistle blasts as the  loathsome Chanderli chuggs its metal way back to Kandern to await for its next weekends annoying assault on many ears. Frustratingly I just now realize that I still have two months of Sundays to get through. Grrrr …

 

iphoneographythis© 2011©myronunrau

Soggy Colors of Spring

©iphonoeographythis  2011©myronunrau

Translucent Beauty, soaked west coast Daffodils