Archive | Weather RSS feed for this section

More Rainy Day Plans

30 Sep

30 September 2022.

Mother Nature decided Switzerland was due for a good rain, which means snow in the high elevations. For those visiting the area for only 2 or 3 nights, which many do, it is sad because they are not treated to the amazing vistas brought by sunnier days. 

However, after a hot dry summer, we cannot deny the need for a good rain bringing relief to the farmers and hopes of early snow. 

Luckily, we are settled here for a month and  can take this in stride. Last week was a dream of sunny days and we have ideas for any weather be it hot, cold, misty, snowy, or heavy rain. 

The other day we did the first half of a walk along the Weiss Lütschine River (See Rainy Day Hikes).

Here are some other options we chose this week based on not-so-great weather.

Zweilütschinen to Wilderswil. This is the next portion of the Weisse Lütschine and is detailed in our book. This is a “path to lunch” which many of you know is a common theme. Our objective was a lovely Italian restaurant in Wilderswil, Luca Piccante. Great pizza! The 3 mile walk was a good first course but after eating an entire pizza each (Italian-style, not the hulking monstrous North American type), further walking was in order. There are ruins of a very old castle about 20 minutes from Wilderswil on an enjoyable path offering views over Interlaken. An additional 2.75 mile walk brought us to the train station and the BOB (Berner Oberland Bahn) took us back home. 

Mountain Joy Riding. Wednesday was supposed to be wet wet wet! The forecast was for 2-3 inches of rain between 0800 and 2100. Ugh. Taking advantage of our Berner Oberland Regional Passes, we did a grand tour of the Jungfrau Region. Here are the stages:

  • Wengernalpbahn (train) from Lauterbrunnen to Wengen and on to Kleine Scheidegg at 2061 meters/6762 feet of altitude
  • Change trains at the top to the Wengernalpbahn down to Grindelwald
  • Change trains to the BOB to Grindelwald Terminal base station for two fabulous lifts, the new Eiger Express and the Männlichen Gondolbahn
  • We took the Gondelbahn to Männlichen an amazingly long cableway
  • Männlichen to Wengen via another cableway
  • Wengernalpbahn back to Lauterbrunnen

I don’t like to advertise, but I have to recommend highly the Berner Oberland Regional Pass. It is expensive but the value is there and once purchased it is a no brainer to hop on any lift or train or bus and go anywhere in the region. This trip would cost CHF 134.00, but with the pass the cost was zero, niente, nada. We used 1/3 of the face value of our 10-day pass in this single day and still have 9 days to do as much riding as we desire. It is available for for 3, 4, 6, 8, and 10 day periods. There is a further discount on the pass if one buys a Swiss Half Fare Card which I also recommend. Have lunch as we did in Grindelwald and walk around a bit for a break. Our loop including a stop for a nice lunch, took about 5 hours.

View on the right, above, is from the Wengernalpbahn descending into Grindelwald. We are actually above the fancy new Eiger Express Gondola.

Three Village Tour. For a we-don’t-want-to-do-much day, rain or shine, one can explore the three villages and do some shopping. Take the train up to Wengen and walk the village, maybe stop for coffee. Coming back down to Lauterbrunnen, stop at the Tourist Information Office to see what might interest you that you haven’t thought about, then walk the length of the village, perhaps past the Staubbach Falls and as far as Campling Jungfrau. You could have lunch here or in the village along the way. Finally, take the lift from Lauterbrunnen to Grütschalp and the little train to Mürren, walk the village, check the shops, and descend via the Schilthornbahn to Stechelberg where you can catch the bus back to Lauterbrunnen.

We left home at 10:00 and did not return until almost 16:00. It wasn’t hiking but it was a nice pace, about 3 miles of walking, and a leisurely chance to look for Christmas gifts. We had lunch “at home” in our apartment. The rain spit off and on but was never a deluge and there were occasional sun breaks. Another good reason for the BO Regional Pass is not having to weigh the expense of jumping on trains and lifts impetuously for shopping.

One of the benefits of rain is increased waterfall volume. Staubbach Falls near Lauterbrunnen was a bit thin until this week.

Lauterbrunnen Valley Walk. We have done this walk (it is detailed in our book) from the south to the north, from the north to the south, in sun, in rain, in mist. We love it. A rushing river, mountain peaks, waterfalls, cows, goats, and base jumpers offer diversion on this 4-mile easy path. We like to start at the last bus stop near Hotel Stechelberg and walk back to Lauterbrunnen, but both directions are beautiful. 

Little Stechelberg at the south end of the valley is little more than a Post Office, a hotel, and a few small farms, gardens, and houses. Very quiet. The clouds cover the majestic Breithorn mountain peak.

Take a cruise. The excitement factor is limited but the relaxation factor is high for a two-hour cruise with lunch on the Thunersee. Rain or shine, the BLS ships sail on both Lake Thun (Thunersee) and Lake Brienz (Brienzersee). The train delivers you to Thun, a lovely city worth exploring, right next to the landing for the ships. After boarding you can choose from a varied menu of choices from soups and salads to multi course meals or a snack. There’s plenty of time for a leisurely lunch while hopping from town to town along the lake with distant peaks and nearby waterfalls in view. There are also cruises that are not meal-centric. Cruises on both the Thunersee and Brienzersee are free with your Berner Oberland Regional Pass.

Perhaps Tolkien, who visited the Lauterbrunnen Valley in 1911, would not have been so inspired in his creation of Rivendell had he not experienced the misty mountains and abundant waterfalls brought by the gift of rain.

It seems the rainiest of days have passed for us — did not get wet today in 4+ miles of hiking — and starting Sunday we will have brilliant fall weather once more. Can’t say I am sorry to see the rain end, but we enjoyed our days nonetheless. 

Rainy day hikes

25 Sep

25 September 2022.

Rain on a forecast makes me cringe. Is my travel going to be a washout and won’t see anything I came to see? Will we be confined to quarters or get soaked on our way back from a hike?

This week’s dreary forecast. Thank goodness last week was divine!

No traveler wants to look at the forecast and see five days of rain, especially if you only have a few days in an area of outstanding natural beauty.

Fortunately, for us the weather in Switzerland usually turns out better than the forecast and a high percentage of expected rain is balanced against how many minutes or hours of actual rainfall. A 90% chance of rain in a day is accurate even if it only rains for 15 minutes.

Having a few activities in your virtual back pocket makes it possible to enjoy even a dreary day with hopes that it will actually turn out better than forecast.

In our books, we mention outings that are OK on an overcast or even rainy day. Yesterday we used one of our own ideas and while we got a bit wet, we had a nice hike, didn’t get too cold (layers!), and we were done in time for lunch back in our cozy apartment. While many travelers headed for the lifts to higher elevations hoping for views, we chose a walk along the Lütschine River and incurred a small fee for a train ride back from the end of the trip, not the high price of a mountain gondola on a day without views.

Yesterday afternoon offered a couple of rain free hours enabling a little stroll with weak sunlight and we were back “home” right before a downpour. Switzerland, like most of Europe, needs rain so we can’t complain.

Today was supposed to be dry in the morning and it was. In fact it has been dry all day! The cloud deck is low so views are not stellar but we invoked our Pacific Northwest mantra, “At least it’s not raining” and headed out on a long walk through the valley and a stroll through Mürren, high on the cliff, with coffee in our favorite cafe. Number of people encountered in the valley in a three mile walk: four. The cows easily outnumbered humans by 50 to 1.

Housemade cake and coffee at Cafe Liv, Mürren.

In fact, the sun is breaking through so I think we’ll take advantage and have our evening passeggiata a little early in case it the weather changes its mind.

Tomorrow will be drier than the forecast above indicates…we hope! Rain hats and waterproof boots will ensure our plans aren’t ruined by some much-needed moisture.

I found this picture from the same day last year. We were eating outdoors in a beer garden. May that weather return in the coming weeks!

Taking it easy on the coast

12 Mar

12 March 2022.

March on the Oregon Coast is a crapshoot for weather. Spring teases us, lurking around the corners of lashing rain, and daffodils defy the wintry conditions promising better days ahead.

It is a true act-of-faith to commit to a non-refundable hotel reservation. One could endure staring at the ocean for four days of pelting, icy, wind-driven rain or one might get lucky and find chilly overnights give way to sun, blue skies, and tolerable mid-50s.

View from our cottage, a colorful sunset after the rain.

We were lucky. A mid-afternoon heavy shower greeted us as we hit Highway 101 but as we checked in, the western sky was clear, the ocean calm, and the temperature not-too-bad. The forecast: two days of clear skies and sun. The god of getaways was smiling on us.

Lincoln City is a history trip for us having lived here for a few years until the combination of a scary forest fire and the pandemic drove us into the Willamette Valley. I miss seeing the ocean where we live today but love that Trader Joe’s is 20 minutes away instead of a 75 minute one-way drive.

Molly’s last trip before her planned sibling arrives.

This trip gave us a chance to relax with Molly before we adopt a sibling for her, and to celebrate our anniversary at a special restaurant. Eating fresh fish tacos for lunch two days in a row was a bonus.

Revisiting two favorite locations for light-hiking, Cape Perpetua and the Nestucca Bay National Wildlife Refuge, we fueled ourselves with ocean views, rainforest paths, and clean coastal air.

Cape Perpetua is even more magnificent in person.

The Nestucca Bay National Wildlife Refuge from the lookout.

Our lodging was far from luxury but the only place I could find that would accept a cat. Salishan Lodge will take big dirty dogs (we brought one there ourselves a time or two) but not our sweet Molly. All of the “pet friendly” places I checked out were dog-only. WTF? The Ester Lee, dated but with amazing views, welcomed us with a modest daily pet fee of $10 and Molly was happy to explore the rooms and gaze out the window at seagulls.

Molly was terrific once we arrived but oh did she “sing” for at least half of the 90-minute car trip!

We departed under gray skies with high wind warnings in our rear view mirror. Happy #37 to us! Now, to find Molly a friend.

Seagulls and the big blue Pacific transfixed our little girl.

Escape to the Abbey

30 Jul

30 July 2020.

Summer in Oregon begins on the 5th of July is a trope oft-quoted in the Western part of the state. Following a “June-u-ary,” (not uncommon) even American Independence Day can be chilly. But soon the Willamette Valley (referred to locally as simply The Valley) gets its heat on.

Here on the Oregon Coast, our idea of summer is anything over 60 degrees Fahrenheit and when it on rare occasion reaches 72 we think we are going to die. It’s the number one reason Ric and I chose to live here; it does not get hot in the summer. We hesitate to journey into The Valley in July and August.

Last Friday we were looking for a day trip so we could vacate the house while our housekeeper came. The irony of needing to leave home for four hours so someone else can clean it is not lost on us; however, we choose locations where we can be physically distant from others. A hike is always a good plan and if we can follow a hike with a meal anywhere but at home, so much the better. It was cool in The Valley on July 24th so we dared to venture to the Trappist Abbey and explore the peaceful forest.

The Abbey advertises the Guadalupe Loop at 3.5 miles. Our Fitbits clocked in at almost 5 miles, accounting for a couple of spurs we took and the distance to-and-from parking. A good workout of 2 hours. While not a difficult hike, it isn’t “easy” in the Easy-Hiker sense. My knees wished I had taken my trekking sticks for the downhill portion and there were also some rugged sections on the backside of the hike where I was happy to be wearing hiking shoes.

This day was overcast and pleasant. We only encountered 15 people in two hours. Not sure I would venture here on a weekend or when it is hot or wet.

I’ll let our pictures do the talking but a few points of advice from our trek:

    • Take the loop in a clockwise fashion as we did.
    • In the rainy season, go back the way you came from the viewpoint. The section from the shrine and along the southern part of the trail would be very muddy when it has rained.
    • Trail junctions are marked counter-intuitively. Keep left except for the viewpoint, unless you want to take one of the “passes.”
    • The viewpoint is not well-marked. After making the left turn at an obvious point, make the first right you come to.
    • Take your hiking sticks if you have bad knees.

Our Lady of Guadalupe Trappist Abbey’s peaceful courtyard.

 

Signage and map with history and rules. Put your cellphone on airplane mode.

 

The trail varies from wide “highways” to narrow, rocky, packed clay.

 

A family group was among the few people we saw. They pushed a stroller up 800 feet!

 

“The woods are lovely dark and deep…”

 

The view from the top is of Oregon vineyards.

 

Reflection in the pond.

 

Still smiling after an 800-foot climb.

Some of you sharp-eyed readers will notice a new link in the navigation bar, Masks to Benefit Food Pantry. I am making lovely, effective masks and selling them as a fund-raiser. I like to sew and after outfitting family and friends and still having a vast supply of nice fabrics,  I thought perhaps I could do some good by supporting our local food pantry while keeping myself occupied. LMK if you see anything you like and I’ll figure out shipping. 

Week Two draws to a close

27 Mar

27 March 2020.

Pity the journalists reporting today. By the time they write something the situation has changed. I feel the same way. I was going to blog about our Maui trip, but it seemed misplaced as we returned to the hockey-stick upswing in COVID-19. Now that trip seems like a distant memory and we just returned to Lincoln City two weeks ago today.

Green sea turtle on “our” beach.

We are lucky we were not forced to shelter-in-place in Hawaii. It may seem heavenly, but we all longed for our beds and at $299 plus taxes, fees per night for a condo, high food costs, and car rental, mannaggia! (Italian expletive you can decipher yourself) we could not afford to stay there longer!

Quarantine, self-isolation, social-distancing, whatever you call it (yes, I know there are differences but permit me), even those of us whose religion is Practicing Introvert are finding this challenging and I know it is not going to get easier. Following news from my friends in Europe tells me we ain’t seen nothin’ yet.

Lincoln City is rather removed from the mainstream. We don’t have a rush hour, except when tourists flock here for spring break. Then we get traffic jams in the afternoon. Spring Break had a non-commital start and canceled lodging reservations were a top story on March 16. That changed when the housebound Valley People decided to take advantage of the good weather and escape to the beach and other rural areas. March 21st saw our county overwhelmed with claustrophobic city people thinking they could social-distance themselves here at the beach. Not good for the elderly population of our town that only has two industries: tourism and retirement. Our 24-bed hospital is not going to handle an onslaught. Weekends, where our <9,000 population surges to 40,000 people, are bad enough, and that usually brings cases of sunburn, sprains, and broken bones. Now the governor, our mayor, and the county commission have decreed no short-term rentals. All beach parking is closed as are the parks and open spaces. No hiking in State Parks.

Empty Outlet Mall, spring break under quarantine.

Speaking of the elderly, I do not identify with my age group. I am energetic, technologically savvy (mostly), in decent shape, and deplore talk about aches and pains and insurance plans. Yet here I am avoiding the gym, going to the grocery store at odd hours, standing 10 feet away from neighbors to chat. Thank God the weather has been (mostly) good so Ric and I can walk in the woods (mostly) alone.

Even the Chinook Winds Casino closed. Never before.

Some days I ask myself,” Coronavirus or Allergies?” I started with weepy eyes and stuffy head in February and after a few days reluctantly started self-medicating with Zyrtec and Flonase. In Hawaii even that combo could not overcome everything that assaulted my senses. Of course while we were there the COVID-19 was ramping up outside of China, Italy went on lockdown, and I started to wonder if I was Connie Corona. Happy to report that it is allergies and I will live this way until December, if 2019 is any indication.

While far from bored, I find myself reacting much as I would during a snow siege. Oregon doesn’t do snow well and we have been cooped up for as long as a week by weather. (Portlanders, remember Christmas 2008? My car was frozen to the driveway for 8 days.) On those occasions I obsessed about weather news, looked for any opportunity to safely leave the house, and focused entirely too much on what we were going to eat next.

This siege is not that different except my focus is on the overwhelmingly depressing news and I realize it is not going away as fast as snow and ice.

Homemade PPE available in Patriotic, Sterile White, and Rainbow Dots.

Like anywhere else, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is in short supply in Lincoln County. The call went out for homemade masks to augment the various medical masks in use. I think these will be used in hospice, nursing homes, and so on to free up masks for hazardous use. My sewing machine at the ready, I sought out supplies so I could help. There is no suitable elastic available but scads of fabric. I scrounged up yards of trim to make ties for the masks and managed to turn out 18. This took waaayyyyy longer than I expected. A seamstress in a factory could probably turn one out in 60 seconds. Me? About an hour-per-mask what with measuring, cutting, pinning, sewing, turning, pleating, and top-stitching. With the cost of what I used for ties, even a government contract couldn’t pay the per unit price. Luckily, it’s a donation.

I will make more if they are needed. Maybe sew my own bias ties, which is an ugly chore.

We are trying not to stress eat. In the words of Private Benjamin: “I want to go out to lunch!” How remote that simple pleasure now seems!

I am overly watchful of our food supplies. I stuffed the freezer with homemade soups before we traveled but suddenly it was gone. We are not “stockpiling” but we had some challenges getting that two-week supply in the house instead of going to the store daily as was our habit.

The big gastronomic treats recently: homemade black bean breakfast burritos, a shared raspberry scone last week from our favorite coffee shop that has now closed, Alexa Sweet Potato Fries alongside our turkey meatloaf, and Papa Murphy’s Pizza with beer for Ric’s birthday. We have not started day-drinking (yet).

Yesterday we loaded up on some produce to freeze. My God, what a chore that is! Chopping, blanching, chilling, drying, freezing in pieces before you can finally put it in a storage bag. We have time but that is not how I expected to while away an afternoon.

My two post-Maui projects were to be ancestry research and actually studying Italian as my grammar is getting pretty lax. I dabbled in each until the mask project took me away this week.

My paternal genealogy is a bit of a mystery due to adoptions and divorces. Of course it is too late to ask anyone who might have been keeping a secret so I am starting down the path of researching public records. My father was adopted by his mother’s second husband when he was about 14. This is family knowledge. But I cannot get his actual birth certificate until 100 years after the date of the adoption which is still about 15 years in the future. I am using Ancestry.com to try and determine some details. No doubt I will have stories of this journey to tell one day. Now that the masks are made, I might make some progress.

We are not binge-watching any more than usual. We usually have a series going and recently landed on the dark-but-funny “Fargo” TV series. How I love that Minnesota accent! We are always behind the curve on TV as so much was released while we were living in Italy and we had no idea about series streaming here. Catching up has left us with an endless list so as long as Internet service continues to be robust we won’t run out of entertainment.

Maybe my favorite meme so far. Working from the office vs. work-at-home. Have you seen the movie “The Two Popes?”

Studying Italian at the dining room table will take a lot more discipline than I seem to have at the moment. If the Internet fails, there’s always studying or more sewing.

How are things going for you? What activities are keeping you going?

Maui super moon from our lanai.

These clothes won’t see the light of day again for a few months.

%d bloggers like this: