Thirty days of vacation sounds like — and is — a lot of time off, and to prevent everyone from requesting the same thirty days we need to plan our vacation for the year by January 31. It’s no surprise that planning this far out means the weather doesn’t cooperate with intention, so fittingly despite my wishes to go visit that wily alpine lake on a long weekend in late September, the forecast just days before the approaching time off didn’t look so positive. I was stuck between expensive airplane tickets to somewhere in Europe or sitting still and using the long weekend for rest. I probably should have chosen the second. As it turns out, I wanted rather neither, and ended up driving ten hours to Croatia and its deep turquoise lakes instead.
Since November last year, I’ve been wanting to re-re-re-re-re-re-re-revisit Zermatt and get a panorama of that special lake. I print my photos periodically, and since discovering alu-dibond as a terrific material for displaying images (far better, in my opinion, than on photo paper) I’ve been craving a large format with this lake on it; I have a few walls where a nice 2 m wide print would fit beautifully. I was thwarted last year, so with a fair amount of stubbornness on making this photo myself I started the hike up after an extremely short sleep a few Fridays ago, arriving at the lake as the moonless night began to lighten into a blue wonder. It was my ninth visit to the touristic village.
I thought that I would be writing this post in June, drafting my first paragraph before I processed photos that chronologically were taken before ones posted two moths ago. But it’s been a hectic summer, and so China — or more precisely the photos I took while there — has had to wait. My first stop on a warm but windy Sunday to start the trip, however, was the airport, a place I’ve become all too familiar with. Ironically, I was there to learn even more about it: MUC offers various tours of its grounds operations, and despite having lived here for two years this was the first chance I could experience one.
Last year, a friend from Seattle and I met up in Zermatt for some hiking fairly early in the alpine summer season, so I made an effort to get some hiking in both after work and on weekends. This year, neither my work schedule nor the weather has been particularly cooperative, so in addition to being rarer, ascents if the sun has even peeked around some clouds have been… moodier.
Over the long Easter weekend, a hiking group out of Stuttgart planned a trip to southeastern France, a good ten hour drive away from Kempten. Most of my hiking trips are to places of increasing elevation, and indeed this post title is a play on Grandes Jorasses, one of the peaks of the Mont Blanc massif. This time, however, it was not to a prominence on a topographic map that was the destination for our group but rather to a relief.
Two of the biggest benefits of being in Germany are the Munich and Zurich airports nearby, which serve destinations on several continents without needing a layover. This has made traveling to distant lands remarkably straightforward, but I haven’t neglected the seemingly infinite number of mountains and places to explore around my doorstep. Well, not entirely neglected, anyhow.
When Peter Jackson brought J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings to film, it was not just the storyline that mesmerized me but also the geography. The landscapes were gorgeous, topologically a far cry from the Illinois flatlands I was familiar with. Despite the admiration, it wasn’t until four years after The Return of the King released that I realized how much mountain air mattered to me, and only a chance trip with friends fourteen years afterwards did I get to visit New Zealand, home of Middle Earth. I arrived in NZ on a Sunday after two twelve hour flights with a wearying border control in between, a seven hour layover, and a ten hour time zone adjustment. After a day of flying and during which I literally left winter for summer, Auckland welcomed me with bright and sunny skies and a quick check of my hiking boots to make sure I wasn’t bringing in foreign soil.
Being behind on blog posts affords the benefit of having more time to contemplate my experiences but adds the risk of forgetting nuances. Blowing the dust off a three-month old trip and the thousand photos that accompanied it is a bit of an endeavor, but this post starts another month and a half before that. In January, I had a business trip to China that began with me watching the sun rise from business class, a perk of work travel while on a German contract.
The trip was short and didn’t leave much free time to ponder. The last time we saw blue skies was just before we descended into the industrious smog, but on our last day rains the previous evening washed away enough particulate to allow the sun to poke through just after sunrise.
Less than two months afterward, I would watch a sunrise coming into the same airport (albeit from “poky” economy class), this time, though, en route to a destination where the forecast predicted no smog but rather enveloping fog.