30 August, 2007

Canyoning and Ponying in France

Taylor and I had a great experience doing this thing called canyoning. Basically, we hiked up to the top of a canyon on the Swiss/French border (our guide said “swiss mountain, french water) and slid, hiked, rappelled (abseiling) and jumped our way back to the bottom. Of course, the water is right from a glacier so wetsuits, with booties and hoods, are required!

Two cool things to mention, other than the fact that we had a total blast:
We clipped on to a cable that snaked around the side of cliff. There was a small flat rock to stand on and then our guide, Robert, “invited” us to jump about 10 feet into the pool under a waterfall. (If you didn’t jump, he pushed). Taylor and I were about 6 people apart and she did it like a pro. We then climbed back up a very tricky little path to get to the same spot and she leapt again like she was born to it. He asked if I wanted to go about another few feet, to maybe 15 feet, and jump. My mouth said yes before my brain had time to evaluate and it was too late not to do it. So I swallowed hard and jumped. There’s way more peer pressure from my 10 year old daughter than a big group of guys.

Then we went back up and took a running jump into the water. Taylor wasn’t so sure about the run part but after a quick squeeze of my hand, and a loud yell, she did it marvelously.

Taylor and I again were separated when we got to the edge of 30 foot waterfall. Here she clipped into the harness and rappelled down through the waterfall. She got to the bottom, popped out of the water and sat on a log next to the little river and chatted away with another girl like she hadn’t just done the most amazing thing.

I love my kid!

While we’re pretending to be otters, Becca and Laura Macie went off for a pony ride. Because they got there early, Laura Macie had the totally cool experience of going up the mountain to get her pony “Pikacho” and walk him back down. She led him like she grew up on a farm and was so happy she almost burst while riding him on her own. It was quite a day!

06 August, 2007

Visit to Innsbruck Austria

Things are going to be out of chronological order for a while as I try to catch up. But I'll start with the most recent trip and then fill in later.

I had planned to participate in a 50-mile run this past weekend in Austria, the Karwendel Challenge, but the race had some permit issues that weren't able to be resolved in time. We had planned to meet some friends from Dallas (Shelby and Benjamin Vincent) in Innsbruck, where Shelby has a very close friend and her husband (Melissa and Claude). Rather than have the cancellation of the race cause us to change our plans, we decided to go ahead. GREAT DECISION!

We flew to Munich and rented a car for the two-hour drive to Innsbruck. We ended up with big BMW 750td, which was a blast to drive through the mountains :-) and on the autobahn.

Innsbruck is a beautiful town of about 130,000, so a very easy city to explore and like. We forgot our camera so I'll have more photos later of some of the things we did (hiking, visiting castles like Schloss Tratzberg and beautiful parks) but here's a great photo Ben took of the girls in the Hofgarten.

Because of Becca's usual great planning, seeing friends and Claude and Melissa's incredible hospitality, Innsbruck was a special five days and we would love to go back.
I'll write a separate report about the run/hike I did with three other guys over part of the Karwendel Challenge course. But if you like stories that begin, "So a Romanian, an American and two Germans meet at a train station," then you might enjoy it.