The latter part of the day, route one and route one was back right by the coasts side, it was that part of the day, i was driving and though i wont do it justice here it was amazing.
The car radio blurted out various chipper pop songs, some familiar, some not and a bunch of other stuff that filled the background, while the road had narrowed up and pealed around cliff tops and coast lines. Everything to our left was blue, blue skies, blue water in great expanse.
If work is a bit shit or other things of minor inconvenience absorb you back home then in such places at such times they cant stretch out to these places. I’d been looking forward to this part of the day, been selfishly hoping to be driving this part and imagining what it might be like, dodgy ground for often inflated expectation have no place to go but to find reality unable to exceed to such demands. Not today.
We stopped off more frequently along this stretch. A wooded bit allowed us to leave the car with the shade, others had parked up, dumping their vehicles along the the side of the road, which also flagged up the notion that this might be a place to be stopping off.
There wasn’t a great variety of things to see here but what there was looked like it came straight out of some sort of pirate movie.
Along the road Mitch in his role as the person with little to do / radio operator, noticed people were not only stopped but that they were peering intently out to sea. We stopped swiftly our interest peaked.
There was something out there, the intent filled eyes of the onlookers, the occasional puffs of water vapor, we were convinced but unsighted and moved on, even me with my one driving eye had the other trained out to sea, which probably had Mitch a tad unnerved as the mighty Jeep ploughes around rather tightly woven cliff edge corners….any on comers, hello …. We stopped, we stopped some more
I know nothing about whales, so i have no clue what was popping up from the deep, but it wasn’t a fish, they don’t pop up, they have no toast like instincts. So they were mammal types and being found all to close to shore to be of the largest, yet they weren’t small, not if they could initially be mis-perceived as rocky peaks protruding from the depth. In Iceland that spring i’d been on a boat in apparently whale rich waters with the distinct purpose of seeing something big and whale like for the first time, nothing, a whole lot of deep dark sea and some moments of porpoise emergence apparently.. these went quite unseen as well.. something once showed us its back in the waves, but it submerged quite swiftly.
We kept stopping, that wondering ocean inspecting eye continuing its efforts to spot something out there. That though was the closest encounter and though largely through a zoomed lens, it was quite the thing.
Posh boy Brits started the ski tourism in Switzerland – so caution was called for:
An interesting looking place appeared on our left as we rounded a corner, a big old train carriage, nowhere particularity close to any tracks, which looked very much like it had been converted into a diner. We saw a number of these on our route, this was the first and we stopped for lunch.
I ordered a wrap i think, if memory serves (which all to often it does not) but unlike back here they didn’t begrudgingly offer up both a wrap and some sample of what the filling might have looked and tasted like had it been present.. here it came will all manner of unannounced guest appearances.. a mini-chilli on the side, i think there were chips and salad… i hadn’t been hungry too start with, stopping having been Mitch’s idea.. It was quite the struggle.
I’d been boring and ordered a coke with it, you know where you are with it, if your unwell or hung over it sends what ales you scurrying for safety, if your well then its going to intoxicate your system with a sugar overload and hall raft of wholly untoward and unnecessarily present pollutants that probably ought not pass the fit for human consumption test.. but you know where you are with it.. only i didn’t, this wasn’t like the coke i was used to, for possibly the first time i could understand why this stuff was quite so popular.. Less sweat, less syrupy, cleaner crisper taste, this was actually quite nice..
The point – the Coke was good, the food unexpectedly abundant and assorted, it was also quite nice. Mitch had opted for something more local, root bear or something, tasted like an unidentified generic cough syrup.. how do i know? the disgruntled tortoise recoiling its head look on his face, was followed by a disdainful shove of the glass with a suggestion i try it also. With all that verbal and non-verbal recommendation ringing out, how could i refuse ..
Rather full and having made use of the facilities to unburden in preparation for the next stint, we departed.
Another previously unfamiliar but now seared into our unconscious core tune rolled back round .. Mitch attempted to join in on the chorus, as the road dropped down once more and arced around a cove. By now the sky had long since cleared off all clouds, bright blue skies meeting the bright aquatic blue of the pacific ocean.
I had loaded up my stuff into the Jeep and was ready to head off. When Mitch had completed his run back to Santa Barbara center and back, had some breakfast and freshened up, we were ready to move on.
We took the small side roads down to the coast at Santa Barbara, having not made it that far by foot the day before, when dinner was calling and time had run itself down a little more than expected.
While the skies were overcast, it was still a surprisingly unenticing sort of a beach. Though not for the gulls who seemed quite at home among the general organic crud that was washed up about the place. The over cast skies
The intention was not too remain here, just to take a look around before moving on – we move on. It was Morning and the way that driving days went had somehow already set itself, in the morning hours and earlier parts of the day Mitch was driving, the second half of the days I drove, it was the general way of things. Today the afternoon had a particularity interesting promise about it, i was already looking forward to it.
There seemed to be evidence of the drought which the local chap had spoken off on the flight over, on the map there was a lake, in reality there was a some water when viewed from a certain angle, it was off in the distance but what had clearly once been Cachuma lake (according to the maps) was now grassed over in away that suggested that water had not occupied that space for quite some time.
At this point one thing was clear – no a few thing were and they related to the radio, the first was there was a whole lot of stations.. stations specialising in genres – Rock, Country, probably Jazz & Classical somewhere – stations dedicated to dedicated to various decades throughout the 19XXs’ . There were also quite the assortment of more general radio stations, many of them specialising in very little DJ chatter, wall to wall music. The none driver would take photos, operate the radio and generally look about a bit more than the driver, at this point in the day that was me, the more ardent and photo inclined passenger.
They had stations like this in Austria, where you could wait an hour and around would come a familiar set of tunes, only there weren’t so many to escape into and the music seemed to specialise much more on a particular decade – 80s anyone. We have them in the UK also to be fair only there are more adverts, the DJs alter the running order a bit but they go and talk and share all the interesting things.. given the scarcity of interesting things they could think about offering up less of them at any one time.
The second radio and music based point that was becoming clear was, that all the station jumping fine DJ work done by the co-pilot / person with no defined role at this time – but enjoying the chilling out – would eventually lead to one of a few places. Lead among these few places, was one song that rose above all others, as it seemed evident that at any given time it would be enthusiastically lining itself up on one or more radio stations, to be next on the rolling play cycle.. The default theme song, popcorn chipper in the sunshine backing track to the road trip, the inescapable tune that would not be avoided.
At around about this point in the journey one thing else was about to become clear, there were a whole lot of people who were well into their flags around here. One flag in particular, their seemed to be quite the group think going on with regard to this particular topic.
They have flags in Switzerland and some of them even fly from a flag pole, these are the two levels and they stand quite apart from each other, the person who feels the need to flag up and the person who is so taken with the notion that they go out and get themselves a flag pole erected somewhere on their territory.
In the UK there are some that do the former, as much as i’ve been able to tell they live in Runcorn – except during world cup times.. not that they leave the St George enthusiasts of Runcorn, but more that for this brief juncture (and it is reliably brief) their numbers swell well beyond these boundaries … after the second group stage match when the denial of inevitable humiliation has ritually passed, those number swiftly deflate once more and shrink back to their dormant dwelling state.
Flag poles, excluding use of radio antenna during world cups, well they are taken to say something about a person. Few are those who see themselves clear to that sort of thing, except for the government, they do go town with that, state occasional and the Mall in London – it does actually looks quite nice as a flurry of colours.. Guess we had to do something with all those flags once we done using them to go about the place claiming things.
Perhaps then these people were just being prepared, so people like me coming over here would think twice before undoing all that fine work in establishing an independent state by the means of planting one of those Union Jacks (or whatever the Swiss one is called – the inverted red cross) that we keep handy in our back pockets for just such occasions.
The following morning started with breakfast, Mitch wasn’t about having gone out for a morning run, a compulsion which hasn’t managed to ensnare me as yet, nope i get to wake up gently and consider where to engage in some much needed sitting, hours will have past without sitting by then..
In unrelated news, not quite the slimness that i used to have..
The exact sequence of things is lost on me here, Mitch had left the room key under the back Tyre of the jeep, rather than take it along, while I’d woken up with renewed intent to get to grips with the theoretically simplistic dodgem driving that ought to have been, the automatic… It was time to try again, I’d put all the contribution of others to one side and reflected again on the simplicity of it all, one peddle made it go the other stopped it from going, there was no need for a second foot to get involved at any point, being as going and stopping at the same time is most seldomly required.
Before heading off on the road trip, with proper roads, real other driver traffic, with their wrong minded right hand side of the road driving (familiar from past trips in continental Europe), it was best to work out whether yesterdays fail was real or a matter of brain based befrazzlement now past.. i did feel a whole lot more present in the day this morning.
I took the keys and unwatched headed down to the car park to discover my answer. Taking my time i put my left foot to one side, reminded myself it was just a stop and go thing, not like real driving more like a toy or computer came…. summed up belief and put it into reverse, the camera came on, the accelerator went down and backward i went, slowly gradually, like a learner … i releases the accelerator and pushed down the brake and for the first time the car came to a gradual peaceful and comfortable stop. There was no emergency cheese cutting courtesy of the seat belts, no highly undesirable and notably unrequired emergency stop action, a pleasing and reassuring start.
Pushing the auto shifter forward i accelerated away, around the hotel i went a feat well beyond my talents yesterday. The main challenge arising when a lone individual found it necessary to take the car park … you go left-go right… there were no lines, it was a car park, i got out of the way, it seemed to be for the best. Went round a bit, like those electronic trikes and cars that you chuck a frank into (as a child) and then drive round and round in circles, used to rather look forward to those back in smaller younger days… Here and now, the circling of the hotel with ever increasing confidence didn’t quite hold the same allure or at least i felt that I’d answered my question and proved a point to myself.. With that achieved i put the jeep back where I’d found it, returned the room key to its location behind the wheel and headed back in, quite pleased, a bit relieved with how things had gone and maybe wondering abut quite how this had posed the insurmountable problem it had been yesterday.. Amazing how shit i can generally become when tired, its like the brain decided to recoil from all but the most rudimentary functions with quite unjustifiable zeal… like storing up fat or retracting blood from the extremities to keep the core nice and cozy .. quick stop his ability to drive and any other remotely advanced function …. retract retract … no none core functions shall remain in play, save the core …. lest he forget how to maintain basic bodily functions.
There is no justifiable need.
Speaking of which disposable crockery and cutlery – so it doesn’t need washing but in what other way is this an advantageous, i wasn’t on a picnic, there didnt seem any need for bendy resistance averse plastic knives and forks and what was with the paper bowls. The sight of this did not seem promising as i arrived on the ground floor for breakfast.
Despite appearances and in line with appearances the breakfast offering itself.
First the cereal stage and this, it was very much in line with appearances, pieces of unnaturally flavoured pieces of cardboard and plastic, i couldn’t quite work out what it was meant to be flavoured toward but whatever it was, it wasn’t or if by chance this was deliberate then why?
Then the warm item stage, the despite appearances bit.. I’d never encountered a perfectly round scrambled egg, not almost round perfectly so, a scrambled egg wheel in almost exact same symmetrical proportions to what they were calling sausage but looked a whole lot more like a burger. Perhaps that’s what happened way back when on the boats.. over those first 200 miles of the crossing (and it must have been a long crossing back in the wind puffing power only days) all them Z’s started to sneaking into the words, cookoo z’s .. the decks of those ships must have been strewn with the colourful letters thrown from the comfort of the familiar nests of their family words.
Then on the last leg of the journey food stuff confusion broke out after weeks of sea sickness and diminished supplies of fresh water… This may well not be what happened – after all i rather thought burgers had originated from these parts, so what was it that made this a sausage?
I was surprised to find that something of such high spec symmetry should have such an acceptable taste to it. It was impressive stuff, geometrically speaking – toast, orange juice, an unlimited (within consumable reason) abundance of Tea, a reasonable way to prepare for the day.
Not quite free, car didn’t float free upon the Tarmac but it did wonder and seek to strike out on little adventures on unusually numerous occasions. A nuance that seemed to do the title few favours.
That was though yesterday – today is only moderately warmer but having gotten a lift personally at least I encounters no such issues.
The sun is sort of up, daylight now seems to be back to greet the morning departures, no more midnight darkness to begin the day. Feelings that this really isn’t any time at all to be consciously operating myself & work bound can at least be said to be a less & less legitimate where they persist.
Yesterday I had a meeting .. Well I interjected a meeting only to find myself defending an 11% downturn in performance target that wasn’t. At the time I didn’t realise it wasn’t, having only the day before submitted the numbers I quite errantly assumed that this must have been a thing.. A real thing, a thing in the numbers – I dos remember a downturn at the beginning of the year. It was on the graph, I remembered my graph but it hadn’t looked like 11%, it had barely been visible to passing glance … Still I stuck to the line that if this was the trend then it would not immediately be u-turned about and held fast, a generic line that has a sort of generic truth about it.
When this flurry of activity was over, I went away and looked at the numbers, what if any ways were there to improve the clearly Ill received 11%? –
– There was no 11%
I looked at it some more – nope no sign of it.. So having circulated the numbers yesterday, what then became clear is that someone had seen their way clear to reconstituted the numbers into another form and in so doing applied a change which had come up, inadvertently and incorrectly with quite different numbers .. Handy – This then was not the trend, I could instead hold fast to quite a different trend and perhaps with a visit to the pub come to consider that this discussion on non-existing matters never was either.
On the plus side the solution to the problem being discussed was happily available without really changing anything .. I could head home safe in the knowledge that the ravid assumption underpinned targets were fine as they were and would of course all but certainly predict… Ney determine with exacting certainty .. how the world would play out in 2015 – the power that is excel.
The taxi rank at king cross station since its recent refurbish and rebuild has the form of a mini platform, taxis pull in and in chain form roll through picking up their fate and rolling out the other end. It’s not a revolutionary concepts and one available to interested parties at any number of bus stations throughout the land. Most mornings it operates unmanned, not though today – today a purple vested network rail man is busy at work, Walkie talkie in hand be flailed meaningfully at the cabs in much the way porters do outside the receptions of their hotels as the summon cabs for departing guests.. A movement somewhere between pointing out the taxi to the punter and pointing out the need to stop for the fare to the taxi ..
If the taxis were all here lined up in slow shuffle formation unaware of why, ignoring the fares who we’re trying desperately to wrench their way in, feat planted against the cabs sides, tearing upon fastly locked doors of unaware cabs – then the purple vested man was performing a fine service. If the cabs on the other hand were passing past queues of 5 all dumbfounded and perplexed by what action came next, an undiminished queue, while enraged cabbie after enraged cabbie tore with empty load away from the scene, then again the purple vested man was saving many from an unnecessarily poor start to the day.
But why today – had this been the scene on recent mornings? Is that why he was now here? Would he now be here to guard against such events going forward?
If so what did that say about the world and was he really the solution that the participants in this particular dance needed or was their plight not a call for something more?
Perhaps tomorrow the purple vest Man will be recalled – dispatched to take alternative remedial action in some other sphere of network rails world – either that or he’s just some helpful random who pilfered a vest and has been down toys r us to pick up one of their fine lines in none military grade communication devices – it’s good to have a hobby.
I was keeping an eye out for the others, thinking that given the barrel which was the limited range of available pistes that a crossing of paths mights occur… At one point i did see them from a lift, least i think i did, familiar looking jackets, but at i headed back down it became clear that if it was them, they had been heading back toward bars and restaurants and not headed where i was. Even the interesting little black I’d accidentally stumbled upon went from being open and reasonably engaging, to being closed and no right turns, over the course of what was really remarkably very little time. I couldn’t fathom the rational but there was no denying the notable barriers that had been erected in my intended path. They were in a bar, the others, that that was the update i received after the remainder of the lifts made their last run up the mountain. Regathered we made our way down, the last run of the day was the run back to town and although there was an intention to stop of in any bars on the way down that didn’t quite work out. The top of the run actually has a closing time along with a red and green traffic light to denote when your meant to go on through.. We only just made it to the top in time for that but thereafter the speed of the decent presented problems, it was quite rutted and this caused issues for the back markers. It was this speed of decent issue that ultimately put pay to notions of stopping off.
Once down and having located Damon, the last to arrive over here who was waiting by the valley station, we went over to the kiosk to buy our evening passes. They were old school, pieces of paper completed with the highly skinny elasticated threads that were once common place. Damon was concerned by the piste, its a red run and he’d been on the blues for his lessons. The piste was not in a good way, especially toward the end, very rutted in places, so while eager to encourage his participation and not see anyone head back to Mayrhofen, the questions deserved forthright responses. Daud, whose approach to such matters is less than forthright but more considered, opted then to head over and ask the people behind the counter about the piste basher and whether it would be doing customary flattening of the pistes pre-night skiing. A much more sound idea, which faltered only upon a language barrier, i rummiged around for my German and managed to ascertain that they would indeed be doing the flattening. So with everyone now in i separated off.
It had become clear that earlier intentions to eat at this time were no longer current, so i headed off on a solo mission having half suspected, half hoped, that one of the hut shaped lights in the distance was a Schnitzel burger stand of sorts… The hunger had come, oh yes it had and any further skiing might perhaps be aided by stomach aids. There were multiple bars but most of them had emptied out by the time i headed back to meet up with the others. The bar they were in was similarly emptying out from a not entirely banging starting point. So a migration occurred, a larger bar with big external TV screen flashing out called them hope.
I can’t with any level of accuracy state that any or all of the above were playing during our time in this bar but it was our last night of Apres-Ski and so if the soundtrack of this holiday is ever to be duly noted it seemed like this might be that point.. though they are not THE SKI songs … that remains with the only one true king of the ski tunes
The time spent night skiing was limited, the train did not run so very late and after that it was taxis, not everyone was in favor of this and so it was for the train we would head. Oddly though despite the lack of things going on or probably the lack of energy with which to do them and the extensive amount of time we had to burn, we ended up leaving hurriedly to head back over to the now reopened lift.
By the time we’d gotten back up to the half way station, the top of the night skiing some things had taken hold, one of these was rain, a developing more than drizzle that just never belongs in a ski resort let alone at the top of a run, there is something very not right about that.
The other thing that had happened is a total departure of the legs, this became evident not so very long after as i attempted to ski down. At this point i found my legs had a far stronger memory than I, clearly remembering that all ski holidays were 6 days long ans this was overtime, or as they saw it retirement time though they didn’t seem in full agreement on where they wanted to be going with that time.
By the time Charlie and I were back down i was soaked, thankfully wearing waterproofs it was only the outer layer but it pulled of a far shinier look than normal, it was kinda really grim out, not the level of grim that would be anything remarkable or even noteworthy back in the UK but it didn’t belong here. A few decades ago, winter holidays back in Switzerland at still lower altitudes, so very snow abundant was it that my family would regularly build me a little igloo/snow house in the garden. A place to which i was a little irrationally drawn to dwell for cold defying periods of time, while the car needed quite the effort to be dug out. Its really not so long ago in any scheme of things that isn’t viewed from the perspective of the may fly.
The way down had not been as flat as talk of piste bashers would suggest, certain sections had barley been dusted down at all with the basher seemingly edging up most narrow along one of the sides, leaving the rest largely as it had been earlier. Wherever the others were, our second run began with us setting off in pursuit, we found them on route, Damon was taking it slow, studiously but somewhat stiffly heading down.
We stopped off on route, a place we had intended to pause at earlier as part of the skiing down crawl that wasn’t, time had not allowed for it then especially once Damon had arrived, it wouldn’t have done to stop off while other waited at the bottom for our fashionably late entrance. It was a small, octagonal or round, the bar stood at its center. From within we watched the rain descend and heard from the bar staff about how such troubles had been ever more in evidence in recent years. To a tired mind and person who had perhaps come to the point of over familiarity with the generally welcome JaegerTee, this was all a little depressing stuff… by now the missing of the last train had been insured. Besides Damon was of a mind to give it a second go, having made it down the once his personal objective of completing a red this week was behind him. Now he was of a mind to see he couldnt maybe do it again, take what he’d done, what should now be more familiar and do it better. A sort of admiral obstenance applied to a clear ends, there’s something to be said for that, certainly when its set to solid ends.
Once more back up and round… Once more into the piste side bar.. On leaving the bad, Milton pointed out the visible grass as we left, grass or rather turf that smeared out where snow had been not long past, when we’d headed in. Then down.
There was time for more, the skiing was open until after 9pm but among the group as a whole not the mind for it, dinner was probably coming back into mind. We found a taxi, they loitered most eagerly around the bars and the valley gondola station and headed back, big old people carriers, though surprisingly the price went up as the driver realised there was more of us, enough to all but fill the vehicle.. seemed odd to have some sort of unit price situation going on for a single journey but the difference was small and our options none existent.