“If I can be an example of getting ober, than I can be an example of starting over.” Lawton's version of Macklemore’s lyrics for “Starting Over.”
Ober, sober. I’m
afraid you’ll need full capacity of your s’s if you want to get sober. We, on the other hand, needed five hours to
get from Luxembourg to Oberalppass in the Swiss Alps – the almost but
definitely not half-way point on our twelve hour road trip to Umbria, Italy. (Day two was seven hours of going "straight on" the A-1 motorway through Lake Como, Milan, Tuscany and Umbria with drivers who do not abide their lanes.)
Day one of the drive however was beautiful. Switzerland hit the jackpot with ubiquitous beauty. Combine that beauty with good roads, safe drivers, clean and plentiful rest stops, and mountain tunnels and you’ve got yourself an awesome start to a road trip.
Food is crazy expensive in Switzerland, and frankly not that great, so we decided to stop in Lucerne – an hour shy of our overnight stop at Oberalppass -- for dinner. We zeroed in on a won’t-break-the-bank Wurst house on Trip Advisor. After finding/vetting a non-underground parking space (re: husband and bikes on top of car) and locating some Swiss Francs (come on Switzerland, join the Eurozone!) to feed the meter, we headed toward the restaurant hungry and dry mouthed from too many road trip pretzels. When the blue dot failed us (Google Maps is great when it works, but the wurst when it doesn’t), Brett successfully used his German to ask for directions. Turns out we were circling the restaurant but didn’t notice because it was under construction and closed for the week. Snag.
Some families can audible and head to the nearest place to
take their chances. We cannot. The younger members of the family understand
this about their parents. The teen does
not. He instead decided to clock the
time from parking to first bite, with running commentary. Harsh words were said about Trip Advisor and
dependence. Not wanting to drop 35 euros
per person to eat ordinary Swiss food by the river, we finally
(55 minutes later) opted for a small take out Mexican restaurant (Trip Advisor
recommended.) Any decision pleased the
teen, but not the middle foodie child who spiraled into a crisis of faith about
his parents and their commitment to good food.
Lawton, on the other hand, found the bright spot amidst the ordinary
burrito served by the super nice Guatemalan co-owner of the restaurant:
“Mom, that always happens to us! We meet people everywhere we go, we talk to
them, get to know them and then they become our friends.”
What brought our new Guatemalan friend to Lucerne, Switzerland you ask? Love actually. We know because we asked. And later as we walked towards our safely parked car in search of ice cream, Lawton witnessed/stared at a young couple in a spirited Swiss German conversation to which he observed out loud:
“I think they’re breaking up.”
How did he know we asked? “Because they were talking loud, and looked angry and then the guy walked away."
If what remains of our stopover in Lucerne is our children a) observing that our family brand is to engage with people and b) learning how to listen with their eyes as well as their ears, then that's something to be ober joyed about.
In Oberalppass (11 kilometers up a mountain from Andermatt driven in the dark), we overnighted in a guest house reminiscent of my Youth Hostel days staying in a family bunk room with a shared bathroom. It was the wrong day of the month for a shared bathroom. But with the light of morning, an included breakfast, and a morning hike through furry green hills filled with wildflowers and rushing streams – any slight inconvenience of the toilet situation was soon forgotten. And when the two big boys got the chance to ride their bikes the 11 kilometers back down the mountain to Andermatt (cycling in the Swiss Alps!), we knew we’d rebook our room for the return road trip home.
Lawton powered up the mountain on the early morning hike, with the rest of us trailing. He was unstoppable (literally). When he returned down, he suggested:
“Mom. You should do a blog about Switzerland and have a photo of me with this sign, and call it BEST HIKER.”
So here’s to my Best (and oh so quotable) Hiker!