Sunday, July 20: Chamonix to Boston
A Final Scramble
Iím all packed up and ready to head back, but I still have an hour before the van should be here. When I was coming out to Chamonix, I was stressed out and was almost dreading the vanís arrival. Now I canít wait for it to arrive, and I wish it would get here sooner.
We really lucked out with the weather on this trip. On my first day on the mountain, we got some minor snow flurries, sort of the snow equivalent of a light drizzle. Then we had gorgeous weather for the rest of the time I was in the mountains. Yesterday, on my last “real” day, it clouded up, but we only got a few drops here and there.
Today, the day that Iím leaving, I woke up to find it raining steadily. I donít know what we would have done on a day such as this if it had been part of the six real days. I canít really imagine hiking around in this stuff.
I wonder how Anine and Sam made out. They were camping and heading out early this morning. I shudder to imagine trying to pack up my stuff and break camp in the rain, before heading out to the airport.
I just came back from one last stroll through downtown Chamonix, which might very well be the last time I set foot on that pavement for the rest of my life. I saw some lunatics, bundled up in rain gear, rafting down the river that runs through the center of town. That did not look like my idea of fun.
I visited the church here for one last time, to pay my respects on the Sabbath. Unfortunately, the Mass timing is not such that I could attend Mass today.
My “lucky” Chamonix umbrella has come full circle. I bought it here last year, so that I could walk around during the afternoon showers. I used it again just now for my walk to the church. But when I got up to my apartment, and I opened it up to dry it, one of the joints on the shaft exploded, and tiny ball bearings and other parts shot everywhere.
So my Chamonix umbrella is now dead. I guess it wanted to be buried here in Chamonix where it was born, rather than in the strange far off land of America.
In another strange parallel with the trip last year, once again I was dashing to the airport. This year, something was screwed up with the scheduling of the van. I donít know if I entered the wrong time when I was making the reservations, or if the flight time changed. In any event, I was expecting to get to the airport only about an hour before my flight. This did not make me relax.
After I boarded the van, we drove past that first climbing rock wall park, and I was surprised to see two or three groups on the face, despite the fact that it was raining. I would imagine that the wet rock would be much harder to climb.
I actually thought I was going to be at the airport more like an hour and a half early, but after me, the van made 4 more pickups. I kept hoping that there would be one big group coming on board, and then we would leave for the airport, but each pickup was for a single person. As each one was made, I fretted more and more.
In the end, I got to the airport just over an hour before my flight was set to leave. Fortunately, there was no long line either at the baggage check in or at security. This time, I got through security fine, without having to empty out all of my electronics.
There is only one remaining hurdle before I can really relax: will I be able to get my carry-on bag on board? It is a tight fit, but it did fit. Last year, they gave me grief but let me take it. But coming out here a week ago, they checked it. Iím not sure how it is going to go down this time. But just in case, Iíve put the really valuable or delicate things into my fanny pack, so I can if necessary remove that and my laptop and check the rest.
Iím now in Zurich. The guy in Geneva had me test my carry-on in the fixture, and it barely fit. He asked me if I was traveling to Zurich or continuing on. I told him I was continuing on to Boston. He then let me keep the bag, but I guess if I were just going to Zurich, he would have had it checked.
That fixture is rather conservative. My bag barely fit in the fixture, but it easily fit in the planeís overhead bin.
In the main concourse in Zurich, I bought some chocolate for Amy. Then I took the train over to concourse E. Note to self: if I am ever here again, there are not a whole lot of food services in concourse E. If I want something to eat, I would be better off getting it before taking the train.
At the end of the train, I went through Swiss passport control, then made my way up to concourse E. Due to the flight from Geneva being delayed, I only had about 15 minutes before my new flight started boarding.
I also needed to go through US passport control, but the kiosk didnít seem to be open. I wandered around and finally found a place that had food. They accepted Euros, although the change would be in Swiss Francs. I got a tomato/mozzarella sandwich to go (it is now 4:30, and I havenít eaten since breakfast).
When I went back to the gate, the line at passport control was very long. I ate my sandwich while standing in line.
It turns out that I was rushing for no good reason. The plane isnít scheduled to leave for an hour. Iím guessing the “boarding time” is more like when the passport control opens. I donít think theyíll actually start boarding until 5 at the earliest.
My adventure is ending, and now I canít wait to get back home (although going to work tomorrow morning has less appeal).