Welcome back to my continuing journey around Switzerland. It has been a few months, during which my feet have healed (at least well enough to paddle a boat and ride a bike).
During this time I also helped move my family from Oaxaca, Mexico (where we've been living the last five years) back to our old home in Hood River, Oregon (USA). This was mostly so that our daughter, Siena, can attend high school in the States. She is doing great and is running for vice president of the Spanish Club.
I'm writing this from Zurich, just having arrived back in Switzerland. Next week, we'll put our boats in the water near Trübbach, at the southern end of Liechtenstein. Before moving to Switzerland as a child, our family lived in Bernkastel on the Mosel River, Germany. But I understand that the Rhine is an important river, too! It will be a great joy to experience the great river, which is so powerful that it sends a current through the great Lake Constance. The Rhine forms Switzerland's northern border all the way to Basel (with some crazy bulges into Schaffhausen).
My dear old friend Konrad Kirch (German) is organizing the boating party, which will also include Paul von Krause and Jean-Pierre Jochaud (both French). Konrad and I have known each other since I was in kindergarten in Bernkastel. He climbed the Eiger with Dad in 1962 and was perhaps Dad's best friend. Since 1980 Konrad and I have climbed or paddled kayaks together in Germany, Austria, France, Oregon, Mexico, and Alaska. He is as good a friend to my family as he was to Dad in the early 1960s.
On one outing in the Ecrins of France in 2003, when I was 48 years old, I had an epiphany. Ahead of me on the rope were Konrad (68) and Paul von Krause (58), and I remember looking at them and seeing myself in the mountains 10 years and 20 years in the future. It felt wonderful. Paul has recently retired as the president of SwissAlp, a ski resort development company. While I've not yet met Jean-Pierre, I'm told he's a passionate sea kayaker and a great person; he has retired from being the director of an institution for the mentally handicapped.