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Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Luzern Love Song


I've spent all day researching Luzern, Switzerland for my W.I.P., Summerhouse. All day I've ridden the cogwheel railway up to Mt. Pilatus, ridden a truly kickin' toboggan track down the mountain, wandered the old city, and visited the fantastic museums. Picasso has never looked so good. Nineteenth century landscapes and steam boats jockeyed with wildflowers and mountain sheep for number one...memory.
Back and back I went to the time when I wore skirts every day to high school and had hair so long I could sit on it...
I rode that cogwheel when I was 16. Really. It was an amazing ride. At the time I was greatly annoyed since a few days before, when we were riding the talus slides down a mountain near Innsbruck, Austria, I'd fallen to my knees a few times and chewed up my knees something fierce. So I was relegated to the stupid train along with the three whiny kids who couldn't stand the climb.

When we got to the top, we had to wait for what seemed an eternity for the rest of our party. The waiting part was a dull few hours, let me tell you. Two of the three were the most despised kids of the group, since they had attitudes like jail inmates and wandered around Europe with their noses in their romance books. (Those weren't by any means the only reasons we couldn't stand the 'Harlequin Twins'.) I personally LOVE books, but there is a time for everything. At the top of Pilatus is not the time to read romances.

The Harlequin Twins were in a poisonous mood that day, because they wanted to do something less active, like shopping, or doing their nails. They didn't appreciate being shown up as the wimpy whiner babies they were, and took it out on me, the other youngster of the group. I finally ditched the sob-fest and went outside to enjoy the real reason we'd come up.

In fact, the top of Pilatus was spectacular! The air was so crystal clear that it could have been bottled for health stores. Besides the fantastic air, the peak boasted one of the most unsurpassed views in the world. For a 360 degree view, range on range of alps marched away into the purple mist like gargantuan waves on the ocean.

One of the few structures on top of Mt. Pilatus is a round building which was once blown up in a James Bond movie (one wonders why they'd put a Nazi hideout clear up there, but I guess Nazis were never known for their practicality). I forget for what purpose that building was really used, since James Bond's incendiary show simply can't be topped.

There are wildflowers everywhere! I even found an Edelweiss. I walked around the peak and tried out my newly-rested knees and decided that I should definitely have climbed up instead of wussing out.

That night, if I remember right (we slept in hostels all across Europe so some of them run together in my mind) we slept in a hostel up on the peak. I
do remember wondering why we couldn't just sleep in the hideout. Waking up to that view was stellar!

The next morning, we took off across the mountains on a trail probably made by goats. It had to have been about a foot wide, with plunging drop-offs on both sides. It was definitely
not a romp to do at night. I felt like Liesel Von Trapp escaping from Nazis over the mountains near Saltzburg. I may have broken into a few bars of 'Climb Every Mountain' under my breath, but was trying to be cool.

You see, there were some very cute boys on that trip. I really liked a couple of them, and was hoping to be inducted into the cool side of the German Club instead of the loser side. So, sucking it up and climbing down that mountain was definitely on my to-do list. Even if the guys hadn't been there, that climb was
fun!

We saw some of the biggest freakin' goats I've
ever seen! I believe there were gemsboks and a couple of other kinds of boks. I think it was rutting season, because some of them were fighting, and the clack of those gigantic horns crashing together echoed across the alpine valleys and ridges forever. It alway amazed me that those big old goats could hop around so gracefully, and stand on the tiniest ledges imaginable. They were definitely better climbers than I am.

At the end of the climb, there was a lovely ferry ride back to Luzern across the sun-burnished water. It was heaven just to let the waves rock me into a doze, though for some time
my body felt like we were still climbing.

The lights on the water that night were like paints streaming and puddling across an inky canvas. I remember Mom singing the song, 'East Side, West Side' as we strolled along the quay walk. I remember thinking what a magical night it was...

...back when the world was young and I was 16.

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