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ResQgeek

May 2017

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Apr. 12th, 2017

Migration

Apr. 12th, 2017 07:16 am
resqgeek: (Default)
This is the first post written on this new platform. I have been an on-again-off-again user of LiveJournal since 2004, and was reluctant to leave that platform because I had paid for a lifetime membership. And so even when the first warnings came that suggested that it might be time to consider moving, I continued to post entries there.

However, the when the details of the latest changes to the LJ terms of use were pointed out to me (and, yes, I will admit that I didn't read them myself when they were first posted), I realized that I could no longer continue to use LiveJournal. I don't get enough readers to qualify as a "media outlet" under those new rules, so that wasn't the problem. But the new terms of use require the users to conform to Russian law, which does not protect free speech and the rights of expression. And there are a number of issues that I feel strongly about that could violate Russian law, should I write about them.

So, I have migrated here. My entries (all of those earlier than this one) from LiveJournal have been imported (intact, I hope), and I will move forward from here. I hope that the few readers that I had on LJ will follow and continue to interact with me here.
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Alpe d'Huez

Apr. 12th, 2017 01:37 pm
resqgeek: (Default)
I just realized that I've been home from France for a month, so it's probably time to finish writing about the trip, before I completely forget all the details. I'm going to try to summarize a week in this single post, mostly because I doubt there's much value in a day-by-day account of our skiing. Instead, I'll try to cover the highlights.
  • Weather - While we did have several beautiful, sunny days, the temperatures on those days were well above freezing, which led to less than ideal snow conditions. It also meant that we were overdressed and soaking in sweat by the end of the day.  However, the early part of the week featured a full-blown blizzard, with very limited visibility, lots of fresh snow, and ugly winds.  At one point, my wife and I were stranded on a chair lift for about 15-20 minutes when the high winds forced them to shut it down.  My best guess is that the winds were gusting above 50 mph as we bounced around on that chair like a piñata at a toddler's birthday party. That was, no question, the scariest chair lift ride of my life.

  •  Food - One of the reasons I enjoy ski trips to Europe is the food. Our package included dinner each night in the hotel restaurant each evening, and we sat as a group, sharing stories over five courses of simply amazing French food, accompanied by plentiful local wine (Côtes du Rhône), both red and white. If I hadn't been getting such a workout each day on the mountain, I'm sure I would have gained several pounds!

  • Scenery - The other big reason to ski in Europe is the scenery. While you can argue pretty persuasively that the snow conditions in Colorado or Utah are normally far superior to those anywhere else in the world, the Alps possess a dramatic beauty that the mountains here simply cannot match. On the days when the sun was out, it was impossible not to stop frequently just to soak in the views. I took a lot of photos, only a few of which actually do justice to the beauty that surrounded us.
 




  • The location - The town of Alpe d'Huez is remarkably small, considering the size of the ski area that it serves. it is also pretty remote, at the top of a long, steep road that includes 21 hairpin switchbacks (famous in bicycle racing circles for the leg of the Tour de France that climbs it). We really didn't explore the town while we were there, focusing instead on skiing during the day, and socializing at our hotel in the evenings.  The ski area is actually a number of small ski areas that interconnect and operate on a single ski pass system that tracks the usage of the various lifts in some form of revenue sharing. Unlike the corporate environment that dominates ski areas in the US, where everything on the mountain is owned by the corporation that runs the resort, here the various restaurants and bars on the mountain were independently owned. The resulting competition meant that the prices for food and drinks on the mountain were surprisingly affordable by comparison to what we've become accustomed to seeing in the US.

  • Final thoughts - It had been more than a decade since we last visited Europe, and this trip was a reminder of how very much we enjoyed our earlier visits there. I have heard people argue that there is too much to see and do in the US, so that the cost and effort of travelling to Europe doesn't make sense. While I agree that there are plenty of great places to travel to in the US, I strongly disagree that this should be an excuse not to visit Europe. I love the experience of visiting countries with much deeper histories, as well as different languages and cultures, from what I can experience here. This trip has reminded me of the value of foreign travel, and I fully intend to do as much travelling as I can, both foreign and domestic.

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