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European Vacation

I have been trying to convince my wife for years that she and the girls should  join me on one of my international guiding trips. My idea of the perfect family vacation. But Claire’s vision has always been a bit different. Whenever we would discuss it,  Claire would start scratching her head desperately seeking the enjoyment of being in a foreign country with two babies and a husband in the mountains. She said it would happen, but I had to be patient. So this past fall when I started booking clients for trips on Mont Blanc and the Matterhorn, I thought I’d test the waters again.  This time, the head scratching turned into a gleam. She too had a travel bug that had not been fed in a while.  At first it seemed like a crazy idea with the Euro so strong and airline tickets higher than normal, but fortunately being a dedicated alpine climber and having a history of being a van-livin’ climbing bum I was able to rationalize the financial challenge. Plus the girls are more independent and even though their passports had not yet been stamped their domestic travel had made them pretty travel savvy for being 5 and 3 years old.  We decided as a family we were psyched!  The excitement seemed to make things start falling into place. One email and we were hooked up with a place to live, bought airline tickets, dusted off the passports, and starting learning a new French word every night at dinner.

Travel went smoothly. We landed in Geneva to start our month long European vacation. The Alpy Bus picked us up as planned. And I will admit that flying into Geneva for the girls’ first international experience was ideal. Guess I’ll save Kathmandu until they are a bit older. We made our way to Montroc just up valley from Chamonix.  Montroc is more of a village than a town and one stop above Argentiere along the Mont Blanc Express train in the Chamonix valley.  The views from our tiny chalet were dominated by the Aiguille Verte, Petit Dru, and Mont Blanc.  We were a ten minute walk from a patisserie and I could take the train or the bus down valley to guide every day.  It was perfect.

The month went fast. I guided in the mountains by day as the rest of the family explored Chamonix and enjoyed all of the differences that being in a foreign country had to offer.  By night we enjoyed wine, cheese, fresh baguettes and endless games of Old Maid by the fire. On my days off we would go to the natural hot springs in Switzerland, go for hikes around Chamonix, eat gelato, take tram rides, rock climb (at the kid friendliest place that we have yet to stumble across) or just take train rides since we don’t have them at home. Claire’s mom came to visit while I was away guiding in Switzerland.  Our plan was working.  We ended our vacation with 4 days in Italy. I think that this is more what Claire had in mind for that family vacation I had been talking about.

So now we are home and have rehabilitated the family.  But it took us all a while to adjust and not just to the time change.  At home we live in the country so we drive everywhere and the closest pasterie shop is Dunkin Donuts, the gelato is not quite the same and the wine gives Claire headaches.  We tried to recreate our bliss with French night complete with baguettes and ham for dinner and gelato for dessert, it was close but not the same.  We tried rock climbing with the girls (since we live in the Granite State with some of the best climbing crags in the country) but Annika’s comment was, ” The climbing in Chamonix was much better than this.”

Fortunately we have created new fun memories to dominate our focus and we have  our summer vacation in the Alps in our memory as a great family trip that we will revisit one day.  And the girls got their first taste of that wonderful feeling of longing for far away places.

Now we have to figure out how to take them skiing in the Alps…

One Response to “European Vacation”

  1. Kim
    October 26, 2011 at 12:13 am #

    What beautiful pictures to go with a beautiful family, Kevin!
    You have great stories to share with your clients at home base in the ‘almost as beautiful’ White Mountains.

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