Ad’s Home!

He’s been in Idaho for 3 1/2 weeks to do field work, but is now home for a short break before heading back again. We’ve been doing fun stuff, but first a quick deck garden tour.

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Now to the good stuff. Saturday we went raspberry picking! I voted for blueberries, but Ad loves raspberries and the raspberry farm was closer, so raspberries it was. We made the right choice.

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We picked them at Eplegaarden, just outside of Madison. It’s a lovely place. They encourage you to eat while you pick and to fill the pint containers as full as you absolutely can. Ad displayed some excellent raspberry piling skills. Most of these babies went into our tummies unwashed and straight from the bowl when we got home (YAY for no pesticides!). We did manage to save a few for fancier things.

Like this warm brie with honeyed raspberries and almond. You can find the recipe here.

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And this yummy raspberry cocktail that we created ourselves!

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And today we went to the Henry Vilas Zoo in Madison. Free and close by, so an excellent option for our budget-conscious selves.

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It’s been a good weekend.

Swiss Alpine Cheese Making Hut – Hasliburg

Some more (very delayed) Swiss pics for you! It’s been almost a year since that trip, and I’m ready to do it again. Right now. I could very happily live there…just need to learn German first.

One of our day trips to an alpine cheese hut did not require much travel. It was located on the alps just above Hasliburg, the area we were staying in. We took a gondola ride up the mountain and hopped off among the clouds. The pictures below show the outside of the cheese making hut, and the surrounding areas. It was difficult to take pictures inside because the hut was small, dark, and full of people. The cheese maker was a woman in her 30s, who lives there during the summer months with her young daughter and some piggies. When we visited, she had a young man assisting her, but he was only there temporarily. She used to be a teacher but quit her job to learn the trade of cheese making (which requires an apprenticeship and extremely large muscles). The hut has running water but no electricity, and some of the huts that she uses in other areas don’t have either. She’s responsible for rounding up and milking a heard of about 20 cows. They are no fences on the alps, so she has to get up early in the morning and walk about until she finds them, using the sounds of their bells to help her. She remarked that it’s very difficult to get the cows to come to the hut for milking, because the areas they graze are so rich with food. She makes the cheese in the hut, using huge cauldrons and water heated outside, and then the cheese is aged in a cave. A cave! Apparently, people who have lived in the area their whole lives can taste a cheese and tell what area of the alps the cows were grazing, and what plants they were eating. I think it certainly takes a unique kind of person to do her job. She works extremely hard, often only sleeping for 6 or 7 hours each night if things go well, for very little money and spends much of her time alone. She was such a gregarious and friendly person, with a great sense of humor, so it seems strange to think of her up there by herself with just her young daughter. Here are some shots of the gondola, the cheese-making hut, and the stunning views.

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After the cheese making demonstration and some delicious samples, Ad and I decided to travel home the non-gondola way, on monster bikes and then by foot. Monster bikes are terrifying. Just terrifying. I have terrible balance, a fear of heights, the ability to trip and fall over my own two feet, and I haven’t even ridden a regular bike in about 3 years. I sucked it up though, and managed to make it down the alp with what I feel was only a minor amount of screaming. The dorky helmet accentuated my giant head quite nicely I think. I looked like a fool, but a happy fool.

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After the death defying monster bike decent, we hiked the rest of the way home. Hasliburg is really probably the most beautiful place I’ve ever been. The views in every direction are absolutely breathtaking. Everything is so simple and clean and natural.

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There are more Swiss pictures to come…

I’ve Done a Silly Thing

I’ve been looking at photo albums from past vacations, and the desire to be somewhere else has hit hard. I mean real hard. It could not have come at a worse time considering my student debt, my lack of a full time job, and my rather lackluster summer plans. Ad is currently out and about, exploring places and doing science and going to conferences and seeing new things, and he will be for almost the entire summer. I’m very excited for him, but I’m a little worried for me. I will be alone in Wisconsin all summer, where it is flat and hot and still and slow and lonely.

I’d rather be England, or Pennsylvania, or Switzerland. I’d rather be somewhere where people know me. I’d rather be somewhere where I can go for a long walk and not run into another living soul. I’d rather be somewhere where I couldn’t hear garbage trucks, and airplanes, and trains, and ambulances, and my neighbors.

I know I won’t live in Madison forever, but patience isn’t one of my strong points. Living in town has me out of my element, and I need the country.

I’m finished whining now, and a cup of tea will cheer me up shortly. Does anyone have a few thousand spare dollars they’d like to donate to my vacation fund?