The day will come when I will die. So the only matter of consequence before me is what I will do with my allotted time. I can remain on shore, paralyzed with fear, or I can raise my sails and dip and soar in the breeze.--Richard Bode

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Motorcycle problems are no fun, not even in beautiful Switzerland

When I left my campground last Friday, I noticed that my battery indicator on Odysseus was not working the way it normally does. After about 20 kilometers it was showing no charge at all -- The bike was running off the battery alone. It was obviously a problem with the electrical system. I knew that all the wires were okay and that nothing could have worked lose, so it had to be the generator. What to do---

The bike happened to quit in front of a house that belonged to a nice retired Swiss couple. I wish I had taken their picture to show you, or at least gotten their names. They were wonderful to me. I can't speak a word of Swiss German, and they had no English, but somehow I got them to understand I had a problem with my motorcycle's generator. They spent over an hour making phone calls to get me help.

Eventually, two men from G and L Suzuki arrived to fetch Odysseus and me. They took the two of us back to their shop which was not 5 kilometers down the road from where I had camped the previous night.

Here are the shop owners, Gino and Luigi of G-L Suzuki. They are super nice guys. That's Gino on the right. He is the one I actually did most of my dealing with. I thought his English was pretty good, but he called his wife, Jessica, and had her translate to me. What he wanted me to understand was that the parts I needed would have to come from Belgium, and since this was a weekend there was no way the bike would be fixed until Tuesday. Okay --- I don't much like it, but I certainly understand and can deal with it. I can wait.

And here is the part that was messed up. It is the stator from my generator. Can you tell that it is fried?

Meanwhile, where was I to stay? There was a beautiful chalet-hotel across the street. They had a zimmer frei and I could stay there.This is  the lady who owns the chalet. Her name is Inge Lumbrunn. I am not sure how old she is, but she sure is spry. I couldn't keep up with her as she walked me upstairs to show me my room. She was zipping around from early morning to late at night. I was very impressed.

Inge and her son Eric certainly took good care of me. Their breakfasts alone made the long wait to get my motorcycle fixed bearable.

The next morning was Saturday. Phone calls were made, the part I needed was ordered, and I settled in to wait for it to come from Belgium.

Meanwhile, Gino gave me a motor scooter to use.  Look at this little thing.

It was fun to ride. I can see why so many people who live in the larger cities buy them. But once you get it up to about 45 miles an hour it vibrates so much you feel like you are going across a washboard or a cobblestone street. Maybe the tires just were not balanced up on it.

Saturday, I rode it into Interlaken and watched the para-gliders come from the mountains and land in the city park. It was interesting. I would like to learn how to fly those things myself, but I didn't have any interest in flying tandem with someone Saturday. It will have to be an experience for another time and another place.

Sunday, I decided to go to a museum I had heard about. It was pretty close. It is called the Ballenburg Museum, and it has dozens of Swiss houses and barns and chalets that show how people used to live once upon a time.

Back when they used thatched roofs for example----

Some of the chalets belonged to people who were very wealthy in their time. Look at this drawing room.

A lot of those old homes were attached right to the barn, and I've noticed a lot of Swiss farm houses are still that way today. No going out in the snow to take care of the horses, chickens and cows, plus, the heat from the animal's will help to warm the house.

I liked the garden that went with this one---

There was an old time school house, too. The two room school I started in back in 1947 was not all that much different from this one.

The first 10 years of my life was in a small village in southern Missouri. My dad had a machine shop very much like this one where he did work on tractors and plows and the like--

When he was heating a horse shoe or some other piece of metal so he could bend it, I often had to turn the crank on the blower that fed the fire in the forge. It seemed back then like I had to do it for hours, but I guess it was really only minutes. I had a great childhood and never had to work too hard, so don't get the wrong impression when I tell my little stories.

He had a big anvil that he used to bend metal across. I remember being very pleased with myself when I finally got big enough I could lift the thing.

The trip to this living museum sure brought back a lot of memories. Plus, they had a lot of other things there I was interested in but never had the chance to see much of --- Like how to operate a spinning wheel--- I never knew quite for sure how that worked.

And how to weave patterns into cloth. What a lot of work that was for this lady--

Pottery I understand, but I am no good at it---

And how they used to make rope and hats---

There were a lot of animals, too. I won't bore you with pictures of the geese and ducks and pigs and cows, but this rooster was kind of fun because a man there recorded the him crowing on a cell phone, and then teased the rooster by playing it back. The rooster was totally confused and he kept on crowing and getting more and more agitated.  Actually, in the telling of it the whole thing sounds a little cruel, but it was pretty funny at the time.

After a while the houses and barns there started to look the same to me. I got to the place where I was not sure if I had already been in a particular house or not. So, time to go back "home" to my chalet. Sunday is out of the way. Two more days to wait on the parts for my motorcycle.

The next day, Monday, I decided to ride my little motor scooter up the valley to do some hiking at  Eiger mountain.

There are some nice glaciers, mountain streams and wildflowers up there, but I didn't want to hike too far because I didn't have my backpack or even any spare water.

Ho, Hum -- Another day gone. It is terrible to be broken down in paradise with nothing to do but go enjoy yourself. But tomorrow is Tuesday and the stator for my generator should be here. Woo Hoo!

And look: I am up early; I have had a great breakfast at the chalet; and it is over to the Suzuki shop across the street I go --- and sure enough, Gino is there at work on Odysseus. The part is in! Hooray!

All done -- Danke Schoen to everyone, and I am on my way. But not too far. Gotta have new tires. Mine are absolutely worn out. There is no way I can get all the way back to Germany on them. I have to get the tires in Thun (pronounced Toon), the closest city that has them. And, once I have them, I discover I am so close to the capitol, Berne, that I decide I may as well go there and set up camp.

And tonight I am in a very nice campground just about a half hour walk along the river from Berne. I really like it here. Everyone is very active. There are kids and adults playing everywhere as I sit here outside my little tent and type this.

One fun activity seems to be to jump in the river and float way down stream. everyone from 8 to 88 seems to be doing it.

And then you have to walk back. It is like a parade of half-dressed people. I thought about doing it myself, but there are two problems: first, I don't have a swim suit with me, and second, I can't even walk across a carpeted room without my sensitive feet telling me to wise up and put on shoes.

I think a lot of the people would rather lie in the sun and work on their tans.

This guy has been sitting in the sun so long that he is very dark. But do you remember that I told you how you had to rub Juliet's breast on her statue in Verona for good luck, and that everyone was doing it? Well, a certain part of this guys anatomy, which I decided not to put in the picture, has been rubbed so much all the hide is gone -- it is as golden as a blushing sunset. He has a rather patient look on his face so I guess he is okay with the activity. Hah.

Women and girls took part in the Juliet breast rubbing in Verona. I wonder if men and boys rub this statue -- Nah!!!

Berne, the capital, means bear, as in the word Bruin. I didn't know that. Apparently there was a bear killed there when the city was very young and so they took the bear as their symbol. Bears are everywhere---

The bear in this cart is eating a carrot. I kind of think that is a goofy thing for him to be doing, but what do I know?

That picture of the bear eating the carrot is on the side of a house in Berne. I kind of like paintings like that. Here is another one I like, and I took a picture of  it because I think the man in it is printing my name above the window of the house--

And look at this guy. He is eating a baby, and he has some more for later stuck in his belt. WTH (What the Heck)??? This thing is actually the top of a fountain. It is called the Ogre Fountain. Berne is proud of its fountains like this. They all have different themes: Moses, David, Etc.

When I was about 12 years old we moved to the city. At that time there was a street car about like this one (but not so fancy) that came right down the street in front of our house. My mother and I used to ride it into Saint Louis. I remember riding these things a lot as a kid in St. Louis. They were all over the place.

Street cars like this (or trams if you like that word better) went out of favor in America. You never see them anymore. And they have mostly been replaced by buses and subways in most of Europe.  I like this one though. I am glad they still use them in Berne.

It is getting too late to see my keyboard out here by my tent, but people are still doing active things here (volleyball, badminton, ping pong, Etc.). I think I will quit this blog for now and people watch for a while.  Tomorrow I plan on exploring Berne some more. Later, I want to ride down to the Matterhorn.

More later,

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