Day 24: Jack-In-The-Box - Heidi Ho - CycleBlaze

July 2, 2012

Day 24: Jack-In-The-Box

“Jack-In-The-Box is the BEST!” Said the Swiss man, right before he flipped my burger.

“You’re kidding, right?" I asked, trying my best not to sound astounded.

“No, when we were in America, we loved Jack-In-The-Box and ate there whenever possible.”

This from a man who raises his own, grass fed, natural beef, who butchers it himself and who cooks it for campers at the campground he and his wife run. His wife confirmed the sentiment.

“Oh,” was all I could think to say, as I thought of “Fast Food Nation,” the Eric Schlosser book that, among other things, goes into how the animals are raised and processed for American fast food restaurants, all of which made me want to run screaming into the night in horror. I changed the subject.

“Where did you go in the states?” I asked. And they described their holiday; California, Las Vegas, the Grand Canyon, Zion National Park... What I have learned, in the past two years, is a popular route for many Europeans.

By then my burger was done and I munched on the delicious creation, while listening to details of their trip.

It was a nice end to the day, a day that started out wet and soggy, with so much rain, all at once, for hours on end, that my tent finally couldn’t take anymore and a few drops of water actually made their way inside. The ground cloth was drenched and began to leak onto my sleeping pad.

Lightning flashes and thunder woke me around 6am. You haven’t lived until you’ve heard a huge thunderstorm rolling through the Alps. It was cool, if you want to know the truth, but it didn’t change the fact that, in a little while, I had to pack up my stuff in the driving rain. I had to get out of there...

The Italian side of Switzerland, to the south west, is somewhat sheltered by the range of mountains that separates it from the German speaking areas, creating a desert type effect that makes it drier and warmer than the rest of Switzerland. My goal today was to get to that side, and out of this damn rain.

There are two possible ways this can be accomplished; over the Susten Pass or the Grimsel Pass and then the Furka Pass. I didn't know much about Grimsel or Furka, but I knew that Susten is a monster. Difficult in the best of times, dangerous in these conditions, at least on a bike. I would take the bus.

I boarded the bus around 9am, and chatted with the driver, an Englishman who had lived and worked in Switzerland for over 15 years.

“It can be expensive,” he said when I asked him why he didn’t become a Swiss citizen. “I satisfy the requirements, but I know a woman who just became a citizen and they wanted 5000 franks. It’s not that important to me.”

Just then the radio cracked to life, and someone said something in German.

“It’s a good thing you took this bus,” he said as we started up the Stusten Pass. They just closed Grimsel and Furka Passes.

It surprised me, but shouldn’t have. It was POURING out, the rivers and streams were overflowing, and waterfalls were shooting out of places in the cliffs that, according to Steve, the Driver, normally don’t have them. Rocks and mud were being strewn onto the road. Road crews were out trying to manage it all.

I was relived I would make it over the pass to, hopefully, better weather.

Except that, when we got up to this side of the pass, a kilometer or two from the top, another call came in. Susten Pass was now closed too. There was nothing to do but ride the bus back down to where I started, 27 kilometers from just below the pass, to Interkirchen, where the climbing starts, then on to the next town, which is bigger than Interkirchen and a better place to wait out the storm.

I spent the day in Meiringen, a town large enough to have an internet café and plenty of coffee shops and bakeries to pass the time in; and a campground, with a man who raises all natural, grass fed beef, but who loves Jack-In-The-Box in America.

This is one way to pass the time on a rainy day.
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Outside the Sherlock Holmes museum in Meiringen
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Today's ride: 21 km (13 miles)
Total: 1,911 km (1,187 miles)

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