Many thanks to our friend RW, who alerted us to this Wall Street Journal article about a wine-tasting bicycle journey through the Wallis in Switzerland. The timing was perfect, because that's the part of Switzerland we had the privilege of visiting while waiting for Daniel to make his entrance. Janet wrote some about the trip here, and I hope to post my own memories soon—before I forget more than I already have. In the meantime you can get some of the flavor of the canton (though, not, alas, the wines) through the article.
I have a correction to make, however.
And the Matterhorn delivers—as long as you don't mind seeing it with the crowds through the clouds.
And this is what Switzerland should say to New Zealand:
In a letter to his son, J.R.R. Tolkien claimed that a visit to the Upper Valais [Wallis in French] and neighboring Lauterbrunnen Valley inspired the Elven outpost of Rivendell in his books.
Having visited both the Wallis and Lauterbrunnen, I can now claim to have been not only to Middle Earth, but to Rivendell itself. The Shire, however, I expect I'll have to find on a trip to England.
For most of his journey, the author rode what's called an e-bike: not, as I originally thought, some sort of virtual tour, but a modestly-powered bicycle that "helps me on the climbs yet is easy enough to carry on the train." That sounds like a brilliant invention for climbs that even Steven Perezluha might find daunting, or maybe even for weary, out-of-shape mothers who would appreciate a little help trying to keep up on family bike trips.
This journey was about wine, and ours was not, but the article captures the feel of the area so well it was pure delight to read. You might enjoy it, too, for a little glimpse of what we saw this summer. Of course, the article neglects to mention the mountain pass with frequent, hair-raising switchbacks, driving rain and hail, two carsick kids, and a woman threatening to go into labor. For that, you'll have to wait for my version.