France, Winter 2006

We departed Burlington on January 27th and returned on February 12th. We always return so humbled by the hospitality, love and generosity shown by our wonderful friends in France.

It has been 25 years since we first went to les 3 Vallées with the Garmischers. 21 years ago we went to St. Martin de Belleville to live. 11 years ago we returned to the USA and moved to Burlington. The evolution of the 3 Vallées has been phenomenal. The continued upgrades in snow making, piste management and beautiful new homes and châlets make this the premier ski resort area in the world, in addition to being its largest. The 200 ski lift system is in perpetual upgrade and remains state of the art. Many lifts are replaced after as little as four years in service. The 4, 6 and 8 person chair lifts are nearly all high speed. Many have double area loading capacity. The cable cars and gondolas are all state of the art and it is rare to ever be caught in more than a two minute lift line. It's usually, ski up and get on the lift. We had two solid weeks of sunshine. We were able to ski in nearly all our favorite areas. The snow cover in some areas was sparse this year but having the sun when you live in Burlington is worth two meters of snow. The off piste skiing was better than on piste in most cases.

Our final destination Continental flight from Newark to Burlington managed to get off the ground, after de-icing, etc., at shortly before 22:00, just before the airport closed for the "biggest snowfall on record." Most other flights had long since been cancelled so we were really lucky. Shamus was glad, we think.

Shamus had two wonderful weeks at his own private camp (friends with a huge, interesting, good smelling yard with lots of squirrels and a compost pile). His people loved him and were exceptionally easy to train. He quickly learned that an airesnap or anything else cute he could think of, including bed humping, warranted a dog biscuit. He taught his people that he could not be made to do anything without a biscuit but would do anything they wished with one. He went through two plus boxes of milk bones in two weeks. We returned to a very happy, healthy and well adjusted boy. Fortunately he did still remember us...

Here is a sample of our trip photos. Mont Blanc, seen below, also known as La Dame Blanche (White Lady), is the highest mountain in Western Europe. It is about 4,810 meters (15,780 feet) high, but varies from year to year by a few meters, depending on snowfall and climate conditions. It was visible every day we were in France. This is quite unusual so maybe it was payback time for the horrible weather, and our inability to see Mt. McKinley, in Alaska.

So, we are back, fit, well, happy and on line again.

Please use full screen.  Click on the photo to see an enlargement:

M&F, Tougnet

MtBlanc fm Saulire

MtBlanc fm Saulire

Gibroulaz entrance, Pte de Thorens

Aiguille de Fruit, Mt. Vallon

Glacier du Gibroulaz

Burgin Saulire

Bouchet

Aiguille de Peclet

Cime de Caron

Belleville off piste

le Cochet

Vallée de Belleville

Meribel Mottaret

La Loi

M & F, Sommet Bouchet Mary Frank
Clive, Mary & Gary, Cherferie Pieter & Frank, Col de la Loze Annie & Mary, Metibel Chatelet
Ladies Day, Rhodos Good times, Meribel Stan & Frank, Crétes Tougnete

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