14 Apr 2009

Fun times in Riva

Kris, the boys and I packed up early Friday morning and drove down to Riva del Garda, a great little town on the north end of the Garda Lake in Italy. It’s a good four hour drive, but the trade off is that you get to a place where it’s usually warm and sunny. Although I can’t complain, the weather in Germany had been great for more than a week.

It was my first week of working at home. Wow, it’s too early to break out the champagne of course, but I have to say I really am enjoying it. The boys were home all week because of spring break, but they were very good and never bothered me when my office door was closed. I would start work around 10 am, take a lunch break at 12 or 1, then come back and work until 7 or so. I had no trouble concentrating, and in fact the day flew by each time because the work was so interesting. It’s great to be learning about the .NET world again! Lots has changed, and lots is still the same.

The lunch breaks were really fun because Kris, the boys and I would go eat a sandwich outside in a park area.

But anyway, back to the story. As we started to leave Munich Kris saved us by asking me if I had both tents…I didn’t! Whew…easily fixed. Then, at the lake we were worried that the campsites would all be full, but we found a spot. It is “high season” there, full of Germans, who seem to outnumber the Italians by 2 or 3 to 1. We made friends with some of our campground neighbors, meeting a nice couple from Munich with a son that Rowan and Elijah really loved playing with. There was a playground just 50 feet away from our tent, and we would let the boys run over there and play furiously.

We also brought climbing gear, as I hoped to gently introduce Rowan and Elijah to rock climbing. This area is one of the world famous climbing destinations, generally named for the town 3 miles north called “Arco.” There are thousands of rock climbs on the walls above the lake and further north. We found a very easy area on low-angle slabs, and after an adventure of squeezing our car through a very narrow alleyway, we walked up a short steep trail to reach the rock. I climbed up, clipping several bolts while Kris belayed, then lowered down so the boys could try the 30 meter long slab climb. The key is that there is nothing for your hands to grab onto, you just have to trust the friction of your shoes.

Elijah and Rowan both climbed it so easily! They just have no fear. Kris climbed it too, but her feet haven’t been in rock shoes for so long they it was kind of grim duty! Then I climbed up and belayed the boys from the top. Here are some pictures. Of course I was a proud dad!

Elijah at the top

Elijah climbing up

Rowan at the top

Afterwards, they obligingly posed for a portrait:

Camping was good fun. Our Thermarest pads seem to be kind of leaky. Kris woke up groaning every day, and I was always nonplussed to see how much air had left my Thermarest. Hmpf! But tent life was fun. Here, we are watching “The Incredibles” after another very full day:

One day we went up to the castle above Arco. The boys and I had been there once, but it was great to show their Mommy. We had a nice picnic and lazed about. Elijah was keen to make sure we got this picture of him with his mouth full of M&Ms:

Here is what Arco looks like. Really beautiful, IMHO!

Later, during nap time, I went on a hike of my own, climbing up 3700 feet, sometimes via long vertical ladders on the “Way of Friendship” special route above Riva. At the top, I found ankle deep snow, which slowed my return trip on the steepest “trail” I ever saw. It was so steep and narrow that one mis-step could be a disaster. In my opinion, the more technical “ladders” were much easier than the seemingly benign return trail down the north side of the mountain. Here is a scene looking down on Riva and the lake from the top of the last ladder:

On Sunday evening we did some more climbing, enduring a rather nerve-wracking walk through a car tunnel with no sidewalk to reach the area. But it was right on the water, and the light was just perfect:

Elijah climbs the crack!

There was a great finger crack to aid progress up a somewhat smoother and steeper slab than before. Elijah and Rowan both had fun again. Here you can see the angle of the slab:

Later I climbed the route that the person above is standing on, it was about 5.8 YDS, a pretty fun slab with a few tricky moves! The boys climb was about 5.6, I think.

Finally Monday came around and it was time to go home. I made us stop for a picnic near Scharnitz, Austria because the sun was so nice. We got these pictures of happy kids:

Kris made a delicious pasta dinner with Olive Oil from the fields around Arco. It was incredible. Somewhat lighter than normal, but very flavorful.

Thanks to Kris and the boys for an amazing little trip! Can’t wait for the next one. For all the pictures see my Flickr set here.