Saturday, December 31, 2005

breaking the law

My Visa expired on December 14th, which makes me an illegal alien. As if this weren't thrilling enough, I technically can't re-enter France once I've left. So guess what we did? Drove to Swizterland! OH YEAH!

Well, we drove through Swizterland -- but that's four border crossings in one day, baby! Of course, I act all nonplussed, but I was actually nervous that they'd check my passport and I'd have a genuine problem to deal with. In hindsight, I'm all cool and blase -- in reality, I can be rather uptight and a goody-two-shoes.

Anyway, they didn't even stop our car when we crossed the border. Hell, the two guards didn't even stop their conversation as we drove by. I think one may have turned his head slightly to nod us through. We drove through Geneva, stopping long enough to appreciate how insanely difficult it is to find a parking spot in the city and get lunch. Unpleasantly crowded and chaoitic -- these people seriously need to learn how to queue up.

We were shortly back in France, barreling straight towards these here big rocks:

More pictures from the drive towards the Alps:

We arrived in Chamonix in the afternoon. Chamonix is a standard cute-chic ski town, surrounded by jaw-droppingly beautiful mountains.

From town, we took the uh....telepherique.... gondola! yes! We took the gondola up to Aiguille du Midi, which is a pointy little spike, 3,800 meters (12,600 feet -- that's nearly TWO AND A HALF MILES) above sea level.

Aiguille du Midi. I didn't take this picture, obviously.

Now, I don't spend much time at a high elevation, but this was noticably difficult for my body. The air up there is thin. The effort of breathing alone made me out of breath. But just LOOK at the view. It was impeccably clear up there.

Mont Blanc (4807 m) -- the highest mountain in western Europe*.

That's me! I really was there!

Ar! My impenetrable mountain fortress!

*Looking at the list of highest mountains in the world makes it painfully clear how little I know about world geography. For example, there is a mountain 5,754 high called Citlaltepetl in Mexico. That's nearly 1000 meters higher than Mont Blanc! There's mountains in Mexico? Not only that, but
really big mountains? Where? How do I not know this?


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