January 26-28, 2002
We had another great flight today, although it was a rather short one. The highlight was watching a Cathay Pacific balloon being piloted by an incompetent idiot. He banged into the pavement, he crashed into a cable and set his basket swaying violently back and forth, and in general he was without a clue.
Our landing was in a field in Chateau d'Oex that still had a fair amount of snow. This is good for the Screwmaid girls, since it keeps them clean and pure! We spent some nice moments on the ground, and then we headed back to the Ermitage.
In the evening, we splintered a bit, with various members of our party finding their own dinner accommodations. Alf, Watcharee, Sian, Mike and I stayed at the Ermitage, and the sea bass was a bit hit on the menu.
The weather was awful, and the festival essentially shut down. There was a pilots' meeting at 08:30, but nobody even bothered to drag a basket out to the launch field.
Six of us went to the Richemont for lunch. On this entire trip, I had only previously been there once before: on the first Saturday night, when the smoke, the noise, and the crowds were horrendous. Today, I was surprised to see that it's quite a lovely place! The remodeling, which I couldn't even see through the smoky haze at night, is quite attractive, and during the day it's very nice. I regret not having visited a bit more during our stay.
We were also treated to a preview of the remodeled La Bamba, downstairs. Although it appeared that a great deal of work remained to be done, the plan is for an opening in two weeks. A sophisticated smoke dispersal system is being set up, but I remain a bit skeptical about its habitability. Still, of course, there are many who thrive in such an environment!
Tonight we had our final dinner: another dose of 'charbonnade' at the Ermitage. There were 16 of us, including the traveling band plus pilots Mike and Bill and crew guys Ashley, Jez, Jim, John, Johnny, and Julian. We had a marvelous time, and it was all followed by Ash's performance on the piano. Hidden talents apparently lurk in all sorts of places; we were very impressed!
Many of us are scheduled to leave at a very early morning hour. From here we will go to the Zurich airport, and then catch a flight to Atlanta. Alf and Watcharee don't have to leave until the afternoon. As the weather forecast is good, perhaps they will have time for one more flight?
Alf, thanks for another great trip!