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August 25th, 2000 · No Comments

August 25, 2000 Geneva, Switzerland continued…

Day 238

Geneva was easy to find, I just followed the lake around from France.  I was halfway around the “big lake” when I realized it was Lake Geneva.  I haven’t been paying attention to maps, dates or even places.  I have been getting up in the morning and following the DRG.  Most days I couldn’t even tell you what day of the week it is.

I do know the date.  It’s 2 weeks until Larry returns!

Al the alien wanted his picture taken by the Begonia ducks.  He really thought they were cool.  The water in the background is Lake Geneva

We are not camping tonight.  We have beds, bunk beds or should I say bunker beds?  We are staying in a real live bomb shelter.  It is not any ordinary bomb shelter, this place has given sanctuary to  the refuges of the world, including most recently the Bosnians.  Now the Odyssey international athletes are taking up residence for the next 36 hours.

I couldn’t help but think what would happen if tonight the world was destroyed.  The only people left would be Odyssey riders to rule and repopulate the earth. For the rest of our natural lives we would be forced to be together.  I see a revolution in our future.

There is no Coke machine down here.  I guess there’s no point in putting in a machine you cannot make deliveries and keep it full.

August 26, Geneva Layover

Day 239

Geneva will always be remembered by me as the place where I slept in a bomb shelter.  When I arrived at end of day checkpoint I didn’t know where to enter “bunker 42”, so I went looking for the “check in” desk.  There wasn’t one.  Bunker 42 is located under a school building, to get into it, you go down a ramp, like entering a parking garage.  Of course now that makes sense.

It took several sections of ramps to enter, then I proceeded through a series of hallways with heavy steel doors.  Thankfully the staff had prepared directional arrow signs, so I knew where to go from there.  Once inside the bunker, I grabbed a set of sheets and located the bunker bunk bed I wanted to use.

There were plenty of beds, each section had 48 beds, there were 3 sections on our side and another of the same setup on the other side of the bunker.  At the end we had a trough with multiple faucets for tooth brushing and several toilets.  For showing we had to go back up stairs one flight to the “gang shower” type room, males and females were separate, thank you.

Also upstairs was a large area with two picnic tables, obviously the recreation area.  You needed to bring your own recreation, because none was provided.  The place was not pretty, it was definitely utilitarian.

I imagine it must have been a very safe and satisfying place for the refuges it has sheltered over the years. Bunker 42 was like living in a cocoon.  You had the bare minimum of what you needed to live, bed, water, air  and a little space.  What was missing was natural daylight or actually any connection with what was happening outside.  I learned later we had experienced a thunderstorm that night, we never heard it down there.

In the middle of the night, some one had turned off the lights in our section, all of the lights that is.  When I woke, needing to go to the restroom, it was so dark, I honestly think it was lighter when I CLOSED my eyes!  I really couldn’t see a thing an it was scary.  I was afraid to walk down the hall because we had our junk scattered everywhere.  Then I discovered the light on my watch was enough to give me some perspective in the dark.  Lucky for me once I emerged the curtain at the end of our room, there was a small light on, as well as in the bathroom.  It was a very unnerving experience.

In the morning I left bunker 42, the feeling of cool fresh air on my face was wonderful. I took a deep breath and let some life in my lungs.  For me, I felt my senses had been deprived, I like fresh air, noise, rain, sunshine and wind.  Give it all to me, don’t lock me up in a cave. Yuck!

August 27, 2000 Geneva to Salavaux

Day 240

The previous night I talked with Barb and learned all about the bike paths leading to the next camp ground.  Barb had purchased a couple of wonderful bike path map books.  They showed all the bike paths in Switzerland and Germany.  We made copies of the appropriate pages, for my self-made DRG.

The TK&A route looked like it was going to be a nice route leaving Geneva, but I was interested in taking advantage of the network of bike paths.  I was excited about doing something different.

While I was getting ready to leave, it started to rain, a hard heavy rain.  We have been so lucky for the past few months, the rain has not been a big factor.  I hope this is not a sign of things to come.  While waiting for the rain to stop, we decided to get on with the program, perhaps ride to the train station and take the train out of the rain.

So we did just that.  Rich, Jane and I found our way to the train station.  When we arrived a bunch of other yellow heads were just finishing their ticket purchase.  By the time I got to the window the clerk was very short with me.  He refused to give me information about where and when to catch the train.  He just said the other people in your group have the information.  Nice guy, little did he know they were not in my group, we just all look alike to him.

My strategy was to ride the train to Trail #5 heading north.  I would then get off the train and ride the balance of the distance to camp.  When we got to the stop, it was still raining,  the clouds were thick and heavy, not a good sign. We stayed on the train and got off a few kilometers from camp.

Part of the excitement of this trip is arriving in a strange place and finding our way around.  This time, the group I was with wanted to find a pension (Bed and Breakfast) to spend the night.  We started by asking at the local hotel, which turned out to be rather expensive for our needs.  After asking in two places, we found a great place that would rent to 5 folks for a set fee of 200 francs.  This was acceptable to the group.

I decided I wanted to set up my tent, so I passed on the room.  After the Bunker 42 experience, I had a deep desire to be alone in my tent without people nearby.  So I set it up, crawled in with my newly acquired “It’s Not About the Bike”, by Lance Armstrong book. I was happy as a clam and almost forgot to go to dinner that night.

Solitude is good.

Tags: Northern Europe · Switzerland