Journey to Cheese Mountain

10 Apr

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to be stuffed with cheese, poisoned by metal, and then offered an abundance of “magic tea” while engaging in a séance?

Of course you haven’t. And neither had I, before last weekend.

But, for the sake of this blog post, just pretend you have, so that I can feel like I’m making a valuable contribution to society by educating my readers.

Last weekend was one of mountainous activity! On Saturday, our entire program went snowshoeing up a mountain.

Some of us really excelled and are quitting our day jobs.

Others of us are still very much dependent on our day jobs:


Who knew snowshoeing was a “standing upright” kind of sport? Dylan and I clearly didn’t get the memo.

What we lacked in grace we made up for in…lacking more grace.

After the hike, our program directors treated us to a HUGE feast.

Maybe it was the clean mountain air, or the foreign endorphins pulsing through our bodies…but this meal was CRAZY.

When the first plate of meat emerged, we acted like we’d just discovered we had hands and working mouths.


I’ve never seen an assortment of meats leave a plate faster.

Same with the cheese plate.

Same with the cheesy potato dish.

Same with the bread.

At one point – after Selby, Dylan and I decided to finish three desserts via “spoon racing” – our program director said under her breath, “This is why we don’t serve wine at these events…”

I think she was referring to this whole scene:


Actually, wine probably would have placated the situation.

Anyway, after the hike and the aggressive eating and the “spoon sports,” Selby, Max, Mike and I went to Zermatt to spend the night and ski the next day!

As much as I wanted to see Zermatt and the Matterhorn, I was slightly anxious about this plan.

Mostly because my calves get really squished in ski boots and I have a low tolerance for pain.

Also because I once (twice) fell off a chairlift. Apparently the act of sitting on a chair is harder for me than the actual act of skiing.

And also because I hate having to take my snow gear off to use the bathroom, which I always have to do every hour while skiing. I think the pressure of the boots on my calves angers my bladder, and it retaliates by releasing the entire Caspian Sea.

I should Google that. There’s got to be some science behind it.

Anyway, part of me (a Giant Whopper-sized part) was hoping my three friends – who are all fabulous skiers/snowboarders and can do complicated maneuvers, like “moguls” – would decide they’d rather do a pub-crawl and eat Toblerone bars while looking at the Matterhorn all day than go skiing…

And part of me was hoping the three of them would decide that skiing in Zermatt was so “predictable” and “touristy,” and that they would rather have a more unique, on-the-ground experience there…AKA do a pub-crawl and eat Toblerone bars while looking at the Matterhorn all day.

Neither of these scenarios really panned out.

So, I sucked it up, packed my heinous yet amazing yellow snow pants into a bag, and put on my “team player” hat (which, in this case, was a sporty yet eye-catching headband I found in the bottom of my backpack – which explains why there was some gum stuck to it.)

I knew this trip was going to be a good one when we got to the train station and I wasn’t DRIPPING in sweat and we had a full TWENTY MINUTES to spare before our train.

This is very different from the “Amazing Race” scenarios I’m used to, which involve missing busses, running through streets yelling, “move it, you fondue fatties, we need to make this train!” and experiencing stress-induced sweat in copious quantities.

The second indication that this would be a good trip occurred when Max asked a bartender to please open the bottle of wine he’d brought for the train, and the bartender – who had TWO wine openers chilling in his breast pocket – lead us into a corner, swaddled the bottle in my (Selby’s) coat, and proceeded to bang it against a wall, like so:


The entire situation was very unclear.

I had visions of glass shattering and all of Max’s precious2 franc wine spilling to the ground.

But we got the wine opened!

To complement the 2 franc wine, we were prepared with several 50 cent beers…all of which tasted exactly like the currency they cost…plus a hint of metal headgear.

Naturally, we assumed the beers were poisoned and immediately threw them into the garbage drank them like it was our last day on Earth.

(When I later Googled “lead poisoning,” Web MD told me my symptoms – which included obscene sweating, fatigue, a sore butt, a sleeping foot, greasy hair, bad breath, and boredom – were most likely caused by an excessive amount of assorted meats and cheeses, an excess of physical activity, and a three-hour train ride…not lead poisoning. I was pretty disappointed by this diagnosis because being able to say “Hey, I got lead poisoning on a Swiss train!” seems like a good happy hour story. I guess I’ll just have to settle for small talk about family and pets. How basic.)

When we got off the train, we proceeded to the apartment where we would be couch-surfing for the evening.

‘Twere I not a curious spirit (AKA slightly tipsy and low on oxygen from the train) I probably would have been more concerned by the scene upon which we stumbled.

Our host – whose name I thought was Hans for the duration of our trip, but whose name is actually Thomas – was an odd-looking Polish man with fangs.

When he opened the door to reveal an apartment the size of my left thumb – NOT including the nail – I mentally recalled all of the worst experiences of my life.

(This was my last ditch effort to strengthen my resilience in preparation for what was to come.)

It turns out that Thomas Hans had decided he could host SIX PEOPLE in his jewelry box of an apartment. There were four random, 30-something women gathered in the living room…well, the room.

When we asked them how they knew Thomas Hans, they all shook their heads and said “a little bit of everything.”

Which made little to no grammatical or logical sense.

Because Max had stayed with Thomas Hans once before, he was not at all surprised when he proceeded to offer us and the cast of Sex and the City: Zermatt Edition his special “magic tea,” and refused to tell us what the red, steaming concoction really was.

I, however, was surprised.

“No thanks, I’m all set,” I responded.

“But it’s my magic tea!” T.H. insisted.

“Yeah but what’s in it?” I inquired.

“Magic!” T.H. responded.

An inconclusive exchange, at best.

Mike and I looked at each other and telepathically conferenced about the pros and cons of drinking opium tea.

I can’t remember what the pros were…but they won.

(Luckily, we would soon find out the drink was not, in fact, opium team, but was herbal tea with a type of German liqueur. We’ve since deducted one point each from our personal “bad ass” rankings.)

T.H. then insisted that we all sit in a circle on his floor while we drank our tea.

I thought that maybe holding a séance was supposed to complement the effects of the magic tea, but it just proved to be awkward. There are only so many times you can smile at a stranger and ask, “So, what do you do for work?” from across a séance circle.

When T.H. overheard us whimpering from hunger, he kindly offered to feed us fondue.


It was physically, mentally, emotionally, metaphorically, and literally painful to even put cheese near our mouths, let alone consume it:


Needless to say, I swore I had ingested the entire cast of “Seventh Heaven” after finishing this meal.

When we’d all had our fill of magic tea and fondue, T.H. set up an intricate bed of blankets for us on the ground…in the corner…under an open window.

Max slept with a coat as a blanket.

I shattered my delicate, dainty hipbones every time I rolled over.

“Now I know what Taylor Swift meant by ‘lying on the cold, hard ground,’” Mike exclaimed.

In the morning, we were awoken by the sweet sounds of T.H.’s colorful, upbeat alarm song:

Did we really expect him to wake up to bells or whistles or a gentle piano tune?

No. No we did not.

We spent Sunday skiing, drinking beer, and registering for classes. It was a perfect day.


When we returned back to the apartment to retrieve our things, T.H. was drinking a beer and Googling “The Mason Dixon Line.”

You’re never too old for knowledge.

After hugs and pleasantries it was time to say goodbye.

In a moment of glee betwixt nostalgia, the great T.H. exclaimed, “Yo. Check it out,” before backing into his apartment and setting us free.

I couldn’t have said it better if I’d tried.

And with that, we were on our way home.

It was a great visit.

The only thing that would have made it the BEST trip EVER would have been if I’d sat on some festering prosciutto on the train ride home…


It really was the best trip ever.


One Response to “Journey to Cheese Mountain”

  1. segmation April 10, 2014 at 6:09 pm #

    Looks like a lot of fun was had!

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