The Jungfrau in My Closet

I took a train to the roof of Europe. Now it’s in a closet in my guest room.

When I was thirteen I traveled with my family to Switzerland. My father rented two Volkswagen Beetles to convey us through the Alps; he drove one, my older brothers drove the other. In the first days of our trip it was thought that the kids’ car would be the “fun” one. Then I realized that it merely provided an opportunity for the older brothers to pick on the youngest — me — incessantly. So I retreated into the backseat of my parents’ Bug and enjoyed the view.

The climax of the trip came when we were visiting the city of Interlaken, which is presided over by the Jungfrau, a 13,000’ behemoth of an Alp. My father, as our travel planner, was well aware that the Jungfrau had a rail line leading to its snowy summit. But when he realized how expensive (very) it would be for six of us to take that train, he declared: “Your mother and I are now over the hill, so this is our last chance to take the train up Jungfrau. You guys can take the [much cheaper] gondola up the Schilthorn instead.”

Hey, at least the Schilthorn was in a Bond movie. (Don’t get too excited for me: It was In Her Majesty’s Secret Service, starring George Lazenby.)

And so I remained Jungfrau-deprived into adulthood. Until, that is, we were in the homestretch from a round-the-world trip initiated by our niece in Perth, Australia, who insisted on getting married on Rottnest Island, waaaay down under. We figured: Hey, if we’re going halfway around the world, why not just keep going?

So we did.

And my wife and I wound up in Interlaken and booked train-ride up the Jungfrau, just as my dad had suggested, last century. The ride was spectacular. The summit, even moreso. So when Claire (my wife) suggested that I paint a mountain scene to put into a blind closet in one of our guest rooms, I immediately though: Jungfrau it is.

The closet in question has a fine door and frame, but the inside was blocked off during a renovation. So it was perfect place to hide a surprise.

Here’s how the process went.

  1. My preliminary sketch, plus prepping the oversized canvas.

2. Roughing in the blue sky.

3. Love this lightbulb.

4. And this scarf.

All about the details.

5. The landscape takes shape.

6. It’s a closet, so there must be shoes. Yes those are Air Jordans. Good call!

7. Finished, and tucked away in the closet, for when you visit.

8. Ironically, our son Tyler was on the RTW trip, but didn’t join us for the train ride to the summit of Jungfrau. Now this painting is in the room he occupies when he visits. So the legacy of missed opportunities passes from parent to child, which makes them so much sweeter when you finally achieve them.

Which train have you missed in life? When will you catch it?



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Road 2 Elsewhere by Peter Moore

Road 2 Elsewhere by Peter Moore

Road 2 Where, Exactly? Hope you’ll join me for this picnic.