Encodo celebrated its 10th anniversary as a company this summer in Bussang in the Lorraine region of France.
We'd originally voted on different ideas and a trip to Amsterdam had squeezed by camping by one vote. Planning our weekend in Amsterdam proved difficult. Something called SAIL Amersterdam -- which takes place every five years -- was on the same weekend we'd chosen and all the hotels were full.
So, we improvised and Karin found a lovely place in Bussang, just about an hour over the border in France.
Karin, Remo, Marco and Kath arrived at 09:00 and moved in. Remo, Marco and Kath headed back to Thann, back over the Col du Bussang, to pick up food and drink for 18 people for 21/2 days.
Bonjour, je m'appele Urs.
While we were shopping, the rest of the crew showed up and Karin called us back because the natives were getting extremely restless -- and hungry. They fell on us as we came through the door and (B)Robin had the grill going, Steffi was making dips, vegetables were cut (with terrible, terrible knives) and Urs and Pascal manned the grill.
We all gathered on the outer deck for cut vegetables, dips and a grill packed with sausages and chicken. After lunch, Kath & Marco played Jass against Steffi & Urs while a bunch of others looked on. At the end of the (relatively slow -- I'm looking at you, Urs) first match, we took a break from Jass.
Cards against Humanity: A Card Game for Horrible People
Patrick suggested that we unpack Cards of Humanity (reluctantly packed by Kath) so that more people could play...and also so we could lower the level of discourse significantly. Initially, a handful played while others looked on. By the end of the afternoon, most people were involved in one capacity or another, either teamed up with someone else or simply acting as ad-hoc advisors or judges.
We finally dragged ourselves away from the gaming table and from our very-extended happy hour to get started on dinner. Robin B led a cadre of helpers to make Rahmschnitzel with butter noodles that evening. At the end of the evening, we switched back to Jass from Cards of Humanity. People drifted off relatively early and most of them missed the midnight ice cream.
The next day, Katja, Sebastian and Samuel went into town to get croissants for breakfast while the drone pilots -- Armin, Patrick, Pascal and Urs -- started their training in earnest.
They'd bought some mini quad-copters the week before and were ready to learn how to fly. Urs had an early lead because he'd (A) actually calibrated his 'copter and (B) already practiced flying it. Urs named his Max while Pascal named his Droney. Patrick and Armin refused to name or otherwise anthropomorphize theirs. Pascal's skills were a bit rough at the start and we were regaled with shout after shout of "Droney!!!", announcing that his drone had taken a sharp turn into yet another tree or bush.
For lunch, we had sweet & sour beef with rice, with Urs and Steffi in charge. The induction stove produced a lot of heat and carbonized a good amount of the sauce to the bottom of the large pot -- an accident that would take about a day of soaking, two hours of elbow grease and various ad-hoc implements to rectify.
After lunch, we split up into four groups for the day's activities:
The climbers returned first, followed a couple of hours later by the hikers, then even later by the riders. Dinner was prepared primarily by Patrick and Pascal -- lasagna and apple pie. In the meantime, Marco unpacked the blender and started squeezing fresh limes for margaritas. It took a while, but we managed to make three pitchers by stretching the lime juice with bananas to make something more approaching an ice smoothie (but still infused with plenty of tequila).
We managed for a while on drinks and snacks but the crowd was getting restless and running out of energy by the time the main course showed up on the table. The pilots were encouraged by their margaritas on empty stomachs to try some night flying with their drones. Droney was disemboweled by a bush, dropping his battery into the inky night.
Dinner was worth the wait and inspired spontaneous applause as well as vows from a few people that they would never to try to make their own lasagna again. Apple pie followed as well as a lovely Martinez port from 1967 that Remo brought along.
Best. Lasagna. Ever.
After dinner, some of us started another round of Cards Against Humanity while others went out to search for Pascal's battery. Urs and Steffi set off with a couple of torches we'd lit for the outer deck and Steffi managed to actually find the battery, announcing that she'd found it to those of inside by looming out of the night against the large dining-room window, holding the battery in one hand, the torch in the other and sporting a triumphant and somewhat scary grin on her face. Marco cleaned up at cards that evening, and Tymon wound things up by reminding us that it was 01:30 and some of us had to get up to prepare breakfast.
Tymon, Katja, Kath and Marco prepared pancakes, bacon and scrambled eggs for breakfast the next day. There were no plans for the day, so after breakfast, we relaxed a bit, then started to pack up. Groups drifted off, starting at 13:30 or so, with Marco, Kath, Karin and Remo closing down the house and giving back the key by 15.30. All in all, a very fun and successful team weekend in the Lorraine.