I’ve been wanting to digitize my old photos from 1994 and 1995 for several years. Now that I’ve had to be home a lot, it was the right time to get it done. I purchased a Plustek OpticFilm 8200i SE 35mm film scanner to scan close to 600 negatives over the last couple of months and ultimately uploaded 550 photos into a Flickr collection.
I graduated from college during the economic recession in the early 1990s. Before the recession hit, recruiters were filling the main hall of our college at the end of the school year. When our class graduated, recruiters were nowhere to be seen. Companies were firing people and not looking for new graduates. I had a shiny new diploma in mechanical engineering, but the industry had no job for me. So, in 1993 I decided to spend the summer working as a mountain bike guide for Eurotrek. They offered a one-week bike trip through the Swiss Jura and needed a guide for the season.
In 1994 I found some temporary employment in the medical industry. It was my first design job creating tools and medical implants in Unigraphics for one of the largest medical implant manufacturers at the time. It was a summer job while regular employees were on vacation. There was lots of work to get done, so they hired temps like me. The job was half across the country, and the company paid for lodging as well as meals. It was a pretty good salary, too. But as it was only for a few months, I decided to invest the money I had earned to improve my language skills and left for a 9-month language course in Oakland, California. Oakland? EF, who ran the language program, had many other locations in the US. To learn English best, I didn't want to be in a school with a bunch of other Swiss students. And Oakland wasn't a popular destination. At the time, most of them headed to Santa Barbara or San Diego. So I went to Oakland, where only four other Swiss students had enrolled in the extensive language program being offered by EF on the campus of Mills College.
It’s kind of interesting to look back at such moments in life. I met a girl that year, and her mom met a Swiss national who owned a business in Northern California while she was selling books at a flea market in Sebastopol. He was looking for a Swiss engineer who would act as a liaison with the teams at the Swiss headquarters. I took the job, moved to Northern California for ten years, got married inbetween, and returned to Switzerland. Had I gone somewhere else, I would have met other people, and life would have turned out very differently. Maybe I would have never moved to the United States, maybe I would still be there, or maybe I’d be living somewhere else entirely. Spending hours scanning those old photos had me reflect on all that. Life is full of crossroads, and a different life awaits in every direction. Crossroads of life have one thing not in common with physical intersections; they don’t carry street signs. Left, right, straight ahead - all would lead onto a whole different path. Better or worse? We, fortunately, will never know.
Anyway, as a cyclist, it was no question that I would bring my bike along. I could have bought one over there, but I had a tight budget, and my savings needed to last ten months. I was busy traveling around the state with classmates most of the time. When spring break came along, my friends couldn’t decide what they wanted to do. I tossed my bike into the trunk of my car and took off for Moab, Utah, where I spent the week riding daily. I had bought a used Plymouth Gran Fury for about $4000, and a mountain bike easily fit into the massive trunk. When I was done with a ride, I hiked Arches National park in the afternoons. Returning to school with photos of riding and hiking around Moab convinced a close friend of mine to head out there with me one more time. During our visit to Moab, we booked a guided bike week with Western Spirt Cycling through the Maze District of the Canyonlands National Park. In June of 1995, I returned to the region for a third time while visiting many of Utah's breathtaking national parks.