26 August 2011

The nut doesn't fall far from the tree

The world traveler's back.  Lots of stories, lots of pictures.  He was up for almost 24 hours traveling back stateside (I can relate), so he crashed upon impact once he hit the doorstep.  Not expecting a lot out of him this weekend.

One thing he did show me was his souvenir from his travels in Europe.  Nothing says German like a good bier stein....

Eine bier, bitte!
Somehow, here I am thousands of miles away and my darling bride is blaming me for this one...

Homeward bound

You gotta love technology.  Years ago, when we travelled abroad, the only way we had to communicate was through either a intricate long distance phone calls or a post card (or smoke signals) to home telling everyone we arrived safely. 

Nowadays, with GPS and smart phones, you can keep up to date with anyone around the world.  One neat little site I stumbled across was http://www.flightstats.com/.  It allows you to track flights and review any potential delays or problems.  You can actually track a flight in progress to see where it is and when you need to head out for the airport.  As of this morning, junior has crossed back over the pond and is somewhere over Canada.

I see you

25 August 2011

When in Rome

One day left on the world tour. 

The gypsies took the train back to Zurich so that girlfriend could catch the return flight back home on Monday (she starts school this week).  Junior and his friend then hopped the train down to Rome where they've been exploring the old city.  The Colosseum, Pantheon, Trevi Fountain, Vatican, St Peter's Basilica, Sistine Chapel - you know all the touristy spots.  A lot of ground to cover in two days and they were duly impressed.  

Somehow, we never made it down into Italy when we were over in Germany.  We never had the time or opportunity or inclination to make that road trip.  We are glad they made the trek over there to see some of history up close & personal.  He is slated to catch a return flight tomorrow back home to the land of no rain and 100+ degree temps. 

Oh, and I probably should note that it is the 24th anniversary of the arrival of our little tax deduction/financial investment.   

Happy Birthday, Explorer!
Let them eat cake

21 August 2011

Travel abroad

Just an update on the traveling pair. 

Junior and fiance are having a blast in Europe.  No post cards or pictures yet (much to momma's dismay), but we do get snippets of information as they find a WiFi signal or as he updates his facebook status.  Started out in Zurich, took the train up to Paris where they met up with their friends and  spent several days touring the various sights/spots (Eiffel tower, the Louvre, Arc de Triomphe, Versailles).  Took an overnight train down to Munich and have been touring the local haunts & bier gardens of Munich.  They are enjoying the culture and lifestyle of Europe.  His facebook comment from earlier this week:  got into Munich at 7am and saw a guy enjoying a beer with his breakfast. I guess this is how things roll in Germany.

They took a side trip down to see Neuschwanstein - an incredible castle in alps of southern Germany.  If you have time to see only one castle, Neuschwanstein is it.   This is the story book castle that Walt Disney based his Sleeping Beauty Castle in Disneyland upon. 

A castle fit for an opera
My son, a man of few words, simply commented - awesome.  I would agree.

18 August 2011

So much to eat, so little room

More from the road trip to Deutschland. 

The one thing that I always recalled about our time in Germany was the food was always good.  We tried to eat out as much as we could afford. Local food was fantastic. Our little town of Boeblingen was located south of Stuttgart and we had a slew of family run German restaurants to chose from. We found a great Italian restaurant that became our favorite for New Year's dinner. One Yugoslavian place served some really fantastic spicy dishes. Throw in the local McDonald's (where they serve beer), a few wurst stands and one really lousy Mexican restaurant, you could say we never starved for action over there. 

On my recent foray back to Germany, I set out with a number of agendas/objectives. One was food. It may have been 30 years ago, but I distinctly recall some outstanding meals/food over there. My intent was to revisit some of the dining experiences from the past and I wasn't disappointed.

Jager Schnitzel (first in country meal)

And, of course, it wouldn't be real with a good bier


The real deal - wurst, sauerkraut & a dark bier

Sehr gut
Volksmarch lunch

Volksmarch Breakfast
This doesn't include the fantastic Italian restaurant in Hanau (Sea Bass to die for), of the veal medallions or pork roast.  German food is not for the lite weight, but it is incredibly fresh, tasty and very filling. 

16 August 2011

So much to see, so little time

Back in the 80's, Momma and I lived overseas in Germany for about 5 years with the Army.  We had just graduated from college, got married and I signed up as an Army officer in an Armor unit stationed overseas for 5 years.  This was back in our earlier, poorer days and we were were just starting out and had nothing but debt and a 2nd Lieutenant's salary to get by.  But we did ok but we worked to save as much money as we could.  That meant local trips & cheap vacations, but a trip back home was cost prohibitive at the time.  So, essentially, we moved out of our homes and did not come back home for almost 5 years.  Remember, this was back before cell phones, IM, facebook and skype.  Needless to say, I was persona non grata with the in laws for a while. 

The one thing we loved to do was to get away from the base.  The military community was very tight knit and they tended to cling together when stationed OUS (outside US).  A lot of soldiers and their families were stationed on or adjacent to their post.  Each post was like a little oasis of Americana in a foreign land.  We used to call our post "little America" where you could get regular down home stuff like Budweiser or Cheetos or Levis.  We tried to acclimate to the local economy and shop/eat/live as the locals did.  Did we make mistakes?  Yep.  Did we screw up the language?  You bet.  Did we embarrass ourselves?  More than likely.  Did we have a blast?  Hell yea.  Sometimes you have to step outside of your comfort zone to find new things.  And you might actually enjoy some of them.  

While I was over there, I tried to hit some of the places I remember, but I only had a few days to cover the entire country.  A couple of castles, a winery, two towers, my old army post, a few local towns.  No way I covered it all, but I did enjoy what I saw.  Didn't get lost, but there were a few times that I was "geographically dysfunctional".  I cannot admit to any excursions over there, but if you hear any stories of a psychotic American driving a Kia Venga driving down the the streetcar tracks and across the main plaza of Mannheim, you didn't get it from me. 

Bad Durkheim

Local water park

Wine, anyone?

Being A/R, I had planned my trip out in advance, but I was willing to go off script as the opportunity presented itself.  After my business deal was done, I had 3 to burn, so I headed south out of Frankfurt to my old stomping grounds.  Wandered through the wine country for several hours, got stuck a 3 hour traffic jam on the autobahn, tried to take a "short cut" through several towns, almost ran out of gas, wound up in my old town at a fantastic gasthaus.  I even lucked into a local town festival for the night.  Lots of bier, bands, wurst, and local bands.  Nothing like hearing American Girl in German to make it real.   
Local bands rocking the plaza!
Hard to imagine we started out here 30 years ago
(3rd floor, middle window) 

14 August 2011

Living vicariously

Junior and future DIL landed in Zurich Friday no issues.  They texted us from their hotel at 0400 (1100 their time) that they had made their hotel.  They have 2.5 days in Zurich before they hop a train to Paris.  Sounds glamorous.  I would be jealous if I hadn't just pulled off a one week trip to Germany just last month.

We spent almost 5 years of our life over in Germany and we fell in love with the country.  No matter what kind of lifestyle you enjoy, there is always something to peek your interest.  Whether it is exploring old castles and ruins from the 1700s, looking at battlefields from recent wars, discovering the treasures of the last century, touring the wine country, or sampling the local breweries, there is something for everything.  I noted from my recent road trip, if you ever do get over to the old country, try to take time to tour some of the local sites. Germany has lots of older buildings/castles/fortresses many of which date back to the middle ages. During my short trip over to Frankfurt last month, I was only able to squeeze in two days to fart around and I worked max out my exploring.  Got to see a few burgs on a drive by basis. Toured the Heidelberg Castle and Hanau Palace briefly.  The thing that always impressed me was the the depth of culture and history.  They have homes and buildings that date back to the 1800's.  Castles that were build 2-300 years ago (or longer).  If you are adventurous, you can explore ruins (or still standing castles) that are older than many countries.  To me, it is always interesting and inspiring to walk the walls and parapets of things that were built ages ago.   Today, society seems to be more interested in the latest technology or whiz-bang device that may on last a year or two.  In Houston, one of our cultural icons was the Astrodome.  An innovation at the time, it opened a mere 45 years ago, but, with advent of newer, larger stadiums, it has been vacant for almost 10 years waiting for the city to decide its fate.   

Heidelberg Castle

Hanau Palace

Ruins surrounding Steinheim

11 August 2011


Stephen blew in last night (and I mean blew in).

The last month has been a flurry of activity for all of us.  Stephen finished up his last required course in early July and got the official notice that he is done.  Kaput.  Finito.  He is now, officially a college graduate.    After all the hoopla and celebration back in May & June, to me, it is kinda anticlimactic.  He pretty much finish up his last class and quietly fades into the sunset.  Been way to hectic down here to ponder this milestone.  One part of his life (and ours) is over and he is now stepping out into the real world on his own.  

But is he all introspective and melancholy?  Noooo.  He is been busy jumping from one project/task into another.  Monday, he and his roommates got the keys to their new apartment and began the process of moving out.  Over 2 days, they transferred everything from their 5 bedroom house to a 3 bedroom apartment (1 guy is not going with them).  Basically two wild days of packing/hauling/loading/moving in 100+ heat.  Unfortunately, I was tied up at work so I could not enjoy that experience with them this year (I did the last two moves).  On top of that minor task, right after he moved his stuff, he jumped in his car and headed south to home to repack for his two week trip to Europe.  As part of his "graduation" gift to himself, he and and girlfriend/fiance are going to fly to Europe and hit the high spots of the EU.  Zurich, Paris, Munich, Rome.  One of those two weeks, 5 country road trips, but on a college student's budget.  He has their plans mapped out to the infinite degree.  Trains, Eurail pass, hotels, hostels, castle tours, even restaurants (gets that a/r planning skill from me).  Shaping up to be a memorable road trip.  I know momma is nervous, but I remind her that back in the stone ages, when we were about their age, we packed up everything and moved to Germany for 5 years and look how we turned out.  And that was before iPhones, iPads, Skype, Starbucks, and WiFi.  I am keeping an eye out for them but feel they will do fine.  Although, I will admit I am a wee bit jealous...

Hitting the trail
And to answer the questions from previous post:
  1. Reliant Dog Show (Claire on the floor)
  2. Vineyards in Malsch, Germany
  3. Casa Grande (Hearst Castle in San Simeon, California)
  4. Store display for one of a myriad of pet stores in San Luis Obispo, CA (yes, they do pamper their pooches out there) 
  5. Old tyme fire engine from a funeral processions in San Luis Obispo (but I do like Abby's idea)
I always keep my camera handy when I travel.  You can always find something interesting to pass along.

09 August 2011

Missing in action

Bueller?  Bueller?  Bueller? 

Jeez.  You'd think I dropped off the face of the earth.  Yes, I know that it has been over 4 weeks since I last enlightened you with my wisdom.  First of all, let me dispel rumors about my disappearance of late: 
  1. No, I have not died or fallen ill
  2. No, I have not been in jail
  3. No, there was no alien abduction
  4. No, I have not been in rehab (but Lindsay says Hey!)
  5. No, I did not won the lottery and run off to some Caribbean island
I have been a wee bit busy.  I was in the middle of 3 more reports from my European adventure when things got off the wall busy.  I intend to make it up, hopefully, but not all in one sitting.  

Since you last saw our hero, I've been 1) fixing the landbarge, 2) working the dog show, 3) helping out at the in laws, 4) working nonstop, 5) out on the road again for another supplier audit, 6) trying to save my yard from dying, 7) getting ready for junior's grand adventure, 8) doing the dog park thing multiple times, and 9) trying to coax my computer to communicate with the rest of the world.  I know, it doesn't look like much compared to others, but I have been swamped/uber busy and have neglected my duties.  Mea Culpa, Mea Culpa.  

For those whose sites I visit daily (even on the road), please forgive my lack of comments.  It ain't because I don't care, but something got in my system that prevents me from commenting on certain sites.  Much as I want to say something intelligent (rare) or pithy or funny, I am unable to post my wit on a few sites (sorry, Mel).  

Sorry for neglecting this meager blog for so long.

For now, let me leave you with a few shots of things I have seen over the last few weeks.  Anyone care to guess where these were taken?