DAY 38, JUNE 24
(CHRIS) (The day we met Heather)
(SAM) We woke up in a field and it was raining. Go figure. We dance our ritual sun dance and we were off. We drove down the treacherous road and back to the town of Reutte. Hawkeye spotted a local and he asked the wise old maid for directions. With this new information, we pointed our faces to the ruins of Ehrenberg. In a light rain, we parked and walked up the slightly steep hill to the very old castle ruins. Chris was so very excited he was frothing at the mouth. The view of the city below was authentic and we enjoyed a great non-bloody orange. Jon climbed in the rafters of a turret. We called to Matt to look over here, Kaw, kaw! After some frolicking and fun, We began the almost impossible hike to the larger castle which crowned the hill. One could not see it from the bottom of the hill, but we knew it was there because we had infused knowledge.
Once on top the hill, we discovered that this very large castle was shrouded in pine trees. The structure was very large, but very ruined. The view from the old walls was incredible. Matt and Jon were not content with admiring the ancient strength of that fortress; they started pushing over a dead tree. I say started because the entire process took a long while and at the conclusion, the score was Tumbleweeds 0 and pine tree 1. Not to be out done, they found another dead, old pine tree on the side of the presipouse (EDITOR: precipice) (ditch). After much adu, Matt and Jon were victorious. Chris caught the barbarian instinct and helped throw it over the cliff. It was all very nice and very mistiky. The fog and the forest and the castle ruins were all super swell.
So much for free ruined castles. Now, we were off to Germany and 19th century Disney castles of Ludwig II. But first, we must find sustenance. We exchanged money at the border, but, in Germany, all the supers close at noon on Saturday. It was now 12:30. But to make a long story short, the third ' super we tried was open and we stoked up big time not knowing what the future would hold. We cooked sausage with the last of Jon's charcoal in a cave in the middle of the city. It was good and we rejoiced.
We found great parking and, after scattering, we walked the 1/2 hour walk while walking up the hill. Walking. We knew this was a tourist spot, but we did not know the extent to which it was true. (On the way up the hill, we passed a man who had apparently collapsed and died of a heart attack. An ambulance was there and he was covered with a cloth except for his shoes. His wife was there crying. We will keep them both in our prayers.) We bought our tickets and the student ID's worked yet another time. We are so spoiled. As we were herded into the corral, the rain stopped and fate allowed a ray of sunshine into our lives.
(HEATHER) (Heather enters the story.) I must write quickly because the men have already grown weary of me, and are pushing me out of the car while driving at a fast speed. (Is that a subtle hint?!) The odd and pleasantly surprising turn of events that brought us together involved an eye-catching hat, a back-breaking back-pack, and a line that stretched to eternity. Because of Sam's "generous" offer, Matt will probably be investing in a chiropractor when he returns home. I'm a liberated woman most of the time, usually after I've been fortified by a manly gyro. Apparently, my diet had been lacking, because I eagerly accepted the offer put before me. But thank you, Sam and Matt, not just for unloading my burden, but for initiating our fateful meeting-of-the-minds!
(CHRIS) ,well, Neushw#'@@%@&* was a bust. We should have known things were going to go poorly when we saw the dead guy half way up there. Anyway, we were herded through like cattle for about 1 1/2 hours. Finally, we were on the English tour, but the guide had a thick accent and there were so many noisy brats in our group that we heard not a word of her presentation. Versailles palace was not great, but it kicked N's butt for interior. But N and its neighbor Hohenswangau were awesome from the outside. We did see a painting of Siegfried--several of them actually--because Mad King Ludwig loved Wagner. Anyway, the paintings told us how it ended. He died.
We exited N, but had lost Heather. She had flirted long enough with Matt to convince him to carry her load, then moved on to other men. (half joke.) We waited outside, found her, and journeyed to Marianbrucke, for the best view of N. SUPER! She took our phone #'s, but she kept hiking with us. We got a nice view of Hohen. Matt had already offered Heather a ride to the train station and now he took Sam and I aside and asked if we could take Heather up the Romantic Road. We both voted no, but said we would give in in the case of a tie. We didn't know what Jon voted, but Matt invited Heather and she accepted. (Jon later said he was impartial, so technically Matt lost the vote 2--l but he got his way.) Heather needed to change her train ticket, so we did that and got gyro's in Fussen. Romantic Strabe, here we come.
The car was a bit crowded, but H was small. It was her luggage that was huge. We put it in the back window. The road was pretty boring, just a regular road. We targeted the city of Augsburg for camping because our map said there was one there. We got there about 9 p.m., but no sign of camping. We drove around for a half hour, then saw a lit up festival tent with locals. It was no big production, but there was a band and giant beers (like the ones at Andechs that we could not have.) So we asked a local about camping; he indicated that he understood and then gave us a giant beer. Soon we all had liter beers except me, tonight's driver.
We chatted with Wolfgang (pronounced Volf, dammit) who hated Berlin and worked for a newspaper and Franz who used to live in Niagara Falls and play Olympic tennis. Franz took Matt and I in his mini-van to show us a spot to put our tent. It was near the river that was "so clean you can drink and bathe with it." He said it was his property. (Note: Franz was drunk.) Back at the festival, most people were gone, but the band played on--they played merry German music with horns and strings. Volf was making an offer to Sam when Matt and I returned. "You, Sam--You sleep with me."
Sam: "Uh, two people, uh, how about me and Jon."
Volf: "Only one bed--just you." (note: Volf was also drunk.)
Heather was laughing so hard, she was spilling her beer and crying.
But another man, Edvard, offered to put us all up in his garage. "But first, we party." So there was more drinking, more music, and we all learned how to snuff. Finally, the band stopped: they had been going for eight hours! So we followed Ed around the block 200 meters to his house. He told us that this neighborhood fest would continue tomorrow. He had a very nice house and he backed his car out of his one-car garage and I put the sleeping bags in it. He woke up his wife and out she came to see what her large, Bavarian husband had brought home. (Note: Ed was drunk.) They began arguing in German as I watched. At first, I thought she didn't want us here, but then she began to say, "too cold," and she said we would all sleep inside.
So into the cozy little living room we went. Then the Mrs. began offering us drinks. Sam instructed all us "No thank youers" that it was polite to accept. So out came the dark beer, light beer, grapefruit juice, coke, beer, water, and beer. These were served in Ed's stein collection. Then she offered us food. It's polite to accept, remember. And from on high came: breads, sausages, pickles, tomatoes, meat spread, fish spread, cheese, butter, ice cream, rolls, beer, fruits, and cheese and beer. Even I, who had had only 1/2 a beer began to be stuffed while Jon became giggly and Matt became sleepy and Sam's eyes began to pop out. And we chatted to the nice couple with the broken English.. And down came the son, 29 year old, Ulrich.
(MATT) Ulrich, not to be outdone, immediately began to drink... wait a minute, what did he drink? Oh yes, he drank bier. We were mildly hilarious, tipsy, buzzed, and all that rolled up in one. As well as full. Then Ulrich turned on some American music. For some reason, European locals try to please us with American music. Well, at least they don't bring out Budweiser for us. Anyway, he turned on some of my favorite music, current alternative. So we chatted in German and English about his work and many little things I can't remember with Grunge pounding away in the background. We understood most of what they said. The words we didn't catch the bier would translate for us. We spent most of the evening laughing and gesturing to each other. We tried asking about Sunday Mass that we would go to in the morning, but all we could get out of them was, "Catolic, yes (point to crucifix) He my friend," but no Mss info that night.
(SAM) Ed, the father, was a very large German type guy who worked for the U.S. Army as a cook for three years. He like to say, "It is a very good day for der shining of da shoe," as he poured down a very good, very dark German bier.
(CHRIS) In Bavaria, everytime you drink a swig of beer, you have to hold up the bottle or mug and say, "Brosch" (Cheers). You can't drink unless someone does this, so the German always take long, deep swigs. Well, as Pink Floyd played in the background, we spoke of music. Uli was very upset that we had not heard of some of his favorite American stars. We learned that Uli had a accordion and we talked him into playing it. Uli tried to play, but he was not very good. (Usually when people try to get out of playing an instrument by saying they aren't very good, they just don't want to play and are good. Not Uli.)
But pretty soon, his mom took over. She was pretty good; it was the first time she had played in 20 years. (This family never has company, she confided to us when Ed was out. Ed doesn't like many visitors; she was shocked when he brought us home, but very happy to have us young folk; she is "young in her heart.") She played Sinatra and Cay Ser-a Sera and German songs. Then, in a definite trip highlight, Uli and the Mrs. began to yodel along with the accordion. We were all happy, and Sam was laughing and hiccuping so much, he almost burped for his 7th lifetime burp.
By 2 a.m., we were all sleepy. Ed crashed on his bed with all his clothes and no covers, Jon and Sam showered. The Mrs. kept repeating herself and talking a while longer. "I wish to know better English, you understand? I know very little," or saying, "My husband, my man, he is police; when car get too close to other car, he stop." Sam and I slept on the living room floor--Jon and Matt on couches. Heather got the quest room. What a wild Tirolean/Bavarian day it had been. GrutsGott.