Almost the Last Leg

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From Switzerland, we drove through Germany, making a stop in Munich to walk the silent grounds of Dachau. After the Killing Fields in Cambodia, I had little interest in visiting a concentration camp, but Mike was anxious to see some WWII history. Although emotionally strained and left disillusioned with my existence, I am glad to have gone.

There’s not much to say about the Holocaust that hasn’t been said already and honestly, I don’t have much to say about it. Thinking about genocide leaves me feeling lost. All I manage to do is let the idea sit helplessly inside of me.

From Munich, we drove to Bochum before our departure in Amsterdam. It was a long drive. The stick seemed to be getting harder to shift and suddenly the overheat warning light came on. Putting the van in neutral and coasting through the cold air got it to turn off. I played that game with the light for an hour of so and then at a gas station, I poured half a bottle of coolant into the radiator. It didn’t help, but we made it to Bochum without any smoke.

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Lighter Load

Germany, Thoughts & Reflections 1 Comment »

As part of my efforts to seek exposure for writing and photography, I spent the last week tuning this website up. It should load faster and have less distracting stale information now. There are more posts on the homepage now too.

All the fun stuff on the map is still there and I added some one sentence stories for each location. Go click “Where Else Have I Been” and explore around a bit. Make sure to note the controls that show up beneath the map.

My mom will surely be letting me know about all the typos, but if you find anything else amuck..please let me know!

Autumn in Bochum

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Today we went for a walk in the forest, a few square miles of well spaced oaks and maples on the edge of Bochum.

Massive grey trunks, hundreds of years old, reach strong from a clean, soft brown earth. In the lush cover far above, there is a constant swirl from the autumn winds that came earlier this week. The large open space between all the trees gives this place such an open feeling. It’s easy to breath here.

I wear a few layers to keep warm in the new, light air. Except for when raising my sleeve to wipe small drips from my nose, my hands stay wrapped to fists in my pockets. Giant gusts come, moving my hair and filling my coat. A welcome break, my feet enjoy the padded ground while we climb one small hill after another.

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A German Education

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Most Germans don’t graduate university until their mid to late twenties. I was surprised to learn this at first, but it made some sense of how I’ve always met so many Germans while traveling. They are encouraged to do other things besides study. Guys have to spend a year doing military or social service. Girls don’t have to do anything like that. I wonder if there exists any German men-groups claiming sexism.

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More Northern Germany Photos

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Farfegnugen & Bubbly Water

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I often wondered why companies (specifically BMW since I drove one, which reminds me to mention I’m selling my car and I need to put a link up here) make cars that drive incredible speeds when you can hardly use a third of the engine’s power without facing criminal charges. I figured Germans drove the cars fast on the Autobahn, but I always imagined that road as some long single stretch of wide highway that went from one place to another place and wasn’t driven on very often. I didn’t realize the Autobahn was actually the name for the entire Interstate highway network in Germany, including wide stretch of multilane highways as well as two lane roads with hardly enough space to pass. Having driven on the Autobahn for a couple weeks, I now know why BMW makes cars that go 200 miles per hour. Because in Germany people actually drive that fast. The Autobahn is meticulously maintained, pothole free and even sports billboards with the phrase “Fairplay on the Autobahn” printed over a grass athletic field striped to look like a highway.

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Where is Tall Man?

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Driving into Berlin was exciting. There was something special about driving just like I do at home, to a place I heard so much about while growing up, yet seemed so far away. I remembered watching the Wall come down on TV when I was little and later talking to my Uncle who had brought a piece back from his travels in Europe. My German history knowledge is weak, but I obviously know the basics, which also made entering the city in fifth gear while listening to my iPod seem a bit surreal.

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Notes From a Van Down by the Elbe

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Half the highways were closed and I couldn’t read the detour signs, so I got lost quite a bit my first day on the road from Bochum before I landed in Quidlenburg; population 24,000. I found an outdoor café in a crooked stone square, surrounded by tall stick built buildings lasting from the middle ages. Tourists meandered. The sun was hot when you stopped moving, so I found a seat at a table under an umbrella. It was Sunday, so deathly quiet. The only sounds were the clinking of plates and some soft murmuring in German.

I ordered some tuna on toast and read on through my book; Sophie’s World. My waitress had near clear green eyes, blond hair to her ears and small paw prints tattooed on her chest. She was shy at first, but as the hours past and I went from apple juice to tea, she smiled more. There were bees distracting me while I read. I was peaceful and let them alone for awhile, then killed one and watched for a chance at the others.

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Some Germany Photos

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Rechnung

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Have you ever left the mechanic not really understanding what you paid for? “You’re dampfring’s busted and you could use some new gummilagers.” Ummm…ok?

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