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.


Last Sunday I pulled off a secondary road and parked my van in the middle of a wheat field. The sun was out and too hot to sit in for hours on end, so I made shade with the van and sat on the floor with the sliding door open, where I read all afternoon. Once in awhile a car or some cyclists would pass, but mostly the only things moving were the pages of my book and the long white fingers of a few soaring windmills, which swung silently and at a pulse rate

I spent my first couple nights at rest stops on the Autobahn. They’re well light, have food and toilets and are free to park at, so it was quite convenient. In fact I’ve found many free parking places in Germany. This is perfect since with my van I rarely need to go to a camp site. There’s no toilet tank to empty out, I wired the cigarette lighter to charge all my stuff while I’m driving and the fridge runs on propane, so I don’t even need to plug in.

In fact as I type this I’m parked in a free lot, a stones throw from the Elbe on the Germany/Chezch border, watching the water move under the long reflection of orange street lamps dotting the river. It’s near midnight. The moon is bright and ducking in and out of small black clouds. There are a couple RV’s, ten or so cars, but most of the spots are empty. I’m listening to the whistle of crickets and the massive slow moving water pour lightly along the shallow banks.

I just finished cleaning up from dinner; self prepared pasta with a tomato, basil sauce to which I added slices of fresh tomato and green pepper and a can of tuna fish. It’s the second time I’ve used the stove and had a big healthy meal in my van. This morning, while parked on the same river in Berlin, I made myself an omelet and toast.

I’m loving having all but one of the comforts of home within arms reach and fully mobile. I’m also kind of enjoying the challenge of looking for a new place to go to the bathroom everyday. I haven’t had to use the skills I learned in India yet, but it is definitely an option.

One Thought on “Notes From a Van Down by the Elbe”

  1. kevin Says:

    Was Eve (Ruff Ryders’ First Lady) your server? just kidding. Great to see you are using your van to it’s fullest potential. hope i spelt that right. Thanks for the update.

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