Wednesday, April 9, 2014
Back in January we made it back from Germany and stayed in Loomis, CA for another month. Our friends Bert and Cathy were more than generous with allowing us to stay parked by their garage, plugged into their electricity, and using their shower and laundry room. During that month we lazed around a bit, Heinz worked on regular maintenance for the rig, the car, and the motorcycle. In the meantime I worked on some embroidery and did some cooking for the gang. Hanging out with Bert and Cathy is always a blast and involves lots of heated discussions and even more laughter. This time they introduced Heinz to a new experience…his first pedicure.
Now what is she doing to your feet that she’s not doing to mine?
We also made a new lifelong friend, Bentley. This is Cathy & Bert’s yard cat that they kept trying to move into our rig. We had to do a daily sweeps of our area for signs of cat food, litter box, and cat crate!
Bentley, the King of his yard...
…and apparently of our steps as well. Bentley developed a liking for our front entry step and saw NO reason to move for mere humans trying to get in or out.
See, I TOLD you that you could get out without me moving. It’s not MY fault you almost sprained your ankle trying to step over me.
Beginning of February, we said goodbye to Bert and Cathy, and headed south for Seal Beach CA. It was time see Pete and Jess, and get in some serious Opa and Oma time with Nora. Nora is developing into quite a little personality, friendly, bright, curious, and quite the gourmand. No baby rice for this princess - it was straight to steamed broccoli, cucumber, carrots and the like. In addition, she’s turning up her nose to those traditional jars of baby food.
Ok, one more time Opa, here’s how you do a selfie…
Ok everybody, let’s ROCK!!
Watch Oma, I’m almost ready to crawl…time to start putting things on the top shelves.
Opa teaching Nora yet another important life skill - the fine art of blowing a raspberry. Sad to say, she picked it up quickly.
Beverly has discovered the best place to be during mealtime.
The day Nora discovered refried beans. Bring it on Mom! Dad, get that bathwater running!
HEY - really dude, do you gotta do that…
Pete, Nora, and Jess at the WurstKüche in Los Angeles. Nora was really digging on the fries, not to mention the sautéed peppers off the sausages.
After a month in the Los Angeles area it was time to start drifting north towards Alaska, our summertime destination. We’ve wanted to get there for several years now and kept putting it off for “minor” reasons…Tash’s wedding, Nora’s birth…you know, those pesky little life events that you feel duty bound to attend. But this is our year. Nothing is stopping us, not even the fact that Jess and Pete are moving to Vermont and Suzi and Carl, along with Tash and Ryan, are all moving to Colorado. Pack and unpack yourselves - we’ll be communing with the salmon and bears.
Soon...very, very soon...
Leaving L.A. we decided to head up the east side of the Sierras. We stopped for a night in the Alabama Hills just below Mount Whitney, close to the town of Lone Pine. The Alabama Hills are a range of rock formations in the Owens Valley. The area was named for the CSS Alabama. When news of the Confederate warship’s exploits reached prospectors in California sympathetic to the Confederate cause, they named many of their mining claims after the ship. Eventually the name came to be applied to the entire range. When the USS Kearsarge finally sunk the Alabama in 1864, Northern sympathizers named a mining district, a mountain pass, a mountain peak, and a town after the Kearsarge. The area has been a popular filming location for movies and television since the early 1920’s.
The Element in its element - the Alabama Hills. (sorry, just couldn’t resist)
The Alabama Hills at the base of the Eastern Sierras Range.
Sunset over the Sierras.
The wildflowers were blooming in abundance, so of course I took advantage and started snapping photos. Bless Heinz’s heart, he patiently sat in the car while I wandered down the road with my head down, eyes alert to a new flower, and shooting my digital bouquets.
Wallace's Woolly Daisies
Sandy field of Woolly Daisies.
Mountain Jewel Flower
After leaving the Alabama Hills we moved further north to Gardnerville, NV, just south of Reno. About a half hour above Lone Pine we stopped at the Manzanar National Historic Site. In the early months of 1942, following the bombing of Pearl Harbor by the Japanese and America’s entry into World War II, and despite the lack of ANY concrete evidence, Japanese Americans were suspected of remaining loyal to their ancestral land. Therefore President Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, authorizing the U.S. Army to remove nearly 120,000 people of Japanese ancestry (2/3’s of them citizens of the U.S., either naturalized or born in America) from their homes and communities on the west coast. Manzanar was one of 10 camps located in remote areas of California, Nevada, Arizona, Colorado, Utah, Idaho, and Arkansas. Internees were given only days to decide what to do with their houses, farms, businesses, and other possessions. Most sold their belongings at a significant loss. They were not told where they were going or for how long. Each family was assigned an identification number and loaded into cars, buses, trucks, and trains, taking only what they could carry. By November 1942, the relocation was complete.
Enclosed by barbed wire, eight guard towers with searchlights, and patrolled by military police, the mile-square living area at Manzanar contained barracks, mess halls, and other buildings, where up to 11,070 Japanese Americans lived between March 1942 and November 1945. By September 1942 more than 10,000 Japanese Americans were crowded into 504 barracks organized into 36 blocks. Each block held 14 barracks housing 200-400 people, with shared toilets, showers, laundry rooms, and mess halls. Each barrack was divided into 4 rooms and any combination of 8 individuals was allotted a 20 x 25 foot room. An oil stove, a single hanging light bulb, cots, blankets, and mattresses filled with straw were the only furnishings provided.
Reconstructed barracks building.
Summer temperatures at Manzanar reached 110, while winter temperatures were often below freezing. Throughout the year strong winds swept through the valley, often blanketing the camp with dust, sand or snow. Internees attempted to make the best of the situation, establishing schools, churches, temples, boys and girls clubs, sports teams, musical groups, and dance programs. In addition they planted both ornamental and kitchen gardens and started a camp newspaper, the Manzanar Free Press (ah, the irony). Most adult internees worked in the camp, digging irrigation canals, tending the gardens, making clothes and furniture, working in a camp based factory, producing camouflage netting for the military, preparing meals as mess hall workers, and providing medical care at the camp hospital.
During the war, 150 residents of Manzanar died. Most were cremated, but the remains of 15 residents (most infants and older men without families) were buried just outside of the barbed wire. Six burials remain today - relatives removed the other nine after the war.
Memorial to the dead of Manzanar. The monument’s Japanese characters read, “Soul Consoling Tower” on the front and “Erected by the Manzanar Japanese, August 1943” on the back.
In 1945 and after the defeat of Japan, the internees were allowed to leave. Despite the paranoia of the country, not one Japanese American was ever arrested or tried for espionage during the war.
US flag flying over the restored camp auditorium/gymnasium, now the Interpretive Center.
Once we got to Gardnerville we settled in to check out the area for a week followed by a couple of weeks in Reno. We’ve had the region on our list of possible retirement places for a while now. Gardnerville is a small town (population around 5,600) about 50 miles south of Reno and at the foot of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Reno, of course, is much bigger (population around 225,000) and known as “The Biggest Little City in the World” and famous for its casinos and numerous summer events like the Air Races, Hor August Nights, etc.. Both cities are located in what is known as high-desert.
As early as the 1840’s a few pioneers settled in the Truckee Meadows, a fertile valley bisected by the Truckee River. Gold was discovered in the vicinity in 1850 leading to the settling of a small mining community, but the discovery of silver in 1859 at the Comstock Lode led to a mining rush. By 1863, the Central Pacific Railroad had begun laying tracks east from Sacramento, CA heading for Promontory, UT - the railroad passed through Reno. As mining waned in the early 1900’s Reno took a leap when the state of Nevada legalized open gambling in 1931, along with the passage of extremely liberal divorce laws. Reno quickly became the location for quick divorces for couples all over the U.S.
The area has a lot to offer, entertainment in the casinos, continuing education at the University of Nevada, fantastic motorcycling through the Sierra Nevada, Lake Tahoe with the largest concentration of ski resorts in the U.S. (including Squaw Valley, site of the 1960 Winter Olympics), areas for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing, fly fishing along the many rivers in the Sierras - the list goes on and on. After three weeks in the area it has earned a continuing position on our potential retirement list!
The forest above Lake Tahoe on the day after a fresh snowfall.
Passing through Donner Pass.
You’ve made it into April, arrived in Oregon, and more importantly, you’re all caught up on our travels! I’ll cover Oregon in the next installment of the blog. Until then, here is our friend of the day (actually… months):
Bentley, stalking who knows what - a passing mouse, a blowing leaf, Heinz?
Friday, March 28, 2014
Ha! Bet you didn't think I could do it did you? Well here it is...the last of our Germany adventures.
For our next stop we spent a day in München, the capital of Bavaria - population 2.6 million. The city was founded by monks of the Benedictine order in 1158. Modern München is a financial and publishing hub and has been ranked as one of the world’s most livable cities since 2010.
We met Heinz and Suzi’s cousin Norbert, his friend Marion, and Norbert’s two daughters Stella and Maike – our first stop was the Rathaus, or Town Hall in the Marienplatz. The Rathaus was built between 1867 and 1908 in the Gothic Revival style. The main tower has a height of 85 meters and contains a viewing platform offering up a spectacular 360-degree view of the city.
Marion and Heinz in the Marienplatz.
The München Rathaus
View of the Marienplatz and München from the Rathaus tower.
Completed in 1908, the Rathaus also contains the world-famous Glockenspiel – performances are held every day at 11 AM. While the Glockenspiel’s 43 bells chime away, its 32 life-size figures re-enact two stories from the 16th century. The top half of the Glockenspiel tells the story of the marriage of Duke Wilhelm V to Renata of Lorraine and depicts a joust to celebrate. Following the end of the joust, the bottom half of the Glockenspiel depicts the coopers of München dancing through the streets during the Black Plague years to “bring fresh vitality to fearful dispositions”. The whole performance lasts 15 minutes. At the end a small golden rooster at the top of the Glockenspiel chirps quietly three times.
The Rathaus Glockenspiel.
After tooling around the Marienplatz for a bit, it was off to see the rest of the city. München is a mix of historic buildings and modern architecture. The easiest way to show you the city is through photographs.
The Theatinerkirche of St. Kajetan built in 1690.
I spotted this statue and smiled…Yarn bombing is alive and well in Germany. For those unfamiliar with the term, yarn bombing, aka guerrilla knitting or yarn storming, is a type of easily removed graffiti that is aimed at personalizing sterile or cold public places.
The Frauenkirche is the most famous building in the city center and serves as the cathedral for the Archdiocese of München.
Karlstor, one of three gates still remaining from the medieval era when the city was fortified.
Display window of a local butcher – yes, they still have real butchers in real butcher shops!
City streets of the old town are mostly narrow, made for horse carts and pedestrians, not modern automobiles.
Heading into the Staatliches Hofbräuhaus in München, better known as the Hofbräuhaus - the Royal Brewery in München. The brewery was founded in 1589 by the Duke of Bavaria, Wilhelm V, and is now owned by the Bavarian state government. The Hofbräuhaus in Las Vegas is also owned by the Bavarian government and is a replica of the one in München – somehow, it’s just not the same though!
A subway platform, clean, bright, colorful, and the trains are on time.
The Olympic Stadium built for the 1972 Summer Olympics was considered revolutionary for its time. It includes large sweeping canopies of acrylic glass (designed to imitate the German Alps) stabilized by steel cables.
Looking through the glass at sunset.
The residences built for the Olympic athletes. This was the site of the attack on 11 members of the Israeli team by the Palestinian group Black September. The buildings have since been converted into apartments.
Serving up Glüwein at the Weihnachtsmarkt.
Woodcarver’s booth at the Weihnachtsmarkt.
The following day was spent in Nürnberg. Records indicate that Nürnberg was founded around 1050 AD as the location of an imperial castle. Situated on key trade routes the city grew in importance over the centuries. It is often referred to as having been the unofficial capital of the Holy Roman Empire, as the Imperial Diet (administrative branch of the government) and judicial courts met at Nürnberg Castle. In the 15th and 16th centuries Nürnberg was at the center of the German Renaissance.
On the darker side, Nürnberg also had great significance during the Nazi era. Because of the city’s relevance to the Holy Roman Empire and its location in the center of Germany, the Nazi Party chose to hold huge conventions – the Nürnberg rallies - in the city. Held annually, these rallies became huge Nazi propaganda events. (See Leni Riefenstahl’s Triumph of Will, a documentary about the 1934 rally. The film won multiple international awards for film excellence, but after the war it ruined her career due to blacklisting as a Nazi sympathizer.) During WWII the city was an important site for military production and was therefore severely bombed by the Allies. After the war German officials involved in the Holocaust and other war crimes were brought before an international tribunal at the Nürnberg Trials.
Frauentor, one of the four medieval entrances to the city. Of three miles of wall that once surrounded the city, 90% is intact. You can still walk along approximately a mile of the wall. We skipped the opportunity as it was cold and rainy that day.
When people think of Nürnberg, they usually think of gingerbread, toys, Christmas, the Reich Party rallies, or the Nürnberg trials. But it’s much more than that. Gothic churches, patricians’ houses, romantic spots, public art - it’s all that and more. There is a wonderful co-existence between medieval and modern, and the past with the present.
Buildings in the city center. These are all reconstructions built after WWII.
St. Lorenz Church, originally Catholic but now a Protestant church. Badly damaged in WWII bombing, it was restored after the war.
Public art in a market square - Ship of Fools, by Jürgen Weber, 1984. This is a bronze sculpture of a boat with 7 people, a skeleton, and a dog based on Albrecht Dürer’s illustration for a satire written in 1494. The sculpture’s text bands make an appeal against environmental destruction, war, and violence.
Bell tower of the Frauenkirche, built over a 10-year period beginning in 1352 on the location of a former Jewish synagogue after the Jewish population was expelled from the city.
During the Advent season Nürnberg holds one of the biggest and most famous Weihnachtsmarkt. This market has been operating annually since at least 1628 (in the German National Museum is a box inscribed “on the occasion of the Kindle’s Market of 1628”), although there are remarks in even older documents that seem to indicate that it might have started as early as 1540. It currently hosts over 2 million visitors annually.
Worker at the Nürnberg Weihnachtsmarkt. Now this is getting serious about growing a mustache! None of those wimpy little under the nose styles here.
Hmmm, what to choose, what to choose…
This is a treat that I didn’t expect to find in Germany.
A Lebkuchen booth at the Weinachtsmarkt. If you’ve ever eaten a gingerbread cookie you’ve eaten a bit of Nürnberg.
Heinz and Suzi were thrilled when they spotted this booth selling Moor’s Heads, a treat from their childhood in Germany. A Moor’s Head you ask? I sure did! It is a large chocolate covered marshmallow – 98% marshmallow, the rest is a thin wafer cookie that forms its base and then a thin chocolate coating. Apparently not all marshmallow is the same and they were swooning over these, myself, not so much. I’m just not a fan.
Heinz “helping” Suzi with a bite.
The Dom (cathedral) of Regensburg is an example of pure German Gothic. Begun in 1275, it was not completed until 1634 with the exception of the towers, which were finished in 1869.
By this time we had moved our base of operations to Norbert and Marion’s apartment in Regensburg. They welcomed us with open arms, lots of good food, and a tour of the city. Regensburg is located on the northernmost part of the Danube River. The first settlements in the area date back to the Stone Age, by 1096 there were 40,000 residents, a major city by medieval standards. During WWII Regensburg was home to a Messerschmitt aircraft factory and an oil refinery. Despite bombing of these targets, the city itself suffered little damage. Therefore the nearly intact medieval city center is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Dom (cathedral) of Regensburg is an example of pure German Gothic. Begun in 1275, it was not completed until 1634 with the exception of the towers, which were finished in 1869.
These buildings are located across the square from the Dom. According to Norbert, the Gothic design of the doorways and windows was meant as a snub to the Catholic priests from a Protestant merchant.
Part of Norbert’s tour included lunch at a restaurant located in a 900 year old building next to a 900 year old stone bridge. The Würstküchl is probably the oldest fast food restaurant in the world. The only items on the menu are the local sausages, sauerkraut, homemade mustard, and hard rolls. Records indicate that a restaurant specializing in sausages has existed continuously in this spot since 1140 AD. Except, of course for short periods when the river rose and flooded the kitchens.
The Würstküchl in Regenburg.
Sausages at the Würstküchl.
Butcher shop specializing in sausages. Germans are serious about their sausages, with more than 1,500 varieties available, obeying strict production regulations, some dating back to the year 1256.
That night Norbert and Marion took us to another Weihnachtsmarkt. But this one was much different from all the others we’d been to. This one was the Historischer Romantischer Weihnachtsmarkt in the small village of Guteneck. This market is a medieval recreation. All of the merchants are selling locally made items and all of them are in period costume. Many of the food booths were selling traditional foods that were very different from anything we’ve eaten before, but all delicious. In addition, since we were there at night, everything outside of the merchant booths was lit by firelight.
Making Baumstriezelei, dough wrapped around a wooden rolling pin shaped base and baked in a wood-fired brick oven.
Baumstriezelei, ready to eat…yummy!
Making Raclette. Raclette is both a type of Swiss cheese and a Swiss dish based on heating the cheese and scraping off (racler - to scrape) the melted part. The dish has been made in Switzerland since the 1200’s. If you love cheese as much as I do….OH MY!
After tumbling into bed that night we woke up fresh and ready to go. So it was off to Rothenburg ob der Tauber. In the Middle Ages, when Frankfurt and München were just wide spots on the road, Rothenburg was a “free imperial city”, answering only to the Holy Roman Emperor. With a population of 6,000, it was one of Germany’s largest cities. In the 12th through 14th centuries it sat on a major trade route. Today, the major trade is the tourist business, with two-thirds of the population employed in tourism.
Rothenburg is considered Germany’s best-preserved medieval walled city. During WWII, it only endured one bombing raid. The U.S. Assistant Secretary of War John McCloy knew of the historic importance and beauty of Rothenburg, so he ordered U.S. Army General Jacob Devers not to use artillery in taking the town if at all possible. Six soldiers were sent under a white flag to negotiate the surrender of the town. When stopped by a German sentry, they held up the flag and explained their mission. They told the German command that their offer was to spare the city if it was not defended. If they did not return to their unit within three hours, the city would be shelled and bombed to the ground. The local military commander gave up the town, thereby saving it from total destruction.
Medieval wall surrounding the city. It is possible to walk the 1½ miles around the city on the wall, entering or exiting at almost every tower.
Walking along the medieval wall.
View of Rothenburg from the wall.
Tower and sun clock seen from the town wall.
Doors used to raise furniture or goods to the upper floors, note the winch pole above the top door.
Medieval house close to the city wall.
While in Rothenburg I wanted to visit the Christmas Museum. I mean really, it’s December, we’re in Germany – land of the Christmas Markets, of course we needed to go to the museum. Suzi and Heinz sighed, but agreed to go - the doubters were captivated. The museum tracks Christmas traditions through the centuries with Nativities from all over the world, glass balls from the 1800 through present day, happy Santas and grim Santas, nutcrackers of all sizes and styles, and German pyramids from tiny to over 6 feet tall. There’s even a collection of Christmas tree stands that are amazingly complex.
Pyramids ranging in sizes and age.
Christmas tree stands from the late 1800’s and early 1900’s.
Well, while Heinz and Suzi were thrilled with the Moor’s Heads they found in Nürnberg, I found my love in Rothenburg. We stopped into a small bakery to get a cup of coffee and a snack. There I tried a Schneeball (snowball) - a local specialty. This is a pastry made from shortcrust pastry. I took a bite and was immediately transported to Louisiana and my mother’s kitchen, age 5. The taste was exactly like a cookie Mama used to make occasionally as I was growing up although the shape was very different. I couldn’t get enough of them while we were in town.
Schneeball on the right, waiting for me to eat (and not share!)
Bread display in the bakery.
As we wandered the city we spotted some wonderful sights that made for great photo ops.
Christmas decorations on houses in Germany tend to the simple, yet elegant.
Decorative ironworks graced many of the shop doorways.
The Rathaus was undergoing repairs, but what a great way to hide the construction.
The three of us in front of the famous Klingentor, a city gate.
We spent the remainder of our trip back in Ettlingen celebrating Christmas. The holiday in Germany lasts 3 days, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and the day after. It is a time to be with family, and most businesses and all government offices close. About the only places open are restaurants and not many of them. We had a blast, dinner at Gertrud’s on Christmas Eve, dinner out on Christmas Day, and dinner at Marion’s mom’s on the day after. We also toured the town with Suzi, Heinz, and Gertrud reminiscing about their childhood.
Come on Heinz, you can focus it! Dinner at Gertrud’s on Christmas Eve.
Hanging out at Gertrud’s – me, Marion, and Heinz.
Opening gifts – Norbert and Marion.
Marion’s mom thrilled with her model of the Frauenkirche from München - her hometown.
I don’t remember what the joke was, but Gertrud and Suzi were blatant about their reaction!
Dinner out on Christmas Day. Suzi, Gertrud, Marion’s mom, her brother, and his girlfriend.
Prepping dinner the day after Christmas. Marion, Suzi, and Norbert.
What was so funny…no one remembers!
Heinz and Suzi’s hometown, Ettlingen, is a small town that was an important crossroads during Roman times (what a surprise!) as demonstrated by the ruins of a Roman bath excavated under St. Martin’s Church. Remember, the Romans didn’t build a bath just anywhere. The city is first mentioned in documents in 788 AD. Ettlingen remained an independent city until 1937 when it was incorporated into the administrative district of Karlsruhe. In 1966, Ettlingen passed the 20,000-population mark and was raised to the status of Große Kreisstadt (large city).
Heinz pointing to his grandmother’s house (on the right).
Heinz and Suzi’s childhood home built in 1666. They lived on the third floor, no hot running water, no phone, and one toilet shared with two other families. In the foreground is the city’s original moat.
The moat in front of the house. Heinz told stories of playing with his toy boat along here.
Gertrud, Suzi and Heinz in front of Heinz’s grade school. Heinz remembers having class in the top right hand corner room.
Church in Ettlingen. Heinz and Suzi’s great-grandfather emigrated from Italy – he was a stonemason. He spent much of his career laying the foundation stones for this church.
This a memorial to the local soldiers who fought in WW I and WWII, probably the most graphic war memorial I’ve ever seen.
Schloss Ettlingen. A Schloss is a chateau or palace of local royalty. Notice the decorative marble and stonework. It’s mostly trompe l’oeil.
View of the local Weihnachtsmarkt through an entrance in the town’s medieval fortification wall.
Besides touring the town, we also spent time at home with Gertrud feeding us WAY too much good food, reminiscing, and gossiping about relatives. Despite my limited ability to speak German, I managed to understand most of the stories. We laughed a LOT that last week.
Teaching Gertrud to play Uno – man can she talk smack.
Going through old photographs with relatives.
Suzi with Gisela (Heinz and Suzi’s Great Aunt).
Heinz with Karl-Heinz, a childhood friend.
But alas, all trips must end, so it was back on the train to Frankfurt to drop Suzi off at the airport and then on to Ramstein where we waited 4 days to catch a Space-A flight. Unable to get a flight to Travis AFB (where our car was parked), we got on a flight to McChord AFB in Washington, with a refuel stop at Dover AFB in Delaware.
Headed home - how many more stops until Ramstein?
The flight to Dover AFB wasn’t quite as comfortable as on the way over.
While airborne, a big storm was fast rolling into the East Coast seriously affecting air travel – we had a very real chance of getting stranded at Dover AFB. Fortunately, the refuel did not take too long, and we headed to the jet (for McChord AFB) as snowflakes started to come down heavily. Lucky for us we were at the front edge of the storm and escaped its wrath – it played major havoc all over the East Coast and shut down thousands of flights for a number of days!
Settling in for the flight to the west coast – hey, how about some heat here!?
An Air Force in-flight meal - cold chicken strips, fruit cocktail, chips, Rice Krispies treat, fruit bars, orange juice and water. When you’re hungry, you can eat anything!
Once at McChord AFB (outside of Tacoma WA) we searched for a Space-A flight to Travis AFB - but no luck. So it was off to the Seattle-Tacoma airport and a commercial flight to Sacramento, where our friend Bert picked us up and drove us to our car on Travis AFB – what a guy!!!! Ah, the joys of Space-A travel - cheap when you can get a flight, but flexibility, a sense of adventure, a charge card, and a friend or two, are keys to making it all happen!
So there you have it. Germany’s completed and my next posting will catch you up to the present. Don’t worry; we haven’t done that much, so it won’t be quite as long as these have been – PROMISE!