Sunday, May 11, 2014

Almost Over

Well, we’re about 4-5 days away from beginning the trek back to the U.S.  What can I tell you?  My first visit to Germany has in no way disappointed; then again, I’ve come with hardly any expectations or preconceived notions save the use of Deutsch in daily interpersonal interactions and in that case the expectations have been exceeded.

One of the things I have enjoyed most is the driving – namely, the road trips from one area to the other.

A couple of days ago another fellow and I had to drive from where we are (Ramsdorf) to the Air Base (Ramstein) and that’s about a three and a half hour drive.  Little did we know, however, that when you key in Ramstein to the car’s NAV system, the Air Base does not appear as a destination.  Both of us had been advised to not go to Ramstein-Miesenbach, which is close to the Air Base.  Therefore, prior to the experience, when “Ramstein” was keyed into the system and we were given two choices of destination we picked the one that was just “Ramstein” sans the “-Miesenbach.”  The estimated travel time was five hours and change, not three and not the predicted four from another member of our team.

What resulted was a three and a half hour detour to the Black Forest to a castle or something, which shares the name of the Air Base we were trying to get to.  Of course, that was a three and a half hour detour one way; what should have been about 7-8 hours in the car turned into 12 and a half.

However, it was still a good experience.  The fellow and I got to have some good conversation and get to know each other well as we work in the same office and serve in the same branch, we just hadn’t, heretofore, had the opportunity to spend such time talking to each other.

And we can now boast that we’ve practically driven the country from tip-to-tip, north to south; and the scenery was wonderful.

Parts of the autobahn reminded me of driving around North Carolina, especially in the Triangle region.  Smaller towns we drove through, especially as the geography got increasingly rocky and hilly, reminded me of driving through the Appalachians, through the western parts of NC as well as the Virginias and even a bit of Maryland. 

The drive back took place after sundown and as we made our way further north rain started falling.  By that point I was no longer driving but in the unusual position of riding, instead.  The night drive, through the rain, occasionally hitting 200 km/h was both compelling and gripping: I was compelled to grip the armrests quite tightly.  But we made it in by midnight, having left about 14 hours prior.  The next morning we set out for our final day’s work and wrapped by lunch.

At this point we have days to fill with report writing; for myself, photo logging and selecting, and writing. 

I’ve actually been catching up on a bit of reading, drawing and listening to podcasts.

Ah, yes, and I’ve taken the time each evening over the course of last week to catch up on an American cultural touchstone that members of the team deemed as a travesty of me having not experienced it before now: The Rocky Saga. 

Two Christmases ago I purchased the Rocky Blu-Ray boxed set when it was on sale, but I didn’t start at the beginning…for some reason I started with the sixth film, Rocky Balboa and I quite enjoyed it, though I knew I was missing a lot of references from the previous five.  A few months later I finally watched Rocky and quite enjoyed that.

Now, as of last Friday, I completed the saga by watching Rocky II, III, IV and V and then rewatching Balboa giving a report and critique of each film to the team each following morning. 

I had no idea that my not having seen these movies previously would cause such a stir.  Upon further questioning I now have the task of catching up with The Delta Force movies, the Rambo films, Bloodsport, Kickboxer and basically all American movies from the late 70s and early 80s that involve crazy, non-stop action and were probably rated R. 

Well, I do look forward to getting back in about a week and hopefully getting the news that I made E-5 around Memorial Day.  Thank you for reading, and look forward to perhaps one more update with photos!

Auf wiedersehen!

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