One Month

Yep, one month is all I have left in Europe.  I love it here, but I’m also ready to come home.

Counting today, in 31 days I’ll land in Houston and be back in Texas.  I’m really looking forward to that day.  Germany has treated me well of course – and I’ve got a long trip planned making my time here even better.

Today I am packing and cleaning.  There isn’t that much to do, but the problems arises because I have to pack my luggage to move and also for another trip in the mean time.  It complicates things a little.  I’m sorry there is no time this week to post stories or pictures, but there will be plenty of time when I get home.   So I’ll keep writing and there will be plenty to read.

Back from Johannes’ place

Johannes invited Thomas and I to his house in central Germany.  We spent the time with his parents and touring around Hessen the state up there.  It was really nice to stay in a German family’s home and see how people live (that aren’t students).  It was a really nice house, and his parents were wonderful hosts.

I had a great time, and if I wasn’t in such a hurry to pack and clean I’d post about it.  Maybe if I get enough done I’ll get to that.

Man, things are moving so fast.

This week is hectic:  I’ve got one more lab report to write, which is nearly complete, but it is still the most important thing to do before I leave.  2 meetings today will fill up a lot of my time.  Later Thomas and I are going up north to visit Johannes and his family we’ll be there for a couple days, and that takes time from the other things.

Meanwhile I have to pack everything I own into two suitcases and find a place to store them while I’m gone in August.  Before that Andrew and Sassie are coming, which I’m looking forward to very much.  They’ll be the first faces I’ve seen from home since Mom was here in March.  Plus there are going away parties to attend and one on Friday to give.  On top of all that I have to deregister myself from Germany and the University – and they don’t make that an easy feat!

Things are moving so fast.  Next Monday Jessica and I are leaving for Scandinavia on the motorcycle, and I have to prepare that for travel also.  I’m really looking forward to my trip.  There are some really cool people we’ll get to see up there and some I want to meet also.

So, I’m not complaining, but if you don’t see me much on here the next couple days it’s because I’m running my butt off.

Isaac

My German Final Exam Letter

This is the letter I wrote for the final part of my German exam. I did well and expect to make a good grade. If you want to translate you can go to this page.

Liebe Oma,

Ich moechte dir von eine reise erzahlen. Letzten Maerz ist meine Mutter zu mir nach Stuttgart geflogen. Am naechsten Tag sind wir mit ein Mietwagen nach Paris gefahren. Es daurte 8 Stunden, aber wir sind nicht so spaet angekommen. Waehrend die Zeit in Paris haben wir viel gemacht. Erst einmal haben wir meinen Cousin und seine Frau getroffen. Es was super, dass wir zur gleich Zeit in Europe waren. Wir haben viele Maerkte gesehen. Und das Beste war der Eifelturm. Wir haben auch im Louvre Museum die Mona Lisa gesehen. Es war meine lieblings Reise mit meine Mutter.

Gruesse,

Isaac

Last week of Class

That’s right, I’ll have no class for a long time to come.

Today I have my German final exam, and tomorrow is my last class ever.  Well, that is until I join a P.h.D. program sometime in the future.  After today I will still owe two lab reports for physics, but that won’t take too long.  One is already mostly written.  Then in order to graduate I just have to take one more test.

Wish me luck on everything.

OH, and an update – several more people went home this week.  Thursday and Friday are really big going away parties.  More are going and so soon.  Next Friday will be the biggest. 🙁

I was talking about it with a friend though; we are so sad because of the wonderful times we’ve had.  There is nothing we would have rather done this year than be here.  It will live in our memories for ever; the photos and emails will keep us in always remembering the best year of our lives.  I cannot imagine anything every trumping what we’ve experienced in Germany.  I’ll keep my eyes open though.  😀

Freibad (swimming pool)

It was so nice today that about 40 of us went to the pool. So did half of Germany. We had to wait in line to buy tickets and then wait in line to use the tickets.

So what happened? Last night at the party Sarah from Australia asked if she could go riding with me. I had invited her before, but it never worked out right. Well about noon she came over to finally go for a ride. The others in my kitchen were going with bicycle or bus, but I had a 15 pound watermelon and wasn’t about to carry that on a bus. So we loaded up the panniers with blankets, home made sweeeet tea, and of course the watermelon. I brought a foot ball and some goggles too.

We took a short ride to the pool and met up with the others. Like I said we were about 40. Most of us set up together, but there was another group. We had representatives from Finland, Norway, Germany, USA, Spain, Australia, New Zealand, France, Poland, Brazil, Canada, Panama and some more I cannot remember. The prettiest girls of each country were representing quite well I might add.

We spent the whole afternoon at the pool, and more people arrived later. Once everyone was there I cut up the watermelon (one we had bought (Jessica had bought)) for the 4th of July but we were all so drunk and full from the 8 hours of bbq that it wasn’t even touched. It turned out to be perfect and oh so sweet. I complimented it with about 1/2 gal Sweeeet tea and we had a blast.

The football was fun, and so was the pool. It was of course crowded: being only the second sunny day since May, and warm enough to go outside. I snapped a few photos. But don’t get your hopes too up – or anything else; unlike some people I don’t go straight for the bikini cam. Plus others were taking pictures.

Photos

We had a blast, and then it was time to go home. Sarah and I loaded up again. She was feeling more comfortable this time (plus the bike was parked in the shade), and she wanted to go for a longer ride. So for the next 30 minutes I took her on some twisty roads in the nearby forest.

Anyway, I just got back from a wonderful day with my friends at the pool, plus some riding with a passenger to make most of you jealous. I’ll mark this down as a lot of fun.

Tonight I have dinner with the Polish girls. Kasia is going home tomorrow. She will be sorely missed

Crosscountry signing off.

More Going aways

Last week we saw Margaret from Canada go. This weekend is Kasia’s last time to spend with us. Emmet will be going next Friday. Already Justin and Vanesa have gone.
One by one we are leaving. I’ll be one of the last to leave. This slow dragging out of the going-aways makes it more difficult I think. If we were to all leave at the same time the torture wouldn’t be as great.

But there is a positive to this. With each person I can say a personal goodbye rather than just one big goodbye from a group. So even though it hurts to see my friends go over and over, I prefer it this way. At least I can find some time for each before they go, and we can laugh about the good times we’ve had.

Pretty soon all of us will be back to our respective homes. And then the real sadness will hit. Everyone goes through a time of depression upon returning. I’m trying to make my first month as busy as possible to avoid the loneliness, but it will still be there. Those that have already made it home have told me. I think it happens to us all. At least we have email and phones with which to contact each other.

It’s not all sad though. I’m looking forward to seeing my family and friends back home. I miss them still and look forward to our reunions. 😀

One suitcase packed

I’m moving out of the apartment at the end of July and thought it would be good to go ahead and start packing. Winter things and souvenirs I don’t need all went in to the bag. I’ve got more room there and another to pack before I’m done.

Lots of stuff will stay here. No need to carry old socks across an ocean. Plus there are some shoes and pants that have worn out during the year.

In some ways I’m looking forward to going home; and others I’ll miss my life here. Of course staying here wouldn’t really be an option. I need to go back to work. Plus all of my friends (all but three) are going home within a month. The last three will go home later in the fall.

Germany has been great, and I’ll use the last few weeks to enjoy myself. School is out at the end of next month so I’ll have some more time to travel before returning home. My date of course is August 29th. I plan to go home from the airport via Taco Bell. It’s amazing the things you miss when away for so long. I’ve got a running list already. I plan to add to it as the time gets nearer.

Seeing my family.

Shopping on Sunday

Being in the same time zone as my friends

Driving my truck

Actually feeling warm for a change

Dead Snakes and Tumbleweeds

Earning an income

Taco Bell

Real Mexican food

Pappa Johns pizza

Being in Texas

Chic-filet

Shiner Bock Beer

Watching movies in English

Onion rings

Big Camera

New motorcycle

Chop mine

Independence Day

We had a great party last night. Between rain showers we cooked a couple hundred euros worth of meat and dips. I have no idea of the total, but countin’ beer bottles would take too long, I’ll guess over about a hundred and fifty people came throughout the day.

For being so far away from home we sure have a great group of Americans. There are nearly 30 of us, and all are super with our own very strong personalities.  I’m proud to call all of them friends.  It would be hard to find a better group to party with.

The party lasted about 12 hours after people started coming, and we couldn’t even finish all the whiskey or rum. We celebrated well with people representing at least 15 countries. I lost count somewhere between beers and bourbon and cokes.

No one could get fireworks, but at the last minute some guy walks up and gives us two bottle rockets. Now we’re dangerous. We played the national anthem while the military base nearby shot off their fireworks. Our vantage was just good enough to enjoy the show. Afterward we shot our two and went back in to party.

Photos are here, it was something else!

and just a couple of the better ones. (as always, click the photo for a bigger image)

I’m going to try a right to left:

Jennifer is wearing the cowboy hat; Jessica behind the flag pole; Candice with Bo in front, Dustin with arm in front; Me; DJ in the blue shirt; Steve with the football; Daisy; Thomas with face slightly covered (like Batman) and holding the flag; James has his hand up; and Eric. It was an amazing group.

another one here where other faces can be seen, but it’s not centered.

Jessica cooked all day on Tuesday and Wednesday. She made some fantastic dishes including this one.

And one for the ladies

and one of the fireworks before we went back to party a couple more hours.

Guys, it was an amazing time. Thanks everyone for coming and making it great!

A riding tale

Ride story.  Photos here

To tell the truth I had fear of Devil’s Drop until the rally last year. The first ride of 2004, my first large group ride, was Devil’s Drop. I had only about 13k miles under my belt total, and I learned quickly that there were many better riders than I. I still remember the wet parts of the road; crossing the yellow line; and worse of all going slow through those curves when the person in front slowed down. I kept that road in my memory for 2 years.

In 2006 Devil’s Drop was again the first ride of the rally, this time however I had a few more miles and curvy roads under my belt. But I still had that memory from two years earlier or crossing the line and the fear of someone coming the other way to knock me off. When it came time for all of us to suit up another member mentioned a ride for the less experienced members going around Devil’s Drop. There wasn’t much interest however, but then I said I’d tail gun it. I think about 15 of us decided to go the other way and meet the group on the BRP. Maybe my presence made people feel comfortable because CC was showing it wasn’t being afraid if you live to ride another day. I’m sure no one expected at all that I wasn’t too sure of myself – and actually I wasn’t. I knew I could ride that road better than most, but it haunted me. It was the first time I had ever been scared on a motorcycle. The other group beat us to the top, and our smaller group made it safely. No one had any problems. And we finished the ride in good style.

The next day I led another small group up to the dragon. A few of us have led large groups before, but for those of you who haven’t it is no easy chore. Longbow knows as my wingman last year and leader of that ride this year, that the leader has to make sure that everyone rides at a comfortable pace and also that it’s not boring. We took it nice and easy on the way up there, stopped for gas and chatted at the Dragon’s store, and suited up. I made sure to tell the group that I would be leading the fast ride and everyone should run the Dragon at their own pace. Everyone is responsible for themselves, and only do what is comfortable. I probably could have run the Dragon a little faster; we didn’t set any speed records; but it was no grandma speed.

I had a secret however. Two years earlier I had gone off the road and slid into a ditch on the Dragon. I still held that memory because it was my first time to go down ever, and my first time to be back on the road. I was a much more confident rider that the last time, and did well. No incidents at all – everyone made it through just fine. In fact that wasn’t even the hardest part of the ride for those of us that remember. In Smokey Mountain National Park it began to rain something fierce. We saw it coming and suited up just in time. But the next 5 miles were straight up and wet. There was no point in stopping, I’d ridden through more water than a submarine captain, and most of the others followed me. When we reached the top we were pleasantly surprised that the clouds were breaking, and the ride home would be drier. And it was.

That night Sharon, slinky on this board, flew in to meet me. She wanted to see old friends and most importantly we were trying to patch things up from some time apart. I picked her up at the airport in a car, thanks to spokeschick. It was wet and Sharon had a pretty dress on. It was the night of the pizza party, and everyone was happy to see her. Even the pug who I made sure kept his dirty paws off her. Sharon and I didn’t make the group ride on Saturday. We slept later than the group and had to make plans for ourselves. After showing a few others on a map where some good roads were Sharon and I headed off. It was lunch time and she treated me to some good fish out by the Biltmore. Then it was the BRP.

We headed on that wonderful road for a while. I knew that Devil’s Drop was coming up but wasn’t sure what to do. I had another route planned to bypass it. Until, until it started raining. We had already passed Devil’s Drop and were approaching some high points in the mountains – with beautiful views by the way – and now we had to chose. Ride into the rain? Go back the way we came? Or take Devil’s Drop.

Truthfully I had expected it to rain on top of that mountain, but I didn’t know what I would do. We didn’t want to ride back the way we came. So I decided DD was the way to go. I hadn’t told Sharon what was on my mind but now I did. “I’m a little afraid of this road; we’re going to take it slow” She understood and didn’t say anything. She had never been on a road like it before. Of course we passed shady wet spots, gravel running across the road, and sticks everywhere. I took it easy, and we made it to the bottom with no trouble. I had finally done it, second time actually, survived Devil’s Drop!
When we finished Sharon told me she could have ridden a little faster. I thought to myself “I could have too.”

There is no road I am afraid of anymore. I’m proud to say that. :biggthumpup;