Gearing up for 2012

As we bundle up and prepare for 2012, we're so thankful for our family, friends and each other. 

2011, which began as one big headache in Neu Ulm, grew into a surprisingly eventful and epic year. We played less music but traveled more; we worked a lot harder but learned more; and we lived and loved more. 

Below are our top 5 moments for 2011:

1. Return to Oahu/Kalalau Trail
2. Women’s World Cup roadtrip, including a six-city blitz punctuated by U.S. vs. Brazil win in Dresden
3. Czech roadtrip
4. Lisbon
5. Amsterdam bikesgiving

Honorable mention: a local trip to several of Munich’s biergartens, which will undoubtedly become a tradition. Our only regret was not starting earlier.

And before we depart to ring in the new year, we’ll leave you with a quote, courtesy of our friend Tyler in St. Louis, from last year:

“May your coming year be filled 
with magic and dreams and good madness.
I hope you read some fine books 
and kiss someone who thinks you’re wonderful,
and don’t forget to make some art — 
write or draw or build or sing or live as only you can.
And I hope, somewhere in the next year, 
you surprise yourself."
                                                                     Neil Gaiman   

(Neil forgot to add: And may our paths cross at least once in 2012.)


Après Skisnutz

Jeremy and I went skiing recently in another trip with the Bavarian Ski Club, this time to Obergurgl-Hochgurgl in Austria. And like our last trip – it was awesome.

I’ll spare you details of the beautiful scenery and my epic superman stunt (the bruises are lingering) and instead share the beauty that is après ski. (French for “after ski.”)

We often discuss how the ski culture here is far superior than that of its U.S. counterpart – we have the Alps, beat that – but beyond opening gigantic mountains for an “enter at your own risk” ski experience, every mountain, bunny slope and hill is equipped with a bar perched in the beauty of the snow-capped eminence.
In all of your slope attire, you ski up to the bar, (it’s a lot like moseying up to the bar, especially in ski / snowboard boots) order a drink, sit outside in the sun and enjoy the best-tasting beer you will ever have. Sausage (product) optional. 

A traditional day on the slopes goes something like this: take the gondola up, ski down, take a chair lift up, have a beer, ski down, gondola or chair lift to a different hill, beer, ski, repeat. By the end of the day, no mountain is left unskied and no high-altitude beer left undrank. (undrunk?)

Which brings us to the après ski – what some claim to be the best part of skiing. 

Around 4 p.m., when most of the lifts close – everyone convenes at a designated bar on top of the mountain for a dancing on the tables, singing, and jumping around (as best as one can in ski boots) party. It’s like Oktoberfest minus the lederhosen.

Below is a short video of some of the action – taken during a spring session in Stubai, Austria, in April.

After a few hours at the après ski party, you ski down the mountain … very, very carefully.



One week later and Jeremy and I are still thankful … and still biking as we traded the traditional holiday in for what we are calling, “Bikesgiving.”
This year, we did things a little differently. Instead of eating turkey, dressing and cranberry sauce, we opted for Thai food (and honestly given the choice between green bean casserole and Tom Ka Kung, I’m thinking the Pilgrims and Indians would have enjoyed the latter as well) and instead of watching football, we drove to Amsterdam. Our Black Friday was Bike Saturday in which – after two days of research and test-drives – we purchased traditional Dutch bikes in the heart of the city.

After a few trips to Amsterdam, hands down one of our favorite cities in Europe, we fell in love with the bike culture and the bikes themselves. Below is a compilation of why Dutch bikes are far superior.

1.     You sit upright with your back perpendicular to the ground instead of hunched forward over the handlebars. It's a more comfortable position and you look quite regal when riding. 
2.     Sight distance. With your newfound superior posture, it is easier to see what's ahead, over cars and through intersections.
3.     Fenders. These semicircular arcs hover just above the top of the bike's tires. They prevent any up-splash when you ride through puddles and also lend the bike a rather dignified appearance.
4.     Fully covered chains. Greasy metal links are hidden behind a chain case, meaning you can ride to work in a suit without getting schmutz all over your pant legs.
5.     Self-locking. Each bikes comes with a built-in lock for the back tire, perfect for quick in and out errands.
6.     Pack mule. The bikes are made for numerous attachments including seats, baskets and bags. A family of 4 could easily ride on my bike, together, with all of their groceries, and a dog, maybe.

While no one can beat the awesome bike culture of Amsterdam, Germany runs a close 2nd with its well-laid and easily navigated bike paths - something we can now take advantage of with our heads held high … literally.