When I surfed in Hawaii there was only one species of vermin more despicable than the fin-toting *spongers: those pricks on stand up paddleboards.
They steal perfectly good waves and clog up the line-up – not to mention the panic they inspire when they come barreling toward you on those behemoth boards and you have nowhere to go.
However, after having spent the last four years without easy access to the ocean, I began searching for a new water-based hobby.
I missed that light, watermelon sea breeze you get as you paddle out, the effortless joy of gliding across the water … and I also missed being in shape.
Though we’re more than 8 hours from the nearest ocean, we do have plenty of lakes and rivers, so the stand up paddleboard (SUP) seemed like the best option.
So last week on July 4 (‘merica!), Molly and I tested a few different SUPs on the Rednitz River near Nuremberg. After about 15 minutes we were smitten.
So smitten that we took one home that weekend, and that’s where the real testing began -- on a float trip down the Danube.
Initially, I was nervous about how fast the river was running, but when my co-worker Andreas and his girlfriend, Nikola, piled into a grocery store inflatable kayak with barely any freeboard, my fears seemed frivolous.
We bopped downstream with most of the oar-power being devoted to building a super floating island so we could properly prost “ausleben” (to the good life).
Several kilometers later we stopped at the Weltenburg Monastery, which is widely considered to be the oldest monastery in the world. Its beer regularly wins international competitions and the Asam Bock is just like it sounds (wait for it).
However, getting into the river proved much easier than getting out.
As we approached the disembarkation point, the river’s speed picked up. Andreas’ and Nikola’s kayak flipped, sending a floating yard sale of shoes, bags, a cooler and their three-pound dog, Mila, downstream.
Andreas caught Mila, and with the help of a Good Samaritan, we collected almost everything else. By now though, the rest of our possessions are probably floating somewhere in the Black Sea.
I left the trip with a newfound respect for the Danube, and an appreciation for the stand up paddleboard, but you’ll still never see me paddling out to the line-up on one.
*Spongers = boogey boarders.
|The family strikes a pose at the John Lennon Wall in Prague.|
Last Sunday my mom and sisters, along with their immediate families, flew from St. Louis to Germany to experience the lifestyle Jeremy and I have swooned over for the past four years.
It was a week of bonding, beer and Boggle. And like her last visit to Europe, my mom, Linda, stepped up to the blog mic to share her experiences, which I will relay below, despite the fact she calls me a hippie. (smile).
|Dancing around the May Pole.|
I never thought of my own mortality until the death of my mom two years ago. I don’t have a bucket list, and I prefer to say “life experiences” anyway.
What I did want was for two sisters to experience the life of their hippie vagabond younger sister. As I watched this unfold, flashbacks of their childhood filled my mind.
The minute the ‘seesters’ (as they call each other) were reunited they were hugging and squealing – my mind drifted back to three little girls squealing (and fighting) over toys, then clothes, then cars.
|Prost from the Hofbrauhaus.|
Arriving at the Buddemeier-Hayden residence, we found bedrooms earmarked with a picture of the occupant, fresh linens and pillows donned with chocolate. My mind immediately flashed to messy bedrooms of yesteryear strewn with toys and clothes.
|Joel screams Munich City.|
Jet lag passed over the weary group as family sightseeing through Prague, rivalry during a bocce tournament and a competitive game of catch phrase – complete with warred heckling – took over the visit.
|Hannah masters the Rodelbahn.|
Unique opportunities such as running in the Munich Color Run, riding the Rodelbahn, bathing in beer at a spa and touring a concentration camp effortlessly presented themselves.
|Color run fun.|
Family dinners became a free-for-all as everyone - fork in hand - reached across the table to sample everyone else’s food, without asking, of course.
|Paige - 1, Pork Knuckle - 0|
Sitting back and watching this weeklong family-packed vacation unfold was a heartwarming experience for me.
I can’t say this was a dream come true because I believe dreams are planned. This trip was not planned – it was a gift from my mom, as unexpected as it were. She played an important part in this event; her spirit traveled with us in the sound of laughter as three generations reconnected. She showed herself when we found pennies on the ground.
|Making new friends.|
I don’t think the younger kids (Paige, Hannah and Joel) will appreciate this trip until they are older, though I saw them soaking up the culture and food like the warm sun – which finally came out the last day of our visit.
|Three ducks and a quack ride the U-bahn.|
And even though we all managed to cram numerous souvenirs in already jammed suitcases, the experience and exposure is what we will hold onto the most.