Saturday, December 22, 2012

"Bavaria" is German for "Happy Thanksgiving!"

So there was a WHOLE LOT of November just spent in the physical therapy clinic, but for Thanksgiving  there would be no sittin' around at home. Nope, we went to Garmisch.....or at least close. 6+ hours in the car! But everyone behaved well, and to follow our delicious Thanksgiving lunch of turkey sandwiches, sweet potato puffs, craisins, pecans, punch and oatmeal cream pies, we were treated (thanks, Jed!) to a lovely Thanksgiving Feast of all the traditional fair: bratwurst, jagerschnitzel, spaetzle, truthahn, and pommes frites. Paula, I found your cup!

We arrived in Oberau (the town we actually stayed in, about 15 minutes from Garmisch) after dark, so it wasn't until morning that we realized we were camped right at the base of the Alps! (No, we didn't actually camp.) But even still, I didn't get a good view of the mountains until I jogged out of the fog of the town and continued my run along the most clear creek I've EVER seen. Sorry, my camera died before I could get a picture of the water or the cairn I built on the beach. But here are some mountains.

Later on we went to Füssen

It's real pretty, sittin' up on that rock
 Aaron in the courtyard.                                                  I think this is the horses' room.

Dallin and the castle as we trekked up to the bridge over the Multnomah Falls-esque waterfall, that affords a great view....


The next day was MORE HIKING!! If you're from Oregon, or even if you're not but you've been to Oneonta Gorge, imagine if someone carved a trail in the wall of the canyon so you didn't have to wade in the water (....wade in the water, children...). Well, that's what they've done with Partnachklamm. It's over a kilometer of hand-carved trail, sometimes covered, sometimes not, and a few meters below is the torrent of crystal clear, bright blue, ice cold, fire hose-pressure ("You're a lucky little boy. You get to drink from the FIRE HOSE!") water. I think that's the coldest I've ever been. No, I didn't fall in, but that's the sort of hike I'd probably like better in the summer. Although, when it's snowy, they do hikes by torchlight. :) So, eventually you come to the end of the super narrow channel and the basin widens and you can keep hiking or  turn back....we did both because Miles and Aaron were suddenly GONE. So, I ran all the way back to the beginning, probably terrifying people as I went, and found them out by the entrance, playing down by the creek......I wasn't so cold anymore! So here are some pictures:

Gives you a good view of the gorge.

Gives you a good view of me and Sarah.....what I would look like with long hair, in case you met me after October 2010.
Gives you a good view of Aaron and Miles in the place they were caught (taken before they were caught).

Gives you a good view of how they felt after they got caught. 
We spent the rest of the evening either swimming or strolling down the Christmas marketie streets of Garmisch, admiring horribly expensive dirndls and generally basking in the glow of Weihnachtmarkt that can't be equaled in any other language. Also, I tried on a dirndl earlier that day but they were adamant that we not take pictures...sorry.....and I bought some Birkenstocks:).

Just one more thing to discuss. Dachau. The first concentration camp, it's about 10 km outside of Munich (oh, I forgot to say we went to Munich and listened to the glockenspiel and watched the figures dance in the Rathaus clock tower at Marienplatz. There, now you know. Also, we took a fun picture....

......)..back to Dachau. This was part of the trip I was really looking forward to, so I'm really glad we got to do it, and shout out to Jed for keeping the younger kids out by the car while Sarah, Dallin, Rachel and I wandered through the compound and sort of glossed over the immense amount of information about the lives of the prisoners at this camp. This may not be everyone's cup of tea, but I am so grateful to have experiences like this, even though they can be awfully chilling, to see and remember what horrible things have been overcome in our not too distant past. This was not quite the same as visiting a Holocaust museum - I mean, there are plenty of posters, pictures, and artifacts - but walking through the building that was built by prisoners, seeing the fading German painted on the walls, running my fingers along the cold, rough wall as I passed windows, looking out on the huge gravel yard. As you walk through the gate below......... read, "Arbeit macht frei," ("Work will make you free") written in iron bars. The German tour guide we were listening to said something involving "ridiculous" and "lie." Yyyyyeah. This was a work camp initially. But an awful lot of people died here.
 This is the yard and main building that the prisoners actually constructed. That weird mess of metal in front is a sculpture - a heap of gaunt corpses, a memorial to the victims. There is also a model of the barracks still standing. So that's what's going on there visually. I don't think I could ever really understand what it felt like to those interned here to walk around these grounds. But now, this is a place that speaks out against oppression and hate and, just like the sun peaking out of the clouds in the picture, carries a hope that the people who visit will go forth from this place with a firmer resolve to bring about peace and understanding in the world. I'm really glad we were able to go be a part of that. was a great Thanksgiving! I'm thankful that I've been here, having this great experience and that I've been so well cared for all the while. Once in a lifetime stuff!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

We're lookin' Gothic.

You're probably thinking that I've been out having too much fun to write about it. Sure......Actually what happens is I go out, have fun, come home and scramble to get ready for "work" the next day. This job shadow is basically a full-time job, and I've been having a great time......It just means blogging falls by the wayside.

So....we went to Köln (Cologne) a month ago. And even though I won't forget because I bought
the coolest pants on earth there. It's actually the first big city I've been to in Deutschland, so I was delighted 
to be there. And here's what it looked like:

Cute cute girls walking through Laurenzplatz

Kölner Dom. Big.

And this is what my pants look like:
It's like a sweater on my legs.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Boring excuses

I'm working on it! I've really had so many things to do. . . . . This is where you say, "Oh what could you have possibly had to do?" And I say, I'm slaying dragons, alright?!

Okay, not really, but I did have a very hectic week finally submitting about a 100 pages worth of application material to the Army-Baylor DPT start your praying if you haven't already. And never fear, I'll write about Cologne and Munich and the Alps and stuff like that soon enough.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Anyone remember Kunta Kinte?

Halo again! I haven't written much lately. I have, however, been reading a lot. Finished Leonard Sax's Boys Adrift, dove into Lia London's Circle of Law and put that down for a couple weeks when Amazon got Sax's Girls on the Edge to me a month before expected. The only reason I'm including this, besides putting in plugs for some AWESOME authors, is to paraphrase a bit of an excuse I found in one of those books for not blogging recently. It's great to record what's going on in your life and it's even good to share it, but if your only outlet is one that you write, trying more to cater to what your readers want to hear than to freely express what you're actually experiencing and feeling, it's not really accomplishing its purpose...especially if you're really just posting pictures and writing a quippy little caption about each. That said, enjoy my latest graphic novel!


Have I mentioned we live in a tiny farming town? Well, we do. These are the neighbors.

We can't get everything our hearts desire here, so we love it when Aunt Katheryn sends care packages with Halloween treats, glow-in-the-dark gloves and punky over-the-knee socks.

We take Halloween VERY seriously here.

On the day we celebrate St. Martin......Well, here's another German thing I can't give you much history on. Every town has their own celebration, though. St. Martin rides on horseback through the town, leading the procession. All the children carry lanterns and then there's a big ol' bonfire.  We then adjourn to the old schul (school), where we cram the ENTIRE town into a single classroom, eat soft pretzels covered in sugar, and raffle off LOTS of prizes.  I've been here for like 6 weeks and I never knew anyone actually lived in this town. It was nice to see we actually do have neighbors! The cute German houses are not all empty!


When Sarah and I were driving back from the Airport at Hahn (Sweden trip in October), we saw a very cool looking church and town from the road. Then a week or so later, I fell deathly ill with the cold that ravaged the entire base, and since I couldn't very well go in to do observation at the Physical Therapy clinic, lest I infect the few survivors, we followed the GPS route back to the town of Klausen. 

I really don't know why, even after reading the Wikipedia article about it, but Klausen's church is quite historical and a destination for many pilgrims. I don't know how many. But it's certainly a lovely and peaceful sight for sore eyes.....and sore mine was....remember, I was sick....ya really need to follow along so I don't have to explain all my jokes....ANYWAY, this is the church:

Here's the inside:                                                            We were quite taken with this door.

Like I said, pilgrimage church, so these may be the crutches of pilgrims who were miraculously healed....or they're just there to help you remember to pray for those less fortunate than yourself.  

Another view, from the garden outside.

...And three lovely ladies on the garden steps.

Oh yeah, we found this cute little oompa loompa door in Klausen. "Why's the door so small?" "To keep all the great big chocolatey flavor inside."


Actually, it's not even spelled that way....but anyway, one of my really, really great grandfathers, Johannes Gottsacker (born in 1640) moved to Mayschoss from Munstereifel to work as the school teacher. His descendants stayed in Mayschoss until a few left for America (Wisconsin) in the 1860s. One was my mom's mom's mom's mom's dad.....or his dad - little bit foggy on the details. Basically, I'm related to all the Gottsackers in the States and a few in Germany, along with a lot of other people in Mayschoss. 

We went there last Sunday to try and find our ancestors' graves. I learned a few things. One, we're distantly related to half the people in the cemetery, and two, cemetery plots in Europe are "recycled," so it's nearly impossible to find someone who died more than 50 years ago. Phooey. BUT, it was just cool to be there. And like I said, there are still Gottsakers and Appels and Jostens and Schorns and Peschs, and Steffens and Leys living (or at least dying) in Mayschoss. And it turns out we have common ancestry with the Kunz family in Mayschoss.  It sends the mind reeling to consider how many people on this earth you have a common heritage with. 

Mayschoss is in the Rhineland - we're Rhinelanders! It's nestled in the BEAUTIFUL valley of the Ahr River, where vineyards grow on the steep hillsides and most people work in the wine business. By last report, our family there still runs several of the vineyard plots in the hills surrounding the town. Cool:)

Me, Rachel, Aaron, and Sarah in front of the church. Aaron (6) took a surprisingly great interest in this little adventure we were on, to find ancestors! Of course, this is the kid who has several times asked me who I'm gonna marry and even remarked right before we got in the car to go to Mayschoss, 'Hey Allie, I wonder who I'm gonna marry.' He sure is interested in family ties.

The fallen soldier lists from WWI and WWII - yes, Nazis in the family. In fact I learned that one of the Gottsacker boys in the German Army became a POW in an American camp in Wisconsin. He knew he had family there but didn't speak the language and had no idea how to get in touch with them. Sort of ironic. 

 All in all, the trip was a great experience. Mayschoss is an hour and a half from where we live, along the very same meandering highway that runs past about a block away from our house. It was pouring rain when we left, but then it miraculously cleared and this was sunset we were treated to. I feel a tie and obligation to my kindred dead, even though I don't know them at all. And seeing their town makes it all the better.

On a less blog-able note, my observation at the clinic is going quite well. I'll be finished in the next couple weeks and still have to get my essays done, so it's not ever yet! In the mean time I'm still trying to get over to the hospital at Landstuhl. Also, I've made some pretty great strides in adjusting to the culture of military. And I've found that it's not as scary and intimidating as I'd feared, coming from the outside. I've felt so welcomed, no questions asked, here. I guess since everyone's displaced, they just all reach out to each other to build their own little community. I run into people I know all the time. It's fun. And it makes this whole experience feel much less foreign. :)

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Bork Bork Bork!


Hey hey! I spent the last few days exploring the far north. My sister was a missionary in Italy about 15 years ago. A woman that she taught married a man from Norway about a year ago and they planned to be sealed in the Stockholm Temple (for more info this week, so I accompanied my sister and year-old niece on this expedition to territory previously unknown to any of us. This is what we found.

After we attended a local LDS church service, we did some touring of the cathedrals in the city. So tall.

Stockholm is a city of islands, bridges and lots of bike lanes.

I'm not sure where this goes, but it's pretty!

Mooring here must cost a pretty penny.

One of the islands is basically all museums and gardens. This is the Nordic Museum. We didn't go in, but I'm sold on Vikings just from seeing the outside.

And who wouldn't be delighted to see a statue of Orpheus just hanging out in the fall leaves? Lots of great statues all over town.

We did go to "one of the world's foremost tourist attractions!" The Vasa Museum The Vasa is a naval ship that was built in the 1600s - the biggest, the best, sort of a Titanic kinda deal - and on the maiden voyage she capsized and sank when a bit of wind blew her over. She was a bit top-heavy. Anyway, the ship was under water in the harbor for 333 years before being raised, rinsed and restored (although it's 85-90% original). Then they built a museum around the ship in the drained dry dock. AMAZING! Have a read.

The Stern.

Back out into the city, with not much time to explore....

For how ornate the rest of the city is, you'd think the Stockholm Palace would be....a little more gaudy.  But it's quite beautiful.

Me. Palace. Crown. Too bad we didn't get the guard in the picture - his bayonet looked threatening.

To the left is the some of the palace. We just thought this was great square with a great view down into the harbor.
Sarah's a little in awe (or terror) of the Gamla Stan (Old Town),  a little island that contained all of Stockholm back in the day. Stockholm was founded in 1252. So, it's like 600 years older than Portland.

Lovely Synagogue right in the midst of downtown. :)

All the lovely rooftops come to a point.

Little cutie. The Temple's Guesthouse has a little playground. This horse is like the  traditional highly decorated Swedish horses...which I can't tell you anything about.....cuz I don't know.

Stockholm Temple...kinda the reason for the trip.

New friends! Elisabetta and Hans-Petter (right) were just sealed. Han-Petter's parents, the Jacobsens, traveled with them from Norway. Wonderful people!

And now for a couple Sweden Musts. I was only slightly bummed that our rental car was not a Volvo, BUT it was a wagon, as were 90% of the other vehicles on the road. We ate Swedish Meatballs and Swedish Fish. And we bought a tube of Bacon Cheese - it's incredible. If we weren't so busy, we may have done some furniture shopping...
Who goes to Sweden without visiting IKEA?! Us, actually, cuz we ran out of time.

This was a marvel of Scandinavian efficiency, if I've ever seen one. It's our hotel room. The panel on the right is a fold-down bed. At the head of the other bed is a flat screen TV. Around that corner is an armchair. The bathrooms in the house in Germany are bigger than this entire room. We were living in a closet! But the most comfortable, chic closet I've ever lived in.

Sure it rained and you may have to mortgage your house to buy lunch, but all things considered, I'm thoroughly impressed with what we were able to see of Stockholm and wouldn't take much convincing to go back again anytime. Just the layout of the city is so intriguing. Everyone speaks great English. The population is incredibly cosmopolitan. Everything is absolutely beautiful - my jaw hit the floor every few minutes. Bad bad writing. I just want to make this available to you, so you'll want to go to Stockholm too! It's been a pleasure!

P.S. I killed a pigeon. Darn thing saw me coming....just didn't get out of the way. And probably 100 people were on the sidewalk to witness this. But the thud of the tire and the shocked faces of two girls probably my age was enough to make me feel a little sheepish.