This is the column intended to wrap up our summer travelogue, complaining gently about six loads of wash, mostly bedding, finally finished and folded. Dave’s such a good fellow, did his best to take up some of the inevitable burden. Because of the heat, we did not spend a lot of time outdoors when we could get almost the same experience within.
And we (or the young people) did a lot in those three weeks, in no particular order:
· Big beach and little breakers on each side of the Florida peninsula
· Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge
· Behind-the-scenes tour of Delta’s corner of the airport
· Behind-the-scenes at Mowell Funeral Home
· Atlanta Botanical Garden
· Callaway Gardens
· CSX tracks
· Alligator Farm
· St. Augustine lighthouse
· Plains, Ga.
· Death Valley
I know I’ll remember some other excursions, like the camera place all the way up in Smyrna (?) from which Hartmut ordered a pretty special lens and they sent the wrong one. The neat thing about an experience like that is that Hartmut found out just how caring American business-people were about making the exchange simple and apologetic.
This was a first visit to the U.S. for Hartmut, who just turned 26, and his sweetie, Danny. Danny (Danielle, of course) is an undertaker. Now you see why we visited a funeral home.
She’s about 5’8”, couldn’t weigh more than 125 pounds, and has strong-looking upper arms and wispy blonde hair above pale blue eyes. Her family is Dutch.
She is timid about her English; it is not extensive, but got better when the shyness wore off, and she was comfortable enough to ask questions and understood answers.
Hartmut and his father Rainer are amateur photographers and carried massive backpacks everywhere they went. I haven’t seen many pictures yet, but I’m sure they’ll soon be in cyberspace.
Hartmut is a Diet Coke addict – his term, not mine. Apparently he lost a lot of weight this past year or so, and unlimited Diet Coke was his crutch for the months he was dieting. Now very fit and slender, he still drinks as much as two 2-liter bottles of that brew every day. The recycle bin protests. I worry.
Our Virginia daughter and her boys, meanwhile, were excited about, first, an earthquake, and then a threatening hurricane. They unquestionably felt the earthquake, the epicenter of which was only 90 miles from their home. Jean, by the way, also felt two aftershocks the next day.
She made the boys stand in the cellar stairs’ doorframe, and they couldn’t understand why she wouldn’t let them go on down, since she has trained them to do that during hurricanes. I haven’t talked to her lately, but last word was that the downgraded Tropical Storm Irene was merely dropping a lot of rain on them.
But we haven’t heard yet about the West Coast, where our Mary and her Rainer split from Danny and Hartmut in order to meet a friend in New York City for a three-day visit before returning to Germany. I don’t know whether they’ve had to cancel, or merely to put off their departure from the States.
Honestly, it doesn’t matter. I know Mary likes a challenge and is a world class master of the art of travel. Even she, however, sounded a bit worried about leaving the young people in San Diego and L.A. Their English is nearly up to it and they seem to have good common sense. But I know veteran travelers – pilots’ families – who would be tense trying to navigate these waters. I can only wish them well.
In the meantime, I’m so grateful for the quiet house. I don’t even mind the handprints on the glass walls and doors.
They are too high to be the boys’.