We Aren’t Lost! We Just Don’t Know Where We Are Going!

Today was one of those days where “out to lunch” had several meanings. We eventually went out to lunch for a well deserved break. My colleague drove with me on the way to the restaurant. She mentioned to me that traveling outside of Canada had never happened for her, but it was something she was eager to do. That got me thinking about how fortunate I really am. I have been all over the world, seen amazing things and had unbelievable experiences. One of those experiences was looking for a campsite in Europe with our trusty GPS Phoebe. This was one of those times where “Wild Goose Chase” would have been more productive than the tour she took the Muppets on.

We had left the Black Forest and planned to stay one more night in Germany exploring the area around the French Border. Phoebe, in her Infinite limited wisdom, led us to a campsite that had just closed for the season. Fair enough, we were travelling during “off-season” but this was the first time we had encountered a closed campsite. We punched in new coordinates and off we went again in search of a camp spot for the evening. She led us down a country road, that turned into a village, that turned into a town, that stopped in someones driveway. Clearly this was not a campsite. Okay Muppets, fear not! We shall just try again! Entered in new coordinates and off we went again! Around the corner, up the hill, past a sports field and into…a closed for the season campsite! Swell. Again, we repeated new coordinates, and we were off! This time we just kept driving until the road stopped. Just like Phoebe told us too. No road left, just a ferry. A Ferry?!?! Knowing if we crossed the river we would be out of Germany. We had no choice, the Muppets were getting hungry, it was getting late, we needed to find a place for the night. None of us were too keen on parking on the side of the road for the night, we were willing to do it if we had too but, out first choice was a camp spot. Onward we traveled. Drove onto the Ferry deck, stayed inside and across the river we sailed.

Before we knew it, we were in France. The architecture was still very similar to Germany, but now the signs were new. Being Canadian, we are exposed more frequently to French then German, not that our merry band of Muppets could understand it any better, it did look familiar. Phoebe seemed to know where she was taking us, so we let her lead. Up another road she took us. There it was. ANOTHER CLOSED CAMP SITE! That was the last straw. My mother, hopped out of the front seat, grabbed a PAPER map and started looking. Then she realized where she was.

A month earlier, the two Lead Muppets and Mrs. Statler had arrived in Frankfurt, Germany. They drove to Obernai France and camped for the night. Mom knew where she was and saved the day! She led us to the very same camp spot they stayed earlier in the trip. Best news of all, it was OPEN!

Dinner time! We had FINALLY eaten the last of the Schnitzel for lunch and decided we needed a change. Franks and beans it was. just so you know, my mother is one of the best cooks you would ever have the good fortune to meet. Franks and beans is NOT her usual fair, but it was dark, Muppets were hungry and we were thrilled it wasn’t Schnitzel. Over dinner the Lead Muppets shared stories of their last visit to Obernai, claiming the younger Muppets would love the charm just as much as the previous villages we had visited. We then discovered, the next day was market day in Obernai! We had yet to visit a market. Everyone settled down for sleep that night, tingling with anticipation of visiting the market. The Caravan was buzzing with excitement. Come to think of it, the excitement may have been due to the fact it was the last night in the Caravan for the Muppets. The following night would be spent in a hotel, in a bed that was the correct length for Honey and myself, AND there would be a shower in our room and not down the block to be shared with 100’s of fellow campers! Either was, we were excited about what the next day would bring. We were not disappointed!

We found parking and walked through yet more donkey cart sized streets. The vendors were just setting up for the day. We had expected a dozen or so stalls filled with farm grown food. That was indeed there. But there was everything you could possible imagine! Mushrooms to Mattresses, Vegetables to Violets, Brand name clothes to Beniets, anything you could think of, it was available! There wasn’t just one street filled with market stalls, there were several streets, people filled the square and lined the street looking at things to purchase. The Church bells sounded to signal the start of the market and people filled the streets.

Once again we had stumbled upon the most amazing adventure. Purely by accident. Thanks for not being so helpful Phoebe, and thanks for being in complete control mom!

A Plumbing Museum? I Can’t Wait!

I am willing to bet the majority of you have no idea there is a plumbing museum in Germany. I KNOW! I can just hear your excitement building as you realize this may be the topic of this blog entry. Fear not, the only one who is faintly disappointed is Honey.

We left the Camping Platz with the knowledge that Chatterbox must have a cuckcoo clock before we left the Black Forest. That was the mission of the day, the Muppets were all on high alert in search of a cuckcoo clock shop. It was very important for several reason, 1> she would not stop talking about how important it was to her 2> did I mention we wanted to stop hearing about how important it was to her?

The first stop of the day was early morning around 9:00 AM. We entered into a little village called Schiltach. Charming little place that was filled with steep hills and gingerbread type cottages. We would find our way through the cobblestone streets to discover tour bus and caravan parking was a gazillion miles away from the village square. Fair enough, out we would go for a walk. The charm of the place was adorable. We came to the village water well, where we imagined women fetching water to bring home. Behind the well was an outdoor cafe! We all desired a beverage on the crisp morning. Pots of chocolate for everyone, except two elder Muppets, their beverage of choice was coffee. There was something so quaint and very European about sipping our hot beverages at a table that stood in the middle of a cobblestone square.

This was when I heard Honey exclaim, “LOOK AT THAT SIGN!”

Huh, it was a blue tourist sign that read “Hansgrohe”. What was the big deal about Hansgrohe? For those of you that don’t know, my Honey works in the plumbing industry – no he isn’t a plumber but is handy with a leaky faucet. Apparently we were at the Head Quarters for the amazing shower-head company. Not that I knew how amazing these shower heads were, because you know the old adage “the cobbler’s wife has no shoes”. Yes, that is me with not a fancy shower-head in the house. Best part of all? THERE WAS A MUSEUM! Off ran Honey and Genetic Offspring to the museum, they would meet up with us later. The rest of the Muppet Crew decided to pass on that particular adventure. To his incredible disappointment, the place was close. Awwwww. He did thrill us with tales of the size and scope of the place, then he talked about other fascinating bits but my mind wandered off at this point. I did try to listen, I really did, but I just don’t understand the inner workings of hardware. Sorry Honey.

Time to move on! We had other places to see. Yes we were still in search of a cuckcoo clock shop for Chatterbox. Next stop Vogsbauerhof the Black Forest Open Air Museum. We had no idea what an open air museum was. Fresh air was a special thing here? No, lots of it was around. Curiosity go the better of us so away we went. We saw a VW Beetle with big red balls on top. We weren’t sure what those were, I suspect cherries but if any of you know, please tell me! We found the place to be very similar to Fort Edmonton or other outdoor museums we had visited back home in Canada. It struck me that farming and pioneering efforts in the past 500 years hadn’t changed much. Not much to see here people, keep moving!

Then it happened. The Cuckcoo Clock Shop was spotted! Slamming of the brakes followed by the Muppets running across the street leaving the driver in a cloud of dust. We had found the very place that Chatterbox had desired. Honey, of course made friends with the owner Adolf Herr and invited him to visit us. Genetic Offspring was looking to buy beer-steins for all his friends but settled on hats. Honey bought a blown-glass Christmas Ornament in the very place that is famous for them. The rest of us thought we would save our cash for Paris. My mom informed me this was the very place we had been to years before when I was 10. The very shop where I had purchased my own Cockcoo Clock that had proceeded to annoy me for years to come.

Now Chatterbox owns one that annoys us all.

When we got home, I was presented with a Hansgrohe Shower-Head, and it is awesome.