Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Vegging out in Mom-Town (or is that Turning into a Vegetable?)

May 7. 5:45 am  We'll put an advertisement first:

Gabriel, my good friend Alan's son (Oh my god, WHERE has the TIME gone? I feel like just yesterday I visited San Francisco for the first time for his parents' wedding and there was no sign of children) is busking in the streets (O.K., so in California weather that is not exactly a hardship ;-) to raise funds to donate to OneSky charity.  
What do you see on the car's roof, Gabe?

Here is a link to Gabriel's donation gathering page.   Yes, you would benefit an additional 10% of an orphan by going to OneSky directly, but we're also talking building moral fiber in today's youth, LOL.

Try to go 3 days without your morning Starbucks extravaganza and send your savings to Gabriel.  It'll benefit many, not the least YOU if you've succumbed to the evil Starbucks empire !

Where am I?  Oh, right, I'm in Mom-Town and it is very early in the morning.  

 At 7:15 I decide to go for a walk (a hike? is walking along inclines considered hiking?).  I quickly consult Google Maps and simply walk uphill right behind my hotel.  This is the Ruhr valley so it's not surprising that some morning fog lingers in the valley

 I had to look this up.  And it opened another avenue for finding cheap hotels ;-)

 When I'm about to cross the Autobahn for the 2nd time, the noise is so oppressive and downright painful that I have a revelation. I'm NOT willing to live  the rest of my life ANYWHERE where I'm subjected to the constant noise, smell, and dirt of this scourge of humanity, the internal combustion engine.

 I'm sure there are more than enough gullible victims out there who will make sure the likes of Volkswagen and Exxon will enjoy increasing profits.

While we're on the subject of gullible:  Dedicated to our HEROIC sons, reads the inscription on the plate with the LONG list of sons from this tiny village of Westhofen that were slaughtered in the 1st World War.

After all this exercise I do partake in the hotel breakfast (5 Euros) and as soon as I have fallen asleep for my apres-breakfast nap, someone reaches past the Don't Disturb sign on the outside of my door and knocks. WTF?   Why do they have these signs in the first place.  Can't really blame the hotel staff though.  My mother, whom I told yesterday that I'd be at her place at noon, is in reception.  The reason?  "Oh, I've missed you SOOOOOO much".  Oh Fuck It!  I'm NOT too friendly with her.  I'm NOT one of those little fliers that swirls around her in an everlasting dance to sprinkle fairy dust on her highness.  She is 75 but still hasn't learned that the world does NOT revolve around her.   This is stopping NOW !

Read the following with a twinkle:  I'm taking control of my life; I will no longer be at the beck and wake-up call of the female members of the royal matriarchy. Simply telling them the facts of life has no effect, so I'll simply remove myself out of reach.  And what is the simplest way of doing that?  Yeah, GRIN, you guessed it, LOL.

I've just booked a flight.  And I will study this public transit map in the coming days ;-)


On my request, the hotel cleaning staff swaps out the 'table' in my room for a taller one.  Think garden furniture with a garden chair next to it. Unfortunately the table and the seat of the chair were at about the same level.  Now imagine trying to use a laptop in that position ;-(


Visiting my mother is strenuous.
Where is my shoe?  Chris can you help me find my shoe?
Where should I put my house key?  Can't you tell me where to put it?  Should I wear a backpack just like you?   
She picks her clothes and accessories without problems every single day when I'm not there and she always has her key.  It's pure attention grabbing and it's driving me up the wall.  The food service delivers her lunch and she puts it in the kitchen. Over lunch (The waiter has to come back 3 times because I refuse to tell her what to order, then she orders what I order and refuses to eat it; when I'm done and want to leave she states that she's hungry and wants to eat now, OF COURSE, NO WAY can she eat the food-service-delivered lunch at home) I give her the goods straight. I tell it as it is.  This of course makes me the BAD GUY.  I'm the bad child! So be it.
I've dealt with this for 50 years and I'm no longer willing to put up with it. 


I'm back in my room; the new higher table is elixir for my back, and I'm writing the events of the last hour down in my pseudo diary to re-process them and hopefully to be able to purge them from memory and psyche.  It seems to be working, LOL, because a grin is reappearing on my face ;-)  


But when I wake up from a nap 2 hours later, I still feel drained and exhausted.  And it's NOT lack of sleep that is wearing me out. I just feel like sleeping more but I know what a poor decision that would be. 


Let's go for a walk (hike?).  There is a castle ruin about 4 km from here and it's still sunny and warm.  Since there is a casino not far from the ruins, I'm sure I could take a taxi back if the walk is too long, LOL.

Seeing, hearing, smelling this to me is like something out of Horror film 
But at this time of day, car drivers no longer can harm the planet without punishment.  And the fun part is:  They punish each other simply by their numbers.  A little traffic jam is developing very quickly right in front of my eyes:

But after a few turns one can't even hear the Autobahn anymore and peace returns.

Are you saying the route goes all the way DOWN into the valley and then UP AGAIN?  

When I cross the Autobahn again, I notice that the traffic jam has grown like a linear cancer:

Germans are almost as happy to create hell on earth as Canadians are.


I chickened out and didn't walk all the way to the castle ruin.  Too many peaks and valleys along the route ! But my 3 km breakfast march, the 2 km pick mother up walk, and this afternoon's 4 km ruin(ed) attempt should be enough walking for one day.  That's 9 km in total and I'm sure I'll feel that tomorrow.  That ruin can wait until tomorrow when I'll rent an e-bike, LOL. 

That's the problem with having afternoon naps.  You wake up early.   Google Calendar reminds me (as if I needed a reminder) that today I'm starting my fourth year as a widower.   Miss You Lots, Baby !


I read the morning news and an evil GRIN spreads over my face.  For years I despised people who eat gluten free.  My motive is summarized in one sentence: People starving in the 3rd world would be HAPPY to have the gluten that the Western spoiled brats refuse to eat.
But now a study shows that all the BRAIN-free people who have been eating GLUTEN-free just because it was a shiny new fad and not because their medical condition requires it have been reducing their life expectancy by years.  
However, I don't have any hope that the words GLUTEN-FREE will vanish from the TripAdvisor questionnaire or the supermarket shelves any time soon.  Natural Selection will keep taking its course ;-)


Is that WHY I'm so Hungry?   After yesterday's 9 km of walking, my dinner consisted of a yogurt, an orange, and a bun with salami & cheese.   Now I can't wait for breakfast (still 2 hours away).   Good, it's almost beach time and it's time to loose this winter's (spring's ?) Fatty Hip Lozenge!

The itinerary for this trip is filling up.  I'm booking more connecting train rides (The Bahncard 25 REALLY is earning its keep ;-) and hotels.  I am going to visit Wilhelm & Ute again, although on a less perfect Sunday instead of a Saturday.  To my surprise the Edersee holiday area, which nominally is popular with hikers and cyclists (although I suspect it's the guys travelling with cases of beer), 

Edersee (not my picture)
is almost booked solid Friday through Sunday. Since I want a hotel with easy German Rail access and available bicycle rental, I'm out of luck on the Saturday.
So the entire month of May is already pre-planned, which I don't really like but I've been to most of these places before, so I know where to find the best price/happiness ratio.   The exception to the pre-booking is the country I'm heading to in 3 days (ONLY THREE !!!!). I have the return flight but NOTHING else booked.  Need to keep the exploring adventure spirit alive until the last moment !


Breakfast time; FINALLY, LOL.
The whole-grain-coated Broetchen are to die for (Yes, think Gluten, LOL).


I'm on my way to meet mother at home but she's already at the Baker close to my hotel.  

The handle part of the dog's leash is tied around a leg of an advertising board of the baker outside the store.  

The dog has to pee. 

You can imagine the rest ;-(

In an effort to avoid meaningless conversation, I start weeding through stuff in my mom's cupboard.  She still has a paper operating manual for a Sony Walkman, for Peet's sake !  When I leave her house at 9:50 to catch the bus into town (yes, it might only run once an hour but yesterday I took pictures of the bus schedules, LOL) I can take an entire paper shopping bag filled with paper waste to her recycling bin.


The bus for the 4 km ride to the town's train station costs me Euro 2.60. Not bad, in particular since it is 9 degrees and rain drizzle today.   RadStation is open today and I rent a Bosch e-bike for 2 (TWO) whole days for 36 Euros. That's a GOOD price, actually.  Double that price in San Francisco and that won't even be enough to get you an INFERIOR e-bike for ONE DAY.

My first stop is LIDL.  A 1L bottle of dry Spanish white wine, a pack of sliced Gouda cheese, salty pretzels, two yogurts, and 3 buns cost me 5.50 Euros.  LMFAO, You might think the Canadian Dollar is undervalued after its drop relative to the US$, but looking at food prices here and in Canada, the Loonie is still OVER-valued by more than 100% !  The other way to look at that is: Canadian consumers are GAUGED and RIPPED OFF to an unbelievable degree when buying groceries.


Phew. I fell asleep and I could sleep HOURS more, but I've got to meet mother and her guardian.   After one hour with mother, Mme Guardian and I are convinced that the situation is not all that bad, despite the fact that some mystery doorbell ringer does not enter the flat, but apparently waits outside until we are gone.  


On the way back, I meet a former friend of Mother, and I get to hear not the other side of the story, but the real story.   I've known mother all my life and I can probably only credit that fact for not turning ghostly white before fainting in shock.   The woman has lied to me for 50 years and I still fall for her stories.  She's GOOD, LOL.


Dinner with mother.  Yes, of course we could take a taxi for the 3.5 km distance to the Greek restaurant in town.  But the bus stop is 4 minute walk from Mother's door and I have an e-bike.
So Mother is taking the bus after I tell the bus driver NOT to let her get off the bus before the terminus station.
The conversation over dinner is outright ugly but productive.
 WHY do I have to logically explain to a 75 year old woman that people don't like to be lied to and that people will distance themselves from someone who lies to them all the time and that this is the reason she is always alone?  Because she actually NEVER figured this out by herself in her 75 years on this planet. Another funny thing:  Bernie Sanders just said in Atlanta: Donald Trump lies all the time.   Nothing new there, but some people don't seem to be able to notice.
 Is my training with my mother to credit with me being able to switch off the TV while shaking my head only seconds after the Donald's Zeppelin Hair appears? Or is it the nose that's the give-away? LOL


I've just been turned into a cripple. I can't walk, stand, or sit down without pain shooting through what appears to this non-medical eye to be my right hip joint.  Laying down is possible, but only in ONE position, with my right knee under my chin.  WTF?  


I wake up and the shooting pains are still there when I move. At least now I'm starting to suspect that I do NOT need a hip replacement yet, because logical analysis of movements and related pain might suggest that I pulled or semi-tore a muscle deep inside my right butt cheek.  I'm actually rooting for that option.  Isn't it fucking APPALLING to get old, LOL?


I wake up with my knee under my chin and SLOOOOOWLY stretch out. 
 OUCH !  It's not as bad as last night, but it's still there. I've arranged to meet my mother at her house between 9 and 10.


I notice a note on my door.  My mother had been at reception looking for me but the hotel staff had been under the assumption that I had gone out.


I arrive at my mother's house within the arranged time interval. She is NOT home.
I spot my mother and the dog on the way back to my hotel.  "I was SOOO WORRIED about you" is the reason she states for coming to my hotel earlier. I'm NOT a visible minority in Germany, so I shouldn't have anything to worry about!  After reporting my near inability to walk and informing her that I'd pick her up for dinner, I head back to the hotel.


Guess what?   The staff has to knock on my door again because mother is in the reception area again.


It might be cold outside but it is SUNNY, so it's time to get out of bed.

A Tale of Three Towers (I'm heading to the one in the distance)
Let's saddle the bike and head up to that castle ruin I've seen from the train so often. Google maps suggests 2 different routes for bicycles and I decide to take the 'straighter' road up and reserve the steeper switchbacks for the way back. 

Yet another very lucky decision as I will find out later !

This very much reminds me of Chateaux du Puxe

 The inscription says something like "Life will never fully give itself to those who don't risk it".  True, but these poor bastards were just sacrificed and slaughtered for someone's insane greed for power.  

The 2nd WW memorial (below) makes a bit more sense:  Help the Peace are the three words at the bottom.   Quite surprising that the village of Syburg had any young men  LEFT to send to slaughter.

As a kid I used to read Salamander Shoes comics.
But THIS is the first Salamander I have ever seen in the flesh !

Koepchenwerk, a pumped storage power plant !!!
When I find the serpentine bicycle route down, I realize HOW lucky I was not to have tried cycling up there, LOL

A blacksmith's shop.   Nice work in making his own company sign !

15:00 I get back to the hotel, have a sip of wine, and go back to bed and SLEEP.  This is the first day in a loooong time on which I have managed to free myself from most obligations (yes, at someone else's expense) and can just do whatever I want for most of the day.  While I'm still exploring new venues I also finally find the opportunity to almost overdose on sleep.  NICE, for a change.


I feel like sleeping more but I should triage my luggage (I'm only taking the smaller backpack tomorrow and leave the roller backpack her until my return), catch up a little on this blog, and make sure that I'll have some need for sleep left tonight.


Dinner with mother.  


Not too bad, considering all the naps I had yesterday ;-)


Good thing I had a brief look at just now.  I've had my eye on a room in Carthage for a while now, ever since I saw the first pictures of the balcony overlooking the Gulf of Tunis on  Trivago pointed out that the room was CAD$ 15 cheaper on Expedia, et Voila, I know where I'm going to sleep tomorrow.  OMFG !  That REALLY is tomorrow already, LOL.

Another hint on saving money when traveling:  If you see a hotel you like on Booking or Expedia or whatever, sometimes going to hotel website directly can reveal CHEAPER rooms that are not listed on the major booking sites.  I've just booked one of those for later in the month.  It's the 'saving-piggy' room, with shower inside the room, but a private toilet in the hallway.  The result?  Another extra CAD$ 41 left in my travel budget.  Hmmm. Given that I'm going to a country that borders Libya, where the boats with all those drowning refugees originate, I guess I should really be sending half of that to MOAS, the people who do their best to rescue those refugees from drowning.

Let the adventure begin ....

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