Our journey next led us down near the giant US air base at Ramstein and the home of some dear family friends. There was fun for all in this busy, happy home filled with 7 kids, a dog and a turtle. We spent a lot of time this week just being together: watching the new season of Sherlock, taking walks and runs around the neighborhood eating Greek sandwiches, playing games, and all that good stuff. I was able to read an actual book, work on my knitting project, and catch up with Amy. Perfect.
There were a still great sights to be seen though, and even a couple of adventures along the way.
Wednesday July 25, we drove about 45 minutes to Idar-Oberstein, which happens to be the gem-cutting capital of Germany. It is also a nice-sized town nestled into green hills and rocky cliffs. The souvenir shops were filled with colorful stones and interesting things made of minerals, including classics like stone flowers and grapes. The uncommon beauty was to be found in the amazing jewelers' shops on the other end of town. There were gorgeous things in every precious and semi-precious stone imaginable. If you like colorful, sparkly things, you would enjoy looking around here.
Above the town is the Felsenkirche, or Crag Church, built right into the stone of a fairly vertical cliff face. There is even a legend to go along with it. We climbed all the way up to marvel at the construction, hear the water dripping through the caverns behind the structure and enjoy the view. It was super-hot this whole week, much different than the cool days of the first two weeks, but we made the best of it.
|"In memory of the deported and murdered Jewish citizens of the |
|The girls take a moment to enjoy the garden|
|Another castle peeks out high above the town|
|Looking back down the stairs|
leading up to the Rock Church
|View of the town|
|It was HOT-in the 90's. Unusual for this area.|
|The steeple of the church above the town|
|Someone's courtyard and front door. The efficient use of space|
in Europe was a thing of beauty. This little spot was all of about
6 feet on any side.
|A better view of the church. I didn't get any great shots of|
this because I just never found the sweet spot. Fortunately,
there are plenty of good images online. I did make a quick
watercolor sketch, though, so I'll have that at least.
As we were driving away, considering a stop at an alpine slide, the adventure part of the week officially began. Amy's gearshift went limp in her hand and the engine of her van completely disengaged from the outside world. We were stuck, and on a main road with not even a shoulder to cry on or pull over onto.
We did the resourceful thing and put out the emergency triangle 100 meters behind us and called the autoclub. The cars obediently changed lanes and there were no traffic troubles. Then we waited. And waited. I had time to make that sketch of the church. And walk back to town to get a few groceries. And see the emergency triangle get smashed flat by a white BMW. Then traffic started to snarl up so we got resourceful again and went and started directing traffic ourselves with the shards of the triangle. It was a dream come true, I tell you, to direct traffic on a hot afternoon in a medium-sized German town. It was awesome to see the responses, from grateful acknowledgement to blank stares to angry gestures. After a couple of hours of that, and no auto club, the police did take notice and come and help us with the traffic. They were very nice about the whole thing. Moments after Amy's husband came to rescue us with the neighbor's van, ADAC showed up and fixed the car on the spot and we all went home, tired, hot and gritty from standing in the road, but totally safe and sound. With the exception of the sweet little 18-month old, we were not too worse for the wear. Amy felt terrible of course, but for me, it was all part of the Great German Adventure. I'd seen a show all about ADAC and other organizations like them in Europe on some cable channel, so I thought it was cool that we would see them in action!
It was still a good day, in spite of the long wait for help. The kids were brave and pretty patient considering the circumstances, Amy and I kept each other laughing in the face of ridiculousness, and it all worked out fine.