Route 66: 2010

Monday, December 27, 2010

Paisano European Tour 2010 - Day 19

Day 19 is September 25

Welcome to another amazing & full day.  I was up way early as my coughing woke me up and I tried my best to leave the rest of the family at peace.  I was down stairs well before 5:30 and camped on the couch.  It's all good because I was ready for coffee and "tried" to help with breakfast but was politely kicked out of the kitchen.  :)  After a very nice breakfast with much of the family -  Morten, Line, Ronja, Hans, & Momma - we were out the door by about 10am & on our way.

Today, we are heading out to catch our dinner.  We, (Morten, Hans, Momma & I), piled into the van, stopped by the farm and picked up Astrid and then made our way down to the boat to meet up with Marten.  Most often, boats and ships are named after women/ladies, but in this case, Marten named this boat the Hanso.  "She" is named after Hans Olav because he is the only grandson.  That's pretty special stuff.  The Hanso is a great boat!

At the beginning of our journey out to sea I must admit I was cold.  Of course, I'm a wimp and generally prefer the heat.  We motored out to a fishing spot Marten had discovered.  We used the electronic map and fish finder, to get ourselves in position.  After getting to our fishing "ground" we drifted a bit and between the skills of Marten & Morten, we were in place.  The hooks were dropped  from the first side, which was the "electric" side and then we dropped "old fashioned" side.  After both sides were dropped and cranked back up a couple of times, we started started reeling in fish.  Now this was Fun fishing!  I gotta tell ya, I really am not much of a fisher man, but that is likely because of some less than wonderful memories as a boy.  I never caught a fish at anytime when we went and well, you know me, I Cannot stay still and well, that didn't make for a very good fishing experience.  Momma and Astrid did an outstanding job observing & supervising. Couldn't have done it without these wonderful ladies.

At any rate, I cranked in a couple times & got 3 or 4 total and Marten's side got quite a few more.  We finished our expedition with about a dozen Coalfish or Sei fish, depending upon who you are speaking with. That was by far, my "greatest" fishing experience.  Heck, if I could catch fish like that All the time, I'd be "hooked".  In reality, it was likely Marten's expert "fish divining" and Morten's "skippering" that got us to the right spot at the right time. 

We decided to take our fish and motor around a bit.  As we were heading towards the fjords and shores, we encountered several things.  As you can see, we had a following of flying rats, I mean seagulls.  I think I got some pretty cool shots of the birds.  I even impressed myself.  We also saw a pod of small whales, how cool is that!  The scenery around the coast is really beautiful.  There are what Morten calls cabins dotted around the coastal areas and near the shore.  Wow, those look like some pretty fancy cabins, but at the very least, What a View!  There are some amazing near sheer drops into the ocean and many of the cliffs are pretty high up as well.  Some areas reminded me a bit of Colorado, well, except for the water, of course.  We had a great time.  No doubt, this was my best time fishing, ever...

 Once we're back on shore, Marten, Morten and Astrid clean the fish while Line, Hanne and company boil carrots, potatoes and the like.  This meal was Outstanding!  The VERY fresh fish was the Best.  All the food was great and the conversation was excellent!  While everyone else was cooking and slaving away, Morten and I took the veteran Volvo out for a spin.  That was fun, but I got the biggest chuckle out of Morten's park job.  He "claimed" the reason for the parking challenges was because he was backing in, had new gravel in this spot and he says it's Very light in the rear end, sure, sure...  :)

We head back "home" for a bit of relaxing, talking and viewing of fishing pictures and videos. I also had a great talk with Ronja about her upcoming plan to take part in the EF High School Year.  I know I'm excited for her!  We talked about the differences between Colorado and well, everywhere else.  I know that wherever Ronja gets placed, she'll have a Great year.  Ronja is part of an outstanding family and I know I will do everything I can to help as well.  Oh yeah, she's planning of going to Hawaii on "My" week as well.  Yay!

Later in the evening, Morten, Hans and I went to a "show" at the local pub.  I was suitably impressed.  It was Great to see, up close and personal like, in a different country that music really IS a great equalizer.  The show was 2 acoustic guitar players, (electrified a touch, of course) and a pretty good drummer as well.  The guys sang in English, which was a plus for me.  They did mostly covers, but did a great job of it.  They were into and the folks in front of the stage were enjoying it as well.  There was lots of dancing and all in all a very well behaved crowd.  I liked that those who  had a bit too much cheer were well taken care of.

I kept thinking this could be a possible for In The Machine or Channel 27.  One of these days "we" need to do a European tour and ya know, the band(s) WILL need a roadie AND photographer...hint, hint.  After the show I had a chance to talk with the lead singer.  Nice guy and he had the same Great attitude of the "great" musicians that I've had the pleasure of meeting and knowing over the years.  He said "as long as you are passionate about what you play, the audience responds to it."  Great stuff!

What a day & night!  Line was nice enough to pick me up and take me back home.  I got a bit of medication and finally turned in by 2:30.  It was a pretty awesome day, but I'm Beat and being sick is Really getting old.  I spent a good part of the day & night coughing...yuck.

Anyway, Good Night to all and be ready for another jam packed day tomorrow.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Paisano European Tour 2010 - Day 18

Day 18 is September 24

Ahhh, our first full day in Norway.  I was able to sleep in a bit today and finally drug myself out about 9am.  After a nice breakfast, I started feeling a bit better.  No one ever likes being sick, but I would much rather feel bad at my own home.  Being sick on the road really sucks; I also want to try to make sure I don't get anyone else sick. 

After I get myself together and everyone else is out for the day, Morten took Momma and I sightseeing.  Today, we started out with a trip to the nearby light house.  The views up there are Amazing!  As always, Morten gave us great stories to go along with the views.  Parts of the lighthouse area and concrete foundations were left behind by the World War II Nazi war machine.  Other than that, it was great place to be and there's even a picnic and cabin area near by.

We took pictures and looked around from the high 180 degree plus views, we drove around the area and checked out the coast.  We also took in the site of the future Raustein palace.  Actually, maybe not a palace, but the future home-site looks like it will be outstanding.  The somewhat cliff/mountainside location facing the fjord will be Great.  All that and it will be at the end of the street, as well.  Those are always the fancy houses.  Hey, wait, my house is at the end of the street...oh yeah, I live in the 'hood; never mind.

Our next stop on this day's tour was a great opportunity to meet Morten's, Marten and Astrid, out at their farm.  Morten has some toys out at the farm.  Two of the coolest were "veterans".  He's got an old, basic troop carrier of sorts and a great looking '56 Chevy Bel Air wagon.  It's a very cool black and white and has plenty of room for the whole family.  There's always something very cool about a nice old car.  Back in the '50's, those cars had real personality.  There's lots of great stuff out there on the farm.  What a great place and the views were great, too.  Marten & Astrid were awesome about making us feel very welcome as well.  Takk!

Dinner tonight was lasagna and vino.  Two of my favorite things and Hans was good enough to pick up a great bottle of one of my favorite wine regions in the world.  Rioja!  Yay!  Takk Hans, you learned well.  ;)  
I had a bit of fun convincing Line that Rio was named after the wine region.  Her name is actually Rioja, but maybe I'm just lazy and call her Rio, I mean after all, I call Hans Olav, just Hans...  ;)

After dinner, we did a drive out to the coast to try to catch the sunset, but we didn't quite make it this time.  That being said, it was still great.  The coastal area is wonderful and of course, just like Switzerland and Germany, the family here is unbelievable.  Later in the evening, I spent some quality time with Hans.  We worked on a "saying" for his graduation announcements.  I came up with "Fanticecceptionalistic Norwegianal Explorer" , we'll see if I get "published".  Either way, I had a good time giving my brain a bit of a work out.  That being completed, I'm done, out and calling it a day.

Here's to a hopefully good night's sleep and feeling a bit better in the morning.

Good Night All.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Paisano European Tour 2010 - Day 17

Day 17 is September 23

Today we had a very early start. I was up a bit before the 415 am.  Unfortunately, I started the day with a massive headache & joint pain.  However, from there on, the day was another Great one for the Paisano European Tour.

I can't say it enough, I'm So proud of Marc and Jana, too.  They've got the greatest relationship with their folks and that's Outstanding!  I'm really looking forward to having that kind of relationship one day, in the meantime, Danke to Marc for being one of my kids.  ;)

Marc and Frank were good enough to take Momma and I to the Hamburg airport and make sure we were all ready to go and checked in.  Again, Danke!  Everyone in the Wilkens family made us feel Extremely Welcome.  Remember, you ALL are Always welcome in our homes and we look forward to seeing you all again, soon.

Our flights today took us from Hamburg to Copenhagen and then to Trondheim.  We were lucky in that we had uneventful flights.  Yahoo!  As we arrived into Copenhagen I had to take a quick little trip to the restroom.  Since I peed there, that's counts for another country on my list, right??  The Copenhagen airport is surprisingly a very quite.  I guess I'm so used to LOUD American airports, I was rather surprised.  As we took a brief break between flights and grabbed a caffe, we also acquired more "new" money.  This time, we've got Danish krone.  I Love traveling, seeing new things, experiencing new places and collecting new money as well. ;)

I have to admit that as much as I love traveling and that I have Absolutely LOVED being in Germany for the past week, I am Beat...I feel pretty worn out.  I've been coughing, had major aches and a massive headache today, but...we made it to Trondheim in one piece and found ourselves in a Very quiet airport.  It was a bit odd as even the folks in the the lounge were very quiet.

Momma & I are now on to our 3rd or perhaps 4th country during this trip.  4th, only if you count Denmark because I used the restroom there.  ;()  So, when do YOU count a country???  Morten was good enough to pick us up.  I can't thank our European family enough, Everyone has been SO generous. Takk Morten!!!

After we left the airport, our first stop was Kristiansten Fort. The view from up here is really amazing.  Check out this link for some cool history. 
We spent some time looking around and even got to take a special tour with the grade school kids.  That was cool too.  The vantage point up there for pictures was amazing. 

Of course, that would also mean that the folks who built the fort, WAY back when, had the same idea. 

After taking in the sights from the Fort, we next went to the beautiful church in the heart of Trondheim.  That was impressive, to say the least.  One of the most interesting things was the artwork on the church.  I found it quite interesting when Morten gave us the run down of how, way back when, the leader of Norway was converted to Christianity.  He went around the country and asked if the people were Christians.  When they said no, well, guess what, they lost their heads.  If they said yes, then, Ta-Da, they kept their heads.  At any rate, there's a spot on the church that depicts a church "elder" with a bag full of heads.  Interesting, huh?

Morten was nice enough to take us around the city to view the sights and then we stopped at one of my Always favorite places.  We hit the Harley shop.  Yay!  I scored a t-shirt and it's got all the stuff that we just saw.  Very cool & it was just like Morten knew what to show us.  ;)

Our drive from Trondhiem was absolutely amazing, especially the further north we went.  At this point, I realize that I So need a bike out here!  The ride out to our new "home" for the next week was great.  After we got home, we finally got to meet Line, Maja & Kristen.  That was Great!  We got a chance to hang out  while Morten & Line were cooking dinner for us.  What a Great way to get settled in.  Just before dinner was ready, Hans and Ronja got here.  Just like when I saw Marc at the airport, I realized just how much I missed my boys.  LOTS! 

Tonight, we got a chance to go to a "grand opening" for the multi use building and community center in Linnsvik where Line is in charge of several key areas of the municipality.  This was Very nice surprise.  The program was really nice.  They had bands, music, singing, dancing & story telling.  I know Momma and I both enjoyed it very much, even the "stuff" we didn't understand.  Thank you Line for helping the Americans out.  ;)  So, Line was the MC, Kristin as a back up singer and Ronja was also part of the program as a member of a team.  Very cool AND the Raustein's were well represented.   

After show, we went back home and had a nice little meal and some great conversation.  Hans & Ronja spent the night here at home and Momma and I give up and head up for bed. I was out like a light and was hoping for a good night's sleep so that I could try to get over being sick.  Welcome to Norway!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Paisano European Tour 2010 - Day 16

Day 16 is September 22

Sadly, this is our last full day in Germany ;(

While I was waiting for the rest of the Wilkens crew to make their way downstairs, I got some pictures of the horsies out back and couldn't help but think of my Sis Jenno's comment when we saw horses in Colorado.  Her comment was "Ohh, look at the horsies, Woof, Woof".  Cracks me up Every time!

Today we, (Frank, Heike, Momma, Marc & I), spent time driving around a bit, seeing sites around the area and then we dropped Marc off to take his driver test.  As we expected, Marc passed with flying colours!  YAY!!!  Marc is now an officially, fully licensed German driver...uh-oh, I mean, Yay!  I Knew he could do it.  I mean afterall, he did some learning out here in Colorado, (and did a Great job, too).  While we were waiting for all the "important" folks to show up, the instructor commented about Marc's "fan club".  Glad to be known for something.

After Marc's triumph, we had a light lunch and then went to Alster Lake.  This time out, it was Momma, Heike, Jana & I.  The weather was Beautiful!  We walked around for awhile and I was able to get some really cool pictures.  This time through the park area I saw much that I didn't get to see on our first visit.  There were folks hanging out enjoying the sun, dogs playing, folks out on the lake, sailing, rowing and enjoying a great time.  I also saw some sculpture around the pathway and they even had these really cool lounge chairs out in the middle of the park for people who want to relax and enjoy nature.  Why can't we have things like that here in the US?

Our last night here in Germany featured a Great dinner with the Wilkens'.  Tonight we get to dine with Suzanne, Nadine and Aline as well as Heike, Jana, Marc and Frank.  It was outstanding!  What a great end to a wonderful week.  After dinner and dessert, we got to watch Aline's pictures of Cypress.  I Know I've not traveled Nearly enough and seeing these pictures serve to prove the fact.  These pictures were great.  It looks like a wonderful place and too many people, Especially, folks from the US, do not think about traveling to other countries, especially those countries that the think are "different"

This evening's celebration was wonderful, BUT...I'm really starting to feel the effects of Marc's cold and his souvenir he gave me from his trip to Poland.  That's OK, I guess, it's the gift that keeps on giving.

danke euch allen dafür, dass Mama und ich nach Deutschland, wie es war bestimmt Erfahrung, mit der Familie. Es war eine Reise ihres Lebens. Immer in unseren Herzen. Vielen Dank für die Familie.

Thanks for the memories,

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Paisano European Tour 2010 - Day 15

Day 15 is September 21

I know, you're surprised but today was another great day.  Momma and I got to spend the morning with Frank and Heike.  The day started off a bit cool, but then turned out great.

After we get the kids off to school, the four of us head to a great area along the coast. It was very nice and relaxing out there.  There's a nice little walkway that runs quite a good distance along the shore, well, OK, so it's actually raised over the river area.  There's a cool section where the flags of the ships' country are raised and also a "welcome" recording.  It was pretty interesting to see and while we were out there we got to see several boats and ships go by.  We even got to see the "Heike" and the "Jana".  I'm a firm believer in the idea that everyone should have "something" named after them.  Oh yeah, and while we were walking along I saw topless critters enjoying time on the beach.  It was fun to see them enjoying themselves.

After our time at the beach, we drove around Hamburg.  We saw the really great old buildings and the warehouse areas along the river.  It was cool to see the OLD buildings and the new ones pretty much right next one another, or at least across the channel.  You could almost visualize the old sailing ships pulling into the warehouse area and using the old school block and tackle and pulley systems to unload all the freight.

After our drive around the city, we head back home for a nice lunch with everyone.  Today was salmon and spinach.  Very good!  Later on, Marc, Jana, Momma & I head to the Pinneberg train station to head "downtown".  At the station we met Nina and Teo, Marc's friends.  The young ladies are Great!  We had a wonderful time hanging out.

While we were in Hamburg, we got a chance to see more cool stuff.  One of our first stops was our trip to St. Michaels.  St. Michaels is a really great old church in the heart of Hamburg.  The views from the top of this church are absolutely amazing.  The 4 kids have been Absolutely amazing and has been wonderful about showing great things around the city and have been very cool when we need to stop and take a break.  You know, at this age, we get tired.  :)

Besides the views from St. Michaels we also visited Hamburg Parliment.  It's pretty amazing how cool the "offices" are here in Germany.  The architecture is beautiful.  Out in front of Parliment was a "map" of the city.  That was very interesting as it was a 3D map that has Got to be a Pain to fold up and put in the glove box of the car.

We continue our walk around Hamburg and end up at a great cafe right on the shore of Alster Lake.  Between us, we had a cappuccino or two, macchiato, ice cream and even a banana shake.  It was a bit chilly, but this cafe does some really cool stuff.  They have blankets in all the outside chairs.  What a Great idea!  Seems like they had some heaters as well, but I'm not quite sure.  I'm not quite sure that ice cream & a banana shake made a whole lot of sense, but then again, I'm FAR removed from being a teenager.

Of course, as we were walking around, we  got lots more pictures.  I'm having a Blast taken pictures everyday.  I must say that even I'm impressed with some of the shots I've been able to take during this trip.  We take a little side trip past a square that Heiner told us about where they purchased several redwood trees from the USA.  Beautiful  area and now we're on our way back "home".  Bless Heike for being our chauffeur, expecially since she dropped us off and picked us up, too.  Danke Heike!

Just one more day and we're our way again.  It's hard to believe that our time in Germany is almost over.  Hard to believe how fast this has been going.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Paisano European Tour 2010 - Day 14

Day 14 is September 20

Today is another great day to be alive, in Germany and with family.  It is, however a bit cloudy & overcast - it makes me think of some of the time I've spent in San Francisco

Since today is Monday, Jana and Marc "get" to go to school today and Frank & Heike took the day off, so Momma and I got to hang out and see more sites. We get to have a nice breakfast - have I mentioned how much I really enjoy fresh baked bread and rolls along with a nice cup of coffee in the morning?  No, well, Danke Frank!  It was always a great start to the day.  As we're finishing up the "wake up" coffee and fresh bread, we get the game plan ready to go.

Today our first stop is Hamburg Nord Harley Davidson shop.  Yay!  I always find it interesting to take in the sites at Harley shops when I get to travel somewhere else.  I still wish I coulda gotten myself a Swiss Harley shirt, but I guess I can either look online OR I could go back to Switzerland, hmmm...I think I Like That idea!  While we were looking around the shop, Frank said he may be considering selling his existing scooter for either a bigger one or a motorcycle.  Of course, That got me thinking... Now we're talking a bit about some "Euro" rides.  I'd Love to get out on the road in Europe.  I think that might be an upcoming trip.

Our next stop was Graff a huge wine and beer shop with loads of "stuff" all over.  It really reminded me of home, but in a good way.  I know I could have spent a fortune there.  I really like shopping for wine and even beer, too.  Pretty much everything I saw here was cheaper - it must be the proximity to the supply.  I should have gotten some of the cool single beers, but I was afraid they would end up getting broken before I got home.  I mean after all, you've seen how those folks handle luggage, right??  I did however, pick up a bottle of French red that was bottled in Hamburg.  We'll see if I can leave it alone until I get a chance to share it with Frank & Heike.

After our trip to the wine shop we then stopped at a nice little market for dinner fixings and had an "early" typical German meal after the kids got home from school.  Sorry, I forgot to mention that Frank and I dropped Marc off at school and while we are out, we take a drive past Jana's school, too. Just like most things, if you didn't know & forgot about the smaller flats, the neighborhoods here are just like the US.  I think that's one of the coolest things about being here.  Once you get out of the "city", it's very similar everywhere.  That just means that we are all much more alike than our governments might like to think sometimes.

After dinner and a rest, we went into Hamburg city to meet Frank's Uncle Heiner. What a great guy!  We met and then went to a nice little tea house.  Earlier, I had asked the real definition of Lufthansa and while Frank & Marc started to explain what it meant and no doubt, would have done a good job at it, Heiner, however, explained it perfectly.  It doesn't hurt that he used to be one of the big wigs there.  Heiner would be the teacher I would have loved to learn from when I was in high school or college.  Heck, maybe one day, as I continue my schooling to become a teacher, I might even be like him at least a little bit, in a cool way, I hope.

So, back to the definition.  Luft is air and Hansa is/was an loose association of trading partners back in the 15th or so century.  Hamburg and other coastal cities and areas in Denmark, Sweden and even into the Russian areas were a part of this association.  Of course, there were other cities as well.  This association later became somewhat of a self protecting association against pirates and other riffraff.  So in the 1920's LuftHansa air was born using the same general idea of servicing areas for flights and whatnot.  Heiner is a font of great information and he has so much knowledge, but it really was like chatting with a favorite uncle.

After the great conversation, we took a drive to Alster Lake.  We walked around a bit, but it was unfortunately raining a touch so we didn't get a great look at everything. What we did see, however was really cool. We did see the water taxis, boats, the skyline and what every lake should have, a bar right on the shore.  I think one of my favorite parts was the dog park or what I decided to call a poochplatz.  That park made me really miss my girls and I realized that I need to get the girls out and socialize.  I think they would love hanging out with other dogs, I mean after-all, they had foster brothers and sisters before they became part of the Paisano clan.

On our way home, we passed through a construction area that had, without a doubt, one of the coolest things I've ever seen.  When you speed, they turn on the "frowny face" sign and then a "happy face" sign for non speeders.  Classic!  We SO need that here in the US.  Of course, I would likely speed just to get the frowny face.

As we get ready to call it a day, and a very busy one at that, we had snacks and watched the movie 2012.  It was during this time that we realized that we are already down to our last two days in Germany.  It has gone way too fast.

We are now calling it a day so that we can get our and experience even more tomorrow.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Paisano European Tour 2010 - Day 13

Day 13 is September 19

Today was a day trip to Hamburg!  Very cool day ahead of us.  I woke up early again and tried to be quiet while everyone else slept.  Luckily, I've had practice "creeping around", so I try to be stealthy.  Of course, usually at my house I don't have to be too quite because when I've got the boys here, they sleep like rocks and my girls are awake at the crack of dawn.

I must say I really enjoy that first cup of coffee in the morning, especially in a sleeping house.  This morning was Beautiful!  The sun & the horses out the back door were a very nice touch.  While we were waiting for Jana's return from church, we got some laundry done and relaxed.  Unfortunately, Marc is still feeling poorly.  I guess I should explain that.  Marc went on a class trip to Poland and as a souvenir, he brought back a cold.  That will be important later on.

We head into Hamburg and our first stop is Heike's office.  She's got an Amazing view of the harbor and clock tower.  This building is named "Stella House", but I think based on my personal opinion, we should rename this "Heike House"  It just has a better ring to it.

After our tour of "Heike House", we decided to take a walk along the river.  It was very windy out along the shore & pier, but still very a cool parade of boats and ships.  Near the river there was much traffic due to futbol game St Pauli vs Hamburg.  I'd like to say I remember who won, but if you know me, then you know that there's So Much  crap/stuff in my head that details like that just seem to fall out.  I'm just hoping that one day something Really important doesn't fall out of there, you know, like how to ride a motorcycle or open a bottle of wine.

We spent a good amount of the day driving around Hamburg, well, OK,  we were riding as Frank was our chauffeur.  The Elbe River flows in and around Hamburg and allows for some great sightseeing.  One of the most interesting aspects of this trip was that at one point, we drove over the Elbe and then at another point actually drove under it.  I knew it was possible, of course, with things like the Chunnel, but I hadn't ever experienced it.  Pretty cool stuff.  The whole idea of driving under the water can be pretty freaky, but since I shut my brain off, not so much.

Our next stop was the simply amazing Süllberg Hotel.  This is a special location for our guides and rightfully so.  The cappucino & other "hot beverages" and tortes were perfect.  The prices seemed to be a touch on the expensive side, but if the decor and the views were an indication, it was more than well worth it.  The expansive view from the "elevated beach" was very cool and as someone said, the picture from that vantage point looked like something out of a story book.

We had the pleasure this evening of attending an EF informational meeting in Hamburg and got to watch Marc "at work".  Marc is doing great stuff with EF and the German office seems to be rather pleased with they should be.  Other than not understanding most of what was going on, it was a good, interesting meeting.  I even had a couple questions come my way as well.   I found it interesting that even Momma noticed that some of the girls in the meeting were much more likely to be successful than others, simply based on their interactions.

  As we call it a day, we finish up with a great chicken, rice & broccoli dish, all finished off with a very nice Rioja.  Yum!  Tomorrow, Marc & Jana "get" to go to school, but Frank & Heike get to play hooky and take the day off.

What a great day!  Time to get some rest and get ready for another fun day tomorrow.