Last Night of the Trip

The tent is set up at Camp Vltavin just south of Cesky Krumlov and there is Wi-Fi, but I’m still trying to finish this before the battery dies or it gets too dark to see, whichever comes first and that’s a toss-up.vltava

We left Innsbruck at about 10 this morning and after several traffic jams arrived in Salzburg at about 1 p.m.  Why are there so many traffic jams when you are a long way in any direction from any urban concentration.  There are just too damned many cars on the road, Europe has adopted that bad American habit and there is no place on Earth safe from the automobile’s vile influence.

Salzburg was lovely, it looks a lot like Prague, castle on a hill overlooking everything, a large pedestrian zone full of souvenir shops – Isabel said that Salzburg should be known as “The City of Souvenirs”- and a very pleasant walkway along the river.  There was the usual assortment of buskers, bubble makers and human statues.  We had kebab for lunch, and hit the road again about 4, and pulled into camp about 7:30.

We won’t need reservations, Helena had said.  It’s a huge camp, they have lots of room, she’d said.  We crested the hill and saw the camp – it looked like California in the Gold Rush or a sold out rock festival.  Tents covering every square inch of ground.  They told us if we could find a spot, we could stay, and we did.  Right next to the restaurant, so we won’t get to sleep until late tonight.  They’ve got a live band playing and Czechs love to drink beer when they are on a canoeing weekend ‘in the nature’ as they say.

I’ve seen a few other families with children but the primary demographic is definitely younger, and drunker.

Tomorrow morning, we’ll take a canoe – or maybe canoes, if they won’t let us all squeeze into one- they’ve let us get away with it before, but the kids are getting bigger.  Then tomorrow evening we’ll drive home.

Next blog from Prague.

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A Walk in the Woods

Today was our last day in Innsbruck.  It has been lovely, but tomorrow we will hit the road.  Our plan is to visit Salzburg, spend a couple of hours there, and then head back to the Czech Republic, camp somewhere near Cesky Krumlov, spend Saturday canoeing, and get home Saturday evening because Sam has a football game on Sunday.Gnadenwald

We went for a rather long hike.  Out of the village, down by the brook, over the bridge and into the woods, where the trail went up, and up, and up.  We were exhausted before we’d barely begun.  It is a lovely area, the wooded mountainsides of Tirol.

We sat down for a snack at a place with a couple of benches and a truly gruesome, bloody crucifix.  Those seem to be a common fixture along the footpaths here.  A little bit past that was a big, ugly  quarry.

The path went up, the path went down.  We got directions to  where we were going from a group with 3 dogs, two of whom were border collies, who would race each other with fierce energy, while the black labrador plodded along complacently with a rubber ball in his mouth.

We came to a farm with horses.  Isabel wanted to pet them, Sam was more trying to  poke them, I yelled at him about that.  I spend a great deal of my time yelling at Sam lately.  Usually he deserves it but it has become too much of a habit.

After that, we walked on  for about another half hour before reaching our destination, a beautiful spa hotel with a nice cafe and a beautiful view, overlooking the horse farm and we could clearly see the path we should have taken.  From the horse farm to the hotel should have taken us about two minutes.

Had a lovely Sacher Dorte with cream and berries, hung out in the playground for a while, and caught the bus home, which was an adventure in itself.  Being in a new country it is little things like a first experience with their public transport or a trip  to the supermarket which are interesting and teach you a bit about the place.

Guten nacht.

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Why Does Everybody Hate Walter Palmer?

Walter Palmer is the most hated man in the world, at least for today.  He shot a lion.  Some people are saying he’s the evillest human being who ever lived, others are saying, “Well, maybe not as evil as police who murder innocent people and then try to  pretend they committed suicide, maybe not as evil as terrorists who behead journalists on camera, but still a class A douchenozzle.”

Walter Palmer, world's greatest dickhead

Walter Palmer, world’s greatest dickhead

There are many reasons Walter Palmer has sparked such a visceral reaction.  It’s not just that he killed a lion.  Here are some of the extra reasons people are hating on him.

1.  Lions are cats.  People love cats.  Look at all the cat pictures on the internet.

2.  That lion had a name, and his name was Cecil.  He lived in a lion shelter, and Zimbabweans loved him loved him like Germans loved Knut, the baby polar bear.

3.  It wasn’t really a sporting kill.  After paying his guides $55,000 to kill a lion, they brought Cecil out of the shelter and Walter ‘The Assassin’ Palmer shot him with a bow and arrow.

4.  It wasn’t a clean kill.  After wounding him with the bow and arrow, the lion bled for a long, long time before Palmers band of paid poachers tracked him down and put him out of his misery.

5.  Walter Palmer paid $55,000 for the privilege.  Who among us can’t think of better things to do with $55,000?

6.  He’s a dentist.  I don’t know about everybody else, but I fucking hate dentists.  They tell you to open your mouth as wide as you can, and then hold it that way, which fucking hurts, btw, and then they talk to you and ask you questions which you can’t answer because you’re trying to hold your mouth open.  I put them in the same class of people as policemen and prison guards.  I realize they are essential members of society, doing a job that needs to be done, but I strongly suspect the character and basic humanity of anybody who would choose that profession.  It’s possible that not all dentists are sadists, but Walter Palmer certainly didn’t do the profession any PR favors.

7.  He’s a Republican.  That may not be a factor feeding into the public rage, but he was a major donor to the Romney campaign, and that certainly doesn’t make him any more  likeable.

8.  He just looks like a smug prick.

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Vacation, Day 3

What happened to Day 2?, the observant and regular reader of this blog may well ask.  Well, that day did not go well, to say the very least.

At the end of day 1, we went to bed early, snug in our tents.  It began to rain in  the night.  Not a big deal, I thought.  The sound of rain on the tent is pleasant, when you are inside.  I actually slept reasonable well.

Innsbruck.  I'm strangling Sam because he thought he was being funny blocking Isabel from the photo

Innsbruck. I’m strangling Sam because he thought he was being funny blocking Isabel from the photo

But the rain really started in earnest in the morning.  The boys complained that there was water in their tent, so they came into ours.  Not really a big deal, we could have slept 5, although it wouldn’t have been comfortable.  Helena and I walked up to the  grocery  store and  got breakfast.

Sam didn’t want to eat and we were worried he might be sick.  (He wasn’t sick)  We started thinking maybe this camping trip wasn’t meant to be and started discussing alternatives.  Went for a drive to the beach, because at least inside the car we were warm and dry.  Went to the town where the beach was supposed to be and got out to walk, all signs seemed to indicate it was just over the dunes.  Got a couple of blocks (with no sign of the beach) and the sky opened up and it poured.  Went back to the car.  Found the beach, which was not exactly the wind swept stretch of pristine sand I’d imagined.  There was the biggest, ugliest factory I’d ever seen in my life, a harbor with some very  large ships, which was interesting, and a long walk to actually get a look at the open ocean.

By the time we got back to the campground, we were committed to  leaving.  The problem was, we’d paid for 4 nights and they had no intention of refunding the money.  They said they will  send us a voucher for 3 nights, to be used by the end of season, but I don’t see us getting  back to Amsterdam in that time, so I hope we can sell it.

We decided to move straight to the second part of the trip, and drive Sam’s friend home to Innsbruck.  It was still raining buckets for the first two of 3 hours of the drive, but we pressed on and made it here just about midnight.  I told Helena she should be a truck driver.  She falls asleep in front of the TV after 10 minutes, but she can drive for days.

So we’re staying at his mother’s flat, and it’s quite lovely, indoors with all the mod cons, a lovely view of the Alps from the balcony, we took a walk down to a brook in the woods this morning and toured the city this afternoon, which was absolutely fine.  All’s well that ends well.

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Day 1

Well, there might not be too much of a delay with the blog after all.  We are ensconced in our campsite in the Netherlands, where we’ll be for the next 3 days, and it is a pretty full service place.  Of course there is computer access.

I'm sitting just to the right of this playground.

I’m sitting just to the right of this playground.

There is a fancy restaurant and a snack bar where we had dinner.  I made out like a bandit because I just ordered a burger, but Isabel and Helena got adventurous and ordered  Amsterdam Croquettes, which it turned out nobody liked but me.  I’m not even sure what they were, but my best guess is mashed potatoes and meat, a little spicy, breaded and deep fried.  We ordered fries for 3 and they were more than enough for the 5 of us.

There is a laundry, a bicycle rental, all sorts of playgrounds, and free showers (not a common thing in European campgrounds)  There are a lot of people here who seem to be spending the summer.  That is, there are cabins, and very elaborate trailers, and a little hobbit house.  We are slumming it with our tent.

The trip so far has been mixed.  We hit the road with much less complication than I thought, everybody got up on time and we were moving by 6 a.m.  It was a cool and breezy day, nice for a drive.  Germany is absolutely thick with windmills, it’s quite impressive, really.

One thing that I’m going to have to skimp on this trip is coffee.  At home I can make it whenever I like, so 6 or 8 cups a day is not uncommon.  But at 1 Euro 30 for a crappy, tiny cup from a machine, that’s going to be a rarer treat.

The kids have been fighting and going nuts in the back seat, so I’m glad we’re staying in one place for a few days.  Will write more tomorrow.

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We’re off on a week’s vacation starting  early tomorrow morning.  I hope to be able to write  this blog every day, most camp sites have Wi-fi now, but I can’t guarantee it and  I’m not going to worry about it.  Certainly, my facebook presence will be greatly curtailed, but maybe that’s a good thing.  Maybe that’s something I need a vacation from.

It will be more of this....

It will be more of this….

Certainly, my Poems About Paintings page has lagged a bit in the last week just because I’ve been in the same rut for too long and haven’t felt inspired.  Time to recharge the old batteries.

It’s going to be a very roundabout trip, with a lot of driving, but it will be interesting indeed.  First, we are headed for the Netherlands, where we will stay in a campground  by the beach and take a day  trip or two  into Amsterdam.  Since I haven’t been to Amsterdam since I  was young, single, and totally irresponsible, it will be a bit like seeing the place for the first time.

...and less of this.

…and less of this.

Then, we have to take Sam’s friend Robert home to Innsbruck, and we will find at least one place along the way to do a one day trip by canoe or raft.  That’s one of my favorite things to do in the summer, and it’s certainly been hot enough lately.

When I get back, I expect to be refreshed and in a good mood to start my newest job.  Starting Monday, August 3rd, I will be the Tarot Reader in Residence at Marie Brožová’s art gallery, just a few short stops off Old Town  Square.

If you’re in Prague, stop in and see me.

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Apocalypse Soon

It is stinking hot and I wish it would rain.  Rain clears the air, relieves the tension.  I like the rain.

Of course, I shouldn’t complain.  Some people are living where there is actual drought, and wildfires.  And there’s going to be a lot more of that.  Because the climate’s changing.  It’s changing a lot faster than we thought it would, according to a guy named Jim Hansen, who used to work for NASA and I guess is somewhat of an expert on the issue.

He says the sea is going to rise 3 meters within the next 50 years.  There goes Venice.  There go the Seychelles.  There goes Florida.  That might actually wake people up a bit.

If the Seychelles go under there will be a bit of a refugee problem and some people will have to reschedule their vacations, but the people who matter won’t be too bothered.  They are the White Rhino of nations.  They will disappear and people will forget they every existed.

I feel pretty lucky, to tell the truth, to live in the Czech Republic.  We’re far enough away from any coastline that we don’t need to worry about the ocean rising.  We don’t live along any known fault lines, so we’re probably never going to do in an earthquake.  We’re nowhere near Yellowstone so when that erupts and kills 90% of all the people in North America, we’ll be just fine.  No hurricanes here.  Forest fires are not a big problem.  That could change, I suppose, if drought becomes the order of the day, but we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.

Yup, we’re pretty safe here.

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