Greg and Erika

Greg and Erika - CooperGunner

(Music on/off)

Tuesday, 13 Sept: After a hectic 2 days of packing and ensuring all our documents were valid and up-to-date, we departed our home at 9:15 am with our neighbor, Pattie, taking us to the Santa Maria Airport in our car where we boarded a Shuttle Bus to LAX at 10:00 am. There were two other people on the bus who left at Santa Barbara and we were all by ourselves for the rest of the 3-hour trip. Our driver dropped us off at the International side of the airport in front of the Lufthansa terminal. We had 3 check-through bags and two carry-ons. We had plenty of time before boarding at 3:50 and departure at 4:20 pm. So we went upstairs to one of the many restaurants and had a bite to eat. We then proceeded to the waiting room where we were informed that the plane would have a little delay because of some technical problems. It was an Airbus 430 which lifted off about 20 minutes late. Our seats were very comfortable and the service was good. After a boxed meal (choice of chicken or beef) we settled in and soon fell asleep as there was nothing to see above the clouds crossing the United States towards Canada and Newfoundland. The forecast on the screen was good.

Wednesday, 14 Sept: We arrived in Munich only 10 minutes late on the next day (14 Sept) where my sister and her husband were waiting in the lobby. We went to the car rental desk of AVIS and managed to get a VW Diesel stationwagon upgraded without having to pay extra for it. We followed Max and Gertrud in their car to Königsbrunn in a little over an hour's drive. We stayed there for 3 days.

Thursday. 15 Sept: The weather so far had been good, sunshine and no rain. We told everybody that we had brought this beautiful weather with us from California (ha, ha!) That was just fine with everyone. After breakfast we decided to go to Augsburg on the bus and look around a bit to see what was new. We bought a few things (cookies which agreed with Greg's stomach). We had lunch at the Karstadt restaurant upstairs which was recently renovated and looking very nice. When we returned, we were visited by my sister, Martha, and her daughter and granddaughter, Nina. We had coffee and cake according to that German tradition and caught up on all that was going on at both sides of the big pond. Nina was in third grade and was already learning English (she could count to twelve and knew a few other words besides). We also learned that my cousin Erich was in bad shape spending his last few days in a hospice with a brain tumor and Alzheimer's.

Friday. 16 Sept: We went to the Sparkasse and withdrew some Euros from my account. Then we went for a drive with Max and Gertrud to a large furniture store where we had lunch in an upstairs restaurant. My brother, Hermann, and his family were on vacation in Südtirol and would not be back until next week.

Saturday, 17 Sept: Today we will drive to the Hunsrueck where Greg was stationed at Morbach Storage Ammo site some 40 years ago. We looked up the hotel where we lived for a couple of weeks as there was no housing available for us. We eventually found a place upstairs on a new farm which was close to where Greg worked. We stayed there the entire 4 years and never considered moving into base housing. The hotel previously called the Rahn's is now a 4-star hotel with a lot of amenities which the old hotel never had, except for the bowling alley in the basement which was still there. It is called "Hotel St. Michael" and the son of the previous owners is now in charge. We located him and he still remembered us and we had a nice talk about the American people who used to come to the restaurant for lunch where his mother always had a large tureen of soup for them. We stayed one night in one of the upstairs suites, very nice, with a view down below where now new businesses have sprung up. After a sumptuous breakfast we said "auf Wiedersehn" and headed for Lindenschied to visit Tim Smart and his family. He is Pat's brother, Greg's friend, who manages the Rancho Bowl in Santa Maria where we both bowl. We stopped by the Hahn Airport located on the former Hahn AF Base. It has really changed since we were there last a few years ago. It is called "Frankfurt-Hahn Airport" and has daily flights to a number of cities and countries in Europe on "RyanAir". Many buses transport people to and from Frankfurt Airport. A lot of information is available at the many desks inside the terminal which also houses a lot of shops and restaurants. Also, the former farming community of Lautsenhausen by the back gate has been replaced by businesses serving the airport.

Sunday, 18 Sept: We stopped by our former landlord's in Horbruch to say hello. Since it was Election Day, Bernd, the son, was not there. He had to work in town manning the voting booth. His wife called him and he showed up a little later. We had a nice visit before he had to go back. He returned at 5:00 pm when the booth closed and he and his wife invited us to stay for supper with roast beef and potatoes. Bernd said he still has some very pleasant memories of our stay, especially our son Danny, who practically lived and worked with them on the farm the entire time. He showed us around the farm buildings and we could see a lot of improvements he made to make them more attractive. There was a koi pond, landscaping with many flowers and trees. Before we left we talked to his sister, Birgitt, on the phone and she was hoping that we could see her next time. She was about 10 or 11 when we lived there. We left for Lindenschied, a short hour's drive, and found the place much to our amazement. Tim's wife, Birgitt, was also working at the local voting booth and came home later. So Tim and one of the daughters and we went out to eat at a Pizzaria. Later when Birgitt came home we had a nice visit with her family and we stayed there overnight. We had seen them the previous month in Mauston, Wisconsin, when the parents of Pat and Tim had their 50th anniversary.

Monday. 19 Sept: Since everybody either had to work or go to school, we left after breakfast thanking them for their hospitality. We headed for the Mosel and Brodenbach for our internet get-together, our "Stammtisch" friends. We stopped in Bernkastel since it was a little early to check in to our hotel. The weather was still nice and sunny and we watched people boarding the many river cruise boats that take you up and down the river. We had something to eat at a Cafe and headed for Brodenbach around 1:00 pm staying on the right side of the river. There was not too much traffic, but we did run into a few detours due to road work. Driving along we hit the "Peifer" hotel at the beginning of the town. When checking in we were told that due to a mixup with their reservation clerk we had no room for tonight, but had a room at the "Ostermann", about 10 kms back. We turned back and found the hotel, a very nice place with a view to the Mosel from our room. Our room was next to a patio with chairs and we enjoyed the nice, sunny weather. Some other "Stammtisch" people also arrived there. After unloading our bags we decided to cruise around a bit to see the rest of the town. Then we had supper on the patio outside the restaurant, enjoying the still warm and sunny weather, and wondering how much longer this would last.

Tuesday. 20 Sept: After breakfast we moved to the "Peifer" where more people had arrived.

We planned to drive to Burg Eltz today to see that ancient fortress high up on the hills. The whole area on both sides of the Mosel is covered with vinyards for miles and miles. Some of the harvest had not taken place yet as the grapes were still on the vines. We could get 20 people together for an English speaking tour guide. It was a very interesting tour and we saw how people lived in those days. These fortresses were always built high over the towns so that approaching enemies could be spotted and fought off in time. There was an arsenal with all kinds of old weapon: Armored suits, bows and arrows, lances and guns, to show how people defended themselves in the old ages. There was always somebody who wanted to take over your property, but fortunately did not succeed. Every room had a large fireplace to keep the people warm in the winter, even the bedrooms. We bought some postcards, a pin and a shirt.

Erika at Burg Eltz

Then on to Cochem to do some walking and shopping for friends and family back home. I found some nice embroiderred tablecloths at a very reasonable price, more shirts, key chains, neck scarves with Edelweiss clips. This evening we had our first meal and visit with the rest of the group. We got reaquainted with former travelers and also met new ones. We also celebrated Greg's birthday. He celebrated his 39th birthday for the 36th time, ha, ha! We stayed on for a few hours and talked to some newcomers, finally turning in around midnight.

Wednesday. 21 Sept: After breakfast we again left for a cruise around the town and the Mosel stopping by a nice outdoor cafe for lunch. That evening we had our regular meeting after everybody had arrived, including Nate and his family who had moved to Germany and where his wife runs a very successful fitness center. Ben thanked the organizers of this get-together, Hitchcock and Rolf, who did a great job. We agreed to meet later with the Kronenburg's at Maria Gern the following week when they were staying at the "Zum Tuerken" hotel in Berchtesgaden and we will be at Maria Gern.

Thursday. 22 Sept: After saying "Auf Wiedersehn" to everybody and wishing them a safe and enjoyable trip we headed for Garmisch, leaving around 8:45 am. Everybody went on to visit other places before returning home. We headed for the Munich Autobahn and then to Garmisch. We stopped shortly in Landsberg, but could not find a parking place where we wanted to. We continued on to Garmisch making good time. All the Staus were in the opposite direction. We arrived at the "Edelweiss Lodge & Hotel" around 3:00 pm. The Security Guards at the gate were very strict; we had to show our ID'S and the rental car agreement before they allowed us to enter the area. They also checked with the hotel to ensure that we actually had reservations there. We were awestruck by the sight of the hotel, great design and construction. All interior designs and furniture are made from natural materials. We had a suite with 2 double beds, a seating room, bath and shower, refrigerator and TV. There were a few buses arriving after we did unloading people who had flown into Munich or adjacent areas. These people had booked tours to the Oktoberfest since hotels and parking there were all sold out and not available. We checked out the various restaurants, when they were open, what they were serving. A store was offering many "goodies", i.e. souvenirs, postcards and T-Shirts with "Edelweiss" embroidery. They also had books about Bavarian attractions which could be visited during their stay (King Ludwig's castles, etc.).

Friday. 23 Sept: I called a beauty salon to make an appointment for myself. I walked seven blocks to town before I found the place thinking it was much closer. Feeling better after a shampoo and set, I continued on into town and found a grocery store to buy a few items. After returning to the hotel (13 blocks) we went to the Riessersee for lunch. The weather was still great and everybody sat outside and enjoyed the surrounding views. We had brought some leftover Broetchen to feed the ducks in the adjoining lake. We also noticed a giant carp. There were about 30 ducks flying across the lake when they noticed that we were feeding the fish. Some people were walking around the lake which we had done during a previous visit. After returning to town we parked at the former bowling alley parking lot and walked to town. The place was jammed, mostly retired tourists, from the looks of it (gray or no hair). Back at the hotel we had a small evening meal and listened to a man playing the keyboard. He took requests and I asked him to play my favorite song "Edelweiss" from the "Sound of Music". He also played other songs from musicals. We returned to our room to get updated on what was happening in Louisiana and Texas. I thanked God for sparing us from such tragedies.

Saturday. 24 Sept: We went to the Eibsee Hotel for lunch on their patio,a beautiful seating area with a view to the lake. We stayed about two hours and just kicked back and watched the tour boat, a canoe and a paddle boat cruising on the lake. On our way back to town we stopped at Aldi's and bought some goodies and sodas next door. A lot of people were walking and biking taking advantage of the good weather. Back in our room I concked out and Greg watched the football games on TV. Later I wrote some postcards and mailed them downstairs in the lobby.

Sunday. 25 Sept: We had breakfast in our room with items bought yesterday: Broetchen, cheese, lunch meat and Kaffee Haag (Decaf). Another sunny day in Garmisch. I cashed some more Traveler Checks for Euros. Also did some laundry in the Lower Lobby. Afterwards we went to town and walked around like the rest of the tourists. Most of the stores were closed today, being Sunday, only a few ice cream stands and restaurants were open for business. Around 1:00 we went to the Riessersee for lunch. The place was very crowded, but we found a table under an umbrella. Greg had a Riesenschnitzel which was true to its name, a giant schnitzel indeed, with potato salad. I had beef broth with a liver dumpling. I also helped Greg with his potato salad. We took half of the Schnitzel back with us to eat later on. We were pooped when we got back to our room, with all that fresh air and walking, I guess. I had earlier bought a German newspaper and found a giant crossword puzzle (13 x 19") and refreshed my German language skills. It was quite a challenge and I didn't finish it. We watched TV to see what had developed on hurricane Rita. Also tried to get a weather forecast for tomorrow when we will be driving to Berchtesgaden. I again thanked God for not being in the hurricane devastated area. We will gas up in the morning before hitting the road. So far we got pretty good mileage on our car with Diesel gas being the least expensive, not like in the States where it is the most expensive.

Monday. 26 Sept: After breakfast in our room we settled up downstairs and cashed in some more Travelers Cheques (finally got the spelling right). The rate was 75 Euros for $100.00. I later got a better rate at a German Sparkasse. The skies started to look cloudy and overcast. We were hoping to get to our next destination without rain which was forecast. We left the hotel around 10:10 and headed for the highway to Bad Toelz. Then on toward the Autobahn Munich. We tanked up outside Bad Toelz where Diesel was 1.15 Euros a liter. Traffic was minimal and moving right along except for a place where three lanes merged into one. A truck driver honked at us for pulling in front of him even though we had our turn signal on. So much for highway courtesy! After heading to A5 we turned off at Bad Reichenhall and Bischofswiesen, then toward Berchtesgaden and finally saw the Maria Gern sign. We checked into our hotel, the "Brunnerlehen", around noon. Our room was very comfortable with a view toward the mountains. There were sheep grazing in the fields below. The hotel was completely booked; it only holds about 12 people, 6 rooms. After unloading our luggage we headed a little further up the road to our favorite restaurant, the "Dürrlehen", for lunch. They have covered tables outside where we prefer to sit. The same waiter was still there from our previous visit. So was the dog, a collie, who was a puppy then and is now a fullgrown dog. We found out that Thursday was their Ruhetag where they are closed. Later on we drove into town (Berchtesgaden) and walked around a bit. We found a place that served food and had yoghurt and coffee, our dessert. We were still full from our lunch as we took half of it with us for later (in Germany there is no name for "dogey bag", it translates into Hunde Tasche which doesn't mean anything in German).

Tuesday, 27 Sept: We woke up to the sound of rain, pretty heavy. Breakfast was served at 8:45 in the breakfast room along with other guests. Everybody discussed what they were going to do with the rainy weather limiting their activities today. We stayed in our room for a while and then headed for the Hintersee and our favorite place the "Wörndlhof" and its owner, Herr Bartl, whom we had met during previous visits. He was an Olympic Bronze Medal winner in 1964, for downhill racing. We took a walk around the lake which took about one and a half hours taking our umbrellas and raincoats. Only a few people were doing the same thing. From time to time it would let up a bit, but it never stopped. We had a late lunch and some coffee. Herr Bartl came and sat with us for a while we talked about our trip, where we just came from and where we were going next. He has a daughter who now works in Munich for BMW. She spent some time in California going to school, and has been back to visit a few times. Before we left he gave us a postcard with the e-mail address in case we woulld be interested in staying there on one of our future trips. We returned to Berchtesgaden and ran into Carolyn and Jim (CGRAM434) who were looking for a parking spot where we were parked. It had never stopped raining, but people were still walking around, window shopping and eating, but not outside. All the umbrellas were folded up and the insides of the eating places were crammed. We found a cafe and had Coffee and Kuchen around 5:00 in the afternoon. We had enough food in the refrigerator outside of our room to take us through the evening. We had some books and magazines to read and crossword puzzles to work, in both English and German. We were hoping that the weather would be better tomorrow.

Wednesday. 28 Sept: The skies looked a bit nicer than yesterday and it was not raining. After a while the sun came out and one could see the top of the mountains which we could not before. After breakfast we made plans on where to go, probably around town and to the Königssee. We had a talk with the guests at our table, where we came from and how long we were staying. Around 11:00 we went to the Koenigssee and walked around, found a few more things to buy and around 2:00 a small place to eat. We went to the National Museum and watched a show on wild life and nature at the Information Center. Also took some of the brochures which they had in English. The weather was holding out and we kept our fingers crossed that it would last through most of the day. After returning to Berchtesgaden we turned off to the road leading to the "Zum Türken" where Beverly and Chuck (Ckronenbur) were staying. They had checked in, but left again to go into town. We continued on up the hill and found the former Golf Club that was part of the General Walker Hotel which was a hotel for Americans, but which has been returned to the Germans. A new and very fancy hotel is now open a little ways up which we saw advertises in our B&B, called the "InterContinental" with valets standing outside and a heavy price tag in its rooms. After returning to downtown Berchtesgaden we found a nice place and had the customary c&k. As they say, when in Germany do as the Germans do. The sky was getting rather dark and it looked like it was going to rain again very soon. We just made it back to the car when it poured and we headed back to our hotel. We had enough "stuff" for the evening and we stayed in.

Thursday. 29 Sept: We woke up to streaming rain which started last night. Many people left today and the ones remaining were wondering if and when it would stop. The forecast was to improve by tomorrow, perhaps getting a little warmer. The other couple at our table was leaving for Frankfurt today and we wished them a safe trip. I had planned to get my hair done today to be presentable for our return trip tomorrow. We went to town around 11:00, found a parking space (not always easy in Berchtesgaden), and found a salon nearby. Greg stayed in the car and read a book he brought from home. It started raining again when I was done, but we used our umbrellas and strolled around like all of the other visitors in the area. It was too early for lunch and we killed time window shopping, buying a paper and a magazine to read later on. We found a place that had dry tables and chairs and overhead covers and had a small meal: Schnitzel and pommes for Greg and a bowl of soup with noodles for me. It stopped raining and clearing up (surprise!) and we could see the top of the Watzmann. We took some cake back to our room and had coffee later on in the afternoon.

Friday, 30 Sept: We planned on leaving today after breakfast for Königsbrunn after settling our bill, the cheapest one on this trip, 120 Euros for 4 days with breakfast. The weather looked pretty good and we were hoping that it would be good on the Autobahn. We had enough gas to take us all the way home. We said "Auf Wiedersehn" to the owners and their daughter who runs the business. We told them our stay was pleasant in spite of the weather. At 9:15 we rolled out and headed towards Bad Reichenhall and the Autobahn towards Munich. As soon as we merged on the A10 it started pouring with the windshield wipers going full blast. This lasted about 10 minutes when it subsided and eventually stopped altogether. In spite of the slippery surface of the road people were passing us at
over 160kmh. We arrived at my sister's place around 2:45 and were glad it was over, the rat race on the Autobahn I mean. I called my other sister and my brother and told them we were back, sound and healthy. My brother, Hermann, invited us to his place for coffee the next afternoon when we would meet his new grandson, Marco. We relaxed the rest of the evening and hit the sack early.

Saturday, 1 Oct: We did some shopping after breakfast and the weather looked remarkably nice, no wind and almost clear skies. We remembered that German stores close early on Saturday and are not open on Sunday. Greg had gotten a taste for a certain brand of German cookies and stocked up. Six packages at 89 cents each was a bargain. Called "Spritz Cookies" we hoped to find some back home at our German bakery. At 2:30 we went to Hermann and Ottie's, a short 10-minute drive. Our nephew Michael and his family arrived soon after we did with his wife Iris and daughter Laura along with the baby. We had brought some gifts for the kids and reminisced about Michael's visit with his two friends in California some years ago. Hermann showed us a book with our maternal grand parents Anna and Christian Schabert on the cover. Somewhere in the book it stated that the first people to settle in Königsbrunn was our great grandfather, a fact which I never knew and nobody ever talked about when I grew up. Hermann gave us the book to take with us as he knew a source where he could get another one. We will pass this vital information on to our kids. Dan is collecting some geneology data and it will come in handy, I am sure.

Sunday, 2 Oct: We decided to visit the cemetery today where our parents and a lot of our relatives are resting in peace. We saw Erich's new grave with the wreaths and flowers still piled on top of the fresh grave. He had died the previous week. All the graves were in beautiful condition, well kept, clean and landscaped. Later in the afternoon we met with other family members at the "Therme", a nice restaurant next to an indoor pool and water slide. We could watch the people through the glass partition that separates the restaurant from the pool area. There were about 12 of us having a nice Bavarian meal. During a conversation with Mathias, cousin Andreas' son, it turned out that he liked to go fishing and when Greg told him that he also was a fisherman in his earlier years the two got quite close exchanging fish stories (you know how that goes). After saying "Auf Wiedersehn" to everybody we headed back and started packing for tomorrow's departure, knowing Greg would want to leave in plenty of time to allow for any unforeseen delays on the road to the airport and turning the car in at the Avis rental car place.

Monday, 3 Oct: Rising at 6:00 am we finished loading our luggage into the car and thanked Max and Gertrud for their hospitality and good food. When we left the weather was calm, no rain and we encountered little traffic on our trip to Munich Airport. We made it in little over an hour, gassed up at the Agip gas station close to the airport. We told the people at the rental car place that we were happy with the vehicle and had no problems. We then went to the Lufthansa level for our departure at 11:20 am. The receptionist asked us if she could come along with us to California where she heard the weather was sunny and clear. (Wishful thinking!) I had some Euros left and browsed through one of the many gift shops for a few more souvenirs and postcards. When turning in our check-thru and carry-on luggage my nail and toenail clippers showed up on the screen, but after Security saw them in my purse, I was allowed to go through. We took off about 25 minutes late, but the pilot said that he would make up the time during our 12-hour flight. Lunch and snacks were fine and we soon settled back in our seats occasionally looking out the window, but very little to see. We arrived at LAX at 2:15 pm to beautiful sunshine. We had hoped to retrieve our luggage in time to catch the shuttle which left around that time. Greg called the number they gave us to let them know that we had arrived. After a few nerve racking minutes we spotted the bus outside the terminal and took off to Santa Maria. After a relaxing and enjoyable trip we arrived in Santa Maria at 6:00 with our car waiting at the airport. Everything at home was o.k. and so I am signing off. It was nice seeing everybody on this trip.


Erika & Greg Cooper

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