Argus 29

This post comes to you from The Wiesbaden Army Lodge. It’s official: We’re homeless.

Thought its mostly been fun and games for me, Big D has been working his ass off since well before we arrived in Germany. His dedicated service is the reason we’re here in the first place.

He has two pretty cool offices. One on the ground:
Peggy & Damon at WAAF
Giving his mom a tour

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1st MI AE Change of Command

And this one, too:
Ds office

We’ve visited some amazing military places here in Europe:
Luxembourg American Cemetery and Memorial
Luxembourg American Cemetery and Memorial

Netherlands American Cemetery & Memorial
Netherlands American Cemetery and Memorial

Bastogne Historical Center
Bastogne Historical Center

We’ve participated in some fun Army events:
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And we’ve even cleaned up well on occasion:
me & Big D at the 66th MI Ball

His farewell last week was full of laughs, very kind words regarding his service, and we both choked up a bit.
Mark, Tony and Big D
Please note the giant poster from his modeling days on display at the restaurant!

not sure...

It’s been quite an adventure, and posting about Ds service in 1st MI without mentioning Gary would be wrong.

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Guardian Eagles, Power Forward!
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farwell gift

Best weekend ever?

We’ve had a fantastic 4th of July weekend each year we’ve been here, but the first in 2010 is impossible to top.

Thursday, July 1st

Jen & Gary and I saw Green Day in Mainz, where we ran into a bunch of people from the unit. The show was fun, and the trip home was memorable as it was a total cluster. Eventually, we got on a bus that took us to the train station. And then we were stopped by officials for being on a First Class train but played the ‘dumb American’ card and received a warning rather than a fine.

Green Day

1st MI rocks to Green Day

on the bus ride home

Saturday, July 3

Thanks to the constant deployment schedule it’s a rare occurrence to have all of our dudes in town at the same time. Seven of our core 8 people were here to enjoy a cruise on the River Rhein for Rhein in Flammen – illuminated ships sail the river in a convoy, passengers see firework displays at castles along the river.

We may or may not have been reprimanded for trying to sit on the bow of our cruise ship (okay, we were.) And Jen may or may not have mistaken a big scoop of butter for what she thought was yogurt (okay, she did.) Need I mention we had quite a bit of wine on the cruise? Ahem…

Virginia Straße gals and Germany kids
The World Cup was underway – these kids were handing out advertisements for public viewings.

Rhein A'Flame

blurry, but you get the idea

Sunday, July 4

Big D and I made our way to Trier to tour the city and see the Porta Nigra, which the Romans built in 180 A.D.  I was surprised we were able to walk through it – I thought we’d just look at it from outside.

Porta Nigra

Porta Nigra

smooch

From Trier, we drove to the Luxembourg American Cemetery and Memorial. We blended in with a guided tour to hear tons of fascinating information, and our timing was great: The group rushed out to get to their next stop, leaving us alone in the cemetery for Taps and Retreat. We spoke with the Superintendent quite a while on our way out – we’ll never forget it.

Here’s Big D at GEN Paton’s grave:
Luxembourg American Cemetery and Memorial

Luxembourg American Cemetery and Memorial

Luxembourg American Cemetery and Memorial

We spent that night in Luxembourg City, which has an interesting mix of ancient and modern architecture.
Luxembourg City

Monday, July 5

If you haven’t seen Band of Brothers…. well, you must.  Touring the Bastogne Historical Center in Belgium was on our bucket list and if time permits, we’ll go back again.

Bastogne Historical Center

Bastogne Historical Center

After a morning full of U.S. and WWII history, we were off to meet up with Jen & Gary for Stage Two of the 97th Tour de France. We were trying to make our way to the town of Spa for the finish line, but traffic and road closures instead had us in the town of Wanne. Little more than a crossroads, we could not have ended up in a better spot if we tried. The locals were super friendly! Nobody spoke English, but we somehow became part of their little town’s big party, enjoying lots of beer and barbecue at a tent set up in the yard of their tiny museum.

Seniors & Nicoli

We didn’t let the rapidly changing weather dampen our sprits.
new umbrella purchase

Having never experienced the TdF, it was all new and exciting. Each sponsor drives through and tosses promotional items to the crowd. We left with all kinds of new hats, keychains and baubles.

Big D rocking his Skoda cap
So after a long day of waiting, the peleton flew by us (we did not know a huge crash occurred on the course before the riders arrived at our location) and the whole thing was over in less than about 20 seconds. That’s Tour leader Fabian Cancellara wearing the Yellow Jersey just to the left of the sign below.
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le Tour de France 2010 Stage 2

Later we made our way to Spa for drinks and shopping and then on to Vielsalm for a wonderful steak dinner during which we decided we had so much fun that we should do it all again tomorrow…

Tuesday, July 6

The day had a rough start: I got stuck in a minuscule elevator, a hotel employee yelled at me in Flemish, we thought we were skipping out on our hotel bill since we don’t have an EC card, and we lost our GPS (Note: our Amex, which we used to guarantee our reservation, was finally charged about three months later. Fshew! We’re still welcome in Belgium!) Finally, we arrived in Wanze and the start line village.

Nicoli and Seniors at the Stage 3 start area

Riders at the Stage 3 start line

And we even (briefly) saw Lance Armstrong:
Lance Armstrong

Thankfully, a stop for sandwiches revealed that I had tucked the GPS inside a ziplock surrounded by napkins(!?) and we made it home in time to watch the completion of the stage on television. Just like that, it was all over…

Six days, three countries, a concert, a boat cruise, two stages of le Tour de France, and so much more. When considering everything we’ve done in Europe, Big D says that afternoon in the tiny, rainy town of Wanne waiting for the race to pass us by is his favorite adventure.

Life is good – and it can’t always be planned. Hang on and enjoy the ride!

Tons of photos from this adventure are on Flickr.

In Bruges

Angie’s first of three visits (with hopes for more) was quite an adventure. She was brave to trek around with us as we were new at just about everything European back then.

A review of old e-mails shows the itinerary I planned out for us, and I must say: Dang, I’m good! I’ll just paste it here, and add photos and comments…

Saturday, May 2
Soccer game – Nap for jetlaged tourist…followed by a walk through Wiesbaden and yummy Italian dinner at a favorite spot.
Sunday, May 30
Drive to Brugge (about 4 hours)

Brugge, Belgium
Here’s the view from our table, where we enjoyed snacks and Belgium beer.  My husband and one of my very best friends, in Brugge, drinking beers on a sunny day, with three more years of European adventures awaiting us – I’ll admit it: I was so happy I cried.

Kwak - a local brew

Beer, waffles, chocolate… Belgium is delicious!

Big D and Ang ready for boat tour

Neither of them will love this picture, but I do. Big D is only kind of joking when he says he “doesn’t like people.” It’s obvious how much they love goofing around and making each other laugh.

Brugge, Belgium

Brugge was breathtaking and we had a blast. The trip was marred by a weird situation during which Angie snapped a fantastic photo of guy in a full length leather coat riding a bicycle down an alley. The coat was blowing back behind him, the scenery was beautiful, the picture was outstanding. Sadly, the dude (whose attire should have been a giveaway) was… well, let’s just say unstable. And he was not pleased that a stranger took his photo. It’s funny how one 90 second incident can have an impact on a trip. Anyway: we recovered and made our way to the North Sea for lunch.

Monday, May 31
Return home; Dinner at Big D’s favorite pub (vow of secrecy required!)

Big D, me & Angie

Tuesday, June 1
(We did not stick to the plan but went to Mainz to tour around and got food poisoning instead. Lesson learned. Next time: stick to the plan!)

Wednesday, June 2
Wiesbaden Farmers Market in the morning followed by…a day at the Spa.
(There are no spa photos. You’re welcome.)

Thursday, June 3
Tour around Heidelberg

Heidelberg

view from the castle

Entirely too much food!

Tricia’s friend Christy and her mom were visiting from Georgia at the same time Angie was visiting from Alabama. We joined southern forces and toured Heidelberg together. And ate entirely too much food.

Friday, June 4
Wiesbaden Wilhelmstraße Festival
Wilhelmstraßenfest

Wilhelmstraßenfest

stinky cheese bread

Flaming stinky cheese on thick bread. So fantastic!

Saturday, June 5
Drive along Rhein River w/ stops at towns like Rudesheim, Bacharach and more.

GPS and Rick Steves book = ready for touring!

I’m only including this goofy photo because it shows all of the necessities: Rick Steves tour book, GPS, black shirt (everyone’s uniform here) and my Reisenthel bag. I take that thing everywhere.

Harley Rally

We had no idea we were wandering into a Harley festival along the river. Not really our thing, but great for people watching!

Rhine

panoramic from Bacharach Castle

Sunday, June 6
Eltville Rose Festival

Rosenstadt Eltville

Rosenstadt Eltville

Big D, Angie, me, Jen & Gary

Opa! Jen & Gary joined us for the afternoon and we rounded out Angie’s visit with a great Greek meal. This might be the first picture ever taken of all five of us together. If only we knew what great times really did await us…

More photos from Angie’s first visit are on Flickr.