July 28, 2014

Harvest Time

We had rented a cycle for Mom to be able to show her our backyard and our favourite place by the river Kinzig. She did a great job pedalling through the valley. And of course, we had to dip our feet into the refreshing water. The river level was quite high, so Roland made sure that Mom wouldn't be accidentally torn away by the strong current. (He was counting on dinner after all...)

Mom became quite excited when she discovered all the low hanging fruit. There were apples, peas, yellow plums and purple plums. And before we could say stop, she was already in the orchard harvesting, or better "collecting samples" (well, scrumping isn't exactly legal but widely tolerated by the farmers).

Caught red-handed!
Another fruit, another stop.
Mom's pickings

July 26, 2014

One Mum and All Saints

It's summertime. And living is easy. Especially this week, because Sonja's Mum has arrived. And while others tend to spend their vacation expecting us to entertain and feed them, Mum has made it her mission to spoil us rotten. No cooking, no cleaning for us. We come home from the job and all the housework is done and dinner's on the table.

In return we showed her our most favourite places, one of them being Castle Staufenberg, located on top of a hill, surrounded by vineyards, and overlooking the Rhine area. Roland was successful in acquiring a local white wine, and together we enjoyed the view.

At your service
View getting blurry already?
Mum & daughter
A view from castle Staufenberg

The following day we went to the waterfalls and the ruins of All Saints (Allerheiligen Wasserfälle). Mum had no problem to ascent the 221 steps leading on top of the falls, and was willing to follow us further even to the ruins.

The abbey ruins are always worth a visit, and we are still marvelling at the mystic and beauty of this place.

Photographing a dog owner photographing his dog. What a beautiful border collie, such a friendly, disciplined and active breed. Roland wanted to adopt him in an instant but for some reason the owner wouldn't agree.

Our descent was an easy one downhill and down the 221 stairs again. Shortly after it started to rain cats and dogs and did cut short our little road trip but there sure will be another time for small adventures. So we were heading back home were Mom would whip up another wonderful supper.

A Guest Ride with a HOG Chapter

Thanks to this forum I recently made acquaintance with the president of a local independent HOG Chapter and received an invitation to join them on a ride to a culinary event in Böblingen (about 140km away from where I live). We met in Schramberg, the chapter's base, where I found two of the guys still tinkering around with the battery of one of the bikes. Obviously the proverb is still true that if you own a Harley, you have to some extent be a grease-monkey. The motorcycle's problems were fixed quickly, and after introductions and (mandatory) group ride instructions an assorted group of two-wheelers (there was a KTM and a BMW in the mix) made a beeline to Böblingen.

With the president in lead we meandered along byways. Still new to group riding I was a bit anxious about riding with strangers, but it turned out to be a very pleasant and disciplined ride, where everybody maintained position and considerate safety distance. The sky was covered in dark clouds, and roads were wet at times. In the far we could see the odd lightning but at no time it became a concern for us. We arrived at destination, cleaved our way through the crowds to the assigned parking spots for Harleys and dived into the event. There was plenty of ethnic food selections from all over the world (also Sushi!!!), and I was happy with my greens on pomegranate vinaigrette.

The sun went down way too soon and we gathered to hit the road again. The light faded quickly, so we opted for the highway. It was a pleasure to blast along the Autobahn (Ok, the bikes weren't going faster than 120 kph to maintain consistency of the group.). Back in Schramberg we said our goodbyes. I donned my hi-viz vest to ride home another 40km in the pitch-black of night. It was a great outing with great people, and bonus, I got some more experience and confidence in group riding. I am looking forward to getting together with them another time, and maybe I will be given the opportunity to join their chapter. 

A 280km roundtrip 


Mit "Rockern" unterwegs

Im Harley Forum stieß ich kürzlich auf einen Eintrag eines lokalen HOG Chapters. Auf meine Anfrage hin erhielt ich eine Einladung zu einem Ausritt zu einem kulinarischen Event in Böblingen "Schlemmen am See", etwa 140km von mir entfernt. Ich traf pünktlich am vereinbaren Treffpunkt an, wo zwei Jungs noch an der Batterie einer Harley fummelten. Es stimmt wohl doch, dass Besitzer dieser Marke auch Schrauber sein sollten... Nach kurzer Vorstellung und Einweisung zum Fahren in der Gruppe ging es über Nebenstraßen nach Böblingen. Als relativer Neuling zu größeren Gruppenfahrten war ich etwas nervös, aber die sichere und disziplinierte Fahrweise der Mitfahrer hat mich schnell beruhigt. Als wir am Zielort ankamen, bahnten wir uns den Weg durch die Menge, um uns bei den extra reservierten Motorrad-Parkplätzen abzustellen. Der Event wartete mit kulinarischen Genüssen aus aller Welt auf, auch Sushi war dabei. Ich hatte einen hervorragenden Salat mit Granatapfel-Vinaigrette. Viel zu schnell ging die Sonne unter und wir mussten uns auf den Rückweg machen. Diesmal ging es über die Autobahn. Es machte einen Riesenspaß, die Sportster einmal ein wenig auszufahren, auch wenn mit Rücksicht auf den Gruppenzusammenhalt nicht über 120 km/h gefahren wurde. In Schamberg sagten wir schließlich Aufwiedersehen und ich ritt die letzten 40 km durch die pechschwarze Nacht. Es war ein großartiges Ereignis mit tollen Leuten und ich hoffe, dass ich noch einmal die Gelegenheit bekommen werde, mit der Truppe mit zu fahren. Vielleicht darf ich ja sogar auf eine Mitgliedschaft hoffen...

July 21, 2014

Going to Salt City (A Mini Blogger Meet-Up)

There is the now legendary tradition, that had begun a while ago in a galaxy far far away: The blogger face-to-face encounter. Our recent meet-up didn't by far cover the epic distances of an IMBC (International Moto Blogger Convention), but it was no less remarkable, plus it was done by Vespa.

Aristotele said, "It is well to be up before daybreak, for such habits contribute to health, wealth, and wisdom." Well, I don't know about that, but I know that getting up early contributes to open roads, a blissful ride, lots of fun, and will likely include the promise of good company and great food at new places. My inner clock woke me up a 5:40 AM, and powered up by a quick shower and a strong espresso we were packed up and ready for the road under an hour later. Empty roads, the early rider's paradise.  Pasture was glistening with dew, and the spicy scent of fir trees filled the air.

It was an otherwise unspectacular ride towards Hall, or Schwäbisch Hall as it's called in nower days, merely interrupted by a stop at a petrol station, and 220km later we arrived at our destination, a cafe right in the heart of the medieval core of the town. We were lucky to get a spot in the shaded area of the patio, and treated ourselves to cold refreshments while waiting for our fellow blogger to arrive.

Ianto, Alonzo and Bella making acquaintance
Chris and Sonja, just doing the same.

Shortly after, Chris a.k.a. Salamander arrived on her almost spick and span Vespa LXV125, called Ianto. Still a newbie to the two-wheeled means of travel, this trip had been her first longer solo adventure. Yet another two-wheeled Chris who is vegan, I thought, while remembering another encounter on a different continent,  when we simultaneously ordered gluten free cereals, topped with soy milk, and fresh fruit. As Vespa riding vegans, fellow Trekkies and Whovians we had a lot in common, and the morning flew by in an instant.

Then we went to explore the city in the valley of the Kocher river. Hall's wealth was founded on salt, which had been mined, or better: distilled by the Celts as early as the fifth century. The origin of the town's name is derived from there Germanic word Hall, the process of heating salty ground water to extract the white gold.

The medieval architecture still reflects the incredible wealth of the early days, and we were impressed with all these historical and still intact and liveable buildings. It was getting hot in our gear, and Chris treated Roland to an ice-cream, while we vegans got sorbet, and so we continued our stroll through the alleyways. If rocks and stone could talk, what would they tell us?

Over a bridge on to the river island we found a couple of old mechanic story telling machines, similar to the mechanic fortune tellers you'd find in amusement parks (still giving me the heebie-jeebies). The machine came alive after feeding it 1€, and we stood and watched like (mildly scared but nevertheless fascinated) kids.

At the end of our walking tour we decided that a short group ride was in order, and targeted Schwäbisch Gmünd for no other reason that it was located on a north-south axis. This way we wouldn't unnecessarily increase our return distance, as Chris at one point needed to travel East, while we would have to take the southwesterly route.

After some initial issues with TomTom, which got confused by the inner city road system we hit the smallest country roads we could find, at times meandering along river Kocher, and through fields, ready to be harvested. It was hot, and the temperature gauge was up to 38C but we enjoyed every minute of our tour. Chris was keen on getting as many pictures from the trip as we were, and our flower picking speed was just the right speed for our travel group.

Schwäbisch Gmünd turned out to be rather unspectacular small town but we found a nice cafe on a market place where we had ice cold home-made lemonade while listening to a brass orchestra mutilating an Beatles-Abba-Gilbert o'Sullivan medley. Soon, we fled the scenery in quest of something more substantial, and found it in form of Greek food at the Poseidon. We ordered a variety of vegetarian appetisers to share, while Roland treated himself to a meat platter. The food was excellent.

We could have continued talking the evening and the night away but at one point we sadly had to part our ways, since we all had another two and a half hours ride ahead of us, and wanted to avoid riding in the dark. So we said our goodbyes with the promise to meet again another day.

On the road again we got stuck in a traffic jam around Stuttgart, and to make up for the loss of time we hit the highway and blasted home. We just made it home before the last light was gone, after 500+ km, quite exhausted, but happy that we met a soul mate. Soon after, I got an email stating that Chris got home safe and sound as well. Kudos to Salamander's first major solo road trip. I am sure that both, Chris and her Vespa have gotten the taste of long distance riding. What an awesome day!

Guess the nationality...


Wir reisen in die Stadt des Salzes (ein Mini-Blogger-Treffen)
Eine großartige deutsche Version zu diesem Vespa-Abenteuer gibt es hier auf Salamander's Blog.