Category Archives: Personal Life

Berg Reichenstein, Trechenhauser

As I said a couple of posts ago, we enjoyed our stay in Berg Reichenstein. I notImageiced that a lot of reviews are from people who have been pretty unhappy about their experiences there and I can understand completely. If I had gone under different circumstances or with different expectations, I might easily have been disappointed as well. However, we knew about what to expect and chose this hotel specifically because of its friendliness to children and wonderful location along the Rhein. Knowing this, we got exactly what we wanted and more. In addition to having a good stay and being able to give our son a bath (a great boon), the owner also had a small child named Constantine that was a few years younger than our boy and the two of them had a great time running around exploring. Constantine couldn’t speak any English and our son only speaks a couple of words of German, but it turns out not to matter when you’re both small boys and you have the run of a 12th century castle.

We wish that we had booked more days at Reichenstein and would love to return someday while the boys are both still young. 


One last note: there are an insane number of hunting trophies covering every wall of the castle. I expect the animals are still recovering.

Leave a comment

Posted by on July 11, 2012 in Personal Life


Tags: , , , ,

Perhaps it was the mushrooms…?

Something strange happened last night. I didn’t notice until the morning, but stepping out of the shower, I see that I have GROWN VERY LARGE! I’ll have to look into getting a helping from the other side today.Image

Leave a comment

Posted by on July 10, 2012 in Personal Life


Tags: , , , ,

Second Day in Germany – or maybe the Third…?

We arrived in Germany just a few short days ago after an absolutely terrible flight from the Charlotte, NC. There was nothing especially wrong with the flight, it was just that I couldn’t get comfortable and didn’t sleep a wink the whole way over. I also cramped up in my legs and had the worst time sitting still – even after getting up Imagea few times to walk around a stretch. The only good thing that I can say about the flight was that I watched two excellent films: The Big Year and The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. Both of them were terrific and had me laughing and crying (perhaps it was also the leg cramps). Actually, I think The Big Year only had me laughing, but I did think that all the stars (Jack Black, Steve Martin and Owen Wilson) turned in solid performances that were a joy to watch. The story was entirely formulaic, but because the story wasn’t really the story, it was easily ignored. All I really wanted to watch was the character development and interactions and enjoy the ride. Jack Black was the character that we are, lost in the world -and even if we aren’t completely swallowed by it,  the current  sweeps us away from what we want in life rather than towards it. Steve Martin is who we want to be, successful in his career and his marriage and an all around good guy. Owen Wilson is who we worry we might sometimes become, wrapped up in our own world and missing the bigger picture in our relationships.

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, well, again, the story is not important – except when it is. What I enjoyed was the way that people found strength in one another and learned that they did have something to offer the world and that their mistakes were greater in their own minds than in anyone else’s.

But… Germany:

We arrived in Frankfurt – Oh No! Frankfurt! I thought we were flying into Dusseldorf?! Well, it didn’t matter, we still had a car reserved and drove up to Dusseldorf to meet a co-worker of my wife for kaffee und kuchen at his new home not far from the Bayer offices.Our son enjoyed the company of their children and got his first taste of playing with kids who don’t entirely share his language. To our relief, it didn’t seem to matter at all to him. We also enjoyed our visit and then went into town to our hotel.

Hotel #1: The InterCity Hotel (ICH): I don’t know what we spent for this hotel, but it was probably too much. My impression was not the best, although there was nothing wrong with it at all – except that I was lost in time from jetlag and there wasn’t a clock to help me out when I awoke in the dark of the night. Regardless, it was close to the HauptBahnHoff, a large number of casinos and a good helping of adult stores. Maybe this is common to many cities here, but it made me feel like we were in the wrong part of town.

We saw some of the town during a long walk and a short streetcar ride and even caught some of the T3 Dusseldorf Triathlon (I’ve raced a number of tris and I thought this one looked great – except for the idea that they probably had to swim in the Rhein, which doesn’t look so clean). Mostly though, we bopped from cafe to cafe to stem the hunger-crankiness and I probably had about 2000 calories in cakes alone.

The next day we went to Koln (Cologne). Our stay in that city was almost entirely restricted to a visit to the Dom, including climbing the tower and visiting the treasure chamber. Harry really enjoyed the climb and my legs were so happy to be exercising that it really brought me to life. The Dom is fabulous. I could spend a day or more there taking it all in, but this was an extra and not really a part of the itinerary.

From Koln, we traveled south to a little town on the Rhein called Trechtingshausen, where we are staying in the castle on the hill (Berg Reichenstein). I could stay here for the remainder of the trip easily. It’s a small town with not much going on, but it’s also just what I love about this country – it is old and beautiful and comfortable in its ways. We sat at a family restaurant overlooking the Rhein and had a great traditional German meal and met a sweet old man who brought his dog along for dinner (the dog is 17 and must have garlic with his schnitzel otherwise he just doesn’t know it’s there).

Tomorrow we are hoping to have a nice breakfast, hike along the river and tour the castle we’re staying in before driving to another castle and then ending up in Heidelberg staying in the shadow of a third.

All in all, this has been a great trip. I would prefer staying in one place much longer, but that’s the trouble with traveling so seldom: you want to do so much that it’s easy to schedule out the time to just enjoy any one place. Next time though… next time.

Leave a comment

Posted by on July 9, 2012 in Personal Life


Tags: , , , , , ,

Still hot

My son wanted to roast marshmallows this morning.


On an open fire.

I’ve mentioned that it’s been 100+ degrees for as long as I can remember – and zero rain. We’re living in a state that might as well be a tinderbox. And he wants to have a fire.

Well, I’ve been reading ‘The Happiness Project’ – a book which I have to say is OK, but at least half of my interest in it comes from my amazement over the author’s life. It’s primarily a handbook on happiness punctuated with personal vignettes illustrating how the author puts the rules she proposes to work in her own life. 

My amusement comes from rules like ’embrace failure’ which she provides examples for that remind the reader of what a perfect life she has and how much yours sucks. Failure in her life is exemplified by not getting a regular column in The Washington Post or New Yorker or something and only being the #5 most awesome blog in the world.

Examples of failure in most people’s lives are more like,’fired from job and left by spouse / girlfriend / S.O. on same day that you were diagnosed with cancer. – Oh, and I don’t have a nationally syndicated column in the world’s best newspapers either.’

She’s also a bit sad because being beautiful, smart and rich sometimes leaves you with no need to have direction in her life. 


Hey – I didn’t mean to pan this book or anything. Actually, there’s a lot of pretty decent advice in there. And most of it is at least putatively grounded in solid research (I admit to being too lazy to look that up myself). In fact, I wouldn’t be making this blog at all if it wasn’t for her suggestion to do it.

But, why am I talking about this book at all? Because the author also references another work on parenting that I thought was interesting. The advice she passes along can be boiled down to – ‘Take it easy. Stop saying NO to everything and get behind your child’s ideas rather than obstructing them.’ That sounds obvious, but how many of us actually do that? It’s so much more likely that we say, ‘No, we’re not doing that’ than, ‘well, why not start a campfire and roast marshmallows in the scorching heat while risking starting a wildfire that could engulf the entire midwest?’

And you know what? It was fun. It wasn’t that hot early in the morning. And keeping a bucket of water next to the fire made me feel much more in control of the situation and at least somewhat ameliorated the risk of catastrophe. 

All in all, being amore agreeable person helped us both enjoy our day a little more.


Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Wimp take II

Why is it that I keep crashing into this tree? Every tImageime I bike on this path I get spooked by this tree to the point where I slow down a lot more than I should and get tangled in that big root crossing the path. The trick is that there is a extremely sharp right turn that hooks around this tree. With the root in the place that it is, coupled with the turn and the fact that no matter which direction you come at this you have a downhill giving you speed followed by an uphill just after the turn.

I also should admit that this is another clipping in situation where I panic because I know I’m going to crash and can’t get unclipped in time to save myself from tipping over. Or… I do unclip and now I’m having trouble staying unclipped while still getting some power to the pedals.

I’ll let you know if I ever do make this successfully.

1 Comment

Posted by on June 25, 2012 in Cycling, Personal Life


Tags: , , , , ,

I’m such a wimp

My wife has been really impressive in her commitment to getting exercise in the morning. I can make myself exercise, but never in the morning – there’s just nothing about a workout that will motivate me to crawl out of a comfortable bed before the sun even comes up. Nevertheless, she’s been getting up and running of lifting weights in the basement for probably two months or more now.

Recently she was saying that it would be more helpful to have a barbell, rather than the dumbbell set have. So, to be a nice husband who listens and responds to his wife, I went out and picked up a barbell last night and was setting it up for her so it would be there for her first thing in the morning. Now, admittedly, I didn’t get the best product in the world – I just got something simple and -let’s just say it – available in Walmart. Because it was a Walmart product, I had to actually assemble the bar, which came in three pieces and had to be joined with a couple metal dowels.

So, I put it together and I was going to move it over to a good space to store it, slid my hand down the bar and sliced it open between my thumb and index finger pretty well. It wasn’t much of a cut, but it did bleed all over the place and this is where I have to admit to being a wuss: I was actually swooning and sick to my stomach. I think I almost passed out from nothing more serious than a deep scratch!

Well, at least I found the nasty part before my wife did – I would have felt a lot worse if she was the one to cut herself. In the end, it’s nothing that a good coating of duct-tape couldn’t make right. (the bar, not my hand – although, I think duct-tape would probably do a better job of sticking to my hand than this damned bandaid)

Leave a comment

Posted by on June 19, 2012 in Cycling, Personal Life


Tags: , ,