Check out the new Autumn Garden Gallery under Current Inspirations. We had a glorious fall. Now, back to our story. . . .
A light snow is falling as we leave Grenoble behind, heading for Switzerland. Despite the early hour, we are psyched – our first foray into Europe.
There’s just one problem.
The front seat of the Alte Liebe has room for only three passengers – and there are five of us. That means two will be relegated to the back of the van – Rick and Don’s sleeping quarters – where ice coats the interior. Even huddled inside the guys’ sleeping bags on the trunks that serve as beds, this promises to be a chilling experience. It is. We decide that all but the driver will take turns, switching every hour to avoid frost bite.
Up in the front seat all is toasty. The scenery is fabulous as we drive through the mountains and the roads are not bad. I sense we are all filled with a thirst for discovery, for drinking in all the sites and tastes and sounds and experiences this trip has in store for us.
With several months of French behind us, we sing with gusto the classic songs we’ve mastered – “Aupres de ma Blonde”, “Sur le pont d’Avignon”, “Chevalier de la Table Ronde” and more. We’ve brought fresh baguettes, chocolate, oranges and some bottles of cider – plenty of food for the road.
We drive along the shores of Lake Geneva and slow down long enough to have a look at the castle where Byron set his poem, The Prisoner of Chillon. The sun comes out and the castle looks great surrounded by a sparkling lake, but we imagine how cold and dank its dungeons must be.
Our route takes us through Lausanne and Basel and then into Germany and a change of landscape and architecture. Freiburg, Karlsruhe and finally Mannheim. We take in what we can from the windows of the Alte Liebe which, thankfully, keeps chugging along.
It’s dark when Rick and Don drop us off at the guardhouse outside Ramstein Air Base. We’re about to cross over into another world.