Monday, July 12, 2010

Al Tyler July 12

Awake early in anticipation of finally acting out the planning for this mission that’s been going on for months. No trip to Cave Springs, especially one that involves travel to a foreign destination, is complete without a briefing session at the diner for breakfast with all the locals. I have to comment that this two hour session might have been more productive than any Team meeting and a lot more fun.

Probably it was the coffee or Rob asking every 10 minutes “are we really going to do this” but the execution of the first leg would become a bit unrealistic. First a one and a half hour drive to the farm for a nine hour flight departing Atlanta at four thirty pm arriving Frankfurt seven thirty am July 13th - but still day one on the task. Took the ICE train to Stuttgart to meet up with Klaus Keim, a fine gentleman that volunteered to get us a rental car complete with hitch from a local garage owner. Klaus picked up Rob, Rhonda, Wesley and me at the station and drove to his house where his beautiful wife Ursula served all a delicious lunch. Now off to fetch the car. Klaus not only arranged the car but personally oversaw the maintenance and had new tires, plugs, rear lift gate springs replaced. On arrival around two pm the car was not quite ready and when we tried to open the hood to check the fluids it would not budge. One and a half hours later after lots of lessons in German swearing the problem was resolved. Now declared road worthy I asked to pay and sign the rental forms. Guess what? No forms, a deposit and a hand shake and we are on the road to complete the leg to the finish at the Cobra factory around 350 kilometers away. As usual with Klaus’s directions and four maps I started off by getting lost before leaving the town limits. Not to worry, a call from Klaus to check on our progress leads to him driving to meet up and escorting me out to the autobahn. GPS locks on and about eight pm we arrive at the Cobra factory. Alfred Spindelberger and Agnes have just sat down for dinner with Gary Carter who is crewing for Bill Elliott and there to finish up the work to get Bill’s new bird ready. Feeling bad to interrupt dinner we take Alfred up on the offer for a little beer and directions to the closest hotel. Arrive at the hotel nine pm to find they are full and spend the next hour driving to find the recommended next place. In the process go down a back road thru an intersection to fast and seeing the bright flash figure out I just got my first German speeding ticket. Now very tired and not real happy I send Rhonda to ask for directions. Everyone in soaring knows without Rhonda I would be in deep #$%! She finds a couple at a local ice cream parlor and one of them speaks good English. They not only tell her the name of the hotel where they are staying (it was the same one we were trying to find) but they call to make a reservation. They also volunteer to wait while we finish dinner and let us follow their cab back to the hotel. Great meal although no one was sure what they ordered. Finally checked in at the hotel to find no air conditioning but to tired to care.

Time on task from the farm to hotel 31 hours. Day summary: take up soaring a sport where you meet people like Klaus Keim. What other sport would have one of its most prominent figures pick you up, feed you, get you a car and sheppard you on the way. What other sport would have business owners like Alfred and Agnes Spindelberger pick up and deliver your glider from the port, convert the hitch and wiring and laugh while you interrupt their dinner and offer you cold beers. How lucky I am to participate!