Tuesday June 12th:
On an unscheduled trip up to Manitowoc for work, I happened to notice a gentlemen walk into the store wearing a bike helmet, asking if they had an "inner sleeping bag". He had an accent and apologized for his lack of command of our language. Unfortunately the store didn't have what he was looking for, which turned out to be a sleeping bag liner. In the darkest recesses of my brain, the receptors started firing. European accent, bicycle helmet. Hmm. He was on a bike trip. I asked and he replied that he was from Germany and was indeed on a trip across the United States. New York to San Francisco. I had to know more and probably spent the next hour or so talking with him. (I should have been working, but...)
We swapped facebook info and blog addresses and we parted ways. He was planning on leaving and going around Lake Winnebago thru Appleton. I wished him well and looked forward to getting home and reading his blog, which can be found here: http://jollyride.blogspot.com/ (Side note. His blog is in German, but google translator works pretty well.)
Later that evening, after relating the story to B, I saw I had a message from him asking if there were any stores in Fond du Lac that might have the liner he needed. Turns out, he decided to go around the lake thru Fond du Lac as opposed to Appleton. Knowing this, I extended the offer for him to stay at our home. After a 55 mile ride from Manitowoc to Fond du Lac, he graciously accepted. Who wouldn't? A night on an innerspring mattress is better than a night on the ground with the mosquito's. Right?
Wednesday June 13th:
He arrived at the scheduled time and we went to get his sleeping bag liner and a bite to eat. Then, it was back to the house to relax and learn more about each other. I tentatively offered him a Bud Light, you know, the great American beer? I felt like I was offering to boil a hot dog for Wolfgang Puck! Who offers a Bud Light to a German?
My daughter in law Lisa, who is German and speaks the language fluently, send me a text to read to him. Not speaking the language, I decided it was best to just let him read it himself. He smiled and said he appreciated the kind words.
We sat up till after midnight talking about music, politics, and bike touring. He told us stories from his trip and we listened intently, waiting for any bits of info that could come in handy on our upcoming trip. We discovered that we have a lot in common and that we share quite a few of the same views about that state of the world. If that were not coincidental enough, he also plays guitar! Even with the language barrier, the conversation flowed freely until none of us could stay awake any longer.
Thursday June 15th:
After a big breakfast of farm fresh eggs with cheese (we are in Wisconsin you know), toast and orange juice, we sat on the deck and over coffee, continued our discussion from the night before. All too soon however, it was time for him to get back on the road. I took the day off from work to accompany him for the first miles of his day. Upon our arrival in Rosendale, we wished each other the best, and parted company. Little did we know, this was not to be the last time we would see each other this day.
|Just prior to riding to Rosendale.|
|End of the trail and time to part ways.|
After B arrived home from work, I suggested that we go to dinner in Green Lake, as that was where he said he might stop for the night. She agreed and off we went. We searched one campground unsuccessfully and B suggested we try the only other campground we knew about. We were just about to end our search when we came around a corner and there he was. SURPRISE!!!!!
|Take care my friend. Ride safe and may the wind be at your back.|
People think the world is this big, huge place filled with many different people, cultures, skin colors, traditions, etc... and for the most part, they are right. But when you peel all those differences away and look at the core of our being, the things that are truly important to us as human beings, we really are, exactly the same. Geography aside, the only thing that really separates us, is us!