Thursday, July 06, 2006

Blogging the Commute (Not Live), Part 4

Read the previous entries of this feature: My current drive to work, my current drive home, and my various Tucson commutes. This is the final part of "Blogging the Commute." It's been a blast for me detailing all the neat aspects of my current back and forth from home to the DDJ and wandering down memory lane to recall all the fascinating scenery I've had to good fortune to drive or be driven by as I get to where I need to go for the daily grind.

I lived in Germany for nine years, between the ages of nine and eighteen. My father was stationed at two different Air Bases, and we lived in three different villages over four and a half years before moving on to the base itself (and if you think your current apartment ain't all it's cracked up to be, I could spin stories of something infinitely more like a can of sardines). While we lived in villages, though, we still attended the Department of Defense Dependent schools on the bases themselves (not military school in the sense that you would think of it, but not a public or private school, either; very hard to explain if you're not familiar with the military). We were bussed back and forth to school and home. It's been ten years since I've seen the routes, and fifteen since I traveled any one of them regularly, but there are still a few images that stick with me.

Now that I think of it, the only memory of the first bus route left in my noggin is of waiting for the bus at o' dark-thirty--and it was really o' dark-thirty. That's the odd thing of living at the latitudinal equivalent of Nova Scotia {Prince Edward Island}: it does get mighty dark mighty early, and stays mighty dark fairly late. And it's too bad as we lived in a very nifty little nook in the German countryside.

My next route was pretty nifty. One of my strongest memories of that route is after we wove our way through the towns, picking up the horde, we turned onto the main drag that would take us to the base. It happened to be a very foggy day, and instead of snow, inch-thick ice crystals had collected on everything. It was like driving through clouds, through heaven, everything around us dripping in white with traces of the mundane colors peaking through. It was a great, dreamy moment, and I think that was one of the first times I felt transported and wondered how I could recreate that.

But the regular route itself was fairly otherworldly. Our bus stop was by a fabulous old oak tree along the main drag of Buch (a great village I've linked before). As I mentioned in that post, my bus route took us into a valley and right past the ruins of a fortress. Out of the valley, the rest of the route was a meandering path through several more villages of various shapes and sizes and content. It was always a neat drive to just stare out the window, getting lost in the comings and goings of so many closely located yet unique and distinct communities.

Actually, the most interesting part of getting to my house in Buch wasn't on the bus route at all, now that I remember. Instead, you could see even more interesting things taking the more direct route from our village to the base. Or, rather, from the base to the village. The first thing of note was a military post that looked like a few buildings in a forest clearing of the side of the road. I believe it was called Metro Tango, but that's trusting the memory of a twelve-year-old. I have no idea what went on here, as we primarily drove past it, and I don't think we ever went into the post. Not too much further down the road was another military post, slight bigger, called Wueschiem, I believe. We did wander into that one, primarily because it had a little shoppette, I think. The one thing I remember about that posting was that there was a secured area separated from the rest of the post by a double fence, within which MPs strolled with dogs. I have a slightly better of what went on here, and you might, too, as I describe the next thing I remember about the drive to Buch. Turning off the main road, we start to get into some dotted farmland, quaint barns and rolling hills. There was one barn in particular that caught the eye: on the road-facing side, someone had painted a giant cow stepping on a nuke with another pierced by one of his horns. Getting the drift of what went on in those military areas now?

The last bus route was the best, though. Not only did it twist and turn through some towns and villages, it also crested a valley to present the most gorgeous view (which I've also linked previously) and climbed into and out of another one, also impressive. In fact, the valleys were tight enough along this route, that you could emerge from a forested road to find yourself at the base of something beautiful that stretched seemingly forever, with houses and such sprinkling the road and the valley's top. The bottom of one valley was cut by a stream that had a few ponds that pooled out of it and looked mighty inviting on some of the muggier spring and fall afternoons. There also, if I'm remember right, seemed to be evidence of history long gone peaking out of various nooks and cranies in that valley's floor. I wish I could remember it better. It might've been my imagination. But the best part of that bus ride, beyond a doubt, was cresting the valley that overlooked Neunkirchen am Potzberg. It was absolutely magnificent. It didn't hurt that I could see my house, or that I could see the hillside down which my friends and I had run and sled and explored, or that I could look at some of the patches of thick trees and know that they hid a horse pen in one spot and someone's summer home grounds (upon which us kids had shamelessly trespassed in good weather). It really didn't hurt that a castle sat on top of that hill and just put a lovely romantic spin on everything.

In short, all of my bus routes lent themselves to my sordid day dreaming tendencies, which in turn have lent themselves to my current writing tendencies. One day I'd very much like to wander through those routes again, stop the car, get out and wander and actually touch the sights that fill my memories of going to and from school. I'd like to show Mark. I'd like to show Andrew. There's a lot to see in Germany, but those three routes could probably show a lot about German culture and history, all while avoiding the tourists. Some day.

I hope you enjoyed this feature. The next mini-feature will be a similar recall of some of my more memorable travels around the USA and Europe. Sort of a "Where in the World was Kellie Hazell" thing. Hey, that might even be the title! Hopefully Part the First will be ready to go on Tuesday. I'm thinking I might start out with a real humdinger of a trip: East Berlin when the Wall was up.


Anonymous said...

I can't believe you found a picture of that oak tree. As I recall it was over 600 years old. And the view of Neunkirchen am Potzberg is a great one. I guess I could chime in about all my drives along these routes in the pitch black wrapped around 14 hours 60 feet under some rock pile in the middle of the base. A stop along the side of the road and a look straight up in that totally unlit region between small villages would literally give you a view of forever into the stars. Truly great memories!



Kellie said...

If you click on "Bilder" in the Neunkirchen site, you can get to our street and see a lot of pictures of it, though none of our house except from a distance. The Buch website also has some other great pictures of the town, including the pond. I think both of these websites were established for big centennial-like celebrations (950 Years for Buch and 650 for Neunkirchen am Potzberg; very cool).

You know, I don't think I really every made any of those trips in true night. Would've been a neat perspective.