August 12 1999


12 August 1999


Us in Garmisch 10 Aug 99 (35261 bytes)

Anthony came home from Kosovo on the 20th of July. We went straight into 3 weeks of leave. Mostly we just spent time chillin' at home with each other. But we did go camping in the Alps while on leave. It was wonderful...mostly! We left so late at night that by the time we got to the camp site it was closed for registering. So, we ended up sleeping in the van in the parking lot. LOL It started raining that night and continued all the next day. That was ok though. We had breakfast at one of the hotels, traveled through the town of Garmisch and looked at the scenery, and went to the PX for more camping gear. We were so tired from sleeping (or not sleeping) in the van that we went to sleep very early that night.

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On the 11th it cleared up (mostly) and so we took a trip up to the Zugspitze...the highest part of Germany. There we planned on watching the Solar Eclipse and take pictures. It cost us almost a $100 to go to the top of this mountain, but let me tell you it was worth it! And, it will be worth it again...when it's clear! :) We parked at the bottom of the mountain and we had a choice--we could take the railcar up to the top, or we could take the cable car. We chose the cable car. They had a sign in the cable car house that told the height of the mountain, how long the ride would take and the current temperature at the top.

The Zugspitze peaks at 2964 meters. That is almost 10,000 feet. The ride takes approximately 3 minutes and the temperature at the top reported 1 degree Centigrade...that's about 34 degrees Fahrenheit. That means, it was COLD! Good thing I remembered to bring our jackets. :) Course, they were only jackets, not coats! :) Anyway, it was still nice up there.

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All around us were clouds. We were actually IN the clouds! The cloud cover actually allowed for better viewing of the eclipse. We got up there about 11:30 and it had already started. It wasn't due to reach it's apex until about 12:36. It seemed as though a lot of people had the same idea as it was real crowded there. There were even a couple of camera crews set up there. The stores sold "eclipse glasses" but we couldn't find any. Seems everyone was sold out. So, we bought a 3DMark Emergency blanket, made of mylar (same stuff the glasses were made from). We had 3 cameras up there for taking pictures of the eclipse, plus we needed something to cover our eyes too. Once we brought out the blanket and people saw what we were doing, they swarmed on us! They
couldn't speak our language, nor we theirs, but we knew what they wanted. :) We got some pictures with the cameras, watched the moon move into position and gave out pieces of our mylar blanket! :) Then, it was nearly time for the apex! It didn't get dark as nigh, but it sure did get cloudy! Sometimes it got so cloudy that you could no longer see the sun. But, you could always tell when there was a break in the clouds as everyone, oooo'ed and awwww'ed. :) We did get a picture of about 85% coverage, and then the clouds and snow came. Yes, you heard me right. It snowed! It must have been the apex because it got really cold out there and started to drizzle and then it snowed! We took what was left of the mylar blanket and covered the cameras up with it...with me under it! :)  I guess that must have attracted some attention because the next thing I knew I was getting a tap on the shoulder and when I peaked out from under the blanket there was this HUGE microphone and camera right in my face. I was being German no less. Boy, did I feel dumb! :) All I said was "Ich Americana". Luckily she understood me and first asked the questions in German, then turned to me and asked them in English. Then she turned to the camera and repeated my statement in German. It was so cool! I wonder if it ever made it to the TV! :)

eclipse.jpg (25205 bytes)Once the totality of the eclipse was done, everyone seemed to make a mad dash for DOWN! :) Anthony and I stayed. We wanted to go over to the cross which marked the highest point on the Zugspitze. That was an adventure all it's own. Once it started warming up again and the crowd died down, we made our way over there. Where we had been standing to see the eclipse, was the concreted "fortress" of the cable car house (with souvenir shops and restaurants inside). Where we had to go for the cross was outside that! They had a gate that separated the path to the cross and the cable car house. On the gate was a sign that read, in 6 languages, "you are now leaving the safety zone". OOOOOOoooo scary! :) So, we made our way out to the path. The path was nothing more than rock climbing with preset handholds. The hand holds were nothing more than spikes hammered into the rock with cabling strung between them. The path got so narrow sometimes you wondered why you even bothered! Good thing it was cloudy! Once we were over by the cross, we sat down and had brunch (on the top of Germany) which consisted of Gatorade and granola bars! It was so cute! :) We were out there for a while and the clouds almost went away. There was a brief break. Just enough to let you know that when you looked down on either side of was a straight shot...DOWN! Definitely good thing it was cloudy! :)  

eclipse2.jpg (6660 bytes)We hoped it would clear up for more pictures, but after about a half hour more with no hope, we gave up. Now, we had to make our trek BACK to the "safety  zone". I think that was easier for some reason. And, by the time we got back to the cable car house, it was almost 3pm. So, we decided to head back to the van. The next trip down was at 3pm, so we hit it just right! And, we were lucky to be in the front of the cable car. So, we could see just how high we REALLY were! Well, when we came down out of the clouds anyway. :) Let me tell you, looking down was really scary!

Once we got back to the van, we still had another trek ahead of us. We wanted to go back to the Neuschwanstein Castle. This time it was by ourselves--no tour guide, no bus, just us! See, there was a waterfall and bridge we didn't get to go see the last time we went there. So, that's where we were heading to! :) It took about an hour to drive and the drive was VERY beautiful! Even the roads we took were called Romantisch Strasse (Romantic Street). Pretty cool, uh?! So we drove to Neuschwanstein Castle. We didn't make it for the tour, which was very ok, since we did that already and didn't want to do it again. :) But, we still had to make the long hike up to the castle and waterfall. That was a very long, tiring, and painful hike! :) We went from about 300 meters to over 1000 meters in altitude. The incline was about a 30% grade and it was all up hill! The pain didn't come until the next day, when the muscles were sore! :) But, it was very tiring! And, I got out of breath real quick. It doesn't help, either, when you aren't used to the thin air! :) But, we finally made it. Took lots of pictures and made our way down. Once we made it back to the van, it was very much time to go home. It was a long day and I was tired. But, it was a good tired! :)

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Since you have already seen pictures of Neuschwanstein Castle, I thought I would just put 2 more up here from the day we went to show you just how cloudy it was (which made a really beautiful picture) and another picture of the other side of the castle, from the bridge we wanted to go to the last time we went. Hope you like it!!

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