So much beauty in the world

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The R/V Maria S. Merian creates gentle waves on calm, sunny day in Scoresby Sound. Photo: Dragonfly Leathrum

Land ho. Greenland. We glimpse mountains that peek through low-lying fog with clouds above as the ship slowly approaches the coast. Scoresby Sound is one of the largest and longest fjord systems in the world. My telephoto lens is working overtime to focus closer on the snow and glacier covered peaks. Before entering the Sound, we took measurements at the mouth by way of moorings and CTD stations. Only then our journey into Scoresby Sound began. We determined how much warm water enters the Sound and how it travels to reach the melting glaciers that produce the many icebergs we saw.

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Greenland barely visible through the fog as we approach the mouth of the sound from the Demark Strait. Photo: Dragonfly Leathrum

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My favorite iceberg of the many I saw. I really like the bright blue ice intersecting the white. Photo: Dragonfly Leathrum

At first, we could see a few icebergs in the distance. I took photos of every one that passed. I would try to go back to my cabin to process photos and another even more interesting iceberg would appear just outside the porthole of my cabin. The mountains along the Sound appeared wild and unspoiled. Some peaks were covered by snow, some were not, some had waterfalls, others were dry. It is August after all, the height of summer with 20 hours of sunlight. My favorite feature, besides the distinct layers of sediment, were the many small and steep glaciers that had found their way to the Sound and the paths they create by carving the mountains. The passage of time is easily read here.

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A tidewater glacier making its way around an obstacle shaping the landscape. Photo: Dragonfly Leathrum

I’m intrigued by the changing colors of the ocean from almost black to bright blue. The color morphs each day and even during the day as we change our location and clouds filter the light. About 200 miles into Scoresby Sound we entered into the Nordvest Fjord. One day the water was still, almost glassy. The ocean reflected mountains and icebergs alike which created an image of peace, tranquility, and awe. The next moment winds picked up, creating waves that smashed into icebergs. Another day the water looked a deep turquoise and later changed with the sun to a bright turquoise I have not seen before. Pictures taken this day look like we were in the Tropics instead of the Arctic.

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A bright day aboard the ship in the Nordvest Fjord with a turquoise sea. Photo: Dragonfly Leathrum

Despite the distracting, dramatic landscape serious work was to be done. Mapping the rugged seafloor, Ellen’s instrument revealed a new science to me. She discovered that many of the islands in front of us were in the wrong place on the maps we had. I learnt a new word, “bathymetry” for this science that Ellen Werner of the University of Munich explains in daily meetings. I always look forward to her segment and watch her slowly evolving maps with new discoveries. Also, in our nightly meetings the scientists give short talks about their current work at home, because not all students work on Greenland Oceanography. They even let me give a talk about my artwork. No graphs or charts in my power point, folks.

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Ellen Werner discusses newly mapped bottom topography near the Denmark Strait. We call the Sea Hill, Ellen’s Hill. Photo: Dragonfly Leathrum

My seasickness retreated and I feel more surefooted on the ship. I am conquering my fear of heights as I get more comfortable standing closer to the ship’s railings when taking photos. Calmer seas also allowed me to paint again:

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Watercolor and colored pencil of an iceberg in the Scoresby Sound. 24cm x 17 cm by Dragonfly Leathrum

 

Written by Dragonfly Leathrum 8/28/18

 

 

Rollin’ on the waves with my scientist homies

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Sort of ready for the safety drill.  Photo by Andreas Muenchow

Seasickness comes and goes. I was hoping to be okay after five days in, and most of the time I am, but I’m still reliant on the seasick pills. There is nothing in my adult life that can describe what this feels like, but there are two experiences from my childhood that match it well. The first is riding backwards in the way back seat of a full-size station wagon in West Virginia. West Virginia is full of roads with sharp turns in the mountains where the road will also “drop” you for a second if you drive too fast over a rise. The second is swinging on a swing. The particular swing I’m thinking of was connected to my babysitter’s swing set. It was two benches connected to each other by a metal frame that you could pile a lot of kids on. We would pretend that we were either pirates at sea or for more drama, escaping the pirates. Of course, there were always alligators, sharks or both underneath, so you couldn’t just jump off when the swing got too high and the poles started to pull out of the ground.

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Rock and roll childhood

This is what being on the ship feels like to me only besides swinging from side to side the ship can swing in any direction, sometimes all directions so you feel a bit stirred up. Imagine that you’re swinging high on this swing but there is nothing to hold on to. Now imagine that you are doing this taking a shower, carrying a tray of food, reading, typing or doing anything that you need to do in a day. I thought that it would be a nice motion for sleeping, and sometimes it is. When it’s not, like last night, it reminds me of the scene in the early surfer movies where a girl would be thrown up in the air on a blanket on the beach, caught falling and then thrown up again. Okay, I didn’t mean to write thrown up, but you get the picture. The movement of the ship never stops. You can’t get out of the car, jump off the swing or ask the hunky surfers to please, for Christ sake, put you down. This morning was a rough one, I saw spray at my window over four stories above the ocean and the ship is moving quite a lot. This very green Dragonfly stayed in bed hoping that sleep, dreams and a seasickness pill might make it better, it did. Knitting, staring at the horizon when it’s visible and peppermint tea help as well.

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View from the galley porthole.

Not everything about the ship being in constant motion is bad as I discovered watching a Star Wars movie the other night. The ship was rocking in the same motion as the land speeders racing through the forest. It was really cool. People pay money to have this experience in theatres. I’m going to watch the Phantom Menace tonight for the pod race, unless it makes me sick.

A lucky artist at sea

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Dragonfly Leathrum on the main deck of the R/V Maria S. Merian in Scoresby Sound, Greenland. Photo by Simon Wett UHH

I am neither scientist nor sailor but an American artist living in Bremerhaven, Germany looking at Greenland beyond the rails of R/V Maria S. Merian. How I got here is another story, but my purpose is to convey work at sea to a broader audience with support from the U.S. National Science Foundation. Dr. Torsten Kanzow of the Alfred-Wegener-Institute is leading scientists from Germany, England, Greece, India, and the USA in their various projects. We are all collecting ocean data in the Denmark Strait between Iceland and Greenland and in Scoresby Sound in Greenland. Even though I have been seasick on and off this first week of four, observing students, technicians, engineers, and crew working together is an eye-opening adventure.

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The Maria S. Merian docked in Reykjavik Harbor. Photo by Dr. Andreas Muenchow UDEL

The research vessel R/V Maria S. Merian is all work all the time. Different groups fill every minute of twenty-four-hour work days. They collect and process data, prepare instruments for year-long deployments into the ocean, and recover instruments placed in the water in prior years. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. I document what is happening from an artist’s perspective using photographs, drawings, paintings, and blogs. My first assignment was to photograph all members of the science party so a large poster could be made to help everyone get to know each other. Two days later I was seasick and missed a good photo opportunity when scientists, technicians and crew recovered a first mooring from the Denmark Strait. Dr. Andreas Muenchow from the University of Delaware covered for me and probably took better photos because as a seasoned sailing scientist he is more comfortable with deck operations.

The next day we saw an iceberg: My First Iceberg! Little did I know there were thousands of icebergs just beyond my horizon that I will write about next week.

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Iceberg in the Denmark Strait. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

We sailed back and forth across the Denmark Strait between Iceland and Greenland to map a massive plume of dense water cascading cold Arctic water down the sloping bottom into the Atlantic Ocean. The ship stops every hour or so to lower a metal frame called a CTD that has many sensors and bottles strapped to it. This measures temperature, salinity, velocity, and oxygen levels. The scientists and crew also deployed and recovered moorings which measure similar things. The moorings are weighted down at the bottom with old train wheels. A nice bit of upcycling. All scientists meet every evening after dinner to compare new data and ideas that were collected and processed during the prior day and night. They organize all this in graphs and charts. It is fascinating to see the information visually. As a lucky artist I receive somewhat unexpectedly an advanced tutorial in physical oceanography without taking a single class in mathematics or physics.

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Mooring deployments in the Denmark Strait August 2018 from aboard R/V Maria S. Merian. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

It was a good first week even though my sea sickness pills are all gone. The scientists, mostly students, are extremely bright, nice, and working hard at their stations. The weather has been fair during the week. We enjoyed some unexpected sunshine and we huddled through a few cold and foggy days. I photographed sunsets, moon rises, whales, dolphins, and many of the different sensors, scientists, and science work. Calmer seas here and there allowed me to complete two paintings of Iceland as well.

“You may find yourself in another part of the world.”

I never dreamed that I would be sailing off Greenland starring at an iceberg. To quote the Talking Heads, “This is once in a lifetime.”IMG_2380 (2)

First iceberg sighting.

Traveling is never easy in Germany for us Americans abroad: Andreas and I left Bremerhaven, Germany for Reykjavik, Iceland, but upon arrival at the station we learned that our train had been cancelled. Stress, panic, can we catch another train to catch our plane to catch the ship? Or would we be, “Letting the days go by” incognito in Bremerhaven? Have a month offline to ourselves to work on other projects and maybe show some of Andreas’ old iceberg photos at the end of the month? It didn’t sound like a bad plan.

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Bremerhaven train station. Andreas took this shot to prove to the conductor that our train was cancelled.

Alas, our replacement, slow, and very local train delivered us in the nick of time to Hamburg airport although much later than we hoped. This put us at the end of an hour-long check-in line for Iceland Air. No quick kiosks here. We queued up behind two giant backpacks which were hiding two German Physics students from Berlin. Here we met a laidback, cynical Canadian Professor who studies birds somewhere in California. The hour-long chatting about Iceland, ships, politics, and philosophies of life and traveling was the highlight of our travels. We all made it to Iceland with no time or sweat to spare. This is our second experience with Iceland Air in a month: we know how to work their video on the headrest, we have their introductory video, and we have their Iceland advertisements memorized. Yet, both Andreas and I forgot headphones and we had to read lips watching in-flight movies.

Three hours later we landed in Keflavik, Iceland where the captain announced that he was dropping us off at the front door and that we had to watch our step. He wasn’t kidding. In Iceland they let you off the plane parking on the tarmac and everyone walks to buses ferrying you to the terminal. In contrast, we were blown by the welcomed cold wind towards the terminal. [It was unseasonably hot in Germany.] A taxi was waiting for us, because the ship’s agent had arranged this transport to the ship docked in Reykjavik.

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The Harbor where the ship was docked in Reykjavik. Top: Photo from the ship. Bottom Watercolor and colored pencil.

The forty-minute taxi ride included background music of Joy Division on the radio and a landscape of rocks. Iceland is like no other landscape I’ve seen. I kept pointing out the window exclaiming, “Ooh look at this and did you see that?” We saw a lot and I mean A-LOT-OF-ROCKS. We saw rock sculptures, rock gardens, random rocks, rocks to divide parking lots … We also saw a sign for Dunkin’ Donuts, cold people on bicycles, beautiful mountains in the distance, and empty plains with more rocks.

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Rocks! Watercolor and colored pencil of the landscape near Keflavik. 6.5”x9.5”

Iceland, wow. Where am I? David Byrne to the rescue:

“How did I get here?”

“This is not my beautiful house.”

“How do I work this?”

“Under the water, carry the water

Remove the water from the bottom of the ocean,” and measure the salinity and oxygen levels, please.

 

Written by: Dragonfly Leathrum       August 18, 2018

17,000 daily steps to Purgatory and beyond

 

49 in Lubeck   photo by Andreas MuenchowD-fly Lubeck stairs

A blind date over coffee in Newark, Delaware leads to birthday cake in Lübeck Germany 363 days later.

Lübeck is a pretty great place for birthday cake (and dates), let me tell you. I love the town. It’s on an island so I can’t get lost, the architecture is so different and full of history, the people are friendly and I feel very comfortable there.

We left on a Sunday morning and took trains to Bremen, Hamburg, Lübeck and then chose to go a little farther to visit Andreas’ parents in Neustadt. After coffee with Christa and Lothar we returned to Lübeck in time to check into our Airbnb and then found Purgatory (Fegefeuer) Lane which led us to the Dom for a pipe organ concert that Andreas was curious about.

Caught editing photos in the Dom waiting for the organ concert.  photo by Andreas MuenchowIMG_0482The Dom20180729_190307

Our Airbnb was created in an old brewery built in 1290. The “room” we rented turned out to be a small apartment with a little kitchen. Along with our personal space there was a large indoor living room open to all guests and an outdoor garden. Our place was only as wide as our arm span with every convenience and was very clean and comfortable. The only thing missing from this American’s stay was a fan or air-conditioning. A luxury around here saved for grocery stores.

This is our Airbnb. Our room was the open window on the first floor.20180729_173320photo by Andreas Muenchow20180729_173520Andreas climbing the ladder to the tiny sleeping loft.20180729_173626

Northern Germany has been experiencing a heat wave this past week or so. Temperatures have been unusually high in the 90’s and there is no cooling in the houses, shops or restaurants. In Lübeck everyone was outside hoping to catch a breeze of any kind to cool down. Restaurants and cafés had their tables on the sidewalks and streets and people were out very late enjoying the slight drop in temperature after the sun went down.

Newer stained glass in the Dom. The original was lost during WWII.20180729_173219Our street.20180729_173251

My birthday was Monday and Andreas and I had a fun day revolving around food and family. We went out for a light breakfast then later met his parents and his mother’s middle school friend for coffee and cake mid-afternoon. After coffee we all had a nice walk through the city where the older folks, who are all locals, remembered bits of their shared youth 70 years ago walking past different buildings and streets. We gave the grand, short tour of our tiny digs and had drinks in the garden, then Andreas took us to a wonderful restaurant for a fancy birthday dinner. I couldn’t have wished for a better birthday. Actually, that’s not true, it would have been awesome if it was 20 degrees cooler. Ha-ha

Christa and Zekelinda enjoying the garden.Christa and Zekelinda

The next day Andreas and I explored Lübeck some more. There is always something new to find there. Mid-day, after just 13 or 14,000 steps the heat started to get to us and we joined the kids in the public fountain to cool off. Unlike the kids, we kept our clothes on.

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Yesterday we celebrated the anniversary of our serendipitous meeting with dinner on a tall ship dating from 1919 in Bremerhaven’s old harbor. Here’s to many more steps and cups of coffee together.

The view from the ship’s gangway. 20180802_220542

 

Hell Bent for Spandex*

Bremerhaven is the best city I’ve ever lived in for bicyclists, even though I’m told that the local bike club considers the city to still be in the middle ages for German bicycling. There are separate bike paths on most sidewalks that share a wide space with pedestrians. This means the rider is a curb above and away from traffic. The lanes and riders are respected by most, but once in a while you’ll get stuck behind a grumpy old dude in a jazzy chair or a family of six with a pram.

Bicycle parking at the train station. Beyond the bikes you see here are little bike boxes that you can lock your bikes in that I call veal huts. Beyond that is a large caged area for maybe long term parking?20180723_105145

I like bikes and support bike culture but I haven’t been a daily rider since 1993. Andreas, on the other hand, has been commuting by bicycle almost as long as I’ve been alive. He is bike culture. The other day he said, “Riding a bicycle is as easy and as enjoyable as drinking a glass of wine.”

Andreas the biker at the Fischmarket.20180722_154642

This is wonderful for him, and for me when we run out of something and he happily rides off to the store. A fun time for Andreas involves a long bike ride to get there. He will laugh at that statement because a long ride for him is very different than my idea of a long ride. Over the past few weeks he has been “pushing” me to ride further and further each day to build up my endurance. This is not appreciated at all. I’m a walker, not a biker. My biking muscles went away with my last mohawk.

Andreas puts up with a lot of grumbling and dirty looks from me. Especially when he changes route to go to the familiar places. “What’s down this road, he asks, let’s go check it out.” “No, I say, you can check it out I’ll find my way home.” I’ve blamed frustrated, tired tears on wind and sunscreen in my eyes more than once. COBBLESTONES, oh my God, cobblestones…try keeping up with Speedy Gon German on cobblestones. No, really, I challenge you.

Lately he has decided that riding behind me so I set the pace is a better idea. This is a horrible idea. I feel like a fat, snail loser making him ride so slow, which for some reason makes me mad and then the sunscreen tears pop up. Grrr, also, I don’t know where the hell I’m going.

Me in the bike lane on my chunk of a coaster brake bike. The brand is Stevens. I call it Stevezie after Bill Murray’s character in the Life Aquatic.  Photo by Andreas MuenchowDF_0439

Now, all whining and complaining aside, I love that my boyfriend, almost a decade my senior, is super fit and happy. I’m sure that after my year here I’ll be more fit too. I can tell that I’m very very slowly getting a little stronger every day. I have also seen some cool things and been to some beautiful places that I never would have discovered on foot.

Andreas very happy after a bike ride to one of his favorite places.20180720_184504A mural we discovered after turning down a new street.20180722_154505

Andreas looks longingly at the couples that pass us loaded down with traveling saddle bags on their way to other countries with hilly terrains. If our relationship survives this “training period” imagine the adventures we’ll have.

P.S. * Andreas wouldn’t be caught dead in Spandex, or with a helmet, Camelback or lights on his bike. (I think lights are required by law here)

The author at the Fischmarket preparing for a long ride home.DF_0445

Tourist!

Tourist selfie by Andreas in front of one of Bremerhaven’s many depressing monuments.20180716_100100

My Uncle refers to seasonal visitors as ‘Tourons’. I have been both a tourist and have lived in a tourist town. I don’t like either. I dislike the idea of standing out as someone who doesn’t belong and will be leaving soon. When I lived in a beach town we wrinkled our noses when we used this word.

When I’m in a new place I do my best (which is hard if you know me) not to stand out. I like to walk around as if I’ve always lived there. I’m uncomfortable as a stranger. Here, in Germany I could maybe pass as German, I’m sure there are some other Gingers around here somewhere? When I open my mouth however, I’m a goner. Even if I can say the word or sentence I need, the accent is way way off. Thus, I’ve been laying low and feeling self-conscious since we arrived.

This weekend Andreas’ parents visited from Neustadt, Germany which is east of here by about four hours. (Andreas says there are at least twenty towns in Germany with this name??) Even though they are German this town is new for them too. Since Andreas and I are the “locals” it was our job to show them around and find fun things to do. This forced us all to embrace being tourists.

Mutti knitting socks for Molly.20180714_20333020180715_111144Andreas and Vati catch up on Andreas’ latest research and photos.20180714_210628

Christa AKA Mutti loves adventure, travel and exercise, she is also an upcycling queen. Lothar AKA Vati keeps up pretty well. They’re in great shape at eighty-two and eighty-four. During the weekend we walked the few blocks to the water from our apartment and visited the Klimahaus (Climate Museum). https://www.klimahaus-bremerhaven.de/  At one point we were looking at another long set of stairs in the museum and I was concerned that they might be tired. I asked Christa if maybe Andreas should check things out and report back. She looked at me very concerned and said, “Do you have some trouble with the stairs?”……no ma’am, I’ll go first. Ha-ha

A brave Mutti walks above the fish.20180714_152337In the Heaven room20180714_153028

The view from the top of the museum.20180714_154801

The next day we joined a harbor cruise on the Weser Estuary to see life from the other side of the dike. In this town that means a tour of container ships and giant cranes. Yup, luckily, I couldn’t understand anything the tour guide guy was babbling on about and I had fun playing with my camera until the battery died.

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That evening we went to our favorite (so far) local Irish bar to watch the last game of the World Cup. Nice job France and Pussy Riot! A few beers later and we were holding on to each other giggling down the street.

Vati hoping France wins20180715_184240

All in all, a very fun, touristy time with lovely people. I need to relax a little and let the good times roll, I’m going to be the tourist over and over again this year.

Silly people in the sun after a fun night.20180715_194032

Lucky, grateful and unpacked

Home base is a vital bit of the human experience. It feels and looks different to everyone on the planet. Without a base to relax in and turn off the outside noise, “being” can be stressful. Andreas and I were feeling this stress last week. We did a lot of preonline apartment research and we thought we had a place before we moved to Germany but the owner flaked. When we arrived last week, we found a good place with a view of the water in a beautiful building and thought, OK, this is the place. However, the rental company we were dealing with promised it to another person while we were looking at it. It took them two days of scheduling meetings to tell us this. The other apartments we looked at were tired, beat up and or in the middle of a rehab. Pergo is the flooring of choice for a quick rehab here. Pergo everywhere. Most places smelled funny or of smoke.

Andreas checking room dimensions with a nice Syrian kid who was showing us the apartment with the water view.20180711_102712-01

Last Thursday, the day we were to leave the Airbnb and were getting a little freaked out about the prospect of walking around Bremerhaven with our gear and bikes, we made an appointment to see a place around the corner. The outside of the building wasn’t beautiful and we were still crossing our fingers for the water view place.

A view from our balcony.20180710_171630-01.jpeg

“Don’t agree to anything,” I told Andreas, “Even if it’s good.” The owners of the apartment were very nice, a graphic design artist and an architect. Their children are product designers. The place was built in 1957, not much escaped bombing in this town during the second world war. The apartment is furnished, surprise, and not just “furnished” some of furniture is really well made. There is a small washing machine which is a HUGE plus. Just about everything we needed to move in was there. We are the first people to rent the place since the architect’s mother lived there.

Andreas figuring out the new kitchen making Sunday pancakes.20180708_083457-01.jpeg

The apartment is big. Two good size bedrooms, a living and dining room, kitchen, bathroom and a small balcony.

The living room.20180710_164904-01.jpeg

The bedroom had to be a color photo because I wanted to show the color of the wood. The landlords have since brought us another mattress.20180711_093412-01.jpeg

It’s grander than anything we were expecting to rent. There is also some basement space to store bikes. We are above a Turkish/ Italian restaurant that has closed for vacation until the end of August. Across the cobblestone street is China Restaurant est. 1963. We are a block away from the main shopping area and walking distance to the water and the city’s museums. While we were checking it out and getting to know the landlords I slipped Andreas a note saying, please say yes to this place, please!

It’s been a week since we were handed the keys. We found Ikea and I built a guest bed without too much cussing.

Guest room with the new Ikea bed20180710_172044-01

Very tired me after building the Ikea bed.20180706_190146-01

We’ve been picking up a few other things here and there but it’s been minimal. I don’t know what we would have done or how we would have afforded to furnish a place. We are learning the apartment’s tricks and nuances, have claimed our individual work spaces and found a decent radio station. The neighbor below is elderly and very nice and the neighbors above have a new baby and a two-year-old named Conan with Squiggy hair.

It’s becoming home base. It feels safe, comfortable and there’s plenty of privacy. We feel incredibly lucky and are very aware how first world our stressors, problems and luck are.

Ich bin ein Ausländer in Fishtown.

Leaving Philadelphia last Sunday around 8:30pm east coast time, we arrived at our Airbnb in Bremerhaven, Germany twenty-two hours later. We flew first to Hamburg via Iceland and Denmark then onto two trains to Bremerhaven. We were supposed to fly direct from Iceland to Hamburg, but that flight was canceled. On our new boarding passes we noticed that we were to be seated in row three on the plane connecting Copenhagen to Hamburg. Oh boy, a first-class upgrade to compensate for a cancelled flight and two hours on hold with Iceland Air?! Nope, no first class on a small, back loading, screaming-baby-having, propeller plane. Silly us.

Andreas chose an Airbnb in the neighborhood where he was hoping to find an apartment. It was cohabited by three students which turned into seven? on game night. Game night happened on their tiny kitchen table Tuesday night. We were invited but declined. They laughed non-stop until 12:30 am when they started blowing up an air mattress. “Is this too loud,” they asked sleep deprived me stepping over them to get to the bathroom, while they, seated at the table, were all brushing their teeth simultaneously. “Everything is too loud,” I said with a smile as nicely as I could since one of them will be working at the same place as Andreas.

Andreas at the kitchen table in our Airbnb20180704_133440

We spent most of our week apartment hunting in the area and then started looking further out considering bicycling distance. Andreas decided that we needed bikes right away and finally settled on a decent rebuilt pair from a nice Ukrainian dude he met on eBay. After seeing some pretty beat up apartments we lucked upon a wonderful flat (more about it later) and spent Friday and Saturday collecting essentials. By the way, even though they SAY they deliver, the Ikea in Bremerhaven does NOT. Also, shopping with someone who doesn’t like things made out of plastic is no fun in that store. Shopping at the farmer’s market went a little better the next day. Andreas gave me the job of keeping him from buying too much, I failed and we loaded two heavy backpacks for the bike ride home. Andreas also likes to flirt with older saleswomen and we got some incredible deals in a local department store thanks to his charming self.

Bikes parked in our Airbnb room20180704_221946

Today, Sunday, the stores are closed and we’re trying to take it easy. We went for a windy bike ride to the Weser Estuary and to our local café where we spent too much on a coffee in search of Wi-Fi. Our proudest moment of the day was figuring out the washing machine with all of the buttons and instructions in German. I am incredibly grateful to be on this adventure with Andreas who is fluent in the language and the culture and is very patient with my bewildered assimilation.

WiFi and coffee. What’s up with the tiny coffee cups, Germany?20180708_132056   Biking along the estuary on a Sunday with the other tourists.20180708_114647   The shopping center near our apartment on a Sunday when every thing is closed20180708_164419

 

 

Exploding Whale Beach

Searching for a place to sleep on the Oregon Coast, Andreas discovered Exploding Whale Beach Camp as an Airbnb destination a few weeks ago. He was not going to show me at first, because he thought it was a strange listing. [He must not know me very well yet.] Yes, a whale was exploded violently :

boom

Our “room” was a 1965 Airstream trailer parked a block or so from the dunes. The walk to the beach was an adventure of its own and a little tricky to find. Our host told us to look for a small A-frame house across from a geodesic dome to find a Hobbit trail. Okay…Hobbit trail, what does this look like?

We walked up and down the street for a few minutes before we noticed a small dark hole in the bushes. The bushes stretched for a quarter of a mile through a hollow depression between ridges of dunes before reaching the beach. Here and there the trail descended sharply into a very dark, small passageway a couple of feet wide and five feet tall at the highest. Passing a snakey looking marsh, we climbed the last sandy dune before descending onto the beach littered with driftwood of all shapes and sizes.

A few kite flyers and dog walkers inhabited the wide, windy, beach. We discovered a Velella Velella which we were able to identify thanks to my smart Facebook friends who quickly warned us not to touch it, because it looked like a poisonous jellyfish called a”Portuguese man o’war.”

sea creature

Returning home after a few hours, we pushed back through the Hobbit Trail to the Airstream for a poorly planned dinner of bread, salami and cheese. We did remember a bottle of wine and wine glasses, though so all was well. We spent a peaceful night falling asleep to a light rain dancing on the metal roof.

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https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/19702554