Project 52 – Week 34, Part Two – Back to Spittal an der Drau

It’s time for Project 52, Week 34 — Part Two!

1998_07_29 15 Goldeck Flag

34 weeks ago, on my 52nd birthday, I began Project 52. Since there are 52 weeks in a year, each week I’m taking one year of my life and blogging about it. This week, I’m covering the year I was 34 — June 14, 1998, to June 14, 1999.

However, it seems that now that I’ve gotten to the years when I lived in Germany, I’m just not capable of cutting it down to one blog post. I’m having so much fun looking at old pictures — I’m afraid I’m going to stretch these out over several posts.

Last time, I covered the beginning of the year I was 34. We did lots of exploring on top of the new hill we lived on in Gundersweiler. In fact, here are some pictures from another exploration of our hill. (So beautiful! I loved exploring the fields up there, with the world laid out around us.)

We discovered this marker up on top of the hill. These are the villages in that area, on various sides of the hill.

1998_07 1 Our hill

1998_07 2 Our hill

And this crazy seat? It was probably something for hunters to use, but it had the label “Pfalz-Thron.” (The Pfalz was the region of Germany where we lived.)

1998_07 3 Our hill

1998_07 4 Our hill

1998_07 5 Our hill

My sweeties:

1998_07 6 Our hill

Steve had a day off on Monday, July 20 — so naturally, we went to a castle. This time we went back to Schloß and Burg Rheingrafenstein, which we’d visited in November when Jody was visiting. This time, it was much warmer and sunnier.

1998_07_20 1 Burg Rheingrafenstein

1998_07_20 2 Burg Rheingrafenstein

1998_07_20 3 Burg Rheingrafenstein

1998_07_20 4 Burg Rheingrafenstein

1998_07_20 5 Burg Rheingrafenstein

Now, every year the USAFE Band took leave at the same time (or at least half the band would take at one time and half at the other) — so that they would always have all the instruments they needed to perform. Ours was in July, and we were going to be gone during Timmy’s birthday on the 29th, so we threw a birthday party for him at the Bowling Center on base. The kids from Miss Angie’s home day care came, and Angelika and Katharina from Leithöfe. I made him a train cake!

1998_07 7 Timmy's Birthday Cake

Remember in 1986, when we were engaged, I spent the summer in Austria? The first place I wanted to go, now that we lived in Europe, was to go back with my family to Spittal an der Drau. And I wanted to take the cable car to the top of the mountain, Goldeck, and hike down. Because what could be better than a hike on a hill when you never had to hike uphill? I mean, what could be easier? (Famous last words!)

Now, the previous year, we didn’t have a choice where to go on vacation, because Steve’s parents took us on an amazing trip to Sweden. But this, my first year living in Europe when I could go anywhere for vacation, I wanted to go to Spittal an der Drau. We didn’t have a lot of money to spend, but we got a hotel room for four nights, traveling from July 27 to July 31.

I wrote in my journal on the 30th, so happy to be there in Spittal. I felt that God brought me back to Spittal, and — Wow! — I wrote, “I think maybe I read something revolutionary today in George MacDonald’s writings, but I still have to think about it and process it.” (I hadn’t remembered that I read that from George MacDonald in Spittal an der Drau! More on that later. That was a life-changer.)

We drove through Bavaria, and our first full day in Spittal, we explored the town — so much as I remembered it. The kids played in the castle park, and we all touched Schloß Porcia, Castle #55, the palace in the middle of the park in the middle of town.

1998_07 8 Schloss Portia

1998_07 9 Schloss Portia

Josh and Timmy played with the giant chess set in the park.

1998_07 10 Schloss Portia

The 29th was Timmy’s 4th Birthday! The hotel folks brought in a cake with lighted candles at breakfast and sang to him! (I say in my journal, “Too bad I was the only one who liked the cake!”) We did bring his presents with us, and he was thrilled.

1998_07_29 1 Timmy's Birthday

Have I mentioned yet how much little Timmy loved everything Dilbert? We had “Dilbert’s Desktop Games” on our computer, which he played often. And that led to the comics. I had the only three-year-old who pretended to be “Techno-Bill.” Anyway, we gave him a stuffed Dogbert.

1998_07_29 2 Timmy's Birthday

Quoting from my journal, “After that, we did what I dreamed of doing for twelve years. We took the cable car up Goldeck (2142 m) and hiked ALL the way down.

“When I first glimpsed Goldeck Tuesday, I had a sinking feeling that it was bigger than I remembered. But we did the WHOLE thing. We exhausted ourselves, but we really did it. My boys and husband were wonderful troopers and didn’t complain and let me fulfill my dream.”

First, the cable car.

1998_07_29 3 Goldeck

From the top, we had to find the right path back to town.

1998_07_29 4 Goldeck

But we did stay on top and enjoy it for awhile.

1998_07_29 5 Goldeck

1998_07_29 6 Goldeck

1998_07_29 7 Goldeck

1998_07_29 8 Goldeck

1998_07_29 9 Goldeck

1998_07_29 10 Goldeck

1998_07_29 11 Goldeck

We started hiking down.

1998_07_29 12 Goldeck

1998_07_29 13 Goldeck

1998_07_29 14 Goldeck

1998_07_29 16 Goldeck

1998_07_29 17 Goldeck

There was a halfway point where we could have caught the cable car the rest of the way down. I’m still thankful Steve let me keep going.

1998_07_29 18 Goldeck

Oh, and all the way down, I was singing, “It’s Timmy’s Birthday today! It’s Timmy’s Birthday today! Hooray, Hooray, Hooray, Hooray! It’s Timmy’s Birthday today!” (And most of the way down, Steve was carrying Timmy.)

1998_07_29 19 Goldeck

At the halfway stop, there were treats! (We’d already had lunch at an earlier mountain hut.)

1998_07_29 20 Goldeck

1998_07_29 21 Goldeck

1998_07_29 22 Goldeck

Reader, I’m afraid it took us six hours to get down that mountain! We crossed this river, and there was a restaurant right next to it where we stopped to eat.

1998_07_29 23 Goldeck

I was completely exhausted when we stopped for dinner. I knew I needed some caffeine to perk me up. Well, I ordered fresh-caught trout, and the waiter would not let me drink coke with it! No, for such a fine dish I had to have white wine! He bullied me into it, and I had a glass of wine with the trout.

It was one of the best meals I’ve ever had in my life, but after six hours of hiking — I was so tipsy, I almost couldn’t walk straight to the hotel! Since we were walking to the hotel, and since it really was one of the best meals of my life, it was probably worth it!

Back at the hotel, we lit candles on some cupcakes we’d brought for Timmy, and then all fell asleep.

The next day was quieter. (We actually got our car keys stuck in the hotel room safe!) But we did enjoy the hotel pool and visited the castle museum in Schloß Porcia.

1998_07_30 1 Schloss Portia

And enjoyed this little car on Main Street:

1998_07_30 2 Spittal

In the evening, we drove to Millstättersee and rented an Elektro-boat!

1998_07_30 3 Millstatter See

1998_07_30 4 Millstatter See

And then we drove back through Spittal and up a winding little road partway up Goldeck and visited Ruine Ortenberg, the first ruined castle I ever saw, 12 years earlier.

1998_07 11 Burg Hohenwerfen

1998_07_30 6 Ortenberg

1998_07_30 Ortenberg

We headed home the next day, but on the way we saw a castle where we had to stop, Festung Hohenwerfen, Castle #57.

1998_07_31 1 Hohenwerfen

The view from the castle:

1998_07_31 2 Hohenwerfen

1998_07_31 3 Hohenwerfen

1998_07_31 4 Hohenwerfen

Looking down at the lower castle from the upper castle:

1998_07_31 5 Hohenwerfen

I don’t think we caught a Raptor show there, but they did have raptors.

1998_07_31 6 Hohenwerfen

1998_07_31 7 Hohenwerfen

So that was our Austrian vacation, 1998!

As if that weren’t enough, the following Sunday, we wandered over the border into France and visited Thillombois and Lac de Madine. We didn’t find any castles, though!

1998_08_01 1 Thillombois

1998_08_01 2 Thillombois

1998_08_01 3 Thillombois

And I believe I took these pictures because I got my pictures up! Only 3 months after moving in — not bad! This was the living/dining room of our beautiful house.

1998_08 1 Gundersweiler

1998_08 2 Gundersweiler

1998_08 3 Gundersweiler

So — two posts, and I’ve only gotten through two months! I think it’s going to speed up, as we didn’t take vacation all year! But you’ll still be hearing more about Year 34….

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