When we got on the train 3 days before Christmas, we anticipated that things were not going to go according to plan. It was as if we knew somehow we had to adjust and be flexible in our upcoming adventure. Our plan to have Christmas on a river cruise down the Donau River seemed to be a good idea at the time we booked. We really gave no consideration to the challenges we would encounter, I know how crazy was that.
So, when we got on the ICE train in Nuremberg, Germany with 4 heavy luggage pieces it seemed only fitting that the reserved seats we had were occupied. Explaining in broken German that we had a right to be in the seats was not easy to three other weary Holiday travelers. Some things reach across all cultures, cramped Holiday traveling, yelling and certain hand gestures. Bless the heart of our fourteen-year-old daughter who seemed to be able to express calmly that we reserved the seats. After displacing other travelers to standing room only, we sat down and began to wonder what have we done.
Outside the weather was stirring and when we arrived in Passau we had a vague idea of how to get to the Boat. We were to pick up a shuttle at the station but there were no signs, no shuttle bus and well, we started to resort to finding anyone who may have the same tags that we had on our luggage so to see if they knew something we did not. Finally a shuttle arrived and after a series of gestures, broken conversations we did make it to the ship. Our vacation was about to begin…Hooray!
When we finally got on the boat, unpacked and explored the cabin, we were smiling and happy. Then, I opened the cabin curtain to look out over the river and saw how fast the river seemed to be traveling. The current was very strong and I began to wonder, was this normal? My “what if” thoughts started to kick in.
There is something about cruise directors and staff, they know how to keep you calm by just smiling. They are well versed in making sure you are happy and having a good time. The thing is, when you do not know the language, you focus more on body language than words and they seemed a bit nervous. I figured it was all okay and we waved goodbye to the dock and started down the river. We were to begin our cruise to Vienna, Budapest, Bratislava, Melk and back to Passau, so many places and so much fun.
It was the huge jolt to the boat in the middle of the night that made me bolt from the bed. I was not really sleeping as the boat seemed to be having a “little problem.” Two German words I learned from the announcements over the loud speakers. A seasoned boat person I knew that this was not good. I do not get sea sick but the boat was swaying so much that I began to rethink how this trip was going to go and wondering if we were going to make it thru the night. Our daughter had kidded about the Titanic and I told her, “it is a river cruise, we will be fine.” I think I may have underestimated the power of the Donau.
I once again pulled back the curtain and looked at the river. Since we had to anchor the boat we were swaying back and forth as the river debris was racing passed us. Another cruise boat was anchored near us and from the looks of how it was straining its anchor line I knew we were barely hanging on and wondering what would happen if we lost our anchor.
I did not sleep at all. I was trying to figure out the best way to explain to my teenager that maybe she was right, maybe we had boarded the Titanic but I was not ready to admit it quite yet.
As we approached morning, we found out by the cruise staff that we in fact had a hole in the boat as river debris had caused damage and we were not going to make it to our first destination, Vienna. We were docked safety at some small town along the river and “Do not be alarmed but we need to repair and gain permission to continue down the river.” I have to say, writing it here in English does not give justice to how the conversation went. We figured it out by watching the Captain talk to the emergency crew that had boarded the boat.
My husband started to say, ‘Well, we gave it a try, we may need to look over that travel insurance now.” I was not ready to admit maybe this adventure was over our head and packing up was a good idea. Instead of throwing in the towel, we decided to check out the small town along the river. It was adorable and offered some wonderful views of the river. By the time we got back on board, the boat was cleared to continue.
Maybe by boarding the boat under calmer conditions the trip seemed to take on new meaning.
Here’s the thing… Life is full of adventure. This one was going to change us forever we just did not know how much and the river was going to show us.
Though in my travels of taking care of the stuff that needed attention, I was able to see that I was awarded Blog of the year. It gave me an opportunity to stop and smile and for that….THANK YOU for the award.
I am honored to be able to share my tales with you all and that you enjoy reading them.
Now, on to the next set of bloggers who are deserving of this award.
1 Select the blog(s) you think deserve the ‘Blog of the Year 2012′ Award
2 Write a blog post and tell us about the blog(s) you have chosen — there’s no minimum or maximum number of blogs required — and ‘present’ them with their award.
4 Let the blog(s) you have chosen know that you have given them this award and share the ‘rules’ with them.
5 You can now also join the Facebook group — click ‘like’ on the page above ‘Blog of the Year 2012′ Award Facebook group and then you can share your blog with an even wider audience.
6 As a winner of the award — please add a link back to the blog that presented you with the award — and then proudly display the award on your blog and sidebar
Yes – that’s right – there are stars to collect!
Unlike other awards which you can only add to your blog once – this award is different!
When you begin you will receive the ‘1 star’ award – and every time you are given the award by another blog – you can add another star!
There are a total of 6 stars to collect.
Which means that you can check out your favorite blogs – and even if they have already been given the award by someone else – you can still bestow it on them again and help them to reach the maximum 6 stars!
All the blogs I follow touch my heart in a different way. I would like to share this award with all that follow and read my blog.
Here is a sample few I thought you would like too. Click on them and see why they are true stars:
Thank you again for the award and see you again in 2013….And if you figure out how to add the stars, let me know.
They told me the big black Lab’s name was Reggie, as I looked at him lying in his pen. The shelter was clean, no-kill, and the people really friendly. I’d only been in the area for six months, but everywhere I went in the small college town, people were welcoming and open. Everyone waves when you pass them on the street. But something was still missing as I attempted to settle in to my new life here, and I thought a dog couldn’t hurt. Give me someone to talk to. And I had just seen Reggie’s advertisement on the local news.
The shelter said they had received numerous calls right after, but they said the people who had come down to see him just didn’t look like “Lab people,” whatever that meant. They must’ve thought I did. But at first, I thought the shelter had misjudged me in giving me Reggie and his things, which consisted of a dog pad, bag of toys almost all of which were brand new tennis balls, his dishes and a sealed letter from his previous owner.
See, Reggie and I didn’t really hit it off when we got home. We struggled for two weeks (which is how long the shelter told me to give him to adjust to his new home). Maybe it was the fact that I was trying to adjust, too. Maybe we were too much alike. I saw the sealed envelope. I had completely forgotten about that.
“Okay, Reggie,” I said out loud, “let’s see if your previous owner has any advice.”
To Whomever Gets My Dog:
Well, I can’t say that I’m happy you’re reading this, a letter I told the shelter could only be opened by Reggie’s new owner. I’m not even happy writing it. He knew something was different. So let me tell you about my Lab in the hopes that it will help you bond with him and he with you.
First, he loves tennis balls. The more the merrier. Sometimes I think he’s part squirrel, the way he hoards them. He usually always has two in his mouth, and he tries to get a third in there. Hasn’t done it yet. Doesn’t matter where you throw them, he’ll bound after them, so be careful. Don’t do it by any roads.
Next, commands. Reggie knows the obvious ones —“sit,” “stay,” “come,” “heel.” He knows hand signals, too: He knows “ball” and “food” and “bone” and “treat” like nobody’s business.
Feeding schedule: twice a day, regular store-bought stuff; the shelter has the brand. He’s up on his shots. Be forewarned: Reggie hates the vet. Good luck getting him in the car. I don’t know how he knows when it’s time to go to the vet, but he knows.
Finally, give him some time. It’s only been Reggie and me for his whole life. He’s gone everywhere with me, so please include him on your daily car rides if you can. He sits well in the backseat, and he doesn’t bark or complain. He just loves to be around people, and me most especially. And that’s why I need to share one more bit of info with you…His name’s not Reggie. He’s a smart dog, he’ll get used to it and will respond to it, of that I have no doubt. But I just couldn’t bear to give them his real name.
But if someone is reading this … well it means that his new owner should know his real name. His real name is “Tank.” Because, that is what I drive. I told the shelter that they couldn’t make “Reggie” available for adoption until they received word from my company commander.
You see, my parents are gone, I have no siblings, no one I could’ve left Tank with .. and it was my only real request of the Army upon my deployment to Iraq, that they make one phone call to the shelter … in the “event” … to tell them that Tank could be put up for adoption.
Luckily, my CO is a dog-guy, too, and he knew where my platoon was headed. He said he’d do it personally. And if you’re reading this, then he made good on his word.
Tank has been my family for the last six years, almost as long as the Army has been my family. And now I hope and pray that you make him part of your family, too, and that he will adjust and come to love you the same way he loved me. If I have to give up Tank to keep those terrible people from coming to the US I am glad to have done so. He is my example of service and of love.
I hope I honored him by my service to my country and comrades. All right, that’s enough. I deploy this evening and have to drop this letter off at the shelter. Maybe I’ll peek in on him and see if he finally got that third tennis ball in his mouth.
Good luck with Tank.
Give him a good home, and give him an extra kiss goodnight – every night – from me.
Thank you, Paul Mallory
I folded the letter and slipped it back in the envelope. Sure, I had heard of Paul Mallory, everyone in town knew him, even new people like me. Local kid, killed in Iraq a few months ago and posthumously earning the Silver Star when he gave his life to save three buddies.
Flags had been at half-mast all summer.
I leaned forward in my chair and rested my elbows on my knees, staring at the dog.
“Hey, Tank,” I said quietly. The dog’s head whipped up, his ears cocked and his eyes bright.
He was instantly on his feet, his nails clicking on the hardwood floor. He sat in front of me, his head tilted, searching for the name he hadn’t heard in months.
“Tank,” I whispered.
His tail swished. I kept whispering his name, over and over, and each time, his ears lowered, his eyes softened, and his posture relaxed as a wave of contentment just seemed to flood him.
I stroked his ears, rubbed his shoulders, buried my face into his scruff and hugged him.
“It’s me now, Tank, just you and me. Your old pal gave you to me.” Tank reached up and licked my cheek.
“So whatdaya say we play some ball?” His ears perked again. “Yeah? Ball? You like that? Ball?”
Tank tore from my hands and disappeared into the next room.
And when he came back, he had three tennis balls in his mouth.