Up early and another Con breakfast: bacon, eggs, and English muffin. Packed the remainder and headed to the plane. Loaded up, to include Con’s nearly 14 year old black lab Teal who was getting the honor of hunting first on the season opener.
It’s about a 30 minute flight across the harbor to the Duck Shack which is located near the mouth of the Susitna River. Keith, Phil, and Jerry were already there when as Con had flown them in the days prior to prepare the shack and the duck blinds.
The afternoon was spent completing last minute tasks and getting our decoys set. Jerome was in charge of cooking the magnificent 12 pound Prime Rib, he did not disappoint. One of the traditions at the shack was listening to Garrison Keillor’s News from Lake Wobegon on Duck Hunters and the Merganser. August 31 is also my fathers birthday and we toasted his memory. At sunset Con had something special planned. He had brought out red paper lantern that he had written the names of friends that no longer with us: my dad, Doug, and two others that I can’t remember. We all had a shot of Doug’s favorite bourbon as the lantern slowly rose into the sky. It took about 10 minutes for it to sail out of sight, with only a slight breeze it was beautiful.
Up early, after the (long) previous day of travel. Spoiled by Con with real sourdough fresh blueberry pancakes, bacon and eggs for breakfast. Lots to do in preparation for the season opener of duck season in Alaska. Luckily, there is a Cabela’s store now open in Anchorage. I love Cabela’s. And what, do you ask they have in a Cabela’s in Alaska? Beluga whales and bush planes hanging from the ceiling!
Luckily, Cabela’s is pretty much a one stop shop. I was able to get my non-resident license along with state and federal stamps; shotgun shells and we were ready to roll. Con had to fly out a load of supplies to the Duck Shack (including Phil) so I was able to go meet up with my newphew Darren for lunch on short notice. While meeting with Darren I asked if he knew where my dad’s old duck calls and his hunting hat were. Turns out he did, he ran to the back r0om and came out with my dad’s chest. Darren gave me 3 of his old duck calls (one of which I was able to use on this trip). Unfortunately, the had (which had seen better days) had been tossed out a while back. I was hoping to hang it on the wall of the Duck Shack as a tribute.
After lunch, I picked Con back up and were were off to the races shopping and getting chores done before departure. In the evening, Con and Becky made a delicious dinner of fresh salmon. Kurt, Brooke, and her father joined us.
After dinner, Kurt, Brooke and I met with with Eric G (aka Evil Eric) and we hit a few of the downtown sites including 49th State Brewing Company and the F Street bar. Below is the view from the patio on the roof of 49th State Brewing at sunset.
I left Los Angeles as temperatures were reaching 104 degrees Fahrenheit. As I was driving to Los Angeles International Airport, I received an update that my flight was delayed 3 hours. At least it was the second leg of my trip from Seattle to Anchorage. But it did push my arrival time from 9 pm to midnight.
After boarding, I received a text from cousin Kurt (traveling with Brooke) saying that we would be arriving in Anchorage near the same time. We managed to meet up at a fine establishment at the Seattle airport to have a few beers.
Bonus, not only did I have a row to myself on the delayed flight from Seattle, I had the WHOLE row! There couldn’t have been 20 people on the whole plane.
Con was waiting for us and picked us all up (our fights were early).
We were on a mission this morning to find the items on our shopping list that were a “must have” for our trip home. Laurie, Lucas and I headed out and drove to Wildeshausen. We were mostly satisfied with what we found as far as the chocolate egg selection was concerned.
When we arrived at the house, we had seen advertisements for go-cart racing at the Kartbahn. We had hoped we would be able to take the kids, checking online it was nice to see that they operated “rain or shine”. They were open from 1500-2000 so we got there just after 3 PM, and it was raining lightly.
Due to the wet conditions of the track, we were not able to take out the big carts. The 9hp carts we did drive were plenty fast. After the first 10 minute session, the rain stopped and track conditions improved.
Everyone has a great time, Austin learned the “secret” of drifting… turn the wheel and give it gas until the rear wheels slip and start coming around.
We drove to Delmenhorst and then took the train to Bremen. We walked to the city center and saw the beautiful buildings and artwork. The train was very quiet and fast, only 18 minutes each way.
We returned to Delmenhorst and shopped there as well. We couldn’t find what we were looking for, so in the afternoon I drove Laurie, Cindy, and Heather to the markets in Harpstedt. Our suitcases are getting heavier at each stop.
In the evening, Peter, Christian and Regina came to visit. We had a pizza party watching the big game: Germany versus France. Unfortunately, Germany wasn’t able to score and lost 2-0. Regardless, it was very nice visiting and catching up with family.
We started to get our shopping done for the things we plan to bring with us back to the states. From the looks of what we bought, it’s mainly junk food and chocolate.
We started the morning by visiting Ingrid’s childhood home. She spoke to the owner of the home (who lives across the street). The man explained his daughter lives in the house and that we were welcome to go into the yard and look around. As we were exploring, the man who lives in the upstairs portion of the house (where Ingrid’s family lived) came over and offered to show us the flat. The house was very nice inside, almost like a museum inside.
After, we walked down to the shops and farmer’s market of Delmenhorst. Cobblestone streets and fresh food. It rained a bit, but then quickly cleared to a beautiful day.
After the shopping, it was time to drop off the goods and head up to visit Stephan and Gundy. After visiting with them at their home and enjoying delicious cakes and coffee, we all went to the harbor in Bremenhaven.
The destination was the top of the Atlantic Hotel Sail City. They have a great observation deck on top with amazing views all around.
We have had several missions that we had to accomplish on this trip, visiting certain landmarks and experiencing particular things. One thing we were able to cross off our list was securing a lock on a bridge over water, we did this in Hamburg.
Hamburg was about an hour and a half drive from our house. As soon as we arrived and parked, the sky opened up and dumped rain on us. We were able to get into the Hamburg Miniature Wunderland after getting tickets and waiting for 90 minutes. The time placing our locks on the bridge.
Today was the first “mostly sunny” day we’ve had in quite some time. We made the best use of it by heading to a place we’ve all heard stories from Laurie and Cindy about: the Magic Park in Verden. This amusement park has a unique feature: many of the rides are “self-powered”, you have to do all of the work!
We woke, had a quick breakfast and packed/cleaned the house. Goodbyes were said to ask of the kids barnyard friends.
We hit the road just after 1000 and drove West, for the most part in the rain. We made surprisingly good time considering the weather, it helped that it was Sunday. We arrived at our final house in Harpstedt.
After we arrived we went and said hello to Ingrid’s brother Peter on our way to visit with her nephew Martin and his wife Connie.
After our visits Dave and Heather joined us at the local restaurant for a late meal after a long day in the road.
Day 14 the campgroundWe tried to get on the road at a reasonable time, our main destination was a campground that Ingrid, Laurie and Cindy had stayed at over 30 years ago. First up was the Dutch Cheese Market in Alkmaar. This is an open air market at the city center where “cheese carriers” haul delicious cheese rounds on special carriers. There are vendors along the canal selling everything cheese related from cheese toast, cheese, herring, and pancakes. The market shut down around 12:30 and we had to hide from the rain a few times.
We continued north and crossed the land bridge bordering the North Sea. We stopped at the Monument Afsluitdijk, the wind was howling!
Our main goal was to find a campground that Ingrid, Laurie and Cindy had stayed at when they visited over 30 years ago. After a stop in Balk, we were fairly certain that it was in Wijckel. After following some convenient signs we arrived at Camping ‘t Hop. (In the rain).
We stopped at the restaunt and had some very good soup and fickadel. Laurie, Lucas, Austin and I braved the rain storm and walked through the woods to the old cemetery that Laurie remembered from her childhood. It was a muddy adventure.
Driving back to Sevenhoven went without a hitch, the GPS was accurate about the time, we got back home about 8 pm and had pizza.