Sunday, September 23, 2007

Where to start?

The Prickril ranch has been a flurry of activity over the past few weeks. First my folks and some friends dropped by before and after a tour of Germany and Austria. After their first stint, B's mom and grandmother made a week-long appearance. At the end of my parents' second stay, my sister arrived. For one night, we had 11 people crammed into this place. Despite most of us being family, all of us survived this flirtation with disaster essentially unscathed.

Heidelberg and the surrounding area are especially nice right now. The perfect fall weather and ever-decreasing number of tourists makes it a great time to get around. A couple of weekends ago I took advantage of the nice weather to scale the Philosopher's Way on the "other side" of the Neckar from the old part of Heidelberg. On the way back to the ranch, I went up the church steeple of one of the big cathedrals. It was a bit tiring, but absolutely gorgeous.

Last week I took Tuesday and Wednesday off to spend "quality time" with the folks. Each day I took my stepdad and our visiting friend Jerry to the Technik museums in Speyer and Sisheim respectively. Both of these museums have an impressive collection of planes, trains and automobiles. The Speyer museum has a 747 on pedestals you can visit by stairs and come back to earth via a cool slide. The Sinsheim museum is the only one in the world (I believe) that has a Concord and the Russian knock-off of the same. If you can only do one, I found the collection in Sinsheim to be larger and more impressive.
The folks loved Schwetzingen, Speyer and Ladenburg, although we didn't have time to do the gardens in Schwetzingen. Plenty left to do on the next visit.
Having so many visitors, we've fallen into a bit of a rut. We've been to Baden-Baden a couple of times in the last week or so and we plan to go to Strausburg today, maybe hitting Speyer on the way back. My goal is to take my sister to at least one place none of us have been. Maybe Stuttgart?
An unexpected side effect of all these visits is the now inevitable disappointment the kids will feel with the relative paucity of gifts they will find (or perceive to find) under the Christmas trees. I've never seen so many presents and neither have they. Their DVD collection now rivals that of the Library of Congress and I'm pretty sure there's a bunch of stuff they still haven't opened.
BTW, our dance card is fairly full as B will go to Brazil for a couple of weeks in October, returning with her best friend whose wedding she will attend and who will use the Prickril compound in Kirchheim as a base of operation for their European honeymoon. Our friends Luciano and Lucila arrive in late November for a couple of weeks. We're looking forward to seeing everybody. Based on the Visit-o-meter, Germany is clearly the most popular place we've lived so far.

Robert has been bugging me for centuries (or so it seems) to get him on Youtube. Find below a masterpiece of stop-motion animation we made last night.

Finally, I've been taking HDR shots like a mental patient. Burnout is beginning to set in but I've learned a lot and taken some interesting shots (even if I do say so myself). You can find a few more here.

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