Kirk, Kettlers, and Peppmeiers
A Home For A Few Days
(Monday - June 11th and Tuesday - June 12th, 2018)
I arrived at the Kettler´s house on Monday evening - it was very nice to see Uli and Monika (Uli and Uni) after so many years. Their daughters Laura and Mahra are also very nice. Unfortunately due to my schedule and planning, we did not have any weekend time together, but they were very gracious and took me to some very cool places in the Ruhrgebeit.
Uli and Laura took me to the Gasometer (pronounced ¨Gahz-o-meter¨ auf Deutsch) in Oberhausen, which is a giant natural gas storage tank that was converted into an art and community space. It has changing exhibits on the first two floors and a giant auditorium on the 3rd floor. Outside of large music halls, the auditorium may be one of the largest performance auditoriums I have ever been in.
This season´s exhibit is called ¨Der Berg Ruft¨ (The Mountain Calls... which is both the title of an old German film and a phrase uttered by Wisconsin´s own John Muir... sorry California, he was born and educated in Wisconsin :-P). Der Berg Ruft is an installation of upwards of 50 large, full-color photos of mountains around the world. Most of them are of the Himalayas, Alps, Andes, and other large mountain ranges. But the exhibit also covers the wildlife, people, and geology of mountains. It was fascinating and the photography was superb.
In the main auditorium, a massive three dimensional recreation of the Matterhorn was suspended - upside down - for visitors to examine. The mountain topography is digitally projected onto a sheet of white textile that is shaped by some sort of scaffolding. The upside down angle was a bit weird, but the changing digital animations and ambient music was awesome.
After this we went to the rooftop to take a look out at Essen and the Ruhrgebeit. You can still see many steel factories and other manufacturing all around the region. The last coal mine closed only about a month ago, according to Uli. He also explained the several large hills or small mountains that you can see around the region. They are artificial mountains. Coal mining companies created these large hills when the dumped mine tailings and excavated rock into huge piles. The Gasometer is definitely a sight to see and provides a great space for large exhibits.
Day 11: Xanten and Dinner with the Peppmeiers
(Wednesday - June 13th, 2018)
The next day Monica and Laura took me to the Roman ¨living history¨ museum of Xanten. The Roman amphitheatre where gladiators fought, a reconstructed Roman villa, city walls, harbor temple, and new central museum complex were superb. I had been here in 1998, but much has changed. I´ve posted some photos here.
After we got back to the Kettler´s home, Hanno Peppmeier and his wife and daughter, Inga, came over for dinner. Hanno is Uli´s cousin and their branch of the family is connected to my father´s mother, Martha Muecher (Rappe), via HER father, August Muecher who is brother to, I believe, Charlotte Muecher who married Julius Goll. Julius and Charlotte had a daughter Charlotte Hennette who married a Kettler and I believe Uli is the grandson of Charlotte Hennette... Hanno is Uli´s cousin via Ilse Peppmeier (whom I met back in 1993/94 in Germany). Anyhow, the point is, the branches diverge a long while back. But as Hanno said, we are all still family.
We had a very fun time talking about some family history, looking at photos of Laura Kettler´s photos from visiting the USA - both Wisconsin and Seattle - back in 2011. I was in Alaska at the tiem but my cousin Danny lives near Seattle and she visited him.
Hanno told us about his vacation to the Greek isle of Santorini and showed us pictures... makes me wonder, perhaps Greece next?
Anyhow, it was a very lively and fun evening.
Day 12: Exploring Essen and Dinner with Kettlers
(Thursday - June 14th, 2018)
The next day, I explored some parts of Essen myself - specifically Vila Hugel, which is the old estate of Fredreich Krupp. Krupp Industries (now ThyssenKrupp) is/was a major steel product manufacturer. Somewhat like Bethlehem Steel in the United States. Their greatest innovation was the seamless railroad wheel. This was a huge innovation in the 19th century and made railroad cars and locomotives more comfortable. Their logo is three rings - three seamless locomotive wheels - intertwined.
Uli and Monika, and their children Laura and Mahra too me to dinner to a nice German restaurant that used to be a small brew pub and now serves a combination of German and Italian food. By the way, Laura and Mahra are only two of Uli and Monika´s children. Their son Thomas is currently at an internship in Hungary.
I´ve really had a wonderful, though short, time with the Kettler´s. Though I haven´t seen them in 20 years, seeing them now felt very familiar and good. It was also nice to not be riding every darn day and sleep in a REAL bed. Vielen Dank Uli und Monika!
Now, tomorrow, on to Haltern am See!