(Sunday - June 17th, 2018)
On my way to Kassel and Ermschwerdt, where my great grandfather Fredrich Rappe (Alte Fritz) lived before moving to Brazil about 1890.
This was probably the longest ride of my trip and full of... cows. My map app took me the wrong way out of Kamen, but I discovered the error before going too far. As I biked north to the Lippe River, then east towards Lippstadt, the small cities gave way to farms and rural agriculture.
Farms (bauernhofs), fields of corn (maize), wheat (weizen), or oats (hafer), small woods (wald), towns with churches (kirche), cows (kuhe), and the smell of manure (düngen)... did I fly 5,000 miles to visit Wisconsin?? Actually, the differences were noticeable - from the imposing brick farmhouses, barns of brick and wood (half-timber) oriented towards a farm courtyard, the maypoles, and of course churches and buildings much older than anything in my heimatland.
I also noticed different bird species: a grey and green, white ringnecked pheasant, and black birds with white stripes. I´m not a birder, so I can´t say what the latter birds were.
There were a few humorous elements - like the horse blanket with zebra stripes, or the self-operated pull-ferry which seemed overly complex. Just build a bridge. Oh you Germans...
This was also the first day that I occasionally felt alone and a bit lonely. But there were a couple uniquely German reasons for this. First, it was Sunday - nothing is open (well, maybe some restaurants and of course hotels). And second, it was the opening game for Team Deutschland at the World Cup in Russia. I heard Germany lost to Mexico, 0-1... sorry my German friends!
So yes, it was quiet, but I did see a fair number of bicyclists. And a lot of groups of 4 or more. Biking for leisure, not racing or exercise, is very common in Germany. Older women, families, and couples can all be seen biking. Even way out in Lippborg. Of course, I found that even when I started to feel the ¨what the hell am I doing?¨ I simply focused on putting one pedal in front of the other. Soon I would be in a cool wood, or looking across a field at a beautiful old church.
One Last Thing
Before I finish this days´ review, I have to say that my time in Kamen was wonderful. It was a short 24 hours (less than that actually), but Hanno Peppmeier and his wife Ingelaura (I hope I spelled her name correctly), and daughter Inga, and son Lars were so kind and hospitable. I stayed overnight, and Hanno and Ingelaura took me to dinner with their friends who were all friendly and enjoyable. We had quite a few laughs over dinner and bier, and three or four kinds of grappa (schnapps?)... I don´t remember all the flavors, but not because of the alcohol :-).
So to Hanno and family, thank you so much for making my stay in Kamen - short as it was - very comfortable. Also, I wish you the best in the upcoming re-run of the mayor´s election in two weeks! I hope your candidate comes through!
FYI for my American friends. In Germany, at least for mayor races, if no one reaches 50% of the vote, the top two candidates go into a run-off. There were three candidates. All elections are on Sundays. Unfortunately, this is what we would call a ¨Special Election¨ - they mayor of Kamen is retiring early - and also the first football game of the World Cup. Turnout was abysmal. Less than 65% voting in a local election is pretty bad in Germany. I wish the U.S. had better turnout - but we need to make voting easier, not harder. Nothing in the Constitution gives any requirement for voting except citizenship and age.