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Bill’s driving habits turn to shit…

Thursday morning we woke up early with big plans for the day. Because we had dental appointments in Stuttgart, Bill decided that we’d need to skip breakfast. He said our appointments were at ten o’clock and eleven o’clock, and as downtown Stuttgart is about 100 kilometers from Baiersbronn, it would take over an hour to get there. Plus, there’s Stuttgart’s famous traffic to consider, and scheduled road work that was going on. Well… as it turned out, we certainly could have eaten breakfast. But more on that in the ensuing paragraphs.

The sun was shining as we set off for our old stomping grounds. I busied myself by taking photos of the enchanting landscape as we passed through charming towns and past green fields full of sunflowers in bloom. Bill was trying very hard to make sure we got to the dentist on time. He decided to take a route that directed us through Horb, a town we only managed to visit once during our time in Jettingen, even though it’s a nice looking and easily accessible place from our old town. Going through Horb turned out to be a time consuming decision, since there was road construction going on. A detour sent us through more picturesque towns that delighted the senses. I took a few more photos as Bill continued to stress and stew over making our appointments.

We stopped at a bakery for coffee, juice, and bread. I noticed what appeared to be a new chain of bakeries… or maybe it’s not a new chain, but I had never noticed them before our visit over the weekend. I counted at least four outlets of Ziegler’s Bakery on our drive. We stopped at one in Horb, then Bill got back on the road and immediately got blitzed by a speed camera! Then, about fifteen minutes later, as we entered the hamlet of Eutingen im Gäu, Bill got blitzed a second time! To put this in perspective, I think in seven years of living in Germany this time, Bill has gotten just one speeding ticket. That time, it was near our old town of Pfäffingen, where we lived from 2007-2009. I guess in a few months, he’ll get the tickets in the mail.

Despite the detour and blitzing, Bill managed to get us to Dr. Blair’s office at 10:00am. The sunshine we enjoyed in the Black Forest had disappeared behind clouds. Rain was forthcoming.

Bill waits patiently in his high speed mask. I can’t stand the FFP2 masks, so I wear a disposable surgical mask. Using homemade cloth masks alone is no longer permitted in Germany.

There were several other people in the waiting room. I’m not sure what happened… Bill said he’d reconfirmed the dates and times, but it turned out we were early. It was after noon when I finally got in the chair. I had a clean checkup, but Bill has to return this Thursday for a repair. He told Dr. Blair about a trouble spot in his mouth. As Blair was poking around, the tooth, the filling fell out. Fortunately, Bill can easily take the ICE train from Frankfurt and get to Stuttgart much faster than he would if he drove. Blair’s office is even close enough to the main train station that Bill could easily walk to his next appointment from there, rather than taking the U-Bahn.

After our appointments, I had a date to drop off corks with a member of the Stuttgart military community. But Bill wanted to eat lunch first, so we stopped by Abacco’s Steakhouse, a chain restaurant that offers steaks served on hot stones. We had eaten there once before, back in 2016. As we entered the restaurant, our waiter checked our COVID-19 passes. Every restaurant we visited over the weekend checked our vaccination status.

Abacco’s Steakhouse offers soups, salads, and steaks. The steaks, which come from the U.S. or Argentina, come out lightly seared and very rare. The idea is to let them cook on the hot stones to your preferred level of doneness. I’m not all that excited about cooking my own steak in a restaurant, but I have to admit the 300 gram rib eye steak from Argentina was good after a lean morning no protein. It came with barbecue sauce, horseradish, and a chimchurri sauce, as well as steak fries.

With lunch done, we headed to Panzer Kaserne, where we dropped off our corks. The lady we were meeting is a longtime member of the Facebook food and wine group I run. It was nice to put a face to the name, especially since we’ve been conversing for several years! I always collect corks from the many bottles of wine we drink, since I’ve found that a lot of crafters want them for their projects. Every time I’ve asked if anyone wants them in my Facebook group, someone always does! I could just as easily dump them at the store, but I like to help out the crafters when I can, since I’m not particularly crafty myself. Besides, it’s a nice way to meet people.

I was pretty shocked to see how things have changed around Panzer in the time we’ve been here. When we lived in Stuttgart the first time, the bucolic road that links Vaihingen to Sindelfingern, Pascal Strasse (affectionately known as Frog Road by Americans, thanks to the ponds and many frogs on it) was completely sheltered in forest. I used to love driving on that road, since it was so pretty compared to the A 81 Autobahn that runs next to it. When we moved back to the Stuttgart military community in 2014, that road started to change. The end of it was diverted to a nearby state road and the traffic pattern was completely rerouted. Since we left in late 2018, the area has changed even more. It made me feel sad, since I always enjoyed driving on Frog Road. Looks like it’s being torn up now.

After we dropped our corks, we headed back to Baiersbronn. Bill opted to go back a different way, one that would take us through Herrenberg and past our old town of Jettingen and Nagold, where we spent many wonderful weekend days during our second stint of four years in the Stuttgart area. I must admit, as enjoyable as Wiesbaden is, I really miss living close to the Schwarzwald. It really is a beautiful area, even on the edge where we lived, and in spite of our troublesome exit from our previous house. ‘Nuff said about that… I want to keep this blog post positive!

Our alternative route also took us past Freudenstadt, which is another great town where we spent a lot of time. Freudenstadt is very close to Baiersbronn, too, so anyone who is tempted to visit Baiersbronn after reading this area can easily do a trip to Freudenstadt shopping or eating or other activities.

On the way in to Baiersbronn, Bill’s driving was tested again. We rounded a curve, where we were suddenly confronted by some guy who’d apparently had a single car accident. His small car was pointed in the wrong direction in our lane, as if he’d slid into the wrong lane. Bill had to swerve to avoid hitting him, since he was sitting in the middle of the road, wearing his orange vest but having neglected to put out his warning triangle to alert other drivers. We narrowly missed having a collision ourselves, as other cars were coming in the other direction. That was a near miss!

When we got back to the hotel, we decided to try the pools. The Hotel Engel Obertal offers several pools and whirlpools, as well as saunas. It was a bit crowded when we got there. We had to check in, and thanks to COVID-19, there were limits on the number of people allowed in the pool at a time. The lap pool was pretty empty and quiet, so we basically hung out there. Lots of people with kids were in the big fancy saltwater pool that offers egress to the outside. We skipped the saltwater pool, because there were many kids in it and there weren’t supposed to be more than four people using it at a time. We also skipped the Naturalbadsee because it’s entirely outside and the weather was a bit too chilly for swimming outside. However, we did see some intrepid Germans using it, including one woman who went nude!

We opted not to have dinner, since we had a big lunch and Bill had an online appointment with the Jungian therapist he’s been talking to for the past few months. While Bill did his hour with the shrink, I sat in the bar and listened to love songs from the 80s and 90s. Bill joined me later, and we enjoyed a few cocktails. Next post, I will write about our gourmet extravaganza! Stay tuned!

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