Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Days in Blue and Red / Utah, USA

Do you think it is possible to assign colors to days?
Sometimes it works. For example when you think about your day and only colors came to your mind instead of people, conversations or situations.

I had a few such days in Utah and it was possible to compress them into just two colors:
Blue and Red.
I visited a several National Parks in the western part of the USA and the Bryce Canon was one of them - a very impressive one.
There was no real idea in my head about what to expect- well, a canyon - maybe an impressive hole in the ground.
What I got was a forest of giant red stone pillars with little walkways beneath them. In some moments was like walking in a red gothic cathedral with a blue roof. It was impossible not to be impressed by the sheer simple beauty. All around me was only the red rocks and the blue sky.

Compare the size of the trees to the the height of the stone pillars to get an idea of how big the canyon was.

The sun was setting when I was driving back to my hotel in my rental car. It was a one hour drive and the street snaked through a region called Red Canyon. In the distance I could see a big cloud of smoke over the hills and a sign told me that is just a controlled fire started by Rangers.

All of a sudden I saw massive flames right beside the street - and I mean massive.
The setting sun was illuminating some of the red rocks in such an intense way that I really had to make a full break just to stand around with open jaw.
I wouldn't have thought that stones could glow that way - 'Fire Stones'.

One lesson I already learned on my trip was that the good old mother earth does a very good job in keeping busy being flabbergasted.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Street Fighting / San Francisco, USA

I was invited for dinner at the place of an ex-colleage. He lives in San Francisco with his family and gave me a wonderful private tour through his city showing me some of his favorite places. That is sightseeing at its best. Thanks again for the tour and the special vegetarian dinner.
I got to know his son and was really impressed by this kid.His great passion is fencing and after only five minutes of talking we both vanished into the garage because we wanted to check out his fencing gear. He explained me his equipment and his sport with great passion and I was even a bit jealous because he obviously found an activity he can be really dedicated to.Sometimes dedication leads to big things and in his case the big thing is a fencing jacket with his surname and the name of his country on the back - he is member of the USA Junior National Fencing Team. Wow.

By the way: I learned that the best fencing gear by far comes from - guess what - Germany.
We ended up out in the dark street and he showed me the basic moves of fencing. For me it was a very special kind of street fighting.
Well, you could think that the guy is just one of these nerds that only live for their sport being drilled by their parents all day long.Far from that.This bloke had more interests than most adults, had a kind of talking and a vocabulary that outwits most of the conversations in business meetings and he gave me sightseeing tips to San Francisco that gave me the impression that he lives in his city with open eyes. Apart from that he was as funny and playful as a kid should be.

Of course I asked him for his word of the day using my little chalk board. He really thought a long time. It was not until I rephrased the question into ‘What was your day about’ that his eyes gleamed and he finally wrote his word.He told me that today he have had the chance to train with a guy that attended the last Olympic Games and guess what his big dream is...
If I should specify some requirements for an own son I would simply say ‘just take this guy as a template’.

Hey Mr. I-have-a-jacket-with-my-country-on-the-back, if you make it to the tournament in Germany in 2009, drop me a note and I will be there as your biggest fan.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Merry Christmas from Down Under

My first christmas in Flip Flops is very close.
I still don't know how to handle Starbucks cups with snow flakes printed on it while realizing that I wear shorts and a sweaty T-Shirt.
The sight of a christmas tree in the dining room of a diving boat out on the Great Barrier Reef is similar crazy.
As far as I understood so far Christmas is more like a party in Australia. At least I already saw a lot of drunk girls with high heels and red Santa Claus hats in the streets.

This year will be completely without unwrapping real presents or watching loved one unwrapping theirs.

I am unwrapping virtual gifts almost every day since the start of my journey. I am pretty aware that it is very special what life pours over me with this trip and these days I just treat it like a big pile of Christmas presents.
The biggest gift although wasn't the visit of a tropical island or a rain forest or a stunning snowy mountain. The thing I feel grateful about most is that I realized over the last months how much my family and my friends care about me.
Hearing that someone misses me back home or reading that I should move my suntanned bum back home soon because some hard men want to spend time with me again was more than good.

Thank you friends for all that. You have no idea how much I appreciate it.

My Christmas days will happen up in the air to a certain extend. On Dec. 24th I will fly from Sydney to Brisbane and on Dec 25th I have flights to Singapore and then on to Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam. This may sound very uncosy but it is ok this time because I totally life out of my normal context during my trip.
Next year I am hungry for Kinderpunsch, my family and watching my four little princessess unwrapping their parcels what usually ends up in total chaos.

Christmas deco and palms, Brisbane

Scuba Dive Christmas, Cairns

'Weihnachtsstern' on a public square

Anti-Unplugged-Christmas, Sydney

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Nautical Signs - Brisbane/Australia

Yes, I know I am supposed to tell about the USA but I really have to jump to Australia for a second.
Yesterday I strolled through Brisbane and walked by the Nautical Museum. It had a big sign on the facade showing the nautical flags together with the flag alphabet. Each flag respectively character has a certain message.
For example the flag with the blue and yellow stripes means "D" or "Delta" and also "Keep clear of me".

The part that catched my attention was the letter "L" and the message attached to it. I really had to grin broadly.
I will not explain what the hidden meaning is because it is sort of delicate. Some of you will instantly understand and for all others it wouldn't be funny at all. What I can tell is that it is related to a company I worked for.

@ all the Visioneers and Ex-Visioneers: 'Funny to the core', isn't it?

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Haircuts - Merced/California

This posting is about the same place as the last one - the city of Merced in California. If I continue with this slow pace I will never finish posting about my trip.

Almost every day I have a new 'first-time' event during my trip. This time it was the first hair cut outside of Germany.
I was hesitating several days I went into the challenge. The thing that made me reluctant was the fact that I had no idea how to explain in English the way I wanted my hair to be cut. In German it is sounds like
'An den Seiten und hinten mit der Maschine auf 9 mm und oben gerade so lang dass ich es mit Gel noch etwas durcheinanderwuscheln kann'.

What the heck is the English word for 'durcheinanderwuscheln' (hints are appreciated)?

The sun was shining and I was realizing that I am a tall blond warrior and not a mouse and that it is completely stupid not to dare to go to the hairdresser just because I was missing the word for 'durcheinanderwuscheln'. It is even more ridiculous because there's not that much left of my head to be 'durcheinandergewuschelt'.

I saw a sign saying 'Hair Cuts 10$' and stepped into the shop. Ha!

It turned out that the woman in charge had no idea about the English Word for 'durcheinanderwuscheln', too, because she was from Mexico and her English was not much better than mine.
Well, in addition she had no understanding about how long '9mm' would be and I was still struggling with all inches, yards, ounces and all the other funny units.
Tough start, wasn't it?
After a while she just started cutting and ignored my instructions with a grin on her face.
This was the moment when I realized that probably even my hair dresser woman in Germany doesn't care about the technical sounding cutting instructions from me and all the other male customers but just cuts the way she thinks look best.
As a customer you probably have to use phrases like 'die Spitzen sind schon etwas angegriffen' or 'Volumen' or 'durchgestuft' to impress a hair dresser. How is it working on you, girls out there?
(Remark: Together with a friend we once almost convinced a slightly drunk girl that my friend was a professional hair styling artist just by dropping words like 'stufig' and 'conditioner'. This is a special greeting to the 'Friseurmeister aus Ibbenbueren').

My trip is full of important enlightenments as you see.

The name of the woman was Maria and we had a very nice conversation about Mexico, Germany and the global costs of hair cuts. We were both surprised about the huge differences in price. A haircut in Mexico is 2 USD, in USA 10 USD and in Germany I pay 20 USD for the exact same thing. Maria told me that this little fact helped a bit to smoothen her opinion that all Europeans are incredibly rich if they have to spend 20 USD for a hair cut.

Of course it was not possible to avoid the topic 'soccer' (although I am an absolute soccer idiot) and the subject turned to the World Cup 2006 in Germany. Maria could remember watching the first game of the Mexican team during the World Cup on TV and we both were excited when I told her that it was in my city of Nuremberg and that I was outside the stadium with all the crazy Mexican fans.
I told her that I even have one of the photos I took that day of two Mexican fans framed in my living room. If you look closely at the photo of my apartment [here...] you can see a piece of the photo of the Mexicans in the background just behind my head.

We both were impressed by the fact that we found a connection between us - a moment back in the summer of 2006 were we both enjoyed the same vibes created in my home town. I look forward to the next time I look at the framed photo back home - it will beam my back to a small beauty salon in California.

I liked the way I looked after Maria finished her work and she and her husband even acted as models for one of my chalkboard photos.

If you ever had the urge for a hair cut in Merced, just go to 'De Imagen Beauty Salon' and greet Maria from me.

Little Differences - Street Names / California

I had to wait some hours for the Greyhound Bus back to San Francisco. The town I stayed in was called Merced and although it wasn't close to the Mexican border it was almost an Spanish town with all signs written in English and Spanish.
But instead of choosing important sounding street names like 'Avenida 5 de Mayo" the founders of the city haven't been very creative. The streets in one direction were called 1st Street, 2nd Street, 3 Street etc. and in the other direction A-Street, B-Street, C-Street etc.

It took my a while to understand that the phrase '16th and V' on my bus ticket was nothing less than a precise description of the corner of 16th Street and V-Street.
Really straight-forward.

Well, in Germany the city government tries to be innovative all the time when it comes to street names - unfortunately. In one area of the city all streets are named after flowers and in the next area it is fairy tale names (no kidding).
I remember having a hard time several years ago in my old town of Bayreuth. The address I was heading to was named after a fairy tale but that was all I remembered. All of a sudden I was surrounded by Schneewittchenweg, Ruebezahlstrasse or Sterntalerstrasse. I didn't dare to ask anyone because I thought it would be ridiculous to ask something like 'Could you please give me some names of fairy tales? I forgot the address of my physician.'.
On the other hand, as a man I am not allowed to admit that I am lost anyway.

As far as I remember I was late for my assignment and Snowy White was to blame.
Back in 1997 I would have been glad to have a sharp '16th and V' instead of 'make a left on Ebony and Ivory after you passed Cinderella'.

@Rainer: I am talking about the fairy tale address of the old weird physician that gave us the scuba diving consultation. Do you remember? I think he had his office in the Ruebezahlweg and that was for a reason.

To be complete I have to add that I don't like the fact that the US Americans use the house numbers sometimes twice - e.g. '25 S Main Street' and '25 N Main Street'. What does a poor little German tourist know about dividing a street into North and South? Nothing! If you want to keep me busy and walking for hours, that's the way to do it.