May 17 2011
We were one of the first 20 people to get a spot on the flight due to already having been on leave for 3 days at that point. The flight left around 12:30 am and Lizzy fell asleep before takeoff with Henry dropping right after. They both slept until about 40 minutes before we landed in Ramstein where, knowing where to stand during the customs briefing we were one of the first ones in line and got our bags right away…but things slowed down shortly after that.
The military has a code system for alertness level-FPCon Alpha, Beta, Charlie, and Delta kind of like the old Terror Threat Color. Alpha is normal, at Lackland we’ve been at Beta since Osama Bin Laden was killed, I’ve never seen Delta before. Ramstein was at Charlie when we arrived then as I was picking up the rental car they started an exercise raising the level to Delta. That meant the equipment rental and cell phone stores had to send their German employees home and close if needed. Not a huge deal, slowed us down 40 minutes and we were going to rent two sleeping mats for the kids and get a European SIM card for our phone so we could make campground reservations, but so far we’ve gotten by ok.
We got our food and everything squared away and headed toward Koblenz around 5pm. Our friends the Suhrens just moved from Texas to village on an island in the Rhine, Niederwerth, so Gehrig could go to Business School.
It was a beautiful little village on the river with wild swans and cygnets (Lizzie’s animal book says baby swans are called cygnets)…actually maybe not so wild, since we were able to feed them a roll left over from lunch.
We met Laura and walked around the village, along the Rhine and some of the surrounding fields with her then chatted with them after it got dark.
We didn’t want to have our jet-lagged kids up at odd hours in the night in their little apartment so we headed to a nearby campground (in Bad Bresig) for the night. The campground sat in a canyon with grassy strip to place tents along a small gurgling stream that fed into the Rhine about ½ mile downstream.