On Friday, 16 June, Caitlin brought me back from the Landstuhl Army Regional Medical Center (ARMC) to recover and to wait for my follow-up visit on Wednesday. The week off the bicycle gave me a chance to appreciate this part of Germany in more depth. The first two days, I rested around the apartment. Kaiserslautern is a modern city, with a skyscaper for a Rathaus (town hall), and a full complement of up-to-date stores. It has a generous pedestrian zone in the center of town, with buskers, local choirs, and rock bands performing on the weekends while people stroll and shop. I woke up Saturday morning to find an antique Opel show on the “street” outside.
Saturday and Tuesday are also market days, so Caitlin and I went for fresh vegetables and orange juice. That afternoon, two more Warm Showers guests appeared, Ham and Lee, from South Korea. One is a University student; the other a cook. They fixed a traditional Korean supper for us, which was spicy and delicious.
On Sunday, Caitlin took her friend Morgan, the two other Warm Showers guests, Ham and Lee, and me to the 16th annual Jazz Hike at the Nanstein Castle above Landstuhl. Burg Nanstein overlooks Landstuhl from a dense forest that covers the mountain behind the town. The format for the event impressed me. There was a hiking trail through the woods, and there were five stations set up with food and drink, and a jazz group entertaining at each one. At the end of the day, the five groups would come together for a joint, two-hour concert. In all, it makes for a wonderful day of music and woods and hiking, three things that Germans know how to appreciate.
I went to the first two stations, the Luis Weis Quartet and the Rose Valley Sisters. Between the two acts, we admired the town of Landstuhl and an excellent view of Ramstein Air Force Base. Caitlin came back into Kaiserslautern for another engagement. She left me at the flat to rest, then picked up the others after her meeting.
While I was alone, Daniel chatted on Facebook Messenger for Father’s Day.
Tuesday, Caitlin’s friend Kat was hanging out when Caitlin announced that she has a ticket to see Wonder Woman at the Broadway Kino. Her friend Harald (from the pub quiz team) had gotten two. We piled into Caitlin’s Honda Pilot SUV, picked up Harald and went to the movies. I had not been to a proper movie theatre in 2-1/2 years. It was a great evening and a good movie.
Wednesday, Caitlin had a hair appointment, so she left me at the Landstuhl ARMC at 10:30, though my appointment was not until 13:30. Carrying my office in an orange back pack, I prepared for a long wait in the Urology waiting room. Amber, the head nurse, checked with Dr. Walker, and he came out almost immediately. Everything looks good. The only change to report was that the pathologist, who thought that the tumour did not seem malignant, sent it off to the experts at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Washington DC for a second opinion. That does not change my post-operative plan. I needed to wait a full week before riding again, and I could resume normal activity on Saturday morning.
Caitlin picked me up shortly after noon. We went to the pub quiz with Kat that night at Molrooney’s Irish Pub. The team did not do as well as the first-place finish the week before, but the 50-euro bar tab we won last Wednesday was still open this week.
For the next two days, I repacked my panniers, shipped things to Daniel using the Army Post Office, and sent a large box of things to my friend and colleague Marianne in Den Haag, things that I would not need on the Mosel and the Rhine. That got the panniers on my bike below what the doctor set as an upper limit for lifting (10 kg). I also bought a new chain for the bicycle and some of the tools that were stolen in Nürnberg. The other stolen tools I ordered from Amazon. I had them shipped to Marianne. It felt good to be able to start planning and moving again. Friday evening, Caitlin and I walked to the Cafe 21 on the top floor of town hall (the Rathaus) to admire the city by night.
Saturday morning, I rolled my bicycle out to the Eisenstrasse, feeling some trepidation about getting on it after more than a week away. I was surprised by the feel: the two panniers without camping gear or winter wear rode back there as if I had nothing on the bicycle. I made my way to the Hauptbanhof in Kaiserslautern. At 13:31, I crammed onto the Regional Express to Trier with seven other touring cyclists. River Run 2017 had resumed.
For all her care and hospitality, I bought Caitlin some books, and bought the groceries that week. She would not consider any other payment. “Pay it forward,” we agreed. While I was there, she took in Ham and Lee, and Morgan, a friend. I also met Kat, who had been using the room I had until last week, and still had her stuff in the flat. Caitlin is simply one of the most generous people that I have ever met. I wish her the best of everything in life, and I hope that we stay in touch.
The trip down the Main was too short. Next time, the Mosel and the Rhine. Until then,
Smooth roads and tailwinds,