So much for my Superman status…..I just blew that while rolling my tent up this am. The saying that ” *%#>$@ happens ‘ and that it happens in 3’s…….folks it might just be true. It may even be Gods plan………didn’t Jesus tell Peter that a Cock would crow three times and each time he would denounce Christ…….see, there you go imperical evidence that God favors 3. Another for instance…….how many Stooges were there…..there ya go, even better evidence. Anyways, let me explain how I lost my Superman Cape status…….
My Cappuchin Monk friend, Paolo. I fully expect he will walk into my yard someday.
This all began close to 30 years ago while wrestling a bluing tank around on a cold morning…..yup, strained my back and bulged a disc. To that I say what man has’nt done that by the time he is 40 if he is doing any sort of work outside the confines of a cubicle and keyboard….nothing new there. So, I cycle, lift my wieghts and do some special “blue funk” top secret stretches to try and stay limber. My darling wife like to tell me I am LUMBER not LIMBER as she so easily bends and wraps her hands completely around her feet as she stands strait legged. Okay, so I am closer related to a 2 x 4 than a danged marsupial like her family.
Manuela and Jeorge along with kids from Germany. Pretty impressive group.
The flat farmland that flanks the Danube as it lazily winds its way south to the Black Sea.
Staying something akin to limber is a real issue for me, and with only minor tweaks I can be in bad shape in an instant. There I was, 6.15am, a peaceful even sunny morning here in CZ, just rolling up my camp mat, sacking it and turned at the waist to toss it out the door of the tent……..bingo. I knew right away I had turned wrong. Layed right down and done some stretchs for 1/2 hour or so trying to work it out…….actually thought I may have got things back in order by the feel of things. Packed up the rest of camp, got the bike loaded and headed out, sort of feeling my way along as I went.
Meet Herbert from Austria, and at age 77 he was an impressive and interesting fella.
I rode on, up hill and down for maybe 10 miles. I could tell on the push stroke on my right leg that things were not as they should be, not really painful, just very tight. Gods plan, Jeremiah make sure you are still on the right road. So, I roll over to the edge and in the shade of course so I can actually see my phone screen………..thats good I say, and release my right foot from the pedal now to catch myself as I brake to a stop. Its a smooth fluid motion for a cyclist, alot like dancing or ballet. Put that right foot down flat and stepped right into a hole several inches deep then the wieght of the bike caught up to me and ZOWSA, damn that hurt as a pain shot from my butt to the top of my head. I had to flatten my hair back down to put my Cool Horse cap back on. Wow, I am in a bad way now and I know it, I have been here before folks and it aint pretty nor pleasant. Not even sure how long I stood there, but awhile to be sure. Got the bike back up on the blacktop and began rolling along, checking and testing different parts of my personal drive train. Hills are going to be a pure pain, that much I can tell.
Then came part 3, rolling downhill and thru a sort of construction site on the lower edge of a small town. Several cars in front of me make a turn at this rather ??????? sign that I did not understand……so I rolled thru and on down a pretty gentle slope. Looking in the mirror I see no one is coming my way. Figured I must be wrong, so I braked and turned to the left and back uphill…..but, a little to sharply and tipped the bike back over to the right and lost my balance. You guessed it, downhill onto that right leg again. Oh baby, dont you know I wanted to cry right there, yowzer how can that hurt so darned much.
Country side, coming out of the last row of hills to the east of Vienna.
Got the bike going, and rode right over an old roman bridge I had no interest in taking a picture of or it would be event 4……… I just knew it. Up the hill I slogged to the first flat grassy spot and rolled out on the grass quite willing now to just die. Stretched for at least half hour, then got back on the bike and finished the ride up into the town of Zdar nad Sazarova. I stopped and lay flat near a park bench for an hour contemplating wbat I should do. Rolled upright and noticed something I did not notice when I stopped…..there was a small hotel RIGHT across the street from me. As of now I have spent 3 days here, the routine is a hot shower, a walk, half hour of stretching then lay flat for an hour. Then do it all over again till bed time and sleep flat without a pillow. Each day, I assess how I am moving and feeling. I can always tell by my hips and back. If the hips and back are locked up, I am officially in the semi-rigamortise stage of back failure. I have not been able to break my hips loose so I can take a smooth fluid motion type step, I am still Zombie walking. So at this point I am contemplating a 4th day to see how it goes.
As of this paragraph, there have been quite a few days worth of time have transpired as well as events that have happened. NO such luck, J’dub is not dead. And no he is not pregnant nor still laying on his back in a hotel. And finally , NO, he is not all back together just yet but working in that direction. So, let me catch you up on what and where our solo traveler is as of today. BUDAPEST as I type – WOWW, what a goegeous city. But more on that later.
Gustave, an Opera Singer for 30 plus years, and an unusual visit for sure.
South of Prague, lay a small town of Chotabor. Within that town is a talented fellow building what look like pretty nice saddle trees. I know, a tree maker in Europe is unsual. This fellow, Tomas Vinc, and his son have started an enterprise that includes handmade saddle trees as well as very nice looking wooden stirrups. It was an impressive albeit small workshop. Organised and layed out to produce trees efficiently. Some of this may be a derivitive of Tomas’s former life as a Mandolin maker doing it on contract for assorted companies around the world. Had a great visit with them both, learned alot about the countries struggles to swing towards a open market system after having been under communisim for so long. Some difficulties there that I had not even considered, we grow up within an open free market system and have no real understanding of how much time and rethinking it takes to actually bring it all about. Thier best guess, another 25 years. The answer is NO, they do not like Trump. And my sympathetic reply was…..who the heck cares. If you dine on media “crap”, you should expect a bad taste in your mouth afterwards.
Second bridge crossing the Danube as I enter Budapest from the north side of the river which is actually the city of Pest. Buda is on the other side.
Rolled up and out of the small hotel, it was time to move and head somewhere. My son, Pine, gave me some sound advice that I took. Dad, head for Vienna, its a gorgeous city, its along the banks of the Danube and it will be easier cycling. Put in 76 miles that first day, made camp in a small groove of trees and cooked a great sausage and had it on dark rye bread along with a cinder block sized piece of some sort of smoked cheese. This is the day that I found a certain type of drinkable yogurt that I always look for now. The drinkable yogurt idea comes from my Russian friend Vladimir…….you remember him, the guy that spanked me with branches back in the russian bathhouse. Yes, him. The yogurt is great for me till mid day then I quit it and go onto PASTRIES……just kidding…..kind,a. I try to get in some fruit, I dont screw with the veggies much while cycling. Next day should have been a piece of cake, my Google map showed me 25 miles from Vienna. Set out on cyclable roads, not bad traffic, but hills galore. Nothing real steep, just sort of 3-5% type hills, but just one after the other. Stroked a total of 61 miles that day, took in one 15 mile detour and fianally made it to Vienna. YES pooped to be sure. Back felt pretty good right here……should have just flown home!!!!!!
Just another homeless fella, selling his pencil doodles. But i never seen him finish one.
Took a shower, changed my clothes and hit the streets of Vienna in the evening. I was in a tiny $37.50 per night apartment not very far from the Votive Kirche (church). As my brother will attest, and some of you know all to well, JW is always headed for the next Cathedral. The Votive is a splendid structure, one of the very prettiest I have yet seen. If you are here in Vienna, take it in.
The Votive Church. STUNNING.
Sat and had a Viennese coffee, watched people for awhile and rolled it up for the night. JW, he is a morning light sort of fellow and to be out befor the crowds are there to mangle every attepmt a good shot. So by 5.30am JW was walking the city streets. I hit 5 new cathedrals that day. One for sure would rival that majesty of the Votive. Sadly though there were cleanjng the outer rock work so scaffolding and air hoses were everywhere………and an unbelievable number of used up tooth brushes laying around on the ground lol. Took in the Military Museum expecting so spend most of my time in the medium-evil section…….on,y to be told that the true HUGE collection of that type was at the Museum of Modern Art…….now who’da thunk???.
I am pretty sure I walked to much this day and stretched to little, because I arrived back at my apartment at 9.30pm and could barely navigate. Done all the uasual, hot shower, stretches etc but next morning was a beast. Rather than stay another day I decided to hit the trail for Bratislava. I was in Brat by about noon, had a great pepper steak and potatoes, walked the streets till about 4pm and rolled out of town heading east towards Budapest. There was a fellow in Brat who offered me a place to stay if needed also to show me around – many thanks Adrian Obselka, but I simply didnt find your message till the following day.
Kept pedaling towards Buda, pretty much just ride and stop once in a while for maybe coffee or ice cream etc. Cooked each evening, I met a family group of 7 headed for Buda. 3 adults and 4 kids from 11 to 14. Qjite a crew, there were doing about 800km over a 3 week holiday. All the bikes were loaded and no kid seemed to be suffereing to badly. We actually met several times. And no, these folks were from Germany and did not like Trump. My answer remains the same.
Just some fellow who was expounding his wisdom on 3 tourists sitting on a bench.
Thdr there was HERBERT. I think God put him in my path to teach me a lesson…….JW, quit your bloody whinning and whinging ya big gurl….as my aussie friend Ty would say. Herbert, is 77, turning 78 in August….but he is quick to say he is not 78 yet. His summer trip began in south of France on a fully loaded bike like that of my own. He rode EVERY mountain pass ever used in Tour de France. Somewhere in northern France he crossed over and across Switzerland heading into far westwrn Italy. Once there, he began riding every pass used in Giro de Italia all the way around the north of Italy, ending in the Dolomites and crossing over into Slovenia to ride the Julian Apls back and forth till he had to cross over into Hungary and make his way back home to central Austria. I wont bother to tell you all about his swimming 26 miles to attain his friedom when he was just 19, nor his climbing accident he had at late 20,s that fractured his neck. His only complaint to me was with his left hand. He had no grip, not enough to hold a fork for instance, and it just layed on the handlebars as he rode…………and me………….yup, my back is ouchy. I NEED A BARNEY BANDAID……. and a kick in the butt. This guys wears a very quiet Suoerman cape folks. We talked for over an hour, compared notes, griefs, would be,s and want to,s. I attempeted to tell him about Christ, but he would ahve no part of it, so we parted as friends who share the ride together but not eternity.
On we go, another lesson, met another couple, also from Germany. Lars and Veronica. Just 6 weeks ago, Lars was wiped out by a car and hit a curb and the stone fence. He broke 5 ribs on the left side, and fractured 2 on the right…..and here he was pedaling away and also headed for Budapest. I still have no idea just what drugs he was on, vut there were visible shades of both Bob Marley and John Lennon in his mannerisims
Saint pieter Cathedral, Vienna. Another outstanding sight.
“Hey, were you come”???? was rgw question as I pass rthis fellow on his rustic junk laden bicycle. I said hello, and was looking at a fellow mid seventies, should have shaved maybe 2 days ago. Rusty framed cycle, witha. Chunk of plywood on the back as a depository for that which he finds as he cycles along. Todays prize, the most worn out bike tire you have ever seen. Small hat to lend protection, a bareback mountain short sleeve plaid shirt and a pair of khaki shorts and flip flops was this fellows attire for the day. Oh, a pretty floppy flip flops I might add. Norway, was my reply, I started in Norway. “You be long” ? No, not really, just a month and a few weeks is all. “Come my house with coffee” he says. Well, I am trying to get into Budappest before it gets to late is my reply. “I make only 1km from dis path you make”, pleez come my house mit coffee for you”. Okay, okay, I come for coffee. I can see he will be heart broken if I pass his offer. The front of his bike is the home to the largest junk basket outside of the state of Texas ( easy now you Texans, before you get all knotted up. Not that Texas is a junk basket, its just that everything is bigger in Texas ……a point to ponder. If that be true, why is it you seldom see a recliner twice as big as the fella sitting in it…..just sayin)
This is what alot of my route has looked like. Pretty, and peaceful but bumpy and slow going.
Back to Gustave, my junk and plastic bottle collecting friend. Yes, every danged smashed flat plastic bottle on any part of road or sidewalk had Gustaves name on it and we had to get every one and “put in bazkit pleez”. Finally made it to Gustaves house, and he rolls up and slides a green gate to the side and rolles thru. Since I am behind he motions for me to slide the gate shut. I turn. Standing astraddle my bike and slide the gate shut hearing it latch I turn an begin to move forward. ……what the hell. GUSTAVE has dang near stripped naked in the time it took for me to close that gate……thats 15 seconds faster than most women with a brass pole in a club.
I guess my face, or maybe my eyes hanging out ontop me cheeks gave it away………to which Gustave simply says…”chew wan be comfitable?” No, really Gustave I can actually swallow coffee with my pants on…….thanks……I think. Gustave, stood thier like an innocent fairy nymph…….just him and his underwear. “Come, see my house…..suddenly I make Coffee…….yes”. I AM really wondering about my own itellect and life choices at times…….but I am here to have coffee wbile wearing my rubber pants. Baxkyard, pretty normal rural setting, big tree in this case a walnut for shade. A 4 legged table underneath that would maybe safer if it had like 6 legs possibly? A bench that needs 6 boards for seat and back…….but only has 2. “Pleez sit and be still, I suddenly make coffee`. Roosters and chickens take yp the opposing side of the garden area, beets, carrots and assorted other vegetables act as a fence between the chickens and us higher life forms. Apricots, hang like a solid viel off in the far corner. “What from you in Norway” comes crashing into my mental picture I was taking in…………..ah, Trondhiem……….I started in Trondhiem, Gustave. “You home”. No Gustave, I am from America.
A teenager i spotted while riding thru the last village before leaving CZ Republic.
Gustaves face is washed clean of color……….his eyes grow…………his countenance changes persievably as he stands facing me in his budgee smuggling underwear, me? I am counting steps to the bike………just what sort of shape is Gustave in……those sort of things. “Ach, I hate Ehmereeka” he says with a great deal of emphasis. “Everting bad comes from Ehmereeka”. Well now hold on here Gustave, I might the first American that you end up liking I say…….trying to end this quickly but on a positive note……….where the heck is that coffee he talked about is what I am thinking. So Gustave, how did you learn to speak Hinglish so well I ask him, trying to lead the conversation in a different direction. “I am singher” he says, and turns back to the house saying “we come inside yah”. My mind says hey Jim bob, he has the upper hand once inside, you sure you want this???? I step in, not a light on znywhere, its only 2pm, but no lights and all the blinds are drawn. “vroosh, vroosh he says, again with enthusiasm……Vroosh”. What, I says to Gustave……vroosh what. He motions for me to wipe my feet. “Dis my houz, it is big houz in Hungary”. Nice…..I think……..I cant see crap, and I dont know if I just touvhed a wall or a piano its so black. “You vash you hands……come here……..vash vit me” I look into tnis bathroom, Guatave washing his hands and the whole danged room is a bout 3 feet wide and 6 feet deep. He is washing his hands and face in a plastic bucket set in the sink…..at best a quarter inch of water in it. “Come, come vash vee have coffee suddenly”, he is motioniing for me to hoin hjm in the bathroom. I am like a panther in my approach, every muscle taught as a bow string, every tendon tensed to the max……if any one moves wrong……if anything that shouldnt feel right doesnt feel right, crap is going to hit the rotary ossilator folks. Gustave slides past me from behind and I…………..”VROOSH HERE PLEEZ” as he points to a tiny towel on a hook.
This guy should me the tiny Turkish Apricot trees that line many streets and roads here in Hungary.
Clang, bang, clink. Noises emminate from down near the door that i came in….but a little off the left as I walk that way. I can just make out Gustaves butt in the air, his head down and he is most of the way into a small closet off his very tiny kitchen. Being 70 plus, wearing a pair of underwear from VS and being bent over at the waist is not the best image of your host having you over for coffee. “Acch, heer is vat I was search….make das jews me in me own garden………you have some yah” Pink clored fluid in a reused 2 liter bottle being offered from a man wearing only his underwear……….will this be a Daummer re-enactment I wonder to myself. Sure I say, let me try some…….thanks, I will just take this outside wgile I wait for the coffee Gustave!!.
I sat there, doing a Circ de Solie balance on the garden bench sipping my wild cheery fruit juice…….whixh was actually very good. “The much sugar jew vant”, to whixh i replied, just one Gustave, one will be fine. “Vat, ehmereekan vit only von sugar”………”dis seems not right”……..suddenly I bring…….okay”.
Met this fellow while we were both inside the Church in a tiny town in Slovakia.
“You ar not such like Ehmreekans I tink…….even dah name you tell is not Maybe usual” he says as he sits down on the bench with me. ” dis name, how you say dis one time more” Jeremiah I tell him, its Biblical, he was a prophet in the Bible. “Nachh, dis not bibla name, no bibbla, vhere dis is”…….”juss be still……..I be look at somting”……..he walks behind me into what appears to be a garage. I can hear him runnageing and now coming back. “Dah, heer in dis vee find what you say maybe no ehh” he is flipping thru the back of a Hungarian Bible. ” dah, dis says no”. Can I see this Bibla Gustave? You see just a few days before I had a conversation with a Cappuchin Monk and we discussed my name and went thru a translation etc…….so I had been prepared for this moment. I turned to the front, the index and went down thru the books of the Old Testement till I got to JEREMIAS and handed jim the Bibla. “ACHH, be showed by Ehmeerecan, not can beeleeve”. I one swallowed the coffe, done the same with the fruit juice, set my camera up for a quick pic and asked once again……Gustave where did you learn Hinglish so vell???? ” I vas Opera Singher fur tirty yeers…….over whole vorld I am sinhing………but I never go Ehmeerika……never”. I took my leave with that as quickly as possible. I was on my way to Budapest.
Beggars, 3 of them. Each with a mournful face, wrinkles beyond there actual age, and each with cloths strait off the latest Mad Max set……..hands held out and the most pitiful look. These poor guys, they were approaching a Scottish Christian. They had no idea that his mind is soft, his heart is hard, and his wallet is welded shut. I was turning to tell them that what they needed was not my money but Christ in that building over there………looking back lver my shoulder, and what was in view was not a church but a brwon roded monk. He greeted these fellows, declined them money…….telling me he must be Scottish as well. I let him finish up with the beggars and went over and talked with him. We spent over and hour together, actually walked back over to the Monestary that he resides in and learned a little about his priestly order and thier role. They began 1524, known as the “beggers order”, they were to own nothing, work for bothing, and live from what was freely given them. They are in return to pray for and bless those they meet wgo know not yet of the good news of christ. 6 years training beffore you can even think of attampting becoming a Priest. Most in his Cappuchin order are 15 years before they go to that step. Rock and roll guitar, long hair and the latest techno gadgets were my life says Paolo, but one day I found myself hanging from climbing chains on the mountain called Transfagaras in Romania. I was sick, I was sick of being restless and worried, I think I actually passed out and I was up there climbing by myself. I found myself laying there looking up into clouds, maybe even dilirious……but it was clear to me that God was asking me……..what is this life that I have given to you all about?? That was the turning point says Paolo, I gave my life over to Christ and a I walk a path now that is about OTHERS and not myself.
Here, let me help you with that I said as i pedalled past and parked my bike. A couple, close to my age were trying to get a selfie with them and the convent behind them as you ride into Budapest from the north. This was paul and Beatrice from Belgium. There riding from Passau Germany to Constantin on the Black Sea. Paul is a 30 plus times marathon competitor, a lofe long school phys ed teacher, while beatrice runs an open air Museum of some sort…….that part I didn’t quite understand. We talked about the road, the sights and what we all expect. Short visit but a good one as they usually are along this path we call LIFE. Folks, we are blessed everyday, more often than not we fail to even recognize it as such because we want to see its face value instantly rather than wait on the Lord to let his plan play out in our lives.