Monday, July 28, 2014

Summertime Adventures ~ Cycling the Danube!

A dream come true.
A cycling trip along the shores of  the Blue Danube River.

It was in my early years, that I had a desire to cycle.
On my thirtieth birthday I received a bike from John....
It was a lightweight racing bike...Peugeot!
This bike has travelled many a mile and has shared many a story with many friends.
For now, this bike resides in Vancouver.
Never did I realize that 30 years later we would be cycling in Europe.
(we rented's much easier and more cost effective)

 We chose to go with a 'bike and boat' tour.
The tour accommodates about 75 cyclists.
If someone felt tired and preferred not to cycle,
one could always catch up in the evening on 'Theodore Korner'
(but neither one of us tired)

 This company provided all the basics.
Breakfast buffet, lunch buckets, and full course dining in the evening.
Maybe a bit tight for space, but it's a good marriage test.
We took turns getting organized in the morning, as our space was minimized.

 We had a wonderful valet service.
He  made the regular maintenance checks,
and at the end of a long tiring day...He was there.

 They were lined up German style, PERFECT!
Each day we had to cross the river using smaller ferries.
These were typical ferry boats which transferred us with or bikes.
 Our tour took us along the Danube river, all our paths were off road.
The Danube flows from Passau the city of the three rivers through densely 
wooded slopes of the narrow valley between Bavarian Forest and the Sauwald.
 We were given a detailed map with all the information which highlighted each town's interests.
Generally we had about 8 hours to complete our tour.
Many times we stopped to check our route.

Imagine driving  through the paths with pollen floating like snow from the popular trees.

It looked like a white carpet covering the vegetation.

Cycling through the farmers fields.

 This farmer enjoyed the beauty of the farmland.

 We chose the self led tour, rather than riding with a tour guide.
We preferred to stop at private beer gardens along the way owned by local farmers.
They presented and reflected their own style of hospitality.

 Sometimes we cycled through the cobbled streets of the villages.

And sometimes someone liked to take a risk.
 I think this time he ran into some trouble.
He took the narrow route, while I smiled with my camera.

 Touring through some back allies of local vegetable farmers,

 underneath the highway via ducts,

 gliding along the Danube river with beautiful swans swimming side by side.

 Another cornfield and another farm in the distance.

 We arrived in Melk after four days of cycling between 35-50 km a day.
We had arrived at our final destination!
Passau ~ Obermuhl (50 km)
Oberhuhl ~ Linz (46 km)
Linz ~ Mauthausen (boat)
Mauthasen ~ Grein (36 km)
Grein ~ Melk (46 km )
Melk ~ Wien (transferred into Vienna)

 In the evenings we enjoyed a most delightful meal, a choice of three menus.
The evening lights along the Danube gave for a spectacular authentic view.
We often sat outside on the top deck enjoying the evening breezes.

We then rested in Vienna and attended a few waltz and operetta concerts.

Consider seeing Europe with a different view.
Break away and start pedaling.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

The Now and Then!

One is never too old to enjoy an old fashioned family reunion. 
Canada Day was one of those scorching hot summer days. 
We brought together 4 generations from the Schmidt sisters.
Fifty years ago we used to meet at Berthusan Park.
It was time to reunite.

  On July 1, the cars drove by one, they all aligned themselves perfectly.
I did not see any muscle cars, Chev Camaros, Barracudas, or Dodge Chargers,
Young and old...all coming together. Some even rode bikes.
We had a sign-in table with name tags, and a bottle of ice cold water.
Many of us did not know who belonged to which 'sister'
Fifty years ago...we knew everyone, because we met annually.
 Ron Doerksen was my side-kick.
Elaine, his wife kept organizing him and the food.
Food came wrapped and packaged in all sorts of dimensions.
Large insulted bags, iceboxes, thermoses, desserts.
Food was brought to the house, where it stayed cool.

Lawn chairs and tables were lined outside,
 decked in red and white to stick with the Canada Day theme.
Guests came set up the coffee perks.
( I think we traditionally serve coffee at the end of a meal)
My guests were very gracious with me as they tried to inaugurate me to the 60's era.
Thanks Rita and Irene for all your support.
People clustered in groups..competing over the shade trees.
Fifty years ago...each family brought their own meal, dishes, coffee
and set their own table for their immediate family.
Each family provided for themselves.
Then they laid the food and dessert items on one communal table
And some families did exactly the same thing today.
That was their tradition.
 Vic Doerksen, updated the family members with some heritage notes.
The Schmidt's came to Canada in 1926 from Ukraine.
He mentioned how hard they fought for their freedom in Canada.
He talked about the strong faith that carried them through...
And yet...he also alerted us to the uprise in Ukraine today.
It truly gave significance of coming together on Canada Day!

We were led with the the singing of the doxology, followed by prayer.
That familiar hymn was also sung fifty years ago.

Fifty years later, we're still getting together,
only today we had an open buffet smorgasbord and all the amenities were provided.
Regardless of how it's done then or today...
it's all about coming together, enjoying fellowship and enjoying the foods that were prepared.
 Mennonite heritage foods lined the long tables set up in the garage.
Potato salad, Kotletten, Mennonite Farmer Sausage,
Bean Salad, Pasta Salad, Roll-kuchen & Watermelon,
and Tanta Susie's Famous Baked Beans.
Then we cleared the tables and brought out the desserts....
Platz, apple sheet pie, ice-cream, raspberries, strudel and more roll-kuchen.

I loved it how one fellow brought Tim Hortons' Doughnuts.
Why not?
After all, it was Canada Day!

 Do you still remember this old fashioned Coleman container?
Green coffee urns from years back were also filled with coffee.

 Fifty years ago, I being one of the smaller ones, played on the merry go round,
slides, teeter totters, and swings, in hopes of the older cousins pushing me higher.
Then the adults men played an old fashioned ball game, 
while the women cleaned up, took care of the children and visited.

And this year, we played some old fashioned games.
Tug of war, balloon toss, sack race, tire roll, soccer shoot out, boot toss and of course,
what hot day could not pass without an eruption of a spontaneous water fight. 

These two girls were my favorites...they particiapted in all the sporting events.
I knew we would be friends right from the beginning.
And they won the soccer shoot out representing team, Germany.
Yea!!! Today is another big game.  
Germany vs. Brazil

While games were being played, some participated, others cheered on from the fence lines.

Others spent time reminiscing and relaxing.

 Others chopped up watermelon serving it with Roll-kuchen!

 Meanwhile one little fellow claimed the first injury of the day....
Off to ER...a slight fracture from jumping off the tramp.  
What did they do with injuries 50 years ago?
Oh yes, Dr. Voth or Dr. Dueck were 'on call'

Even the youngest showed up.
Ivy loved receiving the attention from all her cousins and aunts.
I can guarantee, she won't be remembering or comparing notes.

 Today's tradition of  hoisting a new Canadian flag is somewhat new for most,
and yet together we could stand in one accord and thank God for the country of Canada.

What better way than families coming together,
sharing authentic foods,
meeting new faces, young and old,
sharing faith stories which needed to be heard,
and ending off the day by singing.

O Canada!
Our home and native land!
True patriot love in all thy sons command.
With glowing hearts we see thee rise,
The True North strong and free!
From far and wide,
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.
God keep our land glorious and free!
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

A New Celebration!

It's Canada Day!
Once more we proudly celebrate Canada's Day!
Canada Day is celebrating 147 years of Canadian heritage and confederation.

 It was in the year of 2009 when we had the dream to plant a pole with our 
Canadian Flag.  My brothers all took charge as they carried this pole and hoisted it to the skies.

 The flag proudly flies in the wind and reminds us of our freedom,
as we share this with the next generation.
 This year we will once again celebrate Canada Day in a totally different way.
We are bringing alive an old heritage family reunion.
When I was  10 years old we all met at Berthusan Park for the Schmidt Reunion.
Fifty years later we have recreated this reunion at our home.
We are expecting a large crowd and the weather looks pleasantly hot.
Games like we used to play.
Traditional foods like in the olden days.
Young and old.
And the biggest hit of the day is that 
Oh and our final event will be a FIFA soccer shoot out!
Watch the competition between the Schmidt siblings.

 Today, we will once again hoist a new flag and sing our national anthem.
Happy Canada's Day to all of You!