Like every other night in recent memory, it rained heavily. This morning, our well-shaded forest free-camp was very chilly and very wet. Thanks to a perfectly timed downpour last night (which caught us unprepared, and lasted juuust long enough for us to set up), our clothes were damp and cold, like everything around us.
With a cringe and a whimper, we donned our unwelcoming garments. Though we could've worn something else, they'd never be dry again with the weather we've been having lately! After we got some good natured complaining out of the way, I happily pointed out that we had something warm on order for the morning: breakfast pizza.
While I fired up our WhisperLite to bake the now not-so-frozen "Texas Style" pie (which, inexplicibly seems to be pepperoni and salami), Tara ran around snapping pictures like crazy during short bouts of sun. The results she got with our dewy forest morning reminded me of the movie Avatar.
After breakfast, we took a look at our route, and decided to spend the day on a cycle path Felix had recommended: the Altmühltal Radweg. Just a few minutes from camp, we picked up the trail. It was nuts how many other cycle tourists we saw. We are a rolling freakshow no longer (in Germany, anyway)! Instead, we're just another pair of riders in the thousands of tourists who travel by bike here. Fathers and sons on a week-long tour, families out to enjoy a three-day weekend, elderly folk on heavily loaded bikes… Germany you are so sporty!
Not only were there loads of bikers, but we passed many canoes and kayaks paddling in the river. Hikers and climbers scaling rock formations too!
Our route today was anything but direct. We spent the afternoon winding back and forth, zigzagging along the river. There were currywurst stands, signs for accommodations, beer gardens, and basically everything a cyclist could dream of. When we rode through a pictureque town to grab a bite to eat, the bakery's parking lot was packed FULL of bikes.
During our rest break at the bakery, we met one of the many families out for a ride: Julian, Lesli, Gisela, and Reinhard. We stopped to chat for a bit, and gave them one of our cards before carrying on. It was nice to meet you guys!
Here I am trying on my new hat. I'm not quite sold yet. I feel like a dweeb wearing it, but Tara likes that I am branching out. There is one unexpected benefit which I am really enjoying though: it shields the viewfinder of our camera really well. Now, it is much easier to take macro photos with small apertures (when the viewfinder becomes quite dim).
We decided to call it a day around 60km, hopeful we could set up camp before the next batch of rain rolled in. It was still very sunny as we pushed our bikes into a nearby field, next to a small creek. Before setting up, we waded in the cool water, exploring a bit.
While I was taking photos, Tara ran over to ask a nearby farmer if we could camp on his land. He happily offered his large fallow field. Tara went to set up without me, as I was pretty engrossed.
Back at the tent, Tara told me she felt like she was in Little House on the Prairie, sloshing through creeks and walking through waist-high grass. Lately, she has been dreaming up plans to take my sister Vivian on a women-only Laura Ingalls Wilder themed bike tour when we get back home to Minnesota!
I put the finishing touches on camp while Tara wandered off with the camera. She was a little disappointed because right when she got it, a dark cloud front rolled in, robbing her of the golden evening sun.
Tara said she felt adrift in a sea of grass, it was nearly as tall as our tent!
A few minutes later, it was raining once more.
Back in the tent, we rock-paper-scissored to see who would run outside to grab our food supplies. I lost, and returned from the mission wet and cold. Then, I offered to be sous-chef. Most nights, I am working while Tara makes dinner, either setting up camp, or programming, so I really enjoyed this little deviation in our normal routine. Tara played head chef, bringing all of the ingredients together, seasoning with mastery, while I chopped and followed orders until dinner was complete.
Our potato, onion and rosemary soup really hit the spot. Safe in our tent from the ceaseless pattering of rain over our heads, we ate our fill, and watched a bit of Star Trek. Then, we cozied up for a night of reading and writing. Ahh, home.