July 4th Weekend

Thursday, July 4
Connor kicked off the holiday by waking up at 5:30. (To my dad: Yes, I unfortunately do mean 5:30″AM.”) He helped me bake apple crumble bars and finish a salad to bring to our cookout. We spent the afternoon at the Kaiserslautern Zoo with a few other families. We had our own pavilion and grill, complete with plenty of animals nearby! Everyone brought something to grill and a side to share, and while the guys grilled, the wives and kids walked around to see some of the animals. It’s a small zoo, full of “exotic” animals like porcupines, llamas, and rabbits. (One of the kids remarked, “These aren’t zoo animals, these are farm animals!”) Connor had a great time exploring, and he’s at that fun stage where it’s easier for Charlie and me to just take turns eating so that one of us can chase him around! After lunch, we packed everything up and went to the zoo’s playground. Connor loved playing in the sand! He opted to play on the playground rather than take his afternoon nap, so by the time we got home, had a snack, and took a bath, he was asleep in bed by 6:40.

Connor and his friends on July 4
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Friday, July 5
We were up and out of the house by 9:00am, headed for Burg Eltz. A few friends had recently visited this castle and recommended it as a great day trip. It was a little less than two hours away. Poor Connor finally fell asleep in the car for a morning nap, only to be disturbed by an incoming phone call, and then again (ending the short nap) when his head bobbled on the sharp switchback turns.

We stopped to enjoy the view as we drove down the switchbacks towards the Mosel River
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Once we arrived at the castle parking lot, we walked 1 kilometer along a gravel path to get to the castle. After a nice walk through the dense forest, we finally came around a bend and had a magnificent view of the castle.

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We made our way to the castle, bought tickets, and found out there was an English tour starting in 25 minutes. Connor had time to run around before getting into the backpack for the tour. He was happy as a clam in the backpack during our hike to the castle, but he wasn’t too thrilled to stay in it during the tour. We got him out and I let him walk and explore as much as I could without disrupting the tour. He was busy pointing things out with his excited cries of, “Nah! Nah!”

Playing on the steps while we wait for our tour
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Looking up from the courtyard
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After the tour, we had lunch at the outdoor cafe. We found a table as far away from the crowd as possible so that Connor could explore while we took turns eating. We walked through the treasury, which was filled with armor, weapons, and china. Finally, we hiked back to the car.

Another great view as we walked back to the car
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Connor’s mini morning nap had finally caught up with him, and about two minutes before getting back to the car, he was ready to pass out. We managed to keep him awake (ohhh, the irony) until we got him into his carseat, and he literally fell asleep without a peep as we were pulling out of the parking lot. (For those of you that know Connor’s normal falling asleep habits, it’s quite a miracle for him to just sit there and fall asleep when he’s tired!)

The drive home wasn’t too bad. There was a ridiculously long traffic jam (called a “stau”) going the opposite way on the autobahn, and we were so glad we weren’t in that mess. (People were out of their cars…it was a parking lot.) The little man didn’t sleep all the way home like I thought he would, so we spent the last hour of the trip putting lids on containers, eating snacks, and reading books. Another fun and exhausting day = another 6:45pm bedtime!

Our friends Jes and Derek were going to meet us at the castle, but unfortunately they had car trouble about halfway through the trip. Thankfully they were able to call ADAC (the German version of AAA), get it diagnosed as a muffler problem, and travel safely back to Kaiserslautern for repairs. By the time we were headed home from the castle, they were sipping margaritas and the car was already fixed!

I hope we are ready for our next adventure…we fly to the states on July 12!!

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