A tipi, often called a lodge in English, is a conical tent historically made of animal hides or pelts. More recent generations are of canvas stretched on a framework of wooden poles. With the conical shape, the smoke from the fire pit in the middle flows out the top. A flap on the outside, attached to a pole, controls the draft. The tipi canvas is staked into the ground. A canvas skirt encircles the interior wall at the base to keep the cold air out. I tell you this so you have a clearer picture of this beautiful structure.
When we arrived in Munich, the sun was soon to set. We made it to the tipi village with enough time to set up our tent in a good spot. It was nice to see Britta and Gabby had already arrived in his rainbow-painted Volkswagen Westfalia. Dinner was already on the fire with a big pot of mixed vegetables. “Welcome home!” Settling in with the diverse group of travelers and locals, we exchanged stories and played music until we decided to crawl into our tent to sleep.
A lovely day out
The following day, we joined several people who decided to make a short hike to the nearby lake for a swim. On the way, we passed through a cornfield and a field of potatoes. Permission had been granted to the tipi village to take what food was needed. The potatoes gathered were the small remainder left behind by the harvesting machine. The corn was also plentiful as we collected enough for the day’s meal. The lake was much smaller than I expected, nothing like the ones I had been used to in Tennessee, which were like an ocean by comparison. Still, the water was clean and friendly in which to skinny dip. It was an excellent way to spend the morning.
That afternoon, someone suggested we pile into a van and visit the abandoned site of the 1972 Munich Olympics. The Olympic grounds were impressive. The giant tent-like structure was the genius concept and design of Frei Otto. His stadium roof for the 1972 Munich Olympics was the pinnacle of his experiments with tensile structures, stretched to and fro like a series of dancing spider’s webs, hovering weightlessly above the arena and extruding out to cover the surrounding plaza in a grand sweep. It was strange to see this massive facility, a piece of architectural wonderment, so empty. While I imagine it must have been quite crowded during the Olympics, we had the place primarily to ourselves, with only the occasional jogger passing us. Still, it was a pleasant outing.
Back to the village
Happy and relaxed after a full day of activities, swimming, and sightseeing, we returned to the tipi village for an evening meal and music. A big pot of vegetable stew awaited us as we all sat around the fire in the vast tipi. The wind picked up, and the temperature dropped. Soon it began to drizzle rain. After a nice meal and an evening of music and stories, we returned to our tent without getting too wet. We snuggled into our toasty sleeping bags, zipping them together into one—all comfy in our lovely tiny home.
The rain had stopped by morning, but the ground was wet. As Donna was walking around the side of the tipi, she slipped, and her foot rammed into one of the tipi stakes. Was the toe broken or just jammed? Whichever, it was painful to walk. Her big toe turned purple as her foot became swollen. Did this stop Donna? Of course not! She is a trooper, a “Super Trooper!” She insisted on making the walk to the lake later that morning. “If it’s broken, there is nothing to do about it. If it’s jammed, it’s too swollen to correct. Just leave it alone,” she said. If you know Donna, you understand it’s nearly impossible to keep her sitting for long. She just limped around on it.
We decided that it was time to go back to the US. We had achieved what we had set out to do. Hitchhiking back to Luxembourg, we caught several long rides that brought us back to the Kockelscheuer campsite, where we had first stayed when we arrived in Europe. After a good night’s rest, we packed our gear and went to the airport. With our Airhitch vouchers in hand, we approached the counter in hopes that a couple of “standby” seats would be available. Lucky that we are, there were two seats on a flight to Washington, DC, leaving in a couple of hours. The seats were ours!
We went back out of the terminal, smoked a bowl, buried our pipe in the hedges by the airport sign, and went back into the terminal. Customs and check-in were a breeze, and before long, we were boarding the plane and settling into our seats. The flight attendant was friendly, offering us whatever we wanted to drink and even extra bags of peanuts and pretzels. After the plane took off, we slept for a bit before we landed in Reykjavík for a brief stop. This time we came prepared, racing out of the aircraft with all the other passengers ‘in the know’ to the gift shop, where we all munched out on free smoked salmon. What a great gift shop! Making our way back to the plane, we found our seats and slept comfortably.
DC and on to Laurel
After a long flight, a couple of movies, a nice airplane dinner with wine, and more sleep, we began our descent to land at Dulles airport in Washington, DC. Retrieving our bags and clearing customs was without incident. We called Shannon and told her we had arrived safely and would soon be nearby. We took a shuttle bus to the Amtrak station and from there, we got on a commuter train. I wasn’t sure of the stop we had to get off at, but Donna remembered.
The commuter train took us to a “Park & Ride” station in Laurel, Maryland, with an enormous parking lot. After only waiting about ten minutes, Shannon drove up to meet us. We had made it back! She showered us with hugs as she and Donna chattered away with news from each other. After unpacking, Donna counted our money. Amazingly, even with a medical emergency, we returned with almost the same amount we had when we left for Europe! Donna and I looked at each other and said, “Yes! We can do this!”