Prague & Domino

 

Prague & Domino
 
Interesting title I understand, by the time this chapter of life is over, you’ll see the significance of both. 
 
As we prepared to depart Frankfurt, headed to Dresden, nestled in the lobby of Motel One Frankfurt, we realized the Deutschland openness was closing up all around us. Alexander, our Motel One savior / front desk guru was irreplaceable w/ informing us and aiding us in this temporal moment of chaos. 
 
Dresden / Savoy County and most of Bavaria region was shutting down, no joy anywhere. Hotels, restaurants and Thai massage parlors (Josh’s idea 🤓) were all shut down effective immediately. So reconnoiter we did…. Josh & Nicole were nice enough to offer their master suite in their humble Army housing on the base of Vilseck. A remote military base placed in the middle of nowhere, on the way to somewhere. So off we went….
 
Allow me to go back in time and discuss the enjoyment of travel with a young couple that are not afraid of adventure. Both having the ability to adapt and overcome any hiccup that might come up. It truly made our travels that much more enjoyable. 
 
The autobahn-like travels made for short time on any road trip portion of our journey. Traveling @ what seemed like illegal Mach speed was exhilarating to say the least. I honed my ‘passenger’ skills with Josh @ the wheel for most of our joint travels. I figured if the U.S Governement trusted him with the $500k Trucks full of Ammo…. We we're in good hands. 
 
When the travels (through out this blog) have been widely diverse, no small outpost like Vilseck comes as a surprise. Serving multiple battalions and over 2500 personnel, the base had all the comforts needed to exist thousands of miles away from home. Mostly single personnel housing, with approximately 35% family housing, everybody had their routines for sure. Theatre / Med Center / Recreation outlets / Grocery and plenty of grounds to hike / bike or walk. Regardless of activities level, it can still be a bit lonely as you’re removed from all that you called Normal before you deployed. Both Leslie & I had a deeper appreciation for the military personnel who give of themselves to GO!!
 
As any Favorite Uncle should do, I exposed Josh to the Kevin Costner iconic program of Yellowstone. Leslie & I had been turned onto this binge worthy family drama by my niece Alison. ;-) She’d raved about it and I poo pooed it for more than a moment as I had done to Game of Thrones, The Wire and Sopranos…. Needless to say, my ‘initial program picker’ hasn’t always served me well, we’ll leave it to say, I’m a slow starter on shows….. Now movies, don’t get me started. I could easily give you a top twenty of Great Movies… but I digress…. Yellowstone… Josh took one bite of season 1; Episode 1….. and he gobbled up 4 seasons in less than 72 hours. (Still on leave, and locked down, what else is one to do)
 
Leslie & I left the next morning for Prague, me at the wheel, through beautiful back country roads headed toward the openness of unlimited speed limits, another foreign currency and an entirely different language. Duckweed (phonetically Czechia for Thank You) was the only word we learned and it became a running joke…. Duckweed…. Duckweed….. and the locals were appreciative of our attempts to connect. 
 
We left the comforts of a shabby Airbnb and the modest military housing and landed @ The Prague Hilton. Unbeknownst to us, one of Europes Top 15 Hotels. Sheeeeeeeesh, gosh darn and shuckydarns….. I wasn’t in Kansas anymore. Ritzy… swanky…. Posh… uptown…. OMFG …. the lobby, the rooms, the eateries, the spa, the concierge, the staff… hell even the shoe shine machine outside the elevators………. THUD… SCRAPE…. JARRING MOVEMENT brought us back to earth. As we went about gawking and unloading the A6, readying the dive into the parking garage, neither Leslie shuttling the bags or me scurrying to get out of the way of other arriving guest, seemed to see the open hatch of this 2021 vehicle. Aside from a rock chip on the front windshield from a previous driver, this car was immaculate. NOT ANYMORE…. there was an open hatch, perfect height for the low hanging,  unforgiving metal sign that I’m sure read…. Hey You In The Audi A6 Shut Your Hatch!!!!!!! 
 
But No!!!! Having flunked Spanish in HS, I certainly didn’t pick up German along the way, into the drivers seat I went, Leslie heading for check-in… Ignition… slight acceleration… and….. THUD… SCRAPE…. JARRING MOVEMENT I knew this wasn’t normal and I thought hmmmmmmm I’m sure Leslie shut the hatch… then I thought it was mine to shut and I didn’t… After watching Days Of Thunder with Tom Cruise and that notorious entail car race scene… I’ve always taken the full insurance on cars. (Debate this with me over a beer sometime) We’ll this time I was glad I did. Right on the soft 90 degree corner of the OPENED hatch lid, was a new metallic white scratch, .5” tall and a proud 6” wide… nope not paint that could be buffed out, believed me I tried, actual light scraping of original black paint. Needless to say I was thankful for the coverage. 
 
Coverage….. $1,000 deductible coverage…. Black car…. Small-ish blemish like scrape… right on a corner…. Yep you guessed it… an artists’ black permanent marker blended in flawlessly. Shake your head… roll your eyes…. Or high five… what’s done is done.. when I dropped off the car, nothing was said, nothing was seen and all was good in the universe. Aside from the three mysterious upcharges when I rented it initially. So karma is settled.. 
 
Prague day one was evening by the time we got unpacked and slightly rested. So we hailed a Hilton tow car which took us into another dimension of time and architectural marvels. The Old Prague Town Square was a bipolar express of sights. The Astronomy Clock, tall steeples, rooftop eateries, thousands of wanderers scurrying for that laste minute Christmas gift and the HIGH END JIMMY CHOO, BULGARIA, HARD ROCK CAFE, CHANEL, DIOR & GUCCI enveloped the less than fortunate homeless ones distributed about the center square.. 
 
Let us pause for a moment and welcome you to Europe. So far in Germany and now Prague, being homeless isn’t a crime but panhandling and giving to a homeless will get you a healthy fine. Fine be damned I gave a 5€ bill to one of these guys and he looked around quickly before taking it with an appreciation I felt as I walked away. Other things about Europe that was different…. Ready? Truckers can only use the far right lane and the far left lane is an understood PASSING LANE. WHAAAAAT. I know crazy concept. Ok another difference… no seassoning or spices to speak of in food…. Very conservative taste buds.  Back to Prague. 
 
With a vax card QR code thingy and accompanying ID you could get into anywhere. Without, you were relegated to window whopping and eating out of the walk up food stands. We were glad we had both. The eateries were amazingly placed and funky to say the least. One rooftop bier stop would seat 13 people at a time, slam your Pilsner and snap a photo and you were on your way. Another was in a basement setting, too secret handshake to get in, no photos and arrogance spilled over with everyone in the spot…. Needless to say… we didn’t stay. 
 
A frigid 21 degrees met our exposed face parts with a bitter….Wilkkomen to Europe. Everyone wrapped in their parkas (far more fanciful than the parkas of the late 70’s)…. Ladies had actual fur full length coats, guys with their Eskimo mucklucks and hats…. We were warm, but not as toasty as the locals.. for sure. 
 
When we return back to the room we had an updated message from Pat, our amazing dog sitter / house sitter friend. She’d been giving regular updates on home, Domino & Joey as well as the weather. Dom & I have been hanging out for 15.5 years. Adventures,  countless miles, more than a few antics and 6 states. When Leslie & I got together it made for a foursome that just fit immediately. Joey (her 5 year old Aussie Shepard Labradoodle mix) made the transition seamless. These two became truly bff’s on the first day. 
 
Domino, aged and wise has had a few hardships along the way. Age can also be a cruel life companion that we can’t control. As we had known of a heart murmur and aging skeletal structure we knew that any chasing of a rabbit or playing ball could be his last. Born and initially raised in Montana, he loved his frolicking with snow, swimming in the frigid lakes of Montana and other bodies of water…throughout our travels. He’d cuddle with ya, he’d smile as we’d take on another stretch of countless beaches and he’d chill with ya as we’d collectively watch some movie…. And yes… he’d watch intently, especially the animal scenes.
 
Well Pat had started to become concerned about his mobility and lethargy. She’s well versed in dog sitting, so her observations from 5,000 miles away were valued and priceless. We thought it best to reach out to our friend / neighbor / retired vet Bruce and have him go over to see firsthand what was the latest with our old friend. He did, and the prognosis wasn’t good. Weakened structurally from his age and past ailments, lethargy, irregular eating…. 
 
I’ve always been a QUALITY OVER QUANTITY kinda guy…. Three years ago when a vet on Friday Harbor told me about his murmur and suggestive a cardiologist and meds…. I strongly disagreed and said…. Quality over Quantity… well his last three years have been full of smiles, new bff’s an amazing Mom in Leslie and wide open spaces for his elder body to freely gallop about. Bruce suggested that we make plans to put Domino to rest….. still tearful words to speak / think or type. 
 
CJ, a dear friend of our, basically a guy about everything for us around the property stepped in and has built a beautiful resting box, lined it with Dom’s favorite bedding and will dig a large hole out in the large garden for a final spot for our BFF…. He’s an anchor for me throughout some difficult moments over these last 15+ years, he’s an unconditional loving friend and a benchmark of all other dogs throughout my life. He’ll be missed, he’s loved and he’s in my heart.. 
 
So with a heavy heart and coaxing from Pat, Bruce, CJ and others we carry onto to the next leg of this trip. Heart hurt and forever changed..