Saturday, October 31, 2015

Day 79: Cross Country Halloween

Chris woke up early today (early for us) and went for a run with Tim. He was able to get a feel for the neighbourhood and see how beautiful this countryside is. Out here is very different from the city and it's really nice to be able to run in such a beautiful area straight from your door.

Tim and Annie (left), One of the many Windmills (middle), Chris and Annie (right)
Photos by Chris and Tim

The oldest daughter in the family has a cross country race today (the European finals) and was out the door to meet up with her teammates for the long day ahead. The rest of us took a lazy morning approach. Breakfast (we're excited because, as a family of 6, there is a lot of cereal to choose from!), getting dressed, and relaxed conversations.

100 MPH
After breakfast, we pile into two cars (we're nine people without the oldest daughter), and head out to the autobahn. On the way to the cross country race, we make a stop at Burg Lichtenberg. There are a few awesome facts about this castle. First, it is open to the public for no fee. We park and walk right through. Second, for better or for worse (of the well being of the castle), we are able to climb on the ruins. The kids had a BALL running around, climbing into the windows, and exploring all around. Third, you can climb the tower to get beautiful overhead views, without having to walk up 900 steps. It's only 2-3 flights of stairs, easy peasy!

And the views do not disappoint. The castle ruins, the grounds, the views. All beautiful.

The kids had a great time at Burg Lichtenberg, but it was time to head out. Back to the autobahn and on our way to the location of the cross country meet (a golf course). We arrived just in time to see the boys race line-up and start. Perfect!

The 5K course looped around the golf course 2.5 times, so we spectators could run from side to side to see the start, the middle, back to the start, etc. It was fun to see the friends and families of the runners so excited for their kids, cheering them on with great enthusiasm (I think some may be a little hoarse after today), and running back and forth to catch glimpses of their kids and fellow team members. Side note: these kids are fast! In the 15 minute range for their 5K!

After the start, a few spectators were asked to pull up the stakes from the starting line to help close the gap for the continuing lap. Chris helped for the boys race and I helped for the girls race. Yay us!

There were a few schools there offering food, snacks, and drinks. We even got served by Tigger at one of them (it is Halloween, afterall). Oh, and they take U.S. dollars, but thank goodness they also take Euros as we don't have any dollars. This brings me to one of the interesting things about the races. There was so much native-English spoken (most people were speaking English). I hadn't realised how much I have learned to tune out the conversations around me due to the fact that I can't understand what they're saying. But now, I'm back to eavesdropping, as I can understand all the conversations around me. Perk or not?

After the boys race, there is a bit of down time before the girls start. I'm not sure how they do it, all that waiting in the cold. There are a lot of girls hopping and jogging about, keeping muscles loose and warm. Us spectators aren't as bouncy, so we're a bit colder, I suppose. Darn weather, it was supposed to be warmer and sunnier today!

And, finally, it's the girls' race-time.

The start of the girls' race (top)
Holly in fourth (left, middle, right)

Holly did amazing. She came in fourth in all of Europe (and that's including all the divisions), if I'm understanding all the rules correctly. If you take out the two girls who are in a different division, she really came in second. Her team, did come in first in their division. It was a lot of fun to see her race, be a part of the sports atmosphere, and to see her get her awards. Side note: The results were supposed to be done at 2:15... however, it was closer to 4pm. So, we were all a bit frozen by the time we left. But it was a good day with friends and it was fun to get a glimpse of what their weekends are like (next weekend they are off to Amsterdam for another daughter's Irish Dancing competition).
On the way home, the car I'm in (the boys and me) makes a quick stop to pick up some döner for dinner. Yum! The car Venice is in (the girls) head to the airforce base to pick up runner-Holly. So, döner for us and Cinnabon for Venice (yes, THE Cinnabon!) Now I don't feel as guilty that we didn't get Venice her own food!

It is now time to get ready for Halloween. The kids dash off to get dressed. The adults get dressed.... and what the heck? My costume from Oktoberfest is too tight. How the heck did that happen? I swear. I think it's because I wash and dried it (I'm sticking to this explanation). And on top of a tight fit, I forgot to bring the pink ribbon that ties it all together (helping to take the stress off the zipper). When in dire straights, one must be creative, thus, I used dental floss to tie myself together.

Venice's pumpkin (top) and Xander's pumpkin (bottom)
With our Canadian host (middle)
Chris, Diana, Tim, Kristie (left and right)

Taking two cars, we headed to the Halloween party thrown by friends of Tim and Kristie. It's in a neighbourhood similar to ours in the U.S. A lot of houses, close by, and a ton of participating "candy-homes". As we approach, it's tough to get through the streets due to the masses of crowds walking the streets looking for treats. But we make it without running anyone over (great driving skills by our hosts).

Almost as soon as we enter the party destination, the kids are off trick-or-treating... without us! This is the first time they've gone trick-or-treating without us tagging along. Nice! It helps that (other than us) there really are not cars driving around the neighbourhood. Small streets. Lots of crowds. And a great sense of safety (either due to the high density of "base"-workers in the neighbourhood, or the regular "German-safeness" we've gotten used to).

The party is wonderful. Good eats. Nice people. Welcoming conversations. A great way to feel "at home" when "far from home". Thank you to our hosts and the party hosts for taking such good care of us. I know the kids were sad to miss our traditional Halloween and, I think, this evening filled their needs and wishes beyond what we could have thought possible. Thank you.

A portion of the kids about to head out for trick-or-treating (left)
Tim and Chris (right)

And the kids come home. Check out their loot. Trade. Eat MORE than their fair share. It was a good day. A good evening.

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