Since I am back in the US, I will start this with
happy thanksgiving everyone!!
Unfortunately Julie is back in Switzerland toiling away for the MAN! This year, as always, I am very Thankful for my wife. I truly hit the lottery jackpot, when she agreed to marry me three decades ago.
I do not have a lot of funny stories during my trip back. Things have, knock on wood, gone extremely smooth. I was a little worried after seeing the border control line when we landed in Washington. It took so long to get through customs that I only had 10 minutes to spare to catch the flight to Indianapolis. Side Note: I contend that when you enter your “home” country the customs line should be smaller than for visitors. Going through customs it was annoying that there were only two agents for all US citizens but 8 for everyone else. Especially when the line for citizens was easily three times longer than the other. I did make one fateful mistake at the Zürich Airport. Arriving at the airport early, is usually a good thing; so like a dutiful traveler three hours was the time. I made it through security in record time, and got on the train to go to the terminal. Unfortunately, in the terminal, all the bars and restaurants were closed. I really wanted to start of my trip with a cocktail or three, but instead wound up walking over three miles by pacing from one end of the terminal to the other. By the time the flight was boarding I am sure everyone else in the terminal was comparing me to a caged animal. All of that walking did make the flight go easier.
I have found it a little shocking that in the US Covid no longer appears to be a thing. No one wears a mask. I was castigated in Fleet Farm for being a sucker and wearing one, and get a lot of strange looks when I go into places wearing a mask. Even yesterday, Dad and I drove to the hardware store in Mitchell, and he asked why I was putting a mask on. It is simply habit. I always carry a mask or two now, and whenever I go anywhere. It seems so strange to me, that a simple piece of paper, cloth and plastic can be such a divisive thing.
Things I did not realize I missed until I came back
So the first thing I made George do after he picked me up at the airport was go to the White Castle Drive through. I started getting a craving for sliders at the airport in Zurich. Wow, did that little two inch square burger taste heavenly. The only disappointment was they were out of onion chips. 🙁 I have since stopped two additional times at White Castle and that will have to old me until I am back in December!
Living in the self acclaimed cheese capital of the world you would think I would not miss cheese. 🧀 Cheese itself I do not. There is a much wider assortment of fantastic cheeses available at my local grocery store than the the biggest cheese store I ever found in Wisconsin. However, cheese curds are not a thing in Switzerland. I told myself I was stopping at the first Kwik Trip in Wisconsin to buy some cheese curds. It took me seven
stops before I finally found some. That bag of golden deliciousness was every bit as good as I remembered.
There were two other things on my must have list. The first was for Julie. She always puts a caramel flavoring in her coffee every morning. After two years we finally found one store that actually sells coffee flavorings, but in typical Swiss fashion they have allowed for the scarcity in their pricing. So I needed to pick up 6 Davinci Sugar Free Caramel syrup bottles. Thanks Theresa! Julie was ecstatic when I told her about the gift!
The second thing was some underwear. Yes they have underwear in Switzerland, but I have been unable to find the style I like. I am not a fancy man. Hanes boxer briefs are perfect, and my parents thought I was a little strange for wanting to visit Walmart on my first day back just to buy some. What they did not know, was I had thrown away all but enough to get me through my first day in the US. It had been probably three or four years since I had last purchased under garments; so they were getting pretty ratty!
It felt great arriving back in the Fox Valley. I arrived early afternoon on Wednesday. My first task was to get the hunting gear out of the storage locker. I opened up the door and immediately experienced heart palpitations because almost nothing was where I thought it was. The gun safe was there, and Kaylee’s hunting clothing were right where I thought they would be, but I did not find anything else I needed in the front of the locker like I had “remembered”. Thank goodness I had my Dad track down some ammunition for us. I was positive I had put all the gun cleaning supplies, ammunition, and hearing protection on the top of the gun safe. NOPE! I have no clue where that stuff is, because I unloaded a good portion of the locker and never found it. I was able to find some of my hunting gear, but somewhere in the stacks is a box with my orange hats, coats, and most importantly boots! Thank goodness it was not very cold this year! So after failing miserably, I went to Fleet Farm and had to buy some last minute gear for hunting. (Side Note: Julie no Christmas presents for me!). I did not sleep a wink that night, because of two other items. Kaylee needed her Social Security Card, It was either in a small fire safe in the storage locker or in the safe deposit box at the bank. I THOUGHT I had left the key to the safe deposit box in the gun safe, but I did not, which means it is back in Switzerland. I also could not find the fire safe; so I convinced I had let Kaylee down.
On Thursday morning, I got up and went straight to the DMV office in Appleton. This was another thing I was convinced would not go well. I was even so concerned about renewing my license, I had called the main office in Madison and had a contact name and number in case of problems. I mean what problem could there be when I am getting an ID that specifies an address that I am no longer living? So I was full of trepidation while I was standing in line. The anxiety went to a level 10 when the man in front of me was sent home because he did not have “proof” of address while trying to do the exact same thing. I steeled my heart and got to the counter, the first question from the agent was, “Do you have proof of address?” Like the Smart A$$ I am, I replied, “Yes, but you will not be able to use it. Your system will only take a five digit zip code, and my zip code is only four digits.” This of course caused a raised eyebrow. I explained what was going on, and all she said was “OK.” In fact the whole process went easier this time, than the last two times I had to renew my license while living in Wisconsin.
Feeling that the Gods were smiling down on me, I went straight to the storage locker. Within two minutes, I found the items Kaylee needed, and some more of the hunting gear. It felt like Christmas morning!! I had set myself up for spending the entire day in frustration, and here I was finished with all my tasks by 9:30 AM. I then spent the rest of the day tracking down some of my old co-workers, went out to lunch with some, and then drove to the town of Omro so I could congratulate the new High School Principal. I had worked with Kathy for years in Winneconne. She came as a High School Science Teacher, and we worked very well together, because she loved using technology in her classroom, and when she moved to the Assistant Principal, we again worked hand in hand. Winneconne lost a good one when she moved to Omro, but the school system at Omro really hit the jackpot!
I felt strange driving into the hunting camp for the first time in three years. It felt like coming home. The Eierman Family has been so gracious for allowing me to hunt with them for the last 20 plus years. Tom is like a second father, and before I moved I spent as much time with him fixing his computers as I did with my real parents! I still have not figured out who Tom has replaced me with. 🙂 I was able to take a few shots with my gun so I knew I would hit what I aimed at, and then waited for Kaylee to arrive.
I did not have any success hunting, but honestly, shooting a deer was a tertiary consideration. I really just wanted to see my friends, and spend some time sitting in the woods! I saw deer every time I hunted so that was good it meant I could still do it. Like a good father, though, I put Kaylee where I thought she would be successful, and she had success. She even made her brother happy, by giving him half her deer! It is kind of amusing that she claims to be a better hunter. Then I remind her that I was the one who put her in the stand where SHE saw deer.
I came back to Southern Indiana on Tuesday. Driving back I had to stop and fill the truck up with fuel. I truly realized how good people in the US have it when I paid the bill. I put almost 30 gallons of gas in the truck, and it cost about $80. I did a quick conversion in my head, and realized I had put in over 100 liters of gas. In Switzerland, that same tank would have cost hundreds of dollars. I do understand how frustrating it is when prices go up. The same issue happens on the other side of the Atlantic, but I will never again complain about the high cost of fuel. It could be MUCH MIUCH worse.
I choose to not go hunting this morning, because it is pouring rain. I love hunting, but there is no reason to be miserable! I am going to end this now; so I can help my Mom finish the final preparations for the feast. I am looking forward to seeing two of my three sisters again in a few hours. I have to wait until Christmas to see the third.
I will write again when I am back home with Julie in Rüshlikon. I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving, and a magical start to the Christmas Season.