Tag Archives: Bavaria

Happy Trails, Part 22

INTERSTATE 64, W. Va. — This might be one of the most beautiful stretches of interstate highway in the United States of America.

It reminds me of driving through Bavaria in southern Germany, which my wife and I were able to do this past September. Lush mountains tower over the roadway, which crosses many substantial rivers.

But I noticed something while blazing along the highway through West Virginia and neighboring Virginia that I want to mention here.

Many miles of interstate highway in both states — as well as in Tennessee and Kentucky — are named in memory of individuals. All of the signs we noticed identified the honorees as males. Many of the signs contained ranks next to the names: sergeant, deputy, sergeant major, trooper, officer, lieutenant, captain, Medal of Honor recipient, etc. You get the idea, right?

I was struck also by the belief that each of those names has a story. The “memorial bridge” or “memorial highway” is named in honor of someone who likely died in the line of duty or in service to the country.

The question I posed to my wife was this: Why not erect plaques near the sign identifying the right-of-way that tells us the story behind the name?

I’m not necessarily interested in knowing the details of how the individual died. But they have a story of their public service that might be interested in telling.

Who would stop and read such signage? I might.

Indeed, I once wrote a story for NewsChannel 10.com about the vast array of historical markers scattered throughout Texas and I interviewed a fellow named Michael Grauer, who is an official with the Panhandle/Plains Historical Museum in Canyon. Grauer identified himself as an avid “historical marker reader.” He said whenever it’s remotely possible he’ll stop while traveling and read about a marker that commemorates a historical event that happened near where it’s posted along a Texas highway.

I doubt anyone in authority in these states that honor the individuals will take this suggestion seriously. There might not be money in states’ budgets to pay for plaques telling the honorees’ stories. Location might be an issue.

As we continue to wind our way across the country, though, ideas like this seem worth the effort to pass along.

Not everyone is as friendly as they need to be


BAMBERG, Germany — Our friend Alena warned us about it.

We kind of laughed it off. Then it more or less came true: the realization that some folks might actually be inherently rude.

She spoke of the residents of the Franconia region of Bavaria in southern Germany. Alena described them as curt, not very friendly or open.

We came to Bamberg to do some shopping and sightseeing in a lovely city that was virtually untouched by the ravages of World War II.

Nuremberg was all but destroyed by Allied bombing, as were many major cities throughout Germany. Dresden? Berlin? Cologne?

Bamberg was saved from that destruction. Thus, the architecture throughout the city is “original,” according to Alena’s husband, Martin.

So, we walked into a department store. We shopped for some items. After we finished, we were walking out. A woman behind us apparently muttered something as she sought to get past us.

We moved to the side, allowing the woman to scurry out of the store into the sunshine. She said something that Alena overheard.

“I told you about the people of Franconia, right?” Alena said. “That lady was one of them,” she added, referring to the woman who had just scooted by us.

“Really?” I asked. “Did she say something?”

Yes, Alena said. I asked, what was it?

“She said ‘Thank you … finally,'” Alena responded.

Why, I never …

We laughed it off. Earlier in the day, our hosts had joked that my wife and I had brought an “aura” with us that made many of the customer service employees we had encountered extra friendly.

I’ll take all the credit we deserve for that bit of cheer.

As for the woman who mumbled something we likely weren’t supposed to hear as she hurried past us, I’ll just presume she was having a bad day.