Joined 8 years ago from Northern Virginia
In 1985 at the age of 21, I took a 2-week trip to Germany with my mother and father, my sister, my aunt and uncle, and a family friend who was known for his sharp wit. We traveled through Bavaria, seeing the mountains, forests, lakes, and castles of that beautiful land. The food of Bavaria is hearty, with lots of meat and potatoes, and I was still in the “growing boy” stage of development . Every meal was a joyful event as the waiters would set before me enormous platters stacked high with chunks of roasted beef or sausages slathered in gravy next to piles of thick cut potato wedges that in the U.S. I would have called french fries. In Germany they were called by their French name - pommefrittes.
Within a few days I had established a reputation for myself among our group for attacking these platters of food and devouring them completely to the point of sopping up every last drop of gravy with my last few pommefrittes. There were plenty of jokes about how the kitchen staff must have loved me since they didn’t have to wash my dishes.
One evening as I was making a spectacle of myself by plowing through yet another platter of meat and potatoes, our friend looked over with an unbelieving shake of his head and said in a loud voice, “Well Pommefritte, are you enjoying your food?”
Everyone at the table cracked up. I came to a dead stop with a couple pommefrittes in my hand, halfway to my mouth. All I could do was look up at everyone with a sheepish grin on my face while they all had a good laugh at my expense.
Of course the name stuck. For the rest of the trip I was referred to as Pommefritte. Even my mother and sister joined in.
When I think back on that nickname now, it brings back memories of traveling - seeing gorgeous scenery and historic places, conversing and joking with family and friends, and of course, sampling the local cuisine. I believe the great adventure of life is epitomized through travel to new and exotic places, meeting interesting people, experiencing the food, the drink, the fellowship, and the culture. There is a great deal to learn about ourselves when we go to other places and get firsthand experience seeing and sometimes even living the way other people live. This is what I like to write about - my journeys - what I have seen and what nuggets of wisdom I have gained along the way.
My love of travel and adventure didn’t start in Germany. It started with cross-country car trips with my family during summer vacations as a kid. It was further fueled by camping and backpacking trips I took with friends in the Adirondack Mountains of northern New York State. Most significantly it was cemented through an extraordinary journey I took as an 18 year-old, freshly graduated from high school. The year was 1982 and my friend and I, both of us named Dave, somehow managed to convince our parents to allow us to hike the Appalachian Trail from end to end.
We found that hiking the Appalachian Trail (or AT as it is generally known) had its own special rhythm and many of our preconceived notions about it had to be adjusted. It was unlike any backpacking trip we had ever taken. We didn’t end up being perfect AT hikers - at times we strayed to explore and experience other things, but the trail was always the central thread of our journey.
The events of that journey resonate within me even 30 years later, and I feel like the things I could write about it are endless. Much of what I can tell is of a practical nature for anyone thinking of taking a similar journey or just wondering what it would be like to backpack 2000 miles over the course of 5 months. Some of what I can tell concerns the coming of age of two young men - descriptions of the experiences that taught them how to make it on their own, to persevere, and to learn about the results of their choices. All of what I can tell describes a special part of America and the people that inhabit and love it for its beauty, ruggedness, and heritage.
If you have an interest in adventure, travel, hiking, and camping, and you want some insight into planning out and taking a long distance backpacking trip, if you like reading about young people going out to seek their fortune, if you love America and all its many facets, I invite you to read these stories of the trail and two teenagers that one spring and summer 30 years ago, decided to test their mettle against it.
Thank you and enjoy ….
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