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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Car Trip (07/18/05)

TITLE: Road Trip to Austria


Road Trip to Austria

I’m an Ohioan, born and bred, a woman who in her teens and early twenties didn’t travel much further from her home than to the next county, and that took all of 20 minutes. That all changed when I met my husband in 1970. I year later we were married and with his military and civilian careers, we began traveling to many parts of the U.S and Europe.

Nothing prepared me for the trip we made to Salzburg, Germany in 1989. Having just arrived in the western part of Germany a week earlier, we were “shell shocked” to the new environment and doing our best to adjust. I thank God that my husband was born in Germany and understood most of the language and customs. We had barely unpacked our clothes and a few household items in a newly found hotel when Roy’s commander told us that a business trip to southern Germany and Austria would be on the agenda.

We had about a day, if that, to prepare for the trip. All we owned stayed behind in that small hotel, where we had just begun to feel comfortable.

It was a cloudy but brisk day when we left. My husband and I pulled out of the hotel around 6:30 in the morning and as we drove up to the starting point, a local gas station, light snow began to fall. About six other cars with families inside greeted us. We all got out of our cars and talked about the trip. There was excitement and optimism in the air; all of us eager to make the trip. But, there was an ominous moment at the gas station that gave me a “heads up” on what was to follow.

The head man, the one in charge of the trip, was having trouble understanding the map. He turned it to the right, to the left, upside down, right side up—scratching his bald head as he grimaced his face in curious gyrations. Seconds later, he cried, “Of course, this is so simple…we’ll simply stay on the autobahn until we reach Exit 42 and then drive straight into Salzburg.” Everyone seemed accepting of this except my husband and me. (In my mind, there something comical but foreboding about the words displayed on the hat he was wearing….The words read, “Don’t ask, just go!”)

The trip started off positive, with the lead car going at a fair pace but that soon changed. It wasn’t long before the lead car began speeding at lightning pace, leaving the rest of us behind, eating his dust. Just as quickly, many of the cars followed his lead, trying to catch up with him. About an hour later the lead car and several others behind, sped off the autobahn and went in a direction that totally confounded my husband and me. My husband pulled over, got off of the autobahn and reached for the map. I’ve never seen him look so confused or mad.

We both looked at the map, and instantly knew that we were lost! Lost in a country we knew little about, with temperatures falling, night approaching and a destination, we knew not where.

After struggling with the map, we finally got on track. It was only by the grace of God we finally arrived at our destination, late by about two hours. Even though we were the last couple to arrive, I think we appreciated the beauty and the opportunity to be there, more. I believe it was the struggling that made our arrival so satisfying and beautiful. By the time we approached Salzburg, it was dark, snowing heavily and our stomachs were growling for food. As we rounded the road, approaching small town of Salzburg, all of the struggle and anger dissolved as we saw the most beautiful sight we had ever seen---the mountains of Austria! Snow capped, they reached high into the sky, as if shouting, “Look at us, for we are close to Heaven!”

As we drove further into the town, our eyes were treated with small, cozy old-fashioned stores, people strolling along on the sidewalk, and a hotel that made our weary hearts, happy. If I live to be a 100, I will never forget how good it felt to see that hotel! It was tall, grand, and old but with grace and beauty that gave us both comfort and joy.

That horrifying road trip turned into wonderment and joy!

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Member Comments
Member Date
Nina Phillips07/27/05
You are definitly the adventurous kind. Thank you for sharing your un-forgotten trip to Austria. God bless ya, littlelight
Paul Mobley07/27/05
I could visualize the trip, picture words ! Good writing.
Beth Muehlhausen07/30/05
It seems your lesson could apply to many circumstances: "I believe it was the struggling that made our arrival so satisfying and beautiful."
Tom Zart11/07/05
I read your works their great.
Tom Zart author of Christmas Love Song
and Love War And More
225 poems out soon by Publish America.

The Westport Poet
Author of Love War And More
225poems publish by Publish America;

It's appropriate and symbolic that the romantic poet Tom Zart was born on Valentines Day in Topeka, Kansas in 1945. His youth confronted adulthood many times by working on the family farm or helping his parents in their business. In the early fifties family roots were planted in the famous Plaza section of Kansas City which was walking distance to nearby Westport. He lived there for six months of the year then went to work on their 140-acre Bonner Springs farm the other six months. It was a learning experience that proved invaluable to The Westport Poet.
Westport is a historic section of Kansas City, Missouri renown for its modern nightlife and shops and its noble past as a trading post, a transportation hub and a civil war battle. It was in Westport, amid the war memorial plaques, the fountains and nature that Tom wrote his first poem, Thunder In The Ground, a civil war ode to the men who died in the war. His inspiration came from an inscription on a civil war memorial.
Zart's poetic endeavors soon began to proliferate along with his subject matter. Tom, an addicted romantic, and history buff, began writing poems about love, religion and patriotism. His early inspirations came while working at the railroad for 30 years. Zart would utilize his time on those long railroad trips gleaning all that he could from his senses: the haunting sound of the train, its whistle and the long hours gazing out at the sunset and the pastoral settings fleeting by, of farmhouses and cities whose inhabitants he would never know.
He took notes of his coworker's experiences, especially the veterans who told their stories of the horror of war and their sacrifice in World War II, Korea, and especially, Viet Nam.
The Westport Poet lived vicariously in their spirit and told their stories in his poems. Tom Zart, who has a distinctive God given vocal talent, would recite his stories and poems at various social events and bistros around the Westport area. His audience was always enthralled and he soon was in demand and they named him-The Westport Poet.
His abilities have not gone without notice. He has been published by numerous magazines and his poems were featured weekly in over 215 newspapers across our country with an estimated readership of 6 ½ million for approximately 5 years. Tom has performed his poems live on radio shows from New York to California.

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