I recuperated quickly from my nightmare getting to the Steigenberger Airport Hotel, and subsequently passed a night of Cloud Nine luxury. Lily fed me, and I had a badly needed shower. You should’ve seen the water run black from washing my hair! Not to mention my dirty clothes. And there was a bed with snowy white sheets, big enough for my 190 centimeters – and Lily too! In the morning I used her pump to fix my flat tire, and somehow we found a much easier way back to the campsite. Maybe it was because it was during the day, but it probably had more to do with Lily’s superior navigating skills.

Back at camp, I began preparing for a birthday feast the next day.

There was an Aldi in Neu Isenburg, a couple kilometers out of the forest, so I went and splurged. I spared no expense on all the cheap-ass Aldi food I desired – it was my 30th birthday! I also noticed their dumpster was just sitting there, not behind any fence or anything, so after they closed we went back with some empty bags, and freed a ton of other great food. Some of the goodies included still-fresh strawberries and cream cheese, which turned into a delcious breakfast spread thing; some proscuitto and eggs which I made into a freegan omelette that Lily could actually eat; and what do you know, a kilo of sugar and a bag of pasta with damaged packaging, two of the exact same items which not three hours ago I had paid money for! The dumpster fairy teaching lessons again….

In the morning, Lily got up early, but she let me sleep in as long as I wanted. Sweetie. And when I finally rose to greet the rest of my life, the most beautiful hobo bike babe in the world was happily lounging, writing letters in the dappled forest sunlight. Aah, good morning…! But before I could tackle her, she pointed out a piece of paper on the ground and said with a shrug, “A forest elf dropped by and left that for you.” The note said “Follow the yellow brick road” in familiar handwriting…. Ahead I could see a spot of yellow amidst the carpet of fallen leaves. What’s this now? I walked over and realized it was a lemon! And ahead, another lemon, and another…. It was like a treasure hunt, with cute notes along the way accompanying the lemons; a little bag of sugar, a little bottle of water, and at the end, a fresh glass of lemonade, and a collage commemeration of our first date in Amsterdam. What a great way to wake up on your birthday!

I’ve been saying for many years now that “When I reach thirty years of age, I’m going to start practicing gymnastics.” I always wanted to be a ninja, and I guess I was also planning ahead for a mid-life crisis – something to make me feel young again. I was sort of already taking care of that mid-life re-invention thing, with a bike tour of the entire world… and I feel younger than ever, although that morning, after the yellow brick road, I did sort of, uhm, hurt my back, making love on the forest floor…. Heh. I guess I’m not so young anymore, after all! So I didn’t exactly start doing handsprings and pike flips that first day, but I was serious about the gymnastics(maybe not so much about being a ninja) and I did start a regimen of flexibility and upper body strength, which does count as practicing gymnastics. Yes it does!

We spent the day in hobo luxury, eating dumpstered delicacies and lounging in the perfect Spring weather at our wildcamped itinerate home. And of course there were bikes! First we had a repair session, bikes upside down on the leaves. Lily removed a link from her chain and re-tightened it – she’s really dedicated to learning bikes. After a little tune-up we went for a ride, exploring the huge network of forest paths until we came to a wonderfully quaint little beergarden/restaurant in the woods. Dinner time! Lots of beer, and I tried to order German sausages, but it turns out Frankfurter, at least on that menu, is like a big chunk of ham, not a sausage at all. Lots of beer, anyway…. After dark, Lily treated me to an amazing fire poi spectacle, twisting and gyrating and sweating as the two fireballs traced elegant patterns across the shadows. Gorgeous woman + fire = quite a hot show! When the ethanol ran out, we drunkenly pedaled back to camp, laughing through the dark forest with one headlight between us. We polished off the night with red wine, a blazing campfire, and a continuation of our rustic feast; and in the morning, our grand Danube adventure would truly begin.

A birthday to remember!

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