Fancy some troubleshooting?
A holiday trip is not always comparable to a break in paradise. Sometimes a bit of troubleshooting is called for. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a flat tire. Sometimes a trip is more like an obstacle race. From bad weather, headaches, human friction to small breakdowns of all kinds, everything can be there. How big the frustration is at the end also depends on the expectations that are placed on a trip. It makes a difference whether you expect a dream holiday with “only the best for me” setting or whether you tend to have the basic attitude “let’s see what comes next”. The latter is a good prerequisite for recognizing the difficulties of a trip as a gain in experience. In this sense, I can say that I got a little richer again last summer… 😉
Last summer, my travel friend and I went to France, more precisely to the Vosges, and encountering this beautiful spot was actually the beginning of a wonderful Franco-German friendship. (Maybe I should finally learn the language after all…)
However, slowed down by adverse circumstances, we first got stranded in a rural parking lot near Karlsruhe, where we couldn’t continue for two days. During the first evening walk we already saw the deep gray wall of rain, which was threateningly and unstoppably pushed in our direction. The accumulated water masses soon discharged themselves.
Well, such a weather situation may not be a problem for a mobile home. Staying almost exclusively in a Kangoo mini camper for two days is rather borderline. We do not have a shortage of water and food, there is also a toilet on board and the capacity of my power bank guarantees that my cell phone is always charged. But the range of activities does not offer many options. Actually, all that remains is to stay in bed comfortably and without a guilty conscience and read while the rain is pattering on the car roof. Unforgettable the look of my dog who asks me: “Why are we doing this now?” I answer: “Because otherwise I would have to do my taxes and clean my house!”
After all, we have everything we need. Only Mowgli’s raincoat is still hanging in the wardrobe at home. And so after the inevitable walks, there is an intense smell with the scent “wet dog” in the air.
But I know now: we can get by with 10 liters of water for about two days…
You can’t run away from yourself. Wherever you go, you take yourself with you. Maybe the rain cloud that followed us to Alsace wanted to convey exactly this message, who knows…
Anyway, we made it to Kruth on a fine campsite in the mountains at a small reservoir.
When it wasn’t raining (so much), we circled the reservoir or went on a small mountain hike. On such hikes, Mowgli is on a hiking leash that I wear around my stomach like a belt. So I have my hands free. We are a well-rehearsed team and can handle rocky and steep paths. Mowgli knows he mustn’t swerve and will wait if I can’t follow quickly. He then looks around at me and assesses the situation. On my commands “Wait!” and further!” he reacts perfectly.
He is patience personified as I push myself up the mountain like a steamroller, rather unfit. My travel friend, however, has long been out of sight. While she has breakfast all the way around the mountain in record time, we take a shortcut and prefer to sit on a bench for a while, take a deep breath of the aromatic air and listen to the little birds.
How to pull the elastic cord through the tent pole
A fiberglass tent pole has its limits when it comes to durability. If it breaks, it looks like a catastrophe at first. One way to repair the damage is to wrap the bar in good old duct tape. That had worked extremely well and for a long time on my trip to Rügen last year. Better yet, buy a repair kit with new poles and a bungee cord and replace the broken section.
But have you ever tried to pull the bungee cord through the tube of the fiberglass pole? You can’t stuff it in – there’s no chance that the rubber will come out at the other end! I don’t know how the pros do it, but if you have any sewing experience, you know how to pull elastic through a drawstring waist with a safety pin. A safety pin is too wide for the tent pole. Take a sufficiently strong and long wire, push it into the tube so that it peeks out at the other end, bend the end into a loop to which you attach the elastic cord and pull the wire with the elastic on the hook out again. The rubber cord is now in the tent pole. Don’t forget to knot the ends well!
After so much rain, the question arises: where to put all the wet stuff? Wet shoes, wet clothes, wet dog harness, damp pillow… The solution looked something like this:
Unfortunately, the success was only temporary, especially since water bumps kept forming on the tent and it soon dripped through.
As long as you regularly knock the bumps away, the problem can be contained. So I was kept busy during the day, but getting up every two hours at night to save the tent is going to be too much.
So I had bought a repair kit before the trip and replaced the broken pole. I had to saw off the new rod because it was too long. In order not to get into the situation of having to glue a pole again, I immediately packed another one of the right length, complete with “repair wire” and rubber cord.
So my shock was limited when I climbed out of the car into the awning in the morning after a night of heavy rain and it took me a few minutes to understand why the tent was hanging so crooked…
The repair wasn’t a problem, I was well prepared. However, I highly recommend putting on gloves when handling a splintered fiberglass pole. The tiny splinters are like cactus spines that lodge almost undetectably under the skin. It took me a long time to get rid of them.
Is the dog well secured in the car?
After days of rainy weather you can be a bit annoyed. Wet clothes that don’t dry properly, muddy shoes, damp dog fur… We received news from campsites that were literally flooded. And so we looked at the small stream, which actually meandered beautifully through the meadow of the campsite, with suspicion. Did the water level rise? Would the creek burst its banks?
We decided to break up the tents and go to a higher place. Our new destination was called La Bresse in the High Vosges. The drive there was so winding that Mowgli tried everything to be close to me. He usually lies quietly and buckled up on his dog mat in the trunk. I don’t have room for a dog box in the Mowglimobil, because then the whole setting would no longer work. Mowgli is therefore secured with several straps that are attached to his harness with carabiners. However, the weak point of this method can be the harness – when you have a dog as clever and strong-willed as Mowgli.
So as the Mowglimobile wound its way up in long switchbacks, Mowgli worked his way out of his harness, talked over the back seat, and scrambled forward to climb onto my lap. No possibility to stop, no hard shoulder, mountain on the right, abyss on the left and the dog blocks the gear shift – maximum stress! You can get rough there, which Mowgli felt clearly. Finally he pulled himself into the passenger seat and pouted. It doesn’t matter, as long as we survived.
The first purchase after the holiday was therefore an escape-proof tableware – from Ruffwear* in a chic swimming pool blue.
La Bresse in the sunshine
The campsite of La Bresse is located in a ski area:
The town and its surroundings also have a lot to offer in summer. The first impression when you get there is a Tarzan-like roar that repeats at regular time intervals: here daredevils zoom down a zip line right at the campsite. – But maybe a climbing park is thrill enough. You can also go hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, swimming in the lake (or pool)… You can find many more activities here .
You can also just lie lazily in the sun. Meanwhile, all the soaked clothes and the bedding are finally drying.
On another sunny day we hike through the forest to La Bresse, sit comfortably in a sidewalk café and don’t forget to buy baguettes and cherries.
Not very far from the campsite is Lac des Corbeaux, which can be reached and completely circumnavigated after a beautiful and not too strenuous walk in the forest.
The way back takes us past a fairytale pond.
It’s just beautiful here. We spend our days hiking, lounging, eating baguettes and cherries or chatting with friendly people. We always do what we feel like doing, carefree. Mowgli gets a visit from fans every day, as some children have fallen in love with him and regularly stop by and politely ask if they can pet him. (I know enough French to understand what they want. 🙂 ) There is even jealousy between them, as if one has a privilege because one discovered it first. Mowgli doesn’t care, he enjoys the children’s hands rummaging through his soft fur.
I listen to some French neighbors ranting about politics. Although I can only understand the names of politicians, the energetic tone of voice and the decisive gestures tell me that you have a strong opinion.
In the evenings, I walk across the campsite with Mowgli and enjoy the picture of a young couple sitting in front of their camper van with a chain of colorful lights, singing to the guitar. Peace.
While I’m later pondering all the things you learn while camping – such as the art of using every little space, or creative problem-solving with the simplest means, or the joy of every ray of sunshine – the news reports of an approaching storm in the next few days . In Italy, thick hailstones are said to have paralyzed traffic and dented cars, while torrential rain is expected elsewhere.
The travel friend has already left, I don’t feel like rain anymore and dents in the Mowglimobil would bother me a lot. So I pitch the tent too.
I drive a breathtakingly beautiful route through the Vosges in the direction of Münstertal and pay a visit to the village of Günsbach. Günsbach is the home of Dr. Albert Schweitzer and is therefore a special place for me. I’ll write about that in a later post. The main thing that has changed since my last visit is that the Albert Schweitzer House has had an extension. Is it still possible to stay overnight in the old vicarage? Someday I will come back and find out…
My travel souvenir
A proper trip also includes taking a souvenir home with you. I especially love the souvenirs that I “looted” in India: small wooden elephants, several magnificent salwar kameez, ikat fabrics, bracelets…
This time, however, my souvenir is immaterial. I don’t even have a lot of photos with me, but I do have the realization that everything I encounter depends on the right mindset. External circumstances are what they are, but how I react to them and what I make of them makes me richer or poorer, depending on the situation. Or to put it another way: you grow from difficulties . But only if you face them. With this attitude you can also gain something from a rainy and not so perfect trip.