Ok, I hesitate to write this as it only serves to highlight my stupidity, but in the interest in of full disclosure I must share the details.
The day started out perfectly. We ate packed up our things at the Sheraton Offenbach (yes, I used points...free room!) and headed over to McRent (McRent? why do I find that hysterical?) to pick up our camper. Great bunch of people over there. Normally you can't pick up your camper till 3pm, but it was ready at noon. We watched a 20 minute DVD on how to operate all the bells and switches. It's a monster! I'll have pics when I have a bit more time to get them into the blog. It's 27ft long. We also were pleasantly surprised to find that it had air conditioning in the cabin when you are stopped and on 240V power. Whoo Hoo! No one hates to be hot more than I and truthfully, I was a bit worried about the heat. Also, it has a AUX port. We had brought our ancient FM transmitter and an external speaker so our driver could sing along to full broadway musicals as we traveled the countryside. No need for those solutions. We just hooked up to the AUX port and the whole family can sing along. We can now measure our drives in musicals. For example, the trip from Prague to Budapest is 3 shows (Rent, Wicked and 1776).
For comfort you can't beat this motorhome. For maneuverability.....did I say it was comfortable? It's big and that makes for some harrowing maneuvers at times, but we've survived so far. Good stories to be shared at another time.
We drive off the camper lot and down the street. Frederick proceeds to stall the engine at the first light. It's a standard and if you haven't done it in awhile, I guess you have to get your legs under you again. (Not that I would know, my coordination skills prohibit me from driving a stick). I have to say he has been an amazing driver. More testament to that later as well.
So, we drive over to the hotel and load our stuff. The hotel is up on a bit of an incline and has a very tight oval drive. We decided against bringing the beast up the drive and left it at the curb. No need to test our turning radius just yet. We loaded up our things on the luggage carts and rolled them down the 100ft to our camper. While we were getting the camper, Alex was back at the hotel doing whatever 14 year old boys do on the internet, using my big Dell Vostro computer. (We have our netbook and Frederick's computer, but mine is "awesome", so the boy says.) We loaded up the camper and proceeded to head over to the best equivalent that Germany has to Target to load up on supplies. I'll save the details for a post on the comparative strengths and weaknesses of shopping in Germany and Slovakia. We had a quick lunch at the cart outside (Picture carts in front of Home Depot) Our group had gyros, hot dogs and cheeseburgers. Quite yummy. Alex got to practice some German. The vendor spoke English but was happy to indulge Alex in his German. We picked up supplies and loaded up the camper. The plan was to head to Nurnberg for a shakedown of how to set up camp. Nurnberg is about 2 hours east.
About 1 hour into our journey, my thought is to grab my laptop and knock out some more work. Laptop....laptop......where is the laptop? Alex was using it at the hotel and I saw him pack it up. The rest is blurry. I hopped up and looked in the camper and didn't see it. I couldn't remember putting the laptop in the camper. Alex said he sat it on the bed and told me it was there. OH MY GOD. It might as well be Armageddon. We continue to drive and I call the hotel to see if they have it. They say no one has turned one in. We decide to head back to Offenbach. To do so we get off the autobahn and get our first taste of how big the camper is. The GPS wants to send us through an underpass that we can't negotiate. A few course corrections later and we are driving back to Frankfurt. I called the hotel back to ask for the manager. They tell me no one has checked into 419 but they will go up and check again. They want me to call back in 10 minutes. As you can imagine my stomach is in full acid attack. It's about 2 notches down from when we lost Alex for 5 minutes when he was 4 years old at the San Antonio riverwalk. I told Alex not to worry, and not feel bad, this was not his fault. It's my responsibility to know where my stuff is, not his. All scenarios are running through my mind. I have remote access on my netbook, but I don't have a full version of office and certainly not the tools to do the reports I need to do. When was the last time I backed up? Do I have to re run everything I ran before I left? Ah, I finished 3 reports on the plane..have to do those again. Can Frederick pull down a 2003 version of excel as 2007 will add much time to my work. Oh Sigh. Say nothing of the cost for me to replace it. (After just having to spent $2,800 to replace the air conditioner at the house the day before we left, that would have been a kick in the .....ahh painful).
I call back, no laptop....chambermaid is off her shift...can you call her?....she doesn't have a phone......"our chambermaids are very honest" "we've looked everywhere". That's the reality, it's gone. All this time we had been driving back to Frankfurt/Offenbach, but there is no need to continue. Nurnberg is too far away, so we decide to stop at the closest campsite to where we are. We have a DVD of all the Europe campsites so we pull up a map and pick a spot. It's pretty crowded and right by a lake. We get a sense of how big our motorhome is compared to the others when everyone stops and stares as we drive in. (This will now happen all the time, I just pretend we are rockstars) The caretaker is out on the lake so we must wait for him to return. This requires moving the motorhome several times to let others pass. Finally he returns and directs us to spot. Nice spot, we hook up the electricity...but this site has no WIFI! We picked all our sites to have WIFI. So, I can do nothing. I can't begin to work on the problem. I need access to do anything. This is how the world was 20 years ago. I'm not prepared to go back.
I decide to take a walk to check out the facilities and clear my head. It will be 24 hours before I can do anything. I think about drinking. That will get me through the night. I decide the hangover isn't worth it. I took stock of my blessings. My family is healthy, I have a great job I love, I love my house and my life in Dallas. I'm in Europe. This is just a problem to solve. A big one, but I can do it. St. Jude, help me out of this one. (I've been keeping him busy lately)
As I'm walking back to the campsite I see Frederick and Alex walking up the road. Their are faces trying to contain what looked to be smiles...yes smiles. Alex runs ahead to meet me....hey...guess what we found? Ah.....sweet sigh of pure relief. What a feeling. (Yes, Flashdance was running through my head and I did the maniac dance) The laptop was in 1 of the 30 closed cubbies in the motorhome. I've thought of this 100 times since and I can't recall putting it there. No one else did either. I must have, but I can't bring the picture to my mind.
So, we decide to skip Nurnberg altogether, get up early and head straight to Prague. It's a bit farther than we wanted to drive, but it works. We just need to be in town by 7PM for our Segway tour.
They say things happen for a reason. This happened to teach me a little lesson. I have no more currency to spend on worry this vacation. My patience has been infinitely expanded. I have been saved from the silicone gallows. The rest of this is going to be a breeze.
From my "Workstation in Budapest"