Readers who followed my hike of the USA will recall that the oddest thing to happen to me over those seven months (and that's saying something, given the number of wacky adventures I had) was that my hair turned blonde due to being outside in the sun for about ten hours a day or so. What might be even weirder, though, is that by now, any hair that was exposed to the sun during my hike has certainly been guillotiened by my barber, but lo and behold, I'm still blonder than I am before the hike even though I haven't been spending any more time than usual outside over the last few months. Um, any theories here folks?
To perpetuate a dumb stereotype, I even had a blonde moment during my trip to France last week. At some point my credit card went completely AWOL and I have no clue how, where, or why. That marred what was otherwise a great, if at times grueling trip from Vienna to Germany, Switzerland, and France, which included a highly successful birding trip to Provence and the Camargue in France with my friend Jeff. I saw 13 new species including long sought-after European specialties such as European Roller and European Bee-Eater, not to mention the symbol of the Camargue, the Greater Flamingo. Heading there and back, I managed to see other friends in Strasbourg and Geneva, work in two productive business meetings in Switzerland, and conduct some genealogy research in the Black Forest in Germany.
All in all, a great trip, but as I was either driving or on trains for an average of 7 hours a day, each day, I am very glad to be back in Vienna. Not that this is an oasis of serenity by any means, though. A severe thunderstorm that passed through town last evening caused a mandatory evacuation of the outdoor screening area where 70,000 people were watching Germany's exciting 3-2 victory over Turkey in the semifinals of the European Soccer Championships. Also, even though the game was played in Switzerland, the worldwide TV transmission for the game was coordinated out of Vienna, and that was knocked out by the storm during the second half just before the deciding goals were scored. Oops.
Next up for the Danube Dispatcher: making headway on the outline for the book on my family's history, lots of triathlon training, and finally getting into the apartment that I bought two months ago, hopefully within two weeks time.