Val Ease Central Railroad by Jeffrey MacHan

The Sinsheim Chronicles: Episode 6

Dieter drives us wild! or Jeff and Terry get the runaround!

Now let me start by saying up front...Dieter is one cool dude. He is generous to a fault and tall and debonaire to make short guys like Terry and me cringe. That being said, Dieter has two loves in his life (or it appeared to be the case to me): Z scale model railroading and Suzie.

Oh, I'm sure that his wife is also on the list of loves of his life but Suzie, well Suzie is something special. Suzie is Dieter's GPS driving and mapping software in his Ford something or other. Normally I would have noted the make of car but Suzie was all I could think of. Suzie is an acronym for Computerized Directional Destination System in German. Suzie tells Dieter where to go, when to turn, how far it is to his next important driving decision...all in the most sultry and sexy female voice I have ever heard, from a car that is!

Dieter interacts with Suzie. They talk, they argue, they sulk, they make up...all in German of course but I could tell that Suzie was a very important part of Dieter's life. He explained that he enjoyed Suzie because he could tell her off and she'd just shut up. (No comment on the grounds that it might incriminate me!) Suzie doesn't always recognize where she is but she always has an opinion. Sounds pretty human to me...oops, gotta watch what I write...I'm being watched. ;-)

Well, Dieter and Suzie took Terry and me for a ride on the autobahn although under the speed of sound this time. We decided to stop for supper at a truck stop restaurant across the highway from our hotel in Bruchsal. The trick was getting to it while still buckled into a car. It was much easier to simply park and dash across the road. Dieter would have none of we went but without the expertise of Suzie since we were just going to cross the road...or so we thought!

We managed to take a driving tour of the hardware store parking lot next to the hotel followed by a mid-street three-point turn then a left turn onto the highway followed immediately by a quick left hand turn across solid white lines (which was explained to me was a big no-no in Germany) into the truck stop entryway followed by a zig-zag manouver dodging cars in the parking lot until we came to a complete stop outside the diner entrance. "Whooooooweee! Let's go back and do that again", Terry and I exclaimed. But Dieter was hungry so we dejectedly followed our new Formula 1 hero into the eatery.

Supper was surprisingly good despite the fact that none of us, including Dieter, was entirely sure what we were eating. No matter we were still buzzing from the Suzie and Dieter driving show and we knew that we still had to cross back over to the hotel before the evening was over. :-)

Following several beverages and dessert and more beverages we buckled back into the Ford with all the expectation of kids waiting for the Disney Space Mountain ride to blast off. Dieter did not disappoint...we managed to avoid being crushed by the 20 or so 18- to 24-wheeler trucks moving into the truck stop, out into the lanes of the roadway, across a solid white line while turning to our left (I don't believe this solid white line story one bit) then immediately turned right into the lane leading to the back street that would take us the short block to the hotel. Now Dieter was looking for a place to park. This was like the Indiana Jones ride!!!! Down we went into the hotel underground parking garage...around the pillars of the first corner, squeezing by with millimeters to spare a badly parked car on the second corner...hard to port to avoid colliding with the wall at the third corner and the car entering the garage...until we were back at the entrance-exit. I wanted more but Dieter had had enough and wanted out of the garage which was too small for him and Suzie. We squeezed out the exit-entrance and out into the back lane.

Where to go now to park? Unfortunately Suzie was no help so Terry and I chimed in with suggestions. It didn't take long for Dieter to realize that we were just background noise and that he would have to accomplish this mission on his own. After another deft U-turn in the intersection with a cross street, he gently pulled the car off the pavement half onto the grass median and turned off the ignition.

We could even see the hotel in the distance...I exaggerate. It was only about 100 feet to the hotel where we picked up our key, established that we would meet in the dining area at 7am the next morning, giving us enough time to catch the shuttle bus to Sinsheim at 7:45am and then gratefully thanked Dieter for an exciting ride home and bade him happy dreams of Suzie. ;-)

With Z friends and neighbours like Dieter at this train show, we were bound to have one whale of a good time! We couldn't wait for the next morning. Our minds were racing with the possibilities as we very carefully turned off the bedlamps...yawn...

See you in Episode 7 of the Great European AdventureZ 2002 | Return to Sinsheim Chronicles Home.