Sunday we got up early. It was going to be a long day – just how long we didn’t suspect. We had to drive east to west across Germany and return the amps and drums to one town, the van to another, and ourselves to the Dusseldorf airport in time for a 7:00 am Monday flight to Atlanta. Until now the tour had gone smoothly. At the breakfast table I knocked wood. For once could we make it all the way home without mishap?
No, of course not. That wouldn’t be the Delta Moon way.
We’d been on the road a few hours when Mark said, “We’re losing power.” We coasted down a ramp and into a gas station at the Weimar exit. The van was dead.
If this had happened in the west we might have stood a fighting chance. But this was east Germany, where no one spoke English or any other language we halfway knew, and at 2:00 in the afternoon the restaurants were already closed. Darren got out his German-English phrase book and walked around telling everyone, “Mein auto ist kaput.” People shrugged or fled at his approach.
After several phone calls, Olly at Rebelvans told me to wait for a towtruck that would take us and van across Germany to a Ford dealership in Dierdorf. So that was how we traveled across the Hessian countryside, with Euro-pop disco playing softly and ancient castle ruins staring down at us from every other hilltop. Large trucks have a speed limit of 80 km/hr (about 50 mph), and the driver sat on that number with Germanic precision. It was almost dark by the time we met Olly at the Ford dealership.
Olly wasn’t happy, and I couldn’t blame him. Nobody was happy except probably the towtruck driver, who was already paid in cash. We moved all the gear to a different van, a Mercedes Sprinter. It was nearly midnight when we reached Wetter, but Gunter was waiting up for us. After loading the gear into Earth Music we had coffee in the office upstairs. Gunter got on his computer to find us a hotel within taxi range of the airport. But I figured we wouldn’t get to bed until 2:00, and we had to be at the airport by 5:00. Everybody was starved. I called off the search and asked Olly to take us straight to the airport.
Dusseldorf airport at 1:30 in the morning was like an empty cathedral. Our footsteps echoed off the high ceiling. The one bar open had six people in it. Four of them were us.
After beer and sandwiches we felt a little better. Mark and I each selected a row of four seats in the waiting area. I hooked one arm through the straps of my suitcase, briefcase and guitar case, put on a sleep mask and was out like a light. Darren and Franher stayed up drinking beer until they were surrounded by coffee drinkers. They said Mark and I looked like a homeless camp among the prim 5:00 am businesspeople.
I actually felt pretty good. We were in the chute home.