In Search of the Meaning of Life (An Autobiography) – Chapter 16, Part 1 – A Big Gray Book…

In Search of the Meaning of Life (An Autobiography)

(Copyright 1994, Mark D. Jones, All Rights Reserved)

Book Two – The Air Force Years (The Adventure Continues)

Chapter 16, Part 1 – A Big Gray Book…

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Sometime in the fall of 1984, I decided to take a German language course at the University of Maryland extension on Spangdahlem AB, West Germany.  I enjoyed living in Europe, and wanted to learn a little basic German to communicate better with my landlords, the village folks in Bruch, and during my many travels in-country and around the Continent.

I thought it would be best to find a tutor to help me learn what turned out to be a very challenging language – especially for me – and remembered that Esther spoke perfect English, and she lived just up the street.

So one day I walked up the street to the Wagner Family’s house with my big, gray German textbook in hand, and asked Esther if she would help tutor me in German. So begins the story of the rest of my life – as now after some 29+ years of marriage together, I have reached that portion of my autobiography where I can begin to tell ‘the rest of the story.’

I went on to take three semesters of German at the University of Maryland, and due to Esther’s proficiency in languages (German, English, Latin and some French), and her insistence in my learning and memorizing vocabulary words through repetition, I went on to 4.0 and ace my classes.  These are the photos I took during the summer of 1985, on a day visit Esther and I took to Cologne, or Köln, by train.

This is also the point in my autobiography that I’ll pause for a while, and resume posting my story ‘Jonathan’s Dream (An Adventure Novel)’ for a number of reasons.

First of all, I began writing ‘Jonathan’s Dream (An Adventure Novel)’ in 1984, about the same time as I’m now in as I pause my autobiography.  Secondly, as there’s only one of me with so many different projects and stories, I want to begin catching up and posting some of my other works.  Lastly, this upcoming portion of my autobiography is a complicated story to tell, and involves many more people than simply myself and my travels and adventures – and I’m not sure I’m ready to begin explaining it all just yet…

‘Jonathan’s Dream (An Adventure Novel)’ is my favorite story, and actually completes my very first real-life adventure when I was just a young boy.  It’s also finished in second draft, although I’m editing and adding texture and depth to the story as I post in online.

So now I’ll turn my attention back to the story I love, and stay with it until I’ve completed posting it online.  This however, is but the first of Jonathan and Sammy’s many journeys and adventures, and once this book is completed, there will always be another story to tell…

Jonathan’s Amazing Adventures

‘Jonathan’s Dream (An Adventure Novel)’

http://jonathansamazingadventures.com/

Cheers! ☼ 🙂 Mark

In Search of the Meaning of Life (An Autobiography) – Chapter 15, Part 7 – New Horizons…

In Search of the Meaning of Life (An Autobiography)

(Copyright 1994, Mark D. Jones, All Rights Reserved)

Book Two – The Air Force Years (The Adventure Continues)

Chapter 15, Part 7 – New Horizons…

~~~~~~~~~~

Our squadron deployed on February 22, 1985 from Spangdahlem AB, West Germany, across the pond to Seymour Johnson AFB, NC, and then on to George AFB, CA, the next day to take part in a Green Flag training exercise hosted by Nellis AFB, NV.

I remember our F-4E Phantom’s ARN-101 Inertial Navigation System, or ‘Arnie,’ not wanting to give us a proper alignment on the ramp after cranking engines at Spangdahlem AB, and deciding to take the best platform Arnie would give us prior to heading out across the Atlantic for North Carolina – which meant that Arnie thought we were somewhere in the northern hemisphere at the time.

As ‘Blue 4’ in our 4-ship of Phantoms being dragged across the pond it turned out to be a non-issue, and fortunately, Arnie cooperated for the rest of the deployment.  A KC-10 pulled us all the way to George AFB the next day, and we found ourselves staying at the Holiday Inn in Victorville, for a little slice of California paradise!

We flew a number of Green Flag sorties out of George AFB over the course of about a week, prior to packing-up and redeploying to Nellis AFB, NV, where room on the ramp for our Phantoms was finally freed up.  These are the photos I took of our cross-country redeployment flight from George AFB to Nellis AFB.

We flew Green Flag sorties out of Nellis AFB through the end of the deployment on March 20, 1985.  Since I had flown a jet across the pond on the initial deployment from Spangdahlem AB, it was my turn to fly back commercial, and let another WSO make the return flight home.

I stopped in to see my parents in Michigan on my return flight for a couple of days of leave from March 20-24th, prior to flying on to Frankfurt.  I took the following pictures while doing yard work at my parent’s house, and borrowed my mother’s light jacket for raking in the yard, before unpacking my ski jacket for trimming our apple tree.

Next on the agenda in 1985 was a squadron deployment to Zaragoza AB (ZAB), Spain, from March 29 through April 25th.  This is the ZAB deployment when I most likely visited San Sebastian, Spain, that I posted earlier.

This deployment was followed by a Salty Demo Exercise at Spangdahlem AB, from 29 April to 20 May.  Then I was back on the road again, taking leave to attend my sister Pam’s wedding in Michigan from June 1-14th.  Here’s two photos of me with my sister Pam at her wedding reception, and one of me with other members of the wedding party.

Following my leave in Michigan, the squadron packed up again for another deployment to ZAB, from July 15 through August 9th of 1985.  This is probably the deployment where I had a chance to visit Andorra in the summertime, as well as take another trip to Barcelona, both trips I’ve posted earlier.

So you can see, my life in West Germany from the fall of 1983 through the summer of 1985 was non-stop action – which would set the stage and continue for me at the same pace through 2001…

In Search of the Meaning of Life (An Autobiography) – Chapter 15, Part 6 – New Horizons…

In Search of the Meaning of Life (An Autobiography)

(Copyright 1994, Mark D. Jones, All Rights Reserved)

Book Two – The Air Force Years (The Adventure Continues)

Chapter 15, Part 6 – New Horizons…

~~~~~~~~~~

The 480th Tactical Fighter Squadron (TFS) arranged a ski trip to St. Anton, Austria, or properly known as ‘Sankt Anton am Arlberg,’ from January 19-27, 1985.  I signed up for the trip after 1984’s fantastic ski trip to St. Johann and Kitzbühel, Austria, which turned out so well.  As you can see in the pictures below, our excursion to St. Anton was a wonderful vacation, and a trip to be remembered!

The flavor of this trip was different from the previous ski trip, as I don’t recall the process of having to drive to the slopes or of visiting multiple ski areas as we did with St. Johann, Kitzbühel, and Steinplatte on our previous trip.  I think our hotel was rather centrally located and didn’t require driving to the slopes.

Following this ski trip to Austria, the next event on the calendar was flying our squadron’s Phantoms across the Atlantic to participate in a Green Flag Exercise.  The dates I recorded for the deployment were from February 22 to March 20, 1985, and my next post will provide you with a ‘Warhawk’ perspective of desert flying in the States – so stay tuned!

In Search of the Meaning of Life (An Autobiography) – Chapter 15, Part 5 – New Horizons…

In Search of the Meaning of Life (An Autobiography)

(Copyright 1994, Mark D. Jones, All Rights Reserved)

Book Two – The Air Force Years (The Adventure Continues)

Chapter 15, Part 5 – New Horizons…

~~~~~~~~~~

We arrived in Malmö, Sweden, via fast ferry early on a sleepy Sunday morning, and the entire city was covered in stillness and fog.  We felt for awhile that we were the only ones in town, until folks in the central square began setting up a public market.  I enjoyed taking these photos of Malmö’s waterways, parks and Old World charm – a wonderful visit for Hank and I that morning.

I haven’t found a timeline for this visit to Copenhagen and Malmö yet, as our visits could have been in either 1984 or 1985, but someday I’ll find a note or date that provides a better reference.  The photos towards the end of this gallery are of the fast ferry trip from Copenhagen to Malmö, where today a bridge spans the waters where ferries once ran.

Following our ferry return to Copenhagen around midday, Hank and I flew back commercial to Karup Air Base (AB), Denmark, to complete our deployment and fly our Phantoms back to Spangdahlem AB, Germany.

I’ve found a timeline for the next few posts, and they’ll lead into the next transition my life would take, and begin to introduce the rest of my story.  Next up on the agenda, will be a squadron ski trip from January 19-27, 1985 to St. Anton, Austria – so stay tuned!

In Search of the Meaning of Life (An Autobiography) – Chapter 15, Part 4 – New Horizons…

In Search of the Meaning of Life (An Autobiography)

(Copyright 1994, Mark D. Jones, All Rights Reserved)

Book Two – The Air Force Years (The Adventure Continues)

Chapter 15, Part 4 – New Horizons…

~~~~~~~~~~

Hank and I landed at Copenhagen’s airport just after dawn on a Saturday morning, and we spent the entire day exploring this now favorite city of mine.  It was a picture-perfect day, and I took took these photos over the course of the day.  I loved Copenhagen’s idyllic and picturesque waterfront, as well as the entire pedestrian zone downtown, where a concert and festivities were underway.

I was surprised at how small the iconic ‘Little Mermaid’ statue was on the rock at the waterfront, but regardless, it was such a perfect ambassador for this city on the sea.

We found out about the fast-ferry to Malmo, Sweden, and decided to take the early ferry on the following Sunday morning.  The last photo in this set was taken at the ferry terminal, where we would depart the next morning.

My next post will be of the ferry crossing and early Sunday morning adventure in Malmo, Sweden – so stay tuned!

In Search of the Meaning of Life (An Autobiography) – Chapter 15, Part 3 – New Horizons…

In Search of the Meaning of Life (An Autobiography)

(Copyright 1994, Mark D. Jones, All Rights Reserved)

Book Two – The Air Force Years (The Adventure Continues)

Chapter 15, Part 3 – New Horizons…

~~~~~~~~~~

A number of us flew our Phantoms from Spangdahlem Air Base (AB), West Germany to Karup Air Base, Denmark, at some point in either the fall of 1984 or possibly 1985, to fly in a NATO training exercise.  It was an opportunity to see Denmark – and for two of us to visit Copenhagen and Malmo, Sweden over the weekend as well.  I went on a photo safari of the countryside around our hotel as I always liked to do, and found the Danish countryside to be simply delightful!

I photographed these two Danish children tending to their miniature ponies in their pastures, and the entire setting was such an idyllic way of life for everyone in the community.  Walking and bicycling paths paralleled every road, and it was obvious the care and attention that Denmark was giving to non-motorized and alternative modes of transportation – meaning walking and pedaling – such a natural solution that often escapes communities in the United States…

My friend Hank and I decided to take advantage of the daily scheduled airline flight from Karup AB to Copenhagen, and we flew out very early on a Saturday morning to see one of my favorite cities in the entire world – so stay tuned!

In Search of the Meaning of Life (An Autobiography) – Chapter 15, Part 2 – New Horizons…

In Search of the Meaning of Life (An Autobiography)

(Copyright 1994, Mark D. Jones, All Rights Reserved)

Book Two – The Air Force Years (The Adventure Continues)

Chapter 15, Part 2 – New Horizons…

~~~~~~~~~~

After our bus trip to take part in Munich’s Oktoberfest celebrations in September 1984, Hank and I had a day available to experience Garmisch-Partenkirchen at the foot of the Bavarian Alps.  I focused my camera on the classic painted-architecture and the loveliness of the surrounding rural countryside.  Then we took the cog train to the top of the Zugspitze – Bavaria’s tallest mountain – to see the year-round glacier that offers skiing from autumn to spring.

Following our trip to see Oktoberfest, the next trip I took was about a ten day long deployment to Karup Air Base (AB), Denmark, to fly in a NATO exercise.  Both the trip to Oktoberfest and the deployment to Denmark, may very well have taken place the following year in 1985 – but in lieu of an accurate timeline – I’m finishing up these excursions of mine while in the 480th TFS, so as to make a transition into the next chapter and phase of my life.

So stay tuned for Denmark, and side excursions to Copenhagen and Malmo, Sweden!

In Search of the Meaning of Life (An Autobiography) – Chapter 15, Part 1 – New Horizons…

In Search of the Meaning of Life (An Autobiography)

(Copyright 1994, Mark D. Jones, All Rights Reserved)

Book Two – The Air Force Years (The Adventure Continues)

Chapter 15, Part 1 – New Horizons…

~~~~~~~~~~

In late September 1984, I took a bus tour with a squadron friend to see Oktoberfest in Munich.  We stayed in the Armed Forces Recreation Center (AFRC) in Garmisch-Partenkirchen during the weekend tour – so it was another opportunity for me to visit Bavaria.  Oktoberfest was the biggest party I’ve ever attended, and the parking lot alone seemed to go on forever, with tour buses lined up as far as the eye could see!

Even though the fairgrounds were packed shoulder-to-shoulder with people, it didn’t matter, as everything at Oktoberfest was larger than life!  Pulsating carnival music blasted into the night air from the rides, flashing lights created an energized atmosphere, and the best beer and food known to man was available to sample everywhere!

The huge Oktoberfest beer tents were filled with thousands of folks singing and swaying along to traditional oom-pah-pah music, drinking huge one liter mugs of beer called a ‘Maß,’ and eating traditional Bavarian favorites like schnitzel, schwenkbraten, bratwurst, fleischwurst, sauerkraut and brotchen – all favorites of mine!

As a bonus, our bus driver gave us a tour of Munich on the way to the Oktoberfest fairgrounds while waiting for the sun to set, as we were a little ahead of schedule.  We drove through parts of Munich, visited the grounds of a palace, and toured the Olympic Park and Stadium from the 1972 Summer Olympic Games.

Our bus tour gave us a ‘recovery day’ to spend in Garmisch-Partenkirchen the day after visiting Oktoberfest, and my friend Hank and I decided to take the cog-train to the top of the Zugspitze – Bavaria’s highest mountain – to see the glacier, so stay tuned!

In Search of the Meaning of Life (An Autobiography) – Chapter 14, Part 8 – Bavaria’s Romantic Road

In Search of the Meaning of Life (An Autobiography)

(Copyright 1994, Mark D. Jones, All Rights Reserved)

Book Two – The Air Force Years (The Adventure Continues)

Chapter 14, Part 8 – Bavaria’s Romantic Road

~~~~~~~~~~

This post completes my tour of Bavaria’s Romantic Road with my parents in September 1984.  These photos are of Freiburg as we began the return leg of our trip through the Black Forest.  Freiburg was again like a fairy tale city come to life, and was simply delightful to explore!  Our hotel was just across the central plaza from the cathedral, and we saw as much of the city as our evening and morning visit allowed.

On our way through the Black Forest, we stopped in the town of Triberg, the ‘clock capital’ of the Black Forest – for everything from traditional cuckoo clocks to Grandfather clocks.  I bought a towering Grandfather clock at a store named Uhren Bazar, and it was shipped to my apartment sometime later in a gigantic cardboard box filled with straw.

Once we arrived back in the Eifel and my village of Bruch, my parents then finished up their European vacation and flew home to Michigan.  Sometime during the fall of 1984, I decided that I’d like to take a German language extension course offered by the University of Maryland at Spangdahlem AB.  This decision was a turning point leading into a transitional period of my life – a chapter I’ll call New Horizons…

In Search of the Meaning of Life (An Autobiography) – Chapter 14, Part 7 – Bavaria’s Romantic Road

In Search of the Meaning of Life (An Autobiography)

(Copyright 1994, Mark D. Jones, All Rights Reserved)

Book Two – The Air Force Years (The Adventure Continues)

Chapter 14, Part 7 – Bavaria’s Romantic Road

~~~~~~~~~~

My parents and I visited Linderhof Palace in southern Bavaria, and it was a shame we couldn’t take photos inside the palace, as the interior was beautifully ornate and made the exterior look dull in comparison.  It was beginning to feel like September 1984 now that we were near the Bavarian Alps, and winter was already arriving in the high country, which was now dusted in snow.

These are the photos I took from the Bavarian plain looking up into the Alps, and you can see the snow dusted peaks and contrasting valley sunshine.  I’ve always enjoyed these pastoral scenes, and the light brown Alpine cows have always been my favorites!  You can also see Neuschwanstein Castle nestled in the lower hills tucked away in front of the Alps, with its accessible yet commanding view of the countryside.

Next on our tour of Bavaria, we visited Herrenchiemsee Palace and grounds on Herreninsel, an island southeast of Munich.

This visit completed our tour of Bavaria, and all that was left was to drive over to the Black Forest and find our way back to the Eifel.  At this point I had been stationed overseas in West Germany for just over one year, and had already seen much of Europe – from the UK to Spain, Italy to the Netherlands, and much of the Alps.  My travels had only begun, and little did I know just how far my travels would be taking me over time…