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Monday, December 4, 2023
Dec. 4, 2023

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Everybody Has a Story: German ski resort was not just for sliders


Recently “The Amazing Race” showcased Zugspitze, the highest mountain in Germany. This reminded me of the 1970s when I was stationed with the U.S. Army in Germany as a tractor-trailer driver.

I learned that the military had ski resorts in Bavaria. Ours was in a village called Garmish, which was at the base of the Zugspitze. For $10, a Mercedes-Benz bus would pick you up at your unit and take you there.

The first year, our bus driver took us to a military hotel in Munchen instead of Garmish. When I told him we were suppose to be going to Garmish, he said he’d check with his dispatcher.

The next morning we were on our way to Garmish. When we arrived, we were given $10 coupons good for skiing, outdoor ice skating, indoor swimming or tours into Switzerland and Austria. Our hotel rooms were just $2.50 a night with a shared bath down the hall.

A gondola took people up to the top of the mountain. The doors opened and people walked in. The gondola operator asked if I was going up, but I wasn’t skiing because of my fear of heights. I said no, and he showed me the exit. Since I didn’t ski, I was the keeper of the footwear.

One of the guys had bought some rum that was so potent, Austria couldn’t export it. It tasted like butterscotch going down, but it burned my stomach.

In Innsbruck, Austria, we stopped at the Olympic ski jump. An Olympics sign was still up and there was a view of a graveyard as skiers came off the jump. The ski instructors were military personnel.

One of the guys who was drunk had a hard time skiing. The instructor said if he put his boots on the correct feet, he might be able to ski better. Another guy, nicknamed Cruit (short for recruit, because he was old enough to be in the military but too young to drive a semitruck in Germany), skied into the lodge’s window and bounced off. You’ve never seen so many people get up from the tables and run! Cruit was a big guy.

The next year when we were in Garmish, they had a train that took you into the mountain through a tunnel. There was a restaurant there where you could sit. If you wanted to ski from the top of the mountain, there was a ski chair lift system. The train would stop outside the tunnel and let people off so they could ski down to the village and right to our hotel.

Once again I was keeper of the footwear. I never did go skiing but it was beautiful and I had fun.

Everybody Has a Story welcomes nonfiction contributions, 1,000 words maximum, and relevant photographs. Send to: neighbors@columbian.com or P.O. Box 180, Vancouver WA, 98666. Call “Everybody Has an Editor” Scott Hewitt, 360-735-4525, with questions.

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