To the jenth power ...

I read the books. I watched the show. I unflinchingly wore a sunbonnet to second grade. What started as a childhood obsession has developed into .. well, an adult obsession. I'm going to visit some of the sites depicted in the Little House series of books. Go west, (not-so-) young woman, indeed.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Oh Hells! Bells ...

This, people, was my Waterloo. Observe the nifty wrought iron staircase. Note that it rapidly climbs to quite a height.

This staircase challenged me, and I had to cry "uncle", I'm sorry to say.

On the first day of my trip, I got my rental car and drove a few hours to my reserved room in New Ulm, Minnesota. After checking in and getting a quick shower, I set out to see the sights. One of these attractions is the Hermann Monument, a memorial to the large German population of New Ulm and to their many contributions. It's pretty nicely situated atop a hill, overlooking the town, and surrounded by a really beatiful park that's studded with picnic pavilions.

Since I was feeling full of bravado (and traces of the adrenaline I'd mustered to board two planes that morning), I decided that I'd cough up the admission fee and climb to the top. Paralyzing fear of heights? Pfft! I was an adventurer. A bold player on the prairie stage! I wouldn't let a little thing like open, wrought-iron steps hold me back. Not me. Nosiree!

And with this attitude, I got pretty far. About three-quarters of the way up, in fact.

Then? The inevitable happened. The triple whammy of plunging stomach, jelly knees, and wavery tunnel vision laid me low. Or, well, high. I paused, afraid to go any farther and terrified to go back down. What to do, what to do. I had visions of a frantic rescue by the New Ulm fire company - I could picture them rolling up with a ladder truck, in full gear, and having to pluck me from those stairs like a kitten from a tree. Oh! The shame!

Fortunately, nobody else had ventured up the monument, and I was there by myself. In fact, the only people around were a large picnicking group in a pavilion to one side of the tower. So I did what any poised, dignified adult would do: I ass-crawled down a few steps. Some small molecule of shame made me turn around and walk (sort of) as the stairs curved me into the line of vision of the picnic people, but the instant I was no longer visible to them I was right back on my hindquarters. Then up again, looking somewhat pulled together. Then down. Using this method, I got myself back on the ground.

Yes. I know. I'm a woman of courage and class.

I wandered back into the town proper. It was rather late in the afternoon, and I hoped to get a chance to catch the glockenspiel in action. I checked it out, and I was just on time for the 5:00 demo. I sat down on a bench, and waited for it to do its thing. Which it soon did.

Bells began to ring, and a door on the side of it opened up to reveal figurines. They slowly rotated as the bells chimed away. A Native American. Pioneers. A beer guy lifting a wooden barrel. They rotated. And chimed. And rotated some some. I rushed to take pictures, but I shouldn't have knocked myself out, because that glock spieled for a good fifteen minutes. I sat back down for the last few minutes, and, suddenly, I noticed that the random melodious chiming had turned into "The Happy Wanderer". I found it oddly touching, but that may just have been sheer exhastion rearing its ugly head at that point.

And I was tired, completely wiped out. I'd been going since 4:00 am. So I grabbed a quick dinner and retreated to my hotel room. I called a few friends and family to let them know all was well, spent a little time on my journal, and hit the sack. The remaining Teutonic charms of New Ulm would just have to wait until the next day.



At 8:57 PM, Anonymous Kathy said...

Hells! Bells! is right. I also have a paralyzing fear of heights. Kudos to you for making it up as far as you did.


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