It’s half past ten at night as I begin to write up this blog entry, and my memory of exactly how the day went this morning might be a little hazy. This is a testament to how tired I am. Clearly, I’m going to need a holiday after this holiday is over.

I think I was up at around 8am. Sandy stirred not long after, at which point I set out for some more provisions from the local supermarket just around the corner. Fortunately, they still had one more pack of the lovely bacon Sandy and I have been enjoying these past few days. Even Joey had some that I cooked up with my scrambled eggs this morning.

It was quite the rainy start to the day. The rain was coming down periodically and in quite the quantities. Today was going to be our rest day, in so far as we can ever have a rest day. We suffer from cramming more and more in for fear of missing an opportunity that might not return. This is exactly how a brief trip to Australia turned into a year-long global circumnavigation some 18 years ago.

We had previously looked at some of the things that we might do on this day off. The most promising option was to visit a place nearby called Steinwasen Park. There’s a chair lift, suspension bridge, rodelbahn (toboggan) and a few other attractions there – all set nestled into a scenic and picturesque corner of the Black Forest. A colleague mentioned there might be something like this in the area and we found it on the map the other day. The weather apps were all promising a rain-free afternoon at that location, an eminently doable 45-minute drive from here, so we figured we’d give it a go. It would be better than hanging around the bungalow doing nothing, and while having nothing to sit on.

I wandered over to speak with Suzanna again at the hotel’s front desk see how far she had gotten with resolving the dispute about how much to refund us for the inconvenience of not having all the promised furniture. Alas, she hadn’t gotten any further at all. She was supposed to call up through her chain of command to get authorisation for a bigger discount than she was otherwise able to provide. Her new offer was now 20% off the total stay or one free night. I reminded her this was not going to cut it. I further reminded her that we booked the additional two nights specifically because we wanted the luxury that a fully equipped bungalow promised.  I told her this latest offer, which seemed uncannily similar to the previous one, just wasn’t going to cut it. She again, and this time with a little more hesitancy, said she’d have to speak with Management. I told her to have Management contact me directly and I’d sort it out with them. We agreed I’d badger her again tomorrow. The saga continues.

Suzanna was able to provide me with another armful of fresh towels, which Sandy had been bugging me for. These bungalows are terrific for brief stays, but it doesn’t seem like they are really designed with longer stays in mind. There are no laundry facilities, for example. As if that wasn’t bad enough, the hotel doesn’t have laundry facilities either, unless you count the dry-cleaning service at €15 per item. As if to rub salt further into that particular wound, there are no other laundry facilities of any kind within a 30Km radius of here either. That little nugget of information never came through on any of the reviews I read.

Since the weather apps were still insisting on a rain-free afternoon by around mid-morning, we were still planning on visiting Steinwasen Park, but I did call ahead to check first that the park was going to be open. They told me the potential rain did cause them to close one particular attraction, but otherwise he park would be open for business. It was still raining heavily here when we set off, but I had faith that multiple weather apps wouldn’t all be wrong.

We had promised Joey we would stop at a Smyths toy shop that was on the way, which we did, via a brief detour to an adjacent Maccas. If anything, the rain had by now intensified, but I could see swathes of blue sky approaching, so all was not yet lost.

In the toy shop, Joey was again in his element and burning through his accumulated holiday allowance. Once again, I brought a smile to both Joey and Jae’s faces by giving them a further financial assist so they could come out with what they most wanted. Joey had been churning various possibilities about how to spend his upcoming daily allowances, but, crucially, he kept those musings to himself. This would bite us in the arse later today, but I’ll get to that a little later.

We continued our journey onwards to Steinwasen Park. Almost immediately, the rain disappeared, and the skies turned blue. In fact, the closer we got, the more evident it was that it hadn’t rained at all around these parts.

As we steadily gained altitude, the roads and surrounding countryside became windier, and considerably more picturesque. When I pulled into the park’s car park, we could see the suspension bridge and some of the other attractions draped over the sloping hillsides. With his arms full of Lego, Joey, perhaps somewhat predictably, wasn’t interested in climbing up and down the hillside. That all sounded like far too much effort to him. He was instead much more content to sit at a table and while away the hours building his new Lego sets. It wasn’t busy at the park, with perhaps no more than a few dozen other visitors, and we found a spot adjacent to the cashier’s booth where he could sit quietly, out of the way, and without disturbance from others.

For the rest of us, I paid the €26 per person entry fee and we wandered through the main building and into the park. It’s clearly geared more towards the younger age group, with lots of play areas and kiddies’ attractions. We spent most of the day enjoying the main attractions of the toboggan track, chair lift, suspension bridge, and just generally enjoying the overall scenery and wildlife. Various enclosures, some smaller and some much more open, were home to a range of animals like deer. For Sandy and me, navigating some of the steep pathways up and down the hillside was more of a strenuous challenge – not to mention murderous on the knees. I did manage to film my entire descent on the toboggan, even though I had to have one hand pushing down on the lever to disengage the fail-safe breaking mechanism. Overall, it was quite a fun day out. We went back and checked on Joey a couple of times during the afternoon. He did have his phone with him, but the reception was quite poor.

We made our way back to the bungalow and considered our dining options. Sandy found a nice little restaurant in nearby Rust that she felt would tick the boxes for everyone. Joey was out of sorts since we left Steinwasen, but none of us could figure out why. It took quite a bit of cajoling to get him to go with us to the restaurant and he was largely non-communicative and non-compliant while we were there. Try as we might, we just couldn’t figure out what was bothering him. It doesn’t serve any purpose to get frustrated with him when he’s like this. It just doesn’t solve anything. You just have to be extremely patient. The best we could hope for was that giving him time and space might end up revealing what the problem was. Each time I asked whether it was this or that bothering him, he would just shake his head, sometimes reaching out for cuddles. None of the usual suspects fit. He wasn’t feeling unwell. He didn’t have a headache. He wasn’t hungry. It wasn’t the noisy and unfamiliar environment. We just didn’t know what it was. He didn’t eat any of the food we thought he might. In the end, I suggested I’d take him to Maccas, hoping that not having his favourite food might be the problem. I left Sandy and Jae to order and enjoy desert while I set off with Joey.

Joey and I got all the way to the Maccas when I had to stop by the side of the road to get him to at least tell me what he wanted me to order. It was at this point, much to my exasperated relief, that he finally spilled the beans. While we were at Smyths toys, he was considering how to spend some of the remainder of his holiday allowance he would accumulate in the coming days. Evidently, there was a particular Lego kit that he had set his eyes on. He thought there would be an opportunity to revisit the toy shop later this week so he could spend the rest of his allowance. However, one of us mentioned in passing at one point that we wouldn’t be visiting this particular toy shop again, as we probably wouldn’t be traveling out to these parts again on this trip. That was it – that was the trigger. In his mind, he would no longer be able to buy that particular Lego set. That was enough to affect his mood adversely for the rest of the day – perhaps for the next few days even. The problem is that he is often unable to communicate his needs or desires. Worse still, he doesn’t cope with disappointment very well. It often sends him into a state of non-cooperation for days on end. If we’re really lucky, we can sometimes get to the bottom of it, which we were fortunate enough to do tonight. Oftentimes, we’re not so lucky.

Once the issue affecting Joey was out in the open, we managed to resolve the matter. We will find an opportunity to revisit this Smyths toy shop before we head back home in a few days. Worst case scenario would be that we stop at another Smyths toy shop along the route home. Joey perked up just as soon as we told him this. We can all breath normally again. If it wasn’t already clear from reading the blogs from the past few days, this is what our lives have been like for the past few years. Much of our lives revolve around trying to accommodate for Joey’s needs. It can certainly be tiring at times.

Back at the bungalow, Sandy was busying herself with trying to do some makeshift laundry with the aid of the inside sections of the kitchen peddle bins in the shower. Crude, but effective.

For my part, I desperately want to go to sleep. However, these blogs don’t write themselves. I’ve been at the laptop for the past couple of hours, but all done and dusted again. Another successful day and I will most definitely sleep well tonight.