Today Liz and I fly Lufthansa from Seattle to Frankfurt. For the remainder of the month, by rail and rental car, we will visit Germany, Austria & Switzerland, including Heidelberg, Lucerne, Kandersteg (Switzerland), Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Berlin, Vienna and various hamlets along the way. We will regularly post photos and comments on the Gemut.com Facebook page as well as on our blog on this site.

The folks who staff auto rental counters screw up once in a while. They aren't alone. Sometimes the agents who book rental cars, as well as the executives who figure out how many in each of a couple of dozen car categories are needed daily at the perhaps 5,000 rental locations across Europe, also screw-up. It's been that way since 1916 when a Nebraska guy named Joe Saunders began renting his Model T Ford to visiting businessmen, and our guess is it will be that way 100 years from now when cars drive themselves.

Despite the many technological gadgets on new cars these days, it is still possible to lock the keys in a rental car in Europe. If that happens to you, phone the rental company's 24-hour road service, or call a locksmith. Do not do what Sam (not his real name) did recently in Oslo, Norway, when he discovered the keys locked inside his midsize station wagon. To retrieve the keys, Sam decided to break one of the car's side windows. His way of dealing with the problem was a quick and relatively easy solution, but shockingly expensive. Things are expensive in Norway (an intermediate sedan at the Oslo Airport is about $670 vs $240 for a similar vehicle at the Frankfurt Airport) but Sam never dreamed the bill for a broken window would come to a whopping $3,500. At this point we haven't seen the damage documents from the rental company so we don't know if there was more involved than just replacing the window.

This has nothing to do with travel.

Last week I joined my former classmates from the 1962 University of Idaho Naval Reserve Officer Training Program for a brief reunion. Of the 22 who graduated from the program and were commissioned, 16 attended the reunion. One classmate who joined us became a Marine and in Vietnam was awarded the Silver Star, the Bronze Star with “V,” and a Purple Heart with Gold Star. Sad to say, two of our 22 have died.

The purpose of the gathering was to celebrate the 50 years since our graduation and commissioning, but also to honor our former Naval Science instructor and mentor, Navy Captain Donald S. Campbell, an extraordinary leader and one hell of a human being. We, his former students, have created a small scholarship that each year is awarded to the University of Idaho NROTC student who best exemplifies Capt. Campbell's leadership qualities. This year, with Don's wife, Phyllis Campbell, and his children Brad, Casey and Kim, we returned to the University for the presentation of this year's award.