The motorhome pulled into the yard and so did the blue pickup truck. Both vehicles stopped in front of the house. To Michael's and the twins surprise, it was their Mom that climbed out of the truck. On the other side, Nicole jumped out.
"Hey, what's that?", Andrea wondered as she approached the homecomers.
"Our new family coach", her Mom explained cheerily. "All six of us are going to have room in that one, including Holger's wheelchair.
The pickup-truck was a so-called crew cab, with a another bench behind the front seats. The thing was huge. A lot of stuff would fit into the box. Michael already pictured a pickup camper on it. Then, they could all go to those remote little lakes out in the woods where the fishing was supposed to be so great.
Michael was eager to go for a spin in the new truck but it was getting late and they put it off to tomorrow.
"I'll give you some lessons and then you can get your drivers's licence before winter", his Dad told him.
"Hey - great!" Enthusiastically, Michael patted him on the shoulder.
"And me?", Andrea asked with her head tilted.
"Well, I'm afraid you'll have to wait until next year, young lady. Even here in Canada you have to be sixteen before you can drive a car", her Dad said with a sympathetic look on his face. "But it wouldn't hurt to get some training beforehand", he added with a wink of his eye.
Andrea burst into Indian war hoops "Yeah, yeah, yeah!"
She and Michael admired the new family vehicle from all sides and started to make plans about what they wanted to do first with it. Holger was very quiet all of a sudden. Painfully, his handicap came to his conciousness again and the fact that he would never sit behind the steering wheel of a car.
Andrea sensed what was bothering him. Comfortingly, she squeezed his arm.
"Why are you so late?", Andrea asked. "We were so worried about you. And you didn't even phone!"
"Well, buying that truck took a while, of course", her Dad explained. "But we would have been home sooner if it wasn't for a new forest fire on the Monashee pass. The smoke was so thick that you couldn't even see the road. Fire trucks and equipment were all over the place and men with hard hats and shovels were running through the bush."
"Firefighters", Nicole said with obvious pride because she had learned a new word. "And flagmen."
Andrea wrinkled her forehead. "Flagmen?"
"Those people in orange safety vests that stand on the road when there is an accident or construction, holding up a sign that says 'stop' on one side and 'slow' on the other", Renate explained. "They were standing on the Monashee pass too and put a stop sign in front of our faces. At first, it looked as if they wouldn't let us pass at all tonight and that we'd have to sleep in the motorhome. But finally, a pilot car guided us through the smoke."
"Wow, are we back in Germany again?", Holger exclaimed with delight when he saw the crunchy buns and the mouth-watering cold cuts. It looked as if they came right out of their favourite bakery and meat store in Schwabach!
"We found a German delicatessen in Vernon with all kinds of German goodies", Renate told him. "Of course, we grabbed a bunch of them."
"Great! Wonderful!" They all cheered over the long-missed goodies. As enthusiastic as they were about Canada in general, they hadn't come to like the food a lot. Except Michael, who was crazy about peanutbutter sandwiches with marshmallowcreme or fried sausages with maple syrup. Even though the other kids did like a hamburger or a hot dog or fish and chips once in a while, they'd rather stick with German cooking. Renate intended to keep up that tradition anyway.
In no time, the pile of buns disappeared and the cold cuts and liver sausage had shrunk to a few pityful tid-bits.
"Uff, I'm full!" Nicole pushed her plate away with only a few crumbs left.
"Me too!" Andrea had devoured three buns and could hardly breathe anymore.
Renate got up and put the leftovers away. "There's still a little bit left for whoever wants it for breakfast", she said.
"Hah, don't make me laugh!" Michael grinned suggestively. "Not if Andrea is sleepwalking in the direction of the fridge again."
"I didn't!", she protested. "Only because I've been to the fridge once …"
"Only once, hahaha!" Nicole giggled loudly. But then she bit her lip, she didn't want to blab out how many times she heard Andrea tiptoeing down the stairs in the middle of the night! She didn't want to fall out totally with her big sister.
"We could put a lock on the fridge", Richard suggested with a broad smile.
Andrea put a pout on her face but she wasn't really offended.
"Aren't I allowed one bad habit?", she defended herself. "I don't drink alcohol, I don't smoke marijuana, and my sex life isn't happening either. So why can't I go and nibble on some goodies in the fridge once in a while?"
Under the amused looks of her parents and her brothers, she got up and took her empty plate to the sink.
Nicole had turned red with embarassement. She admired her big sister and wished she could be like her, but sometimes, Andrea could be really blunt. Never, ever, would Nicole talk about things like sex so openly!
Even though Andrea was totally exhausted from the hot day and all the work she'd done, she couldn't get to sleep for quite a while. The thoughts in her head were going round like on a caroussell.
It had been a day full of surprises. The new pickup-truck, the truly German supper - but the best thing had been the trip with Craig on his house boat. Andrea decided to show up on the beach more often where she could possibly meet him again. She wanted to find out what was really going on between him and Kyla.
Maybe she might stand a chance with him?