Let’s move away from the animal stories although there are many more. This is an excerpt of Chapter 8 (Fearless), talking about my arrival in the US. Daytona Beach was one of my first stops. From Spring Break to Bike week to the 200 mile race of Daytona, I made the best out of four weeks of fun, sun and bikes. Read the story and meet Henry….
My first action point on my “to do” list was to check out the beach events, bars, discos, and meet new people.
Parking in Daytona was scarce, so the city arranged for huge parking lots along the scenic beaches; I would drive Henry onto the beach as close to the water as I dared, and then go off with new friends to hang out at the bars and check out whatever was going on.
Unfortunately, coming from a landlocked part of Germany, I was woefully unfamiliar with ocean tides. One morning at around four a.m., I returned with some people to the beach parking lot, after a successful night of barhopping, to discover there were no other cars in sight. Ironically, Kevin had just started to explain the workings of ocean tides to me when it hit me like a ton of bricks: Where the hell was Henry? Everyone else had been smarter than I and had moved their cars to safety before the high tide rolled in. As I scanned that huge, empty beach in a panic, I wasn’t even sure anymore if I was at the right spot; the beach looked completely different bathed in the predawn moonlight rather than in the bright sunshine and vibrating beach life. Finally, I made something out there in the distance…in the dark waters. Poor Henry was no longer parked so much as he was nearly floating; the water was already at the height of the hood! My panic escalated as I realized that Mother Nature was just about to take everything I owned with the crash of the next wave.
I ran straight into the water up to my thighs. I did not know what to do; I’d never had to save a drowning car before. All I knew was that I couldn’t afford to lose Henry with all my belongings inside. I tried to dig out the tires, but it was no use. Some other people saw my predicament, and Kevin organized them to help him to look for a Jeep with a towing winch. They all started running frantically up and down the beach. Meanwhile, struggling with the tide, wet and agitated, I started to salvage my stuff from the trunk, thinking it wasn’t going to be long until Henry floated away and there would be nothing I could do to prevent it.
Finally, Kevin came back with the owner of a sturdy Jeep and a winch. It was a job and a half for that Jeep to pull Henry to safety, as the car’s tires were already sunk deep into the wet sand with powerful waves pulled in the opposite direction. We managed to salvage Henry. The car was saturated, and it took several days for it to dry out under the Florida sunshine. The salt water left some ugly stains on the interior; but that V8 engine was indestructible. After some initial sputtering, it ran just fine despite having taken an unexpected dip in the Atlantic Ocean.