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Fairview Beach is stop on couple’s world tour
Don’t worry, the Austrian army hasn’t landed in Fairview Beach.
But there was one vehicle from the Alpine country parked in a vacant lot in the King George County village. Built to transport members of the Austrian military, the truck has been turned into a recreational vehicle and is the home of a German couple who is traveling the world.
Markus and Sabine Meyer said they have enjoyed their pit stops along the Potomac River. Making friends with people from all walks of life is one reason they retired early, sold everything they owned and set out to crisscross the globe in a 12-ton truck.
“At the end of our days, we don’t want to count the money in our bank account,” he said. “We want to talk about the stories we have collected and the wonderful people we have met. We want to say, ‘Do you remember the time we were in Fairview Beach?’”
He’s a mechanical engineer who worked for a steel company. She’s a nurse. The two have been together for 22 years.
They married in 2010 before starting their worldwide tour in 2011, because he says it’s easier to get through borders as husband and wife rather than unrelated travelers.
He’s 52 and she’s 54, the mother of two grown daughters in Germany.
Both speak fluent English, though he’s more confident in conversations.
Both are friendly and hospitable, eager to share experiences with those they meet.
“We have found a warm welcome from people in this area,” Markus Meyer said. “The people are just so friendly and full of hospitality.”
The Meyers spent last week parked in the lot of Tommie Klise, who plans to build a house there. She and Khristy Lynn met the Germans in May, when the Meyers parked outside the Shore Store.
Word got around about the travelers, and Klise, who speaks German, knocked on the door of the vehicle and started speaking their language.
A friendship was born.
The Meyers left a week later to tour the provinces of Canada, then came back to Fairview Beach Oct. 17 to relax. They spent more than a week at Klise’s lot.
Neighbors regularly came by, to enjoy chili that Sabine Meyer cooked outside over a campfire or to invite them to dinner at Tim’s II Restaurant.
“It’s been a pleasure meeting these guys,” said Pete Landrum of Fairview Beach. He and his new wife plan to circumnavigate the world in a boat in a decade or so and he’s thrilled to see someone pursuing a similar dream.
‘MADE TO GO TO WAR’
The Meyers have always enjoyed outdoor activities and planned vacations accordingly. About 15 years ago—he can’t pinpoint the exact date—they started planning for an extensive journey around the globe.
“We became infected by this virus of meeting people and seeing how they live,” he said, adding they wanted to see things “not shown on TV.”
He wanted a vehicle that was durable and fixable—not a brand new model with computer-driven modules and flashing screens.
“I wanted something that anyone could fix with a 10-pound hammer,” he said, adding he picked the 1988 Steyr for its toughness. “It’s made to go to war.”
The couple bought the truck in Austria. With other engineers, they redesigned the boxy interior into a space for a table, small kitchen, bathroom and bedroom.
They spent $200,000 on the 1988 Steyr truck and its renovations.
Two years into their journey, it’s proven its abilities.
They’ve driven through the Sahara Desert, which is real “off-road” traveling, he said, because there are no roads or paths, just sand. They have maneuvered through the Pyrenees Mountains and the barren, rocky lands of Morocco, through the streets of Boston and along the breathtakingly beautiful coastline of Newfoundland.
PHOTOS ARE SOUVENIRS
Markus Meyer chronicles the couple’s travels with photos that have a National Geographic quality to them. He captured a bull moose swimming in Spencer Bay, Maine; seabirds in Canada; and a stunning shot of the sunset in Costa de Morte—the Coast of Death—in Spain.
Their French shepherd, Emma, appears regularly in the images, whether she’s swimming in the waters of Valle de Hecho in Aragon, Spain, or perched on the rocks at Cape Breton, Nova Scotia.
Sabine Meyer would like to collect souvenirs from the various places the couple visits, but there’s no space in the truck for extra cargo. He jokes that if she wants a new T-shirt, she has to get rid of an old one.
But like her husband, she’s content with the memories they’re making.
“Our souvenirs are the photos,” she said.
Cathy Dyson: 540/374-5425
ABOUT THE MEYERS
Other interesting tidbits about Markus and Sabine Meyer:
THEY SPENT $5,000 to ship the truck from Germany to Baltimore. They plan to spend up to two years in North and South America and estimated the shopping was less than renting an RV.
WHEN THEY go to a store, he jokes that it takes 30 minutes to shop and three hours to answer questions from onlookers.
THE STRANGEST question: Did you drive the truck across the Atlantic Ocean?
THERE’S A CAMEL BONE attached to the front grill. Emma the dog found it in the Sahara Desert.
ON THE PASSENGER door, the word Austria is written in Arabic. The former owner painted it there.
THE TRUCK’S NICKNAME in Fairview Beach was “Zombie Apocalypse “ truck.
THE TRUCK has a manual transmission, 10 speeds and runs in four-wheel drive all the time. It gets nine to 10 miles per gallon on diesel fuel.
LOWEST GAS PRICES they found so far were in the West Sahara; the highest, in Scandinavia. American prices are way better than Europe’s, she said.
PHOTOS on their website are stunning. Go to looking4adventure.de. It comes up in German, but you can click on “English” to get a rough translation.