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September 7th, 2000 · No Comments

September 7, 2000 Mol to Kamperland

Day 251

The actual camp ground is below sea level. It was really a trailor park that was letting us pitch our tents on whatever grass we could find. The owners of Camping de Molenhoek were nice enough to give us canvas bags with their advertising on them to carry around our toilet paper. Yes, we were back to “BYOTP!” It was a very basic place, but at least they supplied us with a roll.

Lynne and I arrived early enough, I was able to clean my bike to perfection before having Merlyn replace the rear wheel. When he was done, it really looked great and I was very anxious to ride.

After dinner we were treated to a presentation by the Mayor of Kamperland. He brought a slide presentation about the area and it’s development. I didn’t stay because I couldn’t hear him will enough. Others found the information very interesting. Oh well!

Once the Mayor’s presentation was over, the Odyssey film guys, Michael and Mark showed the second Odyssey video. It’s the tape that starts in Africa and takes us through the next 3 months of the trip. The video was much longer and very different than the first one. I really enjoyed seeing the places I’ve temporarily forgotten about! It was a refreshing journey down memory land for us. We have done so very much this year.

My senses are on overload. I need to stop, digest and recharge before I can continue to absorb.

September 8, 2000 Kamperland to Rotterdam area

Day 253

A lot of things are happening today.

The most exciting occurs this afternoon sometime, Larry is coming to visit me, after being gone for 10 weeks. His plane lands sometime this afternoon, I forgot to ask exactly when, but he plans to come find me at camp as soon as possible.

Today is also the last day of scheduled riding in Europe. At day’s end today, we will be finished with the European continent as far as the tour is concerned. We still have 5 days here in Holland and then 2 days back in Germany, but this is it. After 5 + months, we are leaving.

The schedule has changed, we are not going to Rotterdam, but to another location further north on the coast of the Nordsee (North Sea) called Noordwijkerhout. Noordwijkerhout is considered by TK&A to be our Amsterdam location. It’s 50 kilometers away.

Because of this change in schedule, two DRG routes have been tacked together, with no alterations. Looking at a map, it was easy to see that by going the route, we would be adding unnecessary kilometers to the day. It was stupid to have to take this route. I decided immediately to find my own way.

Listening around the breakfast room proved I wasn’t the only one who felt that way. One of the riders is from this area of the world. She said there is a bike route called “LR1” that follows the North Sea route the entire length of the country.

That piece of information was good enough for me. I knew I could find the route, and if not there were probably a hundred other bike routes to follow. Heck, north is easy, just keep the Nordsee on my left and peddle! Who needs a SEVEN page DRG!

Fact: the Netherlands has more bicycles than people.

Fact: the Netherlands has more bike paths than roads.

Fact: The Dutch are proud of their bike ways (and should be).

Fact: The Netherlands is a cyclist paradise!

Fact: The Netherlands is flat!

It was a glorious morning when I left Kamperland. The mist was so thick it felt like rain on my face. The color of the sky and sea blended into one surrealistic landscape. In the distance faint outlines of windmills twirled like ghosts on the horizon. I wanted to photograph everything so I would never forget this day and the way it made me feel. I love Holland.

My first hour was one of up lifting solitude. Just knowing Larry was at the end of my day and it was my last day in Europe was exciting. Then to top it off I had a hellacious tailwind. What better conditions could I ask for? Oh yeah, sunshine would have been nice, but then 3 out of 4 is not bad! It started to rain, actually it was so damp without raining I had pulled on all my raingear, just to stay warm prior to leaving camp. I kept it all on for awhile, but then I was using so much energy to make best use of the tail wind, I got overheated and had to slow down, finally stopping to remove a few layers.

My pristine clean bike of yesterday, was now covered with a layer of sand. It was the first time I have ever kicked up sand. I had sand on my seat, the rack and panniers. It was a gritty mess! The good news was, my brakes worked so smooth. I couldn’t remember the last time I braked without that thump-thump-thumping. Now they felt funny because they worked properly! Something new to get used to.

I rode with Christine and Steve for awhile, navigating the path to find the LR1b. (The “b” route goes north and the “a” route goes south, making the signs easy to follow.) We found it easily, as all the bike paths in Holland are so well marked. Actually the bike path signs in Holland are marked better than most streets in the U.S. I was very much impressed.

We meandered through the most darling villages where the homes were so well cared for. I enjoyed seeing the magnificent gardens. The first stop of the day was at the best bakery ever! We ended up having so many cyclists stop, we blocked the roadway. Bakery stops are mandatory!

We crossed several very large bodies of water traveling north. The first three were very easy, we took bridges across, using the bike lanes that were large enough to drive a car on. The last body of water, we ferried across for a small fee. By doing this we saved so much time and continued in almost a straight line north, riding with the wind!

Along the way I passed many cyclists. They were either going about their daily business or traveling like myself. Holland is a serious bicycling country. They use the “old fashioned” upright bikes, most have no gears. Of course gears are not really necessary. What is necessary are the saddle bags, shelves and baby seats they attach to their bikes. These folks do everything by bike.

On multiple occasions I saw parents toting more than one child on the same bike. Sometimes they would have two kids on their bike and one or two more kids following on their own bikes. The riders were always carrying something, groceries, briefcases and flowers were common. Some of the unusual things I saw was a ladder and a huge carpet, all folded up after being purchased at the flea market. It was amazing.

My favorite site was getting caught in what appeared to be kindergarten bike traffic. It was noon time and all the little ones were going home from school. Mom peddled the big bike and the little ones on the tiny little bikes ferociously peddled alongside. They learn young!

On the Nieuwe Waterweg ferry, I got to talking to three young men who were traveling fully loaded mountain bikes. We kept playing leap frog with them, so it became a perfect time to chat. They were from Brussels and were headed up to the top of the Netherlands to a town called Den Helder to see the penguins. They were planning to be away for only 6 days, taking the bike paths all the way. We got to talking and of course they were amazed to learn that I had seen penguins in South Africa. Actually, I don’t think they believed me, but I did give them my business card. So I do hope they log on and see that I’m not some crazy old lady making up stories! (Hi guys! I hope you found your Dutch penguins!)

These young men were just a few of the folks along the bike path who were traveling just by bike. We found out later the largest hotel chain, the Golden Tulip offers a bike and stay package. You get to ride from hotel to hotel, having breakfast and dinner with them for only $99 a day. The route is 40k each day. (That’s not a typo, that is 40k not 140k!) Now that sounds like a real vacation to me! (Of course now that I have “the legs” what would I do with all that extra time?)

Of course the most popular time to visit Holland is in the Spring when all the flowers are in bloom. After seeing the pictures of it and the postcards, I’ve put it on my “to do” list.

After the ferry we began to ride closer to the sea, along the dunes. The sea was almost always hidden from our view because the dunes or the dikes block it. It is how they keep the water away. The entire country is diked, not just along the sea, but inland as well. The Dutch have reclaimed the land from the sea and continue to do so to this day. It is truly amazing.

Another incredible discovery were the huge greenhouses that line the canals. Acres and acres of greenhouses that would cover the area of a small farm were growing everything I could imagine. From cactus to tomatoes to vegetables and probably all the flowers that are put into the window boxes in Germany, Switzerland and Austria! At one point I could see nothing but greenhouses for as far as I could see. It was obvious that Holland does not get the hail storms like we do in Colorado!

The Dutch are big on horses too. It seemed everyone had a horse or at least a pony or two. They were well cared for and many looked to be thorough bred. Not far from camp we got to see a horse show in progress.

The day went fast in some respects, but in others it dragged. I was anticipating Larry’s arrival, but I didn’t know exactly when he would be there. I worried that he would get there and start riding the route backwards, looking for me. If he did, he would not find me. Rather than let it trouble me, I put the thought in the back of my head, and just enjoyed the day. We would connect, he would find me somehow.

We rode by The Hague (Den Haag) and the famous boardwalk or whatever the Dutch equivalent of a boardwalk is. It was not busy, but evidently a popular place to be in the season. We were just a couple days too late. Once out of Den Haag, the terrain got rather hilly with sand dunes. After being on pancake flat all day, it was fun to take off working the hills like a roller coaster. I raced the final 15k to the turnoff really pushing myself. This was to be my last day of riding for 10 days.

It was a perfect last day in Europe.

Larry was not at camp when I got there. I instinctively looked everywhere. Along the road I found myself searching the passing cars, looking for him. He just wasn’t there, yet.

To pass time, I took a shower, did my hair (that means dried it with a dryer) and put on some makeup (that means lipstick). I pulled my clothing bag out of the locker and gathered all the stuff I needed to go to the hotel. It started to rain, so I shoved it under the locker truck. Larry still wasn’t there.

After all this was done, I was starving, so I decided to go up to the hostel where our dinner was being served and wait. I barely finished having a glass of wine, when he walked in. After 10 weeks, I even recognized him! He found me.


Tags: Netherlands · Northern Europe