This spring as we prepared for our BWCAW trip in Northern Minnesota we decided that we should learn a few things about canoeing or paddling. Our first trip in our new cedar strip canoe was to a local area called Landsmeer just a few minutes north of Amsterdam.
As we headed out for our first weekend camping with our newly purchased cedar strip canoe we were nervous as she sat on the top of our car. We did have her carefully strapped down but the winds here in the Netherlands are brutal!
We pulled into our campground and our nerves calmed.
The problem with having a kayak and a canoe and no trailer is that it always takes two trips if you want to use both. We did finally figure that we could open the window of our camper and place the 12 foot kayak inside.
The campground is located with several camping sites on Landsmeer lake. Several of the campsites face the water with nearly all of the campsites with some sort of water access. We found that the best place to launch from was the tiny beach used by the campers as a swimming area. The swans also loved this area and we had several aggressive swans very upset that we were using “their water”.
We noticed that there were several other paddlers that enjoyed this campground and we had a great time watching the different watercraft in our time resting off the water.
We did several trips from this campsite in the canoe practicing our skills as a team. I also escaped in my kayak on several outings to clear my head from all the new canoe skills. On one of my kayak paddles I headed into a canal close to town and out of the wind exploring the world of the Dutch backyard gardens as I quietly glided by on the canal. These small insights into each individual Dutch world can be interesting. From beautiful landscaped gardens to yards with a dozen or more old boats it was fascinating to see the variety within a short distance.
This same canal we explored in the canoe one morning and it took us into a world of pastures and marshland wilderness. It was hard to believe this wonderland was only minutes from the busy tourist city of Amsterdam.
All along our route we saw new things. A place to camp or to have coffee, we stopped, and spent some time there to exploring the marshy trail. Dairy cattle looking shocked to see a strange boat passing close to their pasture. Birds flying by or being startled from the water as we paddled through the canals.
On one stop about half way through our trip that morning we found an outdoor nature museum. It explains the history of the area, about the marshland, and has a tower where you can overlook the area. It was closed at the time we visited but we were still able to see and experience most of the outdoor exhibits. One of the volunteers at the museum explained to us why it was not open, sadly the funding for this place had been cut. No funding means limited hours.
Here are a few things we learned that weekend.
- The cedar strip canoe is heavy! About 75 pounds.
- That the wind and rain never seem to stop in The Netherlands (but it will and you will have perfect paddle weather.)
- We needed to listen to each other about how to paddle the canoe. It really works better if one person gives the directions and one person just listens and follows instructions.
- That even close to Amsterdam there are wild places worth investigating and exploring. We loved this location!