50+ Year Friendship Canoe Paddle, Netherlands

I can’t say I have known any of my friends for 50 years.  I moved around as a kid and even more as an adult. I have only one friend that comes to mind that has been through it all with me, the good, the bad, and the ugly.  But, even that old treasured friendship of mine is not 50 years old.

The hubby having a bit more stable life, has worked at the same job for 30+ years, has lived in only one country, and has people who he has known for years even one friendship that goes all the way back to grade school. My hubby and his friend “M” have known each other this year for 50 years! The feature photo on this blog is from around 1968 and the two kids on the back of the sled are young “M” and my young hubby.

50 years of friendship, My hubby and "M"

50 years of friendship, My hubby and “M”

We have camped and canoe paddled with this friend “M” and her hubby for the last two years in August.  Read about our adventure last year Netherlands National Park Biesbosch. This year made for a special canoe paddle/celebration this past weekend.

These friends travelled from Zeeland to Oud-Alblas for a weekend of camping, visiting and canoeing.  The first evening we each took a paddle in Cedar down the Alblas River.  First to paddle were the longtime friends. They slowly headed towards Oud Alblas and I could hear the chatter of old friends as they paddled. Then it was our turn as “M’s” hubby and I took the canoe out in the same direction.

Cedar, Me, and the new Captain on the Alblas River

Cedar, Me, and the new Captain on the Alblas River

I had to adjust my paddling to compensate for the new captain steering the canoe.  The zig zag of the canoe and the comments coming out of the rear of the vessel also meant that he was not use to my paddle style, speed, and our boat.  I silently thanked my last year of paddling with the hubby.  Be patient with the new captain, I thought, as he finds his bearings with our boat.  At one point I got showered with water.

“I took a shower this morning…did you think I needed another one?” I said jokingly.

He laughed and said “Yeah, kinda got away from me, I also do that from time to time with  M…”

“This canoe is light on the water.” he continued as he zigged and zagged across the river and I slowed my paddle strokes down to help him control the direction of the boat.

“She is, but rides a bit better when she is loaded with gear.” I mentioned.

Once we had paddled for a while we also found a rhythm and the paddling became easier.

These gatherings are always a bit hard for me.  References to Dutch things, past friends, family matters, things that happened in their history and not mine and all in fast speaking normal Dutch language makes for an incredibly long day for me. My head is full by the end of the day. I usually have a huge headache from trying to cram so much information into my brain in such a short amount of time.

Willow Tree on the Alblas River

Willow Tree on the Alblas River

On Saturday morning early, I went alone to paddle my kayak on the river. Maybe I could clear my head and start the day fresh.  I started to think how lucky my hubby was to have a friend who he had known for so long. I wondered, in my moments alone on the water, how many of my friends will make it to 50 years of friendship. So many have drifted into and out of my life. Many, I know I will never see again.

Paddling under the Willow Tree my version of Nature Bathing

Paddling under the Willow Tree my version of Nature Bathing

While thinking of one of those friends I suddenly saw a Army tank along the river.  I laughed out loud as I was just thinking of my old combat buddy.  I have paddled this section of river at least a dozen times this Summer and this was the first I had ever seen this tank. It was like it appeared out of nowhere.

The Tank on the Alblas River

The Tank on the Alblas River

I paddled along side the two canals that skirt where this tank was located.  Wondering if it could be part of some sort of resistance group, WWII reactors, maybe … well lets just say my imagination was going a little overboard as I took these pictures.  I was now a imagined CIA  agent gathering information and these important photos could be turned over to the American government.  Still thinking it was a real tank I wished my hubby was with me to experience this find, he too could be a hero.

When I returned to the campground, I examined the pictures with my hubby. I was eager to share my Army tank sighting.  We realized looking closer to the pictures, it was not a real tank.  My find would not be useful after all to the CIA. Another possible career move for me down the tubes.

Clearly NOT a Real Tank

Clearly NOT a Real Tank

We spent the Saturday visiting a museum that told the history of the Dutch dredging ships.  The museum is located in Sliedrecht and is called the Nationaal Bagger Museum. The Dutch are known internationally for the ships that can move large amounts of sea and river dirt/mud/sand from one location to another.  This museum is the history of those ships. It also details those Dutch ships that have helped form some of the worlds best known landmarks made by dredging of the ocean floor.

 

On Sunday, we started the day off with a group canoe/kayak paddle.  Our friends paddling Cedar, the hubby and I in our kayaks.  We headed in the direction of Bleskensgraaf and had to fight a strong headwind at one point.

Paddling together on the Alblas River

Paddling together on the Alblas River

It is a bit strange to see our boat with someone else paddling but it was wonderful to see the smiles on our friends faces as they glided over the water.  Just a year ago when we were together “M’s” husband was waiting for heart surgery and we were all a bit scared that it would be the last time the four of us would be enjoying time together.  This visit was not only about the of years of friendship but also a triumph over poor health.

"M" taking a picture of me as I am taking a picture of her

“M” taking a picture of me as I am taking a picture of her, we are still not sure what her husband was up to with the paddle…

The weekend ended with hugs, laughs and promises to camp and canoe together again next year.

My Dutch Hubby as Capitan of his own vessel

My Hubby as Capitan of his own vessel

 

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