Sometimes living close to everything has advantages, like going camping on the whim of the moment.
We have a small nature camping 11 km from our house that is close to the beach and the North Sea. I have been wanting to test out our new tent we purchased for longer canoe trips. Last Monday the weather cooperated although a bit cooler we packed for our trip.
Since it is so close to home, we decided to use the bikes on this trip. Good exercise to kill a few COVID kilos we have gained and good for the environment as we peddled instead of using the Caddy.
As we entered Lisse, instantly it felt wrong. In April, in years past I have rode this same route day after day to my seasonal job at the Keukenhof Garden. This same route was crowded with traffic, even in the early hours of the morning. This year, with COVID closing everything it was devoid of traffic, tourist, and the normal bustle of an April tourism season. It just felt weird, other worldly.
As we got to the cycle path next to the Keukenhof Gardens, it was a bit busier with elderly cyclists and walkers but the gardens were like a ghost town. Sad, as this time of the bloom season brings over 35,000 tourists per day through the gates with thousands more coming to the area to look at the patchwork of colorful fields in bloom.
We arrived at the camp ground to find it busier than we would think for it being a Monday. The RV area was full, and we were not the only ones braving the cooler temperatures to tent camp. I had already been warned by a friend who has been out several times this year camping that areas are full. We also have seen that when we have gone online to make reservations that many places are nearly booked for the summer.
We pulled out our gear and set up our new tent. A Kelty Night Owl 3.
This location had plenty of room between tents and is located in a wooded area next to the protected sand dune natural barrier from the sea. We could hear the wooded area was alive with bird activity. We were not able to capture any of it on film as we didn’t have space enough to bring the larger camera.
We cooked a very nice meal of chicken/rice/mushroom soup.
We had a reasonably good night of sleep. I could hear all the night noises, traffic, airplanes, but also nature, foxes yipping in the sand dunes, owls hooting from their roost and we woke to a multitude of birds singing.
In the morning we reverse packed all our new gear in under a half hour and were ready for our return trip.
We said our goodbyes to the campground help and headed for home. This time through De Zilk between the flower fields.
Within an hour we were back at home for a coffee and apple pie. Gear was cleaned and repacked for our next adventure. Our spirits were renewed and refreshed.
Until our next posted adventure… stay safe and remember to “Leave no trace” when camping in nature.
I started hiking the Floris V Pad in 2017 on a cold, windy day. I trekked first across the landscape to my start point in Weesp on public transport. You can read about my start to this hiking self challenge, Floris V Pad Weesp .
My Totals for the Floris V Pad including this hike:
Oudewater to Haastrecht – 8 kms
Total hiked Floris V Pad to date – 75.8 kms
Total distance for Floris V Pad 244 km from Amsterdam to Bergen op Zoom
Total distance to accomplish – 100 km (153 km per sign at end of this blog… ?!)
This week, that trip across the countryside was made easier with the Hubby as chauffeur and personal hiking support team. Details of all he was required to accomplish was kept from him as a surprise so that it would encourage his help. He dropped me off 80 meters from my start point in Oudewater.
The last time I was in Oudewater was in August 2019. I then had just completed my last section of this hike on the Floris V before COVID came along and placed my 2020 hiking plans to finish Floris V Pad on temporary hold.
As I started on my trek through the quiet streets of Oudewater I instantly found a photo opportunity for my “Hummm file”. This is always a good sign for an interesting hike. My readers will have to wait for another Hummm… blog post for that great reveal.
The first section of this trail took me along the Hollandsche IJssel River. This small but well maintained hiking path was quiet and picturesque of the Green Heart of Holland landscape. Large old farms lined the river mixed with new homes on large parcels of land. Gardens of all sorts gave me a view into these private areas along the trail.
Not far outside of Oudewater I came along my first person of the day out walking his dog. He almost passed by with no more than a normal greeting until I guess he saw I was a hiker. Then he made the statement it was a beautiful day for a hike! I turned and had a very nice conversation with “Gert” who has lived in Oudewater his entire life and also enjoys hiking. It was nice to have such a welcoming conversation with him and gave me a good feeling about this section of the country. He was not the last person on this section of the trek to engage in conversation with me.
I got into my hiking rhythm and was pinged. The Hubby was at the endpoint. I got the feeling I needed to hike faster. But, I didn’t, as I knew he would go for a bike ride instead of just waiting for me to finish.
As I walked, the sun warmed me as I was so very thankful for having this moment of solitude hiking. I have missed my outdoor activities so much during the last year and this hike felt normal and refreshing.
As I got closer to my crossing point over the river, houses started getting closer together. Still farming country, but smaller tracks of land. At one point I came to a camping area where several campers were already preparing for a day of activity in the beautiful weather.
As I approached the bridge, I saw other hikers sitting enjoying a cup of coffee next to the river. Obviously, I wasn’t the only one taking advantage of the beautiful weather.
As I crossed the bridge I felt like I was being followed. When I turned around no one was there and I laughed at my sixth sense failure. Crossed the busy street and continued on my hike. But, I couldn’t shake the feeling of being followed and once again turned and saw a lady walking her dog behind me.
“Nothing unusual there!” I thought to myself.
As I got to what I thought was my turn in the trail I looked for the marker and as usual it was as clear as mud. This is where a good look at the map helped. Now, the lady who was walking her dog caught up with me and asked if I was hiking the Floris V Pad. I am sure shock registered on my face as this was the first person in all my hikes that seemed to know it existed. I confirmed that I was and we had a very nice conversation to my next turn off point. Her and one of her friends have completed several sections of the Floris V Pad as well and it was nice to converse with a kindred soul about the trail.
This last section of the hike took me through flat farm fields. Flocks of sheep dotted the pastures and all sorts of birds were singing Spring songs.
There were also more hikers and an occasional runner along this stretch of trail. I got a text message that the Hubby was just up ahead and I was heading towards a bird sanctuary. He was busy capturing bird pictures.
So I captured my own. Some friendly swans.
I was able to ask one of the hiking couples to take a picture of me. So much nicer than a selfie. Thank you for the kindness of fellow hikers.
Not much further I saw a man with a camera pointed at me.
“Hey! I know that guy!” The Hubby was heading towards me.
We hiked together to the nature sanctuary and then on to the car where we had a nice camp lunch.
We have more planned adventures for the coming weeks.
Are you planning some adventures?
We would love to hear about them in the comment section below.
Yes! It finally happened. Our first canoe paddle of 2021. You can read about our other first yearly season paddles here, here, and here.
We had kicked around a lot of ideas this Spring as to where our launch point would be. As always, do we go someplace new or just dump the boat in a known location? Our old winter torn bodies determined that we chose an old favorite location in the small town of Hillegom.
This time of the year the flower fields near Hillegom are always a nice quiet paddle and the air is filled with the floral sense. Just the right combination of canal paddling to ease the muscles back into shape.
With COVID still sky high here we took the precautions needed to stay away from other people.
After unloading the canoe at the launch site I guessed that seeing a large rat would be the highlight of the trip. A bit concerning seeing a rat hanging out at the launch site but he wasn’t thin as I am sure the nearby school was providing a good amount of food for his COVID kilos.
Once on the water we headed towards the North and right into the wind. Our arm paddle muscles barked from the lack of winter use. We didn’t get far into our excursion when we were stopped by a barrier placed in our path. For some reason this canoe path was closed and won’t be opened until 15 April.
We turned around and headed South. The rat was happily sitting by the launch sight and I think I heard him laugh as we paddled in the opposite direction.
We slowly got into our paddle rhythm and started noticing the changes from our last paddle here last Spring. Although we were a bit disappointed that the fields were not in full bloom. I had to remind myself that it is still about three weeks before the normal mid April tulip bloom. But, even then it might be less than in years past as we saw a number of fields sitting empty of any bulbs.
As we were enjoying the sites I noticed a pair of swans up in front of us and warned the back of the boat. This time of the year can be tricky when coming upon swans as they are very territorial in the mating and nesting season. Not the first time we have had to give clearance to the large birds as we paddle. Suddenly, one of the large birds starting running across the water with wings flapping right for me! What to do? There was a small sense of concern from the back of the boat, but not the level of concern I was feeling as my heart jumped into my throat and I lifted my paddle out of the water getting ready for a large white water fowl to place itself in my lap! At the last possible minute it hit the water to the left hand side of the boat not more than a five feet from me!
Now a level of appropriate concern came from the stern of the boat.
“Paddle hard! Paddle fast!”
As I put all my power into the paddle I peeked back at the Hubby who now was paddling hard as the swan was with almost no effort was swimming not more than 3 feet off the bow of the boat.
“Hell, that bird is keeping up with us!” I replied
Once the swan figured we were out of his terriorty we slowed.
“Wow, that was a first for me!” I said. In all my years of paddling, I had never actually been almost attacked by a swan. I have always respected them and gave them distance when I saw them as I had heard stories from other paddlers. Now I had a story to share too!
We continued down the canal and towards De Zilk fighting wind gusts that always blow off the sea in this canal. When we reached De Zilk and saw that the fields there were also not much to see we turned and headed back towards the launch.
The swans were waiting…
This time he tried a different tactic. Look like he was going to be friendly. swim up to the boat and them make yourself small like a floating ice burg (she won’t notice a thing until it is too late!).
We already had a plan. Paddle as fast as we could past the pair of swans.
As we paddled the back of the boat once again was shadowed by the swan for a few hundred yards.
My heart rate was elevated from the entire encounter.
As we eased our way back to the launch site we laughed about the situation. A short quiet paddle. Sure!
Pulling up to the launch pad we reflected on our first paddle of the 2021 season. We are grateful for the experience and that we are still able to enjoy some adventures even those that are unexpected.
When we attended the Dutch Open Canoe Festival a few weeks ago we decided to accept a suggestion of staying at a less busy camping location not far from the Weerribben.
The Hubby and I had visited another area of this forest earlier this Spring and knew it had features we wanted to explore including a lake.
As we pushed the canoe cart towards the lake we were stopped by the Park Ranger who was clearly a wooden canoe enthusiast. He asked us all the normal questions we get about the canoe. Did we build it? How it was made? How does it paddle?
Then he informed us that the beautiful lake was not available to paddle but that he would allow us if we respected the wildlife. We quickly thanked him and continued to the lake and had a very nice paddle on a lake that reminded us both of areas in Northern Minnesota.
The campsite was spacious and the campground had done a great job of making it as COVID 19 social distancing proof as possible. This was comforting as we camped through the busy weekend we never once felt we were at risk of catching the virus from any of the other campers.
There are a number of hiking trails located within walking distance of the campground. With hidden treasures of nature or man made features waiting to be discovered.
The park has several tipis for rent but this one seemed to be used for nature programs that the Park Rangers provided.
Not that a small gnome house would be surprising to see on this trail. It was a children trail and what better way to inspire children in nature than to feature gnomes and a small house.
I would recommend this beautiful forest location for anyone who would like to get out of the house and into nature.
The hardest part of the year was not kayaking. This blog is about how on Wednesday I had my first kayak paddle of the season and most likely the last kayak paddle of the season.
I don’t have a Dutch drivers license. I am at the liberty of the Hubby’s time availability for getting to a kayak location. After our weekend canoe paddle in the Weerribben I knew needed to find my way into the water in my kayak for a day. Kayaking was my first love and it was part of my PTSD therapy recovery plan. The healing properties of water and nature are well documented and amazing. I needed some “me” time.
I arranged to be dropped off at my favorite local lake, the Westeinder in Aalsmeer. We have featured this lake several times before on this blog. It was the training lake where the Hubby and I spent several days paddling in preparation for our BWCA trip, three years ago.
The fall days are getting shorter. The Hubby dropped me and my equipment off at the beach before the sunrise.
As I waited I had a very friendly goose approach me.
I had enough equipment for a five day trip but the plan was only to paddle to the Historic Garden in Aalsmeer where I volunteer. My first visit to the garden since April.
I always get a bit of a thrill when my kayak hits the water for the first time in a season. I am always a little nervous. The weather, wind, and muscles all have to once again tune into each other. It is like meeting an old friend after not seeing them for awhile. Excitement and also caution as you know it has been awhile since your last solo paddle. Plus, kayaking is not canoeing.
As I paddled from lake into harbor the sun was changing the reflections and sky as the seconds ticked passed. I pulled around the corner to find the sun putting on a spectacular display of color as it crested above the horizon.
In my own special place, alone on the water, I thanked the heavens for health and ability to paddle. To be able to experience this special place in this time, even though it has contained such heartbreak and misery for so many all over the world.
As I entered the canal that takes me directly to the Historic Garden I was reminded of my mantra… Carpe Diem.
I silently slowly paddled my way closer to the garden so my arrival time at the garden would be timed perfectly. I knew the garden bridge over the canal opened at 8 am. My timing was perfect as I was greeted by one of my co-volunteers lowering the bridge.
Pulling my kayak onto dry land my co-worker greeted me and jokingly asked if I paddled all the way from the USA.
I laughed, “nope just from the lake beach“.
I sat and had my coffee then toured around the gardens. I trimmed and deadheaded the roses for the first time this year. Then the day outing was over as the Hubby returned to pick me and the equipment up.
Sadly, this might have been the last day this year I would have an opportunity to kayak. Who knows what the coming days or weeks will bring?
My last thought on First and Last…today 28 years ago my first son was born in the shadow of Mount Rainer in Washington State. Happy Birthday son!