We are paddling in Northern Minnesota and in the coming weeks readers will be able to read about our battles with the alternate Minnesota State bird. Until then…
Close to the start of this vacation we crossed the border into the neighboring state of Wisconsin and drove the backroads following the St Croix from Douglas County south to Osceola, WI. One would not think there could be so many instant Hummm… available. Here are some but not all we witnessed.
The restaurant Tippy Canoe is right next door and we had the best wait staff and loaded up on cheese curds. Thanks Bobbie for the wonderful service and conversation. Then we headed back to the hotel and it seems that the universe was trying to keep us in town.
I can report that we made it out of Wisconsin safely and we want to thank the State for the making us think outside the box.
We hope you enjoyed this addition to our Hummm… collection. Enjoy looking for surprises in life and Carpe Diem!
Those regular readers of my blog already know to be amazed at the items that the universe places in my path.
This week is vacation week in The Netherlands for most people. The Hubby only has three days off but we decided to escape to one of our favorite camping spots at the Biesbosch. Then I would try to get my hiking feet to pound the kilometers I still have to complete the Floris V Pad hiking trail. Oh, how I digress, this is a Hummm blog. Yes, I found these at our camping and along my route.
Years ago when I first traveled to Europe while on leave from my military duty in the Middle East I saw it through the eyes of an innocent young adult. Europe was nothing like imaged from all my prior reading in books on the continent.
I flew into Germany, quickly purchased a dress, Birkenstocks, backpack and finally a train ticket. I stuffed my military uniform into a locker on the American Air Base and headed out on an adventure.
I had an experienced travel partner with me and we rode the overnight on a train to Italy to stay with his brother. I then jumped on a train alone, travelled on to see an Air Force friend in eastern Italy. Everything was new and exiting. The old buildings, the landscapes, the crazy mopeds driving on the busy streets.
I have retold tons of stories of that trip over the years to friends and relatives. The newness of Europe to me was full of adventure and I thought it would be my only opportunity ever to visit the continent. From where I sit today that newness and sharp edges are worn smooth with experience there are things I just don’t see of my adopted country of The Netherlands anymore.
This week the Hubby and I are hosting one of my best friends from my home town in Minnesota. Yes, there is a threat of war on our continent and most of us have gotten little sleep as prices rise, refugees are now entering the country and the news is constantly repeating the play by play of the war in Ukraine like some sports show.
It is hard for me to see things as exciting and new. But, my friend is seeing and experiencing Europe with and through the eyes of an innocent child. Everything is new for her, the old Amsterdam buildings, the windmills, the Dutch countryside and the wonderful robust transport system we have in this country and it has lifted the shadows of the overhanging news of the war.
We have nearly forgotten that a terrorist is holding us all hostage with his threat of nuclear button pushing or super sonic weapons. Life is going on even if it is more expensive each day.
For Americans to explore the past locations that our ancestors came from since the birth of the USA. It will be harder, as this war lingers, to do such things without anxiety. My hope and wish is that there will be a quick and peaceful resolution, but from my professional background, old fears whisper “it will be a long and difficult road” before peace.
My advise to all my readers, come to Europe, live the experience, don’t let a terrorist win! Experience the continent and Carpe Diem!
We all want tourist from other places to enjoy the European continent in freedom and to see it for the diversity it holds.
For my regular followers you will be happy to see that the Hummm… is still in me and that I can write about it. Maybe it will bring some smiles to those of you who have been too much in front of all the current World events. As I now have a strong following from China I hope that they understand the Hummm files and can see the smiles on all of our faces as we read these strange and unusual sightings. Welcome to my new Chinese followers!
We made a short trip this last week to an undisclosed location here in Europe to enjoy the sun and see some local sights. The weather was unusually warm for this time of the year and it brought the local citizens out in grand European style to enjoy the sun collectively and enjoy a nice cup of coffee with friends. After two years of COVID we are all very happy to get back to normal!
Hummm… normal? What the heck is that? Well, I didn’t think I would be enjoying a cup of coffee and have to worry about nuclear attacks! That is NOT normal!!! So what other not normal things did we see… here is a bit of the sights.
Hummm… how am I doing? Sleep, crappy! Worried…NO! Prepared for whatever crap comes our way…YUP!!!!
I do not fear Putin and as any coward usual does, he is hiding in Moscow while his troops are dying on the battlefield. Hummm… is NATO prepared for him if he crosses the line they have set into place. I can say in the most unofficial terms YES, YES, YES!!!! 💙💛🙏
Will the Hubby and I have to escape via our beautiful Cedar canoe if things get really close? Possible. We were asked to wipe our muddy feet when we get to where we are going to paddle. No problem! 🛶🚴♀️
So for all you out there that worry about us we appreciate your prayers and support here at the Cedar Journal, but please send most of your support to those in Ukraine as they need it more than we do at this moment. 💙💛💙💛🙏🇪🇺🇪🇺🇪🇺🇪🇺
Vacation travel in these times takes more planning and is more stressful than in the period prior to the COVID era. Our most recent vacation to the small village of Ojen, Spain was planned months ago and travel remained in question until the day we stepped onto our flight.
Most low cost airlines rely on the gloomy winter weather in Northern Europe to shuttle sun seekers to the Spanish coastal regions. This yearly migration of Northern Europeans to the warmer winter weather zones with possible sunny conditions has kept the Hubby employed for 35+ years. We booked a flight on Transavia Airlines to fly into Malaga, Spain in August not knowing if we would ever get off the ground.
I had a difficult trip to the US in September so I was not excited about this trip. Travel inside the EU is easier as we don’t have to pass through customs or passport control, COVID testing prior to flying is not required inside the EU. Travel between countries has gotten tricky with a raging virus and the constantly changing rules, regulations, vaccinations, and additional paperwork and possible testing adding to any lingering travel stress or anxiety. Notice, I didn’t mention excitement? I used to feel excited going on vacation.
We filled in our paperwork for the Spanish authorities online. Which is similar to a health visa. Answered all the questions on our symptoms (lack there of). Received a QR code, printed it off (old school paper copy as we don’t trust a computer to be actually working 24/7/365 as advertised).
Then the announcement of a new variant of COVID had hit our Dutch shores. Was our vacation at risk?
Would we now be required to get a PCR test prior to flying?
What would happen if things changed while we were on vacation and needed to quarantine in place?
Eye roll and a large sigh, please.
We determined that if a PCR test was needed we would cancel our trip. We discussed the plans for getting out of Spain if the countries decided to place restrictions on air travel. I proposed hiking back to The Netherlands, which instantly was countered with “We can take the train or rent a car…” by the Hubby. I had to laugh as I didn’t even consider those options.
Once we got through security, flight into Malaga, a line of COVID paperwork checks, and finally rental car secured, we headed down the coast to Marbella, Spain. We would head a short ways inland to the small village of Ojen where we would meet the manager of the rental house on the edge of town.
The sun was shining on this bright whitewashed village that has been built on and in the hills of this valley outside of Marbella.
It looked warm and inviting.
As the rental house manager wound through the small streets on his moped and I grabbed the “ah crap bar” above my head on my side of the car as we came within inches of parked cars and fronts of buildings. I wondered how anyone could drive or build a village on the side of a mountain.
What were they thinking?
We suddenly took a sharp right turn and went down towards the center of the city then another sharp turn to the left (nearly missing oncoming traffic and several parked cars), then the street keep going down into the valley away from the village.
The moped turned off the street into what looked to be an unmaintained driveway, only big enough for one car and very steep hurdling us towards the valley.
Suddenly we were at a gate and the house was revealed. Stark white against a clear blue sky. Our home away from home for the next two weeks.
Vacation is all about relaxing for us. We spent our days looking out at the wonderful views from the rental house. Walking up the steep road into the village each day to the bakery or grocery. Each time thinking the next trip would be easier for us, each time realizing it wasn’t. Taking joy in how fast the downhill walk to the rental was with our full shopping bags.
We only ate out twice during our vacation. Both times opting for outside seating. Practicing our horrible Spanish mixed with English we managed fine even through our masks.
The sky in the evening would turn beautiful colors and those colors reflected off the Mediterranean in the distance. The hues of reds and oranges reflecting off the whitewash houses was spectacular.
For the first time in a very long time I felt relaxed, not on alert, not in fear of a virus I could not see, but know is everywhere. I felt safe with the sunny sky and vitamin D hitting my skin from our rooftop terrace. Ahhh… vacation.
When I didn’t think our vacation could get any better, it did! I received a text message from my daughter-in-law that my oldest son had made it home to St Louis from his long deployment in the Middle East. Finally, I could really relax knowing he was safe at home with his wife. They could now enjoy this Christmas together.
We returned to The Netherlands just before the total lockdown. Happy that we enjoyed our time in Southern Spain. Now we hopefully have new energy to tackle the coming months.
We wish each of our readers a safe and healthy holiday season. The Netherlands is in total lockdown until 14 January. Only essential shops for groceriesand pharmaciesare open. Travel in the EU has changed since I wrote this blog several days ago, if you are planning travel please check on restrictions prior to traveling and please follow the recommendations suggested for your travel location.