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!
As always it is sad to see the end to another Dutch Open Canoe Festival. Seeing old paddling friends, making new ones and always the learning that goes with new ideas or new techniques.
This year that included learning what each of us considered acceptable risk just to attend. What about bathrooms? Where should we stay as the event brings people from all around Europe and most of all can we still interact with old canoe paddle buddies and still maintain our distance. What challenges!
I will write a detailed blog later this week on our experiences from the weekend but promised two young paddlers that I would post a few pictures. To keep my promise before this old canoe paddler takes a nap to recover from so much excitement over the weekend here you go young people.😊
Best wishes and safe a healthy travels to everyone who attended. Until next season.😊
As the Spring entered the dark days of COVID, I got busy purchasing seeds for our garden. Vegetables, herbs and flowers that would have healing properties just in case the world as we knew it had a total economic meltdown. I believe it was times likes these when fairytales were started. Stories that captured the magic of nature, and gave people hope in difficult and depressing times.
I purchased sunflower seeds this Spring, against my better judgment. I have never had much luck in raising sunflowers. As I opened the seed package I founds the seeds were extremely small (nothing like the sunflower seeds I had always planted in the US). So small, in fact, that I didn’t waste my time carefully planting them, I just tossed them in the front flower bed, then forgot about them.
Remember the story of Jack and the Beanstalk? Jack’s mother tossed those bean seeds right out the window of their very small house. She was very angry with Jack for trading a cow for “magic” beans.
For those who have followed our blog for any amount of time know, my partner is known as Hubby. This is not his name, of course, he wants to remain anonymous to the world. His real name is an old Dutch traditional name that none of my American friends or family can seem to pronounce. He realized this many years before meeting me and adopted a.k.a. American names to use when he was in the US. Jim, John, Jacob, and Jack are the common ones he uses when traveling.
With “Jack” now home working from what used to be and still occasionally is, The Cedar Journal International Headquarters, Jack suddenly became immersed in the daily life that surrounds the international office space. Things such as watching the daily dog walkers, knowing the time that each delivery service would be stopping on our street, noting the neighborhood home improvement activities and watching the growth of the flower/veggie gardens. These activities have opened Jack’s eyes to the vastly complicated responsibilities I have here at my international headquarters.
Jack has had his own issues with the aviation industry during these dire times, but he also found time in his busy home office schedule to build chicken coops, add chicken coop improvements, build a back porch sitting area, and has made improvements to our camper for our canoe trips. Jack is a busy and diverse guy!
Jack now has mostly exhausted his additional home improvement tasks and now has taken up the time old tradition of “how to build a better mousetrap”.
With the addition of chickens we now have cute mice in our back garden. They seem to eat the grain the chickens find undesirable (picky, spoiled hens!). Now we seem to have mice along the lines in of another fairytale The Pied Piper.
These mice seem magical, I have watched them actually sit on the mousetrap, eat all the peanut butter, and never trip the trap! My frustration at catching these vermin is immense. Jack has now volunteered to take on this task in his free time. I never knew there were entire websites and YouTube videos dedicated to the many ways to capture and kill these small cute problematic creatures.
As the summer turned into fall, we saw that my casual toss of sunflower seeds were now growing tall and invading our front garden. Each day from the international office Jack and I would comment on how one of the sunflower plants was growing towards the sky. Just like Jack’s Beanstalk, the large green leaves and the sturdy stalk grew like crazy. Today, I finally captured some pictures of our sunflower.
As with all fairytales, we know this current tale will have a happy ending. Jack will be victorious over the mice, he won’t have to climb the sunflower stalk to get the golden egg from the giants, and one day The Cedar Journal will again be a one person show with Jack returning to his normal duty at Schiphol Airport. The until then, we will be content at creating our own magical garden here within the walls of The Cedar Journal International Headquarters.
One last hummm… I caught this last week while I was out for a walk.