Aalsmeer. This morning the water was like glass when we pushed off from the beach at Aalsmeer and paddled to the Historic Garden to volunteer.
We were the only watercraft on the water as we headed into the harbor area of Aalsmeer.
Once at the garden we were put to work fertilizing the garden. Each plant got some boost of fertilizer that will help it get a good start of nutrition for the season.
Once done with our task we headed back out onto the water. Now pushing against a headwind my muscles told me that this short paddle was longer than I wanted it be. The first paddle of the season always shows me that I was a bit lazy during the winter.
This wonderful paddle location is really a very short drive for us, but we hadn’t paddled the Nieuwkoopse plassen since 2017 when we first were learning how to canoe paddle as a team. You can read about those adventures here.
We started early, although with all the gear packing and loading and the short drive we didn’t get onto the water at the Noorden launch site until close to 9 am.
Anytime prior to the magic hour of 10 am is a great time to do anything in this country and enjoy quiet of nature.
We noticed a few new things (or maybe we had forgotten) like route signs.
Instead of having a planned out route this time we explored the route towards the Meije River on the far East side of the Nieuwkoops plassen.
At the start of the river is a nature center. We stopped only briefly to look at the map.
When we started to paddle on the Meije we noticed three guys working on a water barrier that went across the river. It looked as if we were going to have to turn around and paddle back in the direction we came. One of the guys noticed us and waved us forward to the barrier. We were told to press a button and the barrier gate would operate. Then we could paddle through this water control gate onto the river. This was a new experience for us.
We paddled down the river for a short distance and noticed a second gate leading back into the nature area and was listed for paddle boats only. At this gate I took a short video as we waited for the gate to open.
As we entered this nature area we started to make our way through the canals. The route is pretty understandable, any possible water path that looks like it could be a route has been blocked intentionally with large logs making it very clear the direction of travel. This area was full of bird and insect noises. In fact, it was so quiet I heard a cricket chirping!
Unfortunately, the nature sounds are disrupted by the noises of aircraft engines from the Schiphol airport.
We came into a small lake and started to look for a nice spot to have coffee. Not able to find a good spot to stop, we start to paddle back to the launch site. We noticed now there was more traffic on the water too.
This location also had a very nice (my standard, as a kid I grew up with an outhouse for a toilet) camp outhouse.
At this stop we noticed it was really getting busy on the water with a good combination of large and small boats along with all sorts of paddling crafts.
That was our signal that it was time for us to be getting off the water, as we really don’t enjoy all the traffic.
When we pulled up to the launch site it was also busy with swimmers and other paddlers getting ready to get on the water. Always a challenge to carefully get our beautiful Cedar boat out of the water even more so when we have to tip toe around other people and boats. In this case, on this day, people who really didn’t have a clue about water courtesy.
We loaded up and headed for home.
It was a great time exploring this old paddle location.
Ahhh, the good old days before COVID 19, when we planned vacations and then returned home to write exciting blogs about our adventures. Ah, those were the days!
Our readers won’t get excited about this recent vacation. Only an hour an half down the road and only seven days long. We toured two different Dutch National Park locations, in fact it was pretty boring.
Boring isn’t a bad thing. In fact, we felt like the vacation was very relaxing. The vacation felt more normal than we have felt outside our local area (mostly our back garden) in the last year and a half.
First stop, the Weerribben National Park. We have blogged about this favorite of ours several times over the years (you can read about those experiences here, here, here and here). On this vacation, we decided to rent one of the vacation houses with direct water access for five days. We took several day trips to other paddle locations in the immediate area. We paddled a total of 40km. Our paddling muscles got a good workout.
We relaxed on the deck overlooking the water and campground. We listened to the birds and watched the dragonflies. The constant stress of the year melted away. The digital devices were mostly off and we enjoyed being bored.
The next stop on our vacation was to a National Park in Friesland, Alde Feanen National Park. We have stopped here before for a short paddle (you can read about that here).
We decided to tent camp in a nature area. This was an excellent location to see nesting storks. In fact we didn’t have to go far, as we had a view of four nests right from our campsite.
In our seven days away we enjoyed our quiet time, restored depleted energy and just enjoyed nature.