It is the second week of January and already we are showing off signs of an early Spring.
So another year of canoe paddling is under our belt. Marking the official end to our season was our attendance this last weekend at the 2019 Dutch Open Canoe Festival held at the National Park De Weerribben in Ossenzijl.
We were supposed to be canoeing everyday. We brought the bikes to ride in our the middle of each day. We packed summer, fall, and winter clothes. Plus the all important rain gear.
Ah, two weeks of bliss in the Northern Dutch provinces.
First it was the heat. Our first week was blistering hot. Now at our new location the weather has changed and we have wind force 5 coming across a large lake kicking up the waves. Not safe or fun to paddle in these conditions we have adjusted our plans and have been exploring the small towns in the area.
Dokkum, Balk, and Sloten. All are old harbor towns and all have buildings dating hundreds of years old. As we walk through these old towns and look at these old buildings standing the test of time it is hard to believe they are so old. Each one being recycled through the generations from cheese store to clothing or butter warehouse to cafe. You can almost feel the spirit of each person who established and worked an entire lifetime in the businesses that make these towns.
Warehouses line the canals and harbors, fishing and cargo boats come and go (now replaced with yachts and recreational boats) time passes slowly from day to day, then generation to generation.
We found we slowed down too. Took in the sites. Stepped into interesting backstreets, peeked into some windows. Then always we find a cafe to sit, enjoy a meal or a cup of coffee, relax and let time expand and contract with the life of these towns.
Not sure what the weather will do, the forecast isn’t the best. So we wait. If we aren’t able to do what we have planned we will continue to enjoy the time we have been granted to explore and relax.
©️ The Cedar Journal, 2019, all rights reserved
Having a camping spot on the water makes it easier for enjoying a canoe paddle. We started our week with a short paddle of 4.5 km close to the camping. On the edge of the National Park Lauwersmeer we saw plenty of migrating birds.
Swans, white egrets, ducks of every sort and cormorants. We have spotted spoonbills and three black swans also.
The second paddle was on the West part of the Lauwersmeer from the small village of Oostmahorn. The wind made this a bit of a challenging paddle until we reached a protected island area. Not wanting to paddle back into the waves we headed inland to find a canal back to our start point. Only to end up at a old lock with no access to the canal on the other side. We returned the way we came. In the shallow water we saw some huge fish. I even saw a bass come straight out of the water vertically. This was a 6.5 km paddle.
©️ The Cedar Journal,2019, all rights reserved
So we packed, double checked our list, found enough room in and on the car for everything. Then on the road heading towards our destination. As in most places the summer vacation is almost over.
We saw the effects of that as we headed through and then out of Amsterdam. There was more than 10km of standstill traffic going into Amsterdam. We saw many caravans, campers, and cars loaded with gear we suspect heading home from a vacation.
We were speeding along in our fully packed car towards the afsluitdijk, a 30 km dike built to keep the sea out and connecting North Holland to Friesland. An engineering marvel and an incredible accomplishment.
We stopped at the halfway point and took pictures, drank a cup of coffee and then headed on our route towards our camping location for the next seven days.
Judging The Netherlands by only visiting Amsterdam is sad as this land has so much to experience. This drive to the North was filled with flat country landscapes, dairy and sheep farms. Farmers harvesting crops like hay and cauliflower. Small villages dot the landscapes with houses that look so different from the ones close to Amsterdam.
Soon we were across another dike and lock system into the area where we have rented a cabin for a week.
The cabin sits in the National Park Lauwersmeer. A major bird migration route with that plenty of canoe water to explore.
Our first day we just settled into our lodging and enjoyed the views.
©️ The Cedar Journal, 2019, all rights reserved
It was Wednesday and the weather was beautiful. After being self isolated to the house for three weeks knitting a pair of hiking socks I breathed in the fresh air as I stepped outside the door and headed to the bus. It had been several months since I last hiked a section of the Floris V Pad…
I woke up early to have the hubby drive me to Rijpwetering. From there I rode my bike the last three kilometers to the campsite. I could celebrate some time on the water as the summer solstice approaches.