I worked for a boss a few years ago he would stop me in the middle of a conversation and tell me to “get out of the weeds”. He didn’t have the time or the energy to listen to a long story about what had happened and how I came to the solution. He only wanted the guts of the situation and what the solution actually was. Then, if asked, he could explain it to his boss. When I finally made it to his position I didn’t have as blunt of an approach with my people but, I did finally really understood why he used the phrase.
Now, that I have provided all of my readers with all the “weeds” and “back story”, I will continue with our most recent paddle into the Weerribben National Park.
I was told about this paddle by my canoe friend Petra about two years ago. I always know which canoe paddles are awesome by the way her face lights up as she talks about them. In this case, her face had glowed with that secret of giving away a cool location that few canoe paddlers venture to this location. I made a mental note. I looked at the location on the map several times in those long winter months of planning but we never had made it that far to the East in the park. I had even gone by bike on one trip to the Weerribben to recon the location but had never found a launch point.
When we found that the Dutch Open Canoe Fest was very crowded on and off the water this past weekend, we headed to this new location with fingers crossed that we might find a launch point.
One of the most adventurous parts of any canoe paddling trip, to me, is locating the/a launch point. Many are hidden from view, only known by locals or, in some cases, they just don’t exist. When they don’t exist it can make your plan for paddling that day fall apart instantly or become very creative as to how to place your vessel in the water.
We were lucky on Saturday, we didn’t have to get creative. We found a launch site I had missed on all my other trips to that same parking lot. A nice boat launch and canoe platform was clearly visible.
We unloaded and headed out against a strong wind that bounced Cedar along the water and made our paddle muscles bark from the lack of use this summer. There were two kayakers who had launched just prior to us and then headed quickly back, passed us going in the opposite direction. They told the Hubby that they didn’t want to be on the ship canal. Ok, we thought, but there is a nice lake and that is where we were heading.
We crossed the busy ship canal. Enduring a strong head wind on the canal we paddled hard to the other side and then ducked under the bike bridge to enter the lake. Oh, what a dream! A well hidden small lake with vegetation along the entire shoreline with not one soul or boat of any sort to be found! Awesome!
I silently thanked Petra for this location tip as we glided across the mirrored water. The lake was calm in the protection of the trees and vegetation. We commented to each other that this was like something we could find in Northern Minnesota. A catch in my throat, as I thought about missing an entire paddling season this year in my beloved canoe country of Minnesota. So thankful, that we have some beautiful spots here in The Netherlands to paddle.
Petra had told us that there was a canal that exited the lake on the other side. We had seen the exit point on the map. Although, looking across the lake we couldn’t spot it from where we sat. We stopped at an old dock and turned on our GPS to help us locate the exit point. Again, we experienced a flashback of paddling in Minnesota as we had this same issue in the BWCA three years ago. It all looked the same, just tall reeds and woods. Even looking at the tops of the trees, a skill I use sometimes to determine where the river runs out of a lake in Minnesota (usually a break in the skyline), I couldn’t determine where it could be on this Dutch lake.
We paddled in the direction that the GPS gave us, just as we neared the shoreline it was revealed, a canal that was only about canoe wide. Again, “awesome” escaped my lips.
As we paddled along, the weeds seemed to want to keep this location secret. We were slapped in the face with their overreaching branches and pulled aside by the long leaves. As we paddled deeper and deeper into this canal we did wonder if we would just disappear into the reeds never to be found again. Mostly we wondered how we would get the canoe turned around to go back.
As the front paddler, I made sure that the Hubby didn’t have to get spider webs in his face. I cleared the way forward through the jungle of green. It seems that spiders think this is a great place to catch insects to eat and some of those webs almost caught a human. What a surprise that spider would have had!
I was having fun. I think the Hubby was too but he really likes things all laid out for him and isn’t as adventurous as myself (I think), so I won’t speak for him. I do think that the branch that snapped him was unpleasant…
The GPS kept telling us that the ship canal was close and that we would soon enter it again. We stopped when we finally “eye balled” the ship canal and then determined our next plan for the paddle day. We would head towards Kalenberg and then take a canal that heads towards Nederland.
Again, I have been in this location many times on the bike but never with the canoe. As we headed into this new canal was a bit busier. We paddled a short ways into the canal and then found a nice place to stop to have a break and to make a plan for our return trip.
The place we stopped was a old boat house where there were canoes, SUPs, and boats parked. Beautiful wild orchids grew along the edges of the canal. We were just far enough off the main canal we could secretly watch other paddlers and boats go speeding by.
We had such a good time going through the weeds the first time that we decided to take the same way back. We had already cut a path with the canoe and I had captured all the spider webs along the path. So why not?
It was a much faster paddle on the return. The wind at our back, the path well clear of vegetation and spiders. The front paddler that sometimes listens to the Hubby’s instructions about what is needed at the front of the boat was mostly silent on the return trip.
(spoiler alert: another blog post will be totally dedicated to paddler partner communication).
We returned to the spot at the launch and were happy with the location we had just paddled and added it to one of our favorites.
We were finally “Out of the Weeds”, but really sometimes being in the “weeds” is the best way to find out what is really going on or to find something special like we did this past weekend.
Later in the day, when I spoke with Petra, I told her what a nice paddle we had and where we had gone. I saw, once again, her face light up from her memories of that secret location. Thanks to Petra and to all those great paddle adventurers who share their secret canoe paddling locations. You keep all the rest of us dreaming and then experiencing them ourselves. 😊
Do you have great paddle location that you share with friends? We would love to hear about it in the comments below.
© The Cedar Journal, 2020, all rights reserved.
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.😊
©️ The Cedar Journal, 2020, all rights reserved.
I recently ordered some glass spray bottles online. It was a great price on several sizes and options that I could combine while making concoctions from my herbs. But… this one could go into the Hummmm file for thought.
Pay close attention to number four in the instructions. Hummmm….
©️ The Cedar Journal, 2020, praying for all rights reserved.😊
Or how to build a better mousetrap.
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.
©️ The Cedar Journal, 2020, all rights reserved.