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.
Today we changed location for the last time before heading for home. This last stop brings us to the National Park Weeribben for the Dutch Open Canoe Festival.
Since we haven’t paddled the whole week because of the weather we headed into the protective canals of the National Park. This place feels like home to us. We have spent thee years paddling these waters on vacations and just love the paddle friendly wilderness of this area.
We stopped made coffee along our route and talked to another couple here to enjoy the weekend.
Then the sky opened up halfway through our paddle. Not an issue we slowed and put our rain gear on. I stuffed my polarized sunglasses into the dry bag and continued paddling in the rain. Getting soaked is part of paddling and as the water started to puddle on the dry bag and then drip onto my pant legs (which were already soaked) I quickly picked up my dry bag and went and tossed the puddles water along with something black over the side of the boat! At first thinking it was the key to my bike I was very upset. Then realizing it was my glasses was still upset but more about my beginner mistake. I had not closed the dry bag when I placed my sunglasses in it.
It was a humbling experience.
The good thing is the rain stopped and we had a nice 7km paddle.
Now, on to enjoy our weekend and see some cool canoes and friends.
©️The Cedar Journal, 2019, all rights reserved
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
Located on our route to our next cabin location was the Alde Feanen National Park. We had heard that it is a canoe paddle location with lots of opportunities.
For those of you who read this blog on a regular basis know, we like early morning or late evening canoe/kayak paddles for many reasons. This paddle however was only possible in route to our new location and so was going to be a mid day and hot (27C) paddle.
When we arrived we went to the visitor center to get the canoe route location. I am always amazed that people working these desks don’t have a clue about the water route locations or distances for paddlers. The route map was seriously the smallest map (in size) I have ever seen. I would need a magnifying glass to see the route. I took a picture of the only other map they had and it was under glass at the desk. The results were not great.
The visitor center has a nicer canoe launch.
Once on the water we saw we were not alone. Boats powered by motors and humans were sharing the water with huge barges and tour boats. It was crazy mix of busy water traffic.
This area of the country is where most of the natural ice skaters originate. We passed a very nice water statue tribute to that heritage.
We paddled for about an hour and never did find the actual 6km canoe route. After the paddle we saw that we would have to paddle down the busy shipping canal to access the route. This day was not the day for us. We plan to put this route on a future vacation plan.
We reloaded Cedar (with difficulty) on the car and headed to our next location Oudega, with another cabin on the water. But, that is for another blog.
©️ 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 seems this age old problem doesn’t just enter into my life as we are packing for our canoe vacation.