I am sitting in a tent in Dordrecht. It is 22:37 and the mosquitoes are swarming. Little bastards. I was supposed to be much further along today, but for some reason, I left map 9 at home. We spent all of yesterday and part of today on map 9.
The major cycle routes here are (mostly) very well marked. But not always. Much of today was spent going in unplanned directions. One of those directions took us down a tractor path through a line of canals (pretty normal) but which were supplied by working windmills like you see in the Holland Dutch Delft pottery stuff (not at all normal). some guy was mowing the lawn in front of one of them. Xena stopped to relieve herself. always a good citizen, Nicole stopped to pick up after the dog. "What do I do with this?" she asked the lawn mowing guy. He told her to throw it in the canal.
Dear citizens of the Netherlands, Your canals are really lovely to look at, especially in the summer. They have blooming lillypads, ducks and other waterfowl, moss, little bridges and cute little boats and sometimes awesome windmills. But they would smell a whole lot better if they weren't also full of cow shit. Sincerely, me
Yesterday, we biked from Den Haag to Gouda. We followed the major cycle route. They have routes like highways for bikes all over the country. They're perfect for tourists. They take you through the woods, in twisty paths around fields and canals and through historic centers of adorable villages. They add several kilometers to the trip, but it's still great. Except the marking is sometimes lacking. So there are maps you can get, which also list fun things like ferry crossings and camp grounds. Today, Xena had her first ferry ride.
I think a skeeter just bit my foot through my socks. gah!! bastard. I should put on toxic bug spray.
Last night, we camped near Gouda. We were biking in Gouda, on the LF-02, hoping to stop by the VVV (tourist office) around the central train station, when an old woman and a little girl stopped us to ask about the dog. I explained in broken Dutch that we'd towed her from Den Haag and wanted to camp tonight and continue on to Brussels in the morning. The woman didn't know about camping, but soon assembled a small crowd of passersby to solicit opinions. One woman knew exactly where the camp grounds were. Another biking by, heard her describe the route and stopped her, since the camp ground is closed for a week.
If some stranger asked you about camping in your town, would you know two alternatives?
So she described another camp ground, 10 km away and described the route in detail. We got there and soon figured out why she knew. In addition to caravans (known to Americans as "RVs") and folks in tents, there were a bunch of tiny cottages. The cottages all faced a road on one side and a canal on the other. Almost all of them had a small boat on the canal. All of them had a little patio by the boat, with a little umbrella. The camp ground was full of people. I'm guessing many middle class people have these little summer cottages that they come to on weekends. They were charming, but packed together at very high density. This is amusing about the Dutch. They escape from their high density cities to go to their high density camp grounds.
We went to the bar seeking food, but, unsurprisingly, they only had bar food. I had friend cheese. Nicole had a burger.
We sat down next to a Dutch woman who had lived in Dallas for 22 years. Then she came home because her father was dying and she realized she had enough of Dallas. She was talking about taking care of her dying parent while her marriage fell apart, something I can also speak about. And we talked about how loss makes you really see the beautiful things in life. The conversation got intense. Nicole started to cry.
Today, there is no bar, except for the mosquitoes. Alas, I am the bar, as is Xena. I forgot to put her pesticides on her before we left, so this morning I went to a pet shop and bought flea and tick stuff to put on her. I asked if they had stuff for heart worm. The pet store clerk didn't know what I was talking about. I hope this means that it doesn't exist here. Her immunity from last month has not faded away yet. I will ask again in another shop tomorrow and I'll ask after that. Maybe there's heartworm in Belgium but not here.
Today, after we passed the windmills, the tractor lane got very narrow. We let Xena out to run along side the bikes and stopped after a while to give her water before we went on. We gave her the very last of the water. Alas! So we biked on some more kilometers until we came to a grocery store. I was hungry, which is bad for being in a store, but also very thirsty. they were having a sale on soymilk. There is now 2.75 liters of soymilk packed on the front of my bike. I purchased one liter more than that, but then drank it quickly. Things not to do: chug most of a liter of chocolate soy milk and then go to get a heavy dinner. *urp*
I am suffering from massive pack creep. Not only am I taking around the computer which I am not typing on, but also a small coffee-making setup. It includes a tiny gas stove. A tiny pot for said stove. Two gas cartridges. An adaptor for the other kind of gas cartridge in case those two run out. Two 0.25 L cups with coffee filter attachments and little tote bags for them. And bag of ground coffee, stored in a plastic container with a scoop. Also, I have two settings of silverware, two plates, two wine glasses, two napkins, a cutting board, a cheese knife and an insulated container for food and an insulated wine holder, which is, alas, empty, or the mosquitoes might be getting tipsy. (little bastards).
Now is time for sleep.