Got to have windmills
Windmills, tulips, cheese, and wooden shoes are the iconic cliches of Holland. I was determined to see at least the first three, so we set off for the Netherlands at the end of April, which is peak tulip season. Unfortunately, that timing meant that folks had minimal time to train up before the trip...
Cast of characters
Some might consider it ill-advised to set off on a biking vacation with a group of poorly prepared cyclists. When we started, J. was the least experienced, having never ridden farther than 6 miles. But I convinced him that with his boyfriend R. steering a tandem, it would be fun. (R. hadn't biked much for years, but they say you never forget how to ride.) This was my fifth overseas vacation with J., and he and R. have come along on some previous SF0 undertakings (http://sf0.org/nuclearpolymer/Plasterboard-to-Gorleston/). Bunny Dragon, Moussie and I had all biked significant distances in previous years, but so far this season had not gone longer than 14 miles in a day. This would be our fourth overseas trip with Moussie, and he's also been dragged into several SF0 tasks (such as http://sf0.org/nuclearpolymer/Damocles-Coulage/ and http://sf0.org/nuclearpolymer/Bigger-Better-or-More-Bizarre/).
Of the group, only P. had worked up to 30 mile rides already this season. He was the cycling veteran, having done a few century rides in previous years and biked across England. Although we'd never vacationed with him before, I was sure that he'd be a fine fellow traveler.
We set off, with Bunny Dragon steering our tandem and me working the GPS unit in the back seat. By the end of the first day, he'd come down with a bad cold. J. and R. managed pretty well on their tandem, and P. and Moussie had no trouble cranking along.
We started in Amersfort and biked for five days. We stopped for the night at Utrecht, Gouda, Den Haag, Leiden, and Haarlem. On day 3, Bunny Dragon was still sick, and J. and R. were finding cycling more tiring than expected. So the three of them hopped on the train for the next two legs, and P. took over steering me on a tandem.
Water and wind everywhere
Moussie, P. and I pedaled along and saw a lot of canals, sheep, cows, green fields, sand dunes and water fowl. We made sure to stop at several windmills, marveling at the complex wooden gears and machinery inside. One windmill guide told us that the wooden pin construction meant that an entire windmill could be disassembled and moved within a few days.
By the last day, Bunny Dragon, R. and J. were ready to get back into the saddle for a ride through tulip country. We enjoyed the scent coming from fields of hyacinths and feasted our eyes on the vast swaths of tulips. By the end of the trip, I'd bicycled the most enjoyable 150 miles ever.
Since it was the Netherlands, we went to museums and saw paintings by Rembrandt, Vermeer, and Van Gogh. But we were also delighted by the Escher Museum, which featured some hands-on ways to step into his world.
Hall of mirrors
Fittingly, the museum even had a geometric chandelier reflected to infinity between two mirrors. Having seen the Dutch countryside, I can understand Escher's point of view better. The country is quite small, but since you can see so far along the horizons, it feels bigger on the inside. You've got it all---infinity and eternity within the palm of your hand.
Hjalmar Heiney Hammarskjöld3
saille is planting praxis5