I've been pretty bad at maintaining the blog lately. On the bright side, you haven't missed much. This summer I had big goals about kayaking in each country that Emily and I traveled to, but in the end we just kayaked once in France (stay tuned!) and once in Belgium (this post).
In August, Emily and I met up with my Belgian-American kayaking friend, Stijn (from San Francisco), for a day trip in Kasterlee, Belgium.
Utrecht is a big city located in the middle of the Netherlands. It's rich in culture - apparently second only to Amsterdam - and a central point for transportation. With a student population of 30,000, it's definitely a lively college town. As we paddled through the city, we saw many bikes dangling perilously over the canal, held only in place by their locks...
Emilia and I went on a kayaking trip near home (my new home near Antwerp, Belgium!) in celebration of her Confirmation a month ago. Emilia is my 11-year-old cousin and goddaughter. The closest kayak rental shop that I could find, Kano & Kayak Center, is located in Wachtebeke, close to the border with the Netherlands. It's possible to paddle a 38 km route, but we just did an out-and-back trip for a few hours. We kayaked, ate good food, and kayaked back. Emilia wrote a short guest post - click Read More to read that and see some photos!
Our second adventure in Norway took us to some fantastic stealth campsites and kayaking and hiking on a glacier. What we thought would be a simple kayaking trip and glacier walk turned into quite a suspenseful event involving crevasses and ice caves. Read on... :)
Alwin (fellow member of the Windhappers kayak club) and I spent Thursday afternoon kayaking around the city of Leiden. I haven't been to Leiden before, so I'm happy I got to visit before my departure from the Netherlands in a week. It's similar to Delft in size and ambiance - a small city surrounded and divided by canals, with many old buildings lining its narrow streets.
Nestled in the southwest corner of Delft lies Abtswoudse Bos. It's part of the Lage Abtwoudsche polder, which is on average 10 feet below sea level (it's surrounded by dikes). Contrary to it's name, which means something like "Foresty forest," Abtswoudse Bos is considered "land art," with grids of trees interspersed by well-manicured lawns. A massive Moeder Aarde (Mother Earth) is sculpted into the landscape - her body and limbs made out of elongated hills. She is easily identified in the air photos (see the Google Map at the bottom of this post). On Saturday, eight U.S. Fulbrighters in the Netherlands convened in Delft for a successful kayaking outing on an incredibly windy day.
Between mid-April and early-May, the rectangular fields of North and South Holland transform into a striped carpet of yellows, reds, purples, and pinks. Narrow canals, seemingly drawn with a ruler, meticulously separate the stripes. Tourists fly in from all over the world to view this annual spectacle between Haarlem in the north and Leiden in the south, where the flowers are most concentrated. Keukenhof is a world-renowned garden where hordes of visitors walk the narrow pathways, visit the windmill, and smell the flowers, especially this time of year.
On Sunday, a group of Windhappers (Alfons - trip organizer, Marianne, Willie, Elly, Twan, and I) set out to view the tulips from a less crowded place: our kayaks. Click Read More to see endless flower photos and hear about a minor mishap that almost resulted in carrying 6 kayaks over a busy railroad track...
The Biesbosch is a national park in the Netherlands, located about 30 minutes (drive) southeast of Rotterdam. On Sunday, Henk Jan and I hopped in the Beast (his 400k mile Volvo) and drove down to the Biesbosch for a day of kayaking. The Biesbosch is best explored by boat, since it consists of endless channels that weave around low-lying islands. The Biesbosch has a long history of inhabitants and water management. I'll tell you about that at the end of this post. We spent about 5 hours paddling through the channels, ending up with a solid 11-mile paddle for Henk Jan's first time in a kayak...
This is a blog about exploring the outdoors (mostly by kayak), traveling, trip planning, and coastal engineering. It currently focuses on kayaking in the Netherlands and Belgium, but previous posts cover Upstate New York, California, and much more. See the Complete List of Blog Posts for a history of the site. Looking for something specific? Search the site here.
In addition to the blog, check out the Water Nerd section, where I write about coastal engineering and hydrology.
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Click the "Read More" link at the bottom of each summary for more photos, to see an interactive map of the route, and to read about the adventure.
Maps in each blog post: Click the icons to learn more about the launch site (amenities) and destinations. Click the square in the bottom-left corner to see an aerial photo behind the route.
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