This weekend, Elizabeth and I joined the Windhappers kayak club on a whitewater ("wildwater" in Dutch) excursion. Elly, Annette, Paul, Jan, Han, Cees + and his girlfriend, Jacques, Elizabeth, and I piled into three cars (stacked high with whitewater boats) and road tripped to the Ardennes, a densely forested region in the south of Belgium. Two days of chilly but adventurous paddling, Belgian beers and other strange drinks, pepernoten, and glamping ("glamorous camping") ensued.
The Ardennes is a region of rolling hills, forests, rivers, and natural terrain. Most of the region falls in Belgium and Luxembourg, but parts are also in France and Germany. The highest point, Signal de Botrange, is 2,277 feet, so were not talking about huge mountains, but anything's huge compared to the Netherlands! The region was passed back and forth between European powers throughout its history, and was the site of three major battles during the World Wars, including the Battle of the Bulge. Today, it's mainly a region for forestry and tourism. All the villages look the same (I kept getting them confused), with a small stone church in the...
A couple months ago, while searching for Dutch kayaking info, I discovered Johan's Kano Route website, which describes kayaking routes in the Netherlands and a few in other countries. I clicked around for the routes within biking distance of Delft, and there are quite a few. He always lists the nearest kayak rental shops, which is helpful for a car-less boat-less person like me. Elizabeth and I decided to embark on the Rotterdam route (which only takes you to the center of Rotterdam if you paddle ~16 miles).
After a quick bagel breakfast with Devin and Ginny, during which Devin attempted to make espresso with a broken machine (no luck, resulting in another steamer), I hopped in the car and headed east: destination Bismarck. I only made a brief stop in the Badlands (Medora, ND), where the gas station attendants were amused by my inability to operate an old-fashioned gas pump.
Bridget and I started the day with some english muffin/eggs/avocado/tomato sandwiches before heading out for an epic kayaking trip. We rented a stubby Otter recreational boat from Peak Sports in downtown Corvallis. The put-in was allegedly a block away, so Bridget carried the boat while I drove to meet her. 5 blocks later, I found her staggering along, half dragging the boat through the grass. I parked to help her carry it the next 4 blocks. We launched onto the Willamette River and soon realized that paddling upstream would not be the relaxing morning paddle we had envisioned.
At 8:20am on Easter morning, Alice and I simultaneously pulled into our favorite Park-N-Ride in San Rafael. We have a history of perfect timing - we're both 10 minutes early. We loaded White Lightning onto my car (next to Big Purple) and headed up the 101. Estero Americano flows into Bodega Bay, roughly 1.5 hrs north of the Bay Area. The launch site is at the end of a dirt road that spurs off the intersection of Marsh Road and Valley Ford Franklin School Road. Another kayaker arrived shortly after us, and spent 20 minutes urging Alice and I to join a kayak racing club in Berkeley.
My little brother's high school graduation in June brought me back to Boston for a long weekend. As usual, my visit home provided my mother and stepfather the opportunity to ask boat-related questions and favors. Last time it was "can you help us buy canoe paddles?" This time it was "can you fix the canoe seats? My brothers and I spent an afternoon measuring and drilling holes in the new canoe seats, bringing the old green canoe back into service.
Moeke (= "mom" in Flemish) and I took the boat on it's maiden voyage, version 2, down the Sudbury River near our house in Lincoln, MA. Here's a map:
To be honest, it's been so long since we did this short paddle that I can't remember much more. Oops. But here's my mother in her funny hat :)
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.