July 21st is Belgium National Day, when the Belgians celebrate gaining their independence from the Netherlands in 1831 (right around the time the Oregon Trail was picking up speed over in the US). Apparently the mostly-Catholic Belgians were not happy with the protestant-favoring rule of King William the 1st and decided to rebel. Luckily for modern-day residents of Belgium, this means we have a day off every July. This year it fell on a Thursday, resulting in a 4-day weekend opportunity for 4 Dutchies and 1 American to head to the Belgian Ardennes and partake in celebratory Belgian activities like beer drinking, card playing, chocolate eating, walking in fields with cows, and, most importantly, kayaking past castles.
Last weekend, five enthusiastic Antea Group employees embarked on a Sunday morning canoe trip in Lokeren. The company I work for, Antea Group, has an internal organization called Antea Group Sport that supports employees in organizing "sporting" events. Since I started a year ago, they've organized runs, triathlons, volleyball, soccer, mountain biking, cycling, and even badminton. I decided that some more watery events were necessary*, so I went about organizing a kayaking trip, destination: Lokeren. It's a convenient location for people living in Antwerp and Gent. First, I did a scouting trip to check out the conditions.
*Disclaimer: I was also motivated by a need to find/develop paddling buddies here in Belgium, and the awesome t-shirt you get the first time you participate in an Antea sporting event (see above). :)
A short paddling trip through the city of Trondheim, Norway (spoiler alert: we did not see any Vikings but we did ear whale..).
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.
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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