Guest blog post by Bridget! My comments in [italics], as usual :)
On Friday we woke up early to do my favorite activity – looking at windmills! We decided to go to Kinderdijk, a UNESCO World Heritage site, where a complex of windmills were built to prevent the flood-prone region from flooding. I don't want to bore you with all the history here [THIS IS NOT BORING! People have lived in this region for a long time, and until the 13th century it was dewatered (by humans) using gravity. Since it is naturally a peat bog, dewatering led to decomposition of the peat (when peat is exposed to oxygen it breaks down and releases carbon into the atmosphere), which makes the ground sink over time. Now lower, the region flooded more often. The inhabitants built levees and water storage ponds, where they could store flood water. The 19 windmills at Kinderdijk (built in the mid 1700s) served to pump water from low-lying areas into these storage ponds. Today, the windmills have long been replaced by electrical pump stations and the mills remain for tourist enjoyment.] If you are interested to learn more, you can find a good description on this website: www.kinderdijk.com...
We signed up for a boat tour (€4.50), which allowed us to float along the canal, boarding and disembarking throughout the day. We boarded the boat (on the wrong side of the canal, but it all worked out) and crossed to the other side of the channel, where we picked up an Asian family. From there, we floated past windmill after windmill. I was in heaven. We spent the rest of the time trying to avoid the masses of tourists [fairly successfully].
It looked like people live in these windmills, which seemed sketchy in terms of the imminent floods, but I suppose they are tall enough that if they lived on the top story they might be able to survive. I told Nena she should move into a windmill if she stays for a PhD, and just kayak to her neighbor windmill friends' houses. She said she would.
I was so excited that I took over a hundred photos (while Nena rolled her eyes). It was really hard for me to choose which ones to include, but here are a few that are representative of the day:
We were supposed to go get pictures of ourselves dressed up as the Vermeer girl and as other traditional Dutch characters, but lost the motivation due to the rain and our exhausting, damp day. Plus, we had already done such a good job of dressing Nena up last night, that it no longer seemed worth the €15. Instead, we stayed in and “worked”, meaning that Nena worked while I perused the internet, checked my facebook, chatted with Elizabeth, and generally did what I do best: procrastinate.