Today is the final day of the Netherlands leg of our Bike Tour 2009.
As in days past, The Zeeland leaves port by 7:00 am, and we watch the country side slide by as we have breakfast and prepare for the day.Â We make it to the locks near Gem Nijkerk just before 9:00 am and we hustle off with our bikes so that The Zeeland can enter into the locks and continue on its journey back to Amsterdam.Â Today is a windy day up on the dikes in the northern flat lands along the water.
From here we ride out past an old steam pumping station for a little exploring and a short break. There is a stone outside that says 1776. Hannameike suggests it was the location of a windmill before it became this steam powered station.Â And while the station is kept in working condition by a group of aficionados, this station has now since been replaced by a more dependable electric version.Â The station is used to pump the waters out of the lowlands, and back on the other sides of the dikes, in a continual vigilance to keep the sea at bay. The large chimney at the station is now home to some chimney swifts and we smile as we recall that a group of swifts had moved into our own chimney just prior to leaving home for this trip.Â Then back out on the windy flats as we make our way to our next ferry crossing.Â On the trip we have taken perhaps 4 ferry rides.Â I believe that there was a charge for each one, however I am not sure what those charges were since, Hannameike saw to it that the tour paid our ways.Â That included the museum and national park entry fees. Â That was convenient. Â We thanked her at this point for her efforts in getting us across but she explained much of her conversation with the captain centered around the torrential rains coming our way from Amsterdam. Wonderful.
Â Having had rain centric conversations with this group in the past, Honey has learned from George that in Germany they say it is “raining elephants”, and at this point she repeats this back to him.Â To which he gazes out to the horizon, nods, and without saying a word pedals off down the path. Â Soon after the a heavy, stinging rain begins to fall and shortly after we are completely soaked, we can find some shelter for a moment, to regroup beside a tall hedge.
Then into the small town of Eemnes. In the center of the town is a small wooded park with this large brightly colored tent. That wonderful smell emanating from the tent turns out to be hot poffertjes and fresh coffee. Hannameike has delivered us to bike ride stop heaven. Shedding out dripping rain clothes we make way inside to watch the crew bake the poffertjes. They are served hot, smothered in powdered sugar and butter. I high sugar/fat treat to be sure, but after tasting one, you dont really care. The giant grill in this tent is capable of baking over 200 at a time, but the windy rains have served to keep the crowds down as there are perhaps only a dozen other people in the tent. Poffertjes, it turns out, are a Dutch version, of Scandinavians aebleskiver, just a little flatter, and perhaps not as fluffy, since they do not whip the eggs. A real delight for us on this day. The restaurant/tent is a temporary structure here in the park, as they typically move on and are replaced later in the year by other types of prepared foods. The tent is erected around a very large tree that is being used as the center pole for the tent.
After getting our fill we ride on out using the sandy gravel roads that cut through the forests. Coming around a bend, the group comes to a halt as we see in front of us perhaps a dozen large longhorn steers standing beside the road on which we intend to ride. There is no fence between our group of bikes and that group of steers, so the next move is theirs. We remain still until they become bored with our presence and wander across the road in front of us and into the deeper woods, leaving one steer to stand watch over us. Soon even he begins to amble down the road just as two jogger are making their way up the road. They stop in their tracks perhaps 60 feet from the bull, and begin making their way quickly and unobtrusively over off the other side of the road, and behind some trees as he struts past them, on his way to join his friends. Interesting.
It begins to rain hard again, and by now the group has gotten farther behind the usual schedule so we stop at a small park, short of our planned lunch stop in town, to again huddle under the trees to eat. This stop is by another war era fortress. Nearing the next town on the days ride, Nadia has fallen behind again due to a flat tire, so Hannameike and Monkey pedal back to repair it, with the rest of the group riding on ahead a few miles to the town in search of coffee. With the tire repaired the Hanameike and Monkey arrive to regroup at the restaurant as the others have finished and are now ready to ride on again. Nice. Then on through a town where we are stopped for a bridge opening, when a Dutchman jumps out of his car to track down Monkey to ask about the mirror on his glasses. Pleased to be able to get an explanation, and to try on the glasses for himself, they part ways again once the bridge is lowered and it is time for the cars to move again. Getting closer to Amsterdam and traffic is noticeably heavier. Monkey, having stopped on the path to take a bridge picture, and hears it from a trio of racers flying by in the other direction. Their words were all in Dutch, but, its pretty certain that they weren’t all nice words. The wind is picking up as well, and at one point while following directly Nadia it seemed to us that she actually went backwards. Too soon, we are back to the boat. The Zeeland is once again parked at the same spot that we found her just one week ago. After cleaning up the bikes and having dinner, the group walked into town for a canal boat tour. Then there was a little time to relax, organize our things and enjoy our last night on the boat.