June 22 – First day in the Netherlands

It is Thursday night, we’ve been awake for a day and a half, just rode 90 km (57 miles), and it is almost 10 pm, so this might work better as an enumerated list of thoughts.

  1.  I can’t sleep in planes. I can fall asleep in 15 seconds on a hard church bench with a loud sermon, but put me on a plane and I’m wide awake. At least I was able to read a good book. Natalie is about the same (at church too).
  2. I over-stressed about bike transport. It ended up working well. We lucked out though, because when I picked up our bike box from the odd sized luggage claim area, the bottom ripped off and everything in the box came pouring out. We had panniers, tools, shoes, and helmets loose in the box with the bike. Had that happened in the plane cargo hold we would have lost things. Yesterday Natalie said “shouldn’t you tape the bottom of the box?” Laughing at her naivety, I informed her the bottom was stapled shut and needed no tape. Everyone knows that, right?
  3.  It took us about two hours to assemble the bike and maybe two more to find the place to assemble it, get organized, change our clothes, fill water bottles, etc. We landed a little after 9 am and started riding a little after 1 pm.
  4. Then we got lost leaving the airport. Our navigation system works good once on route, but not so much for finding the start of the route. We figured it out, eventually. Like after an hour…
  5. We meet several (not exaggerating) other couples, mostly retired, doing the same thing we were. This was exciting and encouraging. We were able to give our bike boxes to a couple who were packing to head back to the US. 
  6. The Netherlands is beautiful! Seriously beyond description. The bike trails are more than abundant (which can help one get lost) and the drivers are super bike aware. The landscape was amazing. We were gawking so much we often forgot to take pictures. 
  7. The last 2 hours of our ride was in light rain with thunder. It caused us to push for speed a bit. Once we stopped for Natalie to put on a rain coat the rain stopped. She left it on to keep the rain away. Pete had had a last minute great idea to pack our 2 rainproof covers that we use on backpacking trips, and those worked perfectly to keep our 4 panniers dry. 
  8. We are staying at a beautiful bed and breakfast in a little town called Bruchem. We found a simple cafe and had fries and salad for dinner. We learned how to say hi and thanks in Dutch.
  9. We are baked. I don’t anticipate the timezone change messing with our ability to sleep tonight.
  10. Tomorrow we go about 100 km (64 miles) and into northwestern Germany.

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