September 27, 2013
After plenty of research, we opted to rent a car and drive almost 3 hours north until we hit the north sea. We parked our car in Lauwersoog where the ferry departs for Schiermonnikoog. It’s the first time we are camping in the Netherlands, wait… actually the first time in Europe! We dusted off our tents and camping gear and looked forward to spending some time in nature.
Being in the Netherlands, we immediately rented a couple of bikes upon touch down (who walks anyway?). We then proceeded to explore the island and learned a few things…
After biking to the middle of the expansive stretch of beach, we finally let our feet touch the ground. We wandered along the beach and walked till our feet hurt. It really seemed to go on forever. After a little while, strong winds started to blow and we were facing headwinds while trying to protect our eyes from the splashing sand. I wondered what it might be like in the middle of summer… countless glistening and leathery sunbathers stretched out as far as the eye could see? Alison promptly reminded me it was July 27th.
We arrived at a trail head in the Northeast of the island which led deeper into the wilderness. Although we had no appetite for a hike, we did however felt like laying down on the soft, green grass. After a few hours of rain, the weather had turned and we basked in the warm, sunny glow. We started munching on our trail mix of nuts and M&Ms, getting ready to stretch out, when we realized that the local gentle giants had other plans. In an instant, we were surrounded by the stereotypical black and white cows you so often see on TV: Friesian cows! At that point there was a hiker to the right of us trying exceptionally hard to get the cows to go to her, by clapping, whistling, almost as if she was coaxing a monster sized puppy. We smiled and laughed quietly, but soon one of the cows made a beeline for Alison. Of course I then made a beeline for the camera. They exchanged grunts, friendly nudges and it was starting to turn into an intense play date. It was really hard to tell a one ton animal that perhaps she should turn her enthusiasm down a notch. Meanwhile the overzealous hiker was dejected and I was laughing away, not realizing that perhaps Alison might have just adopted an oversized pet. After a bit of sweet talking, she finally decided to pick on someone her own size. Alison blamed the encounter on the trail mix, but deep inside, I like to think that she just wanted a big hug.
When we entered Seedune campgrounds, we thought we had just entered a circus tent bonanza. I half expected ticket sales to the latest Cirque Du Soleil spectacular. I clutched my small two man tent tightly, as we passed bungalows with four burner stoves, gas grills, king sized beds and I may have even seen a Jacuzzi lurking in the guest tent, all behind a stretch of freshly built fences. Talk about being the odd one out! Luckily we were stashed away in a secluded site, where we washed away our insecurities with cans of beer that we bought from the Seedune reception. Ah… Europe.
Apart from the few stand alone houses on the island, most of them are lined up against each other. They provide support, insulation and probably also company, since they ARE isolated from the rest of civilization, apart from the circus goers and cow-crazed hikers. The boats too were bound together, resulting in a floating metropolis where the seafarers hop from one boat to the next, trying to get to the dock. Or perhaps simply window shopping, soaking in the latest trends of nautical fashion.
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