Thursday, January 12, 2017

Twente Two

On my way to Zwolle. Rain is forecast but I'm itching for another fietstocht. I'm heading for the forests of Twente. I went there exactly one year ago on the third phase of guidebook research. I also cycled the initial stretch -- Zwolle-Dalfsen -- a few years ago but didn't see any of it as it was quite late and I was in a hurry to get to my vriend op de fiets. This time I'll take the LF-16 east along the Overijsselische Vecht as far as Ommen, which is the ominous start point for the Rondje Twente, a three-day jaunt through the eastern region.

I'm leaving it open-ended. Vrienden op de Fiets booked for tonight in Ommen, Monday in Enschede. Like last year it seems difficult to book a friend in between at Ootmarsum or Tubbergen.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Return to Drenthe IV - Reestdal route

Reest stop

kp 4 -> 2 -> 1 -> 85 -> 86
Today is very warm and I would like to do a brief fietstocht to the southeast of Meppel, De Reestdalroute--or just a piece of it, then relax at the Engelgaarde lake, then catch the train home from Meppel. That's the plan.

So far it hasn't been so thrilling though it's nice enough just to pedal in the sunshine. As the name suggests, the route follows the meanders of the Reest along the border between the provinces of Drenthe and Overijssel. The Reest is, along with the Drentsche-Aa, the only 'original' river in Drenthe, in the sense of being naturally formed. But I've hardly seen the river except crossing over it. I have seen plenty of highways and suburban estates, with plenty of dull-ass traffic. Still, the trail generally follows paths shaded by tall trees which keep me cool in the approaching Austinite heat (up to 80F today!).

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Return to Drenthe III - Dwingelderveld

I'm at a gateway to the Dwingelderveld National Park, fietspad crossroads in the park's northwest corner, about 2.5 km from the village of Dwingeloo. It's very peaceful, just the oaks and some lower trees and the lazy cheeping of birds. Morning overcast but it is now clearing and looks to be quite warm with just a slight breeze. But as I sit here at this knooppunt I notice a fair amount of activity, mostly elderly couples with matched bikes, including some e-bikes. It's Friday.

I visited this national park last summer to get a taste of it for the guide--but now I'll make it the main course. At that time I enthused about the beauty of the area and its many lakes.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Return to Drenthe II - Drents-Friese Woud

"I'll make you a good breakfast," Ron had told me. But it was not good: a few slices of bread, pre-sliced cheese, some kind of poultry cold cut which I declined, weak coffee with powdered milk, the obligatory hard-boiled egg in a cup, and a little cup of yogurt with a cloying pink flavoring. But at least he sat down and chatted with me.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Return to Drenthe I - Het Fochtelooërveen

Duivendrecht station
In early June I decided to take a fietstocht to the province of Drenthe for a few days, leaving it open-ended. I easily lined up Vrienden op de Fiets for the next three nights: Appelscha, Dwingeloo, Ruinerwold.

The train's destination is Groningen (I'll get off at Assen). On the way east it cuts through the flat sheep-grazed expanse of Flevoland, then Zwolle, hub of Overijssel province, then north.

Het Fochtelooërveen (you try to pronounce it) appears as a purple expanse on the map: 'what remains of an immense high turf area. The breadth and unspoiled character of the area are impressive, unique for the Netherlands and Western Europe,' says my cycle route guidebook. Unique? Turf fields seem to be a standard feature of the Dutch landscape. 'Traces of prehistoric settlement.' As in other peat mining areas, the cutters removed all of it before long and had to seek other livelihoods. Now they're irrigating the zone so the peat will grow back, supposedly to restore it to its former ecosystem, and some birds (cranes, 'snake eagles') have returned.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Scheveningen & Den Haag coast, south

Scheveningen then ...
Returning to Den Haag for more research, I visit the Panorama Mesdag, a museum devoted to a single painting. Painted by Hendrik Willem Mesdag (a member of The Hague school) in 1881, it is a 360-degree look at the seaside village of Scheveningen. No proper harbor back then, the flat-bottomed fishing boats just parked on the beach. The panoramic painting encircles the viewer and is housed beneath a naturally lit dome.

The cloudscape of South Holland is depicted in great detail. Here I'll cede to the descriptive powers of Russell Shorto: "tunnels and chasms and cathedrals and phantasmagoria of clouds, mounting the heights or furiously crosshatched by the force of an impending storm." Actually he was describing the skies of North Holland but you get the idea. Later that day I watched such an impending storm, then got drenched by it.

... and now