Sunday, September 28, 2008
We have been back from the Netherlands for ten days. It was a good time and there are more tales that could be told, but since I am a bit behind on this blog, it is time to move on to our USA activities.
It was a long and tiring trip back across the big pond and we were looking forward to some rest and relaxation before we headed to our RV dealer for annual service and a new addition to the coach-a satellite system. After being retrieved from the airport by our friend, Judy Buck, we got the motorhome out of storage and headed to a local campground for a few days of R&R. After settling in to our spot, we discovered that this was to be an early Halloween celebration weekend, since the campground was closing the next weekend. In addition to lots of decorations, there was a party (you guessed it, just across from our camping spot) with costume judging, food and music. This is a quite large campground and it seems that this is a very popular weekend. While it was fun to watch the activities, it was not the atmosphere we were planning on.
After consulting with our RV dealer, we decided to head over to their facility on Sunday evening and be ready for the work to start on the coach first thing Monday morning. Even though we had ordered the satellite dish at the last minute, they were able to get it in for installation during the planned service. The service is important to reduce the chances of breakdown along the road and keeping the equipment in good condition and includes the engine, chassis and generator systems along with any needed work on the coach items. Oh, yes –did I mention that we wanted to have Sat TV, since we were now full time in the coach.
We have a lot of confidence in our dealer, Shafer RV in Delta, Ohio and the work on the coach was done without any surprises including the installation of the shiny new King Dome sat Antenna on the roof. What should have been the easy part, giving money to DirectTV for the service, proved to be extremely frustrating and timing consuming.
After spending several hours with a local authorized dealer, it ended up in a catch 22 for having the service installed and the dealer threatening to drop DirectTV from his list of services. Attempting to sign up via the web site and calling DirectTV directly also proved frustrating and had we not already installed the Sat dish, we might have abandoned the effort all together. In the end, we got a receiver from camping world and with their help got DirectTv to graciously agree to give us the service.
One of the better parts of this experience was staying at our dealer during this three day process. After hours, the grounds were quiet and the night stars bright and made for stargazing. Finally, the peace we were after. Anneke enjoyed looking at all the new John Deere farm equipment that they had recently purchased-(they also have a large farming operation in addition to the RV and truck business). This equipment was nothing like what we had in my youth on the family farm, but then it seems that nothing ever stays the same.
We were lucky enough to be in Rhenen for its 750 year celebration. Needless to say that a lot has happened in this small city over the centuries and some of it can be found in the local museum. During this anniversary celebration, the museum, churches and other places of interest are available for public tours. There was also a parade, boat tour, displays and special dinner in front of the stadhuis (otherwise known as the town hall) with entertainment.
Anneke’s sister arranged in advance for us to get tickets to the dinner. So we first toured the windmill still occupied by a family with three children. Then we looked thru the exhibitions in the streets and saw some of the floats and other entries in the parade that we missed while on the boat tour, the museum and large church. As in times long past, the events centered on the courtyard of the church.
The dinner with wine was the highlight of the event and a good time was had by all. The entertainment was a troubadour group in period dress and appeared to be a big hit.
Thursday, September 25, 2008
As we near the end of our Dutch adventure, we wanted to share some pictures of where we have spent most of our time. I think it is safe to say that it is the pride and joy of the owners-Anneke’s sister Maaike and her husband Bert. They have completely redesigned the interior and made the most of the great views of the Rhine River at the rear of the house.
It was a great place for a visit from a couple of Anneke’s friends that she has known most of her life-Heleen and Margreeth.
I have spent many an hour watching the pleasure and commercial traffic pass by my very comfortable viewing stand.
Sunday, September 21, 2008
The City of Utrecht is one of the oldest in the Netherlands, with a long history of commerce, education intuitions and religion. We visited this city on a day trip by train and were lucky enough to find ourselves there when a number of museums were open along with many of the cathedrals and churches. Some of these had their start over a thousand years ago. It is a city of narrow streets and canals with old and new shops everywhere. You might get the impression that some of the residents get the idea that it is a Venice of the north.
We enjoyed coffee in a canal side café and then strolled along the old streets and canals of “Centrum”. We also visited a museum devoted to automated music instruments. Among these were varieties of the street organ that remain in use to this day in The Netherlands. All of the displays were in working order and many were demonstrated during the tour. Among these was a church bell chime that was built on the 1400’s, a clock given to Napoleon commemorating his coronation and many clocks and auto playing pianos.
While touring the Dom Church, we found an exhibition of art by Anneke’s sister’s neighbor, Mr. Haas, containing portraits of homeless people. It is indeed a small world.
Public transportation in this compact country is excellent and you can literally get anywhere by train and bus. And of course, bicycles are a way of life in this country with bike paths like nothing you have ever seen in the USA.