For me, this summer had been filled with many things: moving to a new country, travelling with the Mrs., starting school full-time, and many other events jam-packed (the way that jam is packed) into a few short months (actually standard-length 30/31 day months, but they felt short). The one thing we didn’t get to do was go camping, and this deep-seated summer tradition was gnawing at me as the temperature headed south for the winter. Wasting no time, I decided that I’d go camping this past weekend and knock out a coffeeneuring excursion in the process. An American friend of mine from the Netherlands came down to accompany me, and with my dog Ardie in tow, we set out to the campsite I had picked out a few weeks ahead of time for this very occasion.
The trip to the campground from my house is pretty flat and straightforward, which was appreciated even more so by having to lug a dog and gear. The sites themselves are just plots of grass where you can set up your tent or park your RV (some have electricity and water hook-ups). We rode in, picked a site, and then walked around a bit looking for the management so we could pay him the €15 or so for one night. Finding no one, we passed the time by picking chestnuts off the ground for eating later on. Amidst our foraging frenzy, the proprietor appeared and with a very quizzical expression, asked us what we were doing there?
“Oh, hello! Yes, we’d like to stay one night on site 50…. was it 58? 85! Yes, two people on site 85.”
“You cannot. We are closed.”
After a few more moments of him asking us how we got inside (apparently the gate arm would have remained closed to a car, but bicycles can go around it) and me asking if he was sure we couldn’t just stay one night, we reluctantly got back on our bikes to find someplace else to camp.
I remembered passing by a campsite the other week on my way out to another town in the Netherlands, so suggested we check that place out. We headed out in that direction and soon I recognized where we were, so we biked a couple kilometers down the road to this new campsite, which we were confident was open. This place looked pretty nice, and it had a waterslide. But the waterslide, like the last campsite, was closed for the season.
I called on the intercom at the front and several minutes later, a woman came out to show us to the tent area. All was going well until she walked up and saw Ardie, sniffing a wall, and told us that no dogs were allowed in the camping area. Are you kidding me? She offered us an alternative: we could set up our tents in the RV lot, but it would cost a lot more, something to the tune of €35. We entertained the idea, but soon found out the plot to be no more than a small grassy parking space next to the dumpster. No thanks, thank you anyway-- we were shortly back on the road.
Luckily, we had passed a small sign on the way to this last campground that showed another campsite down the road. It was well past lunchtime, and we were hoping to finally set up camp and get something to eat. We arrive, and we see people about and dogs barking, a sign that maybe there is hope.
But no, camping is not possible. “It is October. We are closed for camping.” I couldn’t believe it. All of these people were refusing our money, and they would literally have to do nothing in return but let us pitch our tents on their property. “It’s the Dutch, man.” my friend said to me. “That’s how they are.”
So we discussed our options, and decided we would find a spot in the woods off the beaten trail and set up camp there for the night. Now, whether or not this is legal in the Netherlands, I can’t say. I did try to read the sign posted at the trail entrance, but alas my Dutch is lacking,
So, there in the woods we stayed (or might not have, to maintain plausible deniability). Ardie enjoyed being out in nature and us humans enjoyed it too, along with a couple beers. The rain cut the evening short for me as I had got wetter than I was anticipating and was eager to get into a dry sleeping bag. The moon shone bright that night and illuminated the darkness of the forest.
[Above: Ardie (left) guarding the tent (right).]
In the morning, it was time to check off the coffeeneuring box, so I used my Porlex to grind some beans and then made a couple cups of French-pressed coffee for us to share. It was good, but not quite enough for two people, so we ended up getting more coffee later on that morning. All-in-all, it felt good to get out in the woods for a while, and I learned a few things for next time I go, which will be whenever the Dutch deem camping appropriate again.
- Bicyclist Abroad
Coffeeneur Quick Stats:
|Drink:||Coffee. Starbucks Pike Place Roast|
|Date:||Sunday, October 12th|
|Distance:||19 km / 11.8 miles|