As I pedaled past more pancake-flat, sub-sea level fields and canals, I pondered the difference between destinations and goals. My destination this trip was always Hoek van Holland, but my goal had changed along the way.
It had previously been to walk the entire distance between the North Sea and the Mediterranean, but this year I was especially aware of the pleasure of experiencing the sometimes subtle differences between the cultures I was passing through in "slow time."
Even when I had to switch from walking to cycling, the weight of the city bike and the weakness of one knee kept me at a slower pace, which was still conducive to stopping and interacting with others.
Of course, I regret that I wasn't able to walk the entire distance. But a chance slip on the trail 10 days ago changed that. You make your plans and then adjust accordingly. It has turned out fine...except for possible meniscus surgery in my future. I can live with that.
I arrived in Hoek van Holland at 4:30, after a day on my bike that was both wistful and grateful. Now that the finish was approaching, I was almost sorry to see it end. I'm extremely grateful that it all worked out and I was able to see Luxembourg, Belgium and a bit of Holland up close and personal. None of this is taken for granted.
The Delta Plan is the complex system of water management at work in the Netherlands. At a small museum center, I watched a stirring movie in English about the disastrous flood of 1953, and another about the building of sluices that help maintain a consistent level of water in a huge manmade reservoir. One thing I hadn't realized about the Netherlands was that, after the horrible flood that occured after 200 km of dikes burst because of a storm, it was decided to completely surround the country with strong earthen dikes, leaving only two accesses to the sea, from Rotterdam and Antwerp. Very much of the country is actually below sea-level, which I easily observed when riding on dikes separating fields from a major canal. Bill and his engineering buddies would have loved to have seen the huge sluices that my long bridge crossed over today.
Brielle was my lunch stop, but I could have spent hours there, adoring each and every little row house, shop and boat-filled canal. It left me wanting to see much more of Holland.
Several long bridges , with separate bike lanes of course, and a ferry across the waterway that leads to the busy Rotterdam port led me to my final 10 km straight stretch in to my finish line. No more route signs to search for, only relaxed time to reminisce about the past 24 days.
If you care to check in tomorrow, I'll share my Amsterdam adventures with you, before my one evening in Haarlem and Thursday's departure for home-sweet-home. I pity the person on the plane who will sit beside me, in my unwashed "evening wear."
But I feel very good. Thank you for reading my blog and, once again, unlimited gratitude to my
Support Guy back home.