Monday, June 18, 2018

180618 BLOK

May-June cycling trip from Noordwolde, NL, to Newcastle (Newburn), U.K.
230518, first day, Noordwolde to Lelystad.
I´m finally off, after, much planning, packing, shipping, cleaning, etc. This, after four months at Erik and Petronella´s house, renting their guest suite in order to write my book about cycling the world entitled, FOLLOWING THE LIGHT!
After doing too much on a test run to Drackton, some 80KM round trip, against the wind, and causing damage to my feet, I vowed to go just a short distance the first day.  Did I adhere to this plain, no!  Sometimes, I´m just stupid!  What else could it be?  Maybe a self-destructive desire to suffer, I don´t know? Or, maybe the dninnies, the demons, as still after me for moving the Kundalini from East to West!
The day started out easy, as I departed with a rising moon and the wind at my back.  The wind from the northeast, unusual, but this must be my guarding angels compensating the dninnies.  At 25KM, it was still early and I couldn´t find the Caravan Park I´d planned to stay at, so I kept going. I did pass a caravan park at 30KM, and thought about staying, but kept going, why…?  Quien sabe?  I had the wind and was on one of NL´s super concrete bicycle highways, so I just kept going… I thought I´d stop and spend the night in Emmeloord, but when I saw a sign pointing to Lelystad, I turned and KEPT GOING!
Then, however, I missed the turnoff to Lelystad, the direction to, written only on the opposite side of th red bicycle direction sign.  And since the major bicycle highway continued, I thought it would continue to a major city like Lelystad, named after the Dutch man, who buildt the BIG DYKE, Afsluitdijk (?).  His name, however, must be Lely…?
Not long after I spied some picnic tables in front of what looked like a restaurant.  I hardly ever pass up wooden picnic tables as nice to eat on outside.
Here I purchased some good yoghurt, ate, and took a photo. of two couples on vacation, as asked.  Most people are happy to oblige you, and some even can take a good photo.
I went on to URK, and a BIG mistake.  In fact, made two mistakes. First kept going to URK some 7 kilometers, the second mistake… had I asked there, instead of going by the direction signs I could have saved, 20 extra kilometers, as there was a highway out of URK going directly to Lelystad.  And why didn´t I look at my map?  Sometimes it´s challenging to accept the fact that I´m so fallible.
I went back the way I´d come, as it said the way to Lelystad, bu now against the wind.  I stopped when I saw two girls discussing something, so I thought to ask them the direction to Lelystad.  Turned out they were from Germany on vacation, cycling with a group.  One of them pulled out their map, but didn´t really know.
I thanked them and then went another 50mts. to check out the direction sign just up ahead, and sure enough, it said Lelystad thisaway.  So, I went thataway, and on a quiet two-lane highway which led to the BIG A6 bridge over the Ketelmeer.
Note, there are so many waterways, canals, ponds, water, it´s challenging for a tourist to name them properly. Google has this bay as Ketelmeer, but Google is not always correct.
Crossing the bridge I followed the red-bicycle-direction signs toward Lelystad for about a kilometer, when the route turned northeast I stopped.  I hesitated because I thought this can´t be right. This was a day of mistakes.  I thought this way wrong, and turned back.  At a parking lot I stopped and asked a young man parked in an automobile, and he checked his smart tele.  His advice, go back, and under the bridge and follow the dyke, which I did.
This way turned out to be interesting as the old highway, right on the bay, following 26 wind turbines, whose bases are planted in the water.  WHOMP! WHOMP! WHOMP! the sound the blades make turning slowly.  I whomed along, stopping occasionally to take a photo.
I went maybe two or three kilometers alone, easy, no traffic, except for the noise from A6 on the other side of the dyke. The road turned slightly, at wind turbine #1 and I could see a large power plant in the distance.  I was concerned at that point, not really knowing where Lelystad was and I thought I needed to get inland.  Another mistake!
Over the dyke, pushing Mr Fetes up stairs and down, and then inland on a road.  But, I didn´t quite know which way. I still had to find my way into Lelystad, but how?  I went down one wrong dead-end road, having to again retrace my route.
One of my rules when lost, is to watch the motor traffic, particularly trucks and buses —they´re going somewhere. So, I followed one automobile´s direction, and did find a red bicycle direction sign, TO LELYSTAD.  But, now it was late afternoon and hot and I was tired, my feet aching.  This hard-surface path ended at a animal guard, a series of rails with spaces that animals won´t cross. I parked right on it for some reason.  Another mistake, as this one made out of rebar (steel construction rods) and the bars too far apart.  I fell into it twice. Damn!
Onward, as now semi-desperate.  I followed a dirt path to a highway, and turned in the wrong direction. But, a woman driving an automobile, stopped when I waved at her.  No, the other direction and cross the highway, etc.
Well, I finally got into Lelystad, seeking the Center, and the tourist information office.  But, this wasn´t easy either, as Lelystad fairly large.  I must have stopped and asked six people how to get to the central train station, some not knowing.
Then, finally, I was at the central plaza, maybe by 18.00 hours, and after some 80KM I´d cycyled.  I was desperate at this point to get off my Brooks saddle, as both my bum and feet screaming at me!  Here, I had was confronted by a huge public gathering, the plaze filled with hundreds of people, loudspeaking, music, a crowd, that I had to threat my way through. `Oh mama, can this really be the end to be stuck inside a crowd with the hotel room blues again?´ (Bob Dylan song lyric slightly paraphrased).
I pushed onto a side street and asked a policeman parked in his police car, WHERE IS THE TOURIST OFFICE?  When the answer was too complicated, I asked,  WHERE IS THE NEAREST HOTEL? He directed me to the Apollo Hotel, only two blocks away, and I headed for it through thick motor traffic. Alas!
At the hotel I paid 139€ for a room, too much of course, but it was the only room they had left.  Sometimes you don´t care what it costs, and this evening I didn´t.  I was just happy I had the money to pay for it.
Up in my room, after parking Mr. Fetes in their lobby, I stipped off my clothes and took a long hot bath. I was soooooo happy they had a bath tub, as soaking my old and abused body in hot water helps.  I would have paid 139€ for the bath alone!
That night, however, I was awakened several times with cramps both in my calves and feet.  We call these `Charlie Horses,´ and I don´t know why we call them that except it has to do with an old baseball player!  But, if you´ve never had a cramp in a muscle, it´s something like what a woman goes through giving birth, contractions they´re called.  And so painful, the only only way to lessen the pain of these muscle cramps in your calf is to stand up until they subside, screaming in pain as it takes too long for the muscle to relax!  What causes a muscle to cramp?  Overuse, dehydration, and strain. Certainly I overdid it this first day going too far with weight, and not in condition.
God, what a day, cycling the world!
People ask me why I do it?  I joke that I´m a masochist!  You would have to be to do what I do at my age!
However, THE ROAD OF EXCESS LEADS TO THE PALACE OF WISDOM!, so wrote William Blake, my favorite English!
Day two, Lelystad to Amsterdam
I paid another ridiculous amount at the Apollo Hotel, some 17€ for their buffet breakfast, that wasn´t very good.  ISIS Hotels, usually have better fare, and are included in the room rate.  But, again, sometimes feeding the mind, more important than feeding the body.  In this case, I just wanted to sit in comfort and drink several latte macchiatos!  But, via machine not all that great!
It´s interesting to me, that in Europe everything via machine.  More machines, less workers.  More AI and robots, less human workers.  So, how are all these unemployed workers going to support their families?  There´s going to be more theft, more crime.  Then more police, then more oppression, nee dictators.  We´ve entered the Age of Dictators in 2018!  Democracy is certainly threatened.  Why?  We realize we can´t govern ourselves, the masses out of control.
I departed the Apollo Hotel at 0845, in search of the Lelystad Central train station. But, I head out wrong, and have to ask how to get there.  I´ve heard of a bicycle shop in the station, and always make a point of passing out my BURN FAT!  NOT PETROL! stickers, meeting cyclists in the process. Additionally, cyclists generally know the best way, the best route, and this guy did.  He even walked out of his shop, down to a corner, to point out the direction I should go to run into the path, next to the Markemeer, as the suggested Google bicycle way.  This south all the way to Almere, my initial goal, not too far, after a brutal first day.  Did I adhere to that plan?  No.
Getting to that path, was not all that easy, however.  I had to thread my way through residential areas, dead ends, having to go back, and around. Turn left, not right, look up, look down, gee you´re dumb!  But, if I have any talent at all, it´s finding my way in the world, a sixth sense as to which is the right way.  When I get lost, or go out of my way, like what happened the first day, I know it´s the demons, the dnnies, fucking with me.  They don´t want to kill me, just make it more difficult.  They enjoy watching me suffer!
"The Shambala Sutra: 香巴拉箴言: If you want to go to Shambala 假如你想到香巴拉去 / There is much danger, 会有许多危险 / And demons will try to stop you! 恶魔们妄图阻止你! / Many people will become obstacles! 许多人也将成为阻碍!/ But, if you can understand 但是,如果你能明白 / Becoming the path itself, 这些都会成为其小径 / You will succeed, 你就将成功 / Overcoming all! '超越一切!". Only those who pass 'the test,' reap the benefits. And only those willing to suffer the pain, are blessed with 'Shambala,' (another word for 'Shangri-La’).¨
I have learned how to become the path, not ride on it, but become it!
Once I´m finally on the path to Almere, it´s nice like most Fiets Pads, in the NL.  For one thing, you´re isolated from motor vehices.
After maybe 20KMs, I stop and see read what confuses me… One bicycle path which is green says Almere that way, another, the usual red one indicates joining a highway, which makes me suspicious. I´ve never seen a green bicycle sign in the NL before, but, for some reason I decide to take the direction the green sign indicates.  It leads not far then plunges into a forest.  Up ahead a short distance a cul de sac, with view, as in need of the ole outdoor toilet.  Afterwards I reconsider, don´t know why until later, to return and take the red direction on highway
It isn´t a short time until another cyclist glides up next to me, wanting to chat.  He´s a young man from Barcelona, working in de Hag.  We ride together until a junction makes us part.  He´s going to Hilverson, me to Almere, I thought… I give him some stickers before he cranks up a hill (there aren´t many in the NL). I turn left, to rejoin a bicycle path, really a rural road with some local motor traffic.  I´m not far when I spy a picnic table and decide to stop, rest, eat, etc.
I take 20b bicycle route through Almere, but it becomes a labrinth.  I would still be there, if it not the help of several Dutch people, some with good information, some not.
I was following the red signs for 20b, past a construction site, when I spy a cycling couple coming in my direction.  I wave to stop them and ask if I´m going right into Amsterdam.  They tell me no, and explain. I´m to turn around go under the bridge, then double around over it, as this is a more direct route.  The man even waits for me at the bridge to direct me, explaning this is a short cut.  What turns out to be a short cut, however, delays me for probably an hour, as I got lost.
Then some boys on bicycles, going the opposite direction, yell at me to stop.  Luckily I heard them, stopped, and discover my tent had fallen off.  I´ve lost many things off Mr. Fetes over the years, but I didn´t want to lose this tent.  I offer the boys some money.  They refuse.  Then they spend time on their smart teles., trying to direct me to the path next to the highway (20b), heading all the way into Amsterdam.   I thanked the boys profusely, then forget to give them bicycle stickers. Damn!  I cursed myself all the way into Amsterdam another 20KM. Today, like the first day, begins to seem endless.   Again, what I planned to make a short day… I just keep going…
It´s no easy trick cycling in and out of a large city, but I´ve had experience getting in and out of Amsterdam, when I lived with the de Vries boys in Utrecht.  I used to cycle up for the day, along the BIG canal that connects Amsterdam with the Rhine River.  The Rijn-something by name… Goggle says:  Amsterdam-Rijnkanaal. I was up and down it many times in 2004, and on both sides.
Suddenly, stopped waiting for a light to change I recognized where a small road joins a large boulevard (I think S112), one which goes directly into the east side of the infamous metropolis — deja vu. This area, called Diemen.  I couldn´t believe that I´d recognized it.  What are the odds that I would end up entering Amsterdam, the same way 14 years later, and from an entirely different direction?  A coincidence? There are no coincidences in my world.
Now, however, in 2018, the old boulevard, now S112 was under construction as a new trolley line being added. But, I confirmed I was going correctly when I passed the cemetary.  It had been a place to hide while going to the toilet, ah, blasphemy!  But, there are so few public toilets in cities, one has to get creative when older, as when nature calls when youre over 70 years of age, IT CALLS!
I remember in a city park in Santiago, Chile, having TO GO!  I stopped a Chilean man, who spoke English.  I asked him for a public toilet, he said GO ANYWHERE, THIS IS SOUTH AMERICA!
Back in Noorwolde, planning, I had researched locations of Caravan Parks, along the way.  There was one on the east side of Amsterdam, Called Zeeburg Camping.  I made a mental note as it looked interesting online.
But, acutually there in Amsterdam, I was heading for the Starbucks east of Amsterdam Central, then later any hotel would do. I thought I was way beyond Zeeburg Camping site.
Well, I saw a sign for a hostal on the other side of the busy boulevard.  I crossed, was in the process of locking Mr. Fetes to check out the Hostal when I saw a man loitering, and suspicious.  So I opted to move on, pushing through a maze of narrow streets and shops.  I ended up on a large street with a bicycle lane, so why not, basically lost.  I´m crusing to god knows where, when I see a sign that points straight ahead 2KM to Zeeburg Camping.  Now, again, what are the odds?  Maybe a million to one?
I end up renting a private cabin there, and for not much €, maybe 20.
I don´t know how many kilometers that day from Lelystad, but enough.
Day 3, Zeeburg Camping (Amsterdam) to IJmuiden (the port from where my ferry departed for Newcastle)
Getting into Central Amsterdam was easy, as I was going to Starbucks in the Doubletree Hotel east of Amsterdam Central.  There I had my usual blueberry muffic and Latte Macchiato, sitting outside watching the rush of people going hither and yon. I needed to do some shopping, another Elif Shafak novel, and some eau de cologne to be used in case of sea sickness.  I got two of Shafak´s books, but the cologne impossible, as only available online and shipped.  Turns out I didn´t need it anyway,
I was happy to get out of the infamous city as dystopic to me. Additionally, water everywhere, and I don´t even like to drink it!  Ugh!
I found the way to Ijmuiden, some 30KM from Dystopia, but once there lost.  It turned out I couldn´t find the Camp de Duidoon where I had paid in advance for four days (waiting to depart for the U.K.).  It was marked on the large tourist map, but somehow I didn´t manage well, having to ask several locals for directions.  Then I made some mistakes, ending up way south, when I should have been north.  I finally got there at 15.00 hour (3P.M.), again, exhausted.  I think I´m getting too old to travel on a heavy bicycle.
The cabin was new and well done, except it had no bedding.  This a surprise, but i carry what I need, in case.   And in this case I needed.
I spent the first afternoon dozing and doing laundry.
Then I ate dinner in their local restaurant only 10mts. from my cabin.  Next to me a large family with loud obnoxious children.
I watch parent´s faces and if not unhappy, at least concerned.
My greatest accomplishment in life, is having none of my own.  i like them, especially when young, but not 24/7, thank you.  When women suggest I´ve missed out on such pleasure, I response with, YOU GO AHEAD AND HAVE MORE FOR ME!
I´ve always been labeled a FREE SPIRIT, which I never quite understood… Aren´t all of you free spirits as well?  I guess not!  Me, I´m a migrating bird, a rolling stone that gathers no moss!  The ROAD LESS TRAVELLED, has made all the difference to me!  Read Virginia Woolf´s book, ORLANDO!  I´m Orlando in the story!
The next day, a Saturday, I returned to Dystopia, to attend an art exhibit, involving friends Angeline and Joop. I took a bus, as my bum and feet in recovery.  At the exhibit I passed off my ´free spirits´ to Joop, to give to someone who would appreciate, these `free spirits´ illegal in the U.K.
I manged the bus back to IJmuiden, and then REALLY exhausted.
I spent the next two days, doing as little as possible.
I rode around, first checking out the ferry dock, when to board, and where.
I leave nothing to chance when travelling, as don´t like unpleasant surprises. Yet, I got one when departing.
I also cycled out on their dyke or water break, and all the way to the end where there´s an automated lighthouse.  Staring out across the expanse, the North sea, I though I could see St. Andrews, Scotland some 500kM to the north.  I took off my shoes, and walked barefooted on the beach (playa in Espanol).
We don´t come in direct contact with Mother Earth enough, part of the problem.
I ate at a Greek Restaurant, but not very good.  I found something, a travelling pillow, for lack of a better description, to soften my Brooks saddle.  It only cost 7€, and worked amazingly well.
On Tuesday morning, I packed and was off to catch the ship to Newcaste.
Adios, to the Netherlands to cycle the British Isles.
Day 8, the overnight sail across the North Sea, and then cycling into Newcasle, finally Newburn…
Oh, Mama Can this really be the end, to be stuck inside of the NL, with the U.K., blues again?
All went well, waiting as we, me along with two other cyclists, first in a long line of motor vehicles to board.
Two guys from the U.K., one from Scotland, thus I got some good information. They where the once-a-year for vacation kind of older cyclists, with new bicycles and gear.  I think I sometimes intimidate such when I tell them I cycled he world for 14 years!
Then, having passed the first check in window, I was behind the two U.K., cyclists when asked for my passport by a border guard. Oh, OH!   He examined it, then asked some quesions which I fudged as really illegal in the E.U. I flumoxed about applying for residency in Spain, but when I couldn´t produce documents, he said to stand aside.  He got on his mobile, and the next thing I knew I was being taken to their office across the loading lanes.
Inside, after taking care of Mr. Fetes, I was told to sit and wait.  Well, these are the times that try men´s souls, as I could have be arrested, fined, and/or denied the right to depart.  Tense beyond tenison, I waited praying for deliverance. Oh, mama, can this really be the end…
After too long, maybe fifteen minutes, he returned, and handed me back my passport. He even helped me out with Mr. Fetes.  But, his final words, as he directed me to board.  `You are an illegal immigrant,´ as to label me as a law breaker. I guess they had checked with Interpol, and the fact I wasn´t wanted for some crime, and a U.S., citizen, and whatever gods that helped, I was free to leave and deal with such in the U.K.  I wasn´t entirely out of the woods, having to run another guantlet when entering England.  But, I can tell you my heart soared part way, another miracle had happened!  I have many in my life!
On board, i discovered a floating Lost Wages hotel, that had just about everything:  bars, restaurants, a fun center for children, a casino, a movie theater.  All I wanted to do was sleep.  And as further fortune had it, my cabin had a window, so I could `sea the see!´  Certainly I was in a See of sorts.
The dinner and wine expensive, but good.
The ride smooth, as these modern ships somehow designed to not go up and down.  It rolled a little bit from side to side.
I remember looking for my dessert, watching a young boy his plate akimbo, cherry tomatoes rolling off onto the foor, then rolling across a crowded floor into an adult´s hands.  It´s funny what you remember.
Afterwards, I found the stern´s observation decks, the one outside, like stepping into a gale. Inside, I sat watching the North Sea for the first time ever in my life.
I slept well in my bunk, but then up early for breakfast, my favorite meal. They even had prunes.
Then we were told, those who had come on vehicles, to descend to prepare to depart.
When we had loaded the afternoon before, this space for the two-wheelers was emplty.  When we arrived the next moring, it was jammed full of both bicyces and motorcyles.
Worse, once we had unfastened our bicycles, we had to wait a long time, before things started to move, almost one hour, standing there.
Finally there was some movenment and then the rush to keep up.  I followed my two U.K. cyclists, up the metal ramp and on terra firma, where we were directed into various lines.  i don´t know how many vehicles had been on board, but it seemed like hundreds.
At this point I started praying again, as everyone forced to deal with border control.  Again, the gods were with me, as when I appeared at the window, there were two women.  I jabbered on about cycling the world for 14 years, while one of the women looked at my passport, now slightly impressed with an old man having done so.  She asked me to take off my glasses, checked the passport photo, while the other one, at the other window, asked questions, like my age?  They WERE MORE IMPRESSED, mine stamping my passport, and I began to breathe again!  She handed my passport back, and I thanked them, moving on smartly.
I was now safe in the U.K. / E. U.  I had run the guantlet making it through alive!
Another break, I hooked up with two cyclists, a couple from the Netherands, and I followed them via all their smart phoning into Newcastle.  Alone, it would have been much more challenging as the route, besides being hilly, wound through residential areas, sometimes on streets, sometimes on bicycle paths.
When we stopped to part finally in the City, I thanked them of course, explained I was meeting a friend, but first looking for a Starbucks.  The man pointed, `Well, there´s one right over your shoulder!´  Wow, again,   don´t tell me I don´t have guarding angels, helping me at every turn.
I celebrated in Starbucks with the usual.  How relieved can one be?  I´m not the kind that shows much emotion, but inside I was as happy as I have ever been in my life!  Oh, how relieved can one get?
I had things to do in Newcastle, and new is was to me.  I got a map from Starbucks, and made my way to find a bank.  I had Swiss francs, dollars and euro to exchange for British currency, as even though a part of the E.U., they had kept the pound.  No shillings, but 100 pense per pound.  Barclays bank wouldn´t exchange, but directed me to a place that would.
After that I need to purchase a new telephone #-sim card. Somehow I managed to find a shop near the Central train station.  inside a young man wearing a turbin, obviously s Sikh, and spoke English with an accent.  He sold me a sim card, and then installed it, as I´m a clutz at such. Then I was finally able to call Sandra, my host.  She lived in Newburn some five miles west. Her directions were too find and follow the BLUE bicyce signs west, route #74.
Again, I was able to find my way, and went to meet her, as she said she would ride out and we would rendezvous on the path.
II turned out, however, to be more challenging than I wanted.  And dealing with the traffic, almost frightening, Just the opposite from the NL.
I went and went, ending up in the countryside, and eventually there she was, Sandra Lonsdale.
She directed me to follow her a short distance to her row house.
There I fell into a reverie, a kind of ecstasy I would call it.  Ecstasy is what´s important wrote, Virginia WoolfI
 I had made it all the way, from Noorwolde, crossing the River Styx in the process!  But, then what is ecstasy.  Ecstasy, at my age is taking a good shit!
That evening Sandy made dinner for me and Bob, an old friend, and Tony her boyfriend, who I could never understand a word he spoke.  But, my saving grace, I´m a good listener, and can act like I understand, smiling when the speaker does, nodding in agreement.
I was finally, with a group of English speakers that could unterstand me, more than I had to understand them. Thus, I must have bored them with many stories, some almost too much to believe for they had hardly travelled.  Except for Tony, who amazingly, had been to Lijiang, Yunnan Province, China!  Thus we shared, while boring the other two, reminiscences of The Middle Kingdom!  Additionally, I went on and on, dropping my entire list as Richard coined, the next morning having to apologize for being so verbose!  I rarely get excited, but I was excited that last evening at dinner.
The next day, the usual, shower, laundry, dealing with Mr. Fetes, etc.  There is so much housework, when you have no house.
I had planned, asked, got permission, to stay two extra days, just to relax or try to in such normal surroundings.
I cycled with Sandy to a Lidl suppermaket,some distance, crossing the Tyne River several times, up and down, next to the railroad tracks, on streets, trying to remember had I had to go it alone — impossible.
At the market I found my kind of food, veggie drink which I sub. for cow´s milk, oh moo!  Someother healthy, if not decadent things, I can´t find when cycling through small communities.
On the way back to Newbum (almost as using the pillow), I stopped and had a woman barber mow my beard, and what little hair I have on my head to ground.  I´m lazy having shaving with a Gillette razor for years!  Now, I let whatever grow, cut it off, let it grow, in an endless cycle that seems to surprise people, I look older, I look younger, this confuses them.
One thing I´ve learned cycling the world, is people accepting difference.  They just can´t believe or accept that you might look different, or do things entirely different from them.  Are you crazy?  Thus, I rarely reveal who I truly am!  They would be shocked.  Sometimes I even shock myself.  But, then again I am a FRED SPIRIT! Still FOLLOWING THE LIGHT!
P.S. Next, part two (II) Newcastle, U.K. to Glasgow, Scotland.


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