Thursday, July 19, 2012

Netherlands July 19

We packed and left the Den Haag campground during intermittent rain, but it was clearing as we rode and soon we were free of most of it, leading to a pretty rain free day. I ate first breakfast in my tent, since I had been carrying a roll with cheese all yesterday, then we had second breakfast in De Haage at a bagel shop. Bill's biggest complaint so far has been that the cups of coffee are half sized and there are no refills.  It is also interesting that asking for tap water is frowned upon.  We rode north through very expensive properties, the heart of foreign diplomatic homes.
Linda's bike had several loose spokes and so was out of round, of course.  So in Leiden we stopped at a bike shop, to which we needed to be directed, because of course everyone who lives in the village knows where it is, so why put out signs?  The mechanic (possibly owner) was very proud of his shop, which he should be.  He obviously was quite capable and thoughtful.  We left the bike with him for a few hours.  While we were gone, it started raining and he went out and put Bill's helmet where the padding would stay drier. He did a great job and pushed the job to the front of the queue to get us back up and running quickly.
While the bike was in the shop, we took the opportunity to visit an historical windmill.  Very cool, of course the operator lived with his family in the bottom.
The operator kept an extra of each part, to use as a template to make replacements for worn pieces. The rooms were astonishingly spacious; it doesn't look nearly so large from the outside. You are allowed to climb the extremely steep stairs to ascend to the upper levels, where the stairs become so steep as to almost qualify as ladders (the same steepness I encountered in the bed and breakfast access to my 3rd floor room).  
 Most windmills have a plaque noting the year of build.
Incredibly complicated, the wheels and teeth are all wooden.
The museum had little models of all the different kinds of windmills.
This was the mechanism from keeping the mill from spinning out of control.
Looking out the door near the top. The final ladder/stair was blocked off. This last level would allow access to the rafters of the roof, but probably not much else.  From the level with the "balcony", the operator had access to the sail shaft, the steering column and a hoist to bring sacks of grain up to load into the gravity fed hopper. They used the sail shaft to pull up the sacks through a trap door. Generally when you see photos of windmills, they are just the bare blades.  In low wind conditions, "sails" are unfolded and cover the blades to increase efficiency of the blades.  We only saw one windmill in our entire trip in use with its sails unfurled. Weights were used to measure a farmers grain when he brought it to the mill.  The taxman was there to make sure the government got its share of the profits.
A huge steering wheel turns the blades and shaft into the wind.
  We tried out some of Holland's famous pancakes.  Bill and I shared an apple, ginger, cinnamon one. They were about 14" in diameter.  Very yummy!  

I believe this is a polder windmill.  Its function is to pump water out of low lands and into the river, which is on higher ground.    
I hope this photo is not indicative of how my hair generally looked, though if it is, I don't really want to know that.
We spent a lot of time photographing these two windmills.  The one with the speed limit sign in front was running and had two of its sails unfurled. The second one had a beautiful and functional garden out front.
We cycled up the shoreline from there checking out windmills and gardens. The extensive dunes reminded me of Sleeping Bear Dunes in Michigan.   
There was no way to really get lost, so we enjoyed the rolling terrain at our own paces. On our way into Zandvoort, we got a close up view of two reindeer, roaming someone's yard.  
More kite surfers skimmed the ocean, despite (or maybe because of) the weather. Stopping for coffee in Zandvoort, we got to meet the owner, who is a huge bicycling booster/ supporter. She keeps tire levers and a pump on hand and lets cyclists fill their bottles there.
The town/ city bike paths take three different forms. Shown here is one form; cyclists going both directions share the same path, which is segregated from traffic by a barrier. You can see that the barrier effectively keeps out traffic, but allows cyclists entry.  The second is to have painted lanes, one on each side of the street for each direction.  The last is to have streets which are closed to cars, but open to cyclists and pedestrians.  There are very few places closed to cyclists and one way streets are often open to cyclists going either direction.   It rained off and on, never quite soaking, but we didn't take off our rain gear, because each time we tried, it would begin to sprinkle again.
  In Haarlem, we wandered around lost for a little while, until a couple put us back on track. The lift bridges are interesting and plentiful.  I never could quite figure out how some of the tiny rural ones worked, since we never saw anyone go through them, but I think someone has to hop off the boat, hand crank it up and then hand crank it down.  Most don't have little operator booths like we have in Buffalo, but the bridges are mostly smaller. The counter weights on this one are typical and almost decorative.  
Recreational and small cargo haulers share the canals. Again, the churches have obvious generations of building. The brick and stone are of totally different eras and you can often see where repairs were made with similar, but not exactly the same materials.
   At the campground, we discovered both sides of the railroad tracks.  There are two sides of the campground, the new and expensive and the old and cheap.  We are in the old/cheap side... We shall see what the night brings. r


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