Amsterdam Day 2, or the day of the longest bike ride

October 04, 2010 By: nooccar Category: Travel

This morning I didn’t roll out of bed until 11am. I threw myself awake when Madeline arrived home from Paris; I said hello, got a shower and became coherent. Madeline told me about a free walking tour at 1:15pm that I figured I’d try to make to get an understanding of what is where. This city’s orientation confused me today and I kept getting turned around. I had about 45 minutes until the tour so I jumped on the bike and headed into the city. It was a different bike today that had a baby seat that worked well for my messenger bag, but the front rim was totally crooked which made it hard to steer straight. After riding for about a half an hour I realized I was totally lost. My map doesn’t include exactly where they live since it’s so far out so I couldn’t figure out where I was. I kept going the ways I thought would get me where I meant to be but that really didn’t work out. I was as far off as Oosterpark at one point but then made it to Waterlooplein where they had a flea market. This was somewhere I knew from last night so I locked the bike since I was already way late for the free tour.


I walked Waterlooplein flea market, shot it, and browsed around. I checked out City Hall, shot along the Amstel River, and then walked up to Rembrandt’s House. Dan let me use his Museumkaart that gets you into most of them for free. Rembrandthuis was pretty cool and the audio tour was free with purchase. After biking for 90 minutes I was really thirsty and laughed when the water in the bathroom sink was looking so refreshing. After the museum, I saw the souvenir shop with a lady I knew who spoke English. I bought a water, a shirt for my dad, and a post card. After that I grabbed the bike outside the Litzst House and was considering going to the Anne Frank Huis but realized it was in Jordaan and plan to go there tomorrow.

Sometimes you need to look up. Here’s the front of Rembrandt’s House

Venors at Nieumarkt

Next up was biking to Weeg where they had the old weighing house. This is where we parked the night before and the great microbrew was there. I grabbed a bock beer there and had a mini-souffles lunch before walking back through Chinatown towards Museum Amstelkrig (Our Lord in the Attic) which is a regular canal house that hid a small Catholic church in the attic during the protestant movement in the 1600s. The Museumkaart worked here but the guy did tell me I had about 10 minutes to see the museum since they closed at 1700.


This museum was at the edge of the Red Light District up a canal from the Hemp Museum and Oude Kerk (Old Church), so I walked the Red Light and one of the ladies opened her door; I smiled and moved quickly down the road. The Hemp & Harijuana Museum was 5euro for a pretty small single leveled room about the use of hemp overtime. I wasn’t actually expecting anything wild but I was expecting more than I saw there.

Poster in the Hemp Museum


After that I walked the canals and took some photos of the leaves changing and falling into the water along with sinking boats and rusted bicycles. From there I grabbed the bicycle and figured out exactly how to get back. My first landmark I needed was Mittetouren (Mint Tower), from there I headed back south and got home very quickly.

Check out the sign in the window


Amsterdam Day 1, or look at the cute gay couples and their adopted daughters

October 03, 2010 By: nooccar Category: holidays, Travel

Landed at Schipol International Airport about 630am here in Amsterdam. I sat next to a quiet Dutch woman and tried to sleep quite a bit. I probably didn’t sleep more than three hours and I did watch Prince of Persia (I’d wanted to watch Karate Kid but I pushed the wrong channel). After a really easy trip through customs Dan and his daughters, Liliane (4) and Amelie (3), were waiting for me. We hopped into their Peugot wagon/mini-suv thingy and headed to their flat/apartment in south Amsterdam. Everyone got more ready for the day and we headed out to some old school seaport villages while Dan was off work for Sunday. (Madeline, his wife, is in Paris for the weekend and returns tomorrow).

Liliane and Amelie kept me busy and will help me get my little girl fix while I am away from Claire this weak. Our first stop was an ATM for me outside Hilton Amsterdam where John Lennon and Yoko Ono did their sleep-in before we headed to Marken, a small fishing village that originally was not connected to the main land at all. We walked the village, shot some photos like the boats below, and then walked back to the car.

Next we stopped at Monnickedam just because they’d never been there. They had a great kid park and the girls got to play for as long as they wanted for a euro per person. I had a koffie and Dan drank thee while we wanted them play.

It was fun listening to the girls speak good Dutch and good English. Then they’d throw in other words. I also learned that Pos Op means to watch out and Snell means to hurry. I figured they’d know some French (their mother is fluent) but they definitely know the other languages more.

On the way to Vondeldam sleep started to catch up with me and I was out. I woke up when we got there. It’s a small touristy town on the edge of the North Sea inlet. We ate kibberling (Cod) along the water while the girls filled my pockets with rocks they want me to take home to Claire. I also shot some windmills at Zaanse Schans and stopped at two different cheese and clog making shops.


When we got back to the flat, Dan’s friend Oleg called and wanted to meet for beers so we grabbed the bikes and rode from Dan’s place into the city center (centrum). Dan left his mobile at the flat so we couldn’t even call Oleg when we arrived, but the bike ride alone was an adventure. They have four bikes and I chose the one without a kid carrier on it. It also has no bell so I could not warn people I was coming.

After getting to Waterlooplein, we grabbed a beer and decided to do Thai food for dinner. After a scrumptious Pad Thai, Dan walked us through the Red Light District and, yes, Virginia, there are hookers in them thar windows. I had Liliane on my shoulders so I think they figured I wasn’t interested. Actually a few times Dan and I wondered if the tourists were thinking “oh look, Amsterdam is so liberal that an alternative gay family has their two daughters out for the day.)


After our trek through the lights, we jumped back onto the bikes, Dan gave me lights to put on me and my bag, then we rode back to the flat for bed.

Just me & my Dad

November 04, 2009 By: nooccar Category: Claire, Leisure, Parenthood

After spending way too much time in recovery after throat surgery, I had to get out of town. October and November are some of my favorite times living in Arizona because the weather drops from 100 degrees to about 60. Nights drop incredibly and day times are short sleeve weather. After fall break when we return to work, it’s dark when I drive into work and dark when Claire gets out of karate and swim several of the week nights.

Over break I wasn’t really cleared for travelling or even lifting anything but by the third week in October, I had to get out of town. I put on my calendar “getting out of town” and told Donna to get in the truck if she wanted to go. I’d planned a trip to either Willow Springs Lake or Christopher Creek to go camping, and then I contacted the park ranger. She suggested we stay in Christopher Creek because the rim (where the lakes are) were close to freezing temperatures at night.


Throughout the week, Donna became sicker and sicker to the point where she and Dante decided to stay home. (I sure didn’t want them in the tent breathing on me!) Friday Claire and I headed north up the Beeline Highway through Payson, stopped at Subway for lunch and then headed into the woods. Christopher Creek campground was pretty dead, and we wanted to be close enough to the pit toilets that she could go alone but far enough so it didn’t smell too bad. We ended up at the same campsite where we camped the first time she’d ever gone in Oct 2008. We set up camp, paid our $16 (??!) a night, and hung out. As the sun dipped behind Christopher Mountain, it got chillier outside. We made a nice fire and hunkered down in our warm clothes. Claire just kept asking over and over again for Smores, but I told her we had to eat dinner first. We had hotdogs and then later Smores. At about 8:00 o’clock she said she wanted to go to bed so I took her into the tent, but I suddenly realized that there were no adults there so I didn’t have anything to do after she went to bed. I read my magazine in the tent for a little while but it hurt by back so I too went to bed at 8. By 7am we were awake and frigid. Sleeping didn’t bother me in the cold, but it was waking up cold that sucked. I had Claire climb into my bag with me and we told each other stories for an hour before braving the even colder air outside the tent.


We made a small fire to make our oatmeal, and we hung out around camp. I wanted to hit the General Store in Christopher Creek but didn’t think it’d be open too early. We headed over there after 9am and the lady was talking to Claire. After discovering she was 4, she said they were having a Halloween costume parade and trick or treating that night at the local fire department. I said we might be back.

Claire and I wanted to see some fall color, so we drove up a dirt road to some trails where there were Red Maples with leaves still. I was worried that we were about a week late for the leaves, but we definitely saw some back by the creek. She complained about walking even though we were going through a flat meadow, until I realized she needed to go to the bathroom. She freaks out with outhouses but when you gotta go, you gotta go. She finally dropped trou and went on the side of the trail. I buried it and put rocks over the area before we crossed the creek to climb what I thought was a small hill. Turned out it was more like a small mountain. We headed up this thing and I had to toss Claire on my head so she wouldn’t roll down the hillside. The problem was the leaves were very slippery, so we made it about 10′ and found a spot where a blanket of red leaves rolled down the hillside. She and I made like we were sledding and got back down near the creek.


We eventually made it back to the car, salvaged some wood from burn piles that night’s fire, and headed up to the top of Mogollon Rim to Woods Canyon Lake. We got some worms and hoped to fish. After about two hours of not a single bite we decided to head back to camp so Claire could change before the trick or treating. The fire hall was pretty empty when we arrived, and I told Claire to just tell everyone that she was going as a “camper” since she had no costume. After we grabbed some free hotdogs more people began coming, and it turned out that this evening was a big deal. Many people like us were valley people who drove up just for the evening. After the costume parade, they loaded the kids into trailers behind fire pickups and drove us through Christopher Creek to all the cabins. We were out there for about three hours, filling a large bag with candy. Claire loved it, and I’d consider taking her back next year (with a costume this time!)


I had an Arizona Highways magazine at home about cool drives in Arizona, and one of those drives was the 300 Rim Road between 260 and 87. It’s a dirt road that literally runs parallel to the top of the Rim for about 55 miles, and I figured we might find some nice photos of yellow Aspen at the top. Donna and I had made the drive years ago but only part way in to camp. This time I was determined that Claire and I were going all the way across.


Sunday morning we packed the tent and got on the road north after a nice breakfast at Creekside Restaurant. On the 300 we passed right by the Woods Canyon Lake cutoff, which is usually as far as we go. This time I was determined to drive all the way. The road immediately went from paved to dirt and gravel. ATVs and dirt bike riders flew by, and I put my zoom lens and camera next to me on the seat of the truck. Claire was half preoccupied with hiding some of the night before’s candy in the back seat, but she kept putting her window up and down to watch the dust and trees. Occasionally I stopped to get some photos along the Rim and ended up at several key points along the way. I almost drove back to Knohl Lake to check it out, but I wanted to get to Strawberry at a decent hour to see my friend Alan.

There were several campgrounds along the way that we checked out, but I like sites that have a creek or lake close by. I was also hoping to see elk or coyote but we barely even saw any birds. I think Claire enjoyed the ride, and we did find a few stands of yellowed leaf aspen. I shot a few hundred pictures before we pulled onto 87 towards Strawberry.


Alan lives in the woods, and he’s never really home; this weekend he just happened to be there so Claire and I stopped at his cabin for a bit before driving into Payson where our friend’s have a cabin (it’s more like their second house). They weren’t there and later said we missed them by minutes (but I know I drive faster than them and we take the same highway home). We rolled into Chandler a few hours later, after our 350 mile, three day adventure together.

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