Even the keyboards are different . . . 11/25/2009Posted by mikeonbike in cycling, travel.
Tags: amsterdam, belgium, netherlands, rain, rotterdam
Free Internet is proving difficult to find in Europe, so my entries may be a little sparse for some time.
I only have 22 minutes on this computer, so I can’t possibly describe everything that’s happened since I arrived in Rotterdam. Holland was stunning in every way and biking with literally thousands of other cyclists in Amsterdam was a dream come true.
The weather has been brutal for the past four or five days, so I decided against going to Luxembourg and opted to bike west through Belgium instead. This is my third day in the country and I’m loving every moment of it. Already I’ve gone through cities and forests and muddy country lanes, and all I can smell are pine trees and good food.
Tomorrow I hope to make it to Antwerp, then Gent and eventually Brussels before I move south to France. For now, though, I’ll have to be frustrated that I can’t share the many pictures or stories I have of Europe. They’re coming – promise!
Greetings from The Netherlands! 11/14/2009Posted by mikeonbike in cycling, travel.
Tags: boredom, freighter, great lakes, netherlands, seasick, trans atlantic
There’s a lot to be said for the beauty of sea travel, but the words get stuck when you’re trying not to barf.
Only a few of my 25 days on the water were spent curled in the fetal position, cursing the cabbage in my stomach, but they were enough to turn my romantic conceptions of the ocean a pale shade of green.
Still, now that I’ve landed, I like to consider myself only a marginal wimp. In the middle of the North Atlantic the Irma encountered Beaufort 9 conditions, which, jargon aside, means that lying in bed I smashed my face against the wall one moment and tumbled onto the floor the next.
Being a stranger to this phenomenon, I decided my confidence in the vessel would best be restored by doing the funhouse walk across my cabin and lunging at my window to gape at eight-meter waves crashing over the deck rail.
The prospect of drowning without a ripple sat uncomfortably with the sauerkraut and blood pudding jubilee that had been my dinner, so I fastened the curtains and rode out the duration of the storm with eyes squeezed firmly shut, trying to find my happy place.
I never came close – it turns out my happy place looks a lot like land – so I distracted myself with synonym solitaire instead.
Now that it’s over, I can proudly say that not once did I vomit, puke, ralph, upchuck, retch, yack, honk, heave, hurl, charf, spew, chunder, toss cookies, blow chunks or lose my lunch. No calls were made on the flushing phone, no prayers offered to the porcelain gods and I have yet to be named captain of the bowling team. Dream big, I always say.
When the boat wasn’t thrashing about like a couple of teenagers on a waterbed, I found I had plenty of free time on my hands. Enough to finish three puzzles, four novels and more Steven Segal movies than I care to admit.
Then I plundered old newspapers for games sections until finally, bereft of entertainment, I read a sizable chunk of the Bible. Sort of. Before Genesis there was me, trying to teach myself to juggle with three balled up socks – an unmitigated failure on all levels.
After awhile there wasn’t much left to do but stare at the waves and think. Across Superior, Huron, Erie and Ontario, past Montréal and Québec and finally Newfoundland itself, I considered things like why I have no inner monologue when I solve sudoku puzzles, how Moses could possibly climb Mount Sinai in sandals and who painted Steven Segal’s eyes onto his head.
Then I started contemplating my trip. A lot has happened between Inuvik and Rotterdam, enough to make me feel very different, though exactly what has grown or gone since I left in June is difficult to pin down.
The changes aren’t really physical and I sincerely doubt my virtues are now suddenly cast of gold. More likely, the shift has been in perspective alone.
On the ocean I was constantly reminded of how vast the world really is and how I’ll only be able to tread the smallest of paths on it. Now, finally, I’m okay with that. I think travelling is a lot like luck – a little will always be enough.
Minnesota bound! 10/13/2009Posted by mikeonbike in cycling, travel.
Tags: freighter, great lakes, manitoba, netherlands, trans atlantic
I’m sitting in a coffee shop in Brandon, $50 in my pocket and legs covered in rust. I spent the afternoon sanding a lady’s wrought iron patio banister, not because I’m particularly opposed to rust, but because my pants need a bit more jingle before I leave.
The time is drawing near. My freighter leaves Duluth on October 20 and I need to be on it. There are still a million things to do on this side of the Atlantic, not least of which is finding a way to get to the port on such short notice. But it’ll happen, and in one month I’ll be cycling in Europe – Belgium or the Netherlands to be vaguely precise.
Getting there . . .