Sunday, May 31, 2015

Amsterdamsters, 1: Suburbs and Initial Rambling

After a week and a half in Amsterdam's suburbs, we finally turned tourists today, Saturday, and took the Metro into The City. It's taken that long to acclimate, fix up our new camper, and visit with the Howes, who arrived Wednesday. We've made like four trips each to Kampeer Perfect (Camping World), MultiMate (Home Depot), Kwantum (Bed Bath Infinity & Beyond), Albert Heijn (Alberston's), and Ikea (Ikea). And we've also moved our venue to Camping Gaasparplas, which has much better transportation to the city than Amsterdamse Bos. As usual, our visit with the Howes was so busy with camper- and travel-talk I forgot to take any pix. Next time, probably back in California.

Anyhow, our visit to Amsterdam commences now, although I won't account for it very coherently. We've been here many times since 1979, have seen most of the sights, more than once, and mostly just enjoy being here in this anything-goes city; and being once again in Europe. Today's high point, after walking the Damrak, three museums and other sights, was finding the Marks and Spencers and buying Vicki a scones and clotted cream fix. (I'd already had my by Jenever fix.) A close second was finding the vlaamse friets store we always happen on to, and getting our fries fix. Met curry saus. Life is good.
Still out in the burbs, in Bovenkerk, near the campground, a
typical suburban scene...taken from the bicycle pavement; even
in the burbs, bicycles outnumber cars and get mostly equal

Road rage ready

Futbol cage in a playground

Now in Amsterdam, near Waterlooplein

Ditto; the Waterlooplein flea market was a waste of time

Rembrandt statue...and friends

Gothic art deco? The Touschinski Pathe Theatre:
muy famoso

Spinoza statue, in the former Jeiwsh quarter;
(I waited a good ten minutes for this gentleman
to fold up his map and move on)

Canal scene

In time, all buildings become restaurants

Thought for the day

Interior of St. Nicholas Church, late 19th century Catholic...
Catholic worship, in public, was banned for 300 years prior
to this...

Saturday, May 23, 2015

ReturnTo Europe, 2015; And A New Rig

So Monday Delta jetted us first to Detroit and then to Amsterdam, both relatively quick and painless flights. I watched The Big Lebowksi for the hundredth+ time and also a disturbing documentary on contemporary American higher education, Ivory Tower. We got into Amsterdam early enough to have a second breakfast, waiting for Rene to pick us up in our rig. He was there on schedule, and after a couple hours of paperwork and demonstration, we were off to the Het Amsterdamse Bos campground, where we have stayed before. The next three days we spent unpacking, getting to know the new rig, making some minor alterations, and provisioning for the coming weeks. Also struggling with jet lag and the worst cold I've had in some time.
Over Holland...

The new (to us) rig at the Albert Heijn superhypermercado in
Amstelveen; Vicki wanted something smallish and we both wanted
something we wouldn't have to spend arms and legs on for
insurance: thus, a 2001 Rotec (German) motorhome on a Fiat turbo
diesel,..c. 48,000 miles....a pretty standard European rig, if smallish
and underpowered; but it is relatively spacious, for us, and has more
storage than we have ever enjoyed before; alas, or maybe not alas, it
is short on such amenities as air conditioning, entertainment system,
outdoor kitchen, generator, microwave, and cruise control, 
camera, and automatic transmission; we'll manage, somehow; we're
feeling very European, which is good

Our row at Het Amsterdamse Bos

Parts of which are over-run with rabbit (Penelope)

Stimulating the local, well, the Euro economy; where else are
you going to get household items for an RV when there's no

Eating local...brats with curry gewurz, rode bieten, grootmoeders
zurkool, and some aardappel salade, washed down by a glass of

Monday, May 18, 2015

Congratulations, Lexi!

We spent a long weekend with my sister Carole, Jim, and Lexi, celebrating Lexi's graduation from American Heritage high school. Lexi was there from pre-school on to graduation, and is now adjusting to the prospect of college next fall, and beyond.
The very happy family

With Vicki and me, very proud of our niece

With friends

Opening cards and gifts with special friend Cole, at the family
dinner later that evening; congrats Lexi!

Logging Out, Middle California

So our last days in Menlo Park were spent with P and her family, packing, sorting, reorganizing, preparing the Bigfoot for summer storage. On May 13th, we bade farewell, and red-eyed on to our next destination, South Florida.
The previous weekend I was treated to numerous sightings of
the c. 1927 Ford TriMotor giving rides out of the airport at
San Carlos; the first commercial airliner, all (corrugated)
aluminum, crew of 3 for 8-9 passengers; FDR campaigned
out of one in 1932; only about 200 were built; the TriMotor
was quickly superceded by the even more venerable DC-3

Roasting hot dogs (chauds chiens) with Grandma in the
back yard; note propane campfire unit: we figure the days of
free open fires in national forests and parks are about over...

The Bigfoot in storage, across the Bay

Saying bye to P

Saturday, May 9, 2015

California Campin': Out-Takes

In case you forgot the Hershey's, the Graham crackers, and
the marshmellows, the concessionaire stores at Yosemite have
you covered....

A crebain out of Dunland enjoys some Doritos, dropped from
a tourist's shopping bag; Yosemite's ravens are absolutely as
large and aggressive as Yellowstone's; only the latter have learned
how to unzip backpacks (seriously), however

We met lots of nice people on this trip, especially Europeans
visiting Yosemite; these two boys are part of a family of six
from Lille, taking a year off to explore the New World (in a

Our second night at the Upper Pines campground was graced
by a van-load (and then some) of college-aged movie-makers;
at first I figured they were going to document the first ascent
of some rock or other, but, instead, they lengthily video'd the
making of a campfire, the erecting of tents, blowing up of air
mattresses, cooking of hot dogs, and even did an extended
interview of the Indian (dot) family next door...I guess I've
already had my fifteen minutes

At Wawona, an interestingly-painted neighbor

When we were boon-docking south of Yosemite,
I found my trusty old .177 caliber semi-automatic
Daisy and emptied quite a few clips in the general
direction of this beer can, occasionally hitting it;
and not shooting my eye out

Cruciform stakes in a vineyard on route 41; pre-transubstantiation
wine? So we were stopped here, taking the picture and laughing
about it when the state trooper pulls up and asks whether
everything is all right...

Not laughing...we have driven most of the great two-lane scenic
coastal highways and never seen an accident, despite some pretty
precarious circumstances; but not this day; hopefully no one was
seriously hurt

California Campin', 5: Big Trees, Big Waves...

After camping at Wawona, we spent the morning walking among the big trees in the Mariposa Grove, then drove south, out of the park, and camped two days on forest road 5S 17, in the Sierra National Forest: rest and relaxation, and only one longer hike down the road.
Spring growth in the Mariposa Grove: what are these things?
We forgot to ask the rangers....

The interestingly named "Faithful Couple" tree:
above, it splits into two giant trunks and then
soars; which occasions the question...who names
these trees? and why not "Schizophrenic Tree"?

The so-called "Bachelor and Three Graces"
clump, which I have re-christened "The Menage
a Quattre avec Voyeur
" clump; in future visits,
I will endeavor to more appropriately rename
all the trees in the Grove

Our site off of 5S 17; we both needed to recuperate from
P-induced colds

We drove on to Fresno and spent the afternoon with the nice
folks at Sportsmobile West--a custom-camper firm we've always
admired--and then spent the night with Rich Sam...a firm we do
not admire, but which permits scum like us to park free over-
night; we always try to park near the "outdoor living" department;
according to Bernie Sanders, the immediate descendants of Sam
Walton own more than the lowest 40% of the American people

The real estate west and south of Fresno was as flat as I have
seen, although, happily, it was mostly planted in vineyards; I
think this must be where $2.49 Chuck must originate; mile
after mile after mile

We lunched here, at the James Dean "Heaven Tree," just a few
hundred yards from where he and his Porsche 550 Spyder ended
their careers; icon of icons...

Route 41 took us all the way to Morro Rock on Morro Bay

And the beautiful electric plant adjacent...

San Simeon, Hearst Castle: Rosebud; been there, done that, in
1990, we think

Kite surfing 


And thus

And thus

In the Big Sur

The hills to the east...California, especially the high country, is
a tinderbox...