The day will come when I will die. So the only matter of consequence before me is what I will do with my allotted time. I can remain on shore, paralyzed with fear, or I can raise my sails and dip and soar in the breeze.--Richard Bode

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Somewhere in Belgium

I had been camping along the Mosel River in Western Germany, and the rain kept coming down. The road on west was closed because it was Saturday and there was a big biking event on that road, but I just couldn't stand lying around all day in my little tent with nothing to do but read.

I got all packed up and sat around wondering what to do. The highway was not going to open until 6 pm. A long time away. The owner of the campground said I could take a little trail, just big enough for my motorcycle, and in a little while I would come to a road up and over the hills and around the closed highway. Sounds good to me.

I could see last nights campground way below me along the river. I was on beautiful little lanes, but I was totally lost.  Thank goodness for GPS. It seemed to know what it was doing.

The lanes were twisty as a snake, and just a lot of fun to ride on a motorcycle.  A couple of years ago I rode a famous road called the "Tail of the Dragon". It was twisty too, but it had nothing at all over these roads in Western Germany.
I came out on top, finally, onto a huge, rolling plateau. I guess this is part of the big, North European Plains. This has been a wet spring, but I guess the farmers have been able to work their ground a little. The farms are huge, and the hedge rows I remember from my last visit here have all disappeared, just like back home in Illinois. Hedges get in the way of the big farm equipment.

There were huge fields of grass crops (I never knew what kind -- wheat? Rye? Barley?) none of them growing heads yet. A fields with long hills where potato plants were just peeking up.  Lots of cattle too, with some of the biggest bulls I've ever seen.
The road kept dipping into forests. Lots of those. Every time it did, the curves and twists would start again. I was completely lost, but I trusted my GPS to get me sorted out. My map was totally useless.

Before long, I got it figured out that I was in Luxemburg. Since Europe became a common union, border crossings and passport checks are a thing of the past, so I never knew when I passed into Luxemburg, I just knew that I had.
I figured out that I was in the Ardennes. This part of Europe is heavily forested and hilly, a lot like Appalachia back in the U.S. It was beautiful riding, I can tell you.  And it was sunny, too, which made for a fine day indeed.
There were some big battles in the Ardennes during WWII, and the people here still think pretty highly of the sacrifices made by the GIs.

And then, I was in Belgium.  What a fast ride through Luxemburg. It sure is a small country.
And what do you think of these canals. They are everywhere through Europe. Some people think it is a grand thing to do if they rent a houseboat and travel the European canals.

I guess you could catch fish for supper if you were vacationing on the European canals. At least, this guy is trying to do exactly that. I couldn't tell that he was having a lot of luck, but at least he had a relaxing hobby.
This handsome young man was hanging out close to the fisherman. I guess maybe he wanted some fish, too. He looks a little like a Mallard, but I think he is called a "Crested Duck".

This thing was so unexpected that I just had to stop and take its picture. To get canal boats up to a higher canal, they hook onto them and pull them up. Sort of like going up a huge escalator. Wow.
So, now I am in Southern Belgium. The signs are all in French now, so I can kind of read them (I couldn't read the German signs at all. I sure can't say anything in French, though. When I try, people look at me as though I was speaking Navaho.
 I have been going though town after town, and I never can find ay of them on a map. I happened to see this McDonald's I'm sitting in (kind of a rare sight so far, but all McDonald's have free WiFi), so I stopped to get a lunch and to type out this blog update. I know that I am getting close to Calais, and I will either take a ferry or the "Chunnel" from there to the UK. It is raining again. Guess I had best get on the road.
More later,

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