Content-type: text/html Ray Manning

Monday, July 1, 2019 8:02 PM

Vacation Part I

I get in two long walks on Teusday morning and Tuesday afternoon with a lot of little trip details wedged in between. And I finally get to the Moto2 race from Spain.

I start Wednesday with a good 60 kilometer road bicycle ride. The legs are coming abck with the longer riding. When I get home I edge and mow the lawn before getting a cooling shower. Late in the morning I drop off a last book at the library and pick up food for later. I don't have much food in the house because I don't want the leftovers to spoil when I am away. In the afternoon I'm relaxing and see a bird fly into my house. It flies back to my bedroom and I manage to trap it between the screen door and the real door. Then go outside to open the screen door to allow the bird to be free again. The last time a bird was in the house was when I had some windows knocked out as they were being replaced in 2002.

I start Thursday with a good two hour mountain bicycle ride, grab a shower, and start the laundry. And then I start packing for the trip. I have a checklist to make sure that I don't forget things, so the packing goes fairly quickly. I get an Uber ride to the greenline train station and then ride the greenline and final shuttle bus to the airport. The flight to London goes smoothly. Except that this airline, Norwegian Airlines, does not have agreements in place to transfer luggage. So I have to go through immigration at London Gatwick, pick up my checked bag, go through customs, take a free train to the north terminal, check my bag with easyJet, go through immigration again, and go through security. This goes quicker than I expected even with a secondary security inspection since I have toothpase and anitseptic cream which only Gatwick has wanted to review. It's a short flight to Amsterdam and after retrieving my bag, I get a train ticket and proceed to the platform. Shortly thereafter my train is cancelled because another train has broken down and is blocking the track. There's a couple from England who has the same train, so we go back and get a train refund and decide to share a Tesla taxi to Zaandam. They are a nice couple and we split the fare.

I wake up early and Saturday and just relax for a bit before getting a train to Amsetrdam Central and just walk for 6 hours. I take some breaks and have lunch, but I just walk with no destination in sight to explore Amsterdam. I crtainly stumble onto the red light district and I do take a walk along the area because one has to say they did that. THough tere is nothing here that interests me. Eventually I go back to my hotel and rest and watch the Formula One qualifying from France. Later I grab dinner and wander around the Zaandam area a bit more. And wouldn't you know it, the day I arrive in Amsterdam is the day that something sells on eBay. So I write the buyer a note saying there will be a delay in shipping or he can cancel the purchase if he desires.

Sunday is another day with a lot of walking. It is getting warmer and supposed to be very hot by Tuesday, so I stay in the shade if I can while walking. I've got the lay of the land now and can decide what locations to visit more in depth over the next few days. Early in the evening I watch a boring Formula One race from Paul Ricard, France. I take note of the differences in the track between when I was there in 1985 and now. I can still pick out where I sat and where I pitched my tent (with Noelle back in those days).

On Monday I take the train to Amsterdam Central and then start walking. I walk out to the Museum of Modern Art and check it out. It's smaller than I had hoped for, but has some interesting paintings and pieces. Afterwards I wander around the halls of various museums and listen to classical music from street performers in the halls but don't go into the museums. I start walking back towards the center of Amsterdam and see a church is open that has been gated up since I arrived. I go in inside and sit down and take some pictures and pray. I notice I guy walk in and sit at my level from the alter but on the other side of the church. It's a guy that I saw way back at the Rijks museum while listening to the classical music - this church being a good 45 minute walk away. When I leave the church I see the guy standing outside so I go up to him and say, "I ssw you an hour ago at the Rijks museum listening to the classical music". He claims that it wasn't him and that he just got to the center part of Amsterdam via train a few minutes ago. Nonetheless we strike up a long conversation outside the church. By the end of the conversation I do realize that I was mistaken and it isn't the same guy, but he looks very similar in face and physique as well as clothing and shoulder bag. It turns out that he just broke up with his partner two days ago and is actually waiting outside his partner's workplace to try and retrieve some keys to his apartment. So we keep talking while he waits for his partner to leave work. But that never happens. After an hour of his waiting and our conversation, he gives up and says that he is going to walk to the Rijks museum and look for his double. I start walking with him a but but only because its headed to the train station. We say our goodbyes and I head back to the hotel. Interesting the people that you meet.

I sleep late on Tuesday and have a headache. I finally take two Alleve and head for Amsterdam Central. From there I walk to a coffee place which is friendly to "digital nomads". And I set up shop in the coffee place and finish the study and report on the demographics of crime for a Long Beach City Council candidate. I have to write an introduction, but I can take care of that later today. Today is the last day of the European heat wave with temperatures in Amsterdam at 92F, so I don't do much walking (and I'm carrying a backpack with laptop).

Wednesday is down by 20F so I walk out to the museums again and just wander aimlessly - seeing what I find. There is no agenda today.

On Thursday I wake up early to ride two trains to an area of Amseterdam to pick up a rental car. This is the first time I've ever rented a car in another country and I'm nervous with all of the pedestrians and bicycles in the city. I'm sitting at a stoplight in Amsterdam, I'm not even moving, and I feel my lower back tweak. I can tell this is going to hurt for a while but its the first time its happened in more than ten years. But I get out of Amsterdam and pick up my luggage at the hotel and take some Alleve for the back and stretch it out and drive out near Assen. I'm staying in an out-of-the-way place but I get my own chalet. The facility is a combined set of chalets and campgrounds and cut in the middle of a forest. After I get settled in I drive into Borger for supplies since I have a kitchen and refrigerator now.

I start Friday slowly. This area is very quiet and peaceful with the trees and greenery here. I work on a website for a friend and get the colors consistent and all of the pages setup so that common parts are easy to change. Near noon I drive into the city of Assen to walk around and keep working on my lower back which is still tweaked. When I return home I do some laundry and it takes $8 (equivalent) to wash and dry one load of laundry. Later in the evening when I've finished watching the FP1 and FP2 videos, I go talk to my neighbors to see if I can carry water and food into the track. They only speak Dutch, but we have a fifteen minute conversation with mostly hand signals and other common words. Both Manfred and Karen are very nice and invite me for a beer, but I decline and don't want to intrude on them.

I wake up early on Saturday and drive to Cathedral of Speed - the Dutch TT Assen Circuit. I walk along with a Dad and his son as we walk from the parking lot to our respective seats. They guy gives me some pointers for viewing the race. It is terribly hot today so I keep drinking from my water bottle, keep applying sunscreen, and keep finding shade when there are downtimes on the track. It's good to be back at the MotoGP/2/3 racees even if is is terribly hot. In the end my favorite MotoGP rider gets third and my favorite Moto2 team gets a pole from one of the riders. I take my time walking back to the car and there is no traffic on the way home. I stop for supplies at a grocery store and to fill the car up with petrol, but then I go back home and continue to re-hydrate and watch the Formula One qualifying from Austria.

I'm up early again on Sunday and drive to the Assen TT circuit - this time I try a different parking lot and it's a lot closer to my seat than yesterday's parking lot. All three races are exciting even if my favorites don't do very well. Today there 105,000 people in attendance at the track and it shows as its a slow walk back to the car and it takes 40 minutes sitting in the car to leave the circuit. Nonetheless I get home tired after a fun day and take a cooling shower and start packing things up to leave in the morning.

I'm up early on Monday and find out that the check-out reception doesn't open until 8:30. So I go back to the hotel and take care of a few things and just waste time until 8:30am. I check out, but I have to explain the difference between an IBAN number (for European banks) and a SWIFT number (for US banks) to the reception lady so that she knows how to route my deposit refund. (Really? You can't just credit the credit card that I used to pay for the room?) I start driving from Assen, Netherlands to Dresden, Germany. I make two stops along the way to refill gasoline and stretech to stay alert on the drive. ANd after 6.5 hours on the road, I get to my hotel in Dresden. This is a nicer hotel sicne it's easier to book when there isn't a MotoGP race going on. After a break I walk around a bit of Dresden and grab dinner and walk back to the hotel to take care of a few things that need to be done on the first day of a new month.