Be a farmer for a short time, anywhere!

I remember the moment where I felt like a proper lumberjack… Hauling huge 50 kilo logs trough a swamp in the middle of nowhere. Together with me was the farmer (a proper lumberjack), a Chinese guy, and 12 boy scouts. This moment is what you can call a wwoof experience.

I hear many people asking about wwoof, how to begin, what the do’s and don’ts are and how it is. Now I’ve been wwoofing about 6 years, and I had some great experiences. Also there were some less good experiences. I’ll tell you how to start, how to get in touch with the farmers and what to take with you. And I will advise some great wwoofing places!

rosenhill

But lets say you would like to wwoof. Ok, good! How would one set that up? First you need to have a country where you would like to go to. But lets say you would like to go to sweden (I went there, and would go there again and again!). On the bottom of the wwoof international website are the other websites, like wwoof sweden. The organization is devided in different wwoof chapters all working together. On the wwoof sweden site there is a host list. You can see information, but for detailed information you have to sign up. Mostly you pay about 10 to 15 euros for a year membership. If you done this you can see the phone number, email and all that information from the farm. Now it gets exciting…

If the country is not on the wwoof list, they are probably on the wwoof independent list. These are countries who have too less farms to have their own organization. But they are still worth checking out! So you have found your farm you would like to go to. Now call them. Yes, just call them. I was a bit scared at first, what should I tell these people on the other side of Europe? Well, I told them I would like to come by for 2 weeks (stayed there for 5 months…) on this and that date. That was good. They had space for me. It can also occur that they are already fully booked, so call them in advance. For my documentary about wwoof  I had to call them 3 months before! If you do that, you have more chance they have space for you. But don’t call them too far ahead, I would say 2 moths is the maximum.

scot

And that was it. Now you have arranged yourself a wwoofingplace! I can advise you to call one week before you get there. In case they are not at home or forgot about you. Some farms can have up to 10 woofers at the same time, so its easy to get lost in the departure and arrival of new wwoofers. This call would also be good to ask for specific directions, if they can pick you up from somewhere (sometimes they do!), if you have to bring special things or other things you would like to know.

You got your tickets, cardboard sign, bike or freakmobile ready, now its time for packing! Do you need to bring certain stuff for wwoofing? Yes. You will be working in the field, with animals or in the bush. Take clothes that can get dirty. Proper dirty. I remember I went to a farm for 10 days, because it was apple season, and they could use people to press apples. I kinda forgot you get totally covered in mashed apples and your shirts will not be clean after that. I took a couple of shirts, all good shirts… Stupid… These shirts still have the apple juice stains in it… So take at least 2 shirts with you that can get really dirty. Same as pants and sweaters. Also hiking boots come in handy. There might be a time where you have to go trough mud, water or swamps. Or cow poo. Yes, you’re on a farm, don’t take your best shoes. Although you go to a farm with beds and sheets, I would always take my own sleeping bag and towels. You might end up with 10 other wwoofers so having your own sleeping stuff is no luxury. I would also take my tent and mat, but this is personal. I like to sleep outside whenever I can.

schoen

Like I said before I have been wwoofing for 6 years and next to this I used helpxchange. Similar to wwoof, but there are not only farms, but also hostels, sheepherders… anything really. There were some wonderful experiences, but they all depend on your state of being and how open you are. I could share the experiences, but then I’ll be typing for hours and hours. But what I would like to share is the best places I’ve been around the world to wwoof or volunteer. Here my best two:

- Rosenhill tradgard; Ekerö/Stockholm, Sweden                                                                                                                           For me this is heaven on earth. The people are amazing, the work is great and the overall ambience is beautiful. A place where you can heal, develop yourself, develop skills, make music and make apple juice in the autumn. This place is close to the city of stockholm so a night out is no problem. They have a bus you can sleep in (almost the same like the one from “into the wild”) a caravan or wooden cottages. They also have a yoga/meditation place and great food!rosenhill appels

- Happy hippy hostel; Letovnik, Bulgaria                                                                                                                                      When we arrived we got offered a shot of own made rakia (type of liquor) and when accepting there was a: “welcome to the family” This is the essence of wwoofing in my opinion working like a family. This host is in a tiny tiny village on rural bulgaria, and a great place. The work i did at the time was building. After 1 day of 10 hours work in the burning sun (sometimes wwoofing can be quite hard) we got rewarded with a sauna and a dinner at a restaurant. Great place, great people, great atmosphere. Did i already say 1 of the owners is a chef and is making dinner every workday?hhh

So these are some of the nicest places I have been. I also had some nasty experiences, but this mostly had to to with not being in one line with the people of the farm. The most extreme case was in a farm in Bulgaria, where me and my travel partner were 18 hours when we decided we should leave. There was no handshake when we arrived, just a very short tour and we directly had to work. At dinner there was no real conversation mostly just rambling from the farmer, and the next day she totally ignored my travel partner. So we decided to leave. It was a hard choice to make, because these people take you in their house, but when she said: ah, its ok, the next wwoofers will be here tomorrow I really thought: well… screw you, we are not numbers!

It should be fun, so let this also be a reminder that you are not a slave; a apple and carrot is not a lunch. Especially not when you work for 12 hours a day, 7 days a week. There is a difference to a helper and the owner of the farm in my opinion, the owner of the farm should be happy that you would like to spend your time helping him/her. But then again, I’ve had 14 hour workdays… And I did it with joy. Because the people were thankful, and this is more worth then money. Oh yeah, and they took us for a ride on their sailboat the next day :)

If you have any more questions about wwoofing, the farms or you would like to have some tips, don’t hesitate to ask me!

Cheerio, and happy wwoofing!

scot2jpg

zeis

Tranquility on the water

“Travel a thousand miles by train and you are a brute; pedal five hundred on a bicycle and you remain basically a bourgeois; but paddle a hundred in a canoe and you are already a child of nature.” –  Pierre Trudeau

IMG_90682Normally my adventures and journeys are packed with excitement, a bit of adrenaline and cycling up hills or long distances. But this was different. This was calm, almost serene.

The main idea was to get a canoe from Vissershang and be away for a couple of days, finding out what the biesbosch means in a fully built country like the Netherlands. From a different perspective Henk and I watched the creeks go by, we met a black pig, hurled our canoe over muddy hills, witnessed beautiful sunsets and sometimes paddled like there was no tomorrow. And drank wine at a fire. Very important!

The first couple of hours were a bit clumsy. We had to find out how to move on water, but since were Dutch (most of our country is below sea level) we adjusted quickly and after a while we slid trough the water like all the ducks we passed. We started to like the canoe, and figure out how to move it properly without flipping over. Everything got a little wet, but when your surrounded with water the water will also be on you, and your stuff. This is how it is and it is ok. After sliding for some time we found our castle for the night. An small cabin, with outside fireplace and benches to sit and cook. We couldn’t ask for more! We made a fire, food and reflected on the day, where we met farmer Jan. Living in the park with his wife and 160 cows. We talked about his idea’s of why nature is important for people. It seemed that he found nature is there for people to enjoy. Without people the nature would have no purpose. In my idea, nature is there first and people second. People should adjust to nature, take care of it and not try to form it to their own needs. Because nature doesn’t like to be formed. It cannot be formed; it always grows back to its own form. With this still in our heads we laid down in the cabin and went to sleep.

IMG_91152

The whole weekend the weather was perfect, and it add a extra dimension to the trip. Paddling for hours and hours in the sun gave us the energy we needed to keep going trough this beautiful area. We noticed how easy it was to slide trough the water, and it felt like this was a way how people should go from place to place. The first minute in the water felt like pure joy! After some hours of paddling the sun started to set and we decided to go further in the dark. Then it got totally dark, now this was a new experience. The world gets smaller and smaller, until it only contains of the canoe and your light. With the dark evening like a blanket on us, we went trough creeks, saw square cows and the eyes of ducks. In the dark everything feels more unreal, and this is adventure at its finest. All the senses are heightened, your eyes wide open en still you hardly see anything. It became even better when the batteries of my headlight became weaker and weaker. It heightens all of the senses even more! The small world flows by, and we see only fragments of what we hear. After a couple of hours of going trough this dark world we returned to the cabin and searched for some firewood. Even in the forrest we got lost. Walking 10 meters away from the cabin, and we were lost… Yes, dark forests have magic powers to push you an other way then you think you are going.

IMG_90912 IMG_90942

Strong coffee, soup and bread is what our stomachs got for breakfast. We went up early, but not too early. The previous days we got the hang of sliding relaxed trough the water, and sleeping in comes naturally with this sort of relaxedness. After going trough passes we didn’t took yet, we managed to find the house of Henny. She is a lady living in the Biesbosch, in touch with nature. We had a coffee “Biesbosch style” with her and talked about nature, man, history, why the Biesbosch should finds its own way and the beavers living there. She tries to live off the land as much as possible and although she is 72, she still manages to do her own thing, living on the edge of the forest with her feet like roots in the soil. Nature will find her way, she doesn’t need humans, and she definitely doesn’t need humans who knows what is best for her! I think Henny must know, she already lives there for years and years and the nature is part of her as she is part of the nature.

Schermafbeelding 2014-11-11 om 13.24.08

We had to go back, the sun was setting and we chose the big river Maas to paddle back. We slowly got into society again. Big cargo ships were passing us while the sun was orange and shone his last rays over us. We got back while it was already dark. In the cozy cafe of Vissershang we drank a cold white beer and had great food in our empty-paddled stomachs. Our arms were almost sore from paddling 4 days. Almost… We were back in the real world. Dirty and smelly but relaxed, full of fresh thoughts, experiences and renewed energy. On the way back we philosophized about nature, humans, our system, the planet and how we live on this planet. Because its not OUR planet. We just live on it, but were acting like it’s ours. The Biesbosch showed us the greatness of nature we have here in the Netherlands, the beauty and how we need to keep this. The Biesbosch is not ours, it’s just there.

Maybe there will be a free weekend coming up for you, maybe you can search for a canoe and maybe you can take a tent and go out for some days. Because you can travel a thousand miles by train and you are a brute; pedal five hundred on a bicycle and you remain basically a bourgeois; but paddle a hundred in a canoe and you are already a child of nature…Schermafbeelding 2014-11-11 om 11.30.25

A weekend adventure in the autumn…

It’s rainy, stormy and wet… The perfect conditions to go out, and enjoy the autumn to it’s fullest! This weekend “Adventure Henk” and I will go for a short mid autumn adventure in the “Biesbosch”. This is one of the many national parks we have in the Netherlands. The last journey we did was a 160 kilometer walking trip, and it was exhausting, hard, wet, tiring and rough. So all in all it was great! I strongly believe in doing new things, therefore I’ve been searching for a sort of transportation I’ve never (or hardly) used before. The KAYAK… The Biesbosch is one of the last extensive areas of freshwater tidal wetlands in Northwestern Europe, so a kayak was the natural way of moving around.

Schermafbeelding 2014-10-22 om 13.25.14

Many people would think: why would you go out in autumn weather like this? Why would you sleep in a tent, or in a bivvy bag in the cold weather? I ask myself: why would I hang out on a couch watching crappy TV, if I can be out there in the fresh air? It’s the feeling of being outside, in the nature that makes me feel alive. Sometimes you just need to get out of your comfort zone to appreciate what you have. And when that is done with a kayak in the Biesbosch, it sounds like a proper way to energize yourself to me! Just being out for a couple of days gives me the energy in need during the week. Although the weather is rainy, wet and cold right now Im looking forward to spend a couple of nights in the Biesbosch…

oosthaven-biesbosch-387677

It’s just a short weekend microadventure. It doesn’t have to be a month long expedition. We will make a short film about it, and write about it. Then we leave it behind us, for others, as an inspiration for going out there yourself.

I want to say thanks to Vissershang canoe and boot rental for helping us with the Kayaks!

Without-a-map day 3 &4: Coo and back!

This is the story of a guy who finds out what it is to get lost. Just for the sake of experiment, and for the love of cycling! If you would like to know why this guy is doing this, you can click –> HERE. Or you can start at part 1 or part 2 of this epos…

This would be the third day of my trip. I was almost in Coo, Belgium, all the way from Maastricht, NL. Around 80 kilometers from the beginning point. When I woke up in the early morning I felt good. The night was fresh and dark, and gave me enough energy to bike to Coo and maybe even back in 1 day. The weather was good, and it seemed to become a warm day. After a refreshing wash in a small stream I got on my bike and cycled the remaining 10 kilometers to Coo.

Schermafbeelding 2014-10-16 om 22.49.21

The roads went up and down, up and down and even more up and down. But before I knew it I was in Coo! I’ve made it! Now, Coo is not like a paradise… I mean, it’s nice but far away from the place I’ve camped my first time. It was a touristic spot; lots of cafe’s, restaurants and a beer for 4 or 5 euros. No thanks, I’ll rather have a swim in the river and be on my way back to Maastricht again!

Schermafbeelding 2014-10-16 om 23.07.04

Washing all the salt from my body felt good! Thats the thing with cycling and camping out in the forrest for some days; when the opportunity of  washing comes by, don’t let it go! The next time you have this change might be in a couple of days! The layer of salt on your body might keep you a little warm in the winter, but I rather be fresh and without a layer of salt…

For sure I wasn’t planning to take the same way back, and after some kilometers I found a bus shelter with a map in it. So once again a own map was made, and I followed my way trough the beautiful Belgium landscape. My wheels rolled trough tiny villages, rocky trails and big roads. It was great, the sun was constantly shining and I enjoyed the fresh indian-summer-air. Sadly enough my bike didn’t have anything that shows how fast it went, because at some point I was on a big road, only going downhill for at least 15 kilometers. My ears plopped because of the descent, and this is rare for me as a dutch guy! I’ve must have been going at least 50 kmh… I celebrated this with a cola at a hotel, and when I cycled away, my eye fell on a map. Yes! I checked out the map, and saw a place with trees. By now the Ardennes were behind me, so you could imagine I was happy to see a green spot on the map!

IMG_8919

When the forrest was approached I found myself in the middle of beautiful farmlands. It was a little before 19:00 so there was enough time to find a spot, set up camp and cook. At the entrance of the forest was a big sign with the rules; No dogs, No walking outside of the paths, No open fire, No camping, No taking pictures when your camera is too loud… Damn, it was clear the Ardennes were behind me. Next to all these rules there was a sign with a guy and a gun. Did it mean people were shooting or hunting here?! On the sign were also times: 6-9 & 19-22. I quickly figured out the guys with guns must be foresters and they will shoot on sight between 6 & 9 and 19 & 22 o’clock. I just had little time left. Quickly I jumped into the forest and found a place for me and my bike. I marked the road and went up to a bench I saw earlier, to cook while I witnessed how the night would fall over the Belgium countryside. Time to make some pictures!

IMG_8825

IMG_8860

IMG_8881

Sitting there watching the sun go down I felt like a homeless person. I was stinky, cooking on a bench and drinking wine straight from the bottle. And I loved it. These are the moments where tranquility is boss. Sitting, waiting till it gets dark, watching the sky change from blue, to pink to purple and eventually to pitch black. These are the moments where life doesn’t fly by, but slowly goes by, minute by minute and second by second. A moment to reflect on your actions and where you stand in life. And to realize that wine tastes best straight out of the bottle.

A little after 22:00 I walked towards my place into the bush. Quickly I jumped in, and dragged my bike in there. Once cam was set up I crawled in my sleeping bag and heard the forest. This was by far the most loudest forest I’ve ever came across! Everything was squeaking, breaking or falling… Good backgrounds for a wel deserved rest!

IMG_8882

An early alarm clock woke me up before the foresters could, and after a breakfast with the strongest coffee ever (I ran out of water…) I continued my way to Maastricht. There were a couple of hills to conquer, but all in all it went quick. Mostly the road went downhill, and soon I found myself in Holland again. Cycling the last kilometers I noticed the same mountains as I started this trip, but now on the other side.

The feeling of getting lost was certainly there the last days, especially in the beginning. After some time I found a way to navigate by making my own maps. If I wouldn’t have set the rule of allowing myself to make maps, I think it wouldn’t be possible to do it in 3 to 4 days. There are people who did a continent without a map. Or cycled across India only to navigate with the sun and asking people for directions. Adventure can be found everywhere, and when you take away the certainty of a map, adventure crosses your path. In this time of GPS, smartphones, ipads and all the navigation devices it’s great to go out without a map. You take the roads you WANT to take, not the roads you HAVE to take or the devices tell you to take. In the end you’ll get to your end goal, don’t worry… It might just take a bit longer.

I reached my end goal in time for a good “patatje met”!

IMG_8909

I can see myself going on more “Without-a-map” trips. Getting lost, finding hidden paths and exploring unknown territories that might just be around the corner. But for now Ill keep my maps in my cupboard and don’t burn them yet!

Without-a-map: Day 2 … to .

This story is about my attempt to travel from Maastricht (NL) to Coo (BE) and back in 3 days, without a map. Maybe you want to read the first part or maybe you want to know why I do this. But for you who keep on reading I can tell you how I woke up from the last night. Full with energy, and ready to cycle to Coo! At this point I didn’t really know where I was, but knew which village I wanted to go to. Directly I knew asking people for directions was the best thing to do. Now my French is really bad. Or, better to say, there is no French. So it would be a matter of talking with my hands and feet. Within 2 hours I was on 180 degree curves going up, and I knew it was the right direction.

IMG_8765

At 9 in the morning I started cycling because I had no idea how far it would be towards Coo. The day before I just cycled 2 hours, and crossed the same bridge 4 times, so of this 2 hours, 1,5 was really cycling… I HAD to reach Coo quite early today, otherwise I wouldn’t get my deadline of being back in Maastricht at 16:00 the next day. The hills were getting steeper, the forrest became more dense and i noticed the area just became more beautiful. Things were going well!

IMG_8767

The map I’ve drawn for myself was working pretty well. In every village I asked a person for the next village and how to get there. Mostly I pointed to the way I thought was right, and said the name of the village, with a question mark behind it. That seemed to work pretty well. The best thing was that all the villages seemed to be just 3 or 4 kilometers apart! This meant I rapidly from place to place on my map, and if nothing weird would happen I might arrive in Coo in the evening!

IMG_8780

It was a bit further then I thought and saw that it was not possible to get to Coo in the evening. This evening I wanted to have a nice place to make a camp, somewhere in the forrest, and I wanted to make camp before darkness would fall. There is nothing nastier then setting up camp in the pitch black darkness. By this time I was in the true ardennes, and knew there must be beautiful places to camp. I set off to the forrest, made camp, cycled a bit around and sat down for a well deserved glass of wine. I cycled 11 hours up and down in the hot autumn sun, and was exhausted but satisfied. In one and a half day I almost reached my destination without a glimpse on a real map!

IMG_8798

Tonight would be a meal of kings, made on my little stove. Bacon, beans, onion, carrots and spicy sauce. It smelt really good, and I think I was not the only one who thought that… It was pitch black dark at the place where I set camp, and all of a sudden I heard a loud roar about 50 meters away. The roar went trough my bones and all my senses were immediately working for the whole 100 percent. I heard the animal walking, and don’t know why but I turned off my headlight. Now I was sitting in the pitch black dark, and couldn’t see anything! The animal came closer and closer, and I felt my heart beating in my throat! After some seconds I heard the animal was so close, so I turned my light back on, and shone the animal straight in the eyes. It was a huge red deer! It wasn’t further then 10 meters away from me, and when I stood up, the deer slowly walked away… Now I don’t have any experiences with these kind of animals, but when you’re alone in the forrest, in the middle of nowhere, it makes your heart pump faster! For the night I decided to put my bike in front of my bivouac so no animal could get in, and I had at least some feeling of safety.

IMG_8786

IMG_8794

It was pretty easy to find my way towards Coo. Everything just took a little more time, since I had to ask people for direction every 30 minutes. And in French. But it worked out, the people where helpful and somebody even drew me a map of how to get to the next village. It seemed traveling without a map wasn’t too bad, as long if you find your own way to get around.

IMG_8918

I would reach Coo, thats for sure, but would i make it back in time? Two days were left, and for sure I wasn’t taking the same way back! But that will be for the next time!

Without-a-map: Day 1, Maastricht to …?

IMG_8893

Imagine: you have no map but you need to go south. There is a river going south, but the road just stops and ends up in a garden. You bike back. No, now you go north. Trying numerous ways to go south, but the road only leads you north or east. You have no map, and the only guideline you have is the river, but there is no way to follow it… And then…?

IMG_8740

The weather was good, the autumn is coming so I decided to squeeze in a small adventure before its too cold or rainy to sleep outside. I had the idea to travel Without-a-map. Why? You can read that here. After 4 and a half hour ride to the Limburg (Maastricht to be precisely) I arrived at the train station around 16:30, armed with a compass, a book and some pencils. Just 3 hours before the sun would set and darkness would kick in. Walking around the station I quickly found a map of the area, and made my own little drawing of it. The city was devided by a big river, “The Maas” and I saw it went south. That’s where I needed to go! So I followed the river, after taking care my (waaay to heavy, who packed all that food?) wouldn’t fall of my bike every 20 meters, and quickly found myself in Belgium. It was relative easy till this point. Just 100 meters into Belgium me and my bike came across a huge highway with a cycling path next to it. Is this the right way? Left or right? This would be a moment one would look on a map to know where to go, but instead I looked at my own made drawing.

IMG_8910

IMG_8911

It told me nothing, but my compass told me to go right. There was the river again, with a bridge, so I crossed it and was on my way again. After following the river for some kilometers the path ended, and I had to go into a village. Dusk fell over Belgium and still no place found to make my camp, or a useful way to make a map for myself. Just at the moment that I thought: “shit, I’m never getting out of this village, a bus shelter popped up with a map of the area! Woohoo! With a smile on my face, and renewed energy I quickly found a way to make myself a map.

Schermafbeelding 2014-10-04 om 13.06.21

IMG_8912

IMG_8913

My objective for the day was done, making a map that I could use to get to Coo. Now to find a place to make camp for the night. Most of the times the map would provide me with green spots, and I would check it out if its camp-able. In this case it meant biking around till I found a place somewhere. But I had to be a bit quick because it was already getting dark. After biking around for some time (crossing the same bridge 4 times) I found a place next to a construction site. It was a nature area, where lots of beavers also making their camp for the night. Without a map this place was a true discovery. A small lagoon on a place where I already saw myself sleeping on the side of the road…

IMG_8757

IMG_8758

In the Beginning of the trip I really felt lost. The uncertainty of not having a map or a orientation point was a bit frightening as well as exciting. The first hours were just about finding orientation points, to see where I actually am, and where I would have to go, to go more south. I was so happy when the map with my beginning point and Coo on it was in the bus shelter! Traveling without a map creates the sense of adventure I’m looking for, the appreciation of small things(like a map in a bus shelter), the uncertainty of where to end up, and how to deal with these kind of situations. Because how do you get to point B when you have no idea where point A is?

Schermafbeelding 2014-10-04 om 13.01.05

The next days were easier because I made a good drawing, but now the area became really hilly, and there was even an nightly encounter with a curios red deer… But this you can read here!

Without-a-map: Maastricht (NL) to Coo (BE)

Do you know this feeling of being lost? A quick look on the map, or on your phone and you know where you are and which way you have to go, to reach your endpoint. I’ve done this many many times, and every time i reached my endpoint, but now ill do it different. Ill go to Maastricht, in the total south of the Netherlands and find my way to Coo, in the middle of the Belgium Ardennes. Yes, Without-a-map!

Schermafbeelding 2014-09-24 om 15.18.44

Why would one do this? When you go somewhere, you have a look on the map which way you need to go; you don’t get lost. If you take away the map, you still know where you need to go, but not how to get there; there is now an element of surprise in the adventure. You have to watch your surrounding closer, and you’re delivered to your own navigating skills. I’ve never done this sort of thing before, so for me it’s also a first time. It might be easy, it might be fun, it might be hard and rainy the whole weekend…  Although I think there will be good times in the autumnish forrests of the Belgian Ardennes. Ive set myself some rules, so I would not cycle around in circles for hours and hours on end. The rules are:

- I can use a compass

- I can ask people where to go. (Its in the French speaking part of Belgium, and i speak no French at all!)

- Im allowed to make drawings from maps i see along the road, and from what i can understand from people.

- I want to be back in maastricht at 18:00 monday evening.

Maastricht – Coo is about 60 to 70 Kilometers. It could be a day of cycling, or 3 days of wondering where I am, and how I get to my endpoint… Now you might ask yourself: “why Coo?” Well it’s the first place in my life where Ive been sleeping outside, under the stars next to a waterfall. You can say it’s the place where my love for camping was born. Therefore Ill just take my bivvy bag and a tarp to sleep under.

Next week there will be the conclusion of this autumn adventure. Was it just a stupid idea, and should i get myself a GPS system, or will i burn all my maps and go “Without-a-map” from here on? Maybe ill just keep my maps for the next time…

Here you can read part 1!

We went on a adventure and filmed it. And Then…?

So we went on an adventure. After 6 days we came back, with lots of footage, pictures and pain in our feet and legs… I don’t have the right answers for this thing, there is no right way to do it, only your own way, but in steps i can tell how we did it. Here you can see the film (about 5 minutes) and after this you can read how we managed to do this in just 30 hours.

Step 1 – GEAR

First of all the gear you have is just 50%. Bring what you think is good for your purpose. We wanted to film, but also make pictures for the blog you are reading now. We brought 3 video/picture devices, I brought 1 and Henk 2.

Henk took a Gopro Hero 3 (good for quick pictures and film), a Nikon D3200 with an AF-S DX 18-55mm VR II lens and a long tripod. I brought my canon 60D with an EF-S 18-200m f/3.5-5.6 lens (good for beautiful scenery video’s). Next to this i took my mini tripod, which is easy to set up and very light weight. I didn’t bring my big tripod, as Henk took his. So if you go with a partner in crime, make sure that you don’t take double stuff, to limit the weight!  A microphone could be handy too, because the mics in most camera’s sounds like a tin can. There are some pretty good, cheap and light weight mics available. I would definitely take one the next time! Before you leave, check the battery, check the camera’s and if your tripod is good. Imagine standing at the beginning of a 3 week adventure, and you figure out the battery is still in the charger at home…

tripod

Step 2 – WHAT DO YOU WANT TO TELL?

In the end it’s not so important that you bring the top notch stuff. Nice images look nice, but the main thing is the point of your story. What do you want to tell the people, and how do you want to show it? In most cases of adventure telling the gear is inferior to the story you want to tell. There are good travel movies made with just a gopro, or even a 8 year old handycam.

For us it was a bit of searching to what we wanted to show everybody with our adventure. We knew directly we wanted to give people something, not just make a “look at us” video. The best would be to really know what you want to say with your film, writing or pictures about the trip, but sometimes this changes or you just dont know what you want to tell. That was our case. We knew we wanted to do it, but why…? This we figured out at the next step.

Schermafbeelding 2014-08-26 om 20.10.03

Step 3 – PRE EDIT WORK

We came home after 6 days, and a couple of days later we both went on vacation with our girlfriends for 3 weeks… Way too long to exactly remeber what we thought at crucial moments, what we filmed and how we felt during the trip. We found the perfect solution to this problem. Take a beer, look at the footage that you shot and take your diary. (Extra tip! It’s always good to have a diary during adventures.) Just a whole evening of talking, making jokes and digging up memories and drinking a little. But we made sure we took our mind off it once in a while. It helps your mind to relax and then the ideas flow in! Late in the night, while drinking a beer and talking about random stuff it came to us: Aren’t we just 2 normal guys in search of an adventure? Yes we are. So now it’s time for the next step.

DCIM100GOPRO

Step 4 – EDITING 

We woke up, had a champions breakfast and… No clue where to start… Writing your main goal on a piece of paper and stick it to the screen helps you to find the way when your are lost. Also writing a small set-up of how you want your movie to be works pretty good. It can just be a couple of sentences, but it keeps your focus on the main storyline. This is what we did. Because of this, we forgot ideas that were not so good, and the really good ideas we wrote down to use.

I also think its a good idea to use good editing software. It takes a little time to learn how to work with good editing software, but its worth the time. Youtube is full with tutorials, so that should be no problem. But even when you know the software from inside out, it can take a long time… We started at 3 in the afternoon and finished at 4 in the night. The next day we started at 4 in the afternoon and finished at 6 or 7 in the night. So be prepared for some late night work!

We worked in the “pressure cooker” way. In this way you take a certain amount of time to finish your product. We just had 2 days to finish our movie. This is 48 hours. Because of this time limit we had to make decisions quickly, and we couldn’t stand still at problems for so long. Also because of the time, some things couldn’t be done. But this is just how it is, and in the end we are happy with what we did in these 30 hours. And our square eyes were happy the 2 days were over…

EXTRA TIP: KILL YOUR DARLINGS! Some things you really would like to show, it made a real change in the trip or it was a personal turning point or… But if it doesn’t fit in your storyline, just leave it out. To just quote some famous words: “It is like sculpting an elephant: you chip away everything that doesn’t look like an elephant and what’s left is an elephant.” I guess its the same with editing. Take everything away that doesn’t tell your story. What is left, is the story.

computer

Step 5 – ONLINE WARFARE

For us the goal was to reach as many people as possible with our film. We wanted to inspire people to go on an adventure and show that we are just ordinary guys, no athletes or supermen; we could be your neighbors, including loud music till 6 in the morning! To reach lots of people, we put it in lots of groups that are: or movie related or adventure related. Then you directly find the people who are interested in it. Use groups, ask friends to share and after 2 weeks post it some more. Send it to people you think they would like to see it. Are you interested in survival, did you make a survival video and is Bear Grills your idol? Send it to him.

Some time ago I made a short documentary about my first long distance biking trip. When I sent it to Tom Allen (a top adventurer/cyclist) he asked me to write a guest post on his blog. Because of this my film still gets hits a half year after it was put on. And next to it I’m pretty proud to write on his blog. You never know what will happen when you put your piece of artwork in the world and show it to the ones you think would be interested in it.

Schermafbeelding 2014-08-26 om 22.05.37

Step 6 – ENJOY

And now for the nicest bit: sit down and show your mates. Ask for criticism, ask what they liked, and listen good what they say. This is somebody who has no clue about the story you wanted to tell. If they get it, it means you did good! If not, you still did good, you made a personal film! When i heard people say: “Oooh, i would like to do that too” I knew we did good. We wanted to inspire people to just go. And if there is just 1 person in the whole world who really goes i’m happy. If there is just 1 person in the whole world who thinks about going i’m happy. If that person is me, the maker of the film, than i’m happy. It seems that i found something I like, and that is the most important about making and adventure film.

Walking the West Coast – Part 3: The last kilometers.

This is the story of two normal guys in search of a challenge. Maybe you would like to start at Part 1, to read the full story of this beach expedition.

vooronweer

We woke up in the tent under a house… That was quite unique! This day we had to make lots of kilometers to make up for the hours walking around at the industrial area. We walked, walked and walked more. We made a large amount of kilometers in the morning and went swimming during the day. It was hot again! In the evening we arrived to a special part of our trip. There was no more beach, just a dike to walk on. There was lots of fog which made it very mysterious. It was long ago i walked on grass and when i saw the typically Dutch landscape of cows and fields, i remembered that i was not in a foreign country. Lots of time i had this feeling. The feeling of being in a foreign country on a far away expedition. This feeling has been growing for 5 days now and seeing cows made me realize that it is possible to be on a real adventure in your own country. The feeling of being far away from my house, friends, family and normal life. But far away meant in this case 160 kilometers. As much as we would walk in these 6 days.

dijk

After a well deserved night of rest the we kept on walking. Today would be the day of days! We would make it! We had 20 kilometers left so we could chill a bit, eat ice-cream and swim. A friend of Henk came along for the last 20 kilometers which gave us a new impulse. The whole 5 days where the same, walking through the sand, next to the water with just us both. Now a new person was coming along to celebrate the end with us! In my head there would be marching bands walking with us the last 200 meter, a big pole saying: Den Helder and at least 20 people with flags waving at us. While getting closer to our end goal, we noticed beach poles saying: 2 kilometers to Den Helder. Then 1,5 and 1 kilometer… We were almost there! 6 days of sand, blisters, rain, sun, salt and steps. Lots and lots of steps, and now we were almost there! The next pole said 0,5 km. Almost… We walked trough the shore when i noticed that the beach became a bit smaller. And smaller until it just stopped. We were at the end. No marching band, no people waving flags or cheering. Not even a pole saying “Den Helder”. Just the end of the beach. So apparently that was it… If you walk a marathon you see a finish, if you’re biking you have a destination. If you’re walking the westcoast-beach, the beach just stops. It puts everything in perspective. What i did, felt like my biggest adventure ever done. 6 days of painful legs and knees, sometimes dragging myself trough rain or heat but with my heart full of passion for adventure. All this time i was looking forward to this point. The end: Den Helder. And now I found myself standing next to a little girl making sandcastles and a sunbathing guy. Nobody had any idea what we did, what we went trough, the moments of happiness, misery and realizations. The moments we shared, and the individual moments. We made a trip, and it was OUR trip. The only thing we can do is share this and inspire you to make YOUR own trip.

loop

We ended the trip at the “Lange Jaap” the tallest cast iron light post of Europe. Now it was time for a well deserved beer and food. The fact that the beach just ended and there was no mark on the beach made me think about the saying: “Its not about the destination, its about the trip” and for me that’s 100% true!

jaap

Some people called us crazy, some called us brave and others gave us hot chocolate and tips where to camp. We were not trained nor did we expect how it would be. The only thing we have is a passion for adventure and this is the most important. It was the passion that drove us from Hoek van Holland to Den Helder… And a huge amount of muesli bars!

DCIM100GOPRO

This thursday the short film about the trip will be released. Keep your eyes on this site if you dont want to miss it!