The egoism of my adventure talks

Is it egoist to talk about what I do? Is it egoist to make films where I am the leading figure? Isn’t this a form of self-aggrandizement? I don’t know yet.

Last weekend I was at the Nomads Gathering in Amsterdam. I offered to talk about the inline skating trip I did last winter, and offered the Amsterdam premiere of my last film about adventure. During the festival a weird feeling overcame me; everything I told about on the festival was done by me, or was about me. Wasn’t this hardcore self-aggrandizement? Look what I did! Let me tell you what I did, and have a look at this film I made. It’s about adventure, and it’s MY personal view on adventure. I don’t like this so much. I’m not more important than other people. I don’t want to put myself on a socket and say: “Look what I’ve done, how cool is this!”

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But what happened? After the talk I gave people started to come up to me telling me they were inspired to make a trip as well! A girl who was a rollerskater came up to me and told me: “Wow, i’d never thought about traveling in this way, and I’m gonna have a look into doing a trip like this on my rollerskates!” I gave her some advice and I could see she was really excited about the idea.

During the screening of my film the same thought came up: “Shit, I’m way too many times in the picture! Again I’m telling what I think, and I’m showing MY thoughts…” And guess what happened, people came up to me again, saying how much they liked the film, and how it made them want to go on an adventure too. It made me realize, that by sharing my own accounts, I could inspire people to go out, to go on a little adventure or on a big trip of a lifetime.

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So by telling my stories of adventures, showing pictures of me on skates, a bike or knee deep in water, I can show people adventurous ideas that might sound crazy are possible. By showing myself, my thoughts and talking about what I did, I can inspire YOU. It makes it a bit easier to talk about the trips I make, and to see my face on the screen over and over…

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Next week I will start a new adventure; cycling from Maastricht to the Mt.Blanc and back without a map! If you’d like to follow that trip, you can like my facebook page here

Without-a-map: Maastricht (NL) – Mt. Blanc (FR)

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When I passed by the little bus shelter on my bicycle I knew there could be something precious in it… And I found it! It was a small map, the three letters of the tiny village read COO. This was the place I wanted to go. It was the first day, and I quickly took out my pen and paper and started to draw how to get there, this tiny village 60 km’s away, because I went “Without-A-Map”.

Last September I found myself in Maastricht with one goal: getting from there to Coo and back in 3 days, without any form of navigation, GPS, mobile app or map. The only thing I allowed myself to do was to draw (and I can’t draw at all…) my own maps of what people told me, from the maps I came across and take what people drew for me. It was by times quite hard, but overall very do-able. I think this is because it was 160 km, only going south and just 3 days. You can read the story of last year here.

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This year will be a little different. A little bigger, and I hope a little more challenging. This year I will go from Maastricht (yes, yet again) to the Little St. Bernard Pass, close to the Mt. Blanc and back to Maastricht. This will be roughly 1600 km’s and my endpoint will not be on a map I will see somewhere in a bus shelter the first day. But the same rules will apply:

– Only make drawings from maps I see along the road

– Make drawings from what people tell me

– Let other people make drawings of maps

I will try to navigate with the sun, stars and make my own needle-compass. This means I will be delivered to the kindness, navigating skills and map drawing skills of the french and belgian people. Oh yeah, I don’t speak 3 words french and I feel totally awkward when I try…

But the question is, why in the hell would I do this? Things are so much easier with a map or with a GPS! Yeah, that might be, but I strongly believe that when you take away your pre-planned route, you have to observe the area around you way more. And by observing the area around you, the surrounding becomes more part of you. Details become more visible and stick more in your memory. Almost everybody uses some kind of navigation when traveling, with a little blue cursor saying: You are here. I do the same, and sometimes it comes in mighty handy! I got used to it quickly, now even when I go into the city, the little blue cursor tells me where I am, and within a couple of minutes I’m at my destination. Now it’s enough. I will remove Googlemaps from my phone, take a Dutch – French translate dictionary and a pen and paper. I will get lost, I will not go the fastest way, I will not take the best or most scenic route, I will just go where people tell me to go, or where my own drawn maps tell me to go. And hopefully I get to the Little St. Bernard Pass and back in 4 to 5 weeks.

Next to all these anti-gps things it’s just damn exciting, I have no clue if I’m able to go really without a map, where I will end up and how it will be in the mountains. How will I find places to camp with my tarp? What if people talk really fast French and I will understand nothing? I will just let them make a drawing… :)

The 27th of july I will leave, and hope to be back in the beginning of September. Trough this blog and my facebook page I will keep you updated! 

Lapp’n, the traveling golfball

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Let me introduce you to my travel companion Lapp’n the traveling golfball!

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Lapp’n is four years old now and was found during a hitch hiking trip with my good friend Kerrin. We found Lapp’n in the swedish forest, and decided the name Lapp’n would fit, since we would go to Lapland.

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In the four years Lapp’n has travelled the world! Lapp’n has seen many sights: His house in the forests of Sweden, an early morning in Copenhagen in Denmark, and more spots in The Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Latvia, Austria, Switzerland, India and Nepal.

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It seems with the encounter of Lapp’n my adventurous travel started. Who knows where Lapp’n will bring me next, you can keep updated trough my facebook page.

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My top 5 adventure and travel songs

“Addiction” [uhdik-shuh n]

The condition of being habitually or compulsively occupied with or or involved in something. It seems I have a music addiction. When I don’t listen to music on a regular basis, music starts to play in my head. But then only the music I don’t want to hear like Britney Spears and such… So to counteract that I listen music on a regular basis, and when I make a trip the Ipod is filled with the best tunes. So here is a selection of songs that set my mind to travel to adventurous places, or help me when I’m a bit down.

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Spinvis – Kom Terug (Translation: come back)  

Kom terug is a song of Dutch artist Spinvis, roughly translated as “Spiderfish”. I came across this song when I went on my first big cycling trip and when I heard this song I felt something trough my body. The lyrics say exactly what I feel when I travel. Since it’s Dutch let me translate it for you:

Travel far, drink wine, think deep
Laugh loud, dive deep
Come back

I see this a bit as a travel manifest, giving you motivation to travel. Thanks Spinvis!

 

Jose Gonzalez – Stay Alive

The song is made for the soundtrack of “The secret life of walter mitty”. The film is about an editor for Life magazine who goes on an adventurous journey to find the picture for the last edition of the magazine. When this song plays it gives me a push, it makes me feel like going out there and experience new things. It gives me a rush of energy, so when times are bad and I put on this song, all is being put back in perspective and I can (at least a little) enjoy the misery of being hungry, cold and tired during a little adventurous journey.

 

Korpiklaani – Spirit of the Forest

Imagine: You’re sitting in the forest while cooking your dinner over a fire. You can hear the animals around you, and the sounds of the forest. It’s dark and the clouds move away from the moon, and in the moonlight all the trees are now fully visible… This is what I see when I’m listening to this song. This is a perfect song (other songs of this album “Voice of the Wilderness” are too!) for a hike trough a beautiful forrest. Doesn’t matter if it’s summer,winter or autumn, one could feel like a warrior exploring wild places, and enjoying the spirits of the forest.

 

Old Crow Medicine Show – Highway Halo

Bluegrass, one of the best music for listening when traveling in my opinion. It’s made of blood, sweat and tears and you can hear from the lyrics of this song, the singer knows his highways. Great song, great instruments, great on the road feeling. Nothing else to add.

 

Junip – Your Life, Your Call

It’ s your life, your call, stand up or enjoy the fall… There is always time for an adventure, because its your call… And once you’re into an adventure and it’s not going so well, enjoy the fall. You have gone out, and maybe you are hungry, cold or tired and you feel like falling… Enjoy it, these are the moments you get to know yourself. Pull yourself together, you’ll make it!

These are a couple of the songs that make me want to travel, go out and explore or simply have a little overnight adventure. Music is different for everyone, and thats the beauty of music. Everyone has another connection, or hears the lyrics different. Traveling with music is nice, but it’s good to go out without music once in a while. Hear the sounds of the gravel crumble under your shoes, your tires rolling over the road and the wind trough the trees while you cook your meal in the evening. You might even hear the spirit of the forest!

Check out the Raw Sleep-out facebook page for other travel and adventure related films, writings and other stuff

East 2 West, Rollerblading the Netherlands in winter. What did I learn?

This is the last part of the series about my winter rollerblading trip. Did you miss it? Here you can read part 1.

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Day 16, February 17th: St Anna ter Muiden – Scheemda
The last night wasn’t really cold. Now, that was really nice, because the night before was cold as ice! But still, on this relatively warm morning I went out early, because I pitched my tent illegally on a camping and also because today was the day I would be going home. It would be a seven hour trip taking the bus and train. The trip on my skates was 14 days in total, so you can say that 2 days skating is to equal to 1 hour in the train or bus. While I was sitting in the bus from Sluis to Vlissingen, I saw the roads I’ve been riding the days before. Beautiful smooth asphalt through the farmlands with a small village now and then. I didn’t feel the headwind from the comfort of the bus, but I knew it was there.

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Once in the train from Vlissingen the memories started to appear; the last 3 kilometers riding on tiles in the dark towards the Belgium border. The beautiful sunsets, the national parks where I spent the nights in my tent, cooking delicious and simple food. In the beginning of the trip I asked myself why I went on this adventure, and what the adventure actually would be. Because every day I went to a supermarket to buy food. Every day I passed numerous villages so there were constantly people around. Or might the adventure be that I would camp out every night? I mean, then I could put a tent in the garden every night; it would make life a bit easier.

But no, it was the whole package. Every day from A to B and C on rollerblades. Living with my backpack. Not knowing where I’m going to sleep in the evening. And last but not least, all the emotions that come with such a trip. Emotions that change, as the road changes. Smooth road means happy thoughts, tiles mean clenched fists and an angry look. The emotions change depending on how much I eat, drink and rest during the day. A trip like this strengthens all the emotions you have. These kind of trips make you more wild; sleeping in a tent on the ground in the middle of nature, with all the animals around you (you hear them constantly, but never see them!), being dependent on the weather; the cold, sunshine, wind, rain and mist. Traveling from place to place every day; making kilometers and searching the best ways to go. But also your body becomes an important factor. Every day you feel the effort of your muscles, your skin being exposed to the weather and, especially in this case, the blisters. This all together makes you more wild than in your “normal” life. It’s like there is a flame bursting inside you. Like some kind of primal energy starts flowing. A energy we tend to forget because of our daily comfort. Central heating, hanging on the couch behind the tv or computer. Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy when I’m inside my warm house when it’s -10C outside. But to leave these warm and nourishing comforts, is good for a human. By spending 2 weeks outside in a tent in the middle of winter, a primal energy starts to flow inside you. And everybody has it, we are just not aware of it anymore.

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But next to all the wild stuff with your inner caveman coming out, it’s also very exciting to go on an adventure like this. Not only going on an adventure is exciting, but some weeks before I started, I felt the excitement flowing through my body. Was I really going to skate across the Netherlands with a heavy backpack on my back? With me, not being a good skater at all? And sleeping outside in a small tent in the middle of the winter? How would that be? I kept on imagining it, and this gave me positive vibes of excitement through my body, a week before I actually went. Great!

Sometimes I was struggling. Sometimes there were no thoughts in my head for hours; I was just skating. Sometimes I was thinking about life, society and the world. The hard moments are the moments that count. These are the moments you grow as a person and see what you’re made of. Wandering for one and a half hour through a swamp, trying to search a spot for my tent for the night in the middle of farmlands. Three kilometers trying to roll over cobble stones in a pitch black street at the end of the day. Bad roads which gave the feeling your feet are being sandpapered. These are the moments you find your inner self and pull yourself together. These are the moments that make reaching the endpoint feel so much sweeter.

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Of course these moments are overshadowed by the beautiful moments: flying through the forests of Gasselte, where there are only smooth roads and no other traffic. The nature of our biggest national park “The Veluwe”. Perfect sunsets and a chilly but clear sunrise on a meadow next to a windmill. Moments of pure bliss while sitting on a bench in the cold fog when the warm rays of the sun touch your face, and the only thought in your head is: wow, life is beautiful. But also a free cup of tea, a good conversation while drinking fresh coffee and experiencing Zeeuwse hospitality.

Now, would I do this again? Yes please! I’d love to! Actually I’m already looking forward to the next adventure, and for some kind of reason I think it will not take too long before I’ll go again.

To see other adventurers, trips and outdoor stuff make sure to like the Raw Sleep-out page.

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East 2 West, Rollerblading the Netherlands in the winter. (Part 3 of 3)

It’s becoming spring right now. Temperatures are getting higher and so about time to go out and go camping again! But nearly two months ago it was cold, dark and even a little snowy. In this cold and dark times I went on an adventure; rollerblading 450 kilometers trough the Netherlands, with my backpack and my tent. This is part 3 of my journey, here you can read part one and part two or join the Facebook page. 

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Day 10, February 11th: Casa Peetzak (Hilversum) – Linschoten
And there I am again, resting in the woods overlooking the meadows. I have reached the busiest part of the country. When I first arrived (I even had to look it up on Google Maps) I tried to take in the surroundings while sitting under a tree. High voltage towers are running through the fields and I hear speeding cars passing by on the highway 100 meters further on. The car lights resemble fireflies all flying orderly in a row. Witnessing this spectacle sooths me. I’m relaxed by nature, but the combination of highway and meadow really contrast the busy and crowded with the peace and void.

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So, the busy part of the land. Lots of roads and between the towns, small meadows with lots of water. Incredible to see a country change this much in only 50 kilometers. 50 kilometers behind me there were rugged woods and wild boars! All in all, today was a hard day. Not because the roads were bad, not because of wind or rain. I think it is because I took a break. Apparently, my body has switched into chill-out mode. After only 2 days! It could also be the special beers I drank the day before. I’m counting down the kilometers and when I look on the map it seems I’m almost there. Obviously I know better. Western Zeeland is nowhere near Hilversum! The notion of covering kilometers seems to change, skating on the stretched roads passing meadows on both sides. The monotonous roads make my thoughts shift continuously and when I look back, it seems time stood still and I suddenly reached the next town. Enjoying some fresh air, as the Dutch call it?

Day 11, February 12th: Linschoten – N480, 2nd windmill on the left12This district does have a certain beauty. When the sun goes down, it’s like you are watching a postcard. Too bad it’s clouded, but anyone with a vivid imagination can paint his own picture. Long stretching roads through green fields with hundreds of chirping birds adding a soundtrack. You can still connect to nature in such a busy district.

As difficult as it was yesterday, as smooth it went today! It wasn’t the wind that got me going, but it did help a bit. I have entered the ‘authentic’ Dutch landscape. Canals, meadow, sheep and yes, windmills. I started on a small road along a canal this morning. There was nobody, maybe 3 cars within 6 kilometers. Following was a country road along a canal with 5 cars in total. A small town with canals, old houses and typical Dutch knotted willows. The small town revealed another small road with….well, you get the picture. When I looked at the map yesterday, I wasn’t expecting this! A lot of nothing! Farming fields with occasionally a farm or a small town, where the villagers get together and chatter at the local supermarket. Every town I visit I’m being watched with suspicion. It beats Eastern Groningen! Now I can finally rebuttal, when people dare to say we, up in the north, are peasants.This district does have a certain beauty. When the sun goes down, it’s like you are watching a postcard. Too bad it’s clouded, but anyone with a vivid imagination can paint his own picture. Long stretching roads through green fields with hundreds of chirping birds adding a soundtrack. You can still connect to nature in such a busy district.

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This district does have a certain beauty. When the sun goes down, it’s like you are watching a postcard. Too bad it’s clouded, but anyone with a vivid imagination can paint his own picture. Long stretching roads through green fields with hundreds of chirping birds adding a soundtrack. You can still connect to nature in such a busy district.
To end this story in a nice way, I will be sleeping in a meadow, and yes, next to a windmill. On my journeys I always try to visit beautiful spots to spend the night, and tonight’s dwelling is certainly making up for the swamp I recently visited!

Tomorrow I’m passing (and I really don’t want to go through) the big towns and then it’s up to Zeeland. Bridges, water and a heap of salted herring!

Day 12, February 13th: N480 2nd windmill on the left – Esscheplaat
How in god’s name can you find a place for your tent if there are only fields? Searching, very intensive searching and making compromises. While I’m writing this piece I’m at the Esscheplaat. Google it. It’s pretty close to the middle of nowhere. After I bought my dinner, I found a good place to rest and check the map thoroughly. Meanwhile the sun was going down, so I needed to find a spot soon. 3 kilometers off the route there was a dash of green on the map. While I was skating towards the green spot, the sun slowly set. (foto van kaart)

It’s such a beautiful sight to see the red sun disappear behind the clouds. But this also meant it was going to be dark within half an hour! There is only one thing you can do at such moment. Full speed ahead! Racing through the meadows with a strong headwind isn’t easy when you already have been skating for 7 hours. Only, at such a moment I just don’t feel the pain in my ankles and feet. Everything goes on pure adrenaline. It has to be, because finding a good spot can take up a lot of your time. When I reached the fence of the natural area, I saw a sign that said: “Beware of the cattle, they can be unpredictable towards visitors”. Ehhhh, ok. But I still put up my tent because it was this or the meadows. I really hope they stay away from that interesting piece of fabric I’m sleeping under!Schermafbeelding 2015-02-18 om 17.45.17

I think today is a small indication of what lies ahead of me the next couple of days. Long stretching roads through meadows with a hard headwind and few options for setting up my tent. This is new for me and I secretly look back with grief, thinking about my time in Drenthe, where the woods were dense and campable! But on the contrary, I’m nearing the most westword point of The Netherlands! Kapow!

Day 13, February 14th: Esscheplaat – Kranendijk (Oud-tongere)
Today I had a smooth start. When I woke up I saw some people in the natural park where I had put up my tent. I immediately assumed they were from Forestry Commision, so it seemed a good idea to get out of the tent and drink some coffee sitting on a nearby bench. Once I sat down a herd of Scottish Highland cattle came hurtling at me! That’s a nice way of waking up, drinking coffee amid some 20 huge beasts.

After the first bridges connecting the islands I arrived tiredly in Oud-Tongere. A place where a nice egg-sandwich was waiting for me in snackbar/café ‘t Vosje. Meanwhile it was already passed 4 o’clock and it was time for me to find a place to sleep. I asked the other customers if they knew a good spot for me to camp. The lady behind the counter asked someone, and I immediately heard: “he can sleep at my place, with the chickens!”. Haha, nice. After a minute, someone walked out of the café and asked me if I needed a place to sleep. I could set up a tent where he lived. Chill! So after I finished my sandwich, I drank a couple of beers with Rik (that was his name) in the very cosy local pub and we went to his place. I took a lovely shower, washed my clothes and ate some toast with filet. A tiny and unexpected paradise.13

These are the things that make my journey such a cool experience. Unexpected encounters and the kindness of strangers. It is beautiful to see the goodness of people you have never met before. But what can I give in return to show my appreciation? Leave 10 euro’s on the table? Or shall I pay it forward, showing a stranger the same goodness, that was given me tonight? This seems the best thing to do. The help I received this evening, will be passed on. Maybe tomorrow I will give 1 euro to a homeless person, or by returning a found mobile to its owner. Someone once told me: “The more you give, the more you get”.

Day 14, February 15th: Kranendijk (Oud-tongere) – Veerse Meer
I had the wind at my back today! Literary and figuratively. After a nice warm bed and a breakfast I was ready to cover some serious ground! But first I needed to do some filming, because after all, I am making a film about this journey. With the help of Elanda we shot some beautiful imagery. Only it was time for me to get those 8 wheels rolling again towards Zeeland. I immediately noticed the wind at my back and I don’t think I ever reached such speed on my skates. It must have been 30 kilometers per hour. You can imagine with this speed I covered around 55 kilometers. And I also went across a 6 kilometer long bridge crossing the Oosterschelde, and this was very cool.

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The entire journey I was fortunate to have the wind at my back. This is very nice, so I don’t have to drag myself forward on my skates. On the other side, it does take away some of the suffering, and therefore some of the victory. I had to think about a well known adventurer who experienced headwind for two weeks in a row. This will drive you mad and after a week you can only dream about tailwind. I must say, I did learn to appreciate the wind at my back, because there are plenty of other elements making this journey a real challenge. For example dragging 15 kilos in your backpack or enduring the freezing cold. And I can’t help feeling that it’s going to be freezing cold again tonight!

The original concept was to cover 450 kilometers in 14 days. Tomorrow it’s Monday and I still have 42 kilometers to go before I reach my final goal. The wind plays an important part and can really influence the outcome. In the end it isn’t a choice of reaching your goal. I just won’t give up, even if it would take all of my strength to get there!

Day 15, February 16th: Veerse Meer – St. Anna Ter Muiden15
Today started like any other day. But it was cold, very cold! This was to be suspected, seeing that I noticed a layer of ice on the inside of my tent at 20:30 yesterday. So after a night of waking up a lot from the cold, it finally got light outside. I got out of my igloo and made me some breakfast on the field next to the water. During eating my breakfast it started to get really misty and this persisted the entire day. It looked like I was on an entire different planet! Who knows what creatures were hiding behind the clouds… And there I was, racing on my skates through an extra-terrestrial world, finding the next town on my journey. I arrived at Middelburg, a town nearby Vlissingen, where I’m going to take the ferry and only 20 kilometres to go!

The last 20 kilometres didn’t go easy, though. Headwind. Only headwind. So in retrospect, regarding the piece I wrote yesterday, I can say this wasn’t easy. And still I arrived at the village of sluis with only 3 kilometres to my final destination; the sign that says BELGIUM. The road that leads to the sign was torture. Headwind and paving stones! Who is responsible for this? Skating for 450 kilometres to reach my destination, to be confronted with paving stones on the home stretch! Something with the last straw is breaking the camel’s back…

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Man, I couldn’t be happier seeing the much awaited sign! I took some pictures, shot some film and well…walked back to the village (yes, this time I walked) to find myself a place to sleep. This is difficult considering the desolate surroundings. A sign, a busy road and a tiny restaurant. The objective was only a figment of my imagination. It is on the map, but there is nothing to be found. Now you can find a blister bandage stuck to the sign with a bit of writing on it. A bandage used for blisters is appropriate, I think.

Meanwhile writing this story, I’m in my tent, illegally set up on camping grounds. I snuck it in through the back entrance, after which I made myself a well-earned festive meal. Because what better way is there to celebrate a personal victory? Correct, with a can of pea soup and a can of Schultenbrau beer.

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If you liked this rollerblading winter adventure and would like to keep up with my other adventures or shenanigans you can like my facebook page here. (hint: there are more adventures to come…)

East 2 West, Rollerblading the Netherlands in the winter. (Part 2 of 3)

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This is part two of my winter journey on rollerblades, part 1 is over here. By now I was quite used to the cold, and I felt the spirit of adventure rushing through me. Soon I would be half way, take a rest day at a friend and have my blisters fixed. But what came up there I didn’t expect…

Day 5, February 6th: Belt Schutsloot – de Vuursteenberg (near Hattem)                             After 5 minutes on the road, I noticed a car was following me. Ordinarily I would slow down and allow the care to pass. Not this time…. The car kept following me en when it finally overtook me, somebody was screaming out of the window…. It was Trudy, a friend of mine from Groningen, together with Sjoerd! They came all the way from Groningen to bring me a cup of coffee and a banana. Beautiful! We stopped at a resting point and while we were talking about the newest and most trendy outdoor equipment, I was enjoying a lovely cup of coffee. Thank you Trudy and Sjoerd! Awesome! And off I went, on my way to the Provence of Gelderland.

6I’ve seen the country change over the last couples of days. From the desolate potato fields of Groningen with its awful roads, to the woods of Drenthe with its perfect spots to camp illegally, to the swampy waterlands of north-eastern Overijssel where reed is harvested. The next time you see a house with a reed roof; you know it was probably won in this area. A nice way to learn something about your own country. What I’ve also learned is that roads follow a certain formula. Between villages and cities, roads consist out of smooth asphalt and concrete (except in Groningen); a true paradise for skaters, and my feet. As soon as you come close to a city or village, roads change into crappy asphalt. And when you finally enter a city or village: fucking bricks….Every single time! In between villages I’m a speed machine and as soon as I enter the village, I turn into a stunt pilot…. But for now, I’m camping in De Veluwe and lets hope all I’ll find here are beautiful forest roads and wild boars. Who knows, I might see one while setting up my tent!

Day 6, February 7th: De Vuursteenberg (near Hattem) – Elspeter bos                                    Meanwhile I’ve been philosophical, shared ups & downs and giving you a heads up on my whereabouts. But what hasn’t passed under review is what an average day of a skatepacker (thought of it myself and I think it is well invented) looks like. I will now give you an extensive overview of today, Saturday the 7th of February.

05:00 – The cold wakes me…After seeing fresh ice on the inside of my tent (after just one hour) I knew it was going to be a cold night.
05:30 – 07:00 During catnaps I’m dreaming about Arnold Schwarzenegger…
07:00 The alarm clock rings, but because of the cold and dark, I’m snoozing till 08:00
08:00 – 08:10 Staring….and thinking how can I keep warm but still do things.
08:10 – 09:00 Making coffee with frozen water from my bottle. Damn, it sure was cold.
09:00 – 09:05 Will I eat soup with bread or just bread? (everything just goes slower when it is cold)
09:05 – 09:35 Eating bread (without soup)
09:35 – 10:00 Mapping out the way ahead
10:00 – 10:20 Taking care of feet, washing myself with wet wipes and getting dressed
10:20 – 11:00 Packing tent, backpack and find a way to the nearest road
11:00 – 11:03 Wondering if I will ignore the just received advice
11:04 Yes.
11:05 – 14:00 Skating through the woods, beautiful roads covered with ice, snow, branches and other stuff. Did 10 kilometers In 3 hours. Maybe next time I should follow the given advice? 7
14:00 – 14:35 The Jumbo supermarket in Heerde: 1 meatball sandwich, eaten directly. 1 bottle of Spa lemon cactus. 1 bar of Daim chocolate. 1 can of lentils. 1 package of nasi spice mix. 116 grams of green beans. 1 thick piece of chicken filet. 5 pieces of gingerbread. 1 banana. 1 bag of peanuts, unsalted. 35/40 people who are glaring at me.
14:35 – 15:00 On my way to Epe. I’m at the end of my strengths and only skated 15 kilometers!
15:00 – 15:15 Trying to find the right way from Epe to Elspeet. Backpack on, backpack off, raincoat on, map at hands….
15:16 Yes, found my way out of Epe!
15:17 – 15:40 On my way to Elspeet, no water left, rain ,wind and I’m tired. Music gives me the energy to go on.
15:40 I’m stopping at a house asking the folks standing outside if I can get some water
15:43 I’ve been asked to come inside. I’m drinking a nice cup of coffee. Just lovely, chatting a bit, laughing and no skates on my feet
16:10 – 18:00 FULL SPEED AHEAD! Hills, woods and silence. Every now and then a car, but mainly the sound of skates on the road. I see lots of wild boar tracks
18:00 – 18:20 Walking into the woods, trying to find a good spot for the night
18:20 – 19:10 Setting up tent, making my bed, change clothes and I dive in!
19:10 – 20:10 Cooking and eating. A bit scared wild boars are going to steal my dinner.
20:10 – 22:00 Writing, mapping out the way ahead and taking care of my feet
22:00 – 22:30 Reading and chilling
22:30 Arnold Schwarzenegger…

REPEAT

Day 6, February 8th: Elspeter bos – Casa de Peetzak (Hilversum)                                  When I get a whiff of my odor, I wonder if other people can smell this too. I guess they do, but I haven’t been receiving any strange looks yet. At least, no stranger than people look at me speeding on my skates. It has been 4 days since my last shower. Using baby wipes does the job, but it’s just not the same. I feel like a hobo; heavy backpack, greasy hair and a nice penetrating smell of adventure surrounding me.

Today I’ve covered the most kilometers up to now. Around 50 kilometers! When I saw the bar where I was meeting Peter, I was very happy….Oh, I was so fucking happy! Not because I made it all the way to Hilversum, but because tomorrow will be a day all about chilling. Sitting in front of a tv, drinking tea. And washing. And a trip to a skate store. And writing. And checking documentation. Am I going to chill tomorrow? Yes, I will. No skating. I’m going to give my feet and legs a rest. You have to, after a week of on-going skating!

I’m noticing my emotions are stronger. Today I was really angry. I came across a 5 kilometers long road with paving bricks….But I’ve also been laughing out loud! On a viaduct I saw a guy waiting for something, looking at the road. I asked him what he was doing. He replied: “I’m filming trucks passing by”. Ok. I decided to wait for a while and when a truck drove by and we did the universal ‘honk the horn’ gesture’ and the trucker honked! Ha! That was perfect movie material! The boy was radiating and I wished him all the best of luck. The smile on my face lasted for 15 minutes….

These are the things that make it all worth while. The ups and downs that go with such an adventure. But tomorrow no such thing. Just chilling and now for another beer!8

Day 8, February 9th: Casa de Peetzak (Hilversum)                                                                            My legs are still hurting from yesterday’s 50 kilometers. My right ankle is really swollen! I’ve made the right choice taking the day off today. But the more I’m resting, the harder it gets to reach my final destination at the 16th. But I really need the rest, at least my feet and legs need it.

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Many things happened this past week. I’ve been wandering through a swamp in the dark, seeking a place to sleep. I’ve endured frozen forest roads and made lovely meals in the freezing cold. I’ve cursed paving bricks and praised asphalt. And I’ve been wondering what the fuck I’m doing. Why do I put my sore feet back inside the roller skates? For adventure? But what is the adventure? Skating or meeting people on the way? Or is it starting at point ‘a’ and not knowing where point ‘b’ is, subsequently setting up my tent. I think it is a combination. Camping, going from ‘a’ to ‘b’ only using your own strength and not knowing what you will encounter. Searching for the unknown and submit to it. But also knowing you stand strong in varied and strange situations.

When I look back, the extreme moments are the once that get stuck in my head; skating in the dark on 3 kilometers of paving bricks. My tent covered in ice. And the beautiful forest road which I zoomed over. But there are also moments when nothing happened, also in my head. Just nothing, like a meditation. And these are beautiful moments too.

I am worried about my right ankle….It is still very swollen and I hope this will heal quickly. If you have any advice, let me know! (Update in March: I used anti-infammatory pills, cooling spray and kept my ankle up. It was “better” the next day)

Day 9, February 10th: Casa de Peetzak (Hilversum)                                                                            It has been 48 hours since I came rolling into Hilversum. My clothes are fresh again. I ate as much food as an entire family would eat in a week. I cleansed my body, peeling away the greasy layer that kept my body warm. And my ankle is…., well, it is still attached to my leg. I’m carrying with me a package of inflammatory agent and some cool-spray and this should keep me going. After 48 hours it is starting to gnaw at me. I am looking forward getting closer to my final goal tomorrow and finding a new spot for my little portable house to sleep in.

It is getting more difficult trying to find the right route and a nice camping spot. In the northern and eastern parts there are lots of woods and little roads (making it easy to find the way). Where I am right now, it is a different situation. The map shows a lot of roads, towns and very few green areas. But this is also a challenge which I gladly take on! Who knows what hidden treasures I might find?

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I’m hoping to reach St. Anna ter Muiden within 6 days. It is the most westward place in The Netherlands, all the way in the deep south of the Provence of Zeeland. I still have to go 200 km, so you do the math! (let me do it; 33,3 km per day). And then there will be the finish. A huge victory! And you know how I’m going to celebrate this? With a one-way ticket back to Groningen. This will be a personal triumph. No flags, cheering people or other festivities. No finish line, just a blue sign saying; BELGIUM. And I will leave a message on it. This will be my victory!

Ps. Maybe I will bring the sign with me :)

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East 2 West, Rollerblading the Netherlands in the winter (Part 1 of 3)

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When I looked outside I saw it was cold. There was even snow and ice. And I was about to make a 450 kilometer long journey from the most Eastern part of the Netherlands to the most Western part on rollerblades. If the temperatures would drop a little bit more, I could go on ice skates! I packed my tent, sleeping bag and backpack and off I went. The fact that I just learned to skate a month ago made it extra adventurous.

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Every day I wrote a small piece about my adventures, experiences and my mischief. The whole journey took 14 days, this part covers the first 5 days. Enjoy reading!

 

Day 0, February 1st
Today is the day, I am going to leave tomorrow….Yesterday I started packing and the total weight is 12 kilo’s. Way too much! Add another 2 or 3 kilo’s in food and drinks and I’m at 15 kilos. This doesn’t sound like a lot, but it really disbalances me on my skates! Luckily my journey starts in the middle of nowhere with little traffic. So no problem if I start off wobbling like a kid. This last week I’ve been feeling pretty tense with the upcoming travel
, but in a good way. I was floating in a dreamlike state, constantly thinking about the moment of departure. The German border, the most eastern part of The Netherlands. My thoughts kept moving towards this spot; and all I have to do is skate. Nothing more, nothing less. Putting one foot in front of the other. 450 kilometers long.

What heightens the tension is the notion of me sleeping outside in a tent. Which spots will I discover, will I be putting up a tent in a stretched out meadow, or in a beautiful wooded area? Will I encounter any foxes or other animals? Will the tent hold a night full of rain? Another strenuous element is the cold. Every day I’m checking the forecast, and yes……It is getting cold! But with a sleeping bag from Twin Seasons Groningen I’m sure this won’t be a problem.

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Tonight will be the last night in a warm bed, in a heated room and the last night of my daily routine… I’m looking forward breaking routine and going out on an adventure on roller-skates. Defying cold, preparing food on a camping stove, discovering places I’ve never been before and enjoying the beautiful nature The Netherlands has to offer.

Day 1, February 2nd: Bad Nieuweschans – Wedderbergen2

While I’m heating my supper (cup a soup with bread) I can hear some crows and ducks nearby. It’s dark and in the distance through the trees, I can see lights burning of a small restaurant. I’m really looking forward to tonight. The outlook of heating a sausage on my stove makes me happy….I might sound like a hobo and I feel like a hobo, but this is probably because I’m only 15 kilometers from home. I started today in a rainy Nieuweschans. After 3, maybe 4 hours of skating I’ve now arrived in Weddebergen, a well known place in these surroundings.

I think I’ve covered a distance of some 20/25 kilometers and the blisters are already starting to form….I haven’t experienced any muscular pains yet, but this will inevitably happen in a few days. Seeing the blisters already appear, kind of makes me worry a bit. What will happen after 5 days or 10 days? Time will tell and I will persist!

Tomorrow I’ll rise up early in the morning. A nice cup of coffee and hoping I’ll manage to cover 40 kilometers. It will be a lot easier when the streets are in a better state. Today it was so bad, the wheels of my roller skates sometimes felt they were square instead of round. It is an important choice I have to make. Shall I take the beautiful small trails, with a big chance on walking on skates instead of rolling, or will I go for the bigger roads, which are very boring, but easier to move on. A reoccurring question adventurers ask themselves; am I taking the normal scope or off the beaten track? Believe me, it is different on foot or on bike. Either way, you can get stuck, but on skates it is like someone is holding you back. I will see what happens tomorrow. First let me make a nice little fire!

Day 2, February 3rd: Wedderbergen – Gasselte3
The tent is still wet from this morning. During the night I kept hearing things sliding of my tent….When I woke up this morning my suspicion was right…The entire tent was covered with ice. Apparently it was pretty cold in the northern regions. But, all I needed was some coffee and I was good to go.

Today was a very hard day with new insights. After skating for half an hour, my feet hurt. The part just above my right ankle hurt the most. And I also fell on my elbow, without wearing elbow pads. It didn’t hurt that much in the beginning, but during the night the fun really started. My arm really started to hurt when I stretched it. Keeping it at a 90 degrees angle, was the best position. Add the pain of my feet and nightmarish scenarios start popping in my head. I will never make it, if it is this bad after 2 days!
And why should I go on? I can just go home. No, I will not! I’m going through with this and finish what I started. It’s personal. I’m not doing this for anyone else. If I succeed, it’s my personal victory and it will give me the opportunity to inspire others. To show people everyone can do this. With a sole and 2 socks in the left skate and a Kleenex in my other sock… It does the job and I’m even starting to feel some enjoyment. And the free tea I got at the best bakery of Stadskanaal heightened the joy. I went into the woods when it was already dark, so I don’t really know what it looks like here, but I’m looking forward to the sun rising through the trees in the lovely Provence of Drenthe. And a shower. I’m really looking forward to a shower.

Day 3, February 4th: Gasselte – Stroovledder
Today it was summer. At least, it felt like summer! The snow in the Drentse woods made me suspect it wasn’t summer after all. I felt really warm, but that was probably because I was racing on my skates. Yes, I was passing old ladies on their bikes, instead of the other way around. As you may have noticed, I’m getting into a skate-flow, even carrying 15 kilos on my back. The roads were perfect today and this is more to my liking. Long
live asphalt and concrete! Death to paving bricks and cobble stones!

During eating a nice big plate of scrambled eggs in a cafe, I decided to find myself a warm bed for the night, giving me the time (and warmth) to clean my roller skates. The Inn was 14 kilometers from where I was. It was 16:15, so if I hurry, I could reach the place before dark. The road to Dwingeloo was perfect; beautiful solitary asphalt through the Drentse fields with the sun setting in the background. These are the moments making it all worthwhile!

I arrived at Dwingeloo at nightfall. The streets have turned into……fucking paving bricks! I’m trying to roll, but it is almost impossible. Just outside of Dwingeloo you are aware being in the middle of nowhere. No streetlights anywhere. So I’m trying to find my way through the dark on those fucking paving bricks, using only a headband light…..On moments like these I somehow change into a primitive man, producing sounds like an animal! After half an hour I finally arrive at the Inn, with the outlook on getting a good night’s rest

These encounters give me the feeling I’ve already been on the road for 3 weeks. You can experience a lot in a short time. When I look at yesterday’s pictures of my snow covered tent, I get the feeling I’m looking at something what happened days ago. This is what adventure gives you. Do you want your life to look longer than it really is? Go on an adventure!4

Day 4, February 5th: Stroovledder – Belt Schutsloot
Adventure: “unexpected, exciting experience”

Imagine, you are in Zwartsluis and you have just bought food for the night. The only thing left to do, is find a spot for your tent. A beautiful sundown colors the sky red and you are looking at your map. There are no green areas on the map and all I’ve seen the last 2 hours are meadows…..What do you do? Recently I own a smartphone. Specially purchased for this trip, so you can keep up with my experiences. But it has more functions, so Googlemaps it is. It turns out there are green areas! Meanwhile I’m skating in the dark on a deserted country road and pass such a green area.

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It is in indeed a forrest and off I go, to find a spot for the night. What Googlemaps didn’t tell me is that the green area is swampy peat-soil….. After one and a half hours of hiking through the soaked woods, my courage, like my feet, sank to zero. Ok, fuck it! I’m getting my phone! I quickly find the phonenumber of a bed & breakfast.

The moment of calling the B&B, I’m getting the feeling I’m taking the easy road. Having a phone with me, decreases the chance on adventure. But that is what it is all about; adventure. If I would sleep in a hotel every night, would it still be an adventure? Having a phone with me, makes it a lot easier. What would I have done, if I didn’t brought one? I would have found a spot either way. The story would have been a lot more exciting, and the experience more intense. Even more, I would grow after such an experience, knowing that even if the going gets tough, I would still find my way.

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Why adventure? Becoming a wild beast! (Part 4 of 4)

It’s dark, cold and the sky is full of stars. The sleeping bag is keeping me warm, and I feel like being in a warm cocoon. I know I’m all alone; there are just trees, some small animals here and there, a little wind and the only sound I hear are the birds and the occasional owl. This is one of the reasons why I go on adventures, to be in the middle of the nature.

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This is the last part in a series about why people would go on a difficult adventure. Here you can read part 1, 2 and 3.

A little over a month ago I went on a 450 km rollerblade adventure, in the midst of winter with a backpack and a tent. From the most eastern part of the Netherlands to the most Western part, 450 km in 14 days. It was a great trip. It was difficult by times, but I have good memories about it. One of the best memories is just a random one: I was laying around in my tent when I realized that I was looking up constantly, gazing at the stars. Everybody has been sitting in a chair or laying on the grass, at least once in their lives, staring at the stars for hours. All these tiny points, millions, are planets. So far away. And we are here, on this planet with our amazing landscapes. Natural landscapes that we mostly take for granted and that we only notice when we’re in the middle of them. Now I am in the middle of it, and I can feel that.

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The first night of my trip there was a small forrest next to a big lake. There was a road close by and I could hear people sometimes. It was not exactly in the middle of nowhere, but after 2 hours of not hearing people, having a small fire and looking over the water it felt like the middle of nowhere. Some people are scared to sleep alone in a forrest in a small tent; I can imagine, but for me there is no feeling of getting closer to nature then laying around in it. Witnessing the silence of a small forrest, the crackle of a fire and the fresh outside air makes me feel alive. I strongly have the feeling this is good for the mind and the body and after a night of sleep in the fresh air I have energy for two! But that might also be the strong morning coffee… I’ve been basically living outside in a tent for 2 weeks and when I came home after the adventure a lot of people around me were getting sick. I thought that I would be prone to be sick after sleeping in -7C on the ground but no, it seems being in the cold makes you harder! One reason why adventure is good for you; fresh air and exercise makes you as strong as the hulk!

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Every evening I would search a beautiful a place for my tent. A place well hidden from people and surrounded by trees. It might be a place where somebody would walk their dog, a place where a family would have a picnic. For me it’s a place for the night. A little piece of nature that I can enjoy while laying in a tent cooking a small plate of food. Every place is different, every place had their own sounds, skies and sunsets. In Zeeland there was fog and everything was frozen in the morning, Bleskensgraaf where there were icy winds, a beautiful sunrise and thousands of geese swarming and making noises. The forests of the Veluwe where there were signs of wild boars (and the fear they would steal my food) and the swamps of Zandgracht. These are just small places, but seeing these places with adventurous eyes, makes them special.

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After being out and about after a couple of days I feel I become a bit wilder. My hands get more dirty, I’m more used to the cold and my face gets a reddish color. My head gets into a outdoors mode. When I wake up, the first thing I notice is the wind. Is there lots of it? Will be be headwinds today? How are the clouds looking? Will there be rain coming up, or maybe even snow? And how strong is the sun today? At every place that I camped I listen to the animals; are there the same birds? Do I hear foxes or are there animals creeping and crawling? How is the ground where I want to put my tent? What kind of plants grow here? (haha, none! It was winter) All these things combined makes you more wild, more natural, because you are depended from your surrounding.

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After 2 weeks skating, camping in the bush and drinking strong coffee I reach my goal, the border with Belgium. Tired and satisfied I start to walk to the town, where I will hope to find a nice place to put my tent for the night. There is nothing, except for farmers fields, and not the ones with nice grass, but the ones with clay and mud… I decide to go to a campsite, jump the fence and put my tent up. This action fits the next 12 hours. Sitting in the train going home, feeling dirty, smelly, sticky but above all wilder then before.

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