Why adventure? Excitement (Part 1 of 4)

Imagine this: you sit on your couch, have a nice book in your hands a cup of hot tea on the table and the fire in the woodstove is crackling. The rain is hitting the windows, and you hear how the wind is blowing around your house. You take a zip of tea and think about the adventurer; outside in a tent, cold and tired, trying to make a small dinner on a tiny stove… Now why would a person do this and even like it!? 

In a series of blogposts, I’m trying to give a answer on this question. Probably it will not be the answer of all of the nomads, travelers, adventurers or outdoor people, but its my personal answer I collected trough reading numerous blogs, books, watching films, listening to interviews, talking to people about this and most important, doing this myself. I have found 4 (there must be millions more, but for me there are 4 big ones) reasons why somebody might do this and like it.


Before I started my current education (Soon I’ll be “Bachelor of Popculture”, yes!) I traveled for a year and tried to ruff it as much as possible. I slept on the street in USA, met streetkids and spend time in their freaky bus, spent a night in a self made snow cabin at -30C in North Sweden and hitchhiked from Portugal to the Netherlands. All these things don’t appeal to the majority of people but I had to do them, to get where I am now. Why did I want to do these things? And what did I learn from them? In the short run just basic stuff. I learned that if you want to sleep on the street, make sure there is some kind of cover to sleep under because you might be awoken by a rain shower. Or if you want to hitchhike, make sure that you know where you are and where your destination is, otherwise it might take 6 hours of standing with lots and lots of traffic passing by.

It was only after my first long cycling trip trough sweden that there was a feeling of real sense in it all. In retrospect, this was also my first “adventure”. There was a sense of excitement; where would I sleep and what will I encounter? A sense of challenge and victory; will I make it? And if I made it, it would be a huge achievement! And being in the middle of stunning beautiful nature; the forests of sweden. These are 3 of the 5 reasons. The other reasons for me are: Personal development and Creativity.


The 1st of February there will be a adventure for me to test if these 5 things are right. I will go from the most eastern point in the Netherlands to the most western point. These points are in the North-east and the South-west and are 450 kilometers apart. Perfect! To make it exciting for myself I will go on inline skates. Did I already mentioned I can’t skate at all? I’m learning as we speak (or read/write) and every time the skates are under my feet, there is a sense of excitement flowing over me. It started when I bought the skates. It starts small. The idea grows, and the closer the trip comes the bigger the excitement becomes. Can you remember when you were a kid and it was the night before your birthday? For sure you couldn’t sleep! Excitement all over! The same with this trip. I guess the night before departure there will be hardly any sleep, due to this excitement.

This feeling also makes me feel good and motivated. I’m working mostly behind my computer, and the sense of excitement to go on a crazy inline adventure makes it less oppressively to sit indoors all day. There is a positive vibe building up towards D-day, with a huge climax of the first step, paddle or skate-swoosh.


Then the real excitement sets it. It’s not so strong as the build up towards the first steps of the trip, but it’s a more constantly feeling that sometimes comes up strongly. Mostly at the end of the day, when you have to find a place to sleep, put up your tent or make camp. Where will the place be, where you will lay your head for (hopefully) 8 hours? Will it be a beautiful place, with a view over the mountains or a lake? Or will it be a gas station because there is running water? Then there is the “morning excitement”. You wake up (if you have found the place with a view over a lake you’re lucky!) and drink your coffee. What will happen today? What will I encounter? Who will I encounter? Will my gear or my body do what I would like it to do? All these thoughts come up while staring over the lake… This is why I do it. The excitement of the day. Being surprised by everything, because I can’t expect anything!


This excitement beats being in a cosy, warm house with a cup of tea reading a book. Even when it’s stormy, rainy or cold. I’ll be in my bivvy bag, with a small basic meal thinking about what the next day will bring. I have no clue what it will bring, but I know it will be exciting!

This is part 1 of 4, in the next part I will see how it is with the challenge & victory… Read it here.

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.


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.

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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.

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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.

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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…


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.

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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!

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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!


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!




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!


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”!


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.


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!


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!


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!


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.



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.


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 …?


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…?


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.



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.

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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…



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?

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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!

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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!