August 7, 2013
Distance: 58.7 miles Climbing: 1135.2 ft
We woke up to a little drizzle and our camp neighbors dogs. Since I am always missing our dog, Lucy, I tried coaxing the dogs into our tent for a snuggle. I got one in for about 30 seconds before they ran off to their own people. It was at least nice to be around friendly and cute dogs again.
The day did not go as planned. We were hoping to extend our time in Holland, but got caught in an terrific rainstorm. We spent a lot of time in our garbage bag skirts again. We made a few stops, hoping the the storm would pass over us, but we weren’t so lucky.
Our first stop was for pizza, which was delicious. There second stop was to investigate the Axel water tower. The tower is tall, like 60.6 meters tall, and visible for a long ways off. Chandler and I had a few guesses as to what the building was before reaching it and determining its use.
The tower was built in 1936, but has not been used for its designated purpose for a number of years. Today, it is used as an art exhibit, water resources learning center for kids and the roof hosts peregrine falcons nesting and breeding area. Wanting to get out of the rain, but more to see the falcons, we climbed the 250-odd steps to the very top. Maybe the falcons had the day off, because we didn’t see a thing. Unfortunately, since it was so cloudy, there wasn’t much of a view either.
We tried to stay as long as possible, but eventually there was nothing left to see. We put our rain skirts and jackets back on and climbed back onto the bikes. The rain continued on and so did we. In the evening, it lessened to a drizzle and we could bring out the camera again, just in time for the Ghent castle.
The castle was built in 1180, with a renovation in the 1880s, and looked like it was out of a story book. I almost expected knights to be patrolling the walls with maybe a princess or two that needed rescuing. The city of Ghent had a lot of interesting, old architecture. We ended up seeing quite a bit because we got a little lost, or took the long way getting out of the city.
Belgium also has a few free campsites, apparently inspired by their neighbors to the north, so we planned on spending the night at one of those. We found that Belgium is not as easy as the Netherlands… The bike paths sometimes just end leaving us on major highways with no shoulder. In some towns, all of the stores will be closed, even at 3pm on a weekday. The free campsites listed on websites sometimes do not exist. We ended up camping in the corner of a field tucked away from view. It was raining pretty good, so we just ate a quick dinner of crackers, cheese and beer and hit the hay.