Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Day 70--A Visitor in the Night

Last night while I was sleeping, I was woken up by a strange kind of squeaky snuffling sound. It was right near my head (but outside my tent). I listened for awhile, then couldn't bear the suspense any longer. It wasn't going away, so I had to see what it was. I opened my tent rainfly, and shined my headlamp outside. At first I couldn't see anything, but I could still hear the sound. Then I shined the light at the corner of my tent. I could just make out something brown and small. I tried to aim my camera, but it didn't turn out. I got out of my tent, but couldn't find anything. I went back to sleep. A while later, I was, once again awakened by the same sound as before. This time I could tell it was a little hedgehog. I tried again to get a photo. You could only see that it was something. Again, he went away, and I went back to sleep. Then, for the third time, I was awakened. This time he was just outside the door of my tent. I finally got a photo.
Isn't he cute?

He just sat there making his little snuffling sound. I told him he could go now, I got a good picture. Still, he stayed. Finally, I just zipped up my tent and went back to sleep. I suppose he wandered off at some point. It's funny, I had seen several dead ones in England. I always wanted to see one alive. They are nocturnal, so I figured my chances weren't so good. Ha! Check Hedgehog off the list!

I slept a little longer this morning. Partly due to my Hedgehog encounters, but also because I wanted to wait until the reception opened at 9:00 so I could post the last three blogs. I was waiting at reception at 9:00. She was a little late, but I got everything uploaded, and was ready to go by 9:30. I asked the lady about a ferry across the Oude Maas that was on my map. She said yes, there was a ferry. Great! That meant I didn't have to backtrack to the Heinenoord Tunnel. 

I rode to the ferry arriving at 9:45 only to see that the next ferry was at 12:30. But, lucky me, there was a gal there who was waiting for her husband, and a large group of cyclists. Her husband had made a special arrangement with the boat captain to ferry them across at 10:00. The gal said there would probably be room for me too. Another couple of cyclists also showed up. We hoped we would all get on. 10:00 came and went. The group of about 20 cyclists had shown up, but the boat was still sitting on the other side of the river. The bike group leader called the captain. The boat came across at 10:20. We were all able to get on. It held 60 people. It cost me and the other couple 1.50€. We happily paid.

Here comes the boat from Putterhoek.

The fietsclub of mostly women. It was a surprise where they were going for their ride today.

I got off the boat and continued following the LF12a route. I caught up to the other couple, and rode with them until we went different directions. It was very easy following the route. There are a zillion routes, but they all have numbers. So, all I have to do is know which numbers I need to follow. The only problem I had this morning was after going through another tunnel under the river.
Pretty cool, but not quite as cool as the Heinenoord.

When I came out of the tunnel, I could tell by the map I needed to turn, and follow the river for a bit. As I came up to the river, there were no signs, but I continued on. I came to a point where they were doing construction on the dike, but a road turned anyway, so I took the road. I came to an intersection. Knowing which direction I needed to go, I turned right. There was a bike lane. I followed the bike lane, and ended up doing a big circle. There had been a worker van when I first turned. I ended up coming back to that van. Sooooo....I went back to where I had come out of the tunnel. This time I continued straight. Aha! There was a LF12a sign! I followed the sign. It took me to the other side of the tunnel road, and back to...the dike. Yes, I got back to the dike, and the route sign said to turn left, which led me right back where I started from! Now I had done a nice figure 8! I was stumped. I suspected the problem was the construction. I thought maybe I would try to ride through it, but a man (who had now seen me ride by for the third time) stopped me to ask where I was was trying to go. I told him, and he gave me an alternative, to avoid the construction. Nice guy! Later on, I was able to help another couple riding from the opposite direction, having the same route-finding problem.

From there I had no problems. The signs were, once again, clear. I made my way to Oosterhout, then Dongen, and onto Tilburg. In Tilburg I spotted the red and white bike route signs for Hilvarenbeek. I was following them, but ended up having a problem when the sign told me to go right, which I did, but then told me to go back the way I had come. Since Hilvarenbeek wasn't in the middle of the two signs, something was amiss. I tried a couple of other ways, but finally ended up turning on the Garmin. I turned it off once I started seeing the signs again.

Before resorting to the Garmin, I stopped at a grocery store that was on my back and forth route. I got some dinner stuff, and also got what I thought was some chocolate milk. Not exactly. I decided there is no such thing as chocolate milk in Holland. This, although packaged in a milk carton, was actually pudding. I chugged it down anyway, telling myself it was a really thick milkshake! 

When I planned this part of the trip, I found this holiday park called Beekse-Bergen SafariPark. Well, it is like the San Diego Wild Animal Park of Holland. It's huge! There are "Jungalows" (bungalows), and tent areas designated by animal names (I'm in the "Colobusaap"--Colubus monkey). At the Africa Club there is an indoor pool, restaurant, and supermarket. There are also two beaches for swimming. Then there's the Safari Park. It costs extra, but it's like a wild animal park, I think. Since it is the high season, the place is pretty well packed. It is a great place for families. It's a shame I'm only here for one night!

That's it for today. Not so exciting, but I did have one of my highest average speeds of 10.7mph! Woo Hoo!

Total miles today: 50.7

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