Marvelous Canadian winter. My daughter (third child from five). dances on water, frozen, at a lake in Kilaloe,Ontario and after a flight to Vancouver, she decided not to dance on the water of Rolley lake, BC; but stays instead on the shore line together with her Mom (my wife).
It is 38 years ago since I moved to the “new world” Today I was reminded about this fact since my daughter in law was studying Canadian history in preparation for her citizen ship exam tomorrow in Surrey. I had one uncle, a priest, living in stAlphonse Manitoba. I was one of the hundreds of graduating students from horticultural colleges , country wide, from The Netherlands that is, who ,after one year combined employment with various companies in Holland and abroad, discovered that there was more land in the world and that Holland was not the center there off !!! My uncle in Manitoba could not help me, in the physical sense that is. My friend lived close to the Canadian embassy in The Hague and I came there almost daily! I managed to secure an interview with one of the Canadians there, a gentleman from Burnaby BC.. After an interview and a medical exam, I was granted a visa for life (a big pink sheet)…Through the horticultural college I found a program that arranges employment abroad. I signed up and found employment in the Fraser valley at a Dutch immigrant’s nursery. I was placed in the field together with people from the province of
Punjab , India. I became friends with one ofthem, a young man frm about 16. I taught him how to drive a tractor. I worked a 48 hr week and made a “whopping” dollar twenty five an hour!! I had to think about
an Irish man I met in Cork, Ireland. He told me:”Never work for your own Country man abroad” It’s mint tea time.later I write more.
speaking about Irishmen: I was a backup player for a Dutch rugby team whose sister town & team was Cork with it’s team ‘Highfield united”. We flew there and deeply enjoyed Irish hospitality.We stayed at Laurel’s guesthouse which was run by a charming old lady and having tea with her was an adventure!! She would stand in front of an ancient dresser, open up a drawer; put something in the cup and than poured the tea…when she put down the cups and went away to get some cookies, I exchanged the teacups quickly and enjoyed a peaceful cup of tea with her …We had a tour of Murphy’s brewery with lots of tasting along the way throughout the tour that eventually brought you to the tasting room, if you made it there. After two games; they did not need a spare player, so I hitch-hiked to Bantry.I always wanted to be a private estate gardener and seeing Bantry House with it’s phenomenal view over Bantry Bay, confirmed that again. 7 years later I became the head gardener at an estate overlooking the Fraser river(see pictures).As I was overlooking Bantry House & Bantry Bay; my thoughts went back to the summer of 1959. I went with my aunt to my uncle`s estate in Lichtervoorde (NL). He had a 20 hectare estate with a pond full of frogs and a tea house.His gardener, Jan showed me his tools and his fast collection of Exbury azeleas and of course the pink Hydrangeas…It was time to leave Bantry and I was hitch-hiking when a Volks wagen bus with 5 nuns gave me a ride all the way to Brandon, not too far from Cork. The weather changed to rain; I found an unlocked car at a car wreckers place. I had a `safe`place for the night, so I thought. Towards midnight a boy & a girl opened the front door and without looking back to where I was he took her on his lap and did some inspired biological explorations. Thank God I did not have to sneeze in what seemed an eternity they left after he or she threw a garment to the back. It landed on me and that gave me slight worries; what if they come back…It was shivering cold and that made me move faster and I got a ride to just outside of Cork to where my team was, nicely in time for a game of rugby. Because I was so cold, I was super fast and out ran every one. I made 2 Try’s. The Irish team brought us to the airport and even got in our plane!! Imagine that with our security these days. Let me introduce myself: Of the 7 children I am number 4. My place in the family became more defined during holidays.
To the left you see the family I was brought up in: I am the little guy to the right of my Dad. There are 2 sisters and my brother above me and 3 sisters below me..I am perfectly in the middle. Activities , while we were on holidays , were divided often like this: The 3 oldest went with Dad & the three youngest went with Mom. I remember one holiday we spent in Valkenburg, The Netherlands: The 3 oldest went on a boat trip with my Mom. This boat trip took them on the river The Maas to Liege (Luik), Belgium. The 3 youngest went with my Dad to The “Three Country spot . This freshfromthetaplocation is in the Dutch province of Limburg at the Southern spot. The three countries were The Netherlands, Germany & Belgium. Three youngest; three oldest….What about number 4; me ? The owner, of the Hotel we stayed in, walked to me outside in the hotel’s garden and he invited me to come along in his car to Belgium, to get some supplies for the hotel. I went along. When we came back in the late afternoon; the Hotel was surrounded by the police; apparently a child was either kidnapped; lost or may be far worse…later we discovered that I was the child. Years later at my parent’s 25th anniversary we stayed at a hotel in Vlissingen, The Netherlands, same thing happened ( no police this time): There was no room in the hotel for the chauffeur and me. For us two rooms were arranged at a smaller hotel in town. In my room at the night-stand I found a Gideon s Bible. I was touched by the verse where it says: God so loved the world that he sent His only begotten Son that who so ever believes in Him shall not perish but will have ever lasting life! Since then, I would be often alone but never lonely!I met Gerrit at The Horticultural college in Utrecht (NL). We both were born in a big city and our fathers had a ‘city’ job. Gerrit’s dad was a banker, my dad a clothing merchant.. we were not from ‘The” Westland” , where all the other fathers had their employment in the Horticultural field. Soon Gerrit told me about his huge wall painting he had started on the wall of his bedroom at the Hendrik van Deventer street in The Hague. I lived in Utrecht, roughly 60 km’s from The Hague.Gerrit wondered whether I would like to admire and to help with the wall painting. That was the beginning of our friendship. We recognized in one and other a deep seated sense of humor Many weekends we spent at the Hendrik van Deventer street and Gerrit’s wall painting was in our eyes much better then The Nightwatch by Rembrandt. Gerrit showed me the day and night life of The Hague and Scheveningen. Regularly we stood in the center of The Hague with our Red Cross collection tins to gather funds for the work of The Red Cross. We had lots of fun emptying the tins at the bank where Gerrit’s dad worked. At the bank we did all the counting of the funds collected. It was there where Gerrit’s dad gave me my first Canadian dime! We both loved the great outdoors and soon we ‘hatched’ the idea to travel on our BMW motorbike to Amsterdam , take the boat to Gotenburg (Sweden), and from there to Loenvattn (Norway), where Gerrit’s parents had rented a summer cottage. I can still hear the emotion in Gerrit’s moms voice:”Ger, must you two really go on that dangerous motorbike all the way to Sweden? once the boat arrived in Gotenburg (S) Gerrit & I and our Bike were ‘receiving a real “Swedish treat”. The customs officers directed us to a small garage type of building; we had to enter it and as soon as we were inside they firmly locked the door. We had to undress completely, also our gas tank was taken from our bike; it was emptied; everything, including our clothes , was thoroughly inspected. Our conversation was a mix of Swedish (Customs officers) and English (us). We finally were allowed to put our ‘undies’ back on. Than they left. So i said to Gerrit : Lets dress and go, just as we were dressing and gathering our belongings a customs officer came back in; stamped our passports ( Not enough ink), and summoned us that we could go. After putting the gas tank back on, storing our tools away, we finally were ‘en route’. Later we heard on a camp ground that because we looked ‘kinda’ rough the customs gave us the “Royal Treatment”. Later we discovered that marijuana and ‘booze’ were a problem in Sweden. Particularly in small towns we saw man with “bulges’ under their long over coats; hiding bottles. Soon we arrived in Taby, a bedroom community of Stockholm, where my cousin with her husband and 2 children lived. In Stockholm we learned something about the “fabled” ship building of the Dutch in the 1600’s, the Golden age of Holland. Two Dutch ship builders, the brothers Hendrik & Arendt Hybertsson had designed and built a Huge cargo ship that could hold more cargo & cannons than any ship ever built. The ship is called the Vasa, it was built in 1625 and………sank on it’s maiden voyage! We enjoyed the hospitality of my family. Their 2 children, 7 & 5, spoke Swedish fluently and often had to translate for their parents! after 2 weeks we ‘hopped’ on our bike heading north. We set up camp at the strangest spots; traffic roundabouts, parks and ‘real’ camp grounds, as long as it was grass. We finally arrived in Ostersund at the Stor lake. The next day we traveled a little further and pitched our tent at the edge of beautiful Torrajan lake. this was real wilderness camping. There was no ‘organised’ camp ground. it is in this lake that I ‘banged” my head on a rock, while diving, and I was unconscious for about one day. Gerrit had carefully ‘dragged’ me out of the water and stayed with me in the tent. We were too remote and the Swedish nurses were on strike, we had learned earlier.When I ‘came around’; Gerrit told me that I with a quiet ‘muffled voice’ was talking about guardian angels………Later I learned that I most likely have ‘scar tissue’ in my brain from this accident. After a few restful days, I slept a lot after that accident, we traveled to Ostersund and it was there that our BMW bike broke down and we had to sell it .We received the equivalent of 2000 guilders paid in Kronen. Partly by bus, partly by hitch hiking, we arrived in Loenvattn (N)
where Gerrit’s parents were staying at their summer cottage. From Gerrit’s Dad I learned how to filet a Trout and bake it over an open fire. The first trout I cleaned ended up in the bush, as the slippery fish slid out of my hands. Later on I’ve got the “hang” of it. We left the cottage en route to Kristiansand (N). We pitched up our tent at a ‘primitive’ camp ground. the wind blew so fierce that a rip appeared in the tent and the whol tent blew away!! Gerrit’s head popped out of the sleeping bag like the head of a turtle, and ‘ dryly’ remarked: ‘the tent blew away’…..The fresh smell off evergreen forests was the first impression Winfried and I had of Finland..and in Helsinki old ladies walked in brightly coloured dresses the kind you see in a shorter version worn by teenagers in Holland. We also noticed a lot of police to keep the fast moving cars, filled with members of the European community under control. Each car had the flag of the nationality of it’s occupants up front in a standard. There must have been an international convention in Helsinki. We were eager to explore nature, so we left Helsinki and we ‘caught’ a ride to Lahti. We ‘found’ a lake that was at the edges full of water lilies (like Whonnock lake, we discovered later). We swam to the center of the lake and back. Than …..Mosquito’s !!! The ferns were smaller than the same ferns in Holland. we noticed the remainder of comparable vegetation was ‘behind’ as well; we figured it was because of our location in Finland was higher & more North than Holland. In the village, people look surprised to see two tall blonde men; girls turn away, shy and curious at the same time. It all breathes an atmosphere as if they saw people like us for the first time! We caught a ride and arrived in a village called Nikkaroinen. In the center of town we found a green grocer where one can buy virtually any thing. Also here we noticed curious faces and we noticed that Finnish people were on average smaller than Dutch people. Finnish hay is of a lighter colour than Dutch hay but it sleeps fantastic! A large dog lead us to a friendly farmer and his wife. Their daughter, again a mix of curiosity and shyness, puts her hands on her breasts and runs off.The farm house is simply furnished but it has a TV set. The farmer’s wife fills our thermos with ‘vesi’ (Finnish for water). She pointed to a bus stop and we took a local bus to Jyvaskyla, where on the market, a friendly girl helped us to get some oranges. She even spoke English! We catch a bus to Kinnula. In the bus again people observe us with a mix of curiosity and shy ‘watching’ . A girl drops a coin; it rolled towards us, she was too shy initially to pick it up….than she looks quickly at us, grabs it and runs to the back of the bus. Late in the evening we arrive in Kinnula, where, we found out, the bus driver lived. The bus company’s are mostly ‘one man shows’. The sky looks fantastic; orange-like colours, magnificent. The next morning we walked ‘sweaty’ and puffing because of the heat. We got a ride from a truck with open sliding doors. It stopped in the next village where we saw a lake!
Hooray, we can wash ourselves and catch a fish! at the same time I made a fire and Winfried caught a trout, together we had a meal fit for a king! It is getting late in the evening, I’d say it’s around 11.30 pm. The sun just set,the sky is beautiful out here! We found a boat and rowed to an island where we set up camp (“OUR ISLAND, see drawing to the right’). The next morning two Finnish boys were on ‘our’ island. They were initially shy and laughed, they said ‘joa’ and they understood what the fish tackle weights were for. We had language difficulties, they should have never build the tower of Babel….Their names were Tuomo and Jari. Winfried said:”Either they are fooling us or they want to destroy everything. They look at everything the way aboriginal people looked at the equipment of the ‘pale faced’ people. Tuomo was blonde, rude and he investigated our ‘stuff ‘, Jari had slightly darker hair and was ‘sneaky’. They left. In the evening Winfried and I visited two ‘new’ islands, not far from ‘our’ island. When we came back , Winfried lifted his bow-net he had placed near our island. there was a bass in it. He caught a trout as well. We roasted the fishes for dinner. The next morning Winfried woke up with 12 mosquito bites around his elbow, no problem any where else, crazy creatures those mosquitoes. It’s now about lunch time. The two Finnish boys came back and stand besides me , they get stung too and they say ‘au’ as well! Now they are ‘fooling around’ with Winfried’s fishing rods. They say ‘taskiriota’, whatever that means. ‘Kaksa”? They are now near our food supply and strike with their hands through their hair, they throw something flammable on our fire and make no move to leave us alone. We can ignore them completely, it makes no difference, they keep on throwing stuff on the fire. By the way, just before those boys came back we rowed to the main land and in the village we bought half the supply of ‘maitoa’ (milk) costing us FM31,50. We calculated that we could spend FM25,- per day,, so that was not bad. I read my book and tell Winfried every once and a while what is happening in my book..The wind blows through the trees and makes a ‘rustling’ sound, the waves ‘babble’ against the two boats (our boat and the boat of the Finnish boys). The pea soup was delicious. The 2 boys start to stir in our soup, what’s left of it. They are picking up stones and the beam that we use to sit on is ruined, our licorice was discovered; with my cutting pocket knife they are ruining our tree support….The best idea is to look angry . They finally seem to understand and they stop for a moment….and than they continue. They finally leave , their little engine starts badly; they are touching our stone that holds the rope that keeps our boat ‘in the harbor’. They are gone! The wind turned. It blows now to the north side of the island. With the wind we can hear music sounds, while our oatmeal porridge is bubbling . Across the water some Finnish people are having a sauna; tomorrow we are trying to have one too. Every once and a while I read aloud out of the Hobbit..Frodo went on his voyage and meets Tom Bombadil…We saw a marvelous sunset at 11.30pm! After a walk over ‘our’ island is it nice to sit around the fire again. The island is 68 meter wide and 82 ‘steps’ long. The mosquitoes are nagging us….In the village store the whole family is coming out to help us getting our supplies. back at ‘our’ island we dive in the water which is the only way to get rid of the mosquitoes. when you come above the water they right away sit on your nose to do their ‘evil’ deed!. Come lets sit around the fire, Wim is reading out of his book! The west wind is coming up, it blows away the mosquitos. There are less of them now and it is cooling down.
The next morning we decided to pack up and go.We used the boat for the last time , once we were on the other side, we walked to the main road. Not a single car stopped! Dark clouds were building up , it looked like a thunder storm was brewing. The first raindrops…..Than we decided to take the bus to avoid getting soaked.The bus brought us to Kokkola, the bus was also the mail transporter. We walked the town of Kokkola. We had never before seen so many beggars for money or dope or ‘Olut’.From Kokkola we took the train to Oulu where we arrived at mid night. Winfried got out of the train and than the train started to move with me still in it. Thankfully the powers that be saw my dilemma and the train stopped again to let me out. We got a ride from 2 Finnish people in the direction of the campground . It worked out that these guys were drunk so we wanted out.. We found a couple of on duty “poliisi” officers, who put us in the paddy wagon and that’s how we arrived at the campground at around 2 am. We met some hitch-hiking boys from Amsterdam; we exchange some advice, pitched up our tent got in and fell asleep. The next morning at the showers we noticed something peculiar.The Finnish people are smaller therefor their showers are so low that you almost have to lie down. Not one tent on this campground is the same, I think that’s amazing. There are lot’s of cars, there is lot’s of noise, gasoline fumes and a bung of Norwegians with loud screaming children. For the remainder it’s cool. There are big & heavy & severe looking guards who keep a sharp eye on every thing & every one; all this motivated us to leave today for Kemi to be free! While eating strawberries we arrive in Kuninkaaniemi, a small village with a baari, where the locals celebrate their Saturday nights while enjoying an “Olut”, from which they’ll get amazingly intoxicated. A lovely girl pours us a fresh cup of tea and we talk a bit with her. We’ll cal it a night and go and found ourselves a hay shed, where we after I read some of Frodo’s adventures fell asleep…that is except Winfried, who was battered by mosquitoes. Hitch-hiking is a challenge but……finally a VW van stops; an answer to prayer since two buses had passed us. This ride brought us to Tervola, a small place in Lapland. The mosquitoes are terrible here, in a baari we meet a man from Germany. Outside we see lots of poorly dressed boys who looked at us with big eyes. Finally we find a peaceful spot at the edge of a lake. We could finally wash ourselves! Nature is incredible here. The moon shines over the water while straight across from the moon you see the reddish glow from the setting sun in the crystal clear sky. The moon is getting brighter and brighter. The wood is damp, more so than the wood we used for burning in Lestijarvi. It had rained here much more and it was a challenge to build a good fire! We are here 70 km from the Polar circle and you can see a different population here. The people look like the people from Mongolia. Also it turns to dusk; it does not get dark! The sun sets at around 10.30 pm and rises at 02..15 am!
To the left you see the scope of our hitch-hiking venture!. Every once and a while you feel a fierce sting, and another nagging mosquito sucks at your blood, some you kill, others escape, repellent works for a short while; it mixes with your sweat , diluting it’s effect. The natural enemies of mosquitoes are birds; they eat them. We saw a few birds like swallows, crows and a bird that sounds like a working hedge shears. We could use more birds up north, so they could eat all the mosquitoes! The water in the lake is pure and very clear, one can just drink it without the fear of getting ‘beaver fever’. The older people here are friendlier than the younger people. Also you can get here large quantities of raisins. The farmers here easily give you a ride! The evening is settling in, we both are drowsy and feel strangely light-headed, may be it’s the intense sun shine during the day that causes the light headedness. I found some edible plants, fiddle head ferns, we ate them together with baked trout. It’s a gorgeous night and the wind took care of most of the mosquitoes. We got a ride to Rovaniemi, the city looks pleasant. We could not find the center, but there was a market. For FM50,- you can buy a ‘beautiful’ antler candle holder. We just buy some straw berries and put our luggage at the depot at the railway station. After that we were ‘doing town’. Back at the station we met a German couple from West Berlin, we found out that there is an early morning worker’s train to Tornio. We decided to spend the night around the station. A Fin came to join us with a large bottle of “Alkol”. This is the second time today that we are offered a drink. The first time it was from two Finns with a down syndrome son. They shared with us a drink that tasted like ‘Campari’. later a friend of the Fin ,a Lap, came with a bottle of something that tasted like berry gin, 38 proof. He taught us some Finnish words like: Piemel (girl from the country), Mimi ( ‘old love’), Kima ( beautiful shaped woman), Krapula (hang over). We all chose to stay on the small section of grass besides the railway station. I am reading a chapter out of The Lord of the Rings by Tolkien. The nights here at the polar circle are definitely colder! We hope that the ‘poliisi’ doesn’t chase us away……The German man goes into town to get some supplies; we stay with his girl friend; the Lap & the Finn. I decided to ‘explore’. Soon we were together again and we had a cozy conversation. Which plague would be just as effective as the ten plagues God sent to the Egyptians? We all agreed:: Mosquitoes, although I wasn’t sure whether the Finn & the Lap knew what we were talking about. We all hum or sing “Jungen komm bald wieder nach haus…we really got into it when the station chief summons us to get of the grass; didn’t we see the sign? So we all walked across to the edge of a creek where we spent a restless night, the sun shines brightly at 03.30 am. We did what we call in Canada a fireman sleep. We took the early morning work-train to Tornio. We pitched up our tent in the middle of the city along the edge of a river. We slept the whole day; it rained all day! We did a small evening walk..We exchanged our last FM”S into cheese and walked across the border into Happaranda, Sweden. After 2 hours of hitch-hiking in Happaranda, we get a ride from two reporters from the NorSveridgeTidning (North Swedish News paper) in Lulea. They were writing an article about hitch-hiking in Scandinavia. They took pictures from us with a Hasselblatt camera. The head office of this paper was in Lulea, 195 km from Happaranda. We were featured in the weekend edition of that paper. They treated us to a lunch and we where dropped of along the highway where we caught a ride to Skelleftea. It was there that we discovered that we left the fishing rods in the reporter’s car. So we hitch hiked back to Lulea and the car was still parked in front of the news paper office. I tried the hatch of the car…….it was unlocked, hooray, our fishing rods are back. We ‘caught’ a ride to Skelleftea, 269 km from Tornio (SF) .We set up camp near a lake in a forest not to far from the highway, as we are planning to travel on the next day. We made some tea and I read to Winfried about the adventures of Frodo. After about one hour, early in the next morning, we caught a ride from a Swede. Communication is a challenge; He speaks Swedish fluently and we speak Dutch, English & German . We bring our thoughts across by means of simple drawings. It is a nice long ride (258 km), all the way to Ornskolavik. The E 4 meanders like a ribbon through the Swedish forests.
We are dropped of in Ornskolavik and decided to have a picnic. After the picnic we walked along the E 4 and a Swedish boy stopped and offered us a ride for about 20 km, where we would have a better chance to get a good ride, according to him. so we stuffed our tent and luggage into his tiny Morris and drove off. I noticed shampoo all over the back seat, after about 9 km in the ride. Our shampoo bottle had cracked and I managed to contain the flow of soap. The boy was a ‘kindred spirit’ and did not seem to mind. He dropped us off at an intersection. And….promptly we got a ride in a large camping van from two Germans. They get the idea to go swimming, so we stopped as soon as we saw a lake. It was great to go swimming and we had a great time. Our ability to speak German added greatly to the merriment. We say our goodbyes in Sundsvall, an industrial town. In Sundsvall we walk along the E 4 and discovered a Camp ground, where we decided to spend the weekend. We finished reading the adventures of Frodo. It is now Saturday July 21 1973. I went for a walk and picked some strawberries, Wiinfried thought that was cute. We slept lots and were really able to catch up on our sleep.A few girls (of around 15 years old) are ‘showing off’ in front of our tent. There is also a Dutch couple here from Rotterdam. In the evening we sat on the beach, made a fire and cooked oatmeal porridge….we had a good conversation…It rained a lot today. We walked to a little village, Kocheby, and noticed a large group of people heavily drinking. The next day we swam allot, we also noticed that we were more south. The deciduous trees look more full & fresh in leaf; the grass is lusher. We are close to the sea and the water is a mix of fresh water & salt water (around 70% fresh & 30 % salt water) The East sea is small and there is a lot of fresh water run of from Scandinavia into the Botnic gulf. The camp ground is a little ‘dull’, we picked up some bread (not as good as the Finnish bread). We wrote post cards & mailed them. I hum a tune and play on my mouth harmonica. We both would like to be back in Lestijarvi (SF), why, we haven’t got the faintest idea; we were finished with the place yet….it was more peaceful; this campground here in Sundsval is on the noisy E 4 highway; there is an airport close by (we hear planes fly over)…. In the evening it quiets down and you just hear the waves hitting the shore line and the crackling of the open fire! We cooked oatmeal porridge and made tea. For the first time since long, we had a full stomach. When we sat by the fire , we noticed heavy dark clouds approaching…according to what we see, it’s raining in Sundsval. We lay in the tent and hear the first raindrops falling on the tent. The wind is turning and we now smell the stench off the aluminum smelter in Sundsval. It’s too bad that we finished the second part of frodo. Oh well you can’t have it all… Tomorrow we hope to reach Stockholm. The next day started promising, although hitch-hiking didn’t go too well but…….after two hours a green small Renault stopped, driven by a Swedish beauty, Ditte, with her son. She was glad that she did not have to drive alone to Stockholm. We were glad as well!! She asked Wim to drive, which he did most of the way. Winfried played the guitar and at a restaurant we drank coffee. We also kept the little boy occupied. She invited us to visit at her home and meet her girl friend, Monica, who was a ‘body builder’. There would also be a few bottles of wine….She didn’t have a strong bladder; we had to stop often. Finally we stopped at her home. It was very cozy inside. Monica & Ditte sang and played guitar , they fed us and we did elbow wrestling with a candle; I almost burned the back of my hand as Monica almost succeeded to push mine down but I managed to push back and won…..We had a glorious time when all of a sudden we were told we had to go because…blah, blah….after a ‘moving’ goodbye we were dropped of at the E 4. After about an hour we ‘caught’ a ride with a bank employee who dropped us of at my cousin Els in Taby , Right in front of her door!!
e We had a bit of a conversation with Els and her mother in law; we placed our baggage in the room; stopped the loud ticking clock and fell asleep instantly. The next day was very cozy. We went with Els to Stockholm; we noticed spectacular grave yards and the next day as well we played with Els’s children. Two days later we ‘caught’ a ride from Sodertalje to the place where we are now, just besides the E 3 to Gotenburg. We slept along the E 3 and very early we walk along the E 3. It’s 20 km to the next village, so we decided to stay on the, not so ideal, spot. Winfried had to pee and just as he started I ‘caught’ a ride. Winfried was able to quickly stop and he joined in. The ride brought us to Strangnas, where we have a bite to eat and where we sleep under an awning. Polis across from us and a pesky Mercedes which head lights shine at us with regular intervals. It rains the whole night. After a bit of shopping in Strangnas, where we made the mistake of buying 3 liters of sour milk and frozen bread, we got a ride from a farmer, who dropped us off 150 km further down at a Motel-kiosk, where we ate something. Wim noticed an older gentleman eating at a table close by us. He decided to talk to him. It worked out to be an American coming from Auburn (Wa, USA). He had never taken any hitch-hikers because he thought it was to dangerous. After he checked our luggage and after he checked us over , the fear melted away. He was born in Minnesota in 1905 and when he was 16 he owned already a 750cc Harley Davidson. He had been a test pilot and once he almost crashed his plane. His wife had passed just half a year ago. He just bought this brand new Volvo. While overtaking big trucks he would say:” go aside big boy”. I got to drive his car to the next coffee shop. When he dropped us off at the ferry to Denmark he liked us so much that he gave us all kinds of ‘goodies’ to eat. When we arrived in Denmark, we found a campground 2 km north of Frederikshavn. We bought something to eat. Most food in Denmark is endorsed by the King. On each package it says: Leverandor Til Det Kgl Danske which ‘boils down’ to the fact that all Danish food is fit for a King! Frederikshavn reminded us of a village in the Dutch province of Zeeland. All houses are build with brick. We found a cozy ‘pub’. We had a couple of beers and we noticed that as soon as we had finished the small bottle, the bottle was speedily removed. They did that to not create the idea that we were on a ‘drunk’, we learned later on the campground. The bartender was relieved that after two beers, we still were sober! (Danish beer has 2% alcohol). The sky was clear and hundred’s of stars were visible. We decided to watch a movie. It was a thrilling horror movie. The movie was fun but the Danish commercials made us ‘giggly’.The next day I got up early; cooked oatmeal, made the tea, filled our thermoses and woke up Winfried. We packed and were nice and early at the highway. After more than 4 hrs. of hitch-hiking I concluded that the Danish people are shy, Winfried concluded that they were afraid. Any way we took the train to Alborg.– My thoughts went to the wide open landscapes we had seen, confirming that I am looking for a large estate to further develop and maintain. That’s why you will see pictures taken at the estate I ended up building and expanding—Once we arrived in Alborg, we walked in the direction of Arhus. After 3 hrs of trying to ‘catch’ a ride , we decided to walk back to the station and we took the train to Abenra. In Abenra we bought supplies and after a good hike we found a small beach where we made a fire. It is good to sit around the crackling fire! We throw some more drift wood on the fire. We are overlooking a bay where we see fishing boats casting their nets. We slept well. We both had strange dreams. Every morning we share what we dream t. After breakfast, oatmeal and bread with ‘stinking cheese” , we decided to stay a while. For the first time in my life I found a bottle with a note in it. The note read: My name is Pia and I am from Abenra. We have been together for more than 6 weeks and there hasn’t been any discord between us. When you read in the history books and you read about Willem Barentz and his friends, who made a trip to Nova Zembla; after just 2 weeks they had major discord! But that was in 1666, ‘the primitive years!!’. Yet, when you look at it from another perspective, one could say: “History repeats it self”. In our case that doesn’t hold any water…’Exceptions confirm the rule”, so the saying goes. We are doing beach exercises now. We discovered that we both can throw a 20 kg stone over a distance of 5 meter. In long distance jumping, we both do 3.5 meters. (a meter is a bit over 3 ft.) I was just planning to do ‘a number two’ behind the bushes, when a guy suddenly appeared. He was shouting at us to get the ‘ #!!@%&**!’ out of here, this is a private beach….blah, blah…With our gift of persuasion, we managed to stay one more night and we did not understand Danish. His shouting and demeanor were clear: We had to move on! Our Bal-lad says it all:
The life of a wanderer
is oh so fine
and oh so hard (2x)
Well one day
there came a man
his face as ‘yuck’ as a rotten peach
he threatened us and cicked us of the beach
he said: “It’s mine”.
That’s what he said, the swine
and with his gun he took aim
for us it was an unfair game
we gathered our belongings and tent
winfried’s leg was on the mend
from the gun shot of this mean old man
us poor souls all weapons we had was a pen……………here follows the original Dutch:
‘t leven van een zwerver is o zo fijn en o zo hard (2x) Wel op een dag kwam er een man, z’n gezicht zo zuur als de azijn, hij schopte ons van zijn terrein en zei toen ‘Het is van mijn’, zijn vuil gezicht, z’n kannon op ons gericht, we schraapten ons boeltje bij een, Winfried gewond aan zijn been, we gingen toen zo zielig heen…….And this is how we ‘found’ ourselves along the E 3 highway. Soon it began to rain and we found shelter in a small shed. After the rain got lighter, we got back to the highway and………got our first ride from a Danish man. He brought us over the border, at Krusaa, to south of Flensburg (D), Germany. We ‘caught’ a ride to Hamburg Haupt Bahnhof. There were a lot of “rough’ looking people there..We found a Chinese restaurant; had a bite to eat there and decided to take the train to Oldenburg (D). Once we arrived in Oldenburg we walked west-ward; slept under an overpass and we were very early, in the heavy fog, standing along the highway in the direction of Groningen (NL). An attractive young German girl gave us a ride to about 4 km from the Dutch border. We walked across the border into Nieuweschans(NL). We ‘caught’ a ride in a Mercedes ‘limousine’, driven by a German. He dropped us off in Groningen (NL). It was a strange thing to hear all people around us speak Dutch. We dropped our tent & luggage off at the bus stop, bought ourselves fruit, bread and a magazine. Back at the bus stop we took the bus to Lauwersoog. Lauwersoog is the harbor where the ferry leaves for the Isle of Schiermonnickoog. We decided to take the ferry to the Isle of Schiermonnickoog to rest up from all this traveling. We wanted to do this in Denmark but we could not find a satisfactory spot. After an inspiring walk over the island, we got to a beautiful wide beach near the east tip of the Isle. We set up camp and fell asleep. It’s about a 3 hr walk, over the beach and through the forest, to the village. There I bought food and walked back. While I was gone (about 7 hours), Winfried had built a wonderful wind screen, made with drift wood found on the beach. So with a deep sense of peace and satisfaction, we’ll enjoy the wine and bread with fresh cheese, which I had brought from the village. There is a strong wind blowing from the west. The whole next day we work at fortifying our shack, we even found some plastic, planks from crates and ropes from fishing nets. When we were finished we had built a perfect shelter , water proof . We deeply enjoyed all the beauty that the wide beach offered us. I had brought some reading material from the village and we had just moved from the tent to our shack, when the rain came….The shack is reasonably water proof. I sleep in the shack and Winfried sleeps in the tent. This way we lessen the chance that either one of us by accident ‘bumps’ against the cloth of the tent. When you bump against the tent cloth, it will start leaking at that spot. The next day brings sunshine. The wind comes from the south now. I walked to the village to get supplies & Winfried ‘guards’ our belongings. There was a bulldozer working on the beach near the dunes. also surveyors were at work. In the evening we both walked to the village, had a couple of beers and started our 3 hour walk back, in the dark. It was hard to figure out where we were. We were “at the end of our rope” when i spotted a shadow. Is that our shack? Yes it was! We thankfully fell asleep. The next morning we woke up to the sound of a helicopter, flying low and circling over our camp site. We decided to pack and we walked back to the harbor for the ferry to Lauwersoog, from there we took the bus to Groningen and from there we took the train to Utrecht…….The forests in Holland are ‘a joke’ compared to what we have seen up North……….—–My son presented me with a copy of the book Wisdom. In this book well known people like: Graham Nash, Desmond Tutu, Judi Dench, Nelson Mandela & Dave Brubeck with many more, share their wisdom. It is a good read. I decided to add my own ‘5 cent’s worth’. When you want stability, you have to realize that the center of your being needs an anchor. An anchor firmly ‘planted’, keeps you from needless ‘drifting’ and it keeps you from aimless ‘charting’ without a goal. An anchor keeps you firm in a time where people need people to set an example in ‘how to live’. During the many centuries Wisdom endured and gave mankind stability and resolve. Denying it will cause you to be ineffective towards the outside world. In ancient times a king had a dream. He gathered all his wise men and asked them: ‘Tell me my dream and interpret it”. The king was determined not to tell his dream. The wise men were greatly puzzled and went back to the king: ‘Oh king tell us your dream and we will interpret it’. The king stood firm about his resolve. The wise men were indignant; ‘ no one can do what you ask of us’. The king needed the assurance of something more…an anchor for his soul….in the beginning Wisdom was and is and is to come. He is the reveal-er of secrets and is the anchor of your ‘inner being’. One of the wise men went to the king and revealed what the king dream t and there by acknowledged that we are dependent upon that eternal Wisdom. Wisdom in love says : I am, I know all things and know what is in the hearts of people. The greatest is love. I enjoy my five grand children just as much as I enjoy my five children; I know they love each other and that will continue long after my time…………..Looking out of the window from the plane I could see way down the pathway meandering through the coastal dunes of Holland. This pathway connects the sea side town of Zandvoort on the sea with a similar town called Noordwijk on the sea. It was on this pathway my Dad and I were on one rented bicycle. I had my Dad on the back carrier and the peddling was heavy going up the dune and very easy going down the dune. All went well. I did notice that peddling went easier but I figured it was because I was getting used to it. So when I arrived at the top of the next dune, I decided to rest up and than I discovered……No Dad!! I had lost him, racing down one dune to have enough speed to make it up to the next dune. I looked back and noticed him sitting there a few lower dunes back. He was sitting in the middle of the pathway, pretending that all was fine. As I saw the Dutch coast sliding away one more thought came to me. It would serve as my anchor, about which I wrote in the Wisdom section earlier. Once every month my Dad had to take the train from Utrecht(NL) to Rotterdam (NL). He did this to buy in stock for his retailing business. My Dad had a Raleigh bicycle, which he meticulously maintained by the local owner of a bike shop. So he cycled one day to the Utrecht Central Railway station to catch the train to Rotterdam. This day, part way to the station, he had a flat tire. My Dad never had a flat tire. He renewed them regularly His Raleigh bicycle with a state of the art Stirmy Archer 3 speed is among bicycles what a Rolls Royce is among cars. This flat tire caused my Dad to miss his train to Rotterdam.. I was in grade 4 at the time and brother Saulus told us that there had been a horrific train accident near the station of Harmelen. It would work out to be the worst train disaster ever to happen in Holland to that date. It involved “my Dad’s train. The section of the train where he normally sat, was totally obliterated. My Dad never had a flat tire since……I was flying above Northern Scottland now, heading towards Iceland and was filled with an overwhelming peace: God is there! soon I landed in Toronto, where there was a heat wave.. As a “say good bye” present the Dutch government gives each emigrant $56.- ‘landings money”.with my “Volkskrant” money I had a total of $256.-.After the immigration procedure (I was the only immigrant on the plane), I was free to go. I bought a single fare Vancouver, which was $246.- I discussed this fare with the attendant and he pointed out that it was a 5 hr flight! How big “my” new country was!! After arriving in Vancouver, I ‘caught” a ride to the Fraser valley where I started to work for “my own country man” (See earlier in the story). I landed a job for a landscaper; I was waiting in his office and sat in a rocking chair. Above me was a macrame plant hanger with in it a large “spider plant’. The waiting was long and I started rocking the chair quite vigorously until the chair “rolled” over backwards and my foot got stuck in the macrame hanger just above the spider plant. The whole “works” could not hold my weight, so it broke loose from the ceiling, clattering to the ground with the dust settling around me; it was my turn to apply for the job. My first task was to clean up the mess I had made. This landscaper I worked for owned a nursery as well. He often had us meticulously clean the planted field and weed his nursery stock. All his plants in the field were used as collateral to borrow large amounts of money for expanding his business and to build a new house. By now my wonderful partner arrived from Holland. We ended up living in the basement of the Mayor’s home. He was mayor of a town near by. As a hobby he kept sheep and we were to look after those sheep. After the ram “visited” the ewe (female sheep); peculiar things started to happen. As “city slickers” we hadn’t the faintest idea what it was but the sheep started to “blow red balloons” from the rear end. Later we learned that sometimes prematurely , pregnant ewes ‘think’ they are ready to give birth. They would start pushing and in doing so , the whole uterus would come out, hence forth the ‘red balloon’. All you needed to do is ‘shove the darn thing’ back in. Our wedding was held at the Mayor’s home. My wife worked at a daycare facility at the time and the owner came to our wedding celebration at the Mayor’s home as well. In the evening it looked like the whole neighborhood came out. Most of the people we didn’t know. The mayor had set up a barbecue and was cooking meat patties for the hamburgers I was observing what was unfolding in front of my eyes ; my wife’s boss had ‘slightly’ too much of the strong drink and she started ‘leaning’ against the house just behind where the barbecue was. She started a conversation with the mayor; she did not know he was the mayor. She asked:”Who are you? ” He said “I am Jack”. she said: “What you’re doing for a living?” He said:”I am working at city hall”. She said: “Are you the town clerk or something”? He said:” I am the Mayor”. I’d never seen somebody sobering up so quickly…..By now it had ‘ gotten’ late and people started going home. I heard a “burping” sound from the back of my pickup truck; so I took a look, there was our Irish neighbor from below the hill, “resting up”. We cleaned up a bit and went to bed, our wedding night…… Suddenly, it must have been two o’clock in the night, the Mayor, who slept above us, ‘banged’ with a stick on the floor(our ceiling); “hey Wimbo, I think the sheep are out’, by now it was ‘good and dark’ out and no street lights, an overcast sky, so no moon & stars to lighten up things…..I started going down hill and couldn’t find any sheep, nor lambs. I did see some wool dragged up into a tree, which tells you a cougar got a hold of a lamb…..I started walking further down the hill. Now it happened to be that we had a neighbour living at the bottom of the hill. They had a prize winning collection of heather in all colors and varieties…………I started hearing the escaped flock of sheep making loud ‘be-in’ sounds…I never knew that sheep liked eating heather. There they all were, in the neighbor’s yard..yes the neighbor with all the prize winning heather. I left them there and walked up the hill to wake up the Irish man I’d found earlier in the back of my pick up truck and after some “prodding and poking”, he woke up and climbed out of my truck to join me going down hill to where the sheep were. We both managed to herd the sheep back up hill and into their pasture. We also found the hole in the fence; fixed it with a whole lot of broken branches; I walked the Irishman home and came back into bed besides my bride by about 5 am. What a night! Now it happened so that while my bride to be still lived in Holland, I wrote her a lot of letters. I got to talk to the bank manager of my boss. He managed a small branch of a bank and he told me he had a girl friend , he ‘gotten’ to know while on holidays in Ireland. They grew fond of one and other, but he had to go back to Canada. They promised to write but when ‘push came to shove’, his writing didn’t ‘mount up to much’. So he asked how I did it with my Dutch girl friend……So from one thing came another and I started writing the letters for him. The letters proved to be successful; his girl friend ended up moving to Canada. He was very thankful and told me if I ever needed his help ; I could count on it. Two years later, the character I’d worked for had borrowed so much money , he started to default on his payments and eventually went bankrupt. He owed me $10.000 in wages, that I could use now for a down payment on the house and land i now live on. It looked like I lost my $10K. The bank manager remembered his promise to me; he simply gave me my $10K, adding it to the huge debt my boss had accumulated. He told me I would be the last in line to get paid, he simply made me the first. I took a mortgage for the place I still live on and to help me pay the mortgage I landed a ‘sweet paying’ job in a logging camp.
My job(s) at the logging camp were truly a “Canadian experience’. The language and how it was used was a real eye opener. Let me give you an example: A “bullblock” was called a !@%&!(every thing to do with the anatomy of a woman and man; with a female dog added to it. A stump cable was called a %^&$#@&*!( every thing to do with the male sexual organ and what the French call la bouche….) . Need I to say more? Before I “take off’ , I should explain the basics of logging in the mountains of BC. So here we go than; A Hook-tender is the person who is responsible for finding a sturdy anchor stump, which is the stump which will hold the Bull-block, through which initially runs the ‘Lead-cable’ and once ‘the loop is complete, will pull the heavy cable through. A ‘Bull-block consists of a pulley ( an inside a casing installed wheel that looks like a car-rim) through which the cable runs. Once the Hook-tender selects an Anchor-stump he (with an ax) carves a notch in the stump around which he installs the Stump-cable( a thick fairly short cable with a loop on either side) The Bull-block has a big ‘eye’ through which the two loops of the Stump-cable are firmly put. Now the stump is ready . a second stump is prepared the same way . .These stumps form the basis of a triangle with as top has the top pulley of the “Spar’. The Spar is a heavy machine with “tank tracts’ , that consists of a tall vertical hollow ‘boom’ through which the cable runs through a pulley at the top and from there the cable runs through the Bull-blocks right back to the Spar; forming a triangle which is called The Bite. The Spar-machine stands on The Landing.The Landing is the widened end of a side road of a logging road, called a spur.(it looks like a “cull-the-sac” in a sub-division). The landing has to be big enough to accommodate a 966 log-loader machine, the Spar, the logging-truck and the logs that are pulled from the side hill. Also the Landing needs to be big enough for the “Bucker’ to saw the logs if need be. Often there is a ‘Skidder’. Now you might wonder as to how the ‘Triangle” gets established? It starts with the Chokerman. He is the one who carries the Bull-block; the lead-cable and the Stump-cable up or down the often steep hills.Than there is the ‘rigging’-slinger; he is the person above the chokerman. He has a whistle around his waist and gives signals on his whistle. These signals, the Spar operator reacts to; he either gives slack on the cable or tightens it, depending on the whistle signal of the ‘Rigging-slinger” whom he can’t see. Once you are in THE BITE you have to be very watch-full , one or both stumps might give way under the enduring force put on the cable by The Spar. This is ‘in a nut shell’ one aspect of the logging operation. The other aspect in a logging camp is the road building crew which consists of a ‘Drill-rig, a blaster, a blaster’s helper and a D3 Cat bull-dozer for building the logging road. A “Crummey” is an extended pick-up truck which can seat up to 6 people. In this logging camp one “Crummey’ brought up the Diesel fuel, for the D3 Cat, Dynamite and B-line, for the Blaster and a shovel, my idea. B-line looks like your average laundry line except that it is filled with dynamite powder, that when it’s ignited; it ‘gives’ it the ‘speedy’ ‘zoom’ , that blows up the dynamite.
I started in the logging operation as a Choker man. My task was, while every body waited, to carry up the Bull-block (80 lbs), the Stump-cable and the coiled Lead-cable. This is no picnic! The terrain is steep uneven with logs cris- crossing each other, hundreds of branches. Once I dropped the Bull-block and as it was “clattering” down the hill, I tried to figure out where it finally ‘landed’. Some times you would hear a splash sound, than you knew it landed in a creek some where…….One never looses a Bull–block!!.time was of utter importance, so you felt the pressure to hike up the hill as fast as you could while carrying an 80 lbs Bull-block; a thick stump-cable and a coiled lead cable. Every one is waiting for the Bull-block, the stump cable & the lead cable to reach the Hook-tender and the lead cable to go back to the Spar so that the heavy cable can be pulled up with the ‘rigging” attached to it, including the chokers. After a rough start, I got quite good at it. So good that things went smoothly and there was time for me to do other things in the camp. Things weren’t as regulated as they are now. I found myself helping Joe on the drill-rig. After his clear and precise instruction on ‘how to do it’; he would drill the holes in the rock and when he was finished; he would let me fill ‘them holes’ up with round dynamite sticks. If there were 4 holes, you connected the 4 dynamite lines(sometimes 5 dynamite sticks per line) together with B-line , tied them together to one line; set the fuse; blow your whistle , making sure all machinery and people were safe, light the fuse…..