Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Happy Birthday Dear Dad!

This is for my Dad who is now in his 73rd year. That means today is his 72nd birthday. This picture has a story. Our family has watched Rick Steves travel shows for as long as I can remember. On the train to Paris, Jenni and I spent our time reading the Rick Steves book about Paris. We planned out our days according to his suggestions. 

After we arrived in Paris - we all split up - and went to our separate hotels. My Steve and Dad had cell phone service - so we said we would just call each other in a little while. While we were waiting in line for the taxis - Dad told us that we should have the hotel address written down for the drivers. So Steve and I both took copies of our reservations with us. We had to take two taxis to our hotel. 

Mom and Dad and Jenni and Rick and kids had to split into 3 taxis to get to their hotel. It was pouring rain and kind of crazy. Rick and Rachel ended up in a taxi together but didn't have the hotel info with them. Dad had just told the driver the address as they go into the car. Several minutes later the driver asked where they were going. They didn't know. So they had the driver take them back to the train station. Meanwhile the others are at the hotel wondering where Rick and Rachel are. And they are praying that they are OK. 

Rick and Rachel discover a small miracle with their baggage. Somehow - my Mom's bag that she carries all of her travel info in -is with them. Rachel, who has watched Grandma refer to her incredible organized records of reservations and information, reaches into the bag and pulls out a copy of the hotel reservation. So they get a taxi and get to the hotel. 

We (the Langes) had no idea this was going on. We were at our hotel unpacking, resting and planning. Sooner than expected, we get a call from my Dad saying that they are all in the lobby. We go down to see them - get filled in on the miracle that brought them back together and then Dad tells us that his phone is not working in Paris and they didn't know which hotel we were in - so they used some clues and came to find us.

So back to the picture - All 11 of us leave the hotel, turn left,  walk 20 feet and guess who we see on the street? Rick Steves! Because of where we were and because I had been reading his book all day -  it was like seeing an actor that stars in your favorite TV show. But more exciting. It had been a crazy day. So we all took a picture of Dad and Rick Steves and an unknown frenchman.

I know I was a little starstruck to see Mr Steves. But really my Dad is the star of this show. Because of Him we were on this trip. Because of him I am addicted to chocolate. Because of him, I'm a bit stubborn. Because of him, I appreciate Van Gogh. Because of him, "Rear Window" is my favorite movie. Because of him, I moved a lot in my childhood which made me more outgoing than I would have been. Because of him, I had the hardest summer jobs ever! Because of him, I see a glimpse of the love my Father in Heaven has for me. What more could he give me? Thanks Dad. Love you.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Kampen Continued

The little yellow building is the smallest house in Kampen. There is a sign at the end of the street that points it out to visitors. While we were walking over to it - we witnessed a crime. A bunch of teenagers were throwing water balloons out of the building next to it. Several people on bikes were spooked and nearly hit. I wish that was the most devious behavior teenagers could think of. 

This was another encounter with public toilets. Evidently -you put money in the slot - go inside - the doors swing shut and lock until you push a button on the inside for it to open. There was a sign on the outside, warning parents to not let young children go inside alone. We couldn't get it to work. The doors kept swinging open and shut. There are so many things that could go wrong with this system! The low-tech urinal down by the canal was much more useful for the guys in our party. There really was a urinal there- that was not code for "they used the canal" although I am sure that is where it went. 

And notice the beautiful window above the public toilet. I bet the people who live there were happy about this modern convenience placed right in their view!


This is Kampen. We don''t have any ancestors that we have traced to this town but our last name means "from Kampen" - so we feel a love for this town. It sits on the Ijssel River in Eastern Netherlands. Growing up - we always had a framed map of Kampen hanging somewhere in our house. Because we moved a lot the location changed - but I remember it hanging over the fireplace. . . I saw it every day. So it is fun to come here and feel a connection to this place.  
Grandma and Grandpa Van Kampen in Kampen with Natalie, Eliza and Rachel
We arrived on Sunday afternoon. It was refreshing to see all the shops closed and hear music coming from one of the old churches we walked by.  We were happy that an ice cream parlor was open. The ice cream was awesome. I know some of you are thinking - it couldn't be better than Cold Stone or Graeters -but it was. I had a flavor that translated to "Grandma's yellow cake batter." It was awesome. 

While we were in Kampen, we walked along the banks of the river, where large sail boats are docked. Behind us is ultra-modern looking drawbridge that is a contrast to the old city. Actually, in the first picture of this post - you can see a drawing of the drawbridge on the top flag hanging between the buildings. 

Kroller-Muller Museum

The Kroller-Muller is located near Otterlo. It is inside the Netherlands largest state park. We did enjoy the museum - but the highlight of the visit was riding bikes from the museum to the exit of the park. I love the picture of Eliza and my Dad at the museum.