Monday, April 18

Biking to the Keukenhof Gardens

We finally made our way up to the Netherlands to see the beautiful spring flowers this year. My brother Ben served his mission in the Netherlands as did an old roommate and so I'd heard tales of how bike-friendly a country it was. We couldn't park our car near the house in historic downtown Amersfoort so we would ride our bikes to the van or train station.

The first morning when we planned to do the Keukenhof Gardens, we biked to the van and began loading the kids and bikes. It proved to be a challenge to fit everything in and this kind old woman came out of her house to tell us how much she was enjoying watching our family and came out to get a closer look once I'd waved at her. The three kids were so excited about the little morning ride to the van and anticipating lots more riding that they fluttered around us like butterflies. We were parked on a main road so while Ryan was loading, I was trying to keep the kids safe on the sidewalk and then load them up. As we finished loading, the woman went into the house and came back with some shortbread cookies for us! She was so sweet and her English was pretty good too!

Amersfoort is pretty centrally located and it took us about 45 minutes to get near the Gardens. The main exit to the gardens was backed up pretty badly so we made our way to the next exit which also had slow traffic. Rather than sit in traffic, we found a quiet neighborhood and parked the van so we could enjoy the beautiful day biking to and from the gardens. Our GPS said it was only a couple miles away and we figured we could follow signage and traffic there. Here's our fearless leaders with McKay getting his wheels a movin'!

I seriously felt a deep sense of satisfaction as we rode as a family!
Deep, deep happiness!

Ryan (and Morgan) led the way with Easton as a close second. McKay inevitably trailed as a third with me bringing up the rear. McKay's little legs and wheels had to pedal three times as fast as the rest of us and he did a great job! But he DID NOT like being behind Easton and Dad. Whenever he got fed up with his placement, he'd just halt abruptly and many times I bumped into him. He'd say he needed a rest or break and plop his bottom down right in the middle of the path. Cute and aggravating all at the same time. It was his own ploy to make the leaders stop and have to wait for him or back track. One of his stops happened on a busy road in front of a man's garage. Right as McKay plopped himself down, Easton's chain came off his gears. The man kindly asked if he could fix it and as we entered his garage we saw a number of bikes and a beautiful black Harley Davidson. Great place to stop, McKay!

By the time we reached the gardens, me and Ryan's nerves were shot! Yes, the bike lanes were wonderful but riding with novice riders took it's toll. It was about noon when we arrived and I was starving. We steered ourselves to the playground in the center of the park to eat our sack lunches and unwind. PHEW!

But then the boys (big and small) saw these enormous cotton candies and went off to find them. I can't believe they each got one, look how big they are!

And what a mess! Between his helmet hair and trying to figure out how his face got covered in pink candy, he's a looker isn't he?! The sugar seemed to kick in and then the kids seemed to run, run, RUN!

They really loved the zip line and Morgan wasn't about to be let out of that experience! Easton had a big nervous grin and giggle for each of his rides. McKay hunkered down and endured each ride with a grin finally emerging at the end of his rides. Luckily I was able to distract Morgan with another playground area so I didn't have to display stellar parenting of a major toddler tantrum. We hadn't really gotten any good pictures of her by the time she'd rolled in the grass and gotten filthy. But we did get a few now and then - funny that most weren't of the gardens, just of our cute kiddos!

Oh wait, here's a couple of the gardens!

We sadly didn't spend much time, enough time in the four hours admiring the flowers because certain little people were pretty worn out and done being photographed.

So we took a round about way back to the van so we could ride by those never-ending fields of blooming tulips.

Once in the van we drove to the coast and froze for fifteen minutes on the beach while the kids enjoyed how the wind was captured in their hand-held windmills. Not ten minutes back on the road home, I got a classic picture of McKay and Morgan sacked out in the van. A wonderful long day as a family!