Our week started with a trip to Maastricht to visit an international church that meets at the StayOkay (an int’l hostel). It was pretty laid back (the service started 12 min late), the music was good and the people were . . . youthful . . . and very nice. They were mostly college students and we were probably the oldest couple there. 😦 We met a young family from Rhode Island and Dick made a possible work contact. After the service, we walked along some of the old fortifications and went into a little museum that’s located in one of the towers. Maastricht has a fascinating history; I’ll have to find an English translation of it to get more details. We also did some shopping. Dick bought a really nice, stylish leather jacket to replace his dorky old jacket. πŸ˜„ 

Dick looked at a couple more cars this week and, after much deliberation, settled on a 2000 318i BMW with low mileage. We would never drive a BMW in the States and it would be rare to find one of this vintage in this condition anyway. I’ll be out of the country on Monday and Tuesday (tell you about it when I get back!), so we have to wait until Wednesday to transfer ownership. A lot of used goods are sold among personnel at JFCBS, GK and Schinnen, especially as people come and go from their posts.

The rain abated for a couple of days this week and we had a hot sunny day on Thursday. I refused to complain about the heat even when I rode a bus with no AC and it was at least 100 degrees.πŸ˜“ There was an intense thunderstorm Thursday night with the most spectacular lightning I’ve ever seen. 🌩⚑️It was nonstop flashes of light for a long time. There was hail and strong winds with this storm as well. Trees were down along and across my bike route the next morning. 

We went into Heerlen for dinner Friday night. Our pick was Ronnie’s Ribs — a restaurant striving to serve American food. Dick ordered the all you can eat bbq ribs and I ordered the “Nashville” burger. The ribs got rave reviews, the burger was pretty good and the frites were excellent. Lekker! We chatted with Ronnie (retired Dutch Air Force) a bit and he said the bbq sauce was an American friend’s recipe. 

And now for today’s adventure. We decided to bike into Sittard to get some things at the Markt. Dick mapped out a route on Google that paralleled the main road and would take us through some fields. Sounded great. The first leg was through a picturesque small town and past a castle that’s now a hotel/restaurant. Lovely! We then turned off onto a ‘bike path’. So, it did look like a bike path at first since it was wide and paved, but then it became gravel . . . and it narrowed . . . and it got muddy. The path then narrowed into what us country folks call a COW PATH. City bikes do not belong on cow paths! Did I mention that we’ve had a lot of rain? This was a MUDDY cow path. We had to dismount the bikes and carefully walk around the mud. Oh and I was wearing flats — not ideal footwear for this journey. A couple of mountain bikers passed us, gleefully riding through the mud. I imagine these guys had quite a laugh over beers later as they recounted the sight of ridiculous Americans sloggying city bikes through the fields. πŸ˜› It WAS ridiculous, but it was also amazing. That muddy cow path led us through fields of corn, barley, wheat and potato fields in full bloom. What a beautiful sight!

We finally came to what I would describe as a tractor road. We were deciding which way to turn when a nice couple came hiking up the opposite path. They gave us their advise (wife contradicting husband) and we headed off to find some pavement. When Dick says, “it’s just a little further”, it reminds me of past bike trips when he said, “this is the last hill” and then we climbed three more hills to get home. In this instance, he was pretty accurate and we shortly hit town streets

The forecast said that the rain would come later in the afternoon around 3pm. We projected that we could get to town and back before the showers came. It started to rain as we entered the Markt around 12:30. Okay no problem, a perfect excuse to take a lunch break at a cafe on the Markt. I had an uitsmijter — yum! After our nice lunch, the rain let up and we took advantage of the lull to head back home — this time along the main road. The trick about this route is that it involves biking up a long hill.β›° It reminded me a little of LaFayette, NY! When we have our road bikes, this hill will be less intimidating 🚡 and I won’t have to get off to walk the bike. We were in the home stretch when the rain started again and we managed to get just a little damp.