Heading North

Spanga

Friesland

We managed to sleep-in until 8:30 before going downstairs for breakfast and heading out. The parking signs below were pretty funny…right beside the handicap stall. The Dutch sure know women. Ha ha. I have the rest of the picture spread throughout this post.

Woman

Woman Parking

 

First off….I have a few other Band of Brother stops to make seeing how they are so close.

Crossroads

October 5, 1955.  At this location, 35 American soldiers held out against TWO Germany companies of about 150. There were 1 American and 50 German casualties. The American was hit by a shell fragment. The symbol here is to remind us of all the soldiers who fought in this battle. You can still see the drainage ditch in the background of the second picture.

Crossroads 1

Crossroads

Crossroads 2

Crossroads

Schoonderlogt

This is where Maj. Dick Winters was stationed with Lewis Nixon. Winters was in the room on the left of the picture.

Schoonderlogt 2

Schoonderlogt

Schoonderlogt 1

Schoonderlogt

Spanga, Friesland

The majority of the day was spent in Friesland. Spanga is where my grandfather (on my dads side) was born. There are about 10 – 12 houses here….and a pub. We talk to a couple of guys there, had a beer, and the headed off to some cemeteries. We looked around for quite a while but have found no traces of the “van der Woning” name in all the yards we checked. I have check records and we were looking in the right areas but honestly it’s like looking for a needle in about 100 hay stacks. The markers probably don’t even exist anymore. One couple we meet who maintain the cemeteries is checking the church records for us and will email us if and when they find any information.

Spanga 2

Spanga

 

We are now in the city of Sneek for the night.

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Castles, Cathedrals, and Pubs

Vineyard

Vineyard – Urzig, Germany

Yesterday

Wine Country Continued….

Urzig, Germany was an amazing find to say the least. Finding a hotel in a small village that speaks little to no English was a challenge. I ran into a local pub to ask directions and muddled my way through the bar tenders directions. Little did we know it was just around the next corner. The streets were very narrow but beautiful.We were woken up at 7 am, not by an alarm but by a 5 minute long ringing of the church bell just down the street. Later, I watched an elderly lady walk out your front door and down the cobble stone streets off to church service I presume as it was Sunday morning. Our hotel door was in the same alley as her home. We drove a bit and took some pictures of the vineyards before leaving back up the very windy road out of the village towards Cologne.

Nurburg / Nurburgring

Our next stop was Nurburg. Best known for the race track that completely surrounds the city. You can drive on it with your car or at special times of the year rent race cars and drive them which is called Nurburgring. It also has many cyclists and motorcycles that use the track as well, which we saw a lot of. Nurgurg is also home of a medieval castle of the same name. That’s where I wanted to go. Off to de Nurburg Castle in the High Eifel. It was first mentioned in the records in 1166 as Noureberg but it is probable that it was already used as a signal station in Roman times to protect the important Roman road that ran through the Eifel. We enjoyed our walk to the tower and looking over the town and the race track around. Once down from the castle we stopped in at the Zur Nurgurg Cafe which was where we parked our car. It was a very race car oriented cafe. We went in to actually see if they had WiFi (pronounced WeFe in Germany and the Netherlands) as we didn’t have any in Urzig the night before. Needed to catch up on face book you know…. ;) They did and the owner gave us the password…..which I presume he doesn’t give to everyone. We ended up buying some cool drinks and sharing the Giant Burger and fries. Yes, we shared…..it was that big! YUM!
I have come to realize that like the USA….everything is bigger in Germany. The wine you get in a glass is twice as much, the beer glasses are bigger and the food portions are much bigger then any other country we have been. There is a noticeable difference. Bigger bang for your Euro for sure!

The Palace

We were on to the next adventure…..:) I thought we were headed to Cologne (Koln) but Ray surprised me and he took me to the Augustusburg Palace in Brühl, The palace was built at the beginning of the 18th century by the Archbishop-Elector of Cologne, Clemens August of Bavaria of the Wittelsbach family. We took a 1 hour tour for a small fee of $7 euros each. They included head phones and a recorded tour for us in English as the tour guide only spoke German. I think they received much more info then we did. It was an amazing building about 50% restored. The palace has little furniture because most of it had been sold to pay the debts of Clemens August after his death. The rest just disappeared. The hugh gardens and grounds around the palace were beautiful as well.

OK….now off to Cologne. We arrived at our hotel at approx. 4:30 pm. The first thing we did was hit the local Brew Pub……suggested by the man at the check in desk as a local favorite for dinner. We walked a few minute to the Sunner Keller Brewhouse & Beer Garden. An outdoor beer garden basically with umbrellas and picnic tables. Kids allowed……lots of the running around. They even had a play area for the kids. Excellent food I must say….:) As I said before …..big portions! We called it a night and went back to the hotel pretty early to relax and get ready for the 7am wake up call to start all over again.

Today

Cologne Cathedral

Started with a great continental breakfast at the hotel and a short walk to the train station to go to the city center to see the great Cologne Cathedral. Construction of Cologne Cathedral started in 1248 and was halted in 1473, leaving it unfinished. Work restarted in the 19th century and was completed, to the original plan, in 1880. It is 144.5 metres (474 ft) long, 86.5 m (284 ft) wide and its towers are approximately 157 m (515 ft) tall. The cathedral is the largest Gothic church in Northern Europe and has the second-tallest spires. It’s two huge spires give it the largest facade of any church in the world. Cologne’s medieval builders had planned a grand structure to house the reliquary of the Three Kings and fit its role as a place of worship for the Holy Roman Emperor. Simply amazing, what more can I say. It was very big and very beautiful. So much to look at. There was so much detail put into every statue and carving……not to mention all the stain glass windows. A quick train ride back to the hotel and we are off to Arnham, Netherlands.

Arnham – Netherlands

A quick two hour drive from Cologne to Arnham turned into about a 4 hour trip. Another pit stop at a Castle.
Kasteel Huis Bergh. It was closed… :( Mondays are a day that most shops here are closed. Its like their Sunday and we didn’t take that into account. Oh well……there is always another castle. A rain storm passing through the area almost got us soaked as we walked back to the car but we made it just in time. Wow……did it rain! Must have caused an accident on the highway (the other side) because the traffic was stopped dead for over 5 km…..not moving, people all out of the vehicles walking about. Not moving at all. Thank goodness we were going in the opposite direction.
Checked in to another fine hotel here in Arnham and went to the city centre for dinner. Yes….another pub. It’s just easier…. :) Looking forward to sleeping past 7 am tomorrow.

There…the blog is all caught up. Good night from Holland.

Nurburg

Nurburg, Germany

Nurburg Castle

Nurburg Castle

Augustusburg Palace

Augustusburg Palace

Koln Cathedral 2

Köln Cathedral

Koln Cathedral 1

Köln Cathedral

Koln Cathedral 3

Köln Cathedral – Entry

 

 

 

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3 Countries….1 Day

506th PIR 101st Memorial

506th PIR 101st Memorial

Note: Yesterday we ended up in a place with no internet so the blog is a day behind. We will try to catch it up in the next day or two.

 

 Yesterday…..

Bastonge, Belgium

This first part will be a lot clearer to people if they know the HBO Band Of Brother series.

Once leaving our hotel in La Roche-en-Ardenne, we headed back to Bastonge for a tour with Roby Clam, a guide in the area. We meet him at around 9:30 am at the General McAuliffe Square in the town centre. We first headed to Houffalize to go check out a Panther on display there. Afterward we headed back toward the town of Foy to the Bois Jacque Forest where Easy Company‘s foxholes and artillery holes can be found. This is also the place where Bill Guarnere & Joe Toye each lost a leg in WWII.

From here we move to the next location which was the town of Foy itself. Here we look up at the window to the location of the German sniper that “Shifty” Powers took out….and the position he took the shot from.

Next we moved to the location that Lieutenant Dyke first tried to take Easy to take Foy, and Lieutenant Speirs took over. This was not from the Bois Jacque Forest. We also got to see the location of Regimental HQ near by. We also finally got to see our first German Cemetery. This was a beautiful place and we were happy to here that it has never been defaced. Side note: The Belgium nurse Renee, that Eugene Roe never really met, lived right around the corner from the hospital that was destroyed. The hospital was actually the grocery stone…never a hospital.

There was a lot more we saw that I can’t cover here. We headed back to Bastonge town centre, had a coffee and then headed for Luxembourg.

Luxembourg City, Luxembourg

We reached Luxembourg City within the hour….then spent another half hour looking for parking. A very beautiful, but very busy city. We did a quick walk-around taking pictures then decided to go on the city tour….a 45 minute ride giving the history of the city. We were here for about 3 hours. There is a lot of history here and worth the stop, but we decided not to stay here as originally planed, but moved on to Germany.

Ürzig, Germany

Obviously the country of Luxembourg is not that big. In another 45 minutes, we crossed the entire country and entered Germany. We stopped for a very late lunch and continued toward Köln but planned to find a hotel before there. One thing to point out, Pamela finally got her cow picture. Don’t ask me; ask her.

Not knowing the area at all made that a bit tricky finding a hotel. Pick one on the GPS and hope for the best…..Don’t like the look of it…Move on to the next one. Finally we picked one in another town from where we were and hit the jackpot. Ürzig is a small village on the hillside by the Mosel River and is wine country. The steep hilles are covered in grape vines. They actually have what look like little roller-coaster carts and tracks that take them throughout the crops. We arrived around 7:30, got a room, unloaded our luggage, and then of course went for a glass of wine. We just sat on the deck, looking at the view, talking and sipping wine. What a great evening.

Tomorrow….Köln

Panther - Houffalize

Panther – Houffalize

Patrol

Bois Jacque Forest – Patrol

Luxembourg City

Luxembourg City

Luxembourg City View

Luxembourg City

Luxembourg Fortification

Luxembourg – Fortification

Yup.....Cows

Yup…..Cows

Our Hotel - Ürzig, Germany

Our Hotel – Ürzig, Germany

Ürzig, Germany

Ürzig, Germany

Mosel

Mosel River

 

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The Somme

French Sunset

The French Sunset

Yesterday was more a relax day, but Sara did take us out for a bit of a tour around the area. Pete was off on a 2 day tour in Ieper. Pete himself has an amazing collection of items and books throughout the B&B you can look at. We visited the Newfoundland Memorial Park on the Somme. This park is a remembrance of the tragic events of July 1, 1916 here. This site is the only other Historic Canadian Site outside of Canada besides Vimy Ridge.

Also on the site is a memorial to the 51st Highland Division. The statue of the soldier is set in a way that he is overlooking the Y Ravine and the German from lines.

Next we headed for Ulster Tower, a memorial the the 36th Ulster Division from Ireland. In their first 2 days 5,500 men and officers were killed, missing, or wounded in the Battle of the Somme. The tower itself is a replica of one in Belfast. We had lunch there as well.

Later that evening we went out for dinner….as much as I could as I was not feeling too well. :( We headed back to Sara & Pete’s with a quick stop of to see George (Sara will know who that is). Once home I basically crawled into bed and called it a night.

~

Today we had to say goodbye and head off to Bastonge, Belgium where we have a tour tomorrow. We stopped in town to have a late lunch and then headed to our hotel which is actually about 1/2 hour away in La Roche-en-Ardenne. Definitely a different hotel i gotta say. Tonight we aren’t planning to much but relaxing.

Newfoundland Memorial Park

Newfoundland Memorial Park – Scottish Memorial

Ulster Tower

Ulster Tower

Pamela the German

Pamela the German

Sara, Ramon, & Harvey

Sara, Ramon, & Harvey

Harvey

Harvey

 

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The Great War

Tyne Cot 1

Tyne Cot Cemetery

Yesterday was a day to remember The Great War. We started off in Passchendaele looking over the the fields. You look at them differently when you think about what happened here. The first major place to hit was the Tyne Cot Cemetery. 11,954 are buried here….most unknown soldiers. The stone wall surrounding the cemetery is a memorial to the missing; another 34,939 names. Walking through here you get a very small glimpse of the number of lives lost in the Battle of Passchendaele alone.

We next headed for the Passchendaele museum to get some more information and look at some of the artifacts on display from the war. You can easily spend an entire day here going through everything, taking pictures, and reading the history of this battle. This day to this point and through to the evening has a completely different feel to is; honor and respect.

Not far from here is the another Canadian monument on a spot nicknamed Vancouver Corner. “The Brooding Soldier”  is a memorial to Canadian soldiers who died April 22nd, 1915 in a poison gas attack by the Germans. A simple monument in comparison to some of the others, it still has a powerful feel to it as you look upon it towering into the sky.

We now needed to head down to France to Sara & Pete’s place where we will be staying for the next few night. Pamela ended up with a migraine today so I figured we would head straight there and I could check out Vimy Ridge tomorrow…that was the plan anyways. As we got closer we realized how close we were to Vimy and decided to check it our right away. This massive Canadian Memorial at Vimy Ridge is dedicated to all the Canadian forces whom died in the First World War and is also a commemoration for all those who died in France and have no known grave.

Many parts of the landscape here are hills and holes from the explosions and shells in this battle. It is quit amazing to see. Many of these spots are fenced of as there are still live shells and bombs in the area, so stick to the pathways. They send sheep into these areas to keep the grounds maintained. If you ever get the chance, you should come see this place.

We headed south and arrived at Sara & Pete’s around 4:30 pm. This is our first meet and is kind of exciting. Pete is out giving a tour but came home a few hours later. Pamela went right to sleep trying to get rid of her migraine; this gave Sara and I time just to talk about family. This is one part of the trip we were looking forward to most and I know Pamela is gonna hit Sara up for some family tree information. We are here until Friday.

(For those who haven’t figured it out yet, you can click on any of the pictures to see a larger version.)

Tyne Cot 4

Tyne Cot Cemetery

Tyne Cot 3

Tyne Cot Cemetery

Tyne Cot 2

Tyne Cot Cemetery

Mask

Passchendaele Museum

German

Passchendaele Museum – German

Brooding Soldier

Brooding Soldier – Canadian

Vimy 1

Vimy Ridge Memorial

Vimy 2

Vimy Ridge Memorial

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Belgium: History and War

Brugge 2

Brugge, Belgium

We got out of Brussels early and headed for Brugge; about and hour away. This is where we should have went in the first place instead of Brussels. Absolutely gorgeous. Brugge is also know as the Venice of the North, and once you see it you’ll know why. As soon as you enter the centre you are transported back in time. As you wander the streets and turn the corners, the place seems to just go on and on. Canal tours and horse drawn carriages a very popular here.

We visited the Basilica of the Holy Blood which is a 12th century chapel which houses a venerated relic of the Holy Blood which we were able to see.

A few other facts about Belgium you may not know….It is illegal not to have at least 5 euros on you at all time for emergency. They speak either Dutch or French….depending where you are. There are over 800 different beers made there….not bad for such a small country.

We finished of here at a small cafe and then headed toward Passchendaele. Once we arrive we needed to find a place to stay for the night and stopped in the Passchendaele Pub for a coffee and to ask if there were any hotels around. Great coffee…..no hotels. The owners were super helpful and phoned around to some B&B’s in the area and we were able to find one not far away. Before we left the pub, the owners gave us notes, a map, and a bunch of other information on the area. They were fantastic. We head to the B&B and were greeted again with open arms in a sense. The owners who did not have any room in there regular bed & breakfast took us down the street to “The Loft” where they are letting us stay for the night. You have to see this place to believe it. We basically have our own house along with a small farm area with miniature horses, potbellied pigs, rabbits, bird, dog, and more. Post-card perfect. :)

We unloaded our luggage and headed to Ieper for “The Last Post.”  This is done here at the Menin Gate, at 8:00 sharp, every night, since November 11th, 1929. The only time The Last Post was not held here is during the 2nd World War where the daily ceremony was moved to England; it returned once the war was over. Lucky for us, the night we were here a Canadian battalion touring through Europe was here taking part in the ceremony. At the end they loudly sang our national anthem and were applauded by hundreds as the left. What a great experience.

We went into Ieper and had dinner, then headed back to our “home for the night.” We have a big day ahead of us tomorrow.

Brugge 1

Brugge, Belgium

Holy Blood

Basilica of the Holy Blood

Menin Gate

The Menin Gate

Ieper

Ieper

Wreath

Canada – Menin Gate

 

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Brussels

Manneken Pis

Manneken Pis

We said goodbye this morning to family and Holland…for now, and headed to Brussels, Belgium. It was just a quick 2 hour drive. We arrived at our hotel; The Bedford Hotel & Congress Centre. This post could take a while as the Wi-Fi is painfully slow. We had to wait a while for our room so we checked our bags and went for a stroll. It’s is nice the hotel is right in the centre and close to everything.

Find the large group of people and you’ll find the famous statue Manneken Pis. This small peeing statue is probably the biggest attraction for tourists.You can find copies, key chains, chocolate, magnets,…anything you can think of shaped like this little guy. When we first saw him he had a little outfit on. Apparently he has had hundreds of different outfits; it’s kind of a tradition to give him new cloths.

The next thing we wanted to see was the large square not far away. The architecture here is wonderful and is the main reason that I wanted to see it. He had a small snack with beer and wine. I couldn’t decide on which beer, so they made it easy on me and gave me a “sampler” plate with 6 different local beers. PERFECT!!!

We finish our lunch and headed back to the hotel to get our room. We both must have been tired because we both crashed hard after laying on the bed.

We went to dinner just across from Manneken Pis at a pub called….(my sister will love this) “PoechenelleKelder“. One thing about the food here in Brussels, we find it very, very rich, and mostly high calorie. (Obviously we are in the tourist area, but still.) Afterwards we did a little more strolling, had a coffee, then headed back to our hotel. Honestly, we are both a little disappointed with Brussels. After being in Amsterdam, the atmosphere here is completely different, not as welcoming, and really quite dirty with garbage everywhere. That being said, we did get to see the things that we wanted and the city is very active with lots going on.

Square 2

The Square

Waffels

Belgium Waffles

PoechenelleKelder

PoechenelleKelder

Galleries

The Galleries

 

 

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A visit in Wijk en Aalburg

The Pub

The old pub…. 

It’s fantastic being able to see a bunch of family again…even some for the first time. Today we went to Wijk en Aalburg to Henriette (second-cousin) & Bas’ home to visit some more cousins on my dads side of the family. My cousin John and his wife Luus plus my other cousin Trude and her husband Gerrit also came by. Also my second-cousin Corinda and her son stopped by. These are all the family of my Aunt Henny & Uncle Martin. Don’t worry…Pamela is also having a hard time of keeping track.

We sat and talk for a while, then Gerrit ran to the local Chinese restaurant and picked of some won-ton soup for lunch. Very good. We also browsed through some more old photos, including one to my surprise, which showed my mother with a cigarette in her mouth….MY MOTHER!!!!

Afterwards we headed out for a walk along the canal, through the field, and over to the old pub my Aunt Henny & Uncle Martin had. This is one place I had to go see again as it is one of my fondest memories here, staying above the pub during our visits and going down and watching Uncle Martin work the bar. This time I could have a beer instead of a cola. We continued to walk looking at a few more place before heading back.

We stayed for a wonderful dinner and more visiting with Henriette & Bas before heading back to Hedel around 8:30. (We have also worked out a good system so Bas can get his beef jerky and I can get my salt licorice.)

It was nice to see you all again. We are headed off the Belgium tomorrow morning.

John & Luus

John & Luus

Trude & Gerrit

Trude & Gerrit

Corinda & Thymo

Corinda & Thymo

Henriette & Bas

Henriette, Bas, Thomas, & Floris

Wijk en Aalburg 1

Wijk en Aalburg

Wijk en Aalburg 2

Windmill at Wijk en Aalburg

 

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A day in Den Bosch

Bikes

Bikes in Den Bosch

Well….to start out I have to say that it has been an extremely HOT HUMID day here in Holland. I don’t ever remember sweating so much in my whole life!!

We went in to Den Bosch today with Ray’s cousins and a couple of the kids to do three things. Hit the town square market and look around take a tour on the canal and to do a tower tour in the big cathedral.

Our first stop at the market was very exciting. Many cheese shops, hats, purses, linens, fruits vegetables flowers and of course the “stroopwafel” vendor. Too many to see and a lot of people. Like I said at the beginning….it was very hot and humid. We wanted some shade. We made our way through the very quaint winding cobble stone streets to the canal to purchase out ticket for the tours. it’s really amazing to see all the beautiful old architecture and little shops. You just want to stay and explore all of them. So cool….love it!!

When it was time to get on the boat it was a nice change from the sun and the heat to enter the canals. The tour was about 45 minutes long as we wound our way through the town on the water. Many tunnels were low and very narrow. Only wide enough to fit the boat. No arms out of the boat!! Our tour guide (Captain) was an old Dutch man that only spoke Dutch. Thank goodness we had a few of Ray’s family with us to help translate otherwise I may have lost an arm. :) It was a great  journey into the past with many interesting things to see.

Before our next tour we stopped for a coffee and a  treat at the cafe De Stip for a “Chocolade Bol.” It is a special dessert that has made Den Bosch famous. Think of a giant chocolate eclair filled with lots of fresh whipping cream and covered in dark chocolate. OMG….so delicious!!  Yes….I only had one… :) After our snack we walked about 10 minutes to the Beklimming Sint Janstoren Cathedral (Cathedral of Saint John) for our tour of the bell tower and church. It was built in 1220 and completed in 1530. We started by climbing up a very narrow and very steep stair case up about 2 flights. Feels more like 6 flights because the stairs are so close together and steep. We ended up seeing how the church was built and seeing the inner workings of the clock and many bells of all sizes. The clock was extremely large and very loud. by the end of the tour we were approx. 200 feet up and overlooking the city and the surrounding Holland. Next we went into the church. Walking over the stone floor where many of the remains of the church priests were buried was very surreal. All of them done with inscriptions and carvings in the stone. It was a very beautiful church and very big. Stained glass window 3 stories high with many wood carvings and painting all over the walls. Breath taking! We were also able to see an exhibit that was at that church only for a few weeks which was the Shroud of Turin (The shroud of Jesus). They had a full size reproduction of the shroud there; as the real on is not allowed to leave Turin. they also had a 3D model there as well. We had a lady speak to us in English and she went through everything from how it came to be to where it went missing for hundreds of years. It was a very interesting and humbling thing to see for me and I’m not Catholic.

When we got back to Hedel we all met for dinner at the Herberg de Zwaan restaurant for a great meal and drinks. Ray and I tried the mustard soup for our appetizer. Delicious!! Who would have thought that you could make such a yummy soup from mustard?? Dinner with his cousins was so much fun. Great laughs, great people and great food! What else could we ask for…. :)

We have had a great couple of days here in Hedel with such warm and friendly people. It was sad to say goodbye to a few of them that we won’t see again this trip. Thank you for your kind and warm welcome. <3

Canal tour

Canal Tour in Den Bosch

Stroopwafel

Stroopwafel

Bell @ St. Johns

The bell at Saint Johns

Saint Johns

From the tower.

Den Bosch

Den Bosch

van der Woning

Tour de “van der Woning”

 

 

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Wind and Ocean

Delta 1

DeltaPark

We headed to the coast today to check out the Delta Works with Ron today. These are the very impressive water control system where the large rivers of the Netherlands are dumped into the ocean. These are use for flood control. Things have changed some since I was here last. Wind turbines are everywhere and the Delta Works now has the DeltaPark, which is a family oriented place with a water park and bunch of other stuff. Unfortunately the tour of the facility is also part of this so you must buy the complete entrance to the park just for the tour which made it way too expensive. We decided to skip this. We did walk around the dykes for a while.

Once we were done, we went for lunch at a seaside beach resort area. A typical tourist trap lunch at “Brasserie Zeelust.” Time to head back as we have another BBQ to go to tonight and it’s a 2 hour drive. The nice thing was Ron was driving this time….Pamela & I both fell asleep. This humid heat is getting to us. It has been above average temperature here as well. At least it’s not smokey. ;)

Back in Hedel, we headed to Marcel & Mendy’s place for a BBQ. We first started of sticking our feet in the kiddy-pool to cool down, had a couple of beers, and browsed through some old pictures. It’s amazing what you will find.

Dad

Frans

Pamela gathered a bunch of family information for the tree she has been working on as well. Once that was done the BBQ was fired up, we had a few more drinks, and ate a great meal.

After dinner, we headed to the old church where my uncle and aunt are laid. WOW….it’s been a long time already. We then went to a small animal park there, strolled around, took some picture, and then headed back home to Ron’s for the night. We are all meeting in the morning for another packed day of activities.

 

Delta 4

Delta Works

Delta 3

Pamela & Ron at a Wind Turbine

Ron

Ron and Ramon

Marcel

Marcel…Mr. BBQ

 

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