Sequoias etc

Since we were in so late yesterday, we decided to forgo an alarm. I wake up a few times during the night, but suddenly it’s eight thirty. We have a leisurely breakfast – I combine American pancakes with vanilla sauce and mixed nuts and love it – and discuss the options for today. It’s only 80 km to our next hotel, so we widen our search in all directions and finally land on a green combination: we’ll visit a sequoia farm and then do a walk in the forest nearby.

We check out around ten and drive north. We’re still in the Netherlands, but the German border is right nearby and we literally run into it when the small road we’re following suddenly stops at a small café on the border. It’s obviously a popular spot with hikers and cyclists and I have the feeling we can’t be that far from the farm.. Some judicious use of Wikiloc, Google Maps and the local info panels confirms this information. In fact, the walk I had planned on passes right by this café and right by the sequoia farm as well, so we decide be flexible and set out on foot from here. We have no food and one bottle of water, but we decide to worry about that later.

It’s a beautiful forest, with separate trails for hikers, cyclists and horse riders. The birds are tweeting like crazy, bumblebees are droning about and I’m in shorts for the first time this year! We encounter beetles, frogs, a mysterious four legged creature, .. did I mention the birds?

It’s not too busy until we deviate from the official route, to arrive at the parking lot on the other side of the forest, in Germany. The farm itself is nearby, but it seems a bit quieter. Farm is a misnomer, because today it is an arboretum and open to the public on Sundays and bank holidays. The sequoias were planted to investigate if they could be used for lumber, so there’s a variety of species and sizes, embedded in park with a bewildering number of shrubs, each neatly labeled and accessible from narrow footpaths. I’ve seen older sequoias in California, but it’s always impressive to see them again. What I’ll remember is the Viburnum plicatum f. tomentosum – I want one of these at home – and the Wollemia nobilis, thought extinct since 65 million years, but discovered in 1994 in Australia. Only 100 trees are alive today, so it’s one of the rarest trees in the world.

After a quick tour in the water garden nearby (I’m confused as to its purpose, perhaps educational?) we continue on the Galgenvenn trail. We decide to skip lunch at the Waldgasthaus here, not being hungry yet after the late breakfast. We might get a little short on water but we have more in the car. It’s a bit busier, both German and Dutch couples and groups. Fortunately ‘hallo’ works for both groups, everybody’s really cheery. We follow the footpaths, encountering sandy dunes, peat bogs and steep ravines. We’re pretty tired by the time we get back to our car, but we’re in luck and the café is open. We have a cold coke and share a bag of chips, in lieu of lunch.

When we leave for our hotel, we set the GPS to avoid highways, this should give us the shortest but slowest route, exactly what we’re in the mood for. We encounter a few deviations, some due to road works and some due to big street parties, but we arrive at the hotel around five thirty. Unpack, get online, walk to dinner – schnitzel for me – and back. No idea what we’ll do tomorrow, but that’s what breakfast is for!

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