Author Archive for Dimitri Bottelbergs

10
Apr
16

Northwestern France during Easter holiday

During Easter holiday we took the camper to the Northwestern part of France, called Brittany. After almost two days of driving avoiding main tollways (in France campers pay three times the price of a normal car which makes it unaffordable), we arrived on the brand new parking lot / campersite at Mont-Saint-Michel. It is difficult not to be impressed with your first sightings of the massive Gothic abbey on the island, the ramparts and the extraordinary tides in the bay (difference between high and low tide of 15 meters). We spent the entire afternoon and evening exploring the medieval town and Mont.

The next day we followed the coastline studded with lighthouses and viewpoints on the Bay of Mont-Saint-Michel, towards the walled city of Saint-Malo. Walking on the ramparts with views on the rocky outcrops filled with fortresses and fortifications, was fun for the kids as well as us.

We then continued westward towards Cap Frehel, where an enormous lighthouse guides the boats away from the traitorous and dangerous coasts. On a cool municipal campsite 200 meter from a beautiful beach, we spent the next two days exploring the area, building stone and sand castles and walking along the coast.

Our next stop was the area of Ploumanac’h and Cap Squewel, the so called Pink Granite Coast. We followed the Sentier des Douaniers, a spectacular 5 km coastal walk through a wilderness of massive pink granite boulders and outcrops.

We then went straight south to the Southern part of Brittany, where we went to the Gulf of Morbihan, an inner sea. We started by spending some time on the Peninsula near Quiberon, where the Atlantic Coast is dubbed the Wild Coast. Spending time going out on the beaches when the tide was low, was fun and the kids collected a bunch of shells. We then made our way to the area of Carnac, where the world’s highest concentration of megalithic sites can be found. Walking through the ‘Alignements’ or lines of megaliths was something special and unique.

After spending another day on a beach looking at people collecting clams, mussels and oysters was enough for this trip and we made our way back to Belgium after visiting this unique part of France. See some pictures here.

29
Mar
16

Burgh Haamstede in early spring

During Easter Holidays we decided to go on our first little camper trip of the year together with our friends Wendy and Stef and their three kids. We drove to Zeeland, we in our camper and they with their caravan and spent a great weekend together discovering this great part of Zeeland with fantastic dunes, a beautiful coastal nature reserve, a cool lighthouse, but most of all quality time with the kids on the campsite. Even the Easter Bunny passed on the morning of Easter and left plenty of eggs.

Check out the pictures of our weekend in beautiful Zeeland and Burgh Haamstede.

04
Nov
15

Last Trip of the Year with the Camper

In late afternoon we arrived in Kinderdijk, known for the highest concentration of windmills in Holland. The canal and reflection of windmills was mesmerizing with the setting sun and rising mist over the water.

After spending the night in the harbor a few miles away, we drove further north to Zuid-Kennemerland National Park, and made a nice hike around the lake and in the forests and dunes.

After a nice lunch, we drove on to Bloemendaal aan Zee, where we spent a good deal of the afternoon on the beach.

Later in the afternoon we drove in sudden thick fog to Marken, an island in the ZuiderZee only connected to the mainland through a narrow 3-kilometer-long causeway. The traditional wooden houses, often built on wooden stilts, and traditional clothing worn by locals make it a beautiful place worth a visit. We spent two days exploring the canals, beaches, harbor and little streets.

On our way back home, we visited Monnickendam, on the mainland of the Zuiderzee, and then slowly drove back to Belgium in the rain.

A nice last trip of the season with a lot of nice pleasant surprises. See the rest of the photos.

 

10
Sep
15

testing the new camper

During the last ten week of the summer holidays, we decided we absolutely needed to test the camper we bought just before we flew to the US. So after fixing a few things, we got it back from the garage and started loading it.

First we headed to the Eastern part of Flanders, where we visited one of the ‘most beautiful villages’ of Flanders, Oud-Rekem. Boarding a canal (where we spent the night on a quiet free spot), this tiny village is nice to stroll around.

We then headed to Pietersheim near Lanaken, where the Southern entrance gate to the Hoge Kempen National Park can be found. After spending time in the little animal farm and cool playground, we did the 2 mile ‘kabouter’ or gnome walk – following a path of wooden gnomes. Stops were a medieval water castle, a modern castle and plenty of berries. The kids had a blast!

Crossing the language border to the French speaking part of Belgium to see the Dam of the Gileppe, we spent a night parked on top of the dam with free electric hookup. The views over the water and the surrounding hills, as well as the oldest dam of Belgium with the huge stone lion, were relaxing and made us realize there is plenty to see close by.

The next day we traveled further through densely wooded areas as well as marshlands to the highest point of Belgium, the Signal de Botrange ( a full 694 m altitude). After spending time in a cute playground as well as a walk through the marshes or Hautes Fagnes in the afternoon sun, we spent the night right at the monument of the highest point.

Finally we made our way to Belgium’s biggest waterfall, Coo, where tourists are plentiful as well as amusement parks and outdoor activities.

After a brief stop in Bierbeek (Kyra had an evening to explore her new class and get to know the teacher), we drove north to Holland to spend 4 days with our international group of friends (aka the Suntrek group) in the Zeeland region, more specifically Walcheren. We had found a nice enough campsite with all facilities and three spots next to each other. The dunes, the ocean, plenty of Belgian beer, a daily BBQ and of course the great company of good friends made the weekend awesome. The warm weather and absence of wind during the day gave us the opportunity to hike through the dunes and to take bike rides with views on the ocean and the world famous Deltawerken. The nightly thunderstorms on the other hand caused flooded campsites and made it difficult for our tenting friends to fall asleep. Look at some pictures from this trip.

 

15
Aug
15

California and the National Parks in the West

Once again we went to the USA for the summer, visiting Shadae’s mother and family in California. The days were filled with trips to different playgrounds, city, county and state parks, and Southern California beaches. The big house in Encinitas also provided plenty of opportunities to have games, to go in the pool and jacuzzi and to have outdoor BBQs and grill evenings with smores. The views on the lagoons of Encinitas and the setting sun on the Pacific were amazing.

This time, we also decided to rent a big Class camper, as Shadae’s uncle from Connecticut decided to come visit. It is interesting that in the US, unlike Europe, you can drive a camper up to 40 ft (13 m) just with your normal driver’s license.

We originally rented a 37 ft camper, but when we arrived at the rental place there were some problems with it that could not be fixed on a Sunday. So they gave us a 40 ft bigger camper with three instead of two slide outs. We drove back to the house and packed all evening and the following morning. As we were heading out the next day however, the ‘Check Engine’ light came on, and after heading back to the rental agency, it turned out the Turbo was broken and unfixable. So, they were able to fix the original Winnebago camper we wanted and late in the afternoon we headed out to Las Vegas.

After a night on the strip – only campground on the strip is the Circus Circus – we drove to a small State Park just before Zion National Park, Quail Creek. Running late because it was the first time camping for 4 family members, we were lucky the ranger opened the gate again to let us in. As a result, it was pitch dark by the time we were set up and it took a long time to BBQ the chicken. The next morning however, we saw the nice lake with warm water we were camped at, and after enjoying it a little bit, we headed out to Zion National Park. The kids liked the water pouring out of the rocks at aptly called Weeping Rocks, and the adults preferred the towering canyon walls at the entry of the Narrows section at the end of the canyon.

The next day we drove to Bryce Canyon, on one of the most scenic drives in Utah. We had to get a special permit as two way traffic in the one mile tunnel had to be closed so we could right in the middle and fit with our huge bus. The drive through the wonder world of rock formations was amazing. After having a late lunch and stopping for groceries, we headed to our campground near Bryce Canyon. While the kids enjoyed the outdoor swimming pool, a nice dinner was prepared. Afterwards, we drove to the Rim of the Canyon to enjoy sunset. By the time we arrived, the sun had already set but the colors in the sky and the wondrous rock formations were a nice end to the evening.

The night was cold at this 8500 ft altitude, but everything heated up fast in the morning as we went with the shuttle bus to several viewpoints and then did the 2 mile Queens Garden Trail amidst the hoodoos and fantastic yellow, ochre and orange colored rocks, spread out like a city in the canyon amphitheater. Solidly impressed by this awesome park, we then drove on Highway 12 Scenic Byway where we went from Mars like landscapes to high altitude plains (over 9300 ft) towards Torrey, the gateway to little known Capitol Creek National Park. In the nice campsite with views on awkward rock formations, we had an evening around the campfire with smores and marshmallows.

Capitol Reef National Park is not as well-known as the other parks, but the strange rock formations and castle-like towering rocks provide fantastic sceneries. Most of the park is inaccessible for normal cars, let alone a long camper bus. After reaching our furthest point away from San Diego, we turned back south and went to one of the most fantastic viewpoints in the whole of Utah: Dead Horse Point State Park. The views on the surrounding parks, the Colorado and the mountains in the distance, are just awesome. The idea was to also visit the Island in the Sky portion of Canyonlands National Park, but a huge thunderstorm and the late time made that impossible. So we went straight to our campsite with a spot that had a viewpoint on Arches National Park. Despite the drizzle it was quite warm, and we had a great BBQ and nice evening in this great spot.

The next day we spent the entire day discovering one of the best parks (besides Bryce Canyon) in the entire West: Arches National Park, with the highest amount of natural arches in the world. Time after time we were amazed by the scale, size and differences between all the different sections of this park. Especially the walks near the North and South Window, Double Arch and the late afternoon hike to Landscape Arch were memorable. This surely is a park to come back to and to spend a lot more time when the kids are older.

Driving all the way south to the border with Colorado allowed us to spend a night with views on Monument Valley, an iconic place. The next day we headed out through the desert and majestic landscapes to Grand Canyon, one of the deepest canyons on the planet. Following the South Rim and stopping at different viewpoints while slowly the afternoon sun colored everything in warm hues, was a great way to spend the day – despite the automatic step of the camper breaking down. Our campsite was a basic one in the beautiful National Forests surrounding the Grand Canyon, although we had problems stabilizing the camper. A nice campfire in the chilly evening and views on the galaxy and Milky Way, made the experience complete.

The next day, we made sure to leave on time to a nice little State Park on the shores of Lake Havasu, Cattail Cove State Park. The sand of the little beach was white as any Caribbean beach, and the waters were so warm. We spent the entire afternoon and evening in the waters, as the outside temperatures were stifling hot.

After a visit to Joshua Tree National Park, a unique place in the middle of the desert, and Palm Springs, we headed back to San Diego, where we unloaded the camper and returned it the next day.

The final week of our stay in California was filled with local walks, shopping to all stores to get clothes, shoes and all kind of things you can only find in the US. We had a big birthday party at Shadae’s uncle’s place with great foods, company and presents. To top it all off, we had another fantastic day at the Disneyland Resort, this time the California Adventure part. Thanks to Susie, Shadae’s sister, we were able to once again get free entrance tickets for our family and the two sisters. Great!

Fitting everything in 4 huge suitcases and 4 big carry-ons provided a big mission, but fully loaded we flew back to Belgium.

Look at some cool pictures of our trip and the Western National Parks here.

 

08
Aug
14

Europe Trip – Southern California Part 2

USA PART 2 PICASA PHOTO ALBUM (149 pictures)

Well, this second month we kept on sticking to the same scenario: the pool or the beach and playgrounds or parks almost every day. Together with plenty of birthdays, visits from friends and family as well as trips to amongst others Disneyland, made it a great time for the kids with plenty of quality time.

Enjoy our photos!

11
Jul
14

Europe Trip – Southern California Part 1

USA PICASA PHOTO ALBUM (82 PICTURES)

Well, we are not actually travelling in Europe anymore, but spending time with the American side of the family in Southern California. The weather is nice and sunny every day all day, which makes spending time in the swimming pool, at the beach or at playgrounds, very pleasurable. Exactly what we needed to recover from 8 months traveling.

Here are some pictures of our first month in perpetual summer weather.

 




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