Back in the US!

Pam and I just returned from a very nice trip to the Netherlands and Belgium.  The official title of the tour was Windmills and Tulips and as advertised everything was postcard picture perfect.  We cruised the rivers and canals with my cousin Jo Jo and his wife Pat along with her sister Elaine and husband Ed.  Plus we met up with another nice couple Bill and Ginny from Virgina and all had a great time seeing the sights and visiting two very fascinating countries.  (26% of the Netherlands is below sea level and yet thru a very sophisticated water management system they make it all work.  While they only have 16 million people and are very small, nevertheless their GDP is ranked number 16 in the world.  The legalized pot and prostitution business in Amsterdam I’ll tell you about later.  Hey, maybe there’s a correlation there!)

But as wonderful and scenic as everything we saw and did was, as I’ve always maintained no matter how good life gets there’s always something coming round the corner that’ll snap you back to reality.  (“There are things that’ll knock you down you don’t even see coming” – Bruce Springsteen.)  The ash cloud from the volcano blew and grounded all the aircraft.  Since we were on a river cruise we really weren’t impacted until it came time for us to come home.  But boy were we impacted when it did come time.

Buzzy always said that when you travel you can expect some hassles and to just plan on it and deal with it. “A country boy will survive” was his motto for dealing with hassles.  Thru our years of travelling round the world we’d seen and had our share of hassles with the worst being in 2003 when we spent 3 days in Chicago coming home from Hawaii after visiting my daughter Ryan.  Chicago airport was clear but BWI/Maryland had 2 feet of snow and we couldn’t get back for 3 days. Here’s a picture Buzzy took of me “shoveling” the snow from around and on my car with an ice scraper. Took me an hour but finally made it through!

Back to Pam and me getting out of Amsterdam yesterday, let’s just say it was the biggest fustercluck I’ve ever seen and having survived Catholic school, the Army, the Navy and running Buzzy’s Country Store, I’d thought I’d seen them all.  It was the first full day of traveling and the place was a zoo.  “Organized chaos” is what one of the airport dudes called it but I’m not sure how correct he was on the organized piece of it.  There were lines to get into the airport, lines to get to the ticketing windows, lines thru passport control, and so on.  We were 3 hours getting to the boarding gate and all but ten minutes of that was spent standing in a line just to obtain our boarding passes.   Our friends Bill and Ginny never did make the flight and I hope it all works out for them wherever they are.

Bottom line, Piney Point never looked so good as it did last night when I rolled into my driveway.  Good to get away but always great to come home.  Too, my cousin Jo Jo may have summed it up best as we hustled thru the terminal to get to our departure gate “I’m getting too old for this kind of stuff.”

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