29 April ’04, Thursday. Heading North this morning started with a “Detour”. Finding this camp site last night was somewhat of a challenge but when we did we found it to be a very nice location right on a canal and bay front. Out of the way, Yes but worth it. Now getting back to leaving, just as we passed around a corner there was a barricade that we just couldn’t get around and we had to back up, turn around, and go off on a unmarked path following a dike for a looooonnnnggg time. Pleasant drive, wonderful day and we were still heading North. Not much of a change in plan. Our trip today was to take us to Denoever, across the Afsluitdijk and finish up at Groningen. Now the Netherlands is small and just about everywhere is flat, flat, flat. This is going to be the longest one day trip so far. We’ll travel about 100 miles today. The real find for the day was the Afsluitdijk. For literally 3 centuries the Dutch thought of draining the South Sea and create a huge tract of valuable farmland. So in 1927 construction started and in 1932 their job was done. They had divided the North Sea from the South Sea and Ijsselmeer was born. This is a large body of fresh water and another large body of land right out of the sea bottom. The river Ijessel flowed into the void as the salt water was no longer coming in. Fishing really took a hit but the farming industries prospered and still do today. The dike (dam) is 30km long and 90 meters wide with a series of locks at one end to allow ships and boats in and out. We had a chance to stop in the middle of the dam to see and read all about this project and we were really impressed. Our trip them took us to the “Lakes Area” of Sneek (Snake) and on to Groningen. We did pull of into a small village and made a sandwich about 2 and then headed on. On arriving in Groningen and finally finding our campsite we went to the Reception and the first thing they ask was “Do You Have A RESERVATION?”…. Why heck NO!!! Why would we need a reservation, it’s early Spring, North Netherlands, and only Thursday? Their reply was “It’s the Queen’s Birthday and SHE’S COMING TO TOWN IN THE MORNING !!!!” But, we do have a couple of openings so “that will be alright”…. We lucked out. We did know it was the Queen’s Birthday and we THOUGHT we had taken care of not being anywhere close to were she might be but, we were wrong. After setting up our pitch we donned our backpack and computer and headed off to find our internet café and check out the town before all heck was to break out in the morning. Well, we mis-calculated how far Centro was and we had a heck of a walk setout for us. We were finally fortunate in finding a internet café so we spent over 1 ½ hours up-loading over 2 weeks of journal. Then off to explore Groningen prior to the Queen’s arrival. The city was hopping!!! Banners, balloons, music stages, large TV screens, outdoor pubs, street vendors, TV cameras and all the equipment, and a lot of gawkers (us included). Tomorrow, The Queen Arrives and we’ll be there….