In Bunnik with the Menkes   Leave a comment

My first stop on the way home from Kenya was to the city of Bunnick (near Utrecht in the Netherlands) where my friends the Menkes live.  Aswin Menke stayed with me in Indianapolis for a few months while conducting research in Dr. Yoder’s lab.  In his last month, his wife and two children came to Indiana as well and we spent a very nice Christmas together.  We have been friends ever since.  Within minutes of seeing the family, it was like we had never been apart.  The kids, Henk and Roos, have both grown a lot since we last met.  Roos is now doing gymnastics on a regular basis and Henk is big into soccer.  The first thing they had to show me was their new toy in the back yard.  When they moved to their new house in Bunnik, Aswin dug a large pit in the garden and installed an industrial trampoline.  I don’t think a day went by when we didn’t spend a few minutes jumping on it.

   

While Roos was at a birthday party, the rest of us took a trip to Utrecht to see the sites.  Aswin made a stop at his favorite comic store to stock up on a few series and get something for Henk.  Our big adventure of the day was a climb to the top the cathedral as part of a tour.  The interesting story about Utrecht Cathedral is that the middle is missing.  The Catholics built the top of the cross first.  Shortly thereafter, the bishop arrived and ordered that is tower at the non-existent bottom of the cross be completed next.  When the protestants took over during the reformation, they were appalled at the excessive support pillars and buttresses and built a practical middle section of the church.  A hurricane came a few years later and destroyed only the protestant section which sat in ruins for 150 years.  We spent the evening practicing the kids’ soccer headers in the back garden.

The next day was spent on a fantastic bicycle tour of the Dutch countryside.  We rode past the sprawling farms split by long channels, through old growth forest, and even to a couple of castles along the way.  It was a wonderful ride but we were all exhausted afterwards due to the long distance traveled (52 kilometers!) and our individual burdens; both parents had a kid on the back of their bikes and I was riding a folding bicycle with 12 inch wheels.  Never a dull moment with the Menkes!

From the Netherlands, I will head to the Alsace valley on the French/German border in search of my family’s roots and then to Wildon, Austria to help my cousin with his Archeology project.  I will be returning at the end of my trip for a quick night’s sleep at the Menke’s before my plane trip home to Indiana.

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Posted June 8, 2009 by chrislux in Travel

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