the in-laws arrive

Ted’s parents arrived in Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport at 7 Friday morning. They told us that everything about the trip was very smooth. Nonetheless, it’s a difficult time, because you’re depserately tired from all the travel but you have to stay awake all get to get on local time. So we didn’t do anything too ambitious that day. They wanted to see where we work, so we took them on a tour through Ted’s lab, which entails getting dressed up in a full bunny (cleanroom) suit. He hadn’t made arrangements for their tour, and it’s not highly encouraged because they don’t want people who aren’t qualified int hat area bringing family through – so Ken’s suggestion was, “Tell them we’re official visitors from a parent company.” As we walked through the parking lot, Ted turned back to look at them and said “I think your cover’s blown – vendors don’t usually hold hands!”

Later that day we showed them around the boathouse, then they took a walk along the canal while we went for a short row. They managed to stay more or less awake long enough to eat some pizza, then zonked out for the night.

On Saturday, the plans were to visit the Airborne Museum comemmorating the battle for the bridge near Arnhem (told in the book and movie “A Bridge Too Far”), possibly make a stop at an open-air historic museum, and then go to the Kruller-Muller museum, which is supposed to be a world-class art museum (they and the van Gogh museum in amsterdam between them apparenlty own the entire works of van Gogh). However, I was navigating and I goofed a bit (which is what I get for knitting when I should be watching road signs). We missed the entrance for Oosterbeek where the Airborne Museum was. By then it was easier to go to the open air museum first, so we did that. We were expecting this to be like the small one in Eindhoven, and to take an hour, tops. Instead, the Open-Air Museum in Arnhem turns out to be huge and beautiful, with over 80 historic buildings from all over the Netherlands, living history exhibits, and carefully landscaped grounds. We spent a few hours there, trying to figure out how the sawmill worked, checking out the old-fashioned store, introducing karen and Ken to poffertjes and looking in all the different farmhouses.

Incidentally, now I understand why Dutch bedrooms tend to be small. The traditional houses had none at all, but only box-beds set into the walls of the living or dining room. Snug, but not good for claustrophobes.

Dinner was Greek food, where we all ordered combination plates and ended up with portions to dwarf any American ones.

Sunday brought another blue, cloudless sky, so first we headed out to the Kinderdijk to see all the windmills. We did take some pictures, but unfortunately Ted took a bad fall on some slippery grass. He was all right – the stiff neck he anticipated never came, fortunately. But our camera lens was broken, and Karen was having some problems with her memory card, so we ended up with fewer photos than anticipated.

After that we took a road close to the coast to see the various parts of the Delta works. After the storm of 1953 that put half the country (quite literally) under water, they began an ambitious project that made the coastline much shorter and better protected by closing off all the various inlets with dikes and dams and sluices and locks. We stopped at Haringvlietdam and had a personal tour down inside the locks, where we had the whole huge system demonstrated. (Karen and Ken commented that they’re being spoiled by all this personal guiding! They’ll have a hard time adapting to tour-bus life after they leave us.) Then we watched a couple of movies on the storm and the locks, and had a lunch that proved what we’d told them about how good Dutch soups typically are.

Our last stop of the day was the Oosterschelde storm surge barrier; Ted and I were at the Delta Expo there a decade ago. We were fascinated by the works of the movable dam, and Ted nearly had to be dragged away from the water playground, which let you set up all kinds of screws and mills and channels to move water around. Unfortunately, the Delta Works have gone Seaworld; now the only way to see them is to pay 17.50 to get into the Neeltje Jans Waterpark there. We didn’t have much interest in the water slide or the seals there, so we contented ourselves with wandering around and taking pictures of the dam.

The soups proved unexpectedly filling, so dinner was just mostly snack food. In most places here museums are closed on Mondays, but I did a little research and found that at Delft the Army Museum is open. The two historic churches are also open and we think the porcelain factories are, so Ken and Karen were planning to go there today. We’ll meet up for diner, so hopefully we’ll find that they didn’t get caught out in today’s rain.

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