Wow, that really went smoothly. After spending Saturday afternoon and all day Sunday getting it ready, We dropped the Roadtrek off at the port Monday morning. Thanks to my precise calculations, the propane ran out five minutes after we had washed up and cooked our last big meal Saturday, and we warmed up the leftovers in the microwave Sunday. By then we had neither propane, nor running water, nor heat – the Alde and fresh water system were drained and ready for shipment. Luckily, the weather here is crazy warm and sunny, all the locals are remarking on it.
I picked my six month window based on seasonal averages, but we were much colder in April this year than we were in October. It really adds to the feeling of regret to leave this beautiful fall weather.
We spent our last days of freedom up in the Netherlands Thursday and Friday, overnighting at the municipal aire du camping at Terneuzen. A trip to the bakery provided some surprises – Sharon picked out a pastry that turned out to have a sausage in it, and I got to finish that one for her. We grabbed some Dutch coffee to go with our sampling of other European coffees for one of my sisters; the other one wanted Portugese olive oil. The oil will have to go back in the Roadtrek, I am not bringing bottles of mysterious liquid through Homeland Security checkpoints. The coffee's flying back with us, though.
The Zeeland part of the Netherlands is flat as a pancake and full of port facilities and giant windmills – renewable energy is being aggressively phased in here as Europe prepares for the end of the gasoline age. They're not worried about ventilation in highway tunnels they're planning for twenty years out – so many vehicles will be electric by then it won't be a problem. There are electric car recharging stations everywhere you look here.
The logistics of the dropoff are a little different that what we did in April when we picked it up. We had a rental car, mainly because of the uncertainty of when we could pick the Roadtrek up, and this time we knew exactly when our flight was, since we bought the tickets long ago. Luckily, we could drop it off at the Antwerp port, take a long cab ride to the airport hotel in Brussels, and catch the hotel shuttle to the airport the next morning. No exciting caravans with Sharon following me in the rental car, hoping she doesn't lose me, because she has no phone, doesn't know a soul here, and has no idea where our destination is. $125 for a cab is cheap peace of mind.
We were back at the 8 euro a night Vogelzang urban campground in Antwerp, where we landed after getting our Roadtrek off the boat this past April. Fiona was out early and late, trying to bag one more hedgehog before her big European adventure was over. It was a relaxing setting to do all the prep work for shipping. And like I said, the weather was beautiful – 70 on Saturday and 75 on Sunday. I cleaned the Roadtrek up to make sure the port inspectors didn't think I was bringing any alien life forms in my wheelwells, packed everything really well with nothing heavy in the overhead compartments, put Velcro on the lips of the drawers and cabinets that had a history of flying open during strenuous maneuvers, removed everything worth stealing so the sailors wouldn't be tempted, and checked all the steps off on my list.
There was a huge difference in the dropoff procedure between here and Baltimore this spring. Baltimore has all kinds of security procedures – you need an escort to go into the port, lots of paperwork, and sometimes it takes all day.
Here, you email them your paperwork, show up, get your gate pass, drive in, and park it where the man says. It's Gate 2 at the Antwerp EuroTerminal, right next door to Gate 3, where we got in it and drove away, six months and 9,000 miles ago. We were done in a hour and riding to our hotel.
Nothing to do until Tuesday morning, and we have ham sandwiches, candy bars, sodas, and delicious Reinette apples to snack on. The NE PAS DERANGER sign is on the doorknob, and the girls are taking a nap. This was easy.