Mike Strachan’s e-mail journal — Entry #27, from Netherlands
Received 21 May 2008
Travels for May 17/08 — Nijmegen to Millingen
I'm awake early due to market stalls being set up in the street in front of the hotel. Market day again — is it following me around? A cab to the car rental office saves time and wear and tear on my ankle. I get a small blue Ford and the drive to Millingen is uneventful, except for the usual wrong turns and corrections. Back up the road is a turnoff to Kleve which is one of my destinations.
The hotel Milling Centrum is nicely furnished, and since my room won't be ready until 2 PM, I have a cup of tea in the cafe, but the smokers drive me out.
The drive to Groesbeek is easy, and the Canadian war cemetery is easy to find. There are 2,609 graves here, of which 2,337 are Canadian. When walking here I notice that wearing my heaviest shoes is a lot easier on my foot, and I do little walking as it is raining heavily. The Groesbeek Memorial is here too, with the names carved on it of 1,030 Commonwealth soldiers who died and have no known grave.
Next I drive to Mook, which Canadian units passed through. There is a Commonwalth cemetery here as well, with 322 graves, including those of 10 Canadian and 11 Polish soldiers.
Then back to Mook where the 1H headquarters tanks harboured, while the rest of the regiment was in Molenhook. This was home for them for two months. The roads to both towns are through a large forest reserve, complete with deer crossing signs.The tall trees come right up to the edge of the road and drip water in the gloom. It's similar to driving through Stanley Park on a rainy day. Back at the hotel the woman in the restaurant tells me that the forests in this area draw hiking tourists from all over Holland.
My foot still aches, so at about 4 PM I decide to get medical advice. The hotel manager tells me there are three doctors in Millingen, taking shifts on the weekend, and another person gets me the phone number to call. But first I have to call collect to the insurance company assistance number in Washington, DC. So now the hotel staff get me the number of the collect call operator, and I call Washington to initiate a claim. It takes quite a while considering it's a collect call. Next I call the number for the doctor and make an appointment for 5:40 PM (it's now 4:45), but I discover that the doctor is in a clinic in Nijmegen. The hotel staff comes to the rescue again, and indicate the directions on my map. I jump in the car and head back to Nijmegen, and I find the right building on the second try and check in with one minute to go. Then of course I wait 20 minutes to see the doctor. It's good news and bad news — the good news is that I have nothing broken or loose in my foot, and the bad news is that I have a sore tendon in my foot from walking so much. Cobblestones can do that to you.The doctor recommends that I do less walking, and that I buy high top hiking shoes for support. My New Balance shoes will have to do for now, along with less walking and more driving.
Back in Millingen the hotel folks immediately want to know the results. What a terrific support group! After all this I have to treat myself to a nice dinner in the hotel restaurant, with dessert. The misfortune of no economical hotel room in Nijmegen has turned into the blessing of Millingen — beautiful countryside, great people, and peace and quiet.
After dinner it's off to do my nightly routine. I fall asleep reading.