Two Chicagoland clock enthusiasts visit
Trip Start Apr 15, 2003
136Trip End Sep 01, 2011
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This is a brief recounting of an extremely-short-notice visit to Chris and Melanie's in Amsterdam by a pair of Chicagoland clock nut friends of Chris', Ralph Ferone and David Grace. Right up front, I must say that I can't remember the last time I enjoyed a trip more, and I'm pretty certain Ralph feels the same way.
While attending a conference in Portland, Oregon, we heard news of a temporary clock exhibit at the Het Loo palace.
The exhibit covered the earliest of the pendulum clock, with the world's best examples, wonderfully displayed and interpreted. For clock lovers, it was a once-in-a-lifetime event. The fact that the exhibit remained open for only four more weeks, one of us would be on the road for the next two, and the other had to be back in Chicago to make paprika gravy for Thanksgiving made the idea of zipping over to the Netherlands to stare at clocks little more than fantasy. Still, we talked about it, checked airfares, and generally tortured ourselves exploring the slightest of possibilities.
Then Chris and Melanie came to the rescue. Boy did they! On the trip back to the States, we realized that neither one of us had sat down to watch television in five days, nor had we even noticed, with the boat rides, biking, museum trekking, long dinners, running conversations, and Belgian beer sampling. So many stories, so little time to tell them. Many things will stay with us forever--Captain Chris skippering his ship of six on a lantern-lighted sunset tour of the town (testing the width of only one bridge), Melanie tantalizing Milo with her giraffe slippers, getting to meet Kelly and Brad, a dinner party with mussels and mushroom fondue. . . .
We can't help but wonder if the names Chris, Ralph and David might be equally well remembered by the staff at the Het Loo? If so, we certainly hope that they have a collective sense of humor regarding the "assault of the Three Stooges."
Clock people tend to be an odd breed, and we're sure we gave the oddest of them a run for their money on our Apeldoorn adventure. First, the clocks were unbelievable. The exhibit was so good, in fact, that as we broke for lunch, we thought we'd seen the whole show until Chris pointed out that, although we'd spent the whole morning there, we'd only made it through the first half! The first half would have been worth the trip, and the second half was just as good. Before spending another couple of hours drooling and having our socks knocked off, we decided to take a break for food.
Lunch proved to be another comedy of errors that ended well. After asking numerous staffers for directions to a highly recommended restaurant, we trekked out to the car, back to the palace, and then walked into town before returning to the museum cafeteria, where we'd first asked for directions. And, of course, the meal proved to be excellent-even if Ralph got to the soup after it had been scooped free of all the goodies, Dutch style, and had to make do with a 3 oz large coffee.
Recharged, we returned to the clock exhibit. After another extended bout of viewing, with Ralph excitedly jiggling his change, David needing undisturbed study time, and Chris diplomatically mediating, Ralph decided to buy out the museum bookstore. As the staff scurried to find enough catalogs to fill his appetite, we set off to find the last clock in the exhibit, which was displayed in the palace itself. The assault was on. In our search, we nearly fell over at least one rope, toured two rooms backward, and set off more than three alarms. It's important, after all, to keep the guards on their toes. Still, we found the clock, managed not to take or break anything, and Chris rescued (we hope) a royal frog that didn't have the sense to stay out of the snow.
As a final proof that we enjoyed divine approval for this outing, Chris managed to steer us back to Amsterdam even though Ralph, whose daily coffee intake up to this point consisted of only two Dutch midget coffees, assumed the navigating duties armed with an internet printout intended for travel in the opposite direction. The stars must have been aligned.
Chris and Melanie, thanks so much for making the trip possible, and so wonderful. We don't think the best Hollywood writers could have scripted a better Netherlands adventure.
Mel and I enjoyed the company! Milo and Venus (the two cats) are in withdrawal from all the attention though.
Here is a photo, taken by David, of Ralph emerging from the Grey Area coffee shop in Amsterdam:
Here are some additional images taken by Ralph:
Waiting patiently to be served by the Butcher.
More clocks in an upscale clock shop in amsterdam
Our friends Brad and Kelly from San Francisco also arrived during Ralph and David's visit. We'll be posting an entry for their visit shortly.