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Today we boarded a train headed north to Groningen. Never heard of it? I wouldn’t expect you to. Groningen Province was the home of my Dutch ancestors.

We checked into Stadspark Campground outside of the city. We’re staying in a cabin with bunk beds. It’s a bit rustic, and management charges the equivalent of $1 for a roll of toilet paper. Really! Aidan and I are sharing one of the bottom bunks, because 1) safety (there’s no bar to prevent a person from falling onto the floor in his sleep) and 2) warmth! The mornings here are cold, probably low 40s. Even with three layers of clothing, our warm weather sleeping bags are not cutting it. Oh, and there’s no Wi-Fi, which is why these posts have been delayed.

From Nathan: The best part was when we got our bikes. My bike is a light-green color. We road them from the rental shop to a grocery store and back to the campsite. It was much different riding in the city than in a neighborhood. You have to watch out for the cars, pedestrians, and other bikes. The one thing I don’t like about riding is that I have to stay at my mom’s pace. Her pace is slower than mine, so I always have to make sure that I am not going to hit the person in front of me. On my bike, there is a place for another passenger to sit, so I carried my brother around the campground. (Aidan has his own bike, too.)

We do have a plan for the bikes. Tomorrow, we’re throwing them on a train to Delfzijl. From there, we’ll ride to Bierum and t’Zandt, where I believe four of my great-great-great grandparents are buried. Yes, it’s a grave hunt.

For the past year, we’ve been researching our family’s genealogy:

  • First, we inputed our family history – collected by my mother – into www.ancestry.com.
  • We were able to go back five generations to my last relatives who died in the Netherlands. The website listed the towns where their death records were filed.
  • Using Google Earth’s satellite maps, I was able to find the cemeteries in these very small towns.

Now we’ll see if the grave markers are where I think they are. If nothing else, it will be a nice bike ride in the countryside.