I had spent one of the most uncomfortable nights yet in the car not so much because of the cold, and it certainly was cold, but because I had parked the car on a very slight angle leaving me rolling around the night restlessly. But nothing like a crappy night’s sleep to make one want to get up and going and a few minutes after six in the morning I was gunning it down the autobahn at a breakneck speed of... um, about 60. Probably no one would believe me if I said that this brand new car feels wheezy past 55 and, in fact, the fastest Dana and I managed to get it to go was 90 miles an hour, almost on a dare, before we let up lest the poor thing fly itself apart.
But that’s okay. There’s no keeping up on the autobahn with the endless stream of beemers and benzes anyway. And going too fast kind of defeats the purpose of checking out the scenery I will soon leave behind. Taking it slow therefore I made it into the Netherlands after an entire day of sleet, rain, snow and more rain driven by often ferocious wind gusts that threatened to peel me and all the other cars right off the highway. I snooped around Den Haag, south of Amsterdam and supposedly a top tourist attraction but the weather was unforgiving and about the last thing that I could conjure on my mind at the time was to get out into that mess to take a stroll around town.
So I kept on driving south and came to Antwerp again where I had been just a few days before. Despite the equally crappy weather here I went ahead and parked the car, took a walk into that bitchin’ cold and that bitchin’ wind only to turn around a few minutes later still without lunch or breakfast even though all the Antwerpians were already leaving work to go home. A few miles back on the road though and I stopped at a rest area, the sort they have on I-95 with restaurants to go with the gas, and ate a huge brot-like sausage served with no bun, ketchup nor mustard (I did ask). It came instead with some delicious fries and I scrounged around til I found some ketchup to make a meal. My system, harassed as it was by so many days in a row of eating tuna, cheese and bread, deeply thanked me for the change in menu.
It took the longest time for me to find a place to stay the night. The last time I spent the night in Belgium it had cost me over a hundred dollars the night for a Motel 6-grade room so to cost average tonight would be another night in the car. Except the country is so thickly populated, on the western half at least, that I couldn’t find anywhere suitably out of the way despite driving around til well past the point there's any tinge of daylight left in the sky.
Despondent, I resigned myself to sleep the night at a rest area right on the highway with its noisy traffic and the unearthly yellow glow of high-intensity sodium lamps doing their best to keep one awake. Making the best of a slim shot I wedged myself in between two 18 wheelers which for the most part did blot out the lights and once all locked up inside the traffic didn’t seem so loud after all.