Most people around the world have heard of California, that beautiful state that is situated along the west coast of the United States of America. Orange County is one of the more famous counties that make up California. The OC is home to Mickey Mouse, Disneyland, surfers, Laguna Beach, those famous Desperate Housewives and much, much more. But when I think of all those things and those “California Girls” there’s one girl who I’ve met here in The Netherlands who really sticks out in my mind as the essence of California. Free spirited, one with nature and the beauty that surrounds her no matter where she is living… meet Wendy Crandall.
Wendy and I met through an organization I joined after moving to The Netherlands, The North American Women’s club of Eindhoven. Sitting together at lunches or next to each other during coffee, our conversations always would flow very easily. Wendy is one of those rare people who without even knowing it, has brought joy and beauty to my life. I had wanted to start a blog about my experiences here in The Netherlands but had no idea how to start a blog. I found out that Wendy had a blog called Crandall Family Adventures in Limburg, and asked her for some help. She gladly said yes and invited me to her home for some blogging 101 lessons. After a couple of clicks on the computer my blog American Girl in Holland was born. She served up the perfect hot lunch on a cold Dutch day, ham and cheese toasties and French Onion Soup. Then Wendy took me on my first trip across The Netherlands border to Germany.
What I learned on that short trip from Venlo to Kaldenkirchen was that Wendy’s random act of kindness toward me was not random. She is like this all the time, always willing to help others, always ready to help others become better people. But what caught me by surprise was Wendy’s genuine inner inspiration that is contagious to those around her.
A few years ago when reflecting on life and what makes her happy, Wendy began thinking to herself… “When in my life was I most happy?” It’s a question all of us eventually ask ourselves as the day to day monotony draws us down. What can I do to feel happier, to be a better person and be more productive to the world around me? Well, Wendy thought and thought about that simple question and then it became clear to her. As a child, there was a time when she lived on a particular street in California that had a bunch of kids her own age. Every day they would all play outside and ride their bikes all day long. This feeling of happiness and freedom was a fleeting time in her childhood but one that could be easily fixed in her adulthood. She needed to step outside and play. And she did!
Wendy spends a good portion of her day outside enjoying everything nature has to offer. After moving from California to Bellingham, Washington she first worked for Habitat for Humanity and also a church. She then took a job at a Western Washington University where she helped others find alternative transportation to driving around not only the campus but the city as well. Using a bike, busing or taking a train are all great transportation alternatives to driving a car and creating more pollution.
Since moving to The Netherlands, Wendy has enjoyed exploring new places many different ways. Within two months of moving here she and her husband biked across The Netherlands. They rode a tandem bike on their more than 500 kilometer trek across the country. Starting in Den Burg and traveling all the way to Maastricht, Wendy and her husband stayed overnight with various hosts. Wendy’s dream of playing outside all day long was at its best… biking, enjoying nature, all kinds of weather, meeting new people and loving the local food and beer.
Follow this link if you’d like to read all about her biking adventures http://crandallfamilylimburg.blogspot.nl/search/label/Cycling
Another activity that Wendy does to keep herself outside is walking. I don’t mean a walk around the block or to the market, I mean serious walking. But how does a free spirit like Wendy link the word serious into her walking? She does this by usually having a destination in mind. Two amazing things she is doing with her walking are Geocaching and tackling the Pieterpad.
Geocaching as Wendy describes it is a destination for a good walk. As Wendy sets out the door on any given day, she has with her a backpacked filled with snacks, water, gloves and her cell phone with the app http://www.cgeo.org/ loaded and ready to go treasure hunting. With the coordinates loaded she will set off at any given time to go find a hidden container. The geocache may be in a city located in a random building or hidden out in the woods. There are over 5 million geocachers throughout the world who play this game with over 2 million places to find the caches. One day Wendy and I had set up to meet at her house for lunch. She asked if I’d like to take a walk and of course I said yes. Once again, we crossed over into Germany to walk with a geocache in mind. We found one in a coconut hanging from a tree. Not something you usually find in Germany. Inside we signed our names to the log showing that we were there and Wendy logged our find on line. Then we carefully placed the cache back in place for others to find.
For Wendy’s birthday this past year her daughter made her a cache. Here is the link if you would like to find Wendy’s birthday cache http://www.geocaching.com/seek/cache_details.aspx?wp=GC42866
If you would like to find a cache go to this site to get signed up. http://www.geocaching.com/
Another amazing walking experience Wendy is taking on is the Pieterpad. The Pieterpad is a 485km walking path through The Netherlands. The path is divided into 26 different sections with each ranging from 11km to 24km per section, a comfortable walking distance for Wendy. Wendy likes to train or bus to the start of each section that she has picked out to walk for the day. She loves discovering new places and meeting new people along her way.
Here is a link to Wendy and her progress along the Pieterpad. http://crandallfamilylimburg.blogspot.nl/p/pieterpad.html
I could go on and on about the ways that I find Wendy inspirational… whether it’s trying 50 new beers before she turned 50 or trying something new each week before her birthday this year, the list goes on and on. But I think the main reason I find her so motivating is that Wendy is true to herself. All the things she does just comes natural to her because she is not trying to be anyone but herself.
In Step.. with Wendy Crandall~ I wish!