Welcome back everyone. Tulip Time, the festival that we have been anticipating all this time was finally here and it was for sure a memorable one. Last weekend we (Los Arteaga’s) decided not to write a blog since the Tulip Time festivities commenced on Wednesday May 3rd so we decided to wait an additional 3 days to write a longer blog. The festival kicked off with the annual 5k race known as the Klompen Classic. Tulip Time focuses in the rich traditional Dutch values and let me tell you, I have nothing bad to say about the traditions and the people who make it happen. The Dutch people opened their doors and hearts to us and made us feel welcome and also to be part of their community and for that Abby, Eyra and I are extremely grateful. Klompen or Klompens, are the given name for the Dutch wooden shoes and boy are they hard to walk in. I looked like a person who walked on hot coals, I guess I can say that walking in klompens is definitely not in my DNA. Every year since Abby and I moved here we have decided to walk/run the Klompen Classic, we have taken pictures with our best friends who also happen to be the God parents of our daughter. That being said, we never really planned to take pictures before the race but now, taking pictures beforehand has become a tradition. It’s the small things like this that define strong friendships and also we get to see how we change throughout the years and man do I look more rotund and everyone else looks the same. I better take it easy with all of the tasty Dutch pastries. Abby has been training hard. She is running, lifting and eating healthier, she ran her 5k better than she expected and with great time. Eyra and I were right behind her the whole time and I finished 3 seconds after Abby had crossed the finish line. Abby is hoping to run a half marathon within the next year. Me on the other hand, I went straight to the poffertjes stand. Poffertjes are a small or tiny pancakes but in my opinion, they taste better. No half marathon for this guy. Who knows, I might do it too.
Some unexpected guests arrived to visit. Let me rephrase that, an unexpected family member who I knew nothing about until a few months back, changed my life completely and made me question my entire family history. To make the story short, I have a brother from my biological father, for those who don’t know me, I was adopted at a young age! The story is crazier than it sounds but that would be a story for another time. My brother Edgar and I met in December of 2016, you may think it was by accident but I will like to call it fate. We talk on a daily basis and it’s weird how much we have in common, the similarities are so identical that I freaked myself out when I began to talk about my hobbies and past times. It’s like we knew each other this whole time, that is the scariest part. The past is the past and I don’t care what happened between both of our families, now it’s the time to set aside the differences that our mothers had and move forward with another world of opportunities and to add yet another member to my family.
Our guest arrived on Thursday May 4th which was perfect timing on their end since that’s when the Tulip Time parade makes its way into town. I had originally made camping reservations to one of Pella’s most popular campgrounds but we decided not to go camping since my brother Edgar and his wife Karla were running on energy fumes but toughed it out and saw the night parade with us. Eyra had a blast with Karla and gave her a ton of kisses. Eyra had a few small bites of ice cream prior to the kisses and half of the ice cream that Eyra ate, ended up on Karla’s cheek. It was pretty funny. Is anyone familiar with the story of Wyatt Earp? How about the notorious shooting at the OK Corral? I don’t want to get into too much detail but Wyatt Earp’s childhood home is located a block away from my house and my work supervisor plays Virgil Earp, a brother of Wyatt Earp during the parades, I am not going to lie, he does look pretty bad ass and yes! (The mustache and guns are real). The reason why I mention this is because people who part take in the parade are sure hard to break character and my supervisor who tends to be a good friend made a really cool gesture and broke character to acknowledge that he saw me and my family. If you read this Karl, that was pretty cool of you man!
Friday arrived and work seemed to drag, even more since I had guests at home and I wanted to socialize with them and show them my town. I got lucky and had the chance to go home early. On a typical day, it takes me 5 minutes to drive to work. Yes, it’s rough but I am going to complain! It took me 20 minutes to get home since the traffic was insane and even more so since our house is situated a block away from all of the commotion. I should have taken my bicycle instead but then I realized that I couldn’t have the A/C on specially since it was a hot day so I decided to chill and let the road rage cool down.
The time to eat junk food was finally here! I had to tell my wife to hold me down since I was acting like a kid in a candy store. Summer body gone!!! Haha, I never had one anyway so there was nothing holding me back. If I had to describe my weekend in 2 words, they would be fun & food. It was really cool to see the town through their eyes (Edgar and Karla), I wonder if that’s how Abby and I were when we first experience the festival ourselves. There was just so much to talk about.
We decided to go camping that night since we still had one day reserved. We gathered our gear and drove 2 long miles, haha. Our campground was perfect and right next to the Des Moines River. We had a great fire that Edgar made, and Abby went straight for the s’mores! I don’t blame her since s’mores are da bomb, but I couldn’t take any more food since I had eaten a ton that afternoon. We had a great conversation and we gazed into the clear sky, we saw a couple of satellites and went to bed around midnight. The following morning, we were rudely awoken by people who wanted to take the camping spot. Yes, it was their camping spot but if they actually “read” the reservation confirmation letter, it states that checkout is at 4:00pm, not 7:00am, yeah! I didn’t make friends that morning but guess what? I too made a reservation and I also payed to stay there but the only difference was that I actually read the confirmation letter. Those guys drove pretty pissed off. Oh well. I’m sure they lived.
We packed up our campsite and headed home, we all showered, got non smoky clothes on and headed straight to have breakfast at a local restaurant on Saturday morning. Since Saturday is the last day of the festivities, the amount of people in Pella definitely doubles in size and makes getting around town a bit harder. We all enjoyed our breakfast but Eyra enjoyed building a tower made out of coffee creamers. As we exited the restaurant we noticed that a popular tourist stop which happens to be the local bakery (which is AMAZING) had already a ridiculous long line. We heard a couple of people say similar commentaries “I am not waiting in line for an hour and half to get a pastry now, I can get the same pastry on Monday and my waiting time will only be 5 minutes”. Yeah, I agree with that statement but most of the tourist do not have until Monday to wait!
We headed straight to the windmill museum. 2 weeks ago, Abby, Eyra and I made it to the windmill museum and it was nice and quiet but not this time. This time we had to buy tickets with designated time frames, we bought the tickets for the windmill tour that started at 4:50pm. This time frame was perfect because the parade started at 2:30pm and believe me, even though the parade is similar at daytime in comparison to the parade at night, both of the parades were completely different. I enjoyed seeing both of them but my favorite one was definitely the parade that commenced at 2:30pm. There was more to see and the parade’s detail is better appreciated. The day parade also includes both high school marching bands, and boy are they talented!
Even though our windmill tour was at 4:50pm, we were allowed to go into the historical village before the parade. The village was great, we liked that there was actual people explaining to us with details what it would have been like back in the day, from being a carpenter, to a blacksmith, to a klompen maker. Our afternoon flew by fast and the parade was about to start, we headed to a spot that we had all reserved and we had some prime seats (front row). The people from the parade were amazing, the Dutch costumes were beautiful and all are different because their clothing varies depending on their region. Some people interacted with Eyra and even invited our little one to scrub the streets with them before the actual parade started. Eyra got tired and I could tell the sun was bothering her, so I put her back on her baby carrier and set up the carrier’s hood cover and she was much comfortable, she waved at everyone during the parade. We loved the way the ground shook once the marching band went by, everyone was wearing their klompens and the sound of the wooden shoes was spectacular. We even saw a puppy dressed with her Dutch costume. These people don’t mess around and take their heritage serious. We saw one of our friends, Marlin, in the marching band and boy was she awesome! If I am not mistaken, this is the last year she attends the parade before she is off to college, so this parade was meaningful to her.
Once the parade was over, we headed straight to the to the mill and took the tour, I am pretty sure my brother under estimated the height of the mill until he was at the very top. He was amazed at how tall the mill was. Both Karla and Edgar admired the craftsmanship of the mill and the look on their faces was priceless, our last day together involved more sightseeing and more food. Tulip Time was officially over after the parade later that night.
The following day, our town was quiet and as if no festivities had occurred, the town was shiny clean, no trash was left on the town, the tulips remained in the gardens and the locals resumed living their normal lives as did we. Edgar and Karla returned to Colorado and yes, they will be missed but we plan to see each other soon and onto another adventure. We are yet to decide what we will be doing next weekend but I am sure it will be just as exciting.
To be continued…