Posted by: jwhiff | July 6, 2012

The Golden Stay Awake Trophy

Quentin officially won this trophy today.  It all started at 2:00 am with what Dave described as “the worst storm (he) had ever experienced in the Netherlands”.  It was noisy and flashy and lasted a good hour or so.  Long enough for both boys to wake up and get all excited.  Landon was able to settle down again.  Quentin was not.  Stephen and Quentin tossed and turned together as if it had been carefully choreographed, both of them almost asleep until the other one decided it was time to shuffle around again.  I felt the best strategy was to stay completely frozen so as to not add to the problem, but it only served to torture me.  Stephen gave up at 5:00 am and dragged Quentin outside for a walk.  I seized the opportunity to catch a few delicious z’s before we needed to make our way out to the train bound for Alkmaar.

This ended up being the best part of the day, despite the fact that we needed to stop every 10 minutes or so to fuel Quentin up with tictacs and bagels as he desperately wanted to curl up on the sidewalk and sleep.  Landon almost stepped on a small green parrot, which thrilled him to pieces (he felt the tail feathers touch his leg) and this encounter spurred off an entertaining debate with Dave and Jelena about whether or not small green parrots had invaded the Netherlands the same way they had invaded Barcelona.  Stephen figured they had been sucked out of Spain by the big storm.  Perhaps.  We heard and saw several around the city during the day.  No one had ever noticed them before!!  Anyway, it was a highlight for Landon.  Quentin was thrilled to see Canada geese in a small game park near Den Haag Central Station (a little taste of home).

We entered the train station and were shocked to discover that our little outing to Alkmaar was going to cost us 60 euros.  Oh well…we really wanted to see the cheese market (finally) and hear the world-famous Alkmaar organ (at least Stephen did).  We handed over the money and boarded the train.  Moment later, Stephen realized that we were in serious danger of missing the cheese market once again as we had taken so long to get to the train.  Our success hinged on making the connecting train to Alkmaar once we got to Haarlem. If all went well, we would have exactly 3 minutes to make the train.  Our train was late, and therefore we were once again denied our life-long wish of witnessing the Alkmaar cheese market.  But!! We made it just in time to see the organ concert.  The highlight was hearing the piece of music I dubbed “Dracula’s Doorbell”.  Stephen figured it was a Mozart piece, but I’m not so sure.  The kids tolerated it well enough (the tictacs came in handy once again) and so we were happy to score at least a little success for our sixty euros.

As poor Quentin was really starting to deteriorate from sleep deprivation, we decided it would be prudent to make our way home.  We waited around at the train station for the appropriate train until we realized it wasn’t coming.  Supposedly, the tracks are shut down fairly regularly due to people using them to end their lives.  Now we had no choice but to take a scenic train tour in the opposite direction until we reached a station that could take us back to our destination.  There were no seats left, so we crowded onto the stairs and aisles with hundreds of other stranded Netherlanders.  Quentin was scared and had a nose bleed, but we were otherwise OK.  It took us a couple of hours, but we managed to make it back to Den Haag and Quentin stayed awake the entire time!  I dubbed him the “Golden Stay Awake Trophy Winner” and promptly sent him to bed once we reached Dave and Jelena’s house.  Landon was the only one opposed to Quentin’s award in the usual Landon fashion.  Hopefully there will be no need of such an award tomorrow.


  1. Given that you & Steve also didn’t have sleep you also deserve an award! I wish I had the same stamina (stubbornness?) – if I were in your shoes the cheese & organ would’ve had to wait til next year 🙂

    • Very true! But would I have been able to write about such a ridiculous day?

      • Exactly & that’s what these adventures are all about! We leave tomorrow for family camp & we actually have beautiful weather – so SO excited! Love you guys 🙂

  2. Wow, just your luck! Just like our storm of the century when we were in Portugal. Weather here has finally warmed up! Hope everyone is all rested up, love to all…Mom and Dad

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