The day will come when I will die. So the only matter of consequence before me is what I will do with my allotted time. I can remain on shore, paralyzed with fear, or I can raise my sails and dip and soar in the breeze.--Richard Bode

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Coldest, snowiest, rainiest Spring anyone can remember

Norway's fjord country keeps getting more and more pretty. Despite this being the coldest, snowiest, rainiest Spring that anyone here can remember, it is still fun exploring this area. Jessica would like it better if the hikes we had planned were not covered with 8 feet of snow, but that's the way the cookie crumbles sometimes.

It isn't all water here. There are many beautiful farmsteads, and a few old hardscrabble ones. A man and his sister worked this one for an absentee landlord for years. What a hard life that must have been.

Judging from all the sheep on the hillsides, I think sheep herding must have been popular from way back when.

Jessica likes the sheep, but she especially loves the little lambs and tries very hard to catch and pet one. They are fast though; too fast for her.

How do you like this picnic spot. There are waterfalls like this all over the place.

How about this one? Two waterfalls side by side. There were four motorcycle riders here, trying to find some shelter from the rain and looking very soaked and miserable.

This waterfall drops over a thousand feet into the gorge below. It really made me nervous and scared when Jessica climbed out on the rock, but I have to admit it does make a dramatic picture. Later, she was reading on the internet that three people have fallen to their deaths there in the last couple of years.

Here is what it looks like looking into the gorge from a different direction.

Does anyone want a troll from the gift shop? No? You don't know the joys you are missing.

The weather is so changeable here. It can be sunny and warm one moment, and snowing a little while later. I guess we will not get to do a lot of hiking while we are here.

There is a band playing in the hotel just down the way from ours. I think we will go listen to it for awhile. I will leave you with one last picture. Now be honest. Which of us is more impressive? Me? Or the waterfall? Just kidding. Don't answer that. I might be disappointed.

Bye from Norway -- land of mountain snow, trolls, glaciers, fjords, midnight sun, and rugged mountain men like me. Ha.

Talk with you later,

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Snowy, snowy Norway

Jessica and I have been loving our rental car, especially since it seems to rain here along the coast almost constantly. We passed a group of soaked and miserable looking motorcycle riders in the rain today,  and we both decided that we are very happy to have a car, even if only for a little while.

It snowed 7 feet of snow Friday in the mountain pass we needed to go over. Fortunately, they got the pass open yesterday.  The snow is piled up over 15 feet high in some places along the road, and the road is very narrow because of all the snow. I wouldn't want to meet another driver going the other way in a narrow place on that road. Fortunately, there was no other traffic on it, so it was easy for us to stop and take pictures.

It snowed on us up there, great drops of the white stuff. And the temperature got very cold. It was two degrees above zero on the car's thermometer (about 36 degrees Fahrenheit). Here I am -- enjoying a brief break from driving the narrow roads.

People we meet tell us that this is the rainiest, coldest, wettest Spring they can remember. Last year at this time everything was green and the snow was all gone.

I guess it must have been up there last year like it is down close to the sea right now, green and misty rain and quite cool, temperature wise.

Jessica, who does all the research for us and acts as our trip navigator, is upset that all the hikes she had planned for us are still covered deep in snow. I am disappointed too. I would like to be able to hike out to some of the beautiful sites you see in travel magazines. Still, we are seeing a lot.

Notice the raindrops that got on my camera lens while I was taking this picture of Jessica. The swords in the rock are just a fun reminder of Viking days of long ago.

Look at this Norse graffiti. I guess even way back in the Bronze Age people liked to draw things in public places. Can you see the drawings those Vikings made of ships? Jessica is trying to point them out to you.

I think that the best things you get to see when traveling are those that you just run onto by accident. We just happened to stumble onto an old Norse village. It was built in the Bronze Age about 500 years before Christ. This was the blacksmith shop for the village back then. Notice the roof. It was covered with moss and ferns. It worked pretty well I think, because it was mostly dry in there.

The place is still closed for the season, but a man who was working on some projects there let Jessica and me go into the buildings and look around.  Here is what it looks like inside the blacksmith shop.

The workman's grandfather happened to be there, and he gave us a tour. He spoke only a tiny bit of English, but fortunately Jessica was able to talk with him in German. He was a lot of fun.

Here is a loom for making the clothing they wore back then. Can you see the rocks that hold the cords down tight? I happen to know that they did their looms just like this in Israel back in the days of Jesus.

The grandfather was working on restoring the garden. He only had a few garden beds worked up, but it is really too early to grow much there anyway.

This was a "house" where about 20 people slept. The people slept on mats along the right hand wall. Their animals stayed in the cages built along the left hand wall.

 Animal lover Jessica enjoyed the goats there. Personally, that old Billy Goat and I never warmed up to each other.

I did think the little baby goats were kind of cute.

It was cold and rainy again today, so tour guide Jessica found us a very nice Bed and Breakfast for the night. We are the only ones here, so we have the place to ourselves. Our host, the owner, likes to wander over from his house across the street and chat with us.  A nice guy, he gave each of us our own room for no extra money. To celebrate, Jessica and I went to the grocery store and came back to the B & B and made ourselves a delightful meal of spaghetti and a much needed salad. Yum. Best food I've had in days. Cheapest, too. This country is very expensive, not just for rooms in which to stay, but also for food. For example, yesterday we each got a cup of coffee and I got a bottle of juice. How much do you think that would cost? It was $13.00.

But enough griping about prices. We are having too much fun enjoying the scenery here in Norway, even if it is rainy, to fixate on money.


Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Jessica is here with me in Oslo

I was up bright and early to get all packed up and ready to go get my daughter, Jessica, at the Oslo airport. I took everything out of Odysseus' panniers and put it all into my tent, and I left the tent set up to dry out while I went to the airport to get her. I left the campground with plenty of time to spare, but my stupid GPS took me exactly 180 degrees in the wrong direction. After a couple of stops at gas stations to get proper directions, I got to the airport just as her flight was landing. It all worked out though. I parked the bike in an out-of-the-way long term storage place, picked up a rental car from Hertz, and Jessica and I headed back to Oslo to collect my tent and gear at the campground. By the time we got there, the beautiful, cloudless morning had turned to rain again, and we had to tear down a wet tent and store it away in the car. I am thinking that, with all this rain and cold weather, Jessica and I are going to have a much better time traveling around in that car than we would have had on my motorcycle, even though she was quite willing to ride behind me on it.

One of the very first things Jessica wanted to do was go visit some friends and their new baby. And what a lovely group they turned out to be. This is Grandmother Cecilia on the left. And there is Jessica at the top of the table. New mother Charlotte and father Eivind are looking quite Viking I think. Five week old baby Nora did not get to have her picture taken. Too bad, because I think she is a lovely little girl.

About 10 pm, supper over and dishes waiting to be washed, Jessica and I went to the famous Oslo sculpture park. I really think I outran those two guys who were racing me. I guess at 10 p.m. they should be slowing down a little.

I think this guy would be happy if someone took a few of his kids off his hands.

Jessica and I stayed the night in a cheap hostel in super expensive Oslo. I had to pay almost $80.00 for a cheap, rather crummy room in that hostel, but I was glad to have it instead of sleeping through the rainy night in my tent. 

I spent almost an hour driving around looking for a place to park the rental car. Oslo is a hard town to navigate because none of the streets run straight and square, so I kept getting lost. I found one parking place out on the street, but couldn't figure out how to walk back to the hostel, so I had to drive back to the hostel guided by the GPS and start over.

It all worked out though, and at 8.00 a.m. this morning we were on the road out of Oslo, and headed out on our adventure.  Jessica had done a lot of research on scenic routes to drive and famous places to see. She is a good tour guide, navigator, and traveling companion.  One of the first things she took us to is this very, very old wooden church.

While I was taking Jessica's picture, these kids came by and wanted me to take their picture too. Cute!

Here is the inside of the old wooden stave church. I was quite taken by the ability they had back in the year 1250 to make something this magnificent out of staves. They still hold worship services in it yet today, but because they can't heat it in the wintertime, they have to worship in a barn that they can heat when it gets cold.

How is your Norwegian, by the way. I bet with a little thought and effort you can read this traffic control signal where the road was blocked down to one lane due to construction.

Norwegian, Swedish, Finnish, English and Dutch all come from the same Germanic root. All those languages have words in common, but the spellings and pronunciations are different from each other. I get the same feeling here as I had in college when we had to try to read the old English of Chaucer's day.

This part of Norway is very mountainous and watery. It is still very cold (another reason I am glad Jessica and I have a rental car) and the mountain lakes are still frozen over in places. There are a lot of big waterfalls too. Check out the one behind Jessica.

We kept seeing farm buildings with grass covered roofs. They even put grass on new buildings as a design feature. I bet you are jealous. What do you think? Would you like trees growing out of your roof?

And so, bedtime for this weary traveler. I didn't sleep much last night, so I plan on sleeping later in the morning -- not too late, though, because breakfast is planned at 8 a.m. A big day awaits.


Monday, May 25, 2015

Good morning from sunny/rainy Oslo.

Odysseus and I had a very beautiful ride from Copenhagen to Oslo, coming across south Sweden on a Motorway (Autobahn? Interstate?) where the traffic flowed along at a comfortable 70 miles per hour.

It was a gorgeous Sunday, and people were out driving. For hours I kept passing scores of nicely kept-up American cars built around 1958--1965. Why anyone would want one of those things is beyond me because they were not very good machines even when new, but as I recall the European and Japanese cars from that era were junk too.

Speaking of junk -- take a look at this thing. It was being driven around by some young Hooligans who were dressed up in their version of 1960 rockers. Notice the huge speakers in the back window. What in the World? What kind of game do you suppose they were playing at?

 Here it is again. Lovely machine, hey?

This one was only slightly better.

I was really awed from my first glimpse of Oslo from high on a hill overlooking the city. It is called the "City on a Fjord".

Somehow I wound up down by the waterfront. It was teeming with people out having a good time. I parked Odysseus right in front of the beautiful building which houses a display of the Nobel Peace Prize winners.  

One of the most recent winners was Malala, the girl from Pakistan who was shot in the face by the Taliban for trying to go to school after the Radical Muslims had banned girls from doing that.

Here is another picture I took from off the wall in the building. Do you recognize the people in the picture?

I got to thinking of how each of the winners of the Peace Prize down through the years were hated by so many who did not want human progress. I mean, how could the radical Muslims hate a child like Malala enough to climb on her school bus and shoot her in the face? Will human stupidity never end?

On  a happier note, I can tell you that I enjoyed exploring the waterfront very much. There was so much going on.  For one thing, they were having sailboat races. There were boats from many countries. They were very good at what they did.

Oslo is the "City on a Fjord", but I guess it could also be called a city of flowers and small neighborhoods. I really like it.

I took Odysses out into the countryside around Oslo for a ride and kept running into bike races. They were having a swell time. I think you better stop for a quick break guys. Maybe somebody has a flat tire.

Better slow down on those curves. You might hit a sign. Ha.

This guy was guarding a fortress up over the waterfront. He must be doing a good job because all the stones of the fortress still seem to be there.

I am close to the "Land of the Midnight Sun" These kids were out playing at 10;00 at night. Don't they have parents making them come in and go to bed? I guess they had better take advantage of the sunlight while they can, because in winter it must get dark about 3 in the afternoon. Ugh.

Well, enough about Oslo for now. Tomorrow is another day of exploring. Gotta be bright eyed and bushy tailed for that.