I have done a variety of short posts here in the week since returning from my Lofoten adventure to visit northernotter
, but I haven't made the time to record the highlights of that trip, so I will now see how much I can remember...
The adventure begun on Wednesday, 28 Aug, when I was really, really feeling the lack of mountains locally, and wanting to see some. So I asked northernotter
in FB chat if she would be home that weekend, and she said she would and I was welcome to come on up. Since the next day was the local SCA social/arts night here (and the first one of the season now that summer is over), I decided I could stay home one more day, and I bought my train tickets for Friday morning.
My train departed at 05:53 and took me as far as Narvik, on the Norwegian coast. Well into the Swedish mountains we were boarded by a fairly large group of school children (I guess in the 12 to 15 year old age range) who were speaking something that sounded German to my ear. They stayed on the train till the next stop, and were every bit as noisy the whole time as one might expect. As the train was pulling into the station one of their accompanying adults looked at me and said "now you will get some peace and quiet". I smiled and asked "school trip?", and he replied "yes, 8 days hiking in the mountains", and he looked totally exhausted as he said it. I commented "That sounds delightful for them, but rather hard on the adults", and he nodded, and picked up the headset that one of the kids had left behind and he followed them off the train.
We arrived in Narvik a bit before 15:00, and the bus to Lofoten departed at 15:30. The bus was rather full, so I wound up sitting in the very back, in the middle seat, which meant I could easily look out both windows. The bus arrived in Svolvær around 20:00, and northernotter
and I drove to her place, which is in a village not to far from there.
She has a fabulous view! There is a beautiful mountain peak framed by her kitchen window, and more mountains on every side (though on one side one can't see the mountains for the small ridge behind the house). So wonderful to live in a world framed by "up" again, even if only for a few days.
I, of course, wasn't hungry when I got in, it being evening, but she cooked up a yummy smelling dinner for her family, which made more than enough for left overs to take with us for lunch the next day, when I discovered that it was every bit as tasty as it had smelled the night before.
I enjoyed the chance to meet the rest of her family. Her son had come along to the Medieval days here, so I had met him before, but he was noticeably more sociable and talkative at home than he had been at his first SCA event, and I rather liked him. Her daughter is a total delight, and she was also kind enough to give up her bed for me to sleep in (she took an air mattress the first night, the couch the second, and the third night, since her brother was gone, she took his room). I also enjoyed her husband's company, and even the dog is well behaved and pleasant to be around, so the social interaction part of the adventure was a win on all fronts.
But that was just a bonus, because, lets face it, the reason one goes to Lofoten is to see the mountains and fjords, and I couldn't have picked a better weekend to do that. The temperatures were comfortable--neither too warm nor too cold, the sun was out and the sky was blue.
Saturday morning northernotter
, I, and her dog, went out for our first adventure. We drove down to the SW corner of her island, parked the car, and set off looking for a trail she had never tried before, but was mentioned in her guidebook. The first part was easy—along the rocks by the coast and past the summer cottage belonging to someone (what a stunning place for a summer cottage). Then there appeared to be something resembling a trail a bit further up the hill, and we opted to go that way, but soon we were just walking between the trees and the juniper bushes, working our way up the hill a bit, and a bit further to the northwest, parallel with the coast and the mountain ridge above us. Eventually the going started getting quite a bit steeper, and we got high enough that we could see a trail, way down below us, near the coastline. At this point we needed to use our hands a lot, and wondered if we were going a useful direction.
Therefore I went on a bit ahead, past some harder bits that were still within my skill level for free climbing (even though I haven't done any climbing since last November, when I visited linda_linsefors
in Grenoble) to see if it looked like it was getting easier, or if it lead anyplace useful. I got to a nice, flatter area of easy going, but I couldn't tell if it was going to lead anywhere useful, and from there it wasn't possible to see northernotter
anymore, so I opted to head back down to where she was.
Did I say that those "harder bits" were still within my skill level? Make that "just barely within my skill level for down climbing", though they hadn't seemed that hard going up. I paused often to consider my next move on the decent back down to her. As I got back into sight I discovered that her dog, which is on the smallish side (though not so small as to be one of those little yappy dogs), had gotten ahead of her by a good 6 to 10 meters, but was now stuck—the poor thing was looking back down hill, but so not willing to take the jump from the rock she was on to the ground below it, and I can't say as I blame her—the drop was only about three times her height, but the landing spot was small and sloped.
told her to "wait" (a skill they worked on lots when she was a puppy), and I worked my way down to, and then just below her, then lifted her down to where I was standing, and worked my way a bit lower, and then lowered her again, repeating the process till we were back down to where northernotter
was standing, and the going was, once again, easy enough for a smallish dog to proceed on her own four feet.
Since that path up the hill had been pronounced a dead end (thought I will never know if I could have found a way to continue if I had gone on) we worked our way back down the hill, found the trail we had seen from above, and tried to follow it. Only to lose it again. How does a trail that is so clear one minute become so invisible the next? It is like people (or animals?) walk on that short stretch of path, and then switch to only walking on rocks. We never did find a way to get to the valley between the ridge we had gone part way up, and the next ridge, and by then we were wondering if the trail we had seen on the floor of that valley is actually the one mentioned in the guide book.
By then a couple of hours had elapsed, so we decided to head back to the car, this time working our way along the rocky coastline, admiring the pretty deformation in the lovely metamorphic rocks. I was delighted to note a huge difference in my confidence level and balance for the return trip as compared to how it felt walking along the rocks along the coast on our way in. There is nothing like challenging oneself with the more serious climbing to make the easier stuff feel, well, easy! I could, once again, hop over small chasms without flinching, and given the choice between an easy way and a fun way, I was choosing the fun paths.
After that walk we drove completely around the small island just to the northwest of her island, and admired the incredible views before driving back to town to get groceries and then to the house.
That night they served salted cod for dinner. This is not to be confused with salt cod. The former is made from fresh (or frozen and thawed) fish which is covered with a little coarse salt over night before being cooked in a pot on the stove, while the latter is a method of preserving and drying fish to keep for ages without refrigeration (and is one of the reasons that Lofoten was responsible for the generation of a hugely high percentage of Norway's wealth in the middle ages). I was slightly hesitant to try the cod, since I have never liked fish, but, since I couldn't detect any unpleasant smells wafting across the table (as I usually do when others are eating fish), I decided to be brave, and took a bite. It wasn't unpleasant, so I even took a couple of more bites. I didn't eat enough to make any noticeable difference to the amount of fish available for the meal (which was served with carrots in a white sauce and potatoes with butter (churned from cream which had been let to sour a bit first), but it was enough to claim I have eaten fish.
On Sunday we enjoyed a lazy morning around the house. I read Little House in the Highlands
, a book on her daughter's shelf that I hadn't known existed before this trip, and loved every bit of. Must see if there is a Swedish translation, and must find all the other books written about Laura's ancestors and daughter—I grew up reading (and re-reading) the Laura Ingalls Little House books, and I have most of those in Swedish now (and have already read them all twice) but I had no idea all of these new ones existed.
In the afternoon we took a drive around the south side of the next big island to the south, the one with the Viking Museum
in the middle of it, and then we took the main road up the central valley, past that museum. We didn't visit this time (lofd_kjar
and I had been there two years ago when we visited Lofoten, before we met northernotter
), but instead took a short hike up the ridge to the north west of it, where we had a lovely picnic. My phone battery can't be trusted, so I didn't take any photos, but northernotter got a decent photo me
looking out the opposite direction from the museum (the sun was directly on the other side of the museum from us, so it wasn't a good time for photos that direction).
On Monday she had to work, so I went out for a walk just outside her door, and really enjoyed it. I wound up doing a 6 km loop, first across the main road an onto the trails (which are lighted ski trails in the winter), and then back onto the roads when I got to the school, heading back down to the coast (next to the Lofoten Museum, which I didn't visit, either), then along the coast and over the ridge back to her neighbourhood. There were, rarely, blueberries along my path, which I was "tvungen"
After my walk I finished reading another book that I hadn't really known existed. When I was a kid one of my favourite books was The Big Black Horse
, but I had no idea that it was a (VERY) abridged version of a longer novel. Therefore you may understand my surprise and delight to discover a copy of The Black Stallion
on her daughter's shelf—it took only a page to realize that it was the same story, even if there was So Much More in the way of detail (the boy has a full name! A back story!), and I happy settled into reading it. Much to my surprise, the book continues WAY past where it end in the version I had had (which stops with the rescue). I wonder how I missed the long version while growing up?
got off of work her husband and I picked her up, and we three had time to sit and visit a bit longer at a café before they put me on the bus back to Narvik. While the bus to Lofoten is nicely coordinated with the train schedule, the reverse trip is not. I could have taken the morning bus, but it would have reached Narvik about an hour after the train departed. Therefore I took the afternoon bus and couch surfed in Narvik that night.
My host was a nice lady who worked on a knitting project whilst I did some nålbinding. She has a baby who had fun mimicking me during yoga, and, when I sat down on the floor for the floor poses crawled right into my lap for a hug. She laughed and said that is typical of her son—Stranger? Hug it! She needed to head to uni early on Tuesday morning, so I packed up my bags and walked down the hill to the train station, which was closed when I arrived at 08:00, never mind the sign on the door that said it is open from 07:00. So I still don't know if the rumours of luggage lockers existing at the station are true or not. Instead I took my bags with me and went to a hotel for breakfast.
I don't normally like to pay restaurant prices for food whilst traveling (especially since I am such a fussy eater), but I decided that it would be worth it in this case, and, indeed it was, since the let me put my bags into the locked room behind the front desk there, and then, after I had finished eating a large meal (since I knew I would be traveling all day), they said I was welcome to leave the bags there while I went out for walk. So I went into the city center and did some window shopping (most shops not yet being open for the day). Luckily for me, that was a "most", and not an "all", since I happened upon a yarn shop which was open.
I have a nålbinding project in progress that had been on hold due to having run out of yarn. I got the yard from a friend at an SCA event, and she got it from Gotland, where it was hand spun by the woman who owns the sheep it came from. When I was running low on that yarn I took the hat to the local yarn store in Luleå, and determined that none of the grays here was anywhere near matching it. So I cut a tiny length of the yarn and attached it to my keychain, in hopes I would find a better match elsewhere. Sure enough, the yarn shop in Narvik had something suitable. Not quite perfect—the commercial stuff is not as tightly spun, and there is a hint of difference in the colour, but I am not certain that the difference is going to show all that much, since I am working in Omani Stitch
, which is really dense stitch. (So far I have had time to do only a few hours more of stitching on this with the new thread, which is not enough to do a full lap around the hat.)
After buying the yarn and some groceries for the trip I collected my luggage and went to the train station. By then it was 10:00, and there was a train sitting on the tracks. The sign on it said it was going to Luleå. So I asked the conductor if I could take this train instead of the one at 12:30 for which I had tickets. He said "yes, but this one can't leave till 13:00", and explained that there were issues with departure, and while this train had been scheduled to leave earlier than mine, it had been rescheduled.
Therefore I boarded the train and got out my sexy Viking cloak in progress, sat at a table and begun stitching. A couple of hours later the conductor came round to explain to us that the delay had been caused by a rock fall in a tunnel, and that they would be getting us a bus to Björkliden, the next train station beyond the rock fall, but they didn't yet know when that would arrive. A bit before 15:00 he came back and said that the bus should be here by 16:00—that they couldn't find any closer, so there was one coming from Kiruna for us.
A bit later I got a SMS from the train company saying that due to a rock fall the 12:30 train was being replaced by a 16:30 bus, which would depart from the train station and take us to Björkliden. I laughed because that was old news, and the departure time was rather later than the 16:00 the conductor had guessed.
Since I trusted the conductor better than I did the SMS I packed away my sewing a bit before 16:00, and was ready when the bus arrived. The trip to the next station took 1.5 hours, and then we settled onto a new train, and I got my sewing project back out. This train also had a school group, this time only 24 Swedish high school kids and their teachers (and a few parents). Two of the teachers sat across from me, and we chatted (largely in Swedish), for much of the ride home. One of the teachers is a handicrafts teacher at the school, and the other knows one of my SCA friends, so both were interested in my cloak in progress.
Thanks to all of the delays it was after midnight before we were home and so I did my yoga and went straight to sleep.
The week and weekend since have been fun and busy, but it is now 01:00, and I have things to do tomorrow, so that story will have to wait for another day.