Heading for the land of our favorite Vikings • July 28, 2015

Hey All –

 

I’m pretty much done with work tasks, and have now begun staging and packing for Norway. The papers are stopped. Our house sitters are all set. WE LEAVE IN LESS THAN TWO DAYS! 

 

Reidun and I can’t wait to see family and friends. I will go fishing – a lot, and I’m taking art supplies too. Hopefully, I’ll do some ink slinging outdoors, though it’s been a cool, wet summer over there. Keep fingers crossed for me, okay?

 

I won’t be blogging while I’m away, but before the big pause, I thought you might like to take a little tour with me. It’s spectacular show & tell, best enjoyed when you have a few relaxed minutes.

 

We’ll catch up in September –

 

Your Buddy Bill

 

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Land of Wonder – and Neglected Trout

 

Screen shot 2015-07-28 at 10.32.16 AMI struggle to describe western Norway, and every time I try, I just give up. Imagine it as where mountains and sea meet, and you’ll have a place like this, where you can begin to marvel.

 

Screen shot 2015-07-28 at 10.33.46 AMYou can start a day’s drive beside a turquoise colored fjord in morning sunlight. . .

 

Screen shot 2015-07-28 at 10.33.59 AM. . . Cross over the mountains, wondering where the summer went . . .

 

Screen shot 2015-07-28 at 10.34.31 AM. . . and find it again that afternoon, once you’ve descended into another fjord valley.

 

Screen shot 2015-07-28 at 10.39.21 AMPerhaps a really quick geography lesson is needed? This is the world with lines and dots. The lines are the Equator and Arctic Circle. The lowest red dot is on top of where I live. The two upper dots are Anchorage, Alaska and the area of Norway we’re visiting, which is just as far north!

 

Screen shot 2015-07-28 at 10.39.52 AMHere are satellite views of Norway in winter, where the mountainy interior looks just as arctic as it truly is. Hey, why isn’t there snow along the coasts too? Does it even look a little green there? What’s up?

 

Oh, I should mention that the two red dots here are Norway’s biggest cities (Bergen at left, and the darker one is Oslo). You can see the Arctic Circle again too. The larger green circle is where we’re headed. Don’t worry, there’s only one more instructional picture to go!

 

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It’s so much nicer along the coast because an ocean current (it’s called the Norwegian Atlantic Current) brings warmer water up from further south. It effects the climate. Coastal summers are much like those in New England! It’s not bad up in the mountains either – lows average in the 40’s or better, and highs in the 50’s to 70’s (all in fahrenheit temps – I’m a typically pathetic American).

 

Screen shot 2015-07-28 at 10.48.29 AMIt rains a lot, so it’s a wet, lush landscape. Storms sometimes parade over, one after another, all day long. The sunshine in between can be jewel-like and just as sharp. This peak is a storm catcher I’ve long admired.

 

Screen shot 2015-07-28 at 10.45.28 AMTo get to the little village where Reidun was born – which is called Vik – you have to cross over the mountains or take a boat up the coast. This view is almost at the end of the drive over.

 

Screen shot 2015-07-28 at 10.41.03 AMAnd there is Vik, in it’s valley and beside it’s bay, which opens onto the Sognefjord. Each time I reach this spot, it’s as if I can let go of a breath I’ve been holding since I last left.

 

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No one knows for sure when the first of Reidun’s descendants came into the valley, but there my Sweetie is, standing on the road into the family farm. It’s called Hønsi (also Reidun’s maiden name) and is one of the oldest farms there, with some thought it may date back as far as 500-600 AD! The land is still worked by a cousin.

 

Screen shot 2015-07-28 at 10.34.48 AMThe valley is lovely. Sometimes, I almost expect a hobbit to pop up! Do you see the stave church?

 

Screen shot 2015-07-28 at 10.42.21 AMHere it is again! Stave churches are medieval, and unique to northern Europe. Few remain and a lot of them are in Norway. This one was first built in the late 12th century and has been rebuilt a few times since. I think it looks like Japanese pagoda builders and Viking woodworkers got together on it.

 

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Stave churches have long been preserved with coats of tar! I wish I could find my first snapshot of this church. Only later did I realize that Reidun is in it, leaning in to sniff a porch post! She loves the smell of tar!

 

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Along the edge of the bay, there is a small neighborhood that has been designated as an historic area. The cute white cottage in the bright sun is where we stay. Reidun, her niece and nephew own it. If you look down between the cottages, you can see the water.

 

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And this is the view from the water’s edge, looking back.

 

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Turn around and there is the fjord. This was taken at sunset, which happens pretty darned close to midnight!

 

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This picture and the next one are of the Vikja, the little creek in Reidun’s valley. It sluices along over a lot of water-sculpted bedrock.

 

Screen shot 2015-07-28 at 10.40.42 AMEvery watercourse seems to have trout in it, and many also have salmon runs. Almost no one pays attention to the trout – except me, lucky me!

 

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Rivers, rivers everywhere . . .

 

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. . . and mountains loom over all. Sometimes looking up at them, I almost lose my sense of balance!

 

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This is one of my favorite places. It’s called Myrkdalselvi – the Dark Valley River.

 

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The colors of the water and bottom are unbelievably lovely.

 

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And when the late afternoon sunshine makes the hillsides glow, the reflection transforms the water into a rippled, emerald mirror.

 

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Of course the river is just crawling with pretty brown trout.

 

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The mountain in the background had no name, until my sister christened it Mammuttoppen – because she says it’s shaped just like a woolly mammoth’s head and back. I think so too.

 

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Here is my camp along the river. I’ve set up and stayed here many times, and my sis, Kay, joined me on the last trip. I live on trout, potatoes, oatmeal and . . .

 

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. . . peanut butter & honey sandwiches! Yes, yes, and apples, (and Fig Newtons too).

 

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Moss is everywhere . . .

 

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. . . and there are ferns up to your arm pits . . .

 

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. . .and more berries than you could possibly imagine.

 

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Here is the marshy meadow beside camp. . .

 

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. . . and that mammoth-backed mountain is just down stream. It has many moods.

 

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I’ve drawn that mountain a few times. First I set up. . .

 

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. . . then I must become centered.

 

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Yep, I’ve settled into my creative self now!

 

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I’ve framed my view . . .

 

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. . .which looks something like this . . .

 

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. . . and then it’s time to get at it.

 

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Now and then, I manage a pretty fair drawing!

 

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Another view of another creek (I’ve caught fish in it too).

 

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This is the drawing I started there on a reeeeeeally cold, dismal day (and finished at home later in my nice, warm studio)

 

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Some more pictures of yet another peak overlooking Reidun’s valley.

 

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Eventually, days and trips end.

 

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Camp is packed up. Stones that held my tent stakes down in the wind are laid around the trunk of the hoary old birch tree, and the post sticks for my rain fly are tied up in it, off the ground. Trampled grass is the only testimony that I stayed for a week.

 

I’ll be back, right there again, very soon now. Sticks and stones, trout and a mountain shaped like a shaggy, lost elephant – all are waiting.

 

PS: to expand these images and really feel like you’re there, click READ FULL ARTICLE, immediately below.