July 18, 2009

Today we had an absolutely gorgeous drive over the Sognefjellsveg, a "make-work" road built during the depression over the mountains in south-central Norway.  For a road with really no purpose, it is one of the most gorgeous drives in the country.

We drove past the Lustrafjorden in the Bergsdal Valley with its gorgeous turquoise, glacier run-off water and then over the mountain plateau with its stunning views of the jagged Jotunheimen peaks.  We stopped many times to take photos of the mountains, rivers, lakes and glaciers and had just a marvelous time.

We spent the night in a rest stop-picnic area next to a pond created by the nearby river.

July 19, 2009

After a tough decision of which way to go, we decided to take the Central route through Norway rather than the coastal route in order to get north quickly.  This means a faster, less scenic drive (according to our guidebook), however, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.  The scenery may not be dramatic, but it is still pretty, with lots of wildflowers, rivers and lakes to look at.  Along the way we passed through the city of Trondheim where we were informed that we only had to pay the car price on the tolls road (as a concession to the thousands of motorhomes visiting the country) and past the town of Hell, where we made jokes about Hell freezing over.  We spent the night in a parking area next to a nature reserve, after passing through the pilgrimage town of Stiklestad.  It was here in 1030 that Olav Haraldsson, one of Norway's most important medieval kings and later St. Olav, was killed in battle.  His role as founder of the Norwegian Church prompted his canonization.

July 20, 2009

Today was a very long, tiring day of driving, heading north through Central Norway, trying to get to the Arctic Circle and beyond.  After many long hours, we finally stopped at a rest stop, finding, rather surprisingly, a gorgeous spot next to a rushing river and cascade.  It was such a gorgeous place that we decided to spend the night.  We spent a couple of hours relaxing and people watching (it was a very busy rest stop) then made dinner.  After dinner, we spent some more time outside relaxing, that's the joy of really long days.  Speaking of which, at 12:30am this morning there was lovely sunset color in the sky and at 3:30am, it was once again light!

July 21 -22, 2009

We spent some more time this morning relaxing next to the river and then hit the road.  We were determined not to repeat yesterday's exhausting drive, so we stopped mid morning in the town of Mosjoen to visit the early 19th century timber buildings lining the river.  Most of these buildings are still in use and are in good condition, so we enjoyed seeing them. We were also able to check our emails, get some money and grocery shop!

We continued our route up the center and finally reached the town of Mo-i-Rana where we turned west back to the coast.  From here we could leisurely continue north and we began our trek heading toward another ferry.  This hour-long ride would take us across the Arctic Circle, but first we had to catch the ferry.  If we didn't make it on the 4:40, well there was another one later, or tomorrow, but we thought we would see if we could make it.  We made it to the staging area with five minutes to spare and were informed that, yes, we would make it onto the boat. 

We gathered up all our cold weather gear and after stowing the truck in the hold of the ship, went on deck to enjoy the ride.  It was quite chilly, but as this may be the only time we cross the Arctic Circle by ship, we wanted to enjoy it.  And as we crossed this line which is the southern most line where on June 22nd (the summer solstice) you can see the sun NOT set, we could see the monument on shore commemorating it.  In addition, the scenery was spectacular and the ride was over all too soon.  This part of the coast has over 14,000 islands and rock outcroppings!

Kim with the Arctic Circle Monument on shore

Close-up of the monument

We spent the night in yet another rest stop (thank you Norway) with a gorgeous view of a fiord and mountains.

In the morning we continued our drive along the fiords of the west coast of Norway, crossing yet another fiord by ferry, passing by another blue, retreating glacier and through several more tunnels until we reached the city of Bodo.  For here we plan to catch the four hour long ferry across the Vest Fiord to the Lofoten Islands.  We had planned to take one of the morning ferries tomorrow, but when we reached the ferry port we found that the next boat hadn't departed yet.  We hemmed and hawed a bit, but since the sun was actually out, we thought we would try to board the boat.  When we went to buy our ticket, we were informed that the boat was full.  OK, no big loss as we hadn't planned to take this crossing anyway.  So we backed out of line and drove across the street to a large parking lot to spend the night so that we would be at the head of the line for tomorrow's ferry.


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