Friday, Sep 27
Our destination for today was Polar Park, an arctic wildlife centre. We saw deer, brown bears, wolves, lynx, and musk ox. We missed the moose, reindeer, and wolverine. They were hiding somewhere further back in their enclosures. We weren’t too sad to miss the moose and reindeer, since we’ve been seeing them in the wild. All the animals in the park can be found wild within Norway. I was most excited to see the musk ox because I don’t think I’ve ever seen one. They were not native to Norway, instead were brought here from Greenland in the early 1900s. I got a cool video of the male using his head to push a smaller one around a bit. Click here to see the video. We also really enjoyed seeing the brown bears. They are so much bigger and fluffier than the black bears we have back home in Asheville. And they have such cute ears! We also enjoyed the male deer. I got a video of him calling and pacing around his enclosure. Click here to see that video. Just as we approached, the lynx were being fed by a tour guide so we hurried to get there and see the two of them while they were still hanging out close to the fence.
Once we had our fill of the animals outside, we stopped in the little cafeteria to grab some lunch (even though they didn’t really have any lunch offerings, so I just had a slice of cake). While we were sitting at the tables, we overheard the safety lecture for the people who had paid to go into the wolf enclosure and cuddle with the wolves. For someone like me who doesn’t even like dogs, the lecture did not make me want to join them. The instructor was down on her knees talking about how the wolves will jump right up on you, but you need to be at their level. You can’t push them away because then they come back twice as hard. They will want to lick you inside the mouth. If they really get in there and you are uncomfortable, raise your hand to signal the instructor, because you won’t be able to talk or breathe. If they are fighting over which one of them gets to cuddle with you, lean back and stay out of the way of their teeth. Basically, it sounded like if you made one mistake you would be smothered by an over-enthusiastic wolf in your face. I’ll take an aloof cat over an enthusiastic dog/wolf any day.
We arrived back at our cabin around 1:00. After a bit of actual lunch, we set out to walk around the area. First we walked out to the end of the resort’s stone jetty. Rob wanted to feed the seagulls some leftover cinnamon rolls that had gone a bit stale. He didn’t get any takers from the end of that jetty, so we went out on the one with the boat dock. Still no seagulls interested in Rob’s rolls. Smart seagulls, I say. But, the water there was so clear. We saw several starfish at the bottom, probably about 3-4 feet down. From the dock, we wandered over to see the owner’s sheep. There are 7 sheep, all different colors. Next we wandered down the road a bit. We saw a sod structure and went over for a better look. It had a plaque on it. The structure turned out to be a storage cellar made around 1903. The builder used old railroad rails to add structure to the roof. Next door was a cute mustard yellow house with a little side hut attached to one corner. It, too, had a plaque – it was the buttery where all the area farmers brought their butter to be sold on to bigger markets. A little further down the road was a small red hut with a sod roof with grass growing on top. It’s sign proclaimed it the town blacksmithery. It was in use until 1970. There was also a nice stream flowing down to the fjord just below. The sun has been out all day and temps are nearing the 50s, so it was really nice just to walk a bit in warm sunny weather. I think the Norwegians agree. On our walk we encountered a few children out playing and a woman sitting in the sun on her porch mending a child’s coat. She was friendly and waved to us as we walked by.