Driving Through the Countryside

Sunday, Oct 6

Not much to write about today.  It was another cold start to the day, so Rob and I hung out at the flat until just after lunch.  We ventured out for a walk along the waterfront. It was nice, but nothing much to write about that.  We walked for 13,000 steps, according to my Fitbit. On the way home, we stopped at the Dromedar Kaffebar; I wanted another mug of their dark hot chocolate before we leave the city.  Nothing but cafes and restaurants are open on Sundays, so the cafes are pretty full. Lots of Norwegians were also out for walks on the nice walking paths around the city. It’s cold, but it’s sunny.  I figure the folks here must want to get the most of the sunshine while they still have it.

Monday, Oct 7

We left the city of Trondheim behind us today and set out for our last really long drive (5.5 hours) of our Norwegian travels, heading south and west.  And, boy, were were surprised by the beauty of our drive. This is the Norway we were expecting all along. We drove through lush farmland. The farmsteads here are much larger with 4-5 buildings.  More on farms later. I noticed a stream of large trucks going the other way all carrying equipment for a carnival. I think there were at least 10-15 carnival trucks that we passed. Then we drove up, and up, and up.  Our car’s navigation system includes an altimeter. We reached an elevation of 1032 meters above sea level. For my American readers, that’s 3400 feet. For context, Asheville sits at 2400 feet. There was snow on top of many of the mountains that we drove through.  It was very picturesque. The road followed a mountain river with clear blue water and sometimes chunks of ice floating in the shallows. We passed hundreds of frozen icicles clinging to rock walls lining the road. To our surprise, there were small groupings of houses, even way up on the mountain.  We figure they must be vacation houses, clustered together. The folks who use them probably do a lot of cross country skiing and snowmobiling. There weren’t any shops or other industry, just groups of houses.  

We stopped for lunch at the little village of Oppdal with a downhill ski resort.  It had a small bakery and gift food shop. It was a happening little place, lots of other people were having lunch there, too.  Shortly after we sat down, a bee started pestering us. One of the workers came over with a fly swatter, although she was really scared of bees, but it flew off.  We tried moving to another table, but it just kept coming back. It seemed especially interested in the blueberry drink that I had, so finally I decided to let it climb inside the bottle and try to trap it.  It worked really well. The bee walked around the mouth of the bottle a couple times, then slipped inside. Once inside, Rob grabbed the bottle, threw a napkin over the top, and shook so that the bee fell into the juice, where he got stuck.  We showed the worker that we’d captured the bee, and she very kindly offered me a new drink, since I had only drunk about ⅓ of it before we trapped the bee inside. We figure we did the other diners a service by trapping it so it wouldn’t continue pestering people inside the restaurant all day.  On our way out of town, we noticed that this little ski village had seen enough snow in previous days for there to already be a 4 foot tall snow pile at the back of the parking lot (from being plowed there).  

We continued on through more snowy land, stopping occasionally to take pictures of some interestingly shaped country churches along the way.  See my Instagram or Facebook feeds for photos of them. Eventually, we drove through a series of tunnels through mountains, each one dropping us about 100 meters, all the way back to sea level.  We’re staying in a cute old fashioned farmhouse, right on the shore of a fjord near Stryn.

That brings me back to my observations on farmsteads in the region we drove through.  These were in the county of northern Oppland County. Unfortunately, we didn’t stop to take a picture of one, so my text description will have to suffice.  It was strange just how uniform they were through the middle part of our drive. The farms in the last part of the drive started to diversify a bit more. Nearly all the farms, all 4-5 buildings, were painted dark brown.  There was always a really big house, usually 2 stories with 4-6 windows across on each floor, in a rectangular shape. Some of the houses had traditional scrollwork wood trim around the windows painted red or white. Many had a set of antlers mounted on the wall of the house, sometimes over the door, sometimes just on one wall.  There was always one large barn, usually with that same ramp and bridge up to the second floor. There was also usually a second barn, smaller and more square in shape, but still with 2 stories that sat up on small cement pilings, maybe 1-2 feet off the ground. Our best guess is that it’s for storage of something that needs to be kept off the ground to keep rodents or some other pest from disturbing it.  The barns and storage buildings often had sod roofs, while the house usually had a slate or other non-sod roof. The predominant crop (at least at this time of year) was hay and the predominant livestock was sheep, although we did see several cows. Most had huge wood piles stacked outside, suggesting the use of wood stoves or fireplaces for heating their homes. I was happy to see more “traditional Norwegian” look to the architecture through little details around windows, or interesting color combinations in trim.  The architecture in northern Norway was much more plain, very unadorned and simple.

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