Living on Lofoten

Saturday, Sep 28

Not much to report for today.  We drove another 4.5 hours today to get to the Lofoten Islands.  We are staying a bit south and east of the town of Leknes. The drive took us through pretty much the same scenery as we’ve been seeing.  Although, the sun is out once again, so each mountain lake that we drove by, and also many of the fjords are so still and have beautiful reflections of the mountains and nearby houses off of the lake’s surface.

Mirror lake

We will be here on Lofoten for the next 5 nights.  We’re staying in a house that is right on the water, so it has great views on 3 sides. 

Aurora Borealis

Taken with a normal iPhone 8

Tonight, after being in Norway for 1.5 weeks, we saw our first Northern Lights.  And, boy, did they live up to expectations! There was a KP index of 6 last night and the sky was completely clear of clouds.  The first good batch started around 8:00pm. The glow of the sun was still on the horizon, but matched the green color of the Northern Lights.  Because there was still a little bit of light from the sun, I was able to get a couple of photos on my iPhone without any special apps or equipment.  We couldn’t see much movement with these, they seemed stationary. We tried FaceTiming with my parents, but they couldn’t see anything on the video, so that was a bust.  Taking videos by iPhone was also a bust. By the time we finished up with my parents, the lights had mainly faded and we thought the sky was clouding up. We kept checking back until about 9:45 when I went to bed, but they were nothing special.  About 11:00 I noticed that Rob had gotten out of bed, I thought maybe he had gone to the bathroom, but then I heard the click, click of him taking photos. I guessed the Aurora Borealis was back so I hopped out of bed to join him at the great big windows of our cabin.  Sure enough, it was back in force. This time it covered the whole sky. The sun was long gone, so all the light was from the Aurora itself, and what we thought was the sky getting cloudy and obscuring the stars earlier was just a milky background to the Aurora Borealis.  Now, we could see the patterns moving and shifting. They were much better defined. We put our coats and hats back on to step outside so we could see the whole sky. There was a green glow around the entire bowl of mountains that our cabin sits in. Fingers of green reached toward the middle to stir the bowl with slow, fluid motions,  Rob had installed a special app on his phone to help him take better Northern Lights pictures, and it did work. Any that I took later in the night were terrible, but the ones he took pretty much turned out. The second 2 photos he took using this app.

Norway’s Natives

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.

Driving Under Dark Skies

Thursday, Sep 26

Today was a driving day.  We drove for 8.5 hours from Hammerfest to a little village on the shores of a fjord near Lavangen.  We left Hammerfest a day early because the weather there was going to be rainy and cold all day, again, and there wasn’t really anything else we wanted to do there.  Jeff headed home a day early, so that left Rob and I free to set off toward the Lofoton Islands and hopefully see some Northern Lights, if we could get away from all these clouds.  We had done about ⅔ of the drive on the same road in the other direction on our way up, so it wasn’t really any new scenery. The intervening days had been warmer with a lot of rain, so those beautiful snow-capped mountains were now just snow dusted.  That meant that all the little streams coming down out of the mountains were no longer peaceful little rivulets, but raging streams coursing forcefully downward.

We spotted a trio of moose along the road, on 2 different occasions.  Unfortunately, my phone software was updated a couple days ago, and now I’m having trouble taking pictures of things that are moving.  The pictures turned out horribly (very frustrating – I was pretty cranky for a long time).

We managed to drive out of the heavy, thick clouds (and occasional sprinkles) by the final hour of our journey.  The sun was low in the sky, so a bit frustrating for driving, but so very nice to see the sun again. The fall colors are really starting to pop, but with the heavy thick clouds they really won’t photograph well.  Maybe tomorrow I can get some nice shots of the colors. We have a great view from our cabin across the fjord. The sunset tonight over the mountains beyond was full of orange and just a couple of puffy clouds like tiny bursts of fireworks.  Despite the (finally) clear night, we still didn’t see any Northern Lights. They are just too weak tonight. Our best hope is tomorrow night, when the sky should still be mostly clear and the KP index (indicator of how strong the Aurora Borealis will be) is a little bit higher.

Happenings in Hammerfest

Wednesday, Sep 25

We awoke this morning to a lot of rain coming down.  The day looked dreary and wet. We met Jeff and had a really lovely breakfast in the hotel.  There were lots of options, including American style bacon for Rob. I had some hearty bread with jam on, some white creamy quia seed thing with coconut and berries on top, a little cup of berries, a bit of normal sausage, as well as a bit of what I thought was going to be a tater tot but turned out to maybe be a funny shaped chicken nugget.  

After breakfast, we three gathered in our hotel room to make a plan for the day.  While we were there, a ferry boat docked not far outside our window. We watched as the crane on board the ferry lifted a minivan cradled in 2 straps up from the ferry deck and lowered it onto the dock.  I think I would have been very nervous if that were my car.

We weren’t very excited about venturing out in the rain, but decided we ought to at least see what Hammerfest had to offer.  Our first destination was the Reconstruction Museum. For much of WWII, the northern part of Norway was occupied by the Germans.  The museum shows what life was like for the people of northern Norway under the occupation and in the aftermath of Germany’s scorched earth policy that was applied in 1945 as they retreated.  During the occupation, it was not unheard of for Norwegian girls to get pregnant by a German soldier. The museum had a Christening gown on display with a wide strip of lace in a swastika motif.  Just what any mother wants her baby Christened in! As the war came to a close, most of the inhabitants fled the area on ships to be temporarily housed in camps or with families farther south. Before they fled, many tried to bury their most prized possessions so they could claim them when they returned.  The museum had a pair of red velvet chairs that had been buried before their owner’s exile, then retrieved later. A small number of people hid out in caves through the final winter of the war. Many of the Sami people took their reindeer sledges and retreated to barren land father inland or across the border in Finland, sheltering in their version of teepees.  

After the museum, we wandered for a bit looking for a place to eat.  We ended up at Qa spiseri. It looked popular, people coming off the regional ferry (the one that goes up and down the entire Norwegian coast – the Hurtigruten (or Hurdy-gurdy as I’ve been calling it)) all seemed to be heading inside.  I was excited when I saw that they serve Finnebiff. This is one of the Norwegian dishes on my list of things I want to try while I’m here. It’s a reindeer stew with a creamy sauce. When the dish arrived, it looked like beef stroganoff on mashed potatoes with a little pot of lingonberries on the side.  As I ate, I noticed that the reindeer is flakier than beef. There were lots of onions in the sauce, but no mushrooms. I added the lingonberries in and mixed the whole thing: meat, sauce, potatoes, and berries together on my fork. My verdict is that it is really good. I would definitely order it again.

After lunch, Rob and I wandered over to the Royal and Ancient Polar Bear Society.  It was pretty small. The best part was the stuffed polar bear near the entrance. We did touch a few seal skins, which were so furry and much softer than I might have imagined.  The exhibits were mostly about polar expeditions from Hammerfest and some info about drying fish.

North to Nordkapp

Tuesday, Sep 24

We set out this morning for the top of the world, at least as far as you can drive north in mainland Europe: Nordkapp.  It was a 3+ hour drive from Alta. For the first hour or so, we drove through a section of high land with no trees. It appeared a barren wasteland, but we did see small herds of reindeer scattered around.  They were difficult to photograph because their fur blends in with their surroundings to some degree (except the beautiful white reindeer). And they were pretty skittish when the car approached. But I did manage to get a decent video of a small group of them crossing the road. Click here to see the video.  Such beautiful creatures!

After about an hour, we left the barren highlands and settled in to the usual Norwegain roads that hug the coastline as mountains rise directly to the right of left.  These mountains are lower than the ones around Tromsø and Alta, and thus not snow capped. It turns out, I sort of missed seeing the snow capped mountains in the distance.  At one point, Jeff called from the back seat, “There’s something in the water.” Sure enough, there were a few dolphins swimming along, their fins poking above the water like old fashioned typewriter keys.  We glimpsed another group of dolphins later in the day (thanks again to the watchful eye of Jeff).

As the road wound along the coast, we went through several more tunnels, including our longest one so far. It was 6.6 km long (4.1 miles) and went under a fjord to take us to our destination island.  Because it was a tunnel, I didn’t even realize we were heading on to an island until we looked back at the map later.  We also passed a construction site where they are building a new tunnel farther inland than what looked to be the oldest and most disrepaired tunnel we’ve seen so far.  I guess tunnel work just never ends here in Norway.

We reached the top of the world (Nordkapp) around 1:00.  It was only 41 degrees outside, and very windy. We took our obligatory photo next to the King Oscar monument.  He came here early in Norway’s history and an obelisk was erected to commemorate his visit. We also took the obligatory photo farther out on the rock peninsula at the globe monument, erected much later.  That one we had to wait until the tour buses left so that we could get a shot without Chinese tourists proudly holding up their flag, each taking a turn with the flag and wrestling comically with it in the wind. We also enjoyed watching as one guy proudly jumped off the monument, flag waving, and slid right onto his butt.  : )

Inside, we mailed a couple of postcards from the top of the world and had a bite to eat in their not-so-awesome-in-the-off-season cafe.  Literally the only “real” food options we had were a tomato based soup, a smoked salmon wrap, or a hot dog. The rest were pastries and coffee.  We were not impressed, especially later when I read the brochure they’d handed us on our way in claiming we could “tuck into an exquisite meal” with a “wide range of hot and cold dishes.”  

Below the restaurant, they had dug into the bedrock and created an underground cavern that included a pretty cool panorama film.  This was a 15 minute film of gorgeous scenes from Nordkapp and the surrounding area with soaring music worthy of Game of Thrones as background.  My favorite scene (and a somewhat baffling one) was of a herd of reindeer disembarking from the belly of a ferry boat and running off into the hills.  Not sure why reindeer needed to ride a ferry, but hey. There was also a Cave of Lights with several dioramas of historical significance to the area, such as when the King of Siam visited in 1907 and carved his signature on a rock (what? Graffiti by a king?).  At the bottom of the sloping ramp was a large room with a light and movie show. It was a bit arty for us, but I did enjoy lounging on the big, cushy rock shaped chairs that they had sitting around. The brochure shows a bank of windows looking out of the rock wall toward the north, but we didn’t see any such thing.  That would have been really cool. It seems maybe they decided not to put them in, but still use the artist’s rendering in their brochures.

On the afternoon’s 3+ hour drive to our next destination, Hammerfest, we saw even more reindeer.  And the views were more beautiful than they had been on the way up. They seemed more expansive when viewed from the north.  As we approached Hammerfest, we drove through a few small villages hugging the fjord. In one of them we saw about 50 reindeer scattered through the village.  They were lounging in people’s yards and eating their carefully manicured bushes. They were as numerous as squirrels in Asheville. I suspect they can be quite a nuisance.  We arrived at our hotel (we’re staying in a hotel for these 3 nights in Hammerfest since the Airbnb listings were a bit sparse in this part of the world) around 6:00pm. The guy at reception announced that it was Vaffle Tirsdag (waffle Tuesday).  I was pretty exhausted from all the driving (even though I was just a passenger) so I opted for a vaffle with cream cheese and jam, folded in half to make a sandwich for dinner, rather than head out to find a restaurant.

Ambling in Arctic Alta

Monday, Sept 23

We are way up in the frozen north now.  The city of Alta feels very much like a working man’s city.  It’s not very aesthetic, really more functional. Perhaps that’s due to the speedy re-building efforts after WWII’s German scorched earth policy in this part of Norway.  The weather is still only in the mid-30s, just above freezing but the rain has mostly cleared up for today, despite low, dense clouds.  

One of Alta’s claims to fame are the myriad rock art carvings that have been preserved along the shores of Altafjord, which can be viewed as part of your entry to the Alta Museum.  The rock art was carved on smooth rock faces between 5,000 and 7,000 years ago. At that time, the rocks were at the water’s edge. As the land here continued to rise (see blog post from Sept 14) the water’s edge moved farther and farther away from the rocks, so that the oldest carvings are the furthest up the hill.  Most of the carvings depict hunting scenes. Back in the 1970s, those in charge of the site painted some of the carvings red so that they could more easily be seen by the likes of us. We were sure glad they did, with the heavy dense clouds as they are today. The ones that were painted were pretty much the only ones we could see.  Most are unpainted and easiest to view when the sun is (a) actually out and (b) at a low angle. I did manage to get one photo of the unpainted carvings. It shows several reindeer, some facing right and some facing to the left. The photo with the carvings painted red shows a few men with bows & arrows hunting reindeer and bears. Rob thought that it looked like a modern keyboard on the far left side.  It was pretty cold outside, so once we got our fill of taking photos of the natural scenery (it was quite beautiful) and our fingers were turning numb, we headed indoors to check out the exhibits. There was a little more information about the rock carvings and some exhibits on local culture. We aren’t big on museums, so did only a cursory walk through.  

Then it was off to lunch at Uno Cafe in the Alta Sentrum (town center – really a small shopping mall).  I ordered the Rudolf Wrap – reindeer meat with onions and cucumber in a creamy sauce topped off with lingonberries.  Just print the word lingonberries and I’m sold! Indeed, it was really amazing. Possibly the best thing I’ve eaten in Norway so far.  The reindeer was flavorful. The oozy sauce was delicious and drooled all over my hand. The lingonberries added just the right amount of zing to the whole thing.  Yum!

On the way out of the mall parking lot we stopped to take a couple pics of the “iconic” Cathedral of Northern Lights, but weren’t feeling inspired to go inside.  We have still not seen any Northern Lights, ourselves. It continues to be cloudy every night, although the forecast websites suggest that if it weren’t cloudy we should be able to see them.  Maybe tonight?

Automobiling to Alta

Sunday, Sept 22

Nothing much is open in Norway on Sundays, so today was the perfect day to take a long drive to get from Tromsø to our next destination.  We’re headed to Hammerfest, but have stopped partway there to spend 2 nights in Alta. Today we drove for about 6 hours to get here. The scenery was pretty similar to what we’ve been seeing in the Tromsø area.  At one point we did have to drive up over one mountain and through some snow. The road was clear, but you could see that it had been plowed at some point, as snow was piled up at the edges. There were lots of tunnels, Norway apparently has tons of them.  I think the longest one we went through today was 5.8km (3.6 miles).

Dodging the Rain and Snow

Saturday, Sep 21

No, you didn’t miss one, I did not make a blog post yesterday.  It was a pretty quiet day. We picked up Jeff at the airport, but it was pretty cold and rainy, so we didn’t do much.  We looked through the photography exhibits at the Perspektivet Museum, bummed around downtown Tromsø, then headed home for an early night.

Today was also cold and rainy, but we ventured out, despite the forbidding weather.  We started out at the Fjellheisen cable car. It’s a cable car that takes you up one of the smaller mountains just at the edge of Tromsø.  From the top, we were planning to hike to the next summit over, called Fløya. It started raining in force just as we entered the cable car station for our ride to the top.  That was to be the story of our day, just making it inside before the next bout of rain, sleet, or snow. About halfway up, the rain turned to sleet, then to full on snow. When we got off the cable car, we stopped in the freezing cable car house to add some layers and take some photos of the swirling snowflakes.  

Since the snow was coming down pretty hard, we decided to have an early lunch in the cafe.  We snagged a table next to the window, which would normally have a view down on the city of Tromsø, but at the time was just a view of swirling white.  As we sat, the snow ebbed and flowed. Sometimes we could just glimpse the city below. Sometimes we could see nothing but white. Sometimes we could see far enough to see the bridge to the mainland.  A radio played soothing classical music over the loudspeaker, which felt really appropriate for our rather magical snowy wonderland view. About half an hour later, the snow had cleared up entirely and patches (small patches) of sun were appearing.  We ventured outside into the snow. It was about 2-3 inches deep. Since everything was covered in snow, we had no idea where the path to the other summit was. There were tracks in the snow from other people recently at the top, but they were most likely just tourists like us, so who knows if they were on any sort of path, or just trudging over vegetation or anything else.  We did walk for a while on the most well-worn path in the snow, heading in the general direction of the closest peak. At first it didn’t seem all that far away, but after walking about ¼ mile, we weren’t much closer to it, the sun was out and directly in front us, we had left our sunglasses in the car, and so we turned back. It was also pretty cold! We wandered around the top of the mountain that we were already on for a little bit longer, got some photos of the city below while we could see it.  But, after only about half an hour wandering outside, ominous dark clouds approached. We just made it back into the building when full on snow started up again. We had also just missed a cable car, so killed another 25 minutes waiting for the next. When we got to the bottom, there were loads of people waiting to go up, in fact, we saw them send up 2 in a row. It hadn’t been very crowded while we were up there, so good timing, once again.

Our next destination was Ersfjord and Bryggejentene.  Ersfjord is a fjord a little to the north and west of the house we’re staying in.  The girl who lives in the house next door mentioned that it had some really nice views and the cafe/shop (Bryggejentene) at the end was cute.  The name Bryggejentene means “girl’s dock”. We arrived in sprinkles, which turned to full rain after we entered. The shop was very girly – lots of cute housewares and gourmet pantry items in what used to be a small dock warehouse.  I had a hot chocolate and a macaron, Jeff had a cinnamon cookie (which, now that I think about it, was really a big snickerdoodle, but with less sugar and more cinnamon). The rain had let up by the time we finished our snacks, so we went out to the rocky little beach next door.  There were a few other tourists on the same little beach taking pictures of the fjord. Since the sky was dark and rather low, with more rain approaching, the fjord was not showing its best side to us. It likely would have been much more majestic on a sunny day. Once more, just as we were heading for the car, the skies opened up.  

Our last destination for the day was a place called Grøtfjord.  While in the cafe, Rob looked on his phone (with no WiFi, so just at what was on the downloaded maps) and saw something there that was rated 4.9 out of 5.  Because he didn’t have any data, we didn’t know what it was, other than the name in Norwegian. We figured anything with such a high rating must be worth a visit.  So, we set out.

Along the road, there was a lake with a spot we could stop and park the car, so we stopped and hiked through the boggy, scrubby ground down to the lake.  Jeff was eager to take some photos. I was on the lookout for reindeer. The path we walked along had a set of prints in the mud that may have been reindeer (Rob thought they were rabbit prints), so that put me on the lookout.  Unfortunately, no reindeer were spotted. Boo. But, Jeff did enjoy taking some cool pics by the lake while Rob and I froze our feet.  Once again, the skies darkened, we maybe lingered a bit too long, because we did get a little bit rained on, but 20 feet from the car the sleet started in earnest, so I sprinted the rest of the way and ducked quickly inside.  Further along, our mystery destination turned out to be a grassy little camping area with a lodge, sauna, hot tub, and fire pit right on a small sandy beach. It was cute, and there were about 4 tents pitched in it, despite the cold and dreary weather.  From here, we turned around and headed for home. And, for the last time today, made it into the house, and were just settling in when we heard the rain pick up again.

Sleeting in Sommarøy

Thursday, Sept 19

Based on the forecast, we thought today was going to a total washout or at least a drizzly all day kinda day.  So we weren’t in a big hurry to get up and get out of the house. But, after spending a couple hours knitting and playing iPad games with full sunshine outside, we (well, I) decided the forecast was wrong.  We could see some spotty showers off in the distance, but they seemed like the kind that passed in 5-10 minutes. So, we set off for the island of Sommarøy. We drove through periods of rain and even some sleet on our way to the island.  Along the way, we encountered our first group of sheep on the road. Not sure if this will be a “thing” in Norway like it is in Scotland, but we’ll see. They did not respond to horn honks. Rob pretty much had to gently nudge one of them to get it to move far enough over for us to pass.  There is a longish one-lane bridge that leads from the island we are staying on to Sommarøy. The scenery on either side is great.

During summer Sommarøy is supposed to be a favorite destination for its sandy beaches.  They are no sprawling Florida beaches, but there are spots of sandy shoreline among the rocks.  Today it was fairly deserted. We drove all around the small island. There was a pair of red houses and a garage with “green” roofs – the roofs were actually growing some kind of tall grass.  The only public buildings on the island seem to be the Arctic Hotel (a rather fancy place form what I read online that was currently hosting a conference for the water & sewer authority – based on the number of orange and gray vehicles in the parking lot with the “vann og avløp” logo on the side).  I needed to pee, so we stopped and used their restrooms. No one came to the front desk to greet us, so I guess they didn’t care that we came in. After answering the call of nature, we headed out to the hotel’s beach. Again, it was deserted. We parked and walked along a newly built boardwalk that ran from the sandy beach, along a rocky part and out to a short grassy/muddy path leading out to the rocky outcropping.  We stopped to take some photos, but also kept our eye on a spot of approaching rain. It appeared to be headed our way, so we headed back to the car. We were about 30 feet from the car when it started sleeting. Good timing for us!

We stopped for lunch at the only other public building, a small cafe called Havfru Kro (Mermaid Inn).  They had a pretty small menu, mostly burgers. But they did have in their display case some waffles folded into a sandwich with the classic Norwegian brown cheese inside.  I wasn’t crazy about having a burger, so figured I’d better get the brown cheese waffle sandwich – not something I can get at home! The waffles had been made earlier. The server nuked mine in the microwave, so it was kind of soggy; one side was warmer and soggier than the other side.  I think it could have been really nice if it were in a fresh waffle with a little crispiness to it.

It rained again while we were in the cafe, but stopped by the time we set out for home.  So, we stopped at another beach before leaving the island. This beach had lots of blue shells and white coral washed up on it.  I also found a few really small, really pretty pink shells and Rob found some round sea urchin shells.

As we wound our way along the fjords to our house, we were stopped just before one hairpin curve so that some trucks with large pieces of windmills could pass along the road ahead of us.  They were in the process of installing new windmills way up on top of the mountain off to our left. There were several in place already. And further along, the ship that had brought the giant windmill parts was moored at the shore to deliver the parts to what must have been the closest spot that was deep enough for the ship and close enough to land to put out a gangplank and get them off.