September 29, 2005

Train the Body, Practice Kayak

I had a lot of fun on a kayak trip with Kevin and May in July. Since then, I've been doing my best to stalk them - and they have proven themselves to be quite good at avoiding me. But! No more! Kevin finally ran out of excuses, and agreed to paddle with me. We were planning on the 1000 Islands, starting just past Kingston somewhere. Well, let's get real, we weren't really "planning", we were being lackadaisical in that we figured we'd find a launch point and take it from there. So, given such extensive planning, it took very little for us to change our plans: Kris - who we met on that trip back in July - was interested in doing something too, and when he called me at work to set it up, I was in the middle of something and dealt with the call in a very efficient manner (my sentmail from 30 seconds after that call, paraphrased: Dear Kevin - please call Kris. Here is his number. Whatever you plan is ok by me. Johanna).

If one is distracted and does not take an active role in trip planning, one should not be surprised at not really clueing in to where the trip is going. That's the lesson I learned, anyway. Because as far as I was concerned, all I had to do was get myself and my kayak to Kevin's house on Friday afternoon, and as per instructions, I only brought kayak gear, not camping gear - because we'd be staying at Kris' cottage. I didn't know where said cottage was, or where we'd be paddling, or Kris' last name for that matter (I still don't know that, actually), but I figured, it would all be great. But just past Kingston, it occurred to me to ask Kevin where we were headed, anyway. He passed over the sheet where he'd written down the directions and turned on the truck's inside light. I looked down. I looked up. Dude, that's practically Montreal! My exit off the 401 is #312 - as in, 312 km from Windsor. To go to Kevin's house, I'd taken #418 - so that's 106 km from my house to Kevin's, plus a few kilometers drive off the highway. The exit for Kris' cottage? #825. Or 407 km from Kevin's house. And exit #825 is the last exit on the 401, because after that? After that is Quebec, and it's Highway 20, though I can't give you more details than that because my Ontario Road Atlas just tells me "eastern limit of map". That's right, we were practically driving off the map!

Heh. I so was not upset by this, just startled. I suspect all of this information was available to me all along but a) I did not listen well, and b) I did not process what I did hear. Which is probably why I didn't realize that the cottage we were going to is actually Kris' house (though he has a cottage in the back yard), and that this house if built right onto the shores of Lake St. Francis (the wide part of the St. Lawrence River between Montreal and Cornwall). And what a cool house it is - I didn't really figure it out, that night, when we had some drinks with Kris - but in the morning, I woke up upstairs with the curtains closed and trundled down the stairs to go to the bathroom. I came to a complete stop. For a second, I thought I was on a houseboat - because, see, if you look out Kris' windows, all you see is water. So very cool. That was it, there was no going back to bed, I basked in the sun until the boys got up and Kris made coffee. Realizing that there would be coffee took care of any last doubt I had about this adventure: it was going to be *great*. No reservations left (I can't use the word "great" before my first coffee of the day, just so you know).

So, Saturday morning, we didn't practically go to Montreal - we went to Montreal. Kris' plan involved a visit to the Îles de la Paix Wilderness Area, which is a bunch of protected islands near the south bank of the St. Lawrence, just west of downtown Montreal (but you know why they're protected? You would assume it's for the peace of the wildlife there, wouldn't you, given the name... but no. For starters, it was duck hunting season, and we saw a lot more decoys than ducks and camouflaged hunters in every reedy patch. The protection part comes in because, according to Kris, this is a designated crash zone for Dorval Aiport. As in, if a pilot needs to do a crash landing, these islands have no people to crash on, and the water is nice and shallow too.) Kevin thought the Îles de la Paix looked like the Everglades - I, never having been to the Everglades either intentionally or unintentionally (e.g. if I thought I was going to, say West Virginia, but didn't pay attention to the planning process), can't comment.

From the Îles de la Paix, Kris' plan was to circumnavigate Île Perrot, for a daytrip total of well over 40km. I was ok with that - lovely day, good company, empty boat... and current helping in places. We had a lunch stop at an old mill (it took me a while to figure out we were heading for a mill, since I understood Kris to be talking about the mile on the highland, not the mill on the island), where Kris persuaded the lovely young interpreter at Parc historique de la Pointe-du-Moulin to open the water tap to refill our bottles (the water is pour les animaux, but Kris said if it was good enough for the animals, it would be good enough pour moi).

The circumnavigation of Île Perrot was fun - there was much to look at: fancy homes, rock jetties, McGill's McDonald campus on the West Island, marinas, powerboats (contrary to most kayakers, we don't like it when they slow down near us - we like the wake), bridges, and more islands. At one point,
Kris said we should paddle like stink *up* a set of small rapids. Kevin and I, in our glass boats, looked at each other in disbelief. I turned to Kris, smiled, and said, after you. He took his plastic boat and charged in there, and didn't seem to scrape bottom - so then we did too. I did clunk my paddle on one of the rocks, and I did have to paddle like a fiend, but I actually hauled myself up the rapids in a sea kayak using brute strength (the channel was much too narrow to attempt anything other than willfull charging). Fun! Even more fun was had on the other side, where the flow constriction between Île Perrot and Dorion meant a swift and super-fun ride down the current for a while. When we got back to our starting point at Les Cèdres, we didn't take out but instead started playing in the rapids (Les Cascades) near there. It was fun, I decided to try and ferry upstream - but only got as far as the first set of swifts, where I could comfortably sit in my boat and enjoy the rushing water all around me until I got bored and peeled back out into the current. Kevin didn't have any more luck either, but Chris hauled himself up the side of the river (plastic boats, man) and had fun playing on the way down. He attempted to do the same on river right, but when he got up there, suddenly, there was an agitated hunter and his dog - Kevin and I missed the exchange because a) it was in French and b) we were further downstream, limited by our glass boats. The upshot of it was that Kris was admonished in not particularly respectful tones to "respect the hunter". I didn't really get it, and I don't think Kris did either - but the dude had a big gun, a big dog, and no doubt a not inconsiderable blood alcohol level. Thus, prudence dictated that we were done paddling for the day (that, and we were starting to get hungry. Kris had announced that he would be barbecuing beef tenderloin that night. I was all for getting back and getting on with dinner!).

Sunday, it was gloomy, but that didn't stop us. We paddled on Lake St. Francis, toward some islands in the distance. The water was glassy flat, and not even passing lakers stirred up an interesting wake to play with, and I was getting bored and wished - out loud - for some wind. Not half an hour later, I got my wish: we got caught in a sudden storm, with firece headwinds and driving rain. Good thing I like that sort of stuff. Though having lunch in a duck blind, soaking wet and with bugs around, was perhaps not the highlight of the weekend - and when there was a discussion to explore some more or head back after that, I voted for heading back. After all, I was practically in Montreal and I had to work the next day - in Guelph. Exit #295. So I'd had enough of train the body, practice kayak - it was time to start the car, practice drive. Which Kevin did. I napped. A good weekend: generous and fun hospitality, and successful Kevin stalking. I'd say he's working on his list of excuses to avoid further stalking right now, except I know he's not: he's on Lake Superior, doing train the body, practice surf.

Posted by Johanna at 12:44 PM

September 28, 2005

End of the Road

Items at our disposal: old truck with only half the brakes operational but really high ground clearance. Hiking packs with camping gear inside. My old junk cottage canoe, complete with leaky spot. Duct tape. Extensive set of old paper topos of the area.

That's enough, really, to plan all sorts of adventures. And looking at the map sheet just north of the camp, I realized: there are all these lakes out there, and I have never seen them! Furthermore, there are faint (because the paper is so old) roads marked on these sheets, and I didn't even know there were roads much past Ophir! So I convinced Rick that we had to go explore the area north of Rock Lake (to be honest, it took no convincing at all. He got as excited by the maps as I did, and *he* didn't even have that "but it's only 25km from where I used to live, how can I not know this?" feeling.)

So - crappy old canoe on truck. Put plenty of gas inside gas tank. Go. We drove to Ophir, and then turned north, and kept going. Past Carpenter Lake, bumping along suprisingly well-maintained roads. Surprisingly well-maintained until we got to Primeau Lake, that is - after that, there was a "no maintenance" sign and gullies big enough to swallow canoes right away. I made one attempt to conquer the road with the truck, and Rick's comments about his jeep eating up that road notwithstanding, backed up. This was the end of the road for us. It was time for a tailgate picnic. During our picnic, the conservation officer pulled up on an ATV - he was interested in our plans with respect to fishing (we had none). We were interested in portage trails (he knew some). He humoured us and told us of the trails to Horner Lake to the east, and noted that there were great campsites over there. Well. That was all the incentive we needed. Or rather, we were planning to go to Horner Lake anyway, even if it took canoe-head bushwhacking and sleeping in whatever flat spot we could appropriate as a campsite. But now we had the word that this was actually an easily do-able trip (Rick's response to this? He started excitedly pointing to less do-able looking lakes on the map. I said "maybe later".)

The first thing we did on Primeau Lake was navigate into the wrong bay. The second thing we did was dig through the packs to find a drinking cup to use as a bailer (leaky canoe!). The third thing we did was pull out the GPS, and conclude that the maps and GPS didn't agree and we were lost. But that's as far as helpless dumb-ass behaviour went: I realized that maps that are older than 25 years could not possibly be WGS84, and Rick reset the GPS for NAD27. The bailer approach worked just fine, but later in the trip, Rick used the fancy duct tape to make the canoe a bit more lakeworthy. And we found the portage without difficulty about five minutes after we stopped to figure it out. So all good.

The portage trail turned out to be a snowmobile trail, complete with speed limit signs (hee). And Rick turned out to be best canoe tripping companion ever, because he not only shouldered the crappy, leaky, heavy old canoe without complaint ("it's so light!" he said. Note to self: find more tripping companions who associate the word "canoe" with "dugout"), but the heavier pack as well. I was left with a hiking pack, the paddles, and Rick's camera (and my imaginary tiara). Sweet. So I merrily bopped along the portage trail to the other side, where we discovered a gazillion cached aluminum boats. This is when we realized that this lake, though at the end of the road, was a popular fishing destination in summer (I know, the RVs parked at Primeau Lake should already have tipped us off, but no... I thought all these people were in the area to screech around on their ATVs. At this time of year, they were, because we pretty much had Horner Lake to ourselves all weekend).

Within minutes of pulling out onto Horner Lake, I spied a potential campsite, but this time Rick - in the stern at the time, and thus in control of the steering - ignored the excited pointing, arguing for more exploration first. I was ok with that, because my five second attention span was already taken with a bare rock face in the distance, and I wanted to go *up there*. This time, Rick agreed, and there was bushwhacking and compass consulting, and then, a view! And after that, when we got back down, there was this really great swimming spot where you could jump off the cliffs into the water. Which Rick did - not me, I am chicken, I climbed to the bottom of the cliff before flopping into the refreshing cool. I thought it was a lovely temperature. Tropical boy thought it was bloody cold. But we both agreed that sitting in the sun after the swim was a good idea, and hey, if that involves more snacks, I'm not going to complain. I'll be too busy eating.

The base of the cliff/swimming spot area was also a great campsite, but it was much too early to make camp. Some exploration by canoe followed. We were mystified by the trees cut off at about five feet above current water levels. We discovered an ATV access to Horner Lake. We oohed and aaahed over the fall colours. We explored some of the well-used sites (one site had rolled up carpet, a tarp frame, lawn chairs, four grills, and the requisite pile of empty beer cans in the bush. There were far too many empty beer cans on Horner Lake - I understand the can and bottle ban of backcountry campsites in provincial parks, it really does make a difference). Eventually, though, we agreed that we liked the swimming spot the best, and returned there to make camp.

Of course, Rick is even more useful in camp than on the portage trail, because here was the labour division that evening: I put up the tent and inflated the sleeping mats (note that one of them is self-inflating). Rick repaired the canoe, cooked dinner (including making a fire-reoasted eggplant dip), hung the food rope, collected firewood, made a fire, cleaned up after dinner, and hauled water to put out the fire when we went to bed (I guess he was dehydrated, since peeing on it clearly was not enough). Since my jobs took so much less time, I devoted myself to polishing my tiara.

Our run of great weather looked to be over in the morning: we woke up to cloudy, and markedly cooler. Perhaps sensitive to my wimpy tropical boy accusations, though, Rick agitated for a morning swim - and then jumped off the cliff into the water. After shooting my mouth off about the lovely swimming temperature the day before, I climbed to the bottom of the cliffs again, cringed, plugged my nose, and cannonballed in. Brrr! It was cold after all. So cold that I bitched about it, more than I usually bitch I mean, and then Rick made me coffee and built a fire to make toast. Good lord, I sound like the worst person in the world to camp with. Perhaps I shouldn't point out that Rick had also done the food shopping and packed the food bags before the trip. Sigh. *Now* nobody will ever read these pages again and say, she sounds ok, I'll go on a trip with her. I am not always lazy, I promise! Only when there are tolerant people who do not ignore my "I think you should.. (make me coffee, build a fire, hang this tarp, cook dinner...)." comments. I just throw those out there to see what I can away with, really! Is it my fault that Rick is good-natured, I ask you? No, it is not. And he *said* he'd trip with me again. (Of course, shortly after he said that, he got into a plane and disappeared, but I hear what I want to hear...)

But back to the trip... After drying out and warming up and my actually getting off my lazy butt to do something (I took down the tent, and put away the sleeping mats and recoiled the food rope while Rick cleaned up and packed away the kitchen and put out the remains of the fire), we went exploring. The Thessalon River flows out of this lake, so Rick's idea was that we follow it to the next lake. Please note that both "river" and "lake" here need quotations marks. Tiny stream and puddle, I'd say - and very overgrown. We left the canoe on Horner Lake, and just rock-hopped/bushwhacked down to the next lake, which, as it turns out, wasn't much to look at and I'm glad I was a weenie and said no, let's not try and explore there, when we were contemplating campable lakes the day before. It was still fun, though, and the rocks piled up in dike and dam forms were intriguing (we later asked Ian MacKenzie about all of this - he guesses the trees cut off at five feet were logged in a deep snow year, and the rock dams were for raising the lake level, and then the logs were boomed at the outlet and the dams broken to give enough flow to drive the logs down. Neat.)

As it got increasingly cloudy, it was time to go, and we got back to the truck and bumped over the roads back to camp. We stopped at a big pile of what we had thought was sand, but turned out to be sawdust, on Primeau Lake. We found the remains of the sawmill that generated the sawdust nearby. I have no idea how quickly sawdust rots, though I was amazed when Ian later told us that this particular sawmill had definitely been gone for more than 50 years. See? So much to explore, so close to home, and I? I know so little!

Posted by Johanna at 10:42 AM

September 27, 2005

The Unexpected

There's a pond on the bluffs above my parents' camp. It's called Tees' Pond (after the Tees family, who used to farm the land that the camp is on). What's notable about the pond is that it is mostly covered by a floating mat: Tees' Pond is a floating bog. When you walk on it, it's like walking on a giant waterbed: sproing. Rick, apparently a fan of empirical verification, of course did not believe me when I claimed that the bog is floating. This was before we jumped across a narrow bit of water to land on it, at which time - sproing sproing sproing. And Rick, because he is human and nobody human can resist the fun of a giant waterbed feel, started bopping up and down and talking about runners with knee injuries. At this point, I felt the need to add one tiny caution: you know, you can punch through, eh? So Rick immediately started, literally, punching the mat to see if he could get through. He reported that it smelled.

But let's back up to why we were hanging out at the camp in the first place. See, I stalk Rick through the internet. No, really, I do: he has these cool pages about his place in Bocas del Toro, Panama, and I read them. Tell me, can you read this page about a jeep trek on the Uyuni Salt Lake and *not* want to stalk the guy in the hope that he'll go on a road trip with you? Exactly. Well, fortunately for me, I managed to trick him into thinking *I'm* cool through my own pages, and heh... next thing you know, we're planning an adventure! Our adventure was supposed to involve a hiking trail and then off-trail exploration involving the Agawa Canyon. We spent some enjoyable hours looking at satellite imagery, I'd printed out the relevant maps, the GPS was pre-loaded with the relevant data.

The best-laid plans... see, people who spend most of their time in either California or further south, they're not likely to have seen black bears. And they also don't know that saying "I hope I get to see a bear on this trip" is playing with fire. When I heard Rick utter that one, I quietly put the bearspray in my pack, figuring we'd be in for a nocturnal visit one of these nights (yep. superstitious.) I didn't anticipate what would really happen: bear roadkill. Past Sudbury, late at night, in the dark, there is a big thump. And then there is coolant all over the place, and fur, and blood, and it is very, very obvious that we need to call the cops because there is going to be an insurance claim, and we need to call a tow truck because the red car, it's not going anywhere on its own that night. And when you're past Sudbury late at night, and you have a CAA Plus membership, you have the choice of having yourself towed to Sudbury or Espanola to find a motel and a garage and wait it out. Or you can get CAA to tow you all the way to your parents' farm, 190km from the site of the accident. It's a no-brainer, eh.

But then, you're stuck at the farm, minus transportation. Fortunately, if you're me, you also have cool parents, and a mother that will drive from the camp to come and get you, and then lend you her car to go to the Sault to purchase car stuff. Which wouldn't do me much good at all, if it wasn't for the fact that South American road trip veterans know 16 uses for wire and tell you they need a Hosenklammer (which is German-English for hoseclamp, Rick got into the spirit of bastardized German when he was exposed to my language butchering family!) and aren't bad with other tools either, and Rick claimed he could make the car driveable again. I didn't let him until I got clearance form my insurance company, so that meant, weekend at the camp. There are worse places to be.

So, our adventure weekend turned into something unexpected, but no less fun: we did a quick one-night canoe trip using my crappy old canoe and my dad's truck with its faulty brakes (but that is another story, and one that will get its own entry). I dragged Rick along all the trails of my childhood, and insisted that he conquer both bluffs behind the camp. I took him to the MacKenzies to see the dogs and miniature horses and buy maple syrup. We ate a lot of fish with my parents. We did a dump run for my dad, where Rick discovered that in northern Ontario, rooting through the garbage dump has become such a fine art that there is a "give-away building": too good to throw out, don't want to keep it anymore? put it in the give-away building. Perhaps the romp through the childhood of an internet acquaintance wasn't what Rick had in mind - and it certainly wasn't my plan - but it was big fun all the same.

And it confirmed suspicions formed the previous weekend: hanging out with Rick is fun, even if you're not having a grand adventure. And I want to go on real adventures with him. The kind that involve exploring something a bit more remote than Highway 17, or even logging roads. I wonder how much stalking that will take?

Posted by Johanna at 12:12 PM

September 23, 2005

The Sure Thing

I have a small list of minor adventures that I could easily label “the sure thing” – the sort of trips where there simply are no unknowns. You know: the route is scenic, there are easily implemented contingency plans in case of bad weather or emergency, both cell phone and weather radio coverage are assured, and the location of stellar campsites – and alternates – is already in you GPS. Generally, such a list is useful if a) you take someone you’ve never paddled with before and it’s just the two of you; b) there is a chance you may have to abort for one reason or another; c) schedules are such that you can’t put in before sunset and you need a known location; or d) you want to impress someone with a place you already know and love and are confident *is* of sufficient caliber to impress.

Any one of those reasons would be sufficient for resorting to a sure thing trip, but if every single one of them applies, you really have no choice. Rick was visiting, and though he needed to be in cell phone coverage and warned me that he might have to quit the trip to commune with his laptop if the cell phone rang, he declared himself willing to submit to my sea kayak obsession. I’d never been on a trip with him before, so there *was* the chance he’d be a weenie and I’d need an excuse to ditch him (there was a contingency plan for that, too…). But mostly, I suspected I’d like him enough to want to paddle with him again, and thus the goal of impressing him with how beautiful the Bay is and how fun I am also served as a powerful motivation for picking the Snakes on a weekend in early September. If he had a stellar time and enjoyed the landscape, he’d have to work even harder on *his* contingency plans for ditching *me* (what? How would *you* interpret “the cell phone might ring and there might be an emergency and I might have to go”? Probably as “she might not be that much fun, so I will set up a deal with a buddy to call me right back if he gets a text message from me that says ‘out’ “)

So… we arranged a boat rental with White Squall, Rick cast one last, longing eye over his laptop before locking it into the trunk of the car, and we set off from Snug Harbour at sunset. Since the Snakes are west of Snug, that meant we literally paddled off into the sunset – and I, in impress the new adventure buddy mode, even made sure that I not only had our destination marked in the GPS and the GPS in my PFD pocket should I need it, but that I had my headlamp on and took a visual bearing for my compass before it got totally dark. And thus I impressively led us to a site I’ve been to so much that I can even recognize the landing in the radius illuminated by an LED headlamp. It must have been impressive – I didn’t see Rick fiddle with the text messaging function of the phone that night. No, indeed, he didn’t even pull out the phone when I declared that he should make dinner since I had important tent setting-up duties. The tent setting up was much less work than the cooking, and it was at that point that I knew my suspicions that I wanted to do more trips with the guy were not unfounded…

We had clear weather, and, belly full of dinner, I only became marginally less impressed with Rick when I discovered that he knew as little about constellations as I did and thus the clear sky view was somewhat wasted on us. I did point out, lying flat on my back at all the stars I couldn’t identify, that if the universe loved me half as much as I clearly believed it did, there would be a shooting star. And you know what? Right after that, there was! Not only that, but in the middle of the night, when I went to inspect the thunderbox, I discovered that the northern lights were out. I immediately woke Rick up – this was after all part of the “look how great this place is” plan, and he had no choice about waking up with an excited Johanna jumping up and down, but his getting up to look at the northern lights involved little more than unzipping the fly and sticking his head out of the tent. He made up for that weenie move the next morning, though, when he motivated me to leave my cosy sleeping bag and tromp to the other side of the island to watch the sunrise. It was lovely. Even if I was bleary-eyed and longing for my sleeping bag.

We spent the day wandering around the island (when Rick decided to test the napping potential of some rocks close to the water, I once again declared that if the universe loved me, there would be rogue wave, but the universe had enough of my demands at this time and he stayed dry), and then launching our kayaks for a day trip to Green Island in the Minks. On Green Island we napped some more (what with northern lights and sunrises, this was entirely called for) and walked the perimeter of the island. Then, back to the Snakes, where Rick decided to hand-roll his sea kayak and then once again proved his worth as a tripping companion by cooking, even if he did whine about mosquitoes and wrap a sarong around himself in the hope that looking like a Russian grandmother would scare away the biting insects. Besides, if he can make eggplant dip on a camping trip, he can dress up as a flamenco dancer for all I care. And he got bonus points for building a fire on the rocks (after we found a spot with an existing scar in wind that would blow any embers over water, not land – I like campfires and all, but not if it means risking an even bigger fire), where we sat and watched the sunset. And our second night we were sufficiently tired that there was no northern lights or sunrise nonsense.

Only problem with going to sleep on these trips is that it makes the morning come faster, and morning meant packing up and going home. I dawdled as much as I could, since I suspect this was my last Bay trip of the year, but departing was inevitable. Whatever sadness I felt at last trip of the year on the Bay, though, was entirely offset by the satisfaction of no trip-ending phone calls, the knowledge that Rick would still be around the following weekend, and the fudge we bought on the way home.

So, the trip itinerary was a sure thing – but on this weekend I discovered another sure thing: that Rick is a good adventure buddy even when he wears a sarong on his head and can’t find the big dipper. The universe does love me as much as I think it does, because I keep discovering cool people.

All pictures shamelessly stolen from Rick.

Posted by Johanna at 12:43 AM

September 22, 2005

The Tartan Army

If the Scottish soccer (sorry, football, or, futbol) team plays somewhere – anywhere – you can expect a sea of tartan to wash over the hosting town. Oslo was no different this week: an estimated five or six thousands lads in kilts wandered the town and patronized the pubs, from which they serenaded passers by. If serenades are drinking song, and passers by are all those who have a visible national identity. Those whose identity means something get specific songs (for example, Icelanders and Norwegians are likely to be treated to a rousing rendition of “we’re the Tartan Army, we’re here to save the whales”), while others get “we hate England more than you”.

When the Tartan Army first showed up, I renamed the hooligans. Turns out, though, the hooligans are fine, upstanding citizens with good jobs – how else would they afford all the pints in Norwegian pubs (50 kroner per pint) and the hotel rooms, all of which were fully booked that Wednesday night (1000 kroner). Some of them, I realize, cut corners, like the lad who sported the MacLeod tartan (his mother’s line), because it was cheaper than the MacIver one (his father’s), or all the be-kilted boys still having a last beer (hey, they won 2-0) in the departure lounge (or sleeping, if they ran out of kroner for beer drinking). And the lads were just lovely, we parked ourselves on the patio at Winston’s and got absorbed into the plaid sea – including the two Scots we shared a table with (they came back after the match).

James, though one of the despised English, figured he wanted to cheer for Scotland too, and braved a scalper on the street. For the low low price of 450 kroner he procured a 220 kroner ticket which landed him in the Norwegian end, but he was thrilled all the same. The rest of us settled for a television in the pub (where I managed to spill Barry’s beer on a previously silent Norwegian – he started talking by assuring me that it was a raincoat, and thus could handle beer, and silence was no more. Even though the Norwegians got more and more morose, and silently filed out of the pub during the last minute of the match – only to be replaced by the merry boys in skirts without underwear (tis true, they not only told me, it was the napping at the airport while still wearing the celebratory kilt thing that confirmed the rumour) shortly after, and thus the mood returned to elated.

And that was my Norwegian experience – Scottish hooligans who weren’t. There was also some obligatory tourism experience (I don’t understand why I should be ashamed of touristing: when I am in a place I have never been, I am not cool enough to be blasé about seeing things I have never seen before). So I tromped along the streets of Oslo whenever I wasn’t actually working or eating (my two chief activities during this week, and I could write a whole blog entry about all that I ate…), and saw tall ships in the harbour and sculptures and pigeons on performance artists, and stopped for refreshing beverages from time to time. And then I bought a Norwegian wool sweater (actually made in Norway, I am assured) and then it was time to get back onto a plane again. I suspect I’ll be back.

Posted by Johanna at 02:23 PM

September 09, 2005

It'll come

No, no entry yet...
But I can't stand the blank look of this page, thus this is a placeholder - it will be replaced by an entry that is worth waiting for. After all, it will include pictures of men in kilts! Because if you go to Norway and hang out in Oslo on a day when the Scottish team is playing the Norwegians in a World Cup qualifying match, there will be a sea of tartan that is much more visible than any bold vikings.
(patience. I am busy world traveller, after all)

Posted by Johanna at 10:37 AM
visitors since August 16, 2005.