15 June, YD! Susbi Bar in Oslo Airport.
The first sushi meal since descending hard out from North.
It tastes great, mindboggling Norwegian prices notwithstanding.
The farewell to my partner of 10 years at Sogndal’s small airport was undermined by tiny windy Norwegian mountain roads with a 10 % or more decline, road works and (it has to be said) underestimating the time it takes to get anywhere on a Norwegian road.
The stress of driving me to the airport defeated Ram about halfway so I took over.
We arrived just in time for check-in, assuming they really would cancel check-in half an hour before departure in an airport little bigger than a suburban bus.
Caught up in the panic and chaos immediately after checking in I went through security to the departure lounge. Then realised I/we had a good half an hour for a good soulful farewell, with tears and sadness coupled with excitement and adventure.
Instead I caught a glimpse of the Stora Blå Buss crawling slowly out of the carpark taking Ram away to her (immediate) future and hopefully a summer of fun in the Norwegian Mountains.
Ram’s committed to her Path and future, at least for the summer and next winter’s season. It would not have been possible for her to join me on my Epic for a number of reasons. And I have to do my Epic and it would not have been the right decision to stay in North.
9000 km of road trips planning organising buying lots of equipment arranging bureaucracy catching up with friends coupled with the odd snag and hang-ups. And making a presentation on Free Prior Informed Consent, its benefits and implications for the mining sector at the AIMS conference in Aachen, Germany.
Honestly, not a lot of relax and take it easy time.
The Plan came undone within a week of arrival.
The Plan had me stay pretty much for the duration of time in the Netherlands at my Best Friend’s known affectionately as The Man With The Plan house.
A Perfect Storm arose: the decision for The Wife to also work from home and therefore require office space in their home driven by dramatic changes to the long-established practice where she’s been working from the last 15 years, organising the migration from her office to their home, the inevitable and significant renovations which all have to be done ASAP and hopefully before they leave for summer vacation sometime in mid-July. And I want(ed) like 5 or more weeks in amongst it all. Err …
End result … a couple of pretty stressed out friends who were rapidly approaching their limits regarding just how much stress they could take. And I had nowhere to stay, not unless there was absolutely no other option. There are always ‘other options’. Time to find them.
Although there were other options available, centred around Jaap’s apartment but 700 m from The Man With The Plan’s house which he uses for a couple of nights per week when working around Den Haag, perhaps unsurprisingly I chose a Road Trip.
Compressing the already frantic preparations into even less time I ran around like the proverbial Blue-Assed Fly then jumped back in the Stora Blå Buss and with Ram basically retraced my journey back to Hannukainen in Finnish Lapland.
We went via Norway, in fit of ‘let’s explore a bit more’ enthusiasm aiming for a tour along the Setesdalen, the long glacial valley which heads pretty much due north for Kristiansand.
However, we need to leave the Sushi Bar and return back, back in time to the Netherlands and leaving it …
01 June. The Plan: head north towards the Afsluitdijk, Germany, Denmark, Norway, Sweden and finally Finnish Lapland. Again.
I chose the Road Trip option when faced with the Perfect Storm lashing the home of The Man With The Plan. And now I’m on it. Ram’s driving.
Vile day. Strong wind, fine though relentless rain.
Busy road the E45. Seems there’s only one main road heading north from the impressive harbours and industries of Hamburg and into Denmark. And we are on it.
That means we share the road with many many trucks. Not comfortable with all the fine spray generated by 22 or so wheels combined with the wind and the rain. The E45, impressive as it is, disappears.
Still we make progress and should be able to make Hirtshals in time for the Colour Lines ferry to Kristiansand.
Coincidence? Or further proof of God, my Earth Mother Queen? In vain yesterday as we crawled through northern Nederlands and into north western Germany I tried to book and pay for a berth on the 1800 Fjordlines ferry. The secure connection kept timing out and I couldn’t pay for the booking.
Due to the weather we find out later the ferry is cancelled.
As it turned out not being committed to an 1800 ferry departure at Hirtshals allowed Ram to meet a friend she hadn’t seen in years in Kolding.
So we aim for the 2045 ColourLines ferry.
We made the ferry between Hirtshals in northern Denmark and Kristiansand in southern Norway with NO minutes to spare. We were the last vehicle on.
Securely on board we find the Buss has a flat. Straaange sensation changing a wheel on a car-deck of large ferry whilst it battles large swells courtesy of the storm raging outside.
03 June, rolling off the ferry we run into Norwegian custom control joy.
We were directed to the large custom’s hall where we got grilled over what were we gonna do in Norway, where we were going and … “Do you have any alcohol?”
“Yes. A couple of crates of beer, some spirits, no wine. Would you like to see?”
Oh yes they wanted to see.
The FIRST thing they saw when I opened the back are the two cases of wine!
F*ck! Thought I … I’d forgotten about the wine.
No problem they look right passed it to the beer.
“Why do you have so much beer?”
“Err, we’re returning home in the north of Finland” wondering what was going on.
“Yes, but you are in Norway” and as I stare stupidly at him failing to grasp what he means by this he continues “and you are only allowed to bring two beers”
Now I really stare at him stupidly: two beers! We must have at least forty.
“Norway is not in the EU” and finally the penny drops … Norway has completely different custom rules than either Sweden or Finland and we had literally driven smack into their concerned hands.
Smiling he goes “You are only allowed 2 litres of beer each. You didn’t know eh? Well, now you do. You won’t do this next time will you?”
And let’s us go.
We had to hang around in Kristiansand for half a day whilst we found somewhere to fix the tire before we ventured forth.
The weather sucked pretty much the whole time. Windy, gray and rain. Except for one glorious evening camped next to a lake along the E45 just short of Dorotea in Sweden. Unfortunately such weather can be an entire summer in Scandinavia.
Nearly 5000 km after departing Amsterdam we finally arrive in Turtagrø.
12 hours of labour the next day saw Chicco take delivery of The Dog House Of Justice. The chalets and rocks of the Norwegian fjells will rot and be washed away before Chicco’s house crumbles. Solid. As it kinda needs to be.
Back to the 15th June …
Tomorrow is when it all gets interesting. Tomorrow my Santos Travelmaster 29, metallic orange brooks Imperial saddle butterfly handlebars and a whole array of other customisations should be ready and waiting for me.
The Plan is simple … go pick it up. Ride it to where I stay.
Name It/He/She and begin to learn about my new Steed.
And over the week remaining before I catch the big Silver Bird and fly away I aim to do some serious riding with the Ziflex in tow.
Time to Ride … literally.