Sunday, September 15, 2013

Jutland Exploration

Hi all, Scott here. Jessica is visiting her Gran in England this week, so I thought I would give an update this time!  This is a bit of a hodge-podge post since it includes some not-so-recent weekend trips.

Kayak Silkeborg
The 2nd weekend we were in Denmark, the sun was out bright and it was going to be a very nice weekend. So we decided to take advantage by going kayaking in Silkeborg, about an hour's drive from Vejle. We rented a two-person kayak for the day and went to explore the seemly endless connection of river and lakes.  Here are some photos from the day.

And we are off!

Inlet from the busy river to a quite lake. Our lunch spot.

Oh crap, where the hell are we?

Just relaxing!

Some very nice riverfront houses.

Weekend trip to Skagen
Skagen (pronounced Skay-in) is the northern most town in Justland region of Denmark. It is actually quite a fascinating region that includes a very pointy beach, a strange and very large moving sand dune, lots of fishing, and some nice shops and restaurants. We stayed in a campground on the beach about 10k south of Skagen. The camping in Denmark is a quite unique, the camping spots are very orderly with well-kept hedges separating the spots. Since we didn't bring camping gear to Denmark, we ended up renting a small cabin for the night.

The pointy beach is a result of two seas (North Sea and Straits of Denmark) actually coming together. You can actually see the waves crashing together.

The moving sand dune, Råbjerg Mile, was quite fascinating. It is the largest moving dune in Northern Europe with an area of around 1 km² (0.4 mi²) and a height of 40 m (130 ft). The wind moves it up to 18 m a year. The dune leaves a low, moist layer of sand behind it, trailing back westwards towards Skagerrak, where the Mile originally formed more than 300 years ago. Another couple hundred years and it will reach the west coast.

Not our picture, but shows the pointy beach.

Okay, so it might be hard to see the waves crashing into each other. You will just have to trust the red arrows.

Our walk to the beach, it is about 5km from the parking lot.

Others too lazy to walk take the tractor-buses!

Jess sporting the NFU sunglasses!

An old German WWII bunker on the beach. "Free Room" it says. I wouldn't suggest taking them up on the generous offer since the bunker is filled with sand, trash, and smells like feces.

The Pleasantville-like neighborhoods in Skagen.

Skagen pedestrian street. It is quite since all of the stores close at 1pm on Saturdays. Doesn't seem to make sense from a business perspective but the Danes love their free time.

A delicious fish restaurant on the harbor. They even has sand on the floors! Now how about that.

The fantastic meal, fresh Flounder from just off the coast.

Our little cabin.

The walk to the Råbjerg Mile.


Walking up to the top.

Made it!

The view of the land behind the moving dune.

This weekend
And here we are on Sunday evening. With Jessica out of town this weekend, I spent much of my time trying to get college football games streaming online. It was a success! My coworker, Drew, came over and we were able to stream the CSU game. And earlier in the day, I stumbled across some US micro-brews in a small kinda-crappy grocery store down the street from us. It is now my favorite grocery store :) Hell, they even had Fort Collins Brewery. That stuff is hard enough to find in the US.

Thanks for reading. Hope all of our friends in the Front Range were able to make it through the tremendous flooding without any harm.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Norway in a Nutshell: Part TWO

Second half of the great Norwegian adventure featuring Anne, Stig, Scott, Jessica and Lotta!

8/26:  Today we awoke to a VERY gray and rainy day, completely opposite of the gorgeous day before.  In other words, a perfect day for hitting the road and getting some much needed miles in.  Norway is one LONG country!  We made our way North, but stopped in Mo i Rana along the way to visit the Gronligrotta cave.  It is one of the largest caves in Norway and the only one that has electric lighting throughout the tour.  A fantastic activity for a rainy day!  Saw some interesting sites, including a river running through the cave.  Then we made our way very close to the Arctic circle to stay in a cabin in Bolna, just South of Saltfjellet (Salt Mountain).  The cabin we stayed in was part of the Norwegian Hiking Organization.  They have cabins in the wilderness all throughout Norway and anyone can stop and sleep in them for a small fee.

Watch for trolls!


We made it out of the cave!

Greetings from the Polar Circle!!  

Scott amidst the cairns

Our cozy little cabin

Hangin' with polar bears at the arctic circle

Short walk to the river.

Our lunch spot

8/27-8/29: Left the lovely cabin in Bolna, made a pit stop at the Arctic circle, saw lots of reindeer, and then we were on our way to Bodo.  Must say that it was a very rainy visit.  Anne and Stig had a work conference to attend in Bodo, so Scott and Lotta and I rented a cabin of our own and did some exploring.  The weather was not great but we made the most of it.  Got a nice run in, perfectly timed between 2 large rain storms.  We also took a drive to visit the Saltstraumen, a small strait with the strongest tidal current in the world.  Per Wikipedia: up to 400,000,000 cubic meters of sea water forces its way through a 3 km long and 150 meter wide strait every 6 hours, with water speeds reaching 25mph.  Whirl pools form up to 33 feet in diameter and 16 feet in depth when the current is at its strongest!!!  Pretty crazy!!  We also paid a visit to Bodo's local indoor pool/mini water park.  Had a great time lounging in the jacuzzi and racing down the water slide.  Just us and the locals!

Bridge overlooking the Saultstraumen!

Hard to see the whirl pools from here... but if you look real close!

8/29: Today we head to the much awaited Lofoten Islands.  We rode the ferry to Moskenes and then drove to Anne and Stig's home in Stamsund.   Was quite the sight coming into the harbor, all the mountains were dark and gray from the storm and they appeared like something out of Jurassic Park! The next 4 nights were a culinary delight with the master chef, Stig.  He started us out with the famous Norwegian pizza, Grandiosa!  Quite the experience!

View of Lofoten Islands (I did not take this picture...since I did not travel via helicopter!)

View riding in on the ferry.

Another view from the ferry.

8/30:  Today we slept in and awoke to a beautiful sunny day.  Our adventure of the day was hiking Offersoykammen- aka Ridge on Sacrifice Island!  Was a gorgeous hike and I was especially grateful to make it to the top!  We also visited some of the small fishing villages around Anne and Stig's town. Then Stig prepared an exquisite leg of lamb with an array of some interesting roots and fried forest mushrooms, picked by Stig on our hike! Scott and I were very impressed!

Made it to the top of this one! Success!

Group shot @ the top!

Lots of the water around Lofoten was this gorgeous turquoise color.  Very inviting... but, don't be fooled--- too cold for a swim!!!

Visiting a harbor near Anne and Stig's home.

Our wonderful hosts with the leg of lamb!

Ready for the feast!!!

8/31: Another gorgeous, sunny day on the islands.  Today we set off to visit the town of Reine and hike Reinebringen- described in many guide books of the area as the most iconic view of the Lofoten Islands.  It was another steep, straight up the mountain kind of hike!  Scott kept joking that the Norwegian version of a switch back was a rope hanging down off the mountain!  I had a few moments of almost panicking and wanting to turn around... and then... we met the most adorable 85 year old man climbing down the mountain!  He was quite chatty and it turned out he had lived in Redondo Beach for 4.5 years when he was younger.  Well, that was enough to motivate me to the top!!!  Of course, stunning views and a delicious picnic of fresh bread with brown cheese!  Stopped in Reine for a little exploring on the way home and had some soft ice (Norwegian soft serve).   For dinner, whale steaks grilled by Stig!  We were also invited to a party/BBQ at a friend of Anne and Stig's.  Met some really nice people and had some good chats about life and travel.

View of the town of Reine.

Up, up, up and away!

View looking down @ Reine. 

Something about this hike reminded me of Hana in Maui.

Fish heads that are left over from drying the cod during the winter.  They only sell the bodies in Norway.  The heads go somewhere else... Africa maybe??

9/1: Our last day and last hike in Lofoten- Hoven,  a mountain shaped like a horse hoof!  Great hike with nice views of the ocean and fjords.   We stopped and had lunch at a gorgeous beach (Rorvik) and then visited the town of Henningsvaer- an old, little fishing town.  Then we stopped by Anne and Stig's new house (they are moving in at the end of September) in Eltoft at Steinfjord.  Their new house is close to a famous surfing beach, Unstad, so we visited there too.  Very unique to see a surfing beach right at the bottom of all these small farms and in between mountains!  For dinner... the much awaited lutefisk with mushy peas + bacon + akevit (special Norwegian alcohol made especially for drinking with lutefisk) + cloud berries/whipped cream for dessert.  Lutefisk is definitely one of the most unusual things we have ever eaten!  It involves taking the previously dried atlantic cod, soaking it in lye and water several times, then heavily salting it to draw out that water, and then baking it in the oven.  Strange but wonderful!  You will have to try it for yourself to understand : )

Quail on our last hike!

the horse hoof hike

mushroom hunting man

Lotta giving free rides up the horse's hoof to a 4 year old.

The guide book said this hike is suitable for your grandparents.  Perhaps Norwegian grandparents! Would you take your grandparents to such great heights?!?

This awesome mirror sculpture!

Rorvik beach- popular post card image.

Wooden stands for drying the cod

Henningsvaer- fishing town.

Cool graffiti- it says "In Cod we Trust".

The last supper: lutefisk and akevit for dinner

9/2:  Scott and I say goodbye to Anne and Stig and Lotta and the Lofoten Islands and return back to Denmark.  Was such a wonderful trip and we were really sad to say goodbye!  Hope to see our favorite mountain loving friends + one more next June!  And we hope for more fun adventures to come! Colorado is next on the list!

Saying goodbye as we ride the ferry to Bodo to catch the plane home.

Farewell Norway! Until we meet again...

Overview of our journey: 2400 KM or 1491 miles of gorgeous Norway!!!  Connect the dots to follow our journey :)