Category Archives: 2016 Summer Cruising

Oh, Canada!

NEW BRUNSWICK

Thursday-Friday, August 11-12, 2016

On the road again…, which is that tune playing through my head as I we head north from Orr’s Island to Canada. Because of the Schengen Visa restrictions in Europe we had to get out of Dodge. So, for the next couple months we’re in the states taking care of business and doing a bit of road travel to Canada.

At this point the only scheduled events were the interviews for our Global Online Enrollment System (GOES) applications at the Canada-US border, a hotel reservation in North Sydney, Nova Scotia, and a ferry reservation from North Sydney, Nova Scotia, to Port aux Basques, Newfoundland. Plus, we hoped to connect with the Harmons, a sailing couple who purchased Max’s family’s boat, MAJEK, in 2001, and, if possible, Max’s cousins, the Lambs who live in Nova Scotia.

Arriving an hour early for our GOES appointments, we knew we had arrived in the more relaxed and hospitable country of Canada when the customs guys said not a problem, come on in. Ironically, we had tried to schedule our interviews in Boston only to find out the next available slots were in March 2017. Looking at other sites, this border town popped up and, voila, plenty of slots. And, that’s why we ended up sitting in front of our interviewer who was a Laser sailor and travelled to the Bahamas. He mentioned just that week he’d interviewed people from South Carolina, Maryland, and New Hampshire for the same reasons we had scheduled ours here. Even if Boston interviews became available it’s worth the drive just to be cleared by these guys.

After 20 minutes we were approved and on our way to the Harmons, whom we’d emailed earlier to see if they were around for a quick visit to see MAJEK. They had invited us for dinner and to stay the night, and how wonderful that was! Not only did we get to see Bev and Doug but also their lovely daughter Erin and her three children, Tom, Ian, and Maeve who were just as enchanting as their mom and grandparents.

Bev and Doug’s home catches one eye, and not only due to the beautiful lines of the architecture but also the pastoral scene greeting you when you step inside and see the upper St John riverscape stretching in front of you. I couldn’t help but let out a happy sigh as I gazed down a meadow to the river flowing right in front of their property.

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Doug took Max and me out to MAJEK moored in this pastoral scene. Doug who’s a woodworker and carpenter had totally refurbished the boat, and, boy, did this 50-year-old boat look beautiful:

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As we looked around below, some items really hit home such as his dad’s handwriting on back of a locker cover

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and a wooden key holder a ten-year-old Max made copying his dad’s mahogany ones.

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But, what really meant the most was knowing how well loved MAJEK was by current owners, Doug and Bev.IMG_9677.jpgReturning back to their home we gathered on their patio overlooking the river

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while the kids occupied themselves with their curiosity and creativeness.

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Later we feasted on grilled chicken, homemade bread and strawberry salad (which Bev kindly gave me the recipe). The next morning we sampled luscious strawberry jam Bev and Erin had made then set off after hugs all around and the hope of catching up again in Maine before too much time goes by.

Friday-Sunday, August 12-14

The road ran pretty much straight to Nova Scotia where we spent Saturday exploring a few spots. We awoke to a blue crisp sky and warm sun, which prompted us to set off for Baddeck, a small town on Bras d’Or Lake (called Golden Arms due to brilliant sunsets over the water). Three years prior Max had joined Finn Perry here aboard his beautiful 46 foot sloop named Elskov. From Baddeck Finn, Max, and two others sailed up the coast of Labrador and into Hudson Strait, an area seldom visited by yachts. Max returned to work from Kimmirut, while the boat with fresh crew continued as far as Cape Dorset.

Down the road was a small museum on the Scottish-born Alexander Graham Bell (1847-1922) who, with his wife Mabel, moved here in the late 1800s after being charmed by the area’s beauty in 1885. They built a house and a laboratory where Bell along with assistants continued his scientific explorations.

Situated in a small building perched on a hillside, the museum served as a picnic spot as well as host to this man’s fascinating life.

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And what a fabulous life he and his wife created! Artifacts and photographs illustrated the storyline, beginning with Alexander’s birth and early years and relating his achievements throughout his life with his wife Mabel as his lifelong partner. They were devoted to one another, a love so strong and comfortable you can’t miss it when gazing at photos of the two of them.

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I had no knowledge of anything about Bell other than his patent for the telephone so it was with awe I learned more about this warm and brilliant man. Some things really made a lasting impression on me:

  • Alexander’s interest in helping the deaf was a natural development considering his mother was partially deaf and his father taught elocution to the deaf.
  • Tragedy struck early with the loss of both of his brothers to TB, which prompted his father to move the family from Scotland to Ontario in 1870.

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  • Alexander fell in love with a pupil of his, Mabel Hubbard, when teaching at her father’s school, the Clark School for the Deaf in Northampton, Massachusetts. She had lost her hearing at age five from contracting scarlet fever.
  • Just as his parents lost two sons, he and Mabel lost their two sons in infancy.
  • Children were a loving constant in his life, with his two daughters recounting family tales in a video interview. One of the memories told of his nightly wandering down to the lake with his round life preserver and cigar where he’d float for hours while his family saw this twinkling of light slowly whirling around on the water.

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  • His enthusiasm and curiosity, not commercial success, drove him to explore the wonders of the world’s make-up.
  • Winning France’s Volta Prize in 1880 for his work in electric science, Alexander used the funds to establish his Volta Laboratory in Washington, D.C. for the purpose of studying and helping the deaf.
  • He founded the Aerial Experiment Association resulting in the first aeroplane flight in the British Empire, which occurred February 23, 1909 following their successful flight in NY a year earlier.

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  • Alexander never forgot or stopped trying to help the deaf communicate (Helen Keller credits him with improving her speech).

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  • He improved upon Thomas Edison’s phonograph.
  • He took over the reins of the National Geographic Society, which his father-in-law helped found in 1888. In 1899 with his son-in-law, Gilbert Grovesnor, he expanded the club to a subscription membership organization using photos to tell stories (I’m certain there are a lot of us who remember devouring that magazine as soon as it appeared in the mail box).

I would have loved to have sat at their dining room table and hear their conversations. At least I had a tantalizing glimpse into their lives, however brief.

Our day ended with a drive partway up the Cabot Trail where we spotted more watery vistas, only this time across an ocean.

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At a lookoff (which is what we call ‘lookouts’) I spotted a familiar sight, which always brings to mind my brother Cammy, his wife Carmen and their sons and daughters-in-law.

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After in-the-blink-of-an-eye ferry ride

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we returned to our hotel with the makings for dinner, breakfast and the next day’s lunch. Tomorrow, Newfoundland!

NEWFOUNDLAND

Sunday-Tuesday, August 14-16

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After a dinner of take-out pizza and salad watching the Olympics, we arose Monday morning for a breakfast of stashed apples (and cold pizza for Max) to head to our first foray into Newfoundland’s storied small-town experiences. And, we landed in one thanks to our friends Tim and Joanne who heard about Rose Blanche from John and Margo.

Of course, there’s always something acting up with a car when the whole trip revolves around using one. Fortunately, it was only a slowly leaking tire from a nail that a friendly mechanic fixed right on the spot. Max perked right up upon seeing the bill: a grand total of $14.95 Canadian.

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On our way out to town we did our usual stop at the Tourist Information Office. We’d done our typical ‘we’ll just wing it and find places along the way’. Well, that’s fine traveling off-season, our usual choice, but not during prime summer vacation season. Fortunately, we had two helpful and very patient young woman who worked with us and were most likely happy to see the backs of us.

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And, so began our Newfie experience of which I’ll highlight some of our explorations over the next three weeks…

ROSE BLANCHE

Monday, August 15

Reaching the town identified as a typical fishing harbor village we noticed ‘welcome home’ signs posted on houses and streaming pennants decorating buildings. Thinking if was a greeting for a soldier we later discovered every summer different towns throughout Newfoundland hold community festivities in anticipation of emigrants returning to their hometowns. Unfortunately, we missed any parties in the towns hosting these welcomes but it was pretty wonderful to think of the celebrations during such gatherings. Probably a good thing as we would have been two Americans going around echoing ‘eh?’.

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Known for its lighthouse constructed 1871-73 of local granite, this building was an easy stroll from our B&B. Over its 70 years of operation, five lighthouse keepers lived in several small rooms under the tower. At one time, there were 18 (!) people living here comprised of the keeper, his wife, their eight children and the wife’s sister and six of her 11 children. They said a wooden building was added on. Frankly, even living on a 40-foot boat 24×7 with Max the idea of sharing that small of an enclosure with that many people would make me, well, would NOT make me a cheerful person.

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CORNER BROOK

Tuesday, August 16

Stopping for a short hike to a cove we made it to this small city-town up the west coast where we spotted a paper pulp and paper mill (something one rarely sees in Maine these days) and drove up a hill to see the James Cook memorial. Wondering why the connection to this South Seas explorer a little tickle of a memory began. I very faintly recalled his surveying skills from visiting a small museum on the east coast of England, a home where he lived as an apprentice, seaman and master’s mate to a Quaker ship captain, John Walker.

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This South Seas sailor who, for me, was more associated with hot vs. cold weather sailing, actually received the commission to captain the Pacific exploration aboard ENDEAVOR due to his surveying of Newfoundland’s west coast.

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So, here in Corner Brook, Newfoundland, he is remembered for the accuracy of his charts, still used today. Hence, us and an arriving busload of tourists gazing at his statue.

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GROS MORNE

Wednesday & Thursday, August 17 & 18

We were lucky in that the weather forecast of rain turned out to be just a little spitting then cleared as we drove up to one of Newfoundland’s most spectacular parks, Gros Morne. Located on the west coast mid-way up this spot of nature is woven with hikes, from easy to difficult. Looking through the literature we ended up on a fabulous guided tour of the Tablelands, one of the most accessible views of the earth’s mantle.

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The guide named Trevor turned out to be a young man who thoroughly entertained the 50+ people who gathered around him at key spots during the 1.5 hour walk.

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Not only did he explain the unusual geology but also to some of the flora, which had adapted to the heavy-metal, i.e., toxic, soil by becoming carnivorous (think Venus Fly Trap).

Further education about the park’s landscape and underpinnings was found in the Discovery Center where we spent about an hour strolling through the self-guided tour.

Heading back to Corner Brook we stopped at the Insectarium, a site I thought would be somewhat of a yawn and eye-roll; but, it was fascinating!

I shudder at the horror of imagining being in contact with creepy-crawlies yet am drawn to just staring at them… through a protective barrier, of course.

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The young guides enthusiastically informed us of various insects, one being the millipede (a much calmer and friendlier multi-legged creature than its frightening cousin, the centipede).

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The insectarium, one of three in Canada, hosted a large see-through bee hive, one in which the queen recently left with a swarm to find another hive (too crowded in this one). Again, another opportunity to be hypnotized by insects.

Butterfly chrysalis hung behind a glass window where we could watch any hatching that might occur during our visit. We didn’t see any (usually a one-to-two-second birth followed by several hours of wing-drying) but still stood peering in at these crepe-covered larvae. And, my husband did his best to encourage them to hatch in front of our eyes.

And, no, it didn’t work.

Returning to Corner Brook we spent one more night then headed north again with a stop and walk to Gros Morne’s fresh-water fjord, the Western Brook Arm. Arriving at the end of an easy 45-minute walk we gravitated to the deck where a riverboat offered an enticing two-hour tour. We opted out but it looked mighty fine.

RIVER OF PONDS

Friday, August 19

Just north of where we were staying we found another easy trail at Hawkes Bay (named after Admiral Hawkes by the surveyor James Cook). This path commemorated the actions of a newfoundlander ranger named John Hogan. It all began on May 8, 1943, in Labrador when he caught a ride home on a small plane only to have it fill with smoke and start losing altitude. Along with the other passengers, Hogan parachuted out landing safely but alone and in dense woods. Being a ranger he used his wilderness skills and began making his way to the coast over the next two days. However, in spotting footprints in the snow he found a fellow passenger whose feet had frozen making progress painful and, ultimately, impossible. They did manage to hole up in some cabins but had to wait out the spring thaw, which made traveling across water unsafe.

For 52 days they survived on Hogan’s snaring of a few rabbits, his gathering any berries uncovered by melting snow, and the brewing of herbal tea. Finally on June 25, a survey team spotted them and Hogan and his companion were rescued.

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The path followed the Torrent River, a 100-mile stretch of water,

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and where we visited the Torrent River Salmon Interpretation Centre and Fishway. In spite of viewing five minutes of a famous salmon fisherman tying flies and catching a fish, we both enjoyed our short walk through the exhibit. Boards explained how the river’s salmon eventually lost their ability to head upstream to spawn due to the destruction of their habitat by the logging industry. Even though Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) twice tried to correct the problem, the salmon population continued to decline.

Eventually, it was a community leader and businessman who raised local and tourist awareness of this issue, resulting in the rebuilding of the fish ladder installed by DFO.

Just like the insectarium, watching these salmon gird themselves for the final push was mesmerizing. So, gaze we did. I could easily have fallen into a stupor. At least I didn’t drool.

PORT AUX CHOIX

Saturday, August 20

Another day we headed to Port aux Choix, the site of the first inhabitants of this island, the Maritime Archaic people who lived here around 4,400 years ago. When the climate got colder, the Paleoeskimoes came down from Labrador and Baffin Island, and eventually the folks across the pond landed here: Vikings around 1,000 C.E.; then, the French and English in 1500s.

All of the above took advantage of the rich sea life of seals and whales in addition to the meat on hoofs, paws and claws, such as moose, caribou, fox, hares, birds. Unfortunately, a flightless seabird, the Great Auk, became popular as food and bait, and was hunted to death in the 1800s (more like slaughtered due to their defenselessness), the last one killed in 1844. (Imagine having a specific year for the extinction of an entire species? Thank you, mankind or, more appropriately, inhumane human.)

Must say the small cultural centers dotting the roadsides are well set up. It’s so easy to zoom by or pooh-pooh them since they look as if they hardly have any information worth seeing; yet, after visiting these exhibits I’ve usually exchanged my ‘why stop there?’ to ‘did you know about that?’.

Max checked out the water temperature and found it not too cold, which has been the case whenever we’ve gauged the waters around here.

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We’ve also noticed how deserted many side sites seem to be, which makes this exploring easy with so few visitors but also a bit lonely since no one to share some of these highlights. But, as you can see, we’re really enjoying oh Canada :)

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L’ANSE AUX MEADOWS & ST. ANTHONY

Sunday, August 21

After deciding to camp this coming week, we decided to air out the sleeping bags and tent that Natalie Shiras so graciously lent us. Not being a true camper who wants to rush out and embrace the wilderness, I eyed these accommodations with a skeptical eye with Max’s puzzled expression only adding to the fear of finding ourselves sleeping on top of the structure, not in it.

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But, figure it out he did; so we repacked it all and stowed it in the car as we organized our gear for leaving the next morning.

A six-house car-ride later we landed at the tip of the Northern, western peninsula at L’Anse aux Meadows (a bastardized version of the original French name, named after a ship ’Anse a la Medea’ ). This is one of the two Newfoundland UNESCO sites, Gros Morne National Park being the other. Here we were led through the sod-covered depressions where an outpost of the Norsemen scouted out resources for Greenland, such as timber for ships and iron ore for tools and weaponry.

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Reconstructions of dwellings and huts were situated close to the original sites. Bricks of peat formed foot-thick walls with roofs of sod for further insulation.

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It’s actually the smelting of iron ore that provides proof of the Europeans reaching North America because in the late 10th and early 11th centuries the locals at that time hadn’t worked with iron prior to the Norsemen.

With an excellent guide we learned that this was definitely not a settlement because too few people lived here (only 100 or so when a settlement to survive required at least 500). He also stressed that these were the Norse, not Vikings because the term ‘viking’ should be used as a verb for ‘raiding’, not applied as a noun to identify Scandinavians at that time.

The amount of knowledge and his way of imparting it made me wish, once again, we could share a meal with him just to hear more about the history of this land. He carefully selected what he felt was true, saying much of what historians have learned comes from matching archaeological artifacts with the old Scandinavian sagas while taking into account probably poetic licensing occurring. He also reminded me a wee bit of Al Pacino.

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But, then again, maybe you had to be there to see the resemblance…

TWILINGATE

Monday, August 21

The night before Max had found a lookout for whales and icebergs (being in Iceberg Alley we had spotted one way off in the distance the day before at L’Anse aux Meadows). Not seeing any more big blocks of floating cubes but spotting the languid arching of whales through the waters, we decided to return with our morning coffee and rolls. No whales but definitely a lovely post for sipping morning brew.

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Today’s drive was taking us to another noted location for icebergs and whales: Twilingate. Perched on an island on the central coast, this, too, was part of Iceberg Alley. We had read that the current brings these huge ice cubes down along this coast after breaking off from Greenland two years prior. The season for seeing icebergs and whales close to shore is usually April/May-June/July; so, we were fortunate to actually see an iceberg and some whales the day before.

Our destination of the night was to be our first camping experience on this trip located at Dildo Run Provincial Park. Yes, a bit odd.

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And, what we discovered is what our friends Tim & Joanne had told us the day before we left that camping here is glorious. And, it is! Thank you, Natalie!

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At least when it’s not raining, which it did in the middle of the night into the morning. Pouring is a better description…

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We survived, as did the tent and, after a soggy start, we need up with a brilliant hot day where we met two locals who owned a garage and heavy-equipment business. They told us some spots to check out, one being Dover Fault, the location of the splitting of Pangea when the Atlantic Ocean formed between two new continents.

Wishing we could spend more time with them, we drove an hour south along the coast to Dover where we met two more locals, a grandmother and her grandson picking blueberries. The bushes were loaded with those berries. Just look at what they had picked in 20 minutes.

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Max and I managed to munch on handfuls when climbing to the lookout in spite of telling myself I’d try to save some for later. And, of course, we couldn’t pass one of these by, which, uncharacteristically, my husband opted out of…

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Another geological wonder greeted us as we gazed upon the town’s coastline.

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The diagrams provide the best description I’ve read to-date, so I’ll just post it here for anyone interested and for anyone who’s not a geologist.
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Back in the car we completed our five-hour, round-trip drive but not before being entertained by a traffic controller along a stretch of highway. First, let me just assure you the accident that had occurred causing the stop-and-go traffic looked bad but didn’t appear to cause serious injuries to the driver. Secondly, it’s not often you get your traffic controller fighting for your right to proceed.

What was happening was our guy was stopping cars while the other one way off in the distance was letting his through. After five minutes, our guy seemed to be getting a little antsy, and after ten he was definitely ready to let his stream of vehicles go. But, his partner down the highway wasn’t cooperating as car after car kept on coming our way.

Being first in line we had a great view as first our guy looked at us as if to say, ‘do you believe that knucklehead?!’,

then started walking towards his fellow controller while screaming his name and waving his STOP sign/SLOW sign back and forth, which must have really confused the vehicles approaching our end.

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Finally, he just turned back to us and said,… well, you may be able to hear it :)

Ending back at Dildo Run (can’t believe the Park Service actually kept that name), we feasted on some pre-cooked ribs and corn on the cob (although, hot dogs would have been more appropriate fare)

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while a rainbow peeked out

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and a fire-flamed night put us to bed.

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How can anyone beat Mom Nature?

GROS MORNE

Wednesday-Friday, August 24-26

More camping but now back to the premier park of Newfoundland, which we briefly visited from our stay in Corner Brook earlier in the trip.

Wanting to camp, we selected one of the sites on the ocean (I’m a firm believer that any breeze we can capture would help keep bugs at bay, plus, the sound of the surf is glorious) and proceeded to cook some chicken over the fire (it was good) before crawling into our nylon, home-away-from-home.

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Once again the scope of all of this national park spreads across a huge acreage (697 sq mi.). And, similar to our last visit we only walked-hiked to a few sites noted as ‘best of’.

One of these was Green Point, a geological destination identified in 2000 by the International Commission of Straitgraphy as one of the determining sites marking the distinction between two eras from multi-million years ago: Cambian (595 million years ago) and Ordovician (492 million years ago).

Gros Morne is comprised of so many geological wonders, such as the Tablelands we toured during our first visit to the park. There we saw one of the best examples of the earth’s mantle. Now we were looking at ancient pieces of the earth’s sedimentary sea floor tilted on its side due to the converging of two primeval continents. We learned that on average, 1 meter of rock represented 60,000 years worth of sediment buildup. The older layers are on the right, meaning the earth has been folded up like an accordion past 90 degrees. On a guided tour we took the following day we learned about some of the theories that explain various layers. We also joined fellow tourists in seeking evidence of some of earth’s earliest life forms: Iapetognathus fluctivagus and Graptolites. Several of our fellow tourists found the imprints of these ancient creatures in pieces of shale that had recently broken off. We found it pretty exciting to discover the evidence of life from 492 Million years ago.

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That evening our 15th anniversary dinner was comprised of grilled hot dogs with some vegetables a wee bit past their prime… all hurriedly assembled ahead of forecasted rain.

Max played caveman and started the fire while I noticed a young woman seemingly solo quickly trying to assemble her tent. I asked if she was alone (affirmative) and if she’d like help (double affirmative). In lightening speed she instructed me what went where and her tent mushroomed into the appropriate shape. I asked if she’d like to join us for dinners (warning her it was hotdogs), and Kayla came over with a bag of salad she’d been planning on eating since rain would have made fire-starting a bit of a trial.

Over a grilled dinner followed by mistakenly baked s’mores, we discovered Kayla was a social worker originally from Prince Edward Island now working in Ottawa, Ontario. We also found out she was an alumnae of Bishop College, the same school some friends had attended. Kayla enjoyed traveling solo, which recently included Peru, Nepal, and India.

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She apologized for talking nonstop for the first 30 minutes due to having been alone since landing in St. John’s the previous Sunday; yet, her verbal travelogue made for wonderful story-telling so she entertained us as she slowly unwound. At that point, night had fallen and rain had begun so the three of us scattered to our respective tents for a drenching, blowy evening of a downpour.

Waking up to just some remnants of the night’s torrential water fall, we made a beeline for the breakfast place we’d located the previous morning. Then attended both the Green Point ranger tour and one on medicinal plants given by a native who learned them from his grandparents. And, both were fascinating. I mean, really fascinating. Max says he wants to come back in his next life as a geologist. Me, I’d like to be a medicine woman. It was so cool how weeds and trees are like a pharmacy in one’s own backyard. If anyone decides to visit this park, be sure to show up for any of the ranger guided tours.

NOVA SCOTIA

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Saturday-Monday, August 27-29

An overnight ferry from Port Aux Basques retraced our steps to North Sydney, Nova Scotia. If only we had known we would have brought our sleeping bags and pillows up from the car deck. We loaded at 15 minutes before midnight to arrive at around 7:00 am the next morning. And, within one hour the seating area (large reclining chairs set in groups of two, three, and four facing several tvs offering a range of programming) the place was a mass of sleeping bodies slumped in chairs and on the floors. At one point it was a cacophony of snores that was comical.

If one can block out the disruptive snorts, snuggles, and snuffles, it’s marvelous how different noses and throats can perform so many vocal variations upon a theme of sleeping. There must be some evolutionary purpose for these noises. What, I don’t know, except to irritate others who can’t sleep.

Debarking we wound our way to Max’s cousins. Their home sitting above a lake in Nova Scotia offers a farm haven. With clucking chickens, gobbling turkeys, buzzing bees, lush vegetable patches, and exuberant flowers decorating the house it was a wonderful contrast to the drizzly campground we had left the day before.

John, Alison,

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their daughter Bella

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and Giorgia, a young English woman participating in WOOFER, inhabited this lovely home. A quiet young man, Austin, appeared with Giorgia throughout the days, helping with daily tasks including raking some blueberries and picking a bucket full of plump blackberries.

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Plus, a little dog, named Tivvy, frolicked around our feet. A veritable, Wizard-of-Oz Toto this pup makes friends quickly. I have no doubt Alison wouldn’t be wrong to check every exiting visitor’s luggage in case they just happened to kidnap Tivvy. I know I was tempted.

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For two sunny days we enjoyed being amidst the warmth that can’t help but spring from this hive of activity as chickens were fed,

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turkeys shooed into their pens,

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a spider removed from the bee hives,

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squash patch weeded,

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and lively discussions shared at meals.

Yet, in spite of all that was occurring, I always felt enveloped by a peace.

What a wonderful family, and what a wonderful way to end our Canadian adventure :)

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“Wherever you go becomes a part of you somehow.” ― Anita Desai

MEDEMBLIK, then ENKHUISEN

Friday-Tuesday, July 29-August 3

Having gone bow-in through silty mud to rest at our mooring in Hindeloopen we now were backing out without the least bit of noticeable resistance (possibly our keel plowed a trench on the way in?). In this Disney-movie-set-of-a-town we had savored our time spent biking, walking, training (as in locomotives), and being with friends while meeting new ones.

Craving one last anchorage before we headed to Enkhuizen, we opted for a cove off a nature reserve, one our friend Thijs had suggested. We crossed the IJselmeer watching the depth as most of this large lake averages between 10-12 feet, a bit disconcerting when JUANONA draws six-and-a-half feet.

Our approach to our anchoring spot took us through three fleets of racing boats. We managed to snap some photos on the downwind leg of the race with colorful spinnakers puffed out like rounded bellies as the boats screamed through the water.

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Later we discovered we had landed next door to a Regatta Center hosting the World Championship of the “29er” class of boats. [If you want more info on those, please google as I’m completely ignorant of them except to know it takes two people–typically young and very fit (du-uh)–to sail one boat… the boats aren’t huge… they are fast… and, I’d love to be on one, as a passenger….]

As we entered the cove we slowly inched our way forward passing red-buoy markers, touching bottom once, until reaching a comfortable depth for anchoring.  Here we breathed a sigh of contentment as we gazed around, mentally sending thanks to Thijs for his recommendation of this pastoral anchorage.

For four days we stayed on the hook, rowing into the public dock for walks into town, scrubbing and waxing JUANONA’s hull and deck, and simply relishing being our own little island surrounded by nature. We even enjoyed hearing the thunder booms from an incoming storm, one of the few we’ve experienced this entire summer.

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Yesterday we pulled up anchor to sail the 10 miles to Enkhuizen where JUANONA will stay while we head home for a bit.

Our 2016 summer cruising may be coming to an abbreviated end, but with so many rich memories. Being in more populated regions than last summer, we saw numerous museums and other really fascinating cultural sites; and, of course, the wildness of Norway’s coastline and islands and the tamed beauty of the Netherlands captivated us.

Yet, the most memorable times involved the wonderful folk with whom we’ve had the pleasure of sharing time, even if only for a little while.

Paul and John, two Brits who were cycling to Prague and whom we met at Haarlem’s windmill demonstration
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Haarlem’s Downtown Coffee manager-owners Linda and Daren who kindly helped us register our Museumkaarts (unfortunately, no photo but may be possible in the near future)
Our guide at the Corrie Ten Boom Museum, who was a child here during WWII, and just radiated warmth and love
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Tara at a great hostel-inn, HELLO I AM LOCAL, where we hung out using their wifi while sipping coffee and beer at their cafe
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The wild and crazy crew we met in Amsterdam at the Liberation Day trivia quiz:  a German Couple, Ilse and Werner, and three, thirty-year-old locals who had grown up together, Erik, Ditske and Koen
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Fellow sailors, Henk and Kiki, whom we met tied along Hoorn’s town wall and who continue to send us helpful advice for navigating these Dutch waters (as well as later meeting his son, daughter-in-law, and grandchildren cruising at Vlieland when we were prepping for our Norway passage) and one of our wonderful nephews, Rudy
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Another fellow sailor, Thijs, his wife Deborah and young daughter Tika, whom we initially met in Hoorn and had the good fortune to meet up again in Hindeloopen
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Our “Belgium Family”–Ta, Koen, Seppe, Frieke, and Wannes–who made the trek over to see us along with Rudy
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The guys from Norway’s Rescue Organization, Redningsselskapet, docked behind us at our first port of call in Norway (Egersund) who gave Max a diesel additive (again, a missed opportunity for a photo)
Skudneshavn rafting neighbors on our third night in Norway:  two Norwegian lads, Lars and Oddbjoern, and two Brits, Judy and James
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A surreal, serendipitous meeting of a fellow Mainer, Paul, who later hosted us in his hometown, Stavanger
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There but for the kindness of strangers:  the guy who helped us fill up with diesel in Skudneshavn, using his credit card in case ours wouldn’t work
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The lovely Dutch couple who, along with us, were the only other non-Norwegians in the tour of the Barony Rosendal

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Marit and Even, a Norwegian cruising couple with whom we wish we had been able to share an anchorage
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And, because of Marit we met Irene in Bergen and had a delightful coffee break discussing her project resulting in a book, WORD BY WORD, ROW BY ROW
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Two lovely, wonderful people, Elisabeth and Gunnar of Os, who treated us like lifelong friends
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And, because of them we met Vibeke, who along with her husband Peter, runs a successful art gallery on the island of Lepsoy

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Hildegunn, our bus driver on the island of Sotra, who drove us to Televag when she knew we had to wait several hours for the next bus
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Dag, to whom we regrettably had to turn down his invite for coffee at his home but said we hope to change that to a ‘yes’ if back next summer
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Eoin from Ireland who also happens to be the OCC Port Captain in Stavanger and who made my tummy ache from laughing so much
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Max’s Norwegian Family–Oddbjoern, Bjoern, Sylvie, Antonia, and Kelly–who gave us a magical experience and a true appreciation for Max having family in Norway
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And, those we met upon our return to the Netherlands and, unfortunately, lack photographs:
Nick, our friendly neighbor at Vlieland Marina… Danielle and Henk who helped us with our lines docking at Hindeloopen (and gave the good advice of rev it up to get through the mud)… Kitty and Paul with whom we had fascinating conversations as well as plenty of laughs… Lena and Henk with whom we spent a wonderful evening soaking up their knowledge of cruising the Danish and Swedish coastlines… and, fellow OCCer, Peter, who graciously drove an hour to meet us today before we fly back to the states.

I’m not religious but I do appreciate what the universe may provide, and for all the human reasons above, we definitely feel ‘blessed’.

Thank you to all who made our 2016 summer aboard JUANONA so absolutely special.

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FYI:  The reason we’re stopping our cruising so early is due to a visa regulation. As non-residents we are juggling two restrictions dictated by the EU and Schengen, the latter being a treaty signed by the EU and Scandinavia.

In the UK US citizens are allowed to visit up to six months at a time. To reset the visa, you can do so by simply exiting the UK and then returning. This six-month visa allowance (and the ease to reset it) was one of the primary reasons for our staying in England these past two winters.

All Schengen countries (Scandinavia and all EU countries with the exception of the UK) restrict visitors to a total of three months out of six. Once you’ve spent a cumulative 90 days you must leave the Schengen area for three months before you can return for another three months (90 cumulative days). For long-term visitors, such as cruisers, the three-month restriction doesn’t allow a lot of time for slow traveling by boat, or for finding a place to winter aboard. However, it’s not as if the good ole’ US of A makes it easy for visitors either, so fair is fair.

On the other hand,  JUANONA isn’t affected by the Schengen treaty. And, she can stay for up to 18 months in the EU without paying the value-added-tax (V.A.T.). That V.A.T. exclusion can be reset by simply documenting entering the waters of a non-EU country. Thankfully, Norway isn’t in the EU, which is why these past two summers made it extremely easy to reset the tax exclusion. (Brexit will add an interesting twist to how non-UK cruisers and boats will be treated.) 

Anyhow, that’s what we juggle when determining where, when, and how long we cruise in certain areas over here. Now that I’ve tangled your mind up with that bureaucratic rope, I’ll stop nattering on.

 

Friesian Cruising (or “Frysan” cruising as the Frisians would say)

 FYI:  The parentheses state the place name spelt in the Frisian dialect, which even most Dutch outside of this area don’t understand.

VLIELAND

Friday-Thursday, July 15-21

We were back in familiar territory when we landed on Vlieland, one of the five Friesian Islands with the North Sea on one side and the Wadderzee on the other. We found a berth at the marina immediately, which was against all odds considering most summer boaters anchor outside the entrance, sometimes for several days, in hopes of replacing an exiting boat. The usual drill of cleaning bodies, boat, and clothes occurred along with a walk into the one-street town and a chance to sit on a wide open beach.

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Another reason we were lucky to get in was finding ourselves with two friendly neighbors, port- and starboard-side-to. We struck up a conversation with Nick, a Dutch sailor awaiting his family’s arrival; and, over the several days we stayed in the marina we had a pleasant time discussing boating and life in general.

Wanting to anchor out again, we left on Monday to head just to the west of the marina entrance. Calm waters and warm temperatures made for a smooth transition from berth to anchoring. Noticing that some boats used the sign of a black buoy raised at their bow to indicate they were anchored during the day (at night we use our anchor light locate atop our mast), we improvised with my sacrificing a black t’shirt over a round fender. It made for a humorous ‘buoy’.

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yet, it worked like a charm :)

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Over the next few days we caught up on some tasks and watched boats come and go. With Max reading the RIDDLE OF THE SAND based on this area of shoals created by wind and tide, we dinghyed close to one sandbar where the boats on the horizon appeared to be sitting on that sandbar.

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Wednesday we awoke to a forecasted wind of 20 knots causing us to now and then check our position relative to other boats and the channel. With high winds against the strong current flowing around this island, our chart plotter drew a picture of our twirling around.

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Thursday morning we set off on a rising tide to make the 20-mile trek across the Wadderzee and through the dyke to Hindeloopen, a small town on the east side of the Ijsselmeer, Netherlands’ large lake, which use to be the Zuiderzee (South Sea). The North Sea pushing itself over sandy land barriers caused this Zuiderzee to form, and after a major flood in 1916, the dream of reclaiming land and stopping the devastating floods became more of a reality. Between 1927 and 1932 the Zuiderzee was sealed off by the Afsluitdijk (Barrier Dyke) which allowed land to be reclaimed.

It was this dyke we had exited in mid-June and now we retraced our steps only to screech to a halt once we saw the line-up of boats. To enter the IJsselmeer requires first a bridge opening then transiting through a lock, each with their own waiting area. What a zoo! It was quite something to jockey for position, either rafting alongside a fellow boater who had arrived earlier or freewheeling around in the waiting area.

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Good practice, though, for how to spot an optimal rafting opportunity (which we did waiting for the bridge to open) and how to mill around while avoiding other milling-around boats (which is what we did waiting for the lock to open). Finally, our turn came for squeezing into the lock where you instantly make acquaintances as everyone holds onto everyone else’s boat to help out.

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In speaking with other boaters they said the crowds are primarily due to it being close to turn-over time for charters as well as being high season for summer vacations. A nice tidbit to stash away for planning future cruising.

HINDELOOPEN (HYLPEN)

Thursday-Monday, July 21-25

Pulling into Hindeloopen we were greeted by Danielle and Henk, a Dutch couple who had heard about an American boat coming into a slip next to them. When we started to slowly move into the slip Danielle all of a sudden said ‘you’ll need to gun it to get in’. Rightly so as we plowed through soft, silty mud the last ten feet coming to an easy stop. One of the easiest and calmest docking experiences we’ve had this summer. Nothing like planning on going gently aground.

And, what a treat to be here! Not only due to feeling we were sitting in the epitome of a quaint Dutch town, a perfect movie set for a Disney film,

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but also because we were hoping to have a reunion with our friends whom we had met last May when moored along side Hoorn’s town wall:  Thijs, Deborah, and Tika.

And, we happily did! Resulting in taking a biking trip to the next town north, Warkum (Workum). With perfect cycling weather, the five of us met at the marina office to pick up bikes. It’s also where I took a snapshot of Tika’s marvelous silver sneakers:

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Then we were off for the day, led by our Dutch friends who took us along the route through polders (reclaimed land now farmed) and past old markers indicating town lines no doubt established many centuries ago. And, how we enjoyed being out and about! I think the smiles are an accurate reflection of our spirtis :)

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A lovely cafe along the canal made for the perfect al fresco lunch

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included a much-needed lesson in how to pronounce some Dutch words thanks to Tika’s prompting.

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This was followed by a designated stop at the Jopie Huisman Museum, a local artist born in this Friesian town.

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Jopie Huisman (1922-2000) isn’t an artist I had heard of, but that’s not surprising considering my lack of background in art. What is surprising, though, is not having heard of this particular artist. What a wonderful gift Deborah, a talented artist herself, Thijs, and Tika gave us by bringing us to this museum. Eleven, small gallery rooms encapsulated the life of this Friesian artist, and by room two I couldn’t help but smile and wish I had had a chance to know such a human being.

Both Max and I were really moved by this artist’s art and philosophy. Reputedly he never sold any of his painting but gave some away to those he felt deserved them. He made enough of income from collecting and selling rags and metal to support his painting. By gazing at his work, though, one feels he so easily could have sold them. Just look at this amazingly detailed replicas of the Frisian ‘uniform’ of striped-blue overalls (1975).

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Jopie believed the tools and dress of one’s daily life become imbued with that person’s spirit; and in his paintings, he tenderly depicted the most mundane items with care and dignity. One was a pair of women’s wool undershirt and stockings (1983). Out of respect for this women’s knitting, he counted each stitch to ensure he accurately reflected the amount of work required to produce these garments.

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Interestingly, the museum also held and displayed many of the actual items Jopie painted, this woman’s undergarments being one of them.

Some would call these still life paintings, but for Jopie, they were anything but ‘still’ life. And, as we wandered through this small museum, beautifully laid out, we were seduced by the artist’s skill and devotion to the person who wore those overalls or held that doll (1976).

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(Just a side note, Deborah, who herself is a very talented artist, told us her grandmother had had a similar doll, one made during the depression resulting in stones used for heads. On Sundays Deborah was allowed to play with it and now she has the very same doll for Tika.)

Jopie would always credit the individual whose items he was painting by including the owner’s name in each work’s title. He felt most at home with the hard-working locals, those described as ‘without status’ by our audio guides.

Jopie didn’t only paint man-made items. Some of his earlier and later works depict the landscapes in wonderful colors and simple lines such as this one from 1993.

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as well as portraits. This is one of his father painted in 1951 right after Jopie’s mother died, a woman loved dearly by both men. Jopie later recounted that this was the exact way his father stood for many minutes, trying to come to terms with the loss of his wife.

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At the end of our tour I was left with the feeling of how I wish I could have sat in the presence of this man, watching him work or just listening to his conversations.

Back on our bikes we headed for a beverage break in the main square, followed by a grocery stop, and the sighting of some unusual tents

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before returning home to Hindeloopen. A wonderful day spent with wonderful friends.

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With biking in our system Max and I decided to do another day of touring on Sunday. Deciding on a counterclockwise route we followed the dyke south to Stavoren, the tip of a peninsula, then cut east to Mirns and north back to Hindeloopen. More opportunities presented themselves for ‘here-we-are-in-Holland’ shots, with Max managing to capture a perfect illustration of just how it looks along these canals.

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LEEUWARDEN (LJOUVERT) & FRANEKER (FRENJENTSJER)

Tuesday & Thursday, July 26 & 28

With a 1-km walk to the train station (really a platform, shelter and ticket machine), we hopped the train for a 45-minute ride to Leeuwarden, the capital of the Friesian province we’ve been wandering through.

Now a large city with modern buildings there was an area featuring historical structures, one being the Oldehove, a tower built in 1529. After 30-feet of construction the building started a very noticeble tilt. They decided to continue building in spite of the leaning, finishing it off at roughly 130 feet in1533.

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Two museums interested us, one being just across this plaza from the leaning tower of Leeuwarden. The Kerimiekmuseum Princesshof (Princesshof National Museum of Ceramics) was housed in the small palace of Marie Louis, dowager Princess of Orange, who purchased her home in 1731.

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Much beloved during her life, Marie Louise, called Marijke Meu or Aunt Mary, began collecting ceramics, which later became the foundation of this museum. Now, it includes an impressive array of eastern and western vases, pots, cups and saucers, platters and sculpted figures.

We couldn’t help but think of our ceramist friend Rebecca Esty wondering what she would think of this historical perspective. She also could have enlightened us on the importance of various glazes, etc., which would have enriched our viewing.

The next museum, the Fries Museum, a modern structure opened in 2013, required two days of touring (multiple visits is one of the benefits of holding a Museumkaart), which we realized after finding the exhibits much more interesting than originally anticipated.

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What was so appealing about the curating was the use of over 100 artifacts to tell the story of the area’s history. For instance, there was a large room with four different display areas, each one holding 15-30 items with detailed explanations available in a self-guided tour booklet.

At first glance both of us thought ‘ho-hum, here we go…’ only to be drawn into the individual stories per artifact.

For instance…

They believe they found proof of honor killing when a knife with a silver coins attached was discovered:  revenge was exacted in the biblical sense, including a murder-for-a-murder; if revenge occurred, the weapon would be left at the scene along with some silver coins to compensate for taking revenge.

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Another artifact showcased pages from a book written by a minister, Francis Haverschmidt (1835-1894), in the mid-1800s. Wanting to teach the fundamentalists that the Bible shouldn’t be taken literally, Haverschmidt penned a make-believe story about Frisian culture. The book was supposed to be discovered as an ancient text, so he aged the paper and fabricated an ‘ancient’ Frisian language involving runic script.

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He planned for the tale to reveal itself as a practical joke while being read, using this as a lesson for his parishioners not to take everything literally. However, Haverschmidt was such a good writer just the opposite happened:  it was taken as genuine after attracting a lot of attention. Since the joke had gone too far, Hamerschmidt felt it was best to remain silent, and it wasn’t until 2004 that a researcher reconstructed the chain of events and uncovered the truth.

History told through regional artifacts made for a fascinating walk through this room, which easily took us almost two hours. So, we ended up returning on Thursday to view the WWII exhibit.  Another exhibit was a brief glimpse of a local’s life:  Gertrud Margarete Zelle, better known as “Sun” in Malaysian or Mata Hari, the seductress who was shot for treason during WWI.

I also couldn’t help but take a photo of an exhibit featuring the history of knitting, with some interesting lanterns dangling over one of the wide staircases. Made me think of Irene whom we met in Bergen this summer and her lovely book, WORD BY WORD, ROW BY ROW.

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But, before we returned to our second day of touring the Fries Museum we took the morning train to Frankeker (Frenjentsjer), a small Frisian town, where the world’s oldest working planetarium exits.

The genius who created this planetarium and the beauty in which he did so means you don’t need to know astronomy or even be interested in that science to appreciate his work.

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Named for the man who constructed it, this planetarium was carefully and exactingly created by Eise Eisinga (1744 – 1828), a woolcomber by trade and a mathematician by hobby.

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Beginning in 1774 and completed seven years later, Eisinga transformed his living room (and sleeping area as can be seen by the curtained, cupboard bed chamber) into a solar system. For over 235 years visitors have been coming come to gaze at this work, mesmerized, as were we, by the slowly ticking of the dials as planets accurately revolved around the sun and the sun and moon phases kept actual time with nature. Even Kings were impressed by this humble tradesman’s work:  after King Wilhelm I’s visit in 1817, he later purchased and donated it to the country.

Eisinga left a detailed handbook explaining how it all operated; and, above the living room we saw the behind-the-scences mechanisms controlling the wonder below. 10,000 hand-made nails formed the cogs…

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What I also enjoyed was the reason why he created his planetarium:  it was to counter the 1774 doomsday prediction caused by planets colliding. And, that was the impetus for this marvelous work of art. Furthermore, very few adjustments need to be made it is that perfectly tuned to the universe. Hard to imagine in this day of planned obsolescence.

Another stop in Leeuwarden and the Fries Museum ended our day of touring.

HINDELOOPEN (HYLPEN)

Friday, July 29

The next morning we left Hindeloopen to cross back to the other side of the Ijsselmeer where we’d be ending our summer cruise. But, before I leave this blog, I want to let you know, once again, the best reasons for traveling are the wonderful folk we’ve been meeting.

In addition to our friends Thijs, Deborah and Tkia, we met Kitty & Paul with whom we had several wonderful conversations covering topics as diverse as the widow of the Shah of Iran to artificial intelligence and singularity; and, Lena and Henk who spent over an hour with us identifying highlights of cruising in Denmark and Sweden (augmented by some amazing photos Lena had taken). We only wish we had had more time with all of the above. Fortunately, they all reside in the Netherlands, which means reunions could take place.

AND, two more lovely reminders of just how much we enjoyed are stay in Friesland:

Deborah’s drawing of Hindeloopen

PSX_20160724_160756.jpgwhen perched just above where JUANONA was moored (riding a little high in the silty mud),

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and Tika’s excellent instruction to aid my trying to speak Dutch.

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Now, to practice. Just wish I had my teachers to correct me :)

Next… an early end to summer cruising.

PART IX: Max’s Norwegian Family

Egersund

Tuesday, July 12

Our last day in Norway turned out to be another amazing adventure; and, it all began with a simple postcard….

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To find out just how amazing, the story unfolds in a letter Max sent to his immediate and extended family…


Our Norwegian Family

Where do I start to describe how lovely is the family we met in Norway. Just spectacular folks.

To briefly recap the Geneology, our great-great-grandfather Peter Christian Assersen (PCA) was born on the island of Midbrod on the SW coast of Norway. The last of twelve children, he left home fairly young and made his way to the US. He eventually became a Rear Admiral in the US Navy. But he never forgot his roots, and anytime a friend from Norway visited him in the US, he always asked about his family back home, and about an old girlfriend he once had, and always asked whether a teetering rock they had tried to roll down the mountain was still there.

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PCA’s parents were Malene Rasmusdatter and Asser Johannessen (hence Peter took the last name “Asser-son though it’s spelled -sen here in Norway. And Malene’s father was named Rasmus Christensen, hence her last name Rasmusdatter – Rasmus’ daughter. To add further context, people sometimes took the name of the farm or island where they lived). There is quite a story about Malene – an adopted daughter – not marrying her foster brother as was the wish of the significant people in her life. Instead she blazed her own trail. (A trait that seems to run in the family!) Malena lived to age 102.

A “Malena Midbrod” is portrayed in a 1998 magazine article standing on the seashore holding a rifle with an accompanying article describing her heroics in the Napoleanic Wars. It’s not clear if this is PCA’s mother or grandmother, but it is definitely one of the family according to the local historian who wrote the article. In the early 1800s Norway got dragged into these wars. The Norwegians captured a British ship which was full of valuable rope and tar, and hid it amongst the islands around Midbrod. The British sent a powerful gunship to rescue it, but the English ship was too big for the shallow channels. So they sent their troops ashore in smaller boats. Many of the Midbrod men were out fishing, but Malena rallied enough of a force to take on the British troops and send them packing. So there is a Joan of Arc in the family (The article is in Norwegian so hopefully we’ll get it translated one day).

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PCA had a daughter also named Malene, who married William B. Fletcher (who also became a Rear Admiral). He is my great-grandfather; Lynnie and I live in the house he purchased in the 1920s; and we named our boat “Juanona” after the gaff-rigged sloop he sailed for 30 or 40 years and which I sailed on as a young boy. It makes PCA seem not that very distant.

Fast forward to the last few weeks. Lynnie and I have just sailed from Holland to Norway, making landfall at Egersund, a town on the SW coast. I knew PCA was born on the nearby island of Midbrod and nothing else. Lynnie and I go to the local town office to see what we could find out about his life. The woman there sends us to the old church, thinking they might have some records. Their records didn’t go back far enough, but the woman graciously prints out the names and addresses of the four Assersens in the phone book.

We send four postcards, and lo and behold got a nice email back from one of the four. They weren’t related to us, but their daughter married someone who was. By then Lynnie and I had sailed further north, but we started communicating with the cousins and made plans to meet on our way back through. It was with considerable excitement that we awaited the family last Tuesday (July 12).

They arrived aboard “Juanona” with a tray of gingerbread and within ten minutes it felt like we had known them well, pretty much forever.

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Bjorn Skadberg is one generation younger than me. His wife Sylvie Assersen Skadberg (and oddly enough, Sylvie doesn’t think she’s related to us) and their children Antonia and Kelly are the nicest folks you will meet. Due to our uncertainly with weather we had only given them a couple days notice of our arrival, but they both took a day off from work and planned a most memorable day for us. (Incidentally, they told me Norwegian family members travel to the US from time to time and they’ve always wondered if there any relatives around, so they are excited to make these connections too!)

Our first stop was to see the Lundardviken beach, where Malena had gone to clear her head after being thrown out of the family for failing to marry her foster brother as was the wish of her foster parents (they were their only children, and marrying each other would have preserved the family house and given each child some economic security).

Next we met up with Bjorn’s father, 78 year old Oddbjorn Skadberg, a most wonderful gentleman who still fishes and occasionally tends the lighthouse, and who remembers a lot of the family history. Oddbjorn has done winter fishing in the Lofotens, north of the Arctic Circle, where he sometimes had to sleep in his boat with no heat, and otherwise impresses me as someone with a toughness that you don’t find much anymore – but with a very gentle soul. He and I share a common grandmother five generations back.

We drove to the lot where the PCA’s childhood house once stood.

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And then to the house where PCA’s mother lived with her foster parents, and from which she was thrown out.

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Incidentally, Midbrod Island is stunning, and it’s a Unesco geological park as it contains the same rock as is found on the moon. This hill, named Lunnarviken after the rock, was PCA’s childhood playground.

Next we went to a house now owned by Tonnes Tonnesen, who is another cousin. The house has been in the family since the 1600s and it could be a museum, with many original artifacts, as well as being chock full of maritime photos and memorabilia.

One picture shows one of our ancestors (in the lower right) and the crew from a rowing race. They had to row all the way from Midbrod to Bergen, a distance of about 130 miles, just to get to the starting line. They then proceeded to win the race, from Bergen to Haugesund, something like 65 miles. I don’t think they were rowing modern, lightweight shells. Like I said, people grow up tough around here!

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Unbeknownst to us Bjorn and Sylvie and OddBjorn had planned a picnic. But first we took a trip in Oddbjorn’s fishing boat – the same one he had shipped on a freight train to the Lofoten fishing grounds.

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We visited the lighthouse, completed in 1854, that young PCA had helped haul the bricks for. You can’t imagine how many bricks it would take to build this, and then the whole thing was encased in a protective cast iron frame. The winter storms are brutal around here, but it looks like this lighthouse will stand for many more years.

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Oddbjorn has served as lighthouse keeper on occasion, and had a key to let us inside. Climbing the steps you pass by a small window with a long vertical shaft leading far below. Before electricity the lighthouse keeper had to manually wind up a mechanism to keep the light turning – like a giant grandfather clock. At the top we found not only magnificent views, but we got a ride on the turning light itself.

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Next was a cookout with hot dogs, lamb, and salmon caught that day by Oddbjorn and finely seasoned by Sylvie. The two daughters are Antonia (L) and Kelly (R). Antonia is about to enter senior year and hopes to study geology. Kelly is a few years younger, and both are lovely young women.

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We also learned that Oddbjorn was giving us another salmon for our upcoming passage to Holland.

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We ended the day at their lovely home north of Egersund, where Bjorn has a couple antique cars in very good condition.

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Finally, this area being blessed with fertile soil, fresh water, and easy access to the ocean, it became an important Viking stronghold. Right across the street from their house is a field still known as “Fighting Island.” Vikings sometimes settled disputes by tying the arms of two warriors together, giving them each a weapon in the other hand and letting them go at it.

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There are Viking remnants all over the place, including a nearby site only recently discovered – with large fire pits suggesting an important gathering place for the Vikings.

I can’t begin to tell you how special it was to make this connection with our Norwegian family. Lynnie and I will almost certainly be sailing back to Norway next summer, so will be seeing them again. And we are hoping to host them in the US anytime they are there.

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All I can say is thank you to everyone who has befriended two American sailors with such warmth. How can we not fall in love with your countries?

PART VIII: Stavanger

STAVANGER

Friday, July 8

After our stop at Utstein Kloster, we leisurely motor-sailed down a beautiful waterway called the Mastrafjorden to meet up with Paul whom we had surprisingly connected with in Skudneshavn two weeks earlier. Approaching the harbor to Norway’s 4th-largest city we spotted the oil rig we’d seen walking across the water a few days prior. Yes, believe it or not (and, at first I didn’t when Max exclaimed it was moving) this behemoth mechanical contraption can self-propel by virtue of the two underwater pods it floats upon, and travels at a surprisingly high speed.

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Not really a surprise to see it sitting in Stavanger’s waters considering this city became the base for Statoil, Norway’s ticket to prosperity beginning over four decades ago. And, there’s a stunning museum documenting this Norwegian fortune.

There’s actually a marina in front of the Norse Oljemueum Museum  (Petroleum Museum); and, it was our rendezvous point with Paul;

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but, checking out the docking we found it a bit too tight for JUANONA due to the holiday boaters. Paul said the Stavanger Sailing Club across the harbor was a good alternative, so we motored over and located a perfect spot for our weekend visit.

And, from that point forward we were in the hands of our gracious host. Whisking us to his house, we had a delicious dinner of sea trout (which I had mistakenly thought was salmon and was just as delectable), baked potatoes (a rarity for us due to amount of propane it takes to cook them) and asparagus. Then, a Maine campfire treat

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marshmallows! The first of our summer season :)

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Due to the hour we ended up staying at Paul’s where I had also been tempted to catch up on laundry after he suggested we bring it with us.

Saturday, July 9

The sun shined in a warm blue sky and we were off to a tour of Stavanger. Like many of the cities we’ve visited in Norway, Stavanger existed as a fishing village, eventually building a cathedral in the early 12th-century. In 1425 the king Eric III (1381/82-1459) made Stavanger a market town, a designation benefiting the local populace through monopolistic trading privileges and the government by providing an easy way to capture taxes on goods and services, while building a population center for defense. Yet, it wasn’t until herring flooded the offshore waters in the 19th-century that this town began its climb to wealth.

But the real ride to riches began with striking oil in 1969, prompted by the discovery of gas ten years earlier at Groningen. The Norwegian Continental Shelf (NCS) became the Fort Knox for this country as more oil was found in subsequent drilling, the first being Ekofisk, the largest offshore oil field at that time, discovered by Phillips Petroleum.

One of the smartest moves of Norway was proclaiming that the King – basically, the government – was in charge of the natural resources. In 1972 Statoil came into existence, with the country as its sole owner. Another strategy was the contractual agreement that Norway would own 50% of each production license awarded to individual companies.

But, it can be difficult to handle an explosion of immediate riches, and, not surprisingly, Norway suffered from this ‘boom’ mentality; yet, they learned from their mistakes, and in 1990 the country established the Government Pension Fund. In 1996 the fund’s first deposit ($200 million) was paid into its coffers, growing to what now is $870 billion, the world’s largest sovereign fund. The purpose is to provide financial security for current and future generations even when the oil runs dry. Such a wise decision that sadly, oh-so-few countries even contemplate. (Interestingly, this year Saudi Arabia announced a $2 trillion investment in a similar fund to wean its country off of oil dependence by 2020. I wonder how transparent management will be of that fund.)

To gain an overview of this vital Norwegian industry we began our tour at the Norse Oljemuseum. Paul, being a geologist, became our expert guide. He obviously was a frequent visitor to the Museum since he was greeted by name by the staff with one of them being his pupil in the Master’s program he teaches at the local university.

As we wove our way through numerous exhibits, we learned about the various drill bits used

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(some looking like a sci-fi creature that chased Sigourney Weaver in ALIENS),

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the coatings of pipes (one of Paul’s recommendations),

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the various platforms pumping the oil – some sitting on the seabed

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and some floating,

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even seeing how men actually worked in a bubble waaaaay below the surface (no, thank you very much).

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However, one of the more interesting exhibits featured the evolution of non-corrupt use of all this money pouring in, the sovereign fund mentioned earlier. Not only is it the world’s largest but also the most transparent. If only other governments would use this model. Dream on.

The fund may have seen its peak years because the government actually withdrew monies for the first time in 2016. And, thanks to pressure from environmental groups the directors also began divesting the fund of coal companies this year based on a 2014 strategy. Another decision was to use some of the fund for environmental investments.

After lunch we completed our tour with a walk-through of a simulated oil platform complete with a marvelous invention of an effective and low-cost escape tube, which I was tempted to try but didn’t want to get stuck in.

The next stop was another small harbor where the herring fishery dominated in the 1800s; and, we also spotted random imprints of some Noble Peace Prize-winners’ feet (this guy, a social activist, ‘pioneered the concepts of microcredit and microfinance’). A bit more impressive than those of stars’ hands in Hollywood.

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Right on this plaza stood the Domkirken or cathedral whose first bishop was an Englishman from Winchester in the 1100s.

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A fire destroyed the cathedral in 1272 resulting in a rebuild with additions throughout the centuries

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with a magnificently pulpit carved and painted in the North German baroque style by Andrew Smith, a Scottish immigrant in the 1658, reminding me of the one we saw at Utstien Kloster.

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Along the walls were wealthy families’ memorials. The one below illustrates how the artist managed to portray each person as an individual, versus all having the same expressions; and, he had a lot of opportunity considering this guy and his wife had over 16 kids.

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(I had to laugh when I clicked on this photo in my photo program… :)

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A short trip up the hill took us to a street that could have been from a small country village yet existed in the middle of an urban landscape. This was where those involved in the herring industry had lived and worked, and now is part of Stavanger’s historical preservation.

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We had been driving around in Paul’s electric car, which was fascinating to see how easy it was to plug in for recharging at parking spots.

There’s a huge incentive to drive these cars:  no 100% excise tax on the purchase like other vehicles have; free parking regardless of where you’re parked in Norway; and, no tolls (although on ferries you pay for the passengers). Plus, there’s a good infrastructure of charging stations (Paul’s needs to do so every 100-150 miles). With a pledge to ban all gas-powered vehicles by 2025 this country already has managed to migrate 25% of drivers to Plug-In Electric Vehicles (PEVs), which included hybrids (PHEVs).

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Norway is also encouraging people to cycle more, and we saw evidence of that infrastructure off of a bike path. In the background behind the first tree you can just make out a digital sign that informs passing cyclists of his/her speed and other stats. In the foreground is a great little mechanical shop for emergency bike repairs.

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But, the purpose of this stop wasn’t the biking but the 1983 monument honoring the Battle of Hafrsfjord fought and won by Hakon Harfagre (Harold the Fair Hair) in 890 (some say 872), uniting three different districts under one king. These bronze swords stood approximately 30-feet tall, which you can’t necessary tell from this photo; but, as Paul indicated, this was a much more dramatic view.

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With a brief stop at an early settlement of Stavanger dating from the iron age we headed back to Paul’s for a meal Max cooked and an early bedtime in preparation for Sunday’s hike.

LYSEFJORDEN AREA

Sunday, July 10

Up and out we left for Preikestolen or Pulpit Rock, a hike we had been planning on doing since landing in this part of Norway. Along the way we stopped at the small dock where Paul keeps his boat (about 30-40 minutes from his home)

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then continued via ferry where both Paul and I thought one of the attendants looked a heck of lot like Christopher Lloyd in the movie BACK TO THE FUTURE.

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Arriving at our destination amidst the carloads and busloads of other hikers and visitors we found ourselves in a drenching rain storm. Thankfully a lodge served up excellent coffee as we waited out the deluge.

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However, it never cleared up

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so we decided to shelved the hiking plans and opted for a leisurely drive back to Stavanger. Fine by me considering the thought of being so high up with practically a 2,000-ft drop straight to the fjord below makes my palms sweat, especially with a bunch of other hikers crowding the path to/from and the ‘pulpit’ being a slab with no guard rails as one of the numerous tourist photos shows:

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On our drive Paul introduced us to some beautiful lakes nestied in Norway’s mountain valleys, scenic and serene pools of water just begging for some quiet perusing via a small boat or, in today’s weather, sitting in a cabin with a cozy fire.

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We also enjoyed hearing about the geological formation of this magnificent country. Bringing to mind our friend Joanne who’s also a geologist, Paul would recount the stories these rocks tell; and, like Joanne, being a natural teacher, Paul’s explanations were fascinating. I tried to retain as much as possible with Max, I believe, being the better student.

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Regardless of the history in the rocks, the fjord and landscape were spectacular; and, Paul kindly took a picture of us enjoying the day and company.

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Returning to Stavanger we invited Paul for a sleep-over aboard JUANONA as well as joining us for dinner with a fellow Ocean Cruising Club (OCC) member, Eoin Robson, who also served as the OCC port captain for Stavanger. (FYI:  For anyone who’s planning on/doing/done some blue water boating OCC is a wonderful organization.)

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Having met Eoin at the OCC annual meeting in England last spring we looked forward to having him aboard. His story of applying for the British Royal Navy made my stomach ache from so much laughing. Just as an example, during one of the initial interviews (there are numerous steps one has to go through in order to join this military branch) he was asked by the interviewer about his family household–how many, their ages and occupation.

Well, when Eoin got to the last family member, his over-100-year-old grandmother, he was a bit startled when the interviewer asked one of the absolutely stupidiest questions I’ve heard, and I realize no question is supposedly stupid, but I have to say this one comes might close: ‘And, what, may I ask, is her occupation?’

Just writing this I have to laugh imaging Eoin’s expression hearing those words uttered by what should be an intelligent person. After realizing that, yes, he had heard correctly, Eoin responded ‘retired’. :)

TANANGER

Monday, July 11

Next morning Paul left saying he’d see us in Tanager, only a 25-minute drive from Stavanger and a wee bit longer by boat. We found a spot at the marina where another sailor helped us dock, did a quick provisioning stop, then had Paul stop in for dinner.

It was another early night for the next day we were off to another adventure with a hint given below… :)

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PART VII: Turning South

OS

Monday, July 4

With a fond farewell to Elisabeth and Gunnar and a photo he took from their deck over the weekend (JUANONA’s in the third slip from the end on the middle pontoon with the blue mainsail cover)

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we left Os with a wee bit of rain (nothing our Norwegian rain hats couldn’t handle)

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for an anchorage at a nearby island, a favorite of many cruisers, Norwegian and foreign alike. This would be our first anchorage in Norway this summer, actually our first anchorage in 2016. Unlike last year’s cruising when dropping the hook far outnumbered mooring at a town quay or in a marina, the majority of this spring and summer involved fenders and dock lines vs. anchor chain.

For me, there’s always a wee bit of anxiety attached to the first anchoring of a season. Thankfully, though, it is a bit like riding a bike:  the procedure does come back handily once I stare at all the bits and pieces, mentally reviewing the steps.

And, all went well when three hours later we entered and plopped the anchor down in an idyllic cove at Lysoen. A small motorboat hanging off a buoy left soon after we arrived leaving us the sole occupant in this mini-paradise.

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This island, though, offers more than a lovely spot for sitting at anchor. It also happens to be the former summer home of violinist Ole Bull (1810-1880). He along with Edvard Grieg (1843-1907)–whom Bull encouraged to attend the Leipzig Conservatory at age 15–are considered two of Norways most famous composers.

With a footpath leading from the water’s edge we easily found our way to Bull’s summer home, one he constructed in 1872 and named his ‘Little Alhambra’ with its own moorish tower.

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There’s some discussion regarding Bull’s musical technique but there’s no question regarding this artist’s talent (he played solos with the Bergen Harmonic Society at age 9) and the love he felt for his country and its folk music. Touring extensively throughout Europe and the United States he entertained thousands. In one season (1836-37) he played 274 concerts in England and Iceland!

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In addition to his music Bull experimented with establishing a Norwegian settlement, called Oleana, in Pennsylvania where he had purchased over 11,000 acres in 1852; the settlement didn’t last mostly due to his lack of business acumen.

However, he did end up spending many of his last winters in the States after marrying for a second time an American, Sara Chapman Torp (1815-1911), in 1868. She was devoted to him and was with him when he died at Lysoen, where they would return each summer.

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Interestingly, I also discovered they had ties to Maine. They spent the summer of 1871 in West Lebanon, Maine, and it’s where their only child together, a daughter Olea Bull (1871-1911), was born and his grandaughter, Sylvia Bull Curtis (1907-1988) lived. Furthermore, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was a friend and used Bull as the fictional narrator in Longfellow’s “The Saga of King Olaf” written in 1863.

The young tour guide did an excellent job conveying pertinent details about Bull as we walked through the several rooms open for display:

the main living area, where they still hold concerts,

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and his small bedroom with a view to the mainland.

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We easily could have spent more time peering at photographs and the artifacts Bull had collected over the years, but the guide ushered us through quite quickly and before we knew it we were being led to the exit; however, we did stop in the gift shop where another young guide, who also knew an amazing amount of information about Bull, graciously answered questions as we poked about.

Leaving the house we picked one of the many paths ribboning this small island returning for our fourth of July, celebratory meal:  ribs and a bottle of red wine :) All at this gorgeous anchorage.

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SOTRA

Tuesday, July 5

A beautiful, still morning and lilting birdsong greeted us as we rose causing us to ponder:  to go or not to go?

To give you and idea of how perfect it was sitting at anchor, below is one photo, rightside up and upside down:

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(The top one is the upside-down version :)

But, as tempting as it was, there were other places we wanted to explore. We turned on the thank-god-we-have-one windlass (a motor in the anchor locker), which began winching up the chain attached to our oversized, 55 lb Rocna anchor and where we found a surprise gift at the end.

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We recognized it as one the little fishing nets used by children catching sea critters, such as crabs. Deciding it would be a nice gift for some little tyke, we hauled it out of the water and stowed it for a future give-away.

Our next island was Sotra where we planned to dock at Kleppavika in order to visit a museum we had read about in our guidebook.

For anyone who doesn’t know the history of the Shetland islands and Norway during WW II, I highly recommend the book THE SHETLAND BUS by David Howarth. Thanks to the recommendation of fellow cruisers Max and I read this book last summer, and both of us were amazed at what occurred along this coastline during those years.

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The author, who oversaw the British side of the operations, tells of the heroic feats performed by many Norwegian fishermen in ferrying refuges out and resistance fighters in to Norway… during the fall/winter (!)/spring. With the Germans, including the SS, occupying the cities and towns, you can imagine how careful one had to be when trying to sabotage the enemies’ positions. And, the horrific consequences if caught.

Televag, a town on Sotra, did pay the price for a foiled resistance plot.

Briefly, Lauritz Telle, a 63-year-old fisherman, and his son Lars participated in the Shetland Bus operations beginning in 1940, just after Norway was invaded by the Germans. All worked well until April 26, 1942, when the Germans led by two officers arrived at the Telle’s home. They’d been alerted by an undercover agent for the Gestapo that the Telle residence was a safe house for people planning to escape/infiltrate the German occupation.

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What the officers found were two secret agents, recently arrived, asleep upstairs.

A fire fight ensued with one of the agents and two of the Nazi officers being killed.

In retribution the Gestapo took Lauritz, his wife Marat and their 13-year-old son to Bergen. There they were interrogated and tortured. Lars and 18 other men thought to be involved with the clandestine activity were taken to a camp in Oslo. All other men from Televag between the ages of 16 and 60 were marched down to a ship for eventual transportation to Sachenhausen, a concentration camp outside of Berlin.

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A prisoner’s camp outside of Bergen is where the remaining women and children were sent. (Of the 60-70 men transported to the concentration camp, approximately 50% died along with another 18 randomly executed at another camp.)

Then, Televag was destroyed. Completely. Similar to the burning of the town in France, Oradour-sur-Glane, which we visited with my sister Betsy in December 2014. Being so near to a connection with the history that had awed us when reading Howarth’s book, we felt we should see this village.

Arriving just an hour from Lysoen we found a spot along one of the quays in the small harbor then began looking for a way to reach the other side of the island where Televag’s North Sea Maritime Museum was located.

With no wifi and no one about to tell us of any public transportation we began walking to the main road where we hoped to either spot a bus stop or hitch a ride. We found one bus stop but no posted schedule.

Realizing we could be waiting for hours and knowing it was about seven miles, we started walking. Our strategy was to hop from one bus stop to the next with one person always standing at a stop while the other one caught up, giving us two opportunities to hail a passing bus while making our way on foot.

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And, we lucked out by catching a bus, and then some:  after telling us we needed to change buses to reach our final destination, the bus driver then said she was going off duty and would be happy to drive us to the museum since it’d be another two hours between buses!

Her name was Hildegunn Telle, and she was delightful. Once again we mentally shook our heads at the kindness shown to us, two strangers, by  these warm Norwegian folk. Makes one believe the world can be okay if only we practiced such acts of acceptance. If only.

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On the drive over Hildegunn told us her Grandfather had been sent to Sachenhausen and her father had been interned In Bergen. Other family members were also affected.

The museum was small but offered a detailed account of the event and the effect on the islanders. In addition to the Televag tragedy, the North Sea Maritime Museum also featured others who were part of the Shetland Bus resistance movement, such as Leif Larson. And, there was a room for anyone interested in researching this part of Norway’s history.

Later we also heard from the young museum receptionist that his grandfather had been executed by the Nazis. Stark memories and family history so immediate to this small island village.

As we stood outside the museum and looked out over the town of Televag (the Telle’s house was located on the other side of the harbor)

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and later walked to sites where homes once existed, it was difficult to imagine the horror and sorrow that occurred in such a  beautiful spot. And, in the event one forgot, a memorial listed the names of those men who were murdered . We noticed quite a few “Telles” who must have been related to Hildegunn. Another sobering jolt.

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Timing our visit with the return bus schedule we headed back to JUANONA and an early night contemplating the courage of those who stood up to noxious bullies.

ESPEVAR

Wednesday, July 6

From horror to whimsical we continued our sail south, this time to an island noted for a different type of visitor… aliens.

We had a wonderful sail under bright sun, then threaded our way into a small harbor we found one of the few places to moor. With the wind behind us, the docking was a bit tricky; but, with the help of the other boat on the quay, we quickly tied up and hopped off to search for the UFO site.

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Thirty minutes later we found ourselves in the opening where SUPPOSEDLY an alien spacecraft landed, marking a circle that EVIDENTLY never goes away.

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Of course, a rumor has it that school children are marched out there during the spring and help keep the grass down.

As much as I believe in ETs, I think human feet tracing the circle is a wee bit more believable than aliens landing.

And, I think others feel the same way, especially when seeing some of the other sights here…

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On a much more sobering note, we saw yet another reminder of the sacrifice these islanders made during WW II we we walked back to JUANONA.

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Vestre Arsvagan

Thursday, July 7

Sailing back through the Karmsundet (the “North Way” channel for which Norway is named) and our next, and last, Norwegian anchorage. And, yes, I love it :)

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Max tried his hand at fishing (but with no luck),

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so it was another boat meal (usually means part, if not all, comes from cans and dried goods… and, they’re pretty good. I just don’t look at the meat , if we’re adding it, when it comes out of the can…)

Friday, July 8

Another sunny morning, which meant I could partake of another one of my favorite activities:  lounging in a quiet anchorage with a book and java :)

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But, we wanted to get to Stavanger where we had arranged to meet up with Paul, our Maine friend whom we met serendipitously when first heading north two weeks earlier.

As we were hauling up the anchor a small skiff came by, and we started talking. We discovered he had befriended some American sailors a few summers ago who had also anchored here. Come to find out it was Ernest Godshalk whom we knew through sailing circles.

Dag, who had his summer cabin nearby and had been checking his crab pots, invited us up for coffee. We so would have loved to have joined him but had to leave. However, we said we’d most likely be back next summer and hoped to see him then. Yet, another reason to return to this marvelous country.

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Before we reached Stavanger where Paul lived we stopped to visit another site, Utstein Kloster, a medieval abbey sited on a former royal residence of King Hakaon Harfagre (the Fairhair guy). (He was the one who united Norway after the Battle of Harsfjord in 872.)

We pulled into a harbor where we’d read we could dock in front of a hotel. After a bit of scratching our heads pondering exactly where we could dock (the place was completely empty of boats and people), we took our chances, tied up and then found someone who said we could stay there as the hotel was closed for the season.

Then, we began the one-mile walk to the abbey where it was primarily just us and the sheep. We also saw that sheep rule the road as one visitor slowed to a crawl behind an unperturbed sheep.

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Coming up over a slight rise we saw the abbey, and it was as if we’d stepped back in time. Sitting in pastoral splendor, it looked out over green hills and the water.

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The monks were of the Augustinian Order and most likely came from Britain and Denmark. Since the exact date of when Utstein Kloster became an abbey is unknown, historians think it may have been when another abbey, Halsnoy, was founded in the mid-12th century. Whatever the date, the place is beautiful.

Again, we were only one of five or so folk wandering around, which allowed us to absorb the peacefulness as we gazed at our surroundings. I wish I could express how taken I was with this site. I don’t know if it was the solitude in which we toured or just the loveliness of the buildings and setting, but imagine finding oneself at peace with the world and this is it.

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Entering the church via the tower (which was centrally located), we looked to the east towards the Nave

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and then west towards the Chancel.

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A 17th-century, elaborately painted pulpit stood off to one side,

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and from there we walked through the chapter house, the medieval kitchen and the two eating halls, one for monks and the other for the servants.

Of course there were holes in the ancient stone walls that required an inspection…

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and then a more complete one.

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They believe only 12 monks and 14 or so staff actually resided here, yet it was a very profitable estate. The monks made medicinal herbs as well as ink and colors for their manuscripts. The lay brethren handled the food crops (fruit and vegetables) along with hemp and flax. And, there must have been sheep from the looks of how they tend to roam the lands now.

The richness and subsequent power of the abbey created a rivalry between the abbot of Utstein and the Bishop of Stavanger (nearby town/city). This resulted in the abbot being seized and imprisoned by the Bishop’s soldiers while the abbey was robbed in 1515. Almost 50 years later the abbey was robbed again by “the Pirate”, Christoffer Tronsson Rustung.

Until 1700 Danish kings used the estate to reward various noblemen who rarely visited it. The abbey came back to life when Johan Frimann from Bergen purchased it, and his grandson, Christopher Garmann (1720-1779), modernized the building, converting the 2nd floor into elegant living quarters, which we also toured.

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Eventually, the family had to sell land to maintain the property until the Depression after WWI when they sold the abbey buildings and the park within the abbey walls. However, a female descendent now owns one of the largest farms in SW Norway; and, we, as tourists, can walk where monks oh so long ago trod. Pretty neat, eh? Another reason to explore this part of Norway.

A look around the exterior to show the scale of these walls, my serving as the pencil,

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we walked back to JUANONA for the sail down to Stavanger. But, not without an inner sigh of leaving such a peaceful oasis. A peace of heaven.

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PART VI: BERGEN DAY TWO

BERGEN

Sunday, July 3

A repeat of the day before with catching the bus and heading back to Bergen for more exploring, this time the KODE.

Many of Bergen’s art museums are on the south side of Lille Lungegardsvann (a beautiful oasis in the town center, which the previous day we strolled by under blue skies).

Today, though, we quickly sprinted through rain after grabbing some fresh, scone-type pastries for breakfast (like road trips and passages, morning bus or train trips serve as my excuse to splurge on some food items… a life-long habit instilled, no doubt, as a toddler on our family’s 11-hour car rides north to Nana’s house and carefully nurtured over the years. And, yes, we had managed to feast on those pastries the day before :)

The Bergen Kunstmuseum, or KODE, houses three main collections in two buildings:

  • Vestlandets Nasjonalgalleri (Vestlandet’s National Gallery), a collection of 19th- and 20th-century Norwegian and European visual art;
  • the Stenerson Collection featuring modern art including work by Picasso, Miro, Klee, and, Norwegian artist Edvard Munch  (Rolf Stenerson was a personal friend of Munch’s);
  • the Rasmus Meyer Collection showcasing Scandinavian artists between 1760 and 1915.

With our 48-hour Bergen Card (good deal for visiting multiple sites) we entered the first building we came to, which featured the first two collections mentioned above. So began my immersion into some beautiful and interesting art.

And, I have to put a caveat here:  If I have identified any of the following paintings incorrectly, please let me know. Honest! I won’t take offense!

In spite of my love of art, I’m a neophyte with regards to any formal education about it. The downside of this approach to perusing fine art museums is not having any background in which to understand the artist’s approach. However, the upside is there’s always the thrill of yet-undiscovered creativity awaiting me whenever I step into the art world. Walking into theses galleries of Scandinavian painters offered yet another opportunity to be entertained and intrigued. But, I’ll try to refrain from going on and on, like I can, when it comes to art museums…

Our first exploring took us to one of Norway’s most famous artists, Nikolai Astrup (1880-1928), who also happens to be a particular favorite of Elisabeth’s (of Elisabeth and Gunnar). We discovered later they had a personal connection to this artist since Gunnar grew up around Jolster, the artist’s native village.

But, before we explore Astrup’s work I’ll mention “The Big Three”, some Norwegian artists who influenced him along with many others during the late 1800s and early 1900s. (FYI:  before I knew these as the big kahunas in Norwegian art, I had been drawn to their work, taking photos of their paintings and only later reading about who they were, so I understand why they earned that designation.)

Harriet Backer (1857-1914), a painting instructor…

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Christian Krohg (1852-1925), a principal of the national art academy…

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and, Eric Werenskiold (1855-1938), a popular illustrator of Norwegian folktales.

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Now, back to Astup…

Unlike so many pretentious write-ups of museum art causing me to mutter under my breath while figuratively–sometimes literally–rolling my eyes skyward, this curator wrote refreshingly direct explanations of an artist’s work. The curator described Astrup as one who “positioned himself between two opposing art movements of the period:  academic landscape painting and modernism’s focus on the artist’s individual impression of nature. His aim was to to create art that was genuinely felt–and imbued with human atmosphere”.

Astrup believed “an artist should see nature as a child would”. Interestingly, when gazing at Astrup’s paintings I noticed the landscape first and then spotted a human figure.

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I particularly liked his woodblock prints.

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His still-life interiors, not as much as the others.

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But, art is subjective, and I only see it through my eyes.

Not many artists received recognition early in their careers or, for that matter, when living; but, Astrup did. Invited by Erik Werenskiold to participate  at a Norwegian Art Exhibition in Copenhagen, Astrup was identified “as one of the most promising artists of the younger generation”.

This information along with other factual nuggets, such as his being a student of Harriet Backer’s, were featured in a timeline.

Another interesting tidbit was his trip to London to study John Constable’s art. Constable lived in the Ipswich area where we’ve been wintering the past two years; and, several times we had been to a local exhibit of his landscape paintings. Love that ‘world-is-a-small-ball’ discovery :)

Leaving Astrup, we each began exploring other rooms. I wandered into one featuring “Norway’s first world-class painter”, J.C. Dahl (1788-1857). His romantic view of his country’s landscapes are said to have influenced today’s current marketing of Norway as a tourist destination.

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Conscious of an appointment Max and I had made, I fast-tracked through numerous other rooms, stopping here and there when a painting caught my eye, either due to the artwork or the artist’s name. I’ll run through some of these quickly stating the reason why I snapped the picture:

Because of her expression….  By the Swiss-born German painter Anton Graff (1736-1813) and purchased by J.C. Dahl in 1833. Evidently “in female portraits, Graff emphasized the woman’s decolletage, that is, her cleavage” [See what I mean about the museum’s curator(s) being plain-speaking? Got to love it :)]

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Recognized the artist’s name…  By the German painter Lucas van Cranach the Elder (1472-1553) who also did portraits of his friend Martin Luther and whose works we saw in Wittenberg, Germany, in Fall 2014 (another small-ball-world connection).

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The possible story-telling found in each vignette…  By Hendrick Avercamp (1585-1634), a Dutch painter whose detailed capturing of little vignettes appears similar to the allegorical vignettes we’ve seen by the father-son painters, Pieter Brueghel the Elder and the Younger.

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Thought we had seen his work in the Frans Hall Museum in Haarlem, but checking later, that painting was by Pieter Saenredam (1597-1665)…  By Hendrik van Steenwijk the Elder (1580-1649 ), a Flemish Baroque painter of architectural interiors, and whose work we had seen in Haarlem.

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The expressive tilt of her head…  By Pietro Rotari (1701-1762), an Italian artist whose patrons included royalty such as Catherine II of Russia.

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Intrigued by whatever event was unfolding here even though I couldn’t read the Norwegian…  By Norwegian artist, Adolph Tidermann (1814-1876)

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Two collections featured work by the Norwegian artist Edvard Munch (1863-1944). Only knowing Munch’s famous “The Scream” painting, I enjoyed seeing more of his art and learning a bit about his background (such as taking instruction from Christian Krohg, one of those Big Three mentioned earlier in this post).

Like many artists he explored various techniques while his focus changed from “painting external reality to depicting moods and psychological depth.”

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Both Max and I ended up selecting a favorite of what was exhibited.

Mine simply due to his choice of colors and reminding me of a picture I remembered from childhood

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Max’s because the tree’s form reminded him of the hand’s holding the head in “The Scream”.

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A few others artists’ work caught my eye in this collection:

I had read how this artist and his wife (Frieda Kahlo) were involved with the Leon Trotsky during his exile from Russia   By Mexican artist Diego Rivera (1886-1957)

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I was drawn, again, by the color, only this time due to the stormy strokes  By Danish artist Asger Jorn (19114-1973)

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At this point we needed to meet someone at one of the museum’s cafes several doors down; and, how this came about was due to our meeting Marit back in Rosendahl (she’s the one we said good-bye to on the pontoon when we left for Os).

In that post I had mentioned she and Even had some friends aboard, one of whom had written a book marrying poetry and knitting. In mentioning I was interested in seeing her book, Marit put me in touch via email with the author, who lived in Bergen. Which is how Max and I came to meet Irene Nygardsvik.

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With a background and career in finance, Irene found herself questioning the role of creativity in successful businesses. During the next hour we discussed the evolution of her book, WORD BY WORD, ROW BY ROW.

In addition to her writing, her knitted throws are lovely in their blend of colors and simple elegance. She could sell those along with her book, as has been suggested by others as well!

Meeting her was yet another gift during our Norwegian summer, one we’ll fondly remember. Plus, her book is gorgeous (http://www.spekulatoriet.org).

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After an hour we left, she for home and Max and I for one more quick dash into Munch’s world.

Knowing we could spend tons more time but aware, too, of needing to get back to JUANONA, we retraced our steps back to Os where we had a totally unexpected surprise.

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We had kept in touch with Gunnar and Elisabeth with Gunnar stopping by later early evening. He arrived with a ribbon-tied bag, handing it to us as he stepped aboard.

As we unwrapped it, he said this was the most natural gift to give someone visiting Os.

And, we were stunned. It was one of those lovely, ceramic boats by the Scottish artist whose gallery we had visited several days before.

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What could we say? I think I can speak for both Max and me in that we were speechless. All we could do was say they must come to Maine to see their gift hanging in our home.

And, it’s not that we have such a beautiful reminder of our time in Norway. It’s ever so much more. Our time here was magical, one we’ll never forget.