different kinds of good weather

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“Sandviken, Norway” by Claude Monet

Sunshine is delicious, rain is refreshing, wind braces us up, snow is exhilarating; there is really no such thing as bad weather, only different kinds of good weather.
~ John Ruskin
(Words of Wisdom: John Ruskin)

weekend in the mountains

12.10.16 ~ cougar, Western North Carolina Nature Center

Last weekend we flew to a different part of North Carolina, where Tim’s brother had rented a vacation house in the southern Appalachians. So we had a little family reunion and an early Christmas there. We spent the better part of Saturday at the Western North Carolina Nature Center in Asheville. It was very cold there in spite of the welcome bright sunshine!

12.10.16 ~ Katherine was very much interested in understanding and using the map

We bundled up and enjoyed seeing many animals native to the Southern Appalachians. All of the animals there are rescues and could not survive in the wild. Katherine especially loved watching the river otters gliding in and out of the water, but I couldn’t get a good picture of them. They were moving too fast!

12.10.16 ~ Katherine studying the brochure
12.10.16 ~ sunshine made the bitter cold easier to bear
12.10.16 ~ Western North Carolina Nature Center
12.10.16 ~ watching other children play
12.10.16 ~ sunlit beauty
12.10.16 ~ let’s see, where should we go next?
12.10.16 ~ let’s proceed!
12.10.16 ~ taking in a bit of rock climbing
12.10.16 ~ we didn’t take this trail but I thought the sign was beautiful
12.10.16 ~ deserted picnic area – too cold for a picnic
12.10.16 ~ coyote, Western North Carolina Nature Center
12.10.16 ~ another beautiful sign
12.10.16 ~ screech owl, Western North Carolina Nature Center

This little screech owl is blind in one eye and is being used to educate the public about rescuing wildlife. Katherine was paying close attention.

12.10.16 ~ Katherine in Mama’s arms, watching the screech owl and listening attentively to its handler

We stayed in Asheville for dinner out at the Tupelo Honey Cafe, “a southern restaurant with mountain south roots.” Tim enjoyed the food so much he bought their cookbook! And after dinner we took in the Christmas light and music extravaganza at Shadrack’s Christmas Wonderland. There were so many light displays it took us a full hour to drive through the two-mile maze, synchronized holiday music playing on our car radio! It was a pretty dazzling experience.

Sunday we stayed in the cabin, enjoying each other’s company by the fire. Dima, Larisa and Fran whipped up some scrumptious dishes for us. A perfect weekend!

Hæreid Iron Age Burial Site

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5.26.15 ~ Eidfjord, Hordaland, Norway

Hæreid Iron Age Burial Site, also in Eidfjord, is the largest collection of ancient burial sites in western Norway, with 350 Iron Age and Viking graves dating from 400 – 1000 AD., located on the Hæreid plateau in Eidfjord. This is where we spent the morning of our last day in Norway, after our enchanting overnight at the top of Vøringfossen falls.

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5.26.15 ~ Eidfjord, Hordaland, Norway

It’s been about six months since I posted the last set of pictures from our trip to Norway. Too much going on! Right now I am in North Carolina visiting Katherine and her parents while our bathroom is being renovated back home. Katie seems to be going by Katherine these days. Poor little thing came home from daycare Friday with a fat lip and Saturday morning she woke up with a runny nose and a fever. But we’re managing to have a little fun between bouts of understandable fussiness.

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5.26.15 ~ Eidfjord, Hordaland, Norway

Friday Larisa and I went into Raleigh to attend a Bernie Sanders rally. Sadly, we were among the 1,000 people who did not get into the 2,300 seat venue, after waiting in line for 2 hours. But it was exciting seeing all the support there is for Sanders here. And Larisa definitely “felt the Bern” (one of Bernie’s campaign slogans) by getting a sunburn.

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5.26.15 ~ Eidfjord, Hordaland, Norway

The energy at the Hæreid burial site felt ancient, peaceful and earthy. The graves were large mounds of rocks with meadow, moss and trees growing all around them. Grazing sheep kept the grass trimmed, and the majestic mountains surrounded the plateau where the burial ground is situated.

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5.26.15 ~ Eidfjord, Hordaland, Norway
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5.26.15 ~ Eidfjord, Hordaland, Norway
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5.26.15 ~ Eidfjord, Hordaland, Norway
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5.26.15 ~ Eidfjord, Hordaland, Norway
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5.26.15 ~ Eidfjord, Hordaland, Norway
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5.26.15 ~ Eidfjord, Hordaland, Norway
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5.26.15 ~ Eidfjord, Hordaland, Norway
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5.26.15 ~ Eidfjord, Hordaland, Norway
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5.26.15 ~ Eidfjord, Hordaland, Norway
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5.26.15 ~ Eidfjord, Hordaland, Norway
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5.26.15 ~ Eidfjord, Hordaland, Norway
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5.26.15 ~ Eidfjord, Hordaland, Norway

It’s entirely possible one of my unknown and very distant ancestors lies buried here. I left with that same feeling of connection and continuity I get when I visit the graves of my known ancestors in Connecticut and Massachusetts.

Thanks to Ancestry, I have traced my Norwegian ancestors back a few generations, the earliest known so far is my 6th-great-grandmother, Kristi Hendriksdatter, who was born in 1710 in Hovland in Vestfold. So far I’ve found ancestors who were born or who died in four counties, Telemark, Vest-Agder, Aust-Agder and Vestfold, of southern Norway. All located by the sea.

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5.26.15 ~ Eidfjord, Hordaland, Norway
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5.26.15 ~ Eidfjord, Hordaland, Norway

At Hæreid we can follow traces of human activity all the way back to the Iron Age, i.e. to between 1,000 and 2,500 years ago. The oldest traces are mainly in the form of graves situated on a terrace and divided into two burial grounds: Sjohaug at the northern end and Hæreidsmoen in the south. The whole terrace contains almost 400 preserved graves. Hæreidsmoen, with around 350 graves, is the largest Iron Age burial ground in West Norway. We know from old descriptions of the area that the burial ground extended further north than it does today. The entire terrace was probably covered in graves at some point. Some of the finds are from the Early Iron Age (500 BC – 575 AD), but most can be dated to the Late Iron Age (575-1050 AD). Some of the objects are from the Viking Age (800-1050 AD): weapons, implements and jewellery. Nowhere else in Hardanger can boast so many finds from the Iron Age as this particular site.

Although visiting Norway was the highlight of our trip to Europe for me, we did also go to Venice and several places in Germany. I will try to share those pictures as well, as time allows. 🙂

Hardangerfjord

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On this day we woke up in Bergen, rented a car, and made our way out of the city to Hardangerfjord. We spent most of this day driving the length of the fjord (179 km or 111 miles) and enjoying the scenery, making a couple of stops. The first thing we spotted was this tiny island with a little building sitting on it. It was so picturesque we looked for a spot to pull over so we could take pictures of it. As we were waiting to cross the highway we heard shrieks of delight and turned to see two girls coming down the side road on a bicycle. I got this picture (above) as they were turning around and getting ready to head back up the hill. They were gone as quickly as they appeared!

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So then we walked across the highway and took lots of pictures of the little island, wishing we could somehow see the other side of it! It might be a boathouse?

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Dawn-awakening coves, hammer-blows
of light against the sky and out there
in the fjord mouth, birdsong, clamorous, crescendo
as from a works yard,
the strident assembly of a brand new day,
a sun will soon be ready for launching!
~ Stein Mehren
(Early)

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This pretty scene (below) was also to be appreciated – I love how the mountains were reflected in the fjord.

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Next stop: Steindalsfossen Waterfall

Aurlandsfjord & Sognefjord

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Late in the afternoon we left Flåm, boarding a high-speed ferry which transported us to Bergen in 5½ hours via Aurlandsfjord and Sognefjord. When we left the rain clouds seemed to be surrounding the mountains in misty ribbons. Enchanting…

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Again, I’m not sure exactly where we entered Sognefjord, but it is the longest and deepest fjord in Norway. It was certainly very wide. We didn’t get many good pictures because of the rain and because the shores were so far away. Some of these pictures were taken from behind the ferry window and with the long lens.

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Rain always comes from the clouds,
clouds from mist
and mist from moisture in the ground.
~ Carl von Linné
(The Magic of Fjords)

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No matter where I turn my eyes,
great mountains over each other rise,
flank to shoulder on they soar;
to heaven’s rim and all between.
We wail to hear the tumultuous roar:
silence adds grandeur to the scene.
~ Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson
(The Magic of Fjords)

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As we got closer to Bergen we saw more small houses tucked away on the banks of the fjord.

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…turf roofs provided insulation and protection against winds and frost…

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We arrived in Bergen very late, although it was still light out, and found our hotel, a short walk from the ferry. The next morning we picked up a rental car and began our exploration of Hardangerfjord. Having a car allowed us to park on the sides of the roads and hop out of the car to enjoy the scenery and hear the waterfalls!

Nærøyfjord & Aurlandsfjord III

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5.24.15 ~ Sogn og Fjordane, Norway

I’m pretty sure these pictures were along Aurlandsfjord, as I mentioned before, I’m not certain when we left Nærøyfjord and entered Aurlandsfjord…

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5.24.15 ~ Sogn og Fjordane, Norway
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5.24.15 ~ Sogn og Fjordane, Norway
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5.24.15 ~ Sogn og Fjordane, Norway
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5.24.15 ~ Sogn og Fjordane, Norway
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5.24.15 ~ Sogn og Fjordane, Norway
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5.24.15 ~ Sogn og Fjordane, Norway
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5.24.15 ~ Sogn og Fjordane, Norway
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5.24.15 ~ Sogn og Fjordane, Norway
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5.24.15 ~ Sogn og Fjordane, Norway

What I love about the picture above is that you can see a woman in a blue jacket peering into the window of the church. 🙂

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5.24.15 ~ Sogn og Fjordane, Norway
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5.24.15 ~ Sogn og Fjordane, Norway

Our first glimpse of Flåm from the fjord. The Norwegian Star cruise ship was still there, dominating the landscape. Our hotel was the brown building to the right of the ship.

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5.24.15 ~ Sogn og Fjordane, Norway
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5.24.15 ~ Sogn og Fjordane, Norway

We were back in Flåm now but our day was not over. We picked up our bags at the hotel and boarded another ferry, this time a high-speed ferry which would take us to Bergen via Aurlandsfjord and Sognefjord in five and a half hours!

Flåm

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Morning light in Flåm, Norway, looking off the balcony of our hotel room. (above) Morning is my favorite time of day and this particular morning we did not have to rush off to catch a train or a ferry or a bus so we could enjoy a a few leisurely hours in the village before our next adventure.

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good morning! ~ friendly little curious bird
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later on we would cross this bridge on a bus to get to a long tunnel to Gudvangen
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it didn’t take me long to find a few gulls

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entrance to Ægir Brewery & Pub, where we had dinner the night before
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wood carvings in a dead tree near our hotel

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so many lovely birch trees
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Ægir Brewery & Pub ~ it’s only open for dinner
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Flåmsbrygga Hotel, the warmth of knotty pine floors and doors
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Ægir Brewery, sign above entrance
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Tim on a little stone seat sticking out of the wall of the Flåmstova Restaurant
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wall in the Flåmstova Restaurant, where we had breakfast
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ceiling in the Flåmstova Restaurant

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While we were eating breakfast by a picture window, enjoying the view of garden, fjord and mountain, a cruise ship very slowly pulled into port! Then we could barely see the mountain over the top of it! Cruise ships are amazingly large – Flåm was such a tiny port I am sure it couldn’t possibly accommodate more than one of them at a time.

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I still can’t get over how it was spring on the fjord and winter in the mountains
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there was a hiking path up through the farms hugging the side of the mountain
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wish we had time to hike up there, but the zoom lens came in handy to capture this scene

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We boarded a small bus to take us through the mountains to Gudvangen. This is the entrance to Flenja Tunnel (above) which is 5,053m long. (16,578′). We came out of it for only 500m (1,640′) before entering Gudvanga Tunnel, which is 11,428m (7.1 mi) long, Norway’s second longest road tunnel.

Next stop: Ferry ride on Nærøyfjord from Gudvangen back to Flåm.

Flåm Railway

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After we got off the train at Myrdal, we got onto the Flåm Railway (Flåmsbana), “a steep railway taking you past spectacular waterfalls, in and out of snow-capped mountains and ending up by the Aurlandsfjord.” The little village of Flåm is 2838′ (865m) below Myrdal and the train ride took about an hour.

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There was a stop along the ride where we were allowed to get off the train and take pictures of the Kjosfossen Waterfall. Both ends of the train were still part way in the tunnels. Norway seems to be the land of tunnels and waterfalls, and presumably, trolls.

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Kjosfossen Waterfall

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The total fall is 738′ (225m). In the picture below there is a woman in a red dress who came out of nowhere to sing and dance for the passengers. She gives a little perspective about the size of this magnificent waterfall.

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~~~

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back on the train and more scenic glimpses

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yours truly (cold, but having the time of my life!)

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the little farm is in the late afternoon shadow of a nearby mountain

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Apparently Norway is home to nine of the world’s 20 highest waterfalls. High or low, we found them cascading out of the mountains everywhere. No matter how many we saw they continued to dazzle us with their allure.

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When we arrived in Flåm, we checked in at the Flåmsbrygga Hotel and then had a scrumptious Viking-style dinner at the Ægir Brewery & Pub. It was very late when we headed for bed, yet it was still light out. The picture above was taken from our hotel balcony and was the last breathtaking scene I savored before falling asleep.

In winter I get up at night
And dress by yellow candle-light.
In summer, quite the other way,
I have to go to bed by day.
~ Robert Louis Stevenson
(A Child’s Garden of Verses)

Bergen Railway

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5.23.15 ~ Hardangervidda, Norway

On May 23rd we took the Bergen Railway (Bergensbanen) from Oslo (altitude 75′, 23m) to Myrdal (2,844′, 867m). The line crosses the Hardanger Plateau of Norway (Hardangervidda) at 4,058′ (1,237m) above sea level.

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5.23.15 ~ Hardangervidda, Norway

All these pictures were taken through the window glass from the train. Some by me and some by Tim. The scenery was so utterly breathtaking we took turns trying to capture it on camera and then sitting back to enjoy the panorama for a spell.

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5.23.15 ~ Hardangervidda, Norway

I was starting to get the feeling I was unprepared for the weather on this trip. Many passengers were bundled up in winter clothing and some got off at various stops carrying their skis. Apparently Norway was also having a late and cold spring.

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5.23.15 ~ Hardangervidda, Norway

Little did we know that there had been an avalanche the night before which was blocking the track between Myrdal and Bergen. No one was hurt. It didn’t affect us, though, because we were getting off in Myrdal. But I think everyone going to Bergen got off in Myrdal, too, and made the next train ride down to Flåm more crowded than it otherwise might have been.

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wondered if this person lives here year-round or if this is a vacation home ~ 5.23.15 ~ Hardangervidda, Norway
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5.23.15 ~ Hardangervidda, Norway
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5.23.15 ~ Hardangervidda, Norway
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5.23.15 ~ Hardangervidda, Norway
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5.23.15 ~ Hardangervidda, Norway
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5.23.15 ~ Hardangervidda, Norway
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5.23.15 ~ Hardangervidda, Norway
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5.23.15 ~ Hardangervidda, Norway
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5.23.15 ~ Hardangervidda, Norway
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5.23.15 ~ Hardangervidda, Norway
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5.23.15 ~ Hardangervidda, Norway
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one of my favorite shots ~ 5.23.15 ~ Hardangervidda, Norway
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trying to imagine living here ~ 5.23.15 ~ Hardangervidda, Norway
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turf roofs ~ 5.23.15 ~ Hardangervidda, Norway
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5.23.15 ~ Hardangervidda, Norway
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5.23.15 ~ Hardangervidda, Norway
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look how deep the snow is on the sides of the plowed road ~ 5.23.15 ~ Hardangervidda, Norway
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there was some amazing snowlight ~ 5.23.15 ~ Hardangervidda, Norway
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snowed in? ~ 5.23.15 ~ Hardangervidda, Norway
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5.23.15 ~ Hardangervidda, Norway

As dreamy as the scenery was, when we got off the train at Myrdal Station it was startlingly COLD!!! Fortunately we didn’t have to wait too long for the next train.

Next stop: Flåm Railway from Myrdal to Flåm.