sunshine on a rainy day

1.31.16 ~ Essex, Connecticut

It’s been a long while since I’ve posted much of anything besides quotes and paintings. That’s mainly my way of coping with stress, distracting myself with beautiful images and wise words.

Tim has been ill with recurring bouts of diverticulitis for several years now, getting more frequent and more severe this fall, and so the decision has finally been made to proceed with surgery, a sigmoid colon resection. Friday. My sister is coming to stay with me and sit with me during the operation. Larisa and Katie will be coming up after Tim gets home from the hospital. Recovery time is expected to be 4-6 weeks.

1.31.16 ~ Essex, Connecticut

We had our basement renovated this fall. I’m thrilled with the results — we now have heat in the guest room and the powder room and two new closets for storage and updated lighting and electrical outlets and fresh paint on the walls. But being the way I am it was stressful for me having noisy workmen in and out of the house at unpredictable times. I had to give myself a pep talk every morning for several weeks to keep my wits about me. But it was worth it in the end.

My aunt Lil died on October 27. She was 101 years old. I still have unresolved and complicated feelings about our relationship. She had a hard life, becoming a widow at an early age and then losing both her sons, one in a car accident at the age of 29 and the other from a fatal heart attack at the age of 48. Perhaps understandably, she became a very bitter person, and I had sympathy for her at times but it was so difficult spending time with her.

1.31.16 ~ Essex, Connecticut

And then there is the dark cloud hanging over our country now…

But…

1.1.17 ~ Larisa and Katherine enjoy taking selfies for the grandparents, even on rainy days. They’re coming to visit soon!

I am full of gratitude to be living so close to many places where I can go and find grounding and healing in the natural world. And when I cannot get outside I hear the song birds singing, the gulls calling, the Canada geese honking — I love that sound — and enjoy the lovely water-reflected light that flows indoors.

There are many blessings we continue to enjoy, including our darling granddaughter. We’re looking forward to having her puttering around the house while Tim is recovering. Like her mother, our amazing daughter, she is a sweet ray of sunshine, even on a rainy day. 🙂

And our wonderful son, the computer wizard, who lovingly keeps things running smoothly here on my blog. I couldn’t maintain a presence here without him funding and watching over the many things that I fail to understand in the technical world. We had to cancel a January trip to Georgia to see him and his family, because of the surgery, but will reschedule as soon as possible. 🙂

I am surrounded with love and present moment awareness. Life is here/now.

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!

Draken Harald Hårfagre

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10.8.16 ~ Draken Harald Hårfagre ~ Mystic Seaport ~ Mystic, Connecticut

Over time, I have come to realize that our culture has made valuable contributions to our world heritage at large. For me, it’s important to turn the spotlight on these contributions, and not just the more recent ones, but also our fantastic contributions to craftsmanship and technology. Shipbuilding was the rocket science of the Viking era.
~ Sigurd Aase
(Draken Harald Hårfagre ~ Expedition America 2016)

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10.8.16 ~ Draken Harald Hårfagre ~ Mystic Seaport ~ Mystic, Connecticut

10-8-16-0865On a gray, misty Saturday we went over to Mystic Seaport to see the Viking longship Draken Harald Hårfagre. Draken means dragon and Harald Hårfagre refers to Norwegian King Harald Fairhair. I didn’t get to see her sail into Mystic with her red silk sail because we had been in North Carolina visiting the little one. But much to my delight, the ship will be wintering here at the Seaport. She will be covered over, though. If I keep my eye on the newsletters from Mystic Seaport, a living history museum, I hope to catch her sailing away in the spring.

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10.8.16 ~ costumed Viking enthusiasts who were also waiting in line

Draken Harald Hårfagre is the end result of a daydream of the ship’s owner, Sigurd Aase. After our tour I bought a lovely souvenir guidebook, full of stunning pictures of the journey here from her home port in Haugesund, Norway. Stops were made at the Shetland Islands, the Faroe Islands, Iceland, Greenland, Newfoundland and cities along the Saint Lawrence Seaway and the Great Lakes. Then it went through the New York State canals to the Hudson River and finally down the river to New York City and then Mystic.

The ship has a lovely website: Draken Harald Hårfagre

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10.8.16 ~ Draken Harald Hårfagre

It’s a big challenge to sail a ship of this old variety, and to prove that it is possible to sail a large open Viking ship across the seas.
~ Capt. Björn Ahlander
(Draken Harald Hårfagre ~ Expedition America 2016)

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10.8.16 ~ Draken Harald Hårfagre
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10.8.16 ~ Draken Harald Hårfagre ~ notice the fika (coffee) “machine” near the entrance to the galley ~ our guide assured us that modern-day coffee was very important to the crew members!
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10.8.16 ~ Draken Harald Hårfagre ~ personal items were stored in these chests which fit in the deck of the ship ~ the lid becomes part of the deck itself ~ our guide explained that no part of the ship is water tight so they wrapped their belongings in plastic before putting them in these narrow chests
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10.8.16 ~ notice the little dinghy with a sail tethered to the longship
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“King Harald Fairhair” as portrayed by Peter Franzén on the History Channel’s television drama “Vikings”

And now for a pet peeve of mine. There were several visitors wearing “Viking” helmets with horns who were approached by other visitors asking them where they could get a helmet for themselves. Of course they weren’t for sale on the ship or at the museum gift shop! The guide book, if they cared to read it, debunks the myth of the horned helmet:

One of the most widespread myths in history is the one about the Vikings wearing horned helmets. Their helmets had no horns. The popular image dates back to the 1800s, when Scandinavian artists like Sweden’s Gustav Malmström included the headgear in the their portrayals of the raiders. When Wagner staged his Der Ring des Nibelungen, commonly refers to as the “Ring cycle” in the 1870s, costume designer Carl Emil Doepler created horned helmets for the Viking characters, and an enduring stereotype was born.
~ Draken Harald Hårfagre guidebook ~ Expedition America 2016

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10.8.16 ~ Draken Harald Hårfagre ~ Mystic Seaport ~ Mystic, Connecticut

The line to tour the ship, which only took a few minutes, was very long and stretched around other exhibits at the Seaport. Fortunately we were near the beginning and were marveling at how long the line still was two hours later. In spite of the rain!

The Gokstad ship we saw in Norway last year was one of the inspirational sources for the design of this ship: Viking Ship Museum.

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This is a fantastic opportunity to create history by reliving the challenges our Viking ancestors overcame. An adventure one wouldn’t miss for the world. It is thrilling to bring the Sagas to life and do something a little crazy and down to earth at the same time.
~ Arild Nilsen
(Draken Harald Hårfagre ~ Expedition America 2016)

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. 🙂

Marconi Beach

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Marconi Beach ~ 10.11.15 ~ Wellfleet, Massachusetts

One of our favorite stops on Cape Cod is Marconi Beach in Wellfleet, part of Cape Cod National Seashore. The last time we were here was in May of 2009 and we were a little startled by how much of the sand scarp had eroded away since then. We knew the Cape had been hit hard by severe storms the past few winters but somehow we still weren’t prepared for how much of the bluff was now missing.

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Marconi Beach ~ 10.11.15 ~ Wellfleet, Massachusetts

The Marconi Area obtained its name from the famous Italian inventor, Marconi. From a site here, Marconi successfully completed the first transatlantic wireless communication between the U.S. and England in 1903.

Here, the outer beach is famous for its then steep, forty-foot sand cliff (or scarp) located behind it. Swimmers and beach walkers feel a sense of solitude here because the scarp and ocean provide an unbroken, pristine natural scene in all directions.

The uplands above the beach slope gradually westward, and provide a graceful vista of both the bay and sea horizons of this portion of the Cape. A platform above the Marconi station site enhances this view, and offers vistas southward to Eastham, and northward to Truro.

The Marconi operation at this location was initiated by the young inventor in 1901. However, in December of that year, due to a number of setbacks, he had to use temporary facilities on St. John’s, Newfoundland to prove his theory – wireless could cross the Atlantic! Meanwhile, a new station was built in Nova Scotia while repairs were being made to the Wellfleet station, and the first two-way, transatlantic wireless message was made at Glace Bay, Nova Scotia, on December 17, 1902. Not long after, the Wellfleet Station was ready, and on January 18, 1903, Marconi staged another world’s first (and a bit of a media event) by successfully transmitting messages between the president of the United States and the king of England. With rapid advances in technology, the station became outdated in a matter of a few years, and was replaced by a newer station in Chatham, Massachusetts.

~ Cape Cod National Seashore website

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looking out over the Atlantic Ocean ~ Marconi Beach ~ 10.11.15 ~ Wellfleet, Massachusetts

All of these pictures were taken from the top of the scarp. When I was a very little girl, my father and I were standing somewhere near here when he explained to me that if we sailed east all the way across this ocean from here we would end up in Spain. I remember being very impressed. 🙂 I think of that conversation every time I come here.

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peering over the scarp, but not standing too close ~ Marconi Beach ~ 10.11.15 ~ Wellfleet, Massachusetts
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looking down (40′ or 12m) at the beach, at a spot where we were allowed to stand a bit closer ~ Marconi Beach ~ 10.11.15 ~ Wellfleet, Massachusetts

Notice some metal debris, part of the viewing platform now missing, in the picture above. And below, notice the asphalt walkway, abruptly ending at the new edge of the scarp.

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abandoned path ~ Marconi Beach ~ 10.11.15 ~ Wellfleet, Massachusetts
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part of a missing structure ~ Marconi Beach ~ 10.11.15 ~ Wellfleet, Massachusetts
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looking north towards Truro ~ Marconi Beach ~ 10.11.15 ~ Wellfleet, Massachusetts
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new railings along the scarp over the ever changing Marconi Beach ~ 10.11.15 ~ Wellfleet, Massachusetts

It seems no matter how solidly we humans think we may build, no matter how strong the foundation, nature will eventually reclaim what we leave behind. Everything is flowing. Nothing is permanent. Somehow we know this and yet, when the ocean delivers this message so dramatically and suddenly in our own observing lifetimes, it comes as a sharp reminder, not always easy to receive.

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perhaps this sign might need an update? ~ Marconi Beach ~ 10.11.15 ~ Wellfleet, Massachusetts

Province Lands

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Province Lands ~ 10.10.15 ~ Provincetown, Massachusetts

This is another of those strangely potent places. Everyone I know who has spent any time on the dune agrees that there’s, well, something there, though outwardly it is neither more nor less than an enormous arc of sand cutting across the sky.
~ Michael Cunningham
(Land’s End: A Walk in Provincetown)

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Province Lands ~ 10.10.15 ~ Provincetown, Massachusetts

Almost every time we go to Provincetown we go on one of Art’s Dune Tours to see the Province Lands sand dunes of Cape Cod National Seashore. In the past part of the tour took us down on the beach but we couldn’t do that this time due to severe beach erosion caused by storms the past couple of winters. So we had to be satisfied with exploring the dunes themselves. Unfortunately we weren’t able to book a sunset tour – those have been our favorites over the years.

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Province Lands ~ 10.10.15 ~ Provincetown, Massachusetts
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Province Lands ~ 10.10.15 ~ Provincetown, Massachusetts
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Province Lands ~ 10.10.15 ~ Provincetown, Massachusetts

If I die tomorrow, Provincetown is where I’d want my ashes scattered. Who knows why we fall in love, with places or people, with objects or ideas? Thirty centuries of literature haven’t begun to solve the mystery; nor have they in any way slaked our interest in it. Provincetown is a mysterious place, and those of us who love it tend to do so with a peculiar, inscrutable intensity.
~ Michael Cunningham
(Land’s End: A Walk in Provincetown)

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Pilgrim Monument, in the distance, is 252 feet high ~ 10.10.15 ~ Provincetown, Massachusetts
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a little tourist from Switzerland ~ 10.10.15 ~ Provincetown, Massachusetts
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words left on a shingle in the dune ~ 10.10.15 ~ Provincetown, Massachusetts

Our guide kept showing us where the sands have been shifting in recent years, impressing on us the endless flow of nature. How strange that while present there, time seems to stand still, if only for a moment.

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afternoon sun over the dune ~ 10.10.15 ~ Provincetown, Massachusetts

Vøringfossen II

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Fossli Hotel ~ 5.25.15 ~ Eidfjord, Hordaland, Norway

Dinner is served from 7-9 p.m. at the Fossli Hotel and we were treated like royalty – my goodness everything was so fancy! I had reindeer for the first time in my life and it was delicious. And the distinctive cool water in that pitcher was straight from a nearby glacier.

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Dan, Fran and Barbara at Fossli Hotel ~ 5.25.15 ~ Eidfjord, Hordaland, Norway

The company was great, the view amazing, and the food delectable! The other family and we had the place to ourselves!

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dining room mural ~ 5.25.15 ~ Eidfjord, Hordaland, Norway
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5.25.15 ~ Eidfjord, Hordaland, Norway
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no need to warn me to stay behind the fence at Vøringfossen ~ 5.25.15 ~ Eidfjord, Hordaland, Norway

After dinner we went back outside, amazed that it was still light out. It was still quite cold up there in the mountains in May.

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Vøringfossen ~ 5.25.15 ~ Eidfjord, Hordaland, Norway
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twilight, sort of, at Vøringfossen ~ 5.25.15 ~ Eidfjord, Hordaland, Norway
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Dan, Fran and Barbara looking down at Vøringfossen ~ 5.25.15 ~ Eidfjord, Hordaland, Norway
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Vøringfossen ~ 5.25.15 ~ Eidfjord, Hordaland, Norway
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food storage house (stabbur) near the Fossli Hotel ~ 5.25.15 ~ Eidfjord, Hordaland, Norway
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view from our balcony at Fossli Hotel ~ 5.25.15 ~ Eidfjord, Hordaland, Norway

It was time for bed. It was still light out when we went to bed and already light out when we woke up the next morning. We could hear the waterfall lulling us to sleep. Sweet dreams…

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.

signs

10.18.13 ~ Provincetown, Massachusetts
10.18.13 ~ Provincetown, Massachusetts

On October 18th, the Rodgers branch of the family headed out to Provincetown, at the very end of the Cape Cod peninsula, where we spent many a vacation when our kids were growing up. We thought it would be deserted, since the summer season is well over, but it was Women’s Week, and the streets were crowded with visitors. Exhausted from the emotions and activities of the previous day, we had lunch and did some shopping, but didn’t stay too long. But before we left I kept taking pictures of signs – there were so many creative ones…

10.18.13 ~ Provincetown, Massachusetts
10.18.13 ~ Provincetown, Massachusetts
10.18.13 ~ Provincetown, Massachusetts
10.18.13 ~ Provincetown, Massachusetts
10.18.13 ~ Provincetown, Massachusetts
10.18.13 ~ Provincetown, Massachusetts
10.18.13 ~ Provincetown, Massachusetts
10.18.13 ~ Provincetown, Massachusetts
10.18.13 ~ Provincetown, Massachusetts
10.18.13 ~ Provincetown, Massachusetts
10.18.13 ~ Provincetown, Massachusetts
a couple enjoying Women’s Week festivities together ~ 10.18.13 ~ Provincetown, Massachusetts
10.18.13 ~ Provincetown, Massachusetts
10.18.13 ~ Provincetown, Massachusetts
10.18.13 ~ Provincetown, Massachusetts
10.18.13 ~ Provincetown, Massachusetts
10.18.13 ~ Provincetown, Massachusetts
10.18.13 ~ Provincetown, Massachusetts

An historic fishing port, Provincetown is situated at the tip of Cape Cod in an area of spectacular natural beauty, surrounded by miles of dunes and beaches. Provincetown has a diverse and singular history. The Pilgrims first landed in Provincetown in 1620 and signed the Mayflower Compact, a declaration of self-determination and radical thought that characterizes the history and people of Provincetown, even today. Provincetown has been home to sailors, pirates, fishermen, painters, and authors for centuries. In the nineteenth century, Provincetown, with the largest and safest natural harbor on the New England coast, was one of the greatest and busiest seaports in the country. The rich texture of cultural and social influences has produced a sense of place that is uniquely Provincetown. For over a century, these special qualities have attracted artists, tourists, and bohemians who have then blended with the local population and produced a unique community character. Provincetown is truly like nowhere else.
~ Town of Provincetown website

10.18.13 ~ Provincetown, Massachusetts
looking towards Pilgrim Monument from out on MacMillan Pier, where fishing and whale-watching boats are moored in Provincetown Harbor ~ 10.18.13 ~ Provincetown, Massachusetts
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granddaughter Eliza found her own “sign” to bring home ~ 10.19.13 ~ Harwich, Massachusetts