Sunday, July 27, 2014

Nordland part 2

On to the second half of our time up at Gjelvågan/Vågaholmen! We pick up from Tuesday - sorry this is a big post

After a relaxing day of snorkeling, kayaking and running. We took the boat out to an island for camping. We didn't think of leaving til after dinner, so by the time we had gotten packed in the boat and out to the island it was already nearly midnight. There were many islands, but only a couple to choose from because the others were designated areas for bird nesting.

Marius made a fire while Rigmor, Tron and I set up camp. I ran around our island with a cup to pick cloud berries. The island was mostly a marsh, so we slept very comfortably on the moss. We cooked some hotdogs on the fire before we went to bed around 2:30am. By then, the sun was already on the way back up, so it was a little difficult to fall asleep. Nonetheless, we slept til 9 the next morning and had an easy breakfast before we took the boat back to Gjelvågan. I would have liked to camp out another couple of nights. 

[So quiet]
[Approx. 12:30am]

[Fresh cloud berries]
The next few days were also tame, spending tons of time outside til after midnight. There was some excitement on the deck of the house since we had arrived though. There was a pair of white wagtail birds that had made a nest and laid eggs under the stairs. Every ten minutes we would hear the dad chirp and then suddenly lots of chirps from the chicks in the nest. They grew up very fast! We set the GoPro under the stairs to get video of the action. 

[Both are cod - mine is just bigger ;)]
Thursday Marius and I took the boat out together to get some more fish so that Rigmor could make one of my favorite dinners - fiskegrateng. We used nearly two hours, but we got two more cod. Marius pulled up one first, about the same size as the one he had caught a few days before. Finally, I caught my fish. It was big! Not as big as the fish that I caught here two years ago, but still a very nice sized fish. Now Tron and Rigmor said that I should make sure to come up every summer since I have brought in big fish and the weather has been so nice. 

On Friday we prepared for the family party in a hall that Rigmor had rented. Every year they hold a family reunion up here, but this year was a little bit extra since it is Rigmor and Tron's 60th birthdays. Meanwhile, the little wagtail nestlings were preparing to leave the nest! We kept a close eye and made sure the hawks weren't lingering too close. Marius and Rigmor had gone outside a couple of times to scare a pair of hawks sitting near by to get a meal. It took the whole day but all of the chicks left the nest and now it's quiet, we miss hearing the chirps now.

[The two remaining nestlings plotting how they should fly away]

[The last baby leaving the nest - the world is so big!]

Saturday I took my long run. I managed just over 29 kms. My goal was 30 kms but I managed to fall in the last km because I was so tired and the sun was starting to really get to me. Marathon will be hard!! It was good to be done with it though. It made all the food at the party taste even better!

I met Marius' whole family. There were 55 in total: Rigmor has 6 brothers and one sister, Grandma Reidun, 20 cousins and a handful of great grand kids. I think I remember all the names, but let's see if I can remember that for the reunion next year.

[Hansen siblings and Mom (L-R): Ingvar, Kenneth, Tore, Sven Rune,
Beate, Reidun (mom), Torgeir, Rigmor and Kjetil]

Today we were supposed to head back to Oslo. We caught the ferry over, but our bus left before we could get off the ferry!! So after some stress we booked new flights for tomorrow. It isn't the worst. The weather is nice and we already planned to do one last kayak trip and a run.

Wildlife highlights seen on this trip: 7 moose, 3 dolphins, 2 fox, 1 eagle, 2 owls, 1 puffin, 1 otter

[One last picture from the cove]

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Nordland part 1

Marius and I took a flight at 6:30 am from Oslo to visit the Hansen side of the family for the week. We flew to Bodø via Tromsø, and then took the ferry from Bodø to Vågaholmen. 12 hours of travel later, we arrived to the summer house, Gjelvågan. It was also Rigmor's birthday!

Of course the first three days were full of activity. I was so worn out, so, lucky for me, today is a "free day". Clear blue sky and temps in the upper 70s - low 80s (quite warm for here since the sun is very strong). Marius and Tron are working on a set of stairs to make it easier to get to and from the boat, Rigmor is preparing for Saturday's big party and I'm working on job applications and will snorkel.

Saturday went by very fast. I don't even really remember what we did. We bought some groceries, picked up the boat from the pier and visited some family on the way. I ran 27 kms (approx. 17 miles) - fantastic long run. And afterwards I took an ice bath in the sea. We rounded out the day with a game of cards in the gazebo (lysthus) and a beautiful sunset just before midnight.

Sunday morning Marius and I put on wet suits and went snorkeling. It was FREEZING! We took the GoPro and have some nice video that I'll try to edit later. We also went to the conclusion of Tjongsfjord Festival. There is a small museum and cafe where Marius' younger cousin Jens Martin works. There's so many Hansens up here, it is likely that they are relatives of Marius.

Monday was another action-packed day. We hiked up Rødøyløven (The Red Island Lion), 600 m above sea level. Very hot, windless day - thus we were prime meat for flies and "klegg" (translates to horsefly, but they seem like a different species here). It was steep at the top and I was a little nervous. When we got to the bottom we enjoyed cold Nordlands beer and dinner at Klokkegården - a renovated building decorated with Norwegian antiques. On the way back from the island we stoppped at the fishing spot where two years before we had caught the monster cod with Mom and Dad. This time we weren't so quick. We had to be patient. Eventually we caught two cod (Tron and Marius each caught one) - not so big, but not too small either. Cod will be dinner the next two nights! Later that night I saw a sea otter just outside our little cove. Wish it had been closer to get a good picture.

[Hiked to the top!]

[One of 2 cod]

[Feeding the birds]

[Can't get enough sunset pictures up here]

Monday, July 7, 2014

Pallet board project

This weekend Marius and I made a coffee table from some pallets he found at work. We sanded them, painted them with a white primer, and attached little swivel wheels on the bottom. The project was so easy and quick!

[Preparing the pallets]

[Sanded and cut in half]

[Equipped with wheels]

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Recently in Oslo

Not much news over here, but it has been a while since the last post. I have been taking care of Kajsa (the dog) at least 3 days a week and training for my fall marathon. 

Last Saturday I ran the farthest I have ever gone in my life - 25 km (15.5 miles)! It was rough. My knee started to hurt on the way back. My long runs are "out and back", up along the river in Oslo up to the lake where Oslo gets its drinking water (Maridalsvann). I ran up 12.5 kms in a slow hour and 10 minutes before turning around. 

It felt good to be done. I was tired. My legs were tired. That run made me question how I'll be able to do 42 kilometers 11 weeks from now. We will see. 


Sunday was fun. The American Coordinating Council of Norway put on an Independence Day gathering in Frogner Park. There was a classic car show with maybe 15 cars (4 of which were Ford mustangs) and a handful of food booths with American style food, of course. I was also able to re-register to vote with the Democrats Abroad group (Republicans abroad also had a table). It was a mixture of Americans and Norwegians, and most of the Americans seemed more Norwegian than American. I asked a few what brought them to Norway and they all replied the same thing - their significant other is Norwegian. 

Afterwards, we went to Ekeberg Park on the opposite side of the city. The park is mainly forest and this year some sculptures have been placed around the park. One of my favorites was a bronze lady squatting and peeing - an alternative fountain. We have to take Mom and Dad around there to see the rest of the sculptures we didn't get to see. 

The same rock - awesome optical illusion by the artist

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Doggie Day Care

Meet my first client! Her name is Kajsa ("Kai-sah"). She is an 11-yr old cocker spaniel.

I created a profile on a website over here called and I was contacted a week later by a very nice couple living 400 meters away. Kajsa has been with me two days now, and we pre-arranged a few other days this month. During the day Kajsa usually sleeps while I work on job applications and when I take a break we take a nice walk. We don't get too far since she likes to sniff everything but we are out for at least half an hour. Unfortunately, she is deaf, but very good with hand signals. Ozzie definitely doesn't get the same treatment - but only because he isn't deaf and will come when called. 

It's nice having a dog with me at home. I actually feel more productive!

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Rome with REN

Marius' former boss invited us to join the REN trip to Rome (May 9-12). Marius went on Wednesday morning with his former colleagues and a couple of other companies. The first few days were spent in meetings for them. I arrived Friday night. I wasn't sure when exactly I would get there because the winds were too strong in Amsterdam - the famous windmills must have been making lots of power. Some of the other significant others from REN and I arrived to Rome around 9pm. We stayed at a hotel within eye-shot of the Colosseum, it was pretty darn cool. Of course the first night in town we had an authentic Italian multi-course dinner: cooked mixed veggies, pizza, pasta, cheeses, pizza and tiramisu. Yum!

Saturday morning we had a three-hour group walking tour from the Colosseum, past the Roman Forum, Pantheon and finishing up at Piazza Navona. Basically the bigger tourist attractions on the east side of the river. Naturally, REN had a fancy 5-star lunch planned and Marius and I had the privileged of being invited. It was very fancy - and out of my comfort zone - but a nice experience. Dinner was also a Michelin listed restaurant. 
[Walking into the Pantheon]
[Marius is all dressed up for our fancy lunch with REN]

[The menu]

On Sunday we were glad that we could just share a pizza at a little cafe. We walked to the Vatican and happened to stumble in on Sunday mass. I completely forgot that it was Sunday! So we heard the last few minutes of Pope Francis's sermon. We didn't understand a word, but everyone else cheered. It was PACKED in St. Peter's Square and groups of people were holding banners and flags. The line was too long to try to go inside the Sistine Chapel, so we headed back. Marius and I took the long way back to the hotel and meandered past the Trivi Fountain with some gelato icecream. Dinner we were on our own and found a nice little restaurant where we had ravioli and enjoyed getting to sleep before 11pm.

[The Pope is up there in the top window!]
[The Swiss Guard]
[St. Peter's Square]
Monday we got up, enjoyed breakfast, and then took the subway to the Vatican City. The goal was to go into the Vatican Museum. We stood in line for 2 hours to get inside. Scamers kept trying to convince us to pay €40 each to "skip the line" and get inside the museum sooner, but we knew that a ticket only cost €16 (€8 for me since I claimed to be a student and was younger than 26). Marius enjoyed messing with the scamers and said things like: "I want to stand here. I want to get tan," "Can you sing for me?" and "Are you from Britain? You look like a teacher in Harry Potter" ... he's bad, but it was funny. He got some of the guys to laugh. We finally got inside and walked through the Raphael Rooms and into the Sistine Chapel. It was not how I thought it would be. Impressive, yes, but just not how I pictured it. Pictures weren't allowed, but I was sneaky with my GoPro. 

Overall, a great first impression of Rome. Not nearly enough time for me to get my fill, so we will have to go back again for more Italian pizza and museums!

[Circus Maximus - where the brutal horse races took place]

[Walking through the Vatican Museum]

[Sneaky sneaky! - inside the Sistene Chapel]

[Trevi Fountain]

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Act For Arctic

I'm a volunteer for Greenpeace Norway, and we are working on a project that enables the community to be campaigners to help save the Arctic from destructive industrial fishing and deep sea oil drilling. The goal is to create a marine reserve like in Antarctica back in the 90's. This is the first time that Greenpeace has reached out to volunteers and people in the community to help campaign. We are hoping to contact people of influence to sign this International Declaration to Save the Arctic this summer. 

Check out for more information! (Sonny and Hannah - maybe you guys can talk to UoA about signing this?)