Monday, April 21, 2014

God Påske!

First:: If you are curious, see my updated previous post. Marius got a picture of the tiny clip used for the commercial. 

[Gorgeous sky]
That time of year has come around again, and of course we are at the cabin in Synnfjell for some mountain life. Grandma was with us this time, but Katrine (Marius' sister) is in southeast Asia for a class trip/mini vacation. I've only gone skiing twice this week because my half-marathon in Bergen is on Saturday the 26th, and I want to make sure I'm in running form. Every day Rigmor and Tron ask Grandma (87 years old and previously broken hip) if she would like to go skiing with us. I'm glad to say that she hasn't put on the skis.

Marius and I drove up on Monday evening - and I did the driving! I need to get the feel back for driving a manual. I'm included on Marius' car insurance now that I am 25. Tuesday we went on the usual loop called "Seterrunden" - or "summer farm loop". A seter is a farm occupied in the summertime when farmers bring their livestock up to the mountains to eat the mountain grass. It's usually a relaxing loop, but you can see there is a bit of hill climbing involved.

The next two days I decided to run. Wednesday the weather wasn't optimal for skiing, but that still didn't stop the Engebrethsens. They are skiing machines! Thursday I ran again...wasn't exactly feeling up to skiing yet, but Friday the weather was perfect for a long trip. We went over "That Damn Mountain", which got the best of me in 2012 when I just came down with pneumonia, and the visibility conditions were very bad. This year that mountain took me out on one of the back slopes that was a difficult to plow down. Had a good wipe out and gave all the other skiers a good show!

I should have taken some pictures of our dinner from Saturday night. We had lamb for the night before Easter Sunday - or for the Norwegians "Påskeaften". They put more emphasis on both Christmas Eve and Easter Eve (?). Definitely a different set of traditions. One year I need to get an egg coloring kit so that I can have us all color eggs and do an egg hunt.

[The Engebrethsen ski team]

[Nice weather for the last trip]

[Typical breakfast in Norway - the egg has a face on it for Easter though]
[Teaching me how to prepare skis]

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Jeju Samdasoo Commercial

Back in February I was contacted by Cheil Worldwide, an advertising agency, about using a clip from one of the videos I made from my underwater adventures for a bottled water commercial in South Korea.

We weren't sure whether this was a scam or the real deal. Mom was convinced it must be a scam, and Marius was also skeptical. For a couple valid reasons:

  1. How would they find my video among the thousands of others on the internet?
  2. They couldn't send a check and Pay-Pal was "unstable" in Korea, so they would have to do a bank transfer...a little strange for Americans since we live in the 1950s and still use checks when the rest of the developed world doesn't.

I felt confident after a series of email exchanges that this was the real deal. I was offered $300 for 2 seconds of footage that I took while snorkeling in Mexico. The footage will be aired for 6 months.

And ta da! Here you have it. The commercial for jeju samdasoo bottled water in Korea. I tried to see where my clip ended up, but they just flash through it, so I know it's somewhere in the 7th second because they paid me to use it. It's a fraction of a second, but I think I saw it! Haha! It seems like when you are at a pro-sports event and your family is watching at home trying to see you in the crowd. Still pretty darn neat! I hope more of these sorts of deals happen when I make my next GoPro video compilation. Marius and I have created a "travel" fund, and the money went there for safekeeping when we book our flight to the US for Christmas.

To see the exact clip that was purchased, see seconds 0:46-0:48 on my "Mexico Underwater" video on (see link on the lefthand side of the page).

UPDATE: Marius got the video to stop at the exact place from my clip...see image below.

Yup...that's it

Friday, March 28, 2014

Mexico Part III: Aguazul and Yachilan

[I love this picture - Marius is a great photographer]

[Over looking the valley with our guide, Raul]
We departed San Cristobal and drove east. We noticed that it was just getting warmer and warmer, but Tron would still wear jeans and a shirt. First stop on the 6 hour drive was Aguazul - a set of cascades that were lined with an endless row of stalls where locals were selling their crafts. We walked up and down the river probably about a mile each way. You could opt to take a wooden barge across the other side of the river, but it looked a bit dangerous without the option to use a life vest and the barge was right between two waterfalls. We watched from the sidelines instead.

[Our breakfast stop]
We drove to the town of Palenque, and stayed there for two nights. We got up before 6am to begin our drive to Yachilan, an awesome site of Mayan ruins on the boarder of Guatemala. Along the way we made a pitstop at a roadside cafe that was built into the forest. It was so cool!

[View from the river]
We had to use a canoe to get to the ruins here. Yachilan was my favorite site. It was nestled in the jungle, only parts of it had the jungle excavated off of it, resulting in an eerie feeling as we walked around the ruins. We heard howler monkeys and birds along the trail as well. Howler monkeys are the loudest land animal on earth and can be heard up to 3 miles away, so we didn't know how far they were from us. And inside the ruins there were bats. Grandma (Marius' grandma) was able to do most of the climbing with us, but there were some that made us nervous because of the moss making it a bit slippery.

[Studying the map of Mayan sites]

[I didn't get the memo about plaid shirts]

After we saw the ruins, our guide took us to Guatemala for 10 minutes - just to be able to say we have been there. Tron, Grandma and Katrine shared a Guatemalan beer, and Rigmor bought some souvenirs.

But, back to Mexico, there's more of Mayan Mexico to see!

Monday, March 24, 2014

Feeling at home in Oslo

Marius and I are about 90% moved in at the apartment we are renting in an area of Oslo called Sagene. The living room is mostly finished, except for the bare walls. There's some open holes from the previous owners that I'll cover up with pictures that we have. The kitchen is much smaller than we're used to, but it's good at making us clean up right after cooking to have space to do other things. The couch is a pull out - visitor ready! 

[Those boxes should be gone once we get a bookshelf and TV table]

[Old pictures from the early 80's taken by Mom and Dad are on display - how Hipster of me]

The bathroom just needs a shelf and towel rack, but it was messy so I didn't take a picture of it. The bedroom is also a bit of a mess with clothes that have to be sorted into summer and winter clothes...this is a dilemma for Marius since he has so many shirts. 

The area is really nice. Only about 2 miles from downtown Oslo. I have yet to master the public transportation since I have plenty of time to walk instead. There is a cafe - "lunch bar" next door and I have been there a few times for coffee, and I had lunch there with Tron and Rigmor. In the distance we can see the Oslo Fjord, and just down in the park across the street there are often people with their dogs. 

[Construction of a new apartment building across the street]

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Mexico Part II: Christmas Eve in San Cristobal de las Casas and Chamula

Now you can see how our Mexico trip progressed...
[Start in Mexico City - finish in Playa del Carmen]

After three days in Mexico City and the surrounding area, we flew to Tuxtla Gutierrez. The temperature increased about 20 degrees F. The airport was at a higher altitude, but over the course of the next week we would descend to near sea level. We were picked up by our new guide, Raul, a very pleasant man who was very knowledgeable on Mexican culture and history - and was particularly good at recommending restaurants and dishes.

[Cañón del Cañón del Sumidero] 

He drove us to Cañón del Cañón del Sumidero, where we were taken on a boat tour of the canon that he compared to the fjords in Norway. We experienced some slight racism when getting on the boat by a local who was unhappy that our guide had us wait for him on a bench toward the front of the line, and proceeded to tell us that "the boat should only have Mexican blood". The man then ran to the front of the line in hopes of getting a better seat but was told to sit in a seat right across from us. That was definitely something new for the Norwegians. Nevertheless, we still really enjoyed the boat tour of the canon. We saw crocodiles ("cocodriles" as our guide said), vultures, and snakes...and tons of waste that had washed down into the water from the neighboring towns after the rainy season. That was quite sad.

That night we stayed in San Cristobal. San Cristobal sits at a high altitude so the temperature was in the 40s and 50s, and there was a little rain. This did not help the three of us who were quite sick with the cold/flu. Tron and Rigmor were too ill to join us for dinner that night, but Marius, Katrine, Odny and I met Raul for a very nice dinner, but Katrine and I both felt too under the weather to really enjoy the dinner. Marius knows that when I turn down dessert, there must be something wrong (haha!).

[The church in Chamula]
The next day we drove to a village called Chamula. This is a Mayan village that we were told "does not accept Mexican authority", thus they have their own police and officials. There is a church, but it only looks that way from the outside. We were not allowed to take pictures inside. Pine needles blanketed the floor, and people were kneeling to place candle formations for their family or friends they were praying for. One man had his mother with him and some eggs. He was using the eggs to cleanse her. Meanwhile, a few feet away was a mother and her children with a chicken used for prayer. The village officials entered the church to do a prayer for Christmas Eve. It was a very interesting sight. As we exited the church, we were rushed by women and young girls trying to sell their crafts. A young girl came up to me before we went into the church and tried to sell me her bracelets. I told her to come back after we got out of the church. Sure enough she saw us and came right back to me - so naturally I had to buy some bracelets. 

That night was Christmas Eve. We weren't all feeling 100%, but it was still "Juleaften"/Christmas Eve, so we got dressed up and walked to a French-style restaurant owned and operated by a French ex-pat. On the way we saw the procession through the main square of the town with a woman dressed as the Virgin Mary and she was put on the back of a donkey. People followed behind carrying candles, banging drums, and singing songs. That was unforgettable...very very neat. We went back to our hotel after dinner and the streets were dead...totally silent.

[Lunch with Christmas music played on the xylophone] 

[Christmas Eve dinner]

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Bergen City Marathon Prep

The Bergen City Marathon officials have just released the course map, and I'm so excited!

I'm continuing my marathon prep strong and steady, but I haven't been able to put in a solid long run since I arrived to Norway since we have gone skiing both weekends. Now that Marius and I are moved into our new place in an area of Oslo called Sagene, I will use this week to run around the area and explore a bit. Saturday I should run a half-marathon as fast as I can as part of my Garmin training plan.

I've recently had some issues with both of my achilles from two different ski trips, so I am taking a break from skiing so much. Yesterday I did a 21 km ski trip with Marius, his parents, and the neighbors. Today the Engebrethsens are out on a shorter ski trip while I rest my heels. All this time thinking about the marathon has me tempted to sign up for the Oslo Marathon, which will take place September 20th. My goal is to run at least 5 marathons before I'm 30. Totally possible!

Thursday, March 6, 2014

FIS World Cup Sprint (XC Skiing)

Yesterday the World Cup of sprint skiing was in Drammen - a short 30 minute train ride from Oslo. I wore my 2006 USA Torino Winter Games shirt and had my American flag. I can imagine there was another fellow patriot at the event, but I was not able to spot them in the sea of Norwegian flags.

P.S. I have posted similar stuff on Facebook, so I'm sorry if this is a repeat.

Anyways...I got there while the skiers were warming up. There were many familiar faces and names from the recent Olympics in Sochi, Russia. On the US squad, I saw the one and only Kikkan Randall warming up - definitely in the zone. She has won the world cup sprint title the last two years, so she is a fairly well known name in Norway. Also on the line up was Ida Sargent and Sophie Caldwell. Caldwell placed 6th overall in the sprint competition in Sochi. On the men's side, we had Andy Newell and Simi Hamilton. And of course, the Norwegians were ecstatic when they saw Marit Bjørgen and Therese Johaug -- and the Olympic champ Maiken Falla.
[Kikkan Randall rounding the corner of the qualifying heat]
[Sophie Caldwell - just missed qualifying by a second]
[Marius taking one for the team to help cheer on the Americans]

[Kikkan Randall -in black]
It was a really fun day even though the first half of it I was by myself. Marius eventually managed to sneak away from work with a colleague to watch the quarterfinals with me. An older Norwegian man helped me get towards the front of the crowd with my flag. I cheered as loud as I could, and Marius helped me hoist the flag when the skiers came around the corner.

Sadly, Kikkan only made it to the semi-final round. Classic style skiing isn't her specialty, so I'm sure she'll be great for the skate-skiing race. It was still a very fun afternoon in Drammen. Marius and I met Sophie Caldwell when I spotted her in the cafe we were sitting in, and I got a picture with her. Can't wait to do it again next year!
[With Olympian Sophie Caldwell from Vermont]