Monday, June 25, 2001

Skibotn, Norway

Friends: Another Monday and the first time I've had to wear gloves and socks since last Monday. It is also the first day in a week that I haven't seen the sun. A wind from the north is contributing to the chill, but at least its a tail wind. Yesterday, it didn't much matter which way the wind was from, as the coastal route wound every which way, as much north as south and east and a little bit west.

Yesterday being Sunday, I was very fortunate to find any provisions. In 90 miles there was only one place open. I came upon the gas station/diner/mini-market in the early afternoon, shortly after it had opened for the day. I was so happy to find some food I almost didn't mind spending $13 on a hamburger and fries. It was a big one, 250-grams worth (a half-pounder). Half-way through I didn't think I would finish it, but bite after bite went down without forcing. And it was immediately digested, as I could pedal off with vigor. It was high octane fuel, keeping me going for three hours without a pause, including a five-and-a-half mile, one-hour, climb. Unfortunately, the mini-mart was out of yogurt, so I mixed a tin of crushed pineapple with muesli for breakfast. Muesli is one of the few bargains here, two pounds for two dollars.

This is day six in Norway and I haven't stopped going "wow." There are continual rugged summits to ponder, picturesque fishing villages to capture the imagination, the endless sea to lose myself in and islands to let my eyes play upon. Not once in Finland did the scenery stir such a reaction. The forests were nice and the occasional ride along a lake a diversion, but it was all the same. Norway is quite expensive though. Oslo is said to be the most expensive city in the world. One bargain is showers at the campgrounds. Most are quipped with a slot machine that gives five minutes of hot water for a dollar. Alta, where I wrote from last, had a fascinating museum at the site of 10,000 year old rock carvings. It had a two-mile path past etchings of reindeer and elk and human figures and various boats on giant slabs of rock. Alta is also the premier research spot for the Northern Lights. The first photograph of them was taken there in the late 1800s.

I spoke with a Dutch cyclist a couple mornings ago heading north. He said he wasn't enjoying Norway very much, but we hopped to another subject before he could complain about the winds or the rain or the high expense. For me it has been spectacular, though I keep dreading a nasty turn in the weather. I'm still north of the Arctic Circle. It is cold when there is no sun. If there were wetness to contend with along with that, the days would be very very long. I am overdue for a rest day. I have ridden hard for eight days straight, capitalizing on the pleasant weather. I could spend a day in my tent if the weather demanded it, though I hope it doesn't come to that.

Later, George

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