31 August 2017

Day 14 - A Fine Day With Rein, Dear

30 Aug

Last night Clint discovered a mix up in the hotel bookings. The place we had chosen to stay tonight and tomorrow night had been booked for a couple of nights ago. Uh-Oh! Phone call made to the establishment and we managed to secure a booking for Thursday night only as they were fully booked for Wednesday night. One of the online aggregate sites showed there was a room available for Wednesday night, so we booked.

For our 300km drive to Skaidi we wondered if we would have anywhere to sleep tonight. Was there another hotel in the town with a similar name? Would we be sleeping in the car tonight? Do we keep driving, pull an overnighter and sleep tomorrow? Niggling little thoughts.

The scenery continues to enthral us. We had time for some flying and wandering around taking photos.
Yeah I know, more selfies.

At one point we climbed to 401 metres above sea level. A couple of moose we spotted grazing on the hillside.
Can you see the mooses?
The view into the valley and fjord below had Clint keen to fly Minerva. Only problem was what seemed like a gentle breeze as we stepped out of the car, became too much for Minerva to safely fly in. He gave it a go, but she quickly got blown towards the fjord so had to land immediately. Still it was nice to just take it all in. As we were about to leave the vantage point a coachload of tourists arrived. There was at least one Aussie couple in the group. We swapped news about the moose we'd seen and the reindeer they’d seen.
Had to settle for a panorama taken with the phone.

More roadworks with tunnels being built. One place was making good use of the material taken from the tunnel and was creating a logistics and accommodation centre. From the architect’s images It will look lovely when it's finished, but for now the site sure looks a mess.
Serious roadworks

Driving along enjoying the scenery, something odd caught our attention. Was that some deer on the other side of the road barricade? We turned around and went past again. They hadn't moved. We were starting to think they were fakes. A couple more passes as slowly as we dared on a 90kph road with traffic and realized they were real!
Looked like statues at first

We are in Lapland now. At the entrance to a tunnel off in the distance there were some animals on the road. As we got closer we realised they were reindeer. A herd of about twenty were trotting along the road. Some were wearing bells around their necks. The zoo experience the other day was good, but this was special.
Then later, a small herd.

Through the town of Alta and the terrain is starting to change. We're climbing into more alpine style country - the forests of tall trees are making way for rolling hills covered in low vegetation.
Nullarbor Hills? 

We arrived at Skaidi a little after 2pm and went directly to the hotel to find out if there was a booking for tonight or if there was another hotel in town. No, in both cases. Our booking for tomorrow night is there. Phew! In all our discussions, it turns out there have been a couple of cancellations today and there is a room for us tonight. Hooray! Our plan is back on track. What a relief.   Tomorrow, we go to the Top.

30 August 2017

Day 13 - An Easy Day

29 Aug

With a leisurely day in front of us, we took our time having breakfast and getting on the road. The main objective for today is to have our clothes washed and dried. We booked an apartment with a washing machine. Here's hoping this one works. We're down to our lasts on a few things. The drive is less than 200km from Bardufoss to Olderdalen.
Looking out over Nordkjosfjord

Without wanting to appear too keen to check in, we made a few stops. One roadside stop was a display of the indigenous people’s tent and a few artefacts. There were plenty of souvenirs as well. Minerva was brought out for some flying time at a couple of roadside stops. At one stop we swapped drivers, this way Clint could have a good look at the towering snow-capped mountains and waterways. We pulled into a cafe for a cuppa (forgot to fill the flask) at Skibotn. Outside there were six Tesla charging points. We haven't had a day go by without seeing one or more Teslas on the road. Inside the cafe, we took our time catching up with what's been going on in the world. The souvenirs here were quite different. There were various designs of Finnish-made crockery, felt calf-high boots and some rather confronting photographs.
Taking time to drink in the scenery

And take selfies.

We were still running a little early and were hoping that we could check in early. The matter of timing was taken out of our hands when we came upon some roadworks. There were fifteen vehicles stopped in front of us, all watching the road crew clear a path through. It seems there had been a controlled rockfall as part of making a new tunnel. We watched as large machinery tossed aside very large boulders. After about twenty minutes we were making our way slowly through the road construction.
Bit of a lineup

Norwegian trucks have moosebars.
We've seen several with two Michelin men sitting up top.
They are lit at night.

The last part of our travels took us around the top of the fjord and onto Olderdalen where we have a very tidy and comfortable apartment with a functioning washer and dryer. Yay! 
Rain falling in the valley high up in the hills causes nice waterfalls that run over the tunnels.

29 August 2017

Day 12 - Flights And Animals As We Head North

28 Aug

To wrap up yesterday's experiences, we stayed awake until the sky turned darkish. We rugged up and ventured outside on a 50% chance of seeing the Aurora Borealis. Standing in the car park wasn't the darkest of locations, but we could see faint wisps of light. We moved to the jetty away from the street lights. It wasn't long before a long faint ribbon stretched across the sky. Yippee!!! 
We didn't consider we had much of a chance of seeing the northern lights due to the lack of a properly dark sky and the sun being past it's solar maximum for this 11 year cycle. So this sighting was an unexpected delight.

Some stills from the flights

While I fly Minerva, Charleen looks closer to nature.

Further along at Gratangsbotn

Today’s target distance was around 300km as we continue to press northward. We stopped for a couple of flying sessions for Minerva, had a coffee by a river/fjord and found what was referred to as the most northern zoo, Polar Park. The operators of Ranua Wildlife Park in Finland might have a different view on that claim.

The animals were elusive, particularly the brown bears. We did manage to see moose, lynx, wolves and deer. The wolverine and fox weren't available.

Tonight we are in Bardufoss. Our room has a view to the mountains and they look like there is a fresh dusting of snow on the higher peaks. The view from our room is also good for plane spotting as the airstrip for commercial and military aircraft is not too far away.
Over the rooftops to the snow-dusted mountains

The sky has clouded over which means no aurora spotting tonight. 

Finished the night with a lovely pizza and wine at a restaurant.  Pricey though at 650NOK.
Living is not cheap in Norge.

28 August 2017

Day 11 - Glacier Day!

27 Aug

There were a few specific items we put on the list of things to achieve. One of them was to see a glacier. Svartisen Glacier was not too far from our overall route and was reasonably accessible, just a short boat ride and a 3km walk to the glacier.
Panorama shot of the Svartisan Glacier
During the drive in, we noticed the streams’ water colour become icy green then a more opaque grey/green. The opaqueness seemed to be caused by silt in the water. Was this a sign we weren't too far from the glacier?
We arrived in about half and hour before scheduled departure. 
Our "SS Minnow" for a three hour walk.
This gave us time to have a look around and read the posters. According to the poster, just a few decades ago, the glacier could be seen from where we were standing at the boat launch. All the while there was a steady rumble in the background from the waterfall that fed the lake. 
About a kilometre of lake to cross

We could see a well worn trail to the right of the waterfall, that’s where we start our 3km walk.
With a bit of a late departure to collect as many people as possible, we puttered our way across the lake to the dock. Once off the boat, we headed along the trail. Some of our travelling companions were setting themselves up for a serious hike or perhaps an overnight stay. They had quite a bit a gear.
The trail started out reasonably easy, not smooth but plenty of solid ground, with a slight incline. Not too far along, the terrain changed and there wasn't a defined path as such, the cairns marked with red paint guided our way. Over hills and dales, we kept going, our progress signposted every 500m until finally we reached a hut. Just over the rise form the hut we could see the glacier. Wow!!!
First sight of the glacier beyond the hut.
We pushed on tentatively making our way closer. The enormity of the ice river, the colour of the ice all were breathtakingly beautiful.
To think just a few decades ago, this 3km walk wasn't necessary. We couldn't help but think of the impact of climate change.
She went to there

Ice Blue

But very clear up close

I ate a glacier - it was delicious.

Just awsome

We spent a little time taking photos and just taking it all in, all the time mindful that the glacier was moving and there was a risk should it calve. Probably best to start heading back. We had missed one return of the boat.
The walk back wasn't really any easier. We still had to pick our way over the rocks. Clint took a detour to see where the water from the waterfall was coming from as it wasn't obviously being fed from the glacial lake. It turned out to be from an underground flow. There seems to have been an attempt to perhaps harness the power of the water as there were concrete blocks and metal bars near the open cavern.
Our little boat streaks across the lake for us.
We arrived at the dock just as did the boat. Our 3km walk each way and time at the glacier took three hours. There was still 300km to go to reach our accommodation for the night.

Travelling along highway E6 a sign alerted us to the Arctic Circle. We arrived at an information and tourist centre. Spent a little time there, bought a t-shirt and took a couple of piccies.
People build cairns.  I don't know why.

We made it across The Circle

Our destination for tonight is Kobbelv Inn, Engan, which has views of the fjord and a stream running beside it. The area had stories from around the time of WWII about hydro electric power.
Sunset over the fjord.  It is a bit strange as the sun doesn't "set" as such, just slides off to the right.

Now we're waiting to see if the aurora will be visible for us to night. We have an app that is alerting us. It started at 37% chance and has been increasing the percentage as the sky darkens. 

27 August 2017

Day 10 - We Find A Troll

26 Aug

Not a lot to report today. We set a target of 400km for our next overnight stop. We had a couple of route choices. Either turn inland and use the mostly main roads (toll roads) or stay with the coast, three ferries and about three hours extra. The night before it was clouding over and light rain, so we made the decision to use the first option and forgo the coast.
Sure enough there was rain overnight. This firmed our decision on which route to take. For the whole day it has been overcast and raining in places and pretty cold outside the car.

We started out on an alternate route to the main road.  It got a little narrow in parts.  Passing an oncoming van, both going quite slow, the proximity alerts were going off for both sides of the car.
Yep, semi-trailers use this road too.  Luckily, when we did meet one it was in a wider part.

The main road route still took us past a couple of lakes/fjords, one of which we pulled up beside to have what's becoming our late morning cup of coffee and a bit of a walk around.
Nice lakes and fjords

Sometimes it is hard to tell which is which

Coffee time by the lake at 10C air temp

A bit further along we turned off to what looked to be a fishery. The premises was closed for the season but we did meet their troll. He wouldn't let us in.
Charleen asked nicely, but he didn't open the gate

The Volvo needed some fuel. 15NOK per litre. That worked out to around AUD $2.40 per litre.  It seems to be getting more expensive as we head further north.

We crossed from one county into another. This has been a regular occurrence, but this time the border at North Norway was rather impressive. We haven't crossed into the Arctic Circle as yet. Wonder what sort of fanfare there will be there if this is anything to go by.  That should be tomorrow.
Welcome to Nord Norge (North Norway)
Our stop for the night is Mosjøen (pronounced Mooshun) which is located at the end of a fjord, nestled between steep mountains. 
As we arrived mid-afternoon we were hopeful of doing some laundry. No luck! The hotel has a washing machine, but we need a dryer as well. It was suggested that we try the camping place on the outskirts of town. We drove there only to find out their dryer had broken down. Being Saturday afternoon, the laundromat in the city centre is closed.
We took the opportunity to have a drive around the “sentrum”. Not a lot happening here, it's a quiet place on Saturday afternoon.
A nicely preserved old servo.

Mosjøen has an airport. It looked like there had been a lot of fill dropped in place to make the landing strip.

So back to our room to do a bit of hand washing. Fingers crossed the warm bathroom will dry the few needed items.

26 August 2017

Day 09 - That Bridge

25 Aug

In Molde - Building needs a shave?
Another day of ferries, bridges and tunnels. The bridge that was of special interest to us was what we referred to as the “bendy” bridge. It’s proper name is Storseisundet Bridge of the Atlantic Ocean Road, Norway. It’s worth a Google search for images.

We had seen images of storm surges spraying the road surface. There have been write ups about the world’s most dangerous bridges and this was one of them, particularly in high winds.
Today the weather calm. The sea flat. Naturally the scenery was gobsmackingly beautiful. Of course, with calm winds and stunning scenery, it was time to give Minerva some exercise. Only trouble was, there was a system upgrade to download. Clint stood watching the scenery while the download seemed to take forever. It was while waiting that Clint saw his first in-the-wild otter. I went for a walk to get some photos. I'm trying out using my phone rather than the camera. Clint told me about the little fella, but he eluded me.
Finally it was time to get airborne. We have some nice footage from all around the area.
While it was a beautiful place, the flying insects - mosquitoes etc made it uncomfortable to stay for too long.
Not too far down the road, we found another interesting bridge. It’s blue and made of pipe. It warranted another stop.
The pipe bridge

Sample of the pipe in a nearby park

Next was an under sea tunnel. This was something a bit different as the tunnels we've been travelling through have been carved through mountains.  This one, called Freifjordtunnelen (all tunnels have a name) was over 5km long and decended 130 metres before flattening out then back up.
That put us on an island where we found a place to pull up for a coffee and look around. Guess what? We were at another bridge, one which was the more traditional suspension style construction.
Suspension Bridge on Bergsøya Island

Typical bus shelter in Norway.  Beyond mowing.

Our final ferry for the day brought us to our stop for the night in the town of Botngård. Breakfast is included in the price of the hotel. So we walked to the local supermarket Remy1000 and bought our dinner. 

By the way, all ferries here are pay per use.  The final one today was the most expensive in-country one yet at 238nok or about $39 for a 20 minute ride.

Managed to upload some video.