June 2-3, 2024 Tunnel Vision

June 2-3, 2024 Tunnel Vision

Sunday, ahhhh… a day of rest, or so they say. We started off the day with breakfast at the hotel where Kathy chugged down some coffee in hopes that the caffeine would wake her up. Another sleepless night in Norway unfortunately was the result of a hot room and a multitude of rowdy parties in the local area. Kathy had tunnel vision at that point; all she saw was the coffee pot and nothing else. Dave on the other hand enjoyed a leisurely breakfast before we headed off to church. Unfortunately Dave again had issues with Google Maps only seeing that it said St Olav, not St Olav Catholic Church, and we again meandered along before asking a gentleman for directions. Happily he spoke English, which seems pretty common in Norway, and we were soon off. We had the unique opportunity to have mass conducted by an actual Cardinal of the Catholic Church. It was First Communion for the kids and they were pretty honored to have an actual Cardinal give the blessing.  He was the Arch Bishop of India. We felt pretty blessed to be part of their special moment, especially since the mass was in English!

Next stop was to head back to our car and begin our journey to Stavanger, Norway, a city on the coast of the country. Lest you think that Kathy had the only tunnel vision that day, it seems that it started the trend of seeing tunnel after tunnel. Norway has tons of tunnels and we must have driven through at least 50 tunnels on our 7 hour trip to the coast, including one that was 8 miles long and went under the Atlantic Ocean. Dave had been anticipating a scenic route along the coast, but was not as lucky as he hoped.  The car GPS had them driving through the middle of Norway, and through the mountains.  To compensate us for the longer travel times through the interior of Norway, the GPS directed us through an area that still beautifully in winter, complete with deep snow and lakes still frozen over. Of course, there were also many roads barely wide enough for one car, much less two cars passing each other. And the switchbacks were also fun to drive in a rental car! Finally arriving, we found our hotel easily enough, parked, and set out to find some dinner which was easier than we anticipated….yes we had tunnel vision – we only saw the restaurant across the street and looked no further. At this point the only thing on our mind was how quickly can we fall asleep as tomorrow at 07:00  we have a hike scheduled to go up to Pulpit Rock.

‘Nuff said about sleep, because it did not really happen for either of us.  The blanket was the size of a twin blanket which covered a queen bed and the two skimpy pillows were not conducive to either of us sleeping. Unfortunately morning came all too early, but luckily we had a full breakfast and were soon eagerly anticipating the day…..until the rain came. Our anticipation, now a bit “damper”, still didn’t curb our enthusiasm for the day to come. Soon we were on our way with our hiking guide to Pulpit Rock, one of Norway’s most iconic hiking spots. The hike was really like walking in a tunnel, with the fog, rain, and wind, we could only see so far in front of us. Unfortunately the weather condition and terrain got the best of Kathy…and she was so close the top! She was done though; with a throbbing ankle, she parked herself on a rock and sent Dave and the guide, Benedicta, on their way to conquer the mountain.  She was happily resting while they were happy to see Pulpit Rock – at least some of it through the fog. We have excellent pictures of Dave on the rock surrounded by fog, a bit eerie to see.

Tragically, while we were there, a gentleman slipped off the rock about 150 yards from the plateau and plummeted 200 yards to his death.  We did not witness the fall, but the rescue helicopter flew overhead about 10 minutes after we started back down the trail.  Both Dave and Benedicta immediately recognized that something bad had happened.  Our guide found out about the death when her boss texted her to inquire if the accident involved her guests.  We had to take a selfie as a proof of life for her boss. It is sad to think about how you can have so much anticipation and fun planned only to have such a tragic outcome. We are sure that at some point we crossed paths with the person’s hiking party and we exchanged greetings.  Taking a secret horse trail back, we bypassed much of the rocky ups and downs that were Kathy’s downfall, literally, which helped ease her trek back down the mountain.

Finally back in Stavanger, we had dinner- “American pizza” – and then just relaxed. It was a nice day all and all, at least for the two of us. Tomorrow we head off for another hike – or at least Dave will, as Kathy is going to wait at the restaurant at the bottom, drink coffee, and wait for Dave and our guide.

June 4, 2024

Morning already? Despite the fact that the sun is up 04:30 is not morning, it is still night in our neck of the woods. Oh well. Scarfing down some quick breakfast we waited for our guide this overcast Tuesday. Today’s hike for Dave is Kjeragbolten.  Kathy, despite her best intentions, was advised by the professional hiking guide to head back to the hotel room, as the restaurant at the base of the Kjeragbolten trailhead will be closed and she will have nowhere to wait.  No arguments from Kathy and she trotted back to the room and lay down to wait for morning to come. Dave, on the other hand, began the 2.5 hour drive to the trailhead with the guide, Helga, Helga’s dog, Oregon, and another hiker, Shimmie, who is from China but getting her PhD in Sweden. The hike crossed three rocky mountaintops, was level in some areas, and included some really steep uphill sections that required the assistance of chains before they made it to the top.  The winds blowing at the summits were ferocious and knocked Dave back a few times.  At the destination, Dave bravely shimmied around a narrow ledge to step onto the famous boulder (or “bolten” in Norwegian)  wedged in between two cliff faces where he did a bit of yoga before coming back to meet the guide and Shimmie (who opted to watch from a distance).  Now it was time to head back down to the base of the mountain in order to head “home.”  If you have done much hiking, you probably already know this, but sometimes the hike down is way harder than the hike up.  Dave did his best imitation of Batman as he held onto the chains while lowering himself down the steep, and now wet, mountain side.  It started to rain during the last mile, so the conditions became wet, cold, and pretty tough and by the time he reached the van he was soaked through and ready to get dry and warm. Unfortunately he still had a two and a half hour ride “home”. Oh well, at least he is sitting in the van and can relax for a bit while they make their way back down the winding roads of Norway.

Kathy, on the other hand, opted for something totally different.  After a relaxing morning of a couple cups of coffee, she put on an ankle brace, laced up her tennis shoes and started the “arduous”  task of strolling along the waterfront and occasionally wandering into a store to do a little window shopping. Never breaking a sweat and not once getting sprinkled with rain drops, she enjoyed the afternoon spent wandering the village. Soon she was ensconced in the room listening to her book and waiting for Dave to get home safe and sound.

Finally……….he got home and instead of interacting with Kathy, he decided the best choice was to shuck his wet clothes, pop some Vitamin I (or ibuprofen for the uninitiated), hop into a warm shower, and then shut his eyes for a few moments, or more.  Gazing at him as he snoozed Kathy, was just happy he was home safe and sound, especially since someone had passed away after falling the day before on the same hike we had just completed.  After a much needed rest he was ready to go find some dinner. Of course, since Dave is now Norway’s new equivalent of the rain god, it soon started to rain on us, then pour, and then drizzle. Luckily we found a nice dinner, relaxed with a gyro (that was not so much a gyro as barbeque pork that was spicy, with to Kathy’s dismay, no pita bread.) Oh well, soon we were headed back to settle in for the night and just relax. Tomorrow we head to Odda and as we look forward to another day in Norway.

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