Our stint in northern Norway didn't begin that way, however. After riding what was essentially an "air bus," we landed in the northern town of Mehamn. Once again, we had the good fortune of family to stay with, yet another of Jon's dad's cousins. As soon as we had finished dinner, our hostess declared that it was time to work. She wasn't kidding.
Our hostess is a member of the festival committee of Mehamn, a village that reminds me an awful lot of Brainard. The task at hand that particular night was to inspect the fest tents for damage and to clean them for presentation. So, there we were, in a tiny community center in northern Norway, scrubbing tents with industrial strength wet wipes. Our hostess was sitting cross-legged on the floor with her sewing machine, and other committee members were on their hands and knees spreading epoxy and fixing tears. Jon and I remarked more than once that all of the crouching and scrubbing was making us more sore than the 13.1 mile run from the day before. But we were happy to help; it made us feel as though we were earning our keep.
At some point during our trip, I asked Jon if he thought we would see reindeer. He laughed and guaranteed it. Yet even with that expectation, I was thrilled when we stumbled upon three reindeer the following afternoon. We just watched them in awe for the longest time, and even though they knew we were gawking, they continued about their business of grazing.
|On Dasher, on Dancer, on Donner, on Cupid...|
Since Jon was helping carry the mailbox checkpoint we would be placing at the top of said mountain, I was in charge of the fancy camera we had rented for the trip.
|We were amazed at the attention this photo garnered on Facebook|
|"Cat's claw" surrounded by that spongy moss|
The next day passed fairly uneventfully with another ramble about town before our nightly adventure. We endured fish balls for dinner...which really weren't bad, as long as I thought of them as dumplings and not processed fish parts. At any rate, we set out on our exploration with full tummies ready to see some animals. Our hostess encouraged us to keep our eyes on the sky for sea eagles. We passed any number of sheep grazing and saw, what had by now turned into a regular occurrence, herds of reindeer. Then our hostess saw it: the elusive sea eagle.
|Sea eagle in flight|
|One of my favorite photos from the trip|
In fact, the following day, she even lent us her car, which we used to drive to Gamvik, where Jon's great-grandparents lived. His great, or "old" uncle usually spends the summer there, but unfortunately not this year. However, Jon was able to meet him on his last trip and so shared with me a bit of the history of the house and the town. During World War II, the town was burned not once, but twice, by the Germans interested in its coastal location. Jon's family actually lived in a cave for part of this time and then in a tiny shed while their house was being reconstructed.
|The family lived in the shed with the grass roof during reconstruction|
|What the picture does not show is the incredible wind|
Finally successful, we headed back to town where we continued our habit of lounging around. Since our hostess was officially on her government-mandated five weeks of vacation a year (fantastic idea), we had a movie night...which I'm sure Jon enjoyed immensely. By this point, we were starting to get accustomed to concept of the midnight sun. That didn't mean, however, that our bodies had adapted. Because it never got dark, we stayed up way later than we were used to, which resulted in our sleeping in the next day. This new schedule meant that we were wide awake when the movie ended at about 1:30 in the morning. Jon then had the brilliant suggestion to go for a walk.
We grabbed the camera and my sunglasses and were on our way. We knew that Jon's dad checked the Mehamn web cam on occasion, so we told him to look for us. Sure enough, he was able to spot us back in Seattle. During our late night/early morning wandering, we prowled about the hills of Mehamn and even saw a fox trotting down the street. It was all a pretty surreal experience.
|2am in the morning|
|Nordkapp coming into port|