Sunday, August 18, 2013

What normal people do


Quitting the ferry at Horten.
Andrew, a Brit, leads us out of town. Somehow he knows the way!

Either we improvised getting off the boat or the route sheet is off again. Norwegian towns are proving right tricky to get through. It's good to have help. Sometimes you hold a conference about the next turn. Sometimes you just follow the guy with the GPS unit.

At the far edge of town we tack north and promptly commence a screaming long downhill. Tuck in and hope this is the right way! Immediately, a steep climb of about the same length, toward the fishing town of Holmestrand. On our right unfolds the most amazing view of Oslofjord. It does not seem real, the epic blue of the water, the craggy shoreline with little villages. I've never seen anything so beautiful - can't stop looking back.

Until a fast downhill and left turn toward Hvittingfoss. We're climbing away from the populated shores of Oslofjord, heading into broad farmland in the hills above. There's no winding around; the roads seem to just go steeply up and abruptly down. The feeling is true exhilaration followed by a medieval flogging, over and over. This pattern also seems unreal, just not in a good way.

For the first time on the ride my little chainring is helpful. No one complains; we all just do it.

On the ferry I was too happy (or cheap) to fill water bottles. Almost out. Good thing Niels-Kristian needs water too. We stop in the tiny burg of Gulhaug. The plan is to find a gas station with a mini-mart. These will be the last services for the next 70km.

A local is conscripted and a long discussion in Norwegian-Danish-whatever ensues.


To the untrained ear it sounds a lot like the Swedish chef on the Muppets. I stand there looking decorative.

The message is not hopeful. No gas station in Gulhaug but if we want to go a couple of kilometers off-route there is one...somewhere.

As we get ready to go a car turns into the driveway - this is a liquor store. The car gets a little too close to the group, perhaps to push us out of the way. It does happen in Norway. Or perhaps because the inhabitants have been drinking. A belligerent, unkempt fellow staggers out and for a moment it looks like Niels-Kristian might take him down.

Across the street there is a video store. Hey it's open... Next door a generic building that looks like...nothing. It turns out to be a bar with a parimutuel betting room. With a snack bar attached! A massive display of bulk candy, many colors, shapes, sizes. Soda, of course. And hot dogs for everyone. We fill water bottles at the sink in back, where guys are staring at horse races playing out on the screen. They barely notice us.

Well I guess this is what normal people do on Sundays!

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