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The Mountain Road

Driving to Stockholm, we took the long way around the southern coast of Norway through Kristiansand. On the way back, we took the mountain road that cuts straight across the mountains from Oslo to Stavanger.

And by straight across I mean how the crow flies. The actual road is twisty, winding, and a little stomach turning. This road isn’t for the faint of heart/guts. A few of our travelling companions opted to take the long way home to avoid carsick kids and while luckily none of us got sick, I can definitely say it wasn’t without conscious effort.


The drive was totally worth it though. A twinge of queasiness was a small price to pay for the experience of winding through the gorgeous Norwegian mountains, happening upon ancient stave churches, and dodging sheep hanging out in the middle of the road.

We returned home at last to Stavanger spiritually, culturally, and friendship…ly filled.

 

Stockholm or BUST!

It takes 18 hours or so to drive from Stavanger to Stockholm. By some definite divine intervention, our plucky little station wagon made it to and from Sweden in one piece. We had some worrisome moments, but I tell ya…blessings come from going to the temple!

We carpooled with our friends Amerigo and Sarah and caravanned with the Steffensen clan. Amerigo and Sarah are originally from the Philipines, which meant that our car was full of a combination of English, Tagalog, and Norwegian the whole drive! So much fun!

Amerigo

 

Of course, we had to stop along the way for a Norwegian hot dog picnic.

Cousins

Rotten watermelon discus

Cousins

Mother and daughter.

 

We wound along the southern coast of Norway, stopping for church in Kristiansand along the way. It was a seriously gorgeous drive! We passed fjords, lakes, rivers, and countless waterfalls. I don't think I will get over how beautiful Norway is as long as we live here. We stopped for the night in Drammen (just outside of Oslo and about half-way to Stockholm) and stayed the night with our stake president's family.

Our stake prez. and wonderful son-in-law.

 

We crossed the border into Sweden the next day and the difference was strangely immediate. For one thing, the speed limit suddenly increased from 70 km/h to 110 km/h! (Go Sweden!) In addition, I had never noticed there were no billboards along the side of the roads in Norway until we started seeing them along the highway in Sweden. The landscape also suddenly became rather boring (sorry Sweden!). Where Norway is full of winding roads and small quaint towns, Sweden was one loooong tree-lined road. With red barns. Lots and lots of red barns.

Ikea in the Motherland!!

Speed bump tee hee hee! (yep, we're still 12 years old ladies and gentlemen)

 

Mini-Road Trip Weekend

We had a really nice weekend! I hope you guys did as well!

Friday night Kolie and Josh came over for dinner and Killer Bunnies. Kolie killed everyone else’s bunnies….so she won. Again…

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I didn’t have any cake orders this weekend so I wanted to make the most of Saturday. We had originally wanted to rent some kayaks or possibly go for a sail, but we woke up in the morning to pouring rain. Ah Norway.  I absolutely did not want to stay at home, so we decided to go for a drive out to the candle factory. Miraculously, it stopped raining and the sun peeked out a bit while we were there! We were even able to eat some ice cream and lefse (Norwegian cinnamon pancake-sort-of-things) out on the porch! I know…whoah.

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Since the weather was better and we didn’t really want to go home,  we decided to keep on driving east to possibly make it to Lysebotn, the tiny town at the very end of the Lysefjord. Julie and I had tried to make the trip when she visited back in May, but the road was completely blocked by snow. Yep…you read that right. Blocked by snow in May. Thankfully we were snow-free in August. If we weren’t I would immediately move to the Caribbean.

The most exciting thing to see/do in Lysebotn is to drive the Lysebotn Road AKA one of the most amazing roads in all of Europe. Seriously. Google “Amazing Roads Europe” and it’ll show up on almost every list.  It’s a narrow road climbing straight up the side of the fjord with 27 hairpin turns (plus 3 inside a tunnel!) and is the only way to drive into the town from the southern side of the fjord (there’s one other road going up the other side to the North). In the winter, the only way in or out of the town is by sea. Here’s a postcard with a picture from a better angle than we could get:

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It was pretty awesome, although for the sake of our plucky little station wagon I was glad we were going down, not up :)

We got to Lysebotn right as the last ferry of the day was loading up, so we decided to take the ferry through the Lysefjord instead of taking the 2.5 hour drive back. It was a fantastic choice! We saw Kjeragbolten and Preikistolen from below, some seals (well, Chris did…I was buying some hot dogs (pølser) for dinner. We didn’t realize we were going on a road trip when we left and came horribly unprepared), and got to admire the beauty of the fjords as the sun was setting.

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Not bad for a Saturday afternoon :)

 

Church Hookie and a Day Trip to Bergen

One Saturday while Chris was off working around the world, Jenn called me at 9 o’clock at night to ask if I wanted to go on a day trip to Bergen with her the next morning while she drove her kid to a basketball tournament up there.

Naturally I said, “OF COURSE!”

Actually…much to my dismay I didn’t actually say, “of course!” right away, nor with so much gusto. I sat there and stressed about all the things I needed to do the next day in order to be productive and I almost told her no.

Then I had to smack myself right upside the head. What happened to the girl who would drop everything to drive 3 hours to the Grand Canyon just to watch the sunset? I realized I’d become so tied up in trying to do a million different things that I’d lost her somewhere along the way :(  I patted my sore noggin and called Jenn back right away to tell her I was in and didn’t give it a second thought.

And I was SO glad I did! Not only was it beautiful and tons of fun with Jenn, it was also a trip of self re-discovery. It was wonderous.

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Naturally, we ate at the most Norwegian restaurant we could find ;)

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Creepy troll head forest.

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We almost talked/flirted our way onto this submarine. Apparently it was Navy Day in Bergen Harbor, but we had missed the time allotted for tours. We were crushed, but right as we were bemoaning our lack of knowledge a group of sailors climbed out of the submarine. We started chatting it up with them and one of them was about to let us on for a super quick personal tour, but his fellow sailor talked him out of it. Apparently their captain was a few buildings away eating lunch at McDonalds. Drat! So close!

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The UNESCO -acclaimed Bergen Brygge.

These buildings have been around since the 1700s, and the foundations have been there since the Hanseatic era (the original buildings were destroyed in a fire in the 1700s).

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Bergen from the top of the Fløibanen funicular.

I’m pleased to say my spontaneous self is back and ready for action! That was a close one!