Crossing the Arctic Circle

Trip Start Jul 15, 2007
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Trip End Jul 16, 2008


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Thursday, August 23, 2007

(Jim)

Yesterday at 7:23 a.m. we crossed the Arctic Circle.  This morning King Neptune came onto our ship to baptise us all into the fellowship of the Arctic Circle.  This involves waiting in line, kneeling and having a large ladle of water and ice poured down your back.  Katharine liked it so much she did it twice. 

Last night at 11:15 p.m. we went into the Trollfjord, after which our ship is named.  This is a narrow fjord, two miles long and very deep, but with walls only 100 meters apart.  We crept in at walking pace in a driving drizzle with high winds.  Powerful searchlights illuminated the rock walls, 1000 feet high, only metres from each side of the ship.  At the dead end of the fjord is a slightly larger space, in which the Trollfjord turned around.  All in all, an extraordinary other-worldly experience.

As we turned, the searchlight illuminated a building.  It took a minute to gain perspective, because the walls are so high. It was a house, 150 miles north of the Arctic Circle, at the dead end of a two-mile-deep fjord.  Why was it here?  Then a greater surprise -- as we continued to turn and the searchlight moved on, we could see lights on in the house -- someone was at home. 

Amy and I have a tradition when we visit places we like.  Recalling the end of the movie Groundhog Day, we'll stand arm-in-arm, look around, and one will say to the other, "Let's live here!"  To which the other replies, "We'll rent to start."

At the end of the Trollfjord in the cold and rain, we both looked at other and said, "Let's not live here."

Moments like this help me to understand the enduring themes of Norwegian literature -- precipitation, violence, and herring.

But seriously, we have been very much struck by the unique nature of the Norwegian landscape, and how it relates to our hugely favorable experience with the Norwegian crew and passengers on this ship.  One of our impressions is that the conditions experienced by a nation many of whose inhabitants live north of the Arctic Circle create a people uniformly tough, hard-working, and competent.  Our kids commented today that the Hurtigruten and related visits to Norwegian cities are their favorite part of the trip to date.
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Comments

mwengler
mwengler on

Odd places to visit
I suppose a house at the dead end of a fjord 150 miles north of the arctic circle seems an odd place to visit. On the other hand, it seems an even odder place to live! Let's not live here indeed!

I just found your blog today (28 August). What an amazing trip! I have two more blog entries to go before I have caught up to where you presumably are right now.

I'll show Barbara and the kids the blog and pictures when I get home tonight. I've been reading the kids the 1st Harry Potter book. Now that I now its over, I suppose, it seems safe to start in on it. I'll read them your blog too, as a series.

Have a good one!

Mike

barbwengler
barbwengler on

Incredible Journey
Hello Hemphill Family!! Michael sent me your blog and I'm so impressed that in addition to all the planning and traveling, you have managed to put together an incredible blog. I always wondered what it would be like to visit Norway. Maybe someday, but for now I'll live through the wonderful world of computers. Love and safe traveling to all!!

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