Saturday, 14 August 2010

A Day Out At Sea - Our Family Trip

What can I say? We have the greatest kids. Even though my husband and I were working physically hard most of the summer building and painting our cabin, we only heard one or two complaints from them during an entire 4 weeks. Most of the time they were playing with their cousins and when they were alone on our property for 10 days, they played so well that my mother-in-law actually came down from her cabin to ask if we had told them to 'not bother her' (they were so involved in their play that they were not even going up to their grandparents so very often).

Because they were so good and because my husband and I were able to get so much work done, we decided to treat them to a day on the sea.

Needless to say they were thrilled.

The day was planned. Late lunches were packed (warm hamburgers with cheese [but no veggies - an extra treat for my kids] wrapped in tinfoil), thermoses of hot chocolate and coffee were made, a cooler of fruit was taken as well as a bottle of Pepsi, and finally we could not forget the bags of chips and pretzels which are usually not eaten in our house.

As you can see, we packed the boat with matresses and blankets for the kids to ride on (we did this last year as well and it was something that they spoke about for months. And being great kids they were quite willing to cover up their faces so that this picture could be on my blog.

The first thing we did was take the take the boat to a county called Lindås. It was here that my mother-in-law had been telling us of a lock that has now been turned into a channel. According to her the water ran very swiftly through the channel and it was very exciting and a little scary. So of course we needed to take the kids there.

Here is some of the scenery that we motored by....

Small villages with their own marinas, both for the locals who all own boats as well as for the cabin owners that don't have direct access to the water.

We were a bit wary of the weather. The clouds were heavy and dark, but they all seemed to be floating over us to Bergen, where it rains 3 meters a year. We took comfort that we were still seeing bits of sun even though it was much darker futher inland.

And now we're coming to the area where this lock is located.

Water symbols that need to be obeyed, lest we run aground.

As we start slowing down, we can catch glimpses of cabins that peak out from hidden passages.

More natural scenery with man-made stone work that's probably close to 80 years old.

And here we come to the lock. We must say that we came when the tide was nearly at its highest, so the current was not particularily strong. Having said that, the current did move incredibly fast. While it was not really a problem for my husband, I would feel uncomfortable with my boat knowledge navigating this stretch of water, especially when we came back in the other direction.

A close up of the stone work.

Yes well, that was 10 minutes of excitement. Now the question came, what should we do now?? An answer was suggested: Should we go to Fedje? Yes!! My kids could hardly contain their excitement.

Fedje is the most westernly point of Norway that is populated by people. It's an island off the mainland and takes us over an hour to travel to by boat from our cabin. It was a central point for whale hunting, back in the day. Now however it deals more with sports fishing as well as being a major radar control for both commerical and military purposes. Most people who live on the island take the ferry to the mainland every day to go to work.

First we have to go under 'The Bridge'. Yes there are lots of bridges on the western side of Norway that connect small island to small island. But this one in particular is known to my children as simple 'THE Bridge.' The current comes in and out so strongly that it churns up lots of food and undergrowth and attracts really large fish. I've never fished in this area without catching something. Definitely a place to go for all those who visit me. And who are not vegitarian.

We pass the bridge and start heading towards the beginning of the fjord, which can be seen as those large islands that look very tiny in the distance.

And now we're out into the open sea, looking back to the mainland. Pictured is a large fishing boat. One can see how the blues of the clouds and the distant mountains begin to fade into each other. We did also see 3 large cruise ships as well as 4 oil tankers, but these were so far off on the horizon that it was impossible to take a picture of them with my little camera. That will have to wait until next time... when I hopefully have a much larger camera.

After about 30 minutes riding at a high speed on really choppy water (I won't be able to do this when I'm 80!) we reached the island of Fedje. The main harbor is on the right hand side. As one can see, there are very few trees here. The winds just blow too hard.

And looking to the north west from where we were, one can see the open ocean. If we keep heading in this direction and all goes well, we'll make it to Greenland in 5-6 days. That's also assuming that the Gas-Fairy visits us and refills our tank when we're sleeping.

And this is looking back towards the mainland of Norway.

Here we are in the main harbor of Fedje. All the houses and buildings always look so romantically perfect because they are painted almost every year. The storms out here can be severe, and the blowing salt does nothing good for all outside surfaces. Also, a good amount of income for the island is also based on tourism, so a pefectly romantic setting doesn't hurt.

Another scene 300 meters away from the last picture.

And this, according to my children is a giant fire boat. We did try to point that it was a cable boat, and showed them the large reels used for lying down and pulling up huge undwerwater cables. But no - according to them it was a giant fire boat. How could they know that, we asked them. Because it's red, they responded.


Here are some more boat houses at the back of the harbor. I would guess that most of these are rented out to tourists, without having anyone actually tell me this.

Some of them are still drying their fish outside.

And then we see a Pilot Boat come in. It is here that all freighters and cruise ships are met with pilot boats before they are allowed to travel into Bergen. This particular boat only stayed here for 15 or 20 minutes before turning and going out of the harbor again.

But then we could suddenly feel the air changing. Or if I'm going to be really honest I'll admit my husband could feel the air changing. I was busy eating my hamburger. He showed me the sky past the island towards the open ocean. It was time to pack up and head back to the mainland. These clouds could simply be clouds. Or it could be the beginning of a storm that we didn't know anything about because we were not really paying attention to weather forcasts.

So we told our kids to 'hunker down' as we were going to speed back to the mainland and it was sure to be a bumpy ride. Like true kids, they buried themselves under the blankets. And so we left.

We passed by the local ferry making one of it's last run out to Fedje. It was approx 9 pm at this point.

One of the things that I always have loved about the northern Atlantic ocean is the different shadings of dark blues, greys and blacks. I was lucky that the camera was able to capture the different shades of blue from the left side of the water to the right. This of course has to do with the light and not the water itself and for a couple of minutes this was the sight to be seen: the water at the bow was bluer than the water at the stern. And the sun shifted and the illusion was gone.

This kind of sea is completely different from my good friend Star's sea. It's definitely beautiful, yes, but I can't say that there's anything pretty about it. I'm always left with the feeling of being very small, but in a very other worldly kind of way. I always feel more humbled coming back from trips like this.

And lets not forget the colors of the sky. Even late in August, the sun hangs in the sky for quite some time. We were almost at the mainland and had slowed down the boat. At this point my daughter complained she was cold so I took the oppurtunity to relax under the blankets and share a little body heat with her. We looked up at the sky and started finding shapes and pictures in the clouds.

We were now officially back to the mainland and stopped in a little habor called Hopland. This is where my husband's grandmother was born. We filled ourselves with refeshements of hot chocolate and chips while we watched clouds roll it. It looked like it was just going to be cloud cover, although we weren't entirely sure at this point.

My husband's grandmother was born in the white house, in 1903. It of course was less than half the size at that point and was until recently owned by one of my mother-in-law's cousins. But it was sold outside of the family a number of years ago so I have no bad feelings about taking pictures of it. As you can see, my husband's entire family has grown up right on the sea shore.

The clouds start coming in and we start puttering back towards our cabin, which will still take us a couple of hours to get to.

We stopped under the bridge again because my children wanted to sit under it and listen to the cars drive over. We had to wait for 15 minutes for the first one drive over us.

As we drove onward, we threw out the last of the potatoe chips and hamburger bread to the seagulls. They swarmed behind us.

We realize that we're very lucky. The clouds are just cloud cover. The winds die down and the water becomes very still and calm.

And then around 11.30 it gets dark enough that my camera cannot take proper pictures anymore, because it has nothing to focus on. Still, I love the blues and blacks.

But in the end we all had a great day at sea. We came home after midnight, after having spent 7 hours in the boat seeing different things and the kids were very happy.

Needless to say we all slept until close to lunch time the next day.


Dawn of LaTouchables said...

Such a lovely outing--with the kids along, surely unforgettable!

Nancy van den Boom said...

Nicole, thanks for taking us with you...must have been a wonderful day.

Star of the East said...

Looks like a great day, especially for the kids!!

Rita alias alatvian said...

Beautiful views!
Thank you so very much for sharing!

Lucie said...

Wow! What a gorgeous journey! I would have loved that!!!! What a treat!!

donauluft said...

surrounded by such gorgeous nature you must really be lucky!
wonderful pictures!

Vilt à la Kim said...

wow thank you for showing your wonderfull trip!! It feels like I was on vacation for 10 minutes:)

ingermaaike said...

What a totally,utterly sublimely perfect day!

gr8jewellery said...

What a fun and long day! Definitely a day to be talked about and remembered fondly!

Soapylove said...

Thank you so much for this great post about your day! I really appreciate all of the detail and pictures. I have never been to Norway and am not much of a boat person so I admire your adventurous attitude! I'm sure days like this will stick with your children forever. They're very lucky!