Trip Start May 07, 2005
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Norway  ,
Thursday, August 25, 2005

We spent two weeks helping Anne-Marit with her house. Was great! More later.

OK, It's later (a month later). The situation is that Kim was looking for a bed and breakfast in Norway and it turns out that Anne-Marit wrote the Norway bed and breakfast book. On her website she advertises that she will give you food and shelter in exchange for helping her rennovate her house. We were expecting to spend two weeks in a cozy little B&B while doing a little work on an extra wing or something. In reality her house needed a lot of work -- like walls and plumbing.

Fortuantely Kim loves fixing up houses and motivated us all to work hard. The first order of business was to finish up the neighbor's shower. The neighbor (a farmer) had an unfinished shower and Anne made a deal that she could use the shower if she finished it. The idea of two weeks with her outdoor shower gave us a lot of motivation to finish the neighbors shower, even if it meant washing with the cows. We were about the same latitude as Anchorage, Alaska so one could see why we would be eager to avoid showering outdoors.

Anne is an architect and has spent a lot of time on construction sites. She has a great attitude towards getting things done. If she needs a place to stack boards she grabs a hammer and nails and makes a couple of saw horses. Kim liked being able to work on her own projects too. She made a hanging pot rack for the kitchen and a rock path to the stream (out water supply) as well as more mundane painting and such. I was happy to do any mundane task like chopping wood.

After a hard day of work (or often an easy day of work) we would make dinner. I think the three of us took turns making things. The best meal was on my birthday Kim made two types of lasagna and the biggest and tastiest apple pie I've seen. Other than that our favorite meal was vegetarian nachos, whale steaks, and "rutabega royale" (mashed potatoes, rutabega, and carrots). We ate so much dessert we thought we would explode.

On the weekends we would explore the area. We went fishing once. Kim had never been fishing before but she caught ten fish and is now hooked. We went mushroom hunting and learned which mushrooms were good (thick white stem with a slimy brown cap) which were great (bright yellow that people in Bavaria go crazy for) and which were poisonous (red spotted caps that the vikings would take to induce berserking). When we were done we had too many mushrooms and ended up freezing some and drying some.

But the best was picking blueberries. Anne had two blueberry rakes that made picking very easy. After a few hours we had more blueberries than I could believe. I love fresh blueberries and would buy them for $2 / pint. Now I was staring at 20 or 30 pints. We went blueberry crazy. We made three huge blueberry cobblers, blueberry jam, and blueberry sauce. We froze them, ate them with cereal, and ate them with ice cream. It was blueberry heaven. After a week we were running low so we picked another huge batch. Our blood ran blue for weeks afterwards.

We learned that the nearby town of Surnadal was going to do their semiannual traditional hike to the summer farm. They recreate a hike with horses to take supplies from the winter farm to the summer farm and bring back dairy products. It was a great excuse to go hiking and we got to meet some more Norwegians even if it was a bit drizzly and muddy. The expedition leader had been doing this hike for something like 30 years. Before the roads opened things up it was the only way to get to the summer farm. On top of the mountain we asked if the water was safe to drink. Oops. There is something about Europeans that they all seem to take pride in the local water. I don't know how many times I've been told that a certain spring was "the best water in the world". Well I was informed that this water was the cleanest water in the world. I then made some comment about all Europeans claiming their water was the best and I was corrected. "I didn't say this was the BEST water in the world. I said it was the CLEANEST. Scientists have a monitoring facility and use this mountain as the base line for comparing levels of pollution in Europe." I looked around and thought that the cleanest mountain in the world sure was muddy. I dutifully filled up my water bottle with the cleanest water in the world. For the record, we purchased this Aquafina water bottle hours before leaving on our trip and since then it has had:

-- The cleanest water in the world (Surnadal)
-- Holy water (Oropa)
-- Fountain of youth water (Fonti)
-- The best water in the world (many different places)

Anyway, we enjoyed the hike but were very slow. The natives were able to handle the mountainous terrain better than us so we hung back with the lady who had recently had surgery. Eventually we got lost and wandered around until we found a road and the lady used her cell phone to call a friend.

The farmer neighbor was named Joni (yonnie). Actually I think it was something longer and more complicated but we called him Joni. He was very smart and had a great sense of humor. He also had never done any travelling. He had been to Trondheim once about 20 years ago. We asked if he would like to travel. He said he would but he would miss the farm work so he couldn't go for more than two days. When we asked him where he thought that he would like to see farms in Switzerland. Apparently the Swiss make the best tractors for mountain farming. When Anne drove us back to Trondheim he tagged along. We took him to the top of the TV tower and when the elevator started to move he jumped, startled. He explained that he had never been in an elevator before (!!!)

So Surnadal was loads of fun. We like to go back and visit in a year to see how much progress Anne has made. We learned a lot from her and might use some of her techniques to build our next house. I also learned that I like having large blueberry fields nearby. If anybody reading this is interested in helping her you can write to her at
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