Monday, 2 August 2010

Highway to Heaven ending at Hell...

[a few pix to follow]

Written 2nd August

... quite literally! well Will's idea of Hell anyway. You'll see... :)

As I have said before, the RV17 - aka The Kystriksveien (The Coastal Route) - stretches from Steinkjer to Bodo and calls itself the most beautiful journey in the world. I don't know about that - well, there's a lot of world I haven't been to yet! - but of the other coast roads we have driven and which might also try to lay claim to this crown it certainly wins hands down. Even in the rain. Neither the Pacific Coast Highway 1 from San Francisco to San Diego nor the Amalfi coast really deserve to be mentioned in the same breath and the only other road which come close is the Ring of Kerry/Dingle Peninsula in western ireland but that journey had the distinct advantage of being experienced in the midget, with the roof down and in bright and beautiful sunshine. And as fun and beautiful as it was, it in no way compares to the epic-ness of the northern RV17.

The little road wiggles its way down the coast, clinging to the bottoms of sheer cliffs, meandering up and over hills, across epic bridges

disappearing into long dark tunnels and abruptly falling off the edges and on to ferries. Sadly, after our stunning glacier day, we really didn't get the weather for it - I am getting the impression that coastal norway is quite a wet place.

One of the tourist leaflets even goes so far as to say "...the weather is changeable and we cannot promise fine weather all through the summer. On the contrary, part of the charm of a visit to Helgeland is seeing it in all kinds of weather. We recommend you bring a warm sweater and rainwear" well you have to applaud their honesty!

But as I say, even in the rain it is epic enough, just not very photogenic.  And you do get a bit stuck in a never ending caravan of well, caravans

We finally crossed back out of the arctic circle on one of the boats - it has taken much longer to get down than it did to go up! - and after a further two boats we even got good weather for a detour to Torghatten, the famous mountain with a hole through the middle.

Legend has it that it was the Horseman Mountain's arrow which pierced the rock. Whilst out on his horse one day he saw the Seven Sisters and the Maiden of Leka bathing in the sea near the island of Landego. He was so struck by the beauty of the Maiden that he resolved to carry her off to be his bride. He duly sped south on his horse, his long cloak streaming out behind him. The Sisters saw him coming and ran, before throwing themselves to the ground near Alstahaug. The Maiden fled further south whilst the Horseman strung an arrow to his bow to stop her. But the King of the Somma Mountains saw what was about to happen and threw his hat in the way. It landed at Torgar and the arrow passed right through it but missed the Maiden. It looked like she was saved but just at that moment, dawn broke and the first rays of the sun turned them all to stone.

Dramatic stuff!

The holey mountain is pretty epic too. Measuring 166m long, 75m high and 28m wide

it cuts straight through from coast to sea

with fabulous views on each side.


And on again.

The southern end is not so dramatic, more a pleasantly undulating drive through green pastures and past mirror still fjords but all in all still pretty lovely.

And so we pottered on, and eventually onto the E6 where, in an attempt to avoid the toll road to Trondheim, we ended up in Hell. The shopping centre. No really. Hell Kjopesenter, that's its name.

It seems that Hell is quite well equipped with everything you need; supermarket, chemist, gym, diy/hardware store, even Hell Sollstudio where you can voluntarily subject yourself to a light roasting - although there's no midnight sun here :)

Its not open on sundays though - even the devil gets a day off it seems :)

With time to kill before we can drive in to Trondheim for free, we popped in for a wander. And of course ended up in the tools shop - although they've got the measure of people like Will, I'm sure that sign is pronounced 'Work Toy' ;)

They did have a very cool industrial mosquito ridding thing on display though - like a big outdoor hoover which somehow sucks them out of the air! Apparently the mosquito population of your garden will fall by three quarters after just four weeks! Don't they die out after that time anyway though???

We have also given in and finally gone food shopping.

Up to this point we have been managing very well on our Baltic States' supplies, supplemented by just bread, milk and yoghurt - no more expensive oranges since Nordkapp! oh, and, in a moment of tea-withdrawal-induced weakness, bacon. Mmmm bacon. Forget ambrosia, a bacon sandwich with ketchup (actual Heinz too as we found a couple of sachets left from a UK McD's trip sometime last year in the bottom of a box!) truly, truly, is the food of the gods...

But we are finally running out of the basics (although the bulgarian catering sized jars of pesto and sun dried tomatoes are still good for several more meals) and are resorting to increasingly desperate measures to ensure we stay in budget. The tuna risotto was a bit of a low point (rice, cooked, tuna, stirred in, done.) but yesterday's OXO chicken stock cube risotto (yep, you guessed it) was much more promising. Yes, sadly, with onions costing a euro each last time we looked and having run out of eggs, even special rice is getting less and less special... ;)

Before you start feling too sorry for us (and I know i'm going on a lot) this is, of course, strictly all self imposed abstemiousness. The budget is supposed to be just a guideline to keep spending under control, but I do also find myself in the fruit section seriously wondering if I will truly appreciate one, one-euro orange more than the 2kg of oranges I could by for the same price in Spain and being unable to justify it.

And, as I have said before, if this were easy and we had loads of money, it would just be dull. right??

Although, that being said, I am beginning to worry about scurvy and dream about steak (and somewhat bizarrely, marmite. but not together! That would be weird. There are those who would say that marmite is the ideal van dwellers food - compact, tasty, doesn't go off, a little goes a long way etc - and I would be the first to agree. But sadly Will would be the first to disagree and as marmite would only be tolerated under extreme duress and only if accompanied in the cupboard by an equal amount of peanut butter, which simply I cannot stand, marmiteless I am destined to be until I once more have a kitchen with enough cupboards that I can hide some somewhere...)

Anyway, I digress (as usual). Food shopping, just in case you're still with me and waiting for me to get to some kind of point. We've done alright this time. Our ten euros got us 1kg muesli, 1l milk, a dozen eggs, 3 packets of rich tea-u-like biscuits, 1kg pasta, one tin of something which may or may not be some sort of white fish in white sauce (it was half the price of a tin of what may or may not have been brown meat in brown sauce - how wrong can it go??) and a whole kilo of frozen whole prawns. Maybe we should have tried this shopping thing before now, somewhere which wasn't the northern-most supermarket in mainland europe. And ok, so we haven't quite cracked the fruit and vegetables thing but putting some protein back in the diet can only been a good thing :)

So here we are, in the carpark, killing time (can you tell...)

Oh, but we have discovered that, provided the outside temperature is reasonable, our little fridge can make ice cubes in only two hours! Not, as you might imagine, that we have been enjoying a little pre-prandial G&T - I am too scared by the price of beer to even look at the T, let alone the G! - no, Will is trying to calibrate the output of the temperature sensor he wants to use with Adam's ecu board. The problem is, the equations he has for the fuel injector drivers use degrees kelvin and, of course (obviously!), the temperature sensor is a variable resistor which puts out a voltage. So he needs to know what the conversion from voltage to kelvin is. But, the sensor apparently doesn't produce a linear conversion (in any easily equationable way) so even though he can reliably get voltages for 0 and 100°C (using ice cubes and the kettle which we do have available) he can't just extrapolate the rest. And we don't have a thermometer. So he is currently boiling the sensor in a pan of water which started as near ice and timing it so he can make an estimated look up table of voltage to temperature based on the graph and the time taken to heat the water the measurable 100 degrees. No really, he isn't missing his garage at all, I mean, where would the challenge be... ;)

Right, anyway, enough of the witter. Hell has wifi and the roads are now free so time to check in and then check out. Trondheim here we come!

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