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ER Redux

August 31, 2015

Meanwhile, on the other side of the state….

Got calls from my brothers Chris and Matt this afternoon.. Mom’s not doing well. SO not well that they determined a trip to the ER was in order.

So, at this moment, that’s where they are. Tests, tests, measurements, assessments and tests. I’m glad for that.

She’s not.

All of this has to do with her need these days for supplemental oxygen, and what happens if she doesn’t get it. In the last two days, two mishaps have occurred with her oxygen line, both resulting in periods of time off the O2. As a result, her O2 levels got way too low. Not good. She’s been in and out of lucidity all day, and very weak.  So Matt made the decision–always a tough one where my mom’s concerned–to call the paramedics.

When she’s in a moment of lucidity she’s feisty and annoyed and is making it clear she does not want to be there. I know, I just heard the exchange she was having with the staff while I was on the phone with her.

Tough customer, my mom.

Did I mention the US Open Tennis Championship began today?  Where she would rather be is at home with a glass of wine, watching the Open and cheering on her guy Djokovic.

As always, our dear, dear friend Betsy is on the case. It is a crazy gift from the gods to have a lifelong family friend who is the head ER nurse at your local hospital. It’s been a tough afternoon, made worse by the distance; so good to have a couple of brothers there AND Betsy.

I grabbed this photo… mom and her acorns, thirteen years ago. It was a weekend celebration of my aunt Ellie’s 70th birthday. It’s amazing, everyone looks very much like they do today, except mom, who’s changed monumentally from the time this picture was taken to now. I do like seeing the fullness and vitality in her expression.

We are standing in front of a tree planted in my grandfather’s honor at Fallen Leaf Lake, next to Lake Tahoe:

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Mom, Jay, me, Matty, Chris.

Go mom.

We are still the sick people, in the sick house. We sound like sick people, we’re doing sick people things, but Jim and I did manage to take a walk downtown this morning for breakfast.  I’m mostly on the mend, Jim is still on this side of the sick curve. It was just too beautiful a day to stay inside…. it seemed like a good idea.

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And it was.

Stepped out the front door, looked up and saw this!

Hydrate

August 29, 2015

Fever and dehydration do not mix. Even if you’re a strapping seventeen year old athlete. Even if you think you’re immune to the health vulnerabilities the rest of us mortals deal with. Even if you’re quite used to a certain standard of self abuse in the form of lack of sleep, a random diet, and chronic over exertion.

Dehydration catches up to you.

So that, on top of the deliriousness of your high fever, you may get dizzy, you may get disoriented, you may loose control of your limbs, you may collapse on the floor.

Which is super scary!!!  For you and your parents. Maybe especially your parents.

So tonight was spent in the ER.

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About four hours, anyway, in the reasonably quiet wee hours of the Kaiser Vacaville ER. Peter was hooked up to an IV and administered several bags of a rehydrating solution. He also had a chest XRAY and a blood test. They determined he has a mild case of pneumonia on top of the flu. Antibiotics, a very effective fever reducer, and some strong words from the medical staff, made for a very productive visit.

All’s well that ends well.

And we all know a little bit more about the importance of hydrating.

Humans suffer too much.

Here’s the score:

Flight from San Francisco to Stavanger, via Copenhagen:

Kari gets bug. Manifests initially as a seemingly benign, if slightly coy, cough, but which, by Switzerland, 10 days later, at the height of the hiking portion of the trip, fully inhabits her and she is down, hard, for the count. Full on flu with all the trimmings. 

Switzerland, day four, she finally sees a kindly Swiss doctor in the remote, carless Alpian (Alpian?) town of Wengen, gets three Rx’s and life soon turns around. Remainder of trip is at full throttle. 

Fight from Paris to San Francisco, via Copenhagen:

Kari gets another bug. Jim gets a bug. Peter gets a bug. Kari goes down first, with two days, and counting, of nasty flu symptoms. Jim’s ramping up. As of today, Peter’s now down for the count… came home from school with fever, chills, aches, the whole enchilada. 

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We have now, since, compiled a list of precautions for future flights–because it’s not like you can’t fly–crowd-sourced from our respective online communities:

  1. Emergent-C + Airborne + orange juice, whipped into a thick, viscous nutrient-rich cocktail. Consume with relish (not the pickle kind).
  2. Have on hand a mini can of Lysol and/or lots of antiseptic wipes to swab down surfaces you will come in contact with on the plane.
  3. Also, use those antiseptic gels and wipes to keep hands clean.
  4. And wash your hands often and often.
  5. Pound those fluids. Fluids, fluids, fluids.
  6. Maybe even wear a mask! Why not? Just to show them you’re serious about enjoying your vacation once you’re off this flying germ factory…it’s not about vanity, baby!
  7. Get lots of sleep; do not let travel exhaustion weaken your reserves for fighting the inevitable bug exposure. Before, during and after those long journeys. Sleep!
  8. Matt even suggested having on hand a broad spectrum antibiotic… just in case.

Because who wants to lose valuable hiking days in the middle of a hiking vacation.

Reconnection

August 27, 2015

Lost in yesterday’s red-letter moment–the start of Peter’s year at the top of the school-age food chain–was a spontaneous trip down to Santa Cruz with Lorilyn.

Lorilyn’s family’s saga continues as Allen’s 3-year work contract ended in Singapore, Quinn begins yet another new school–this time in Northern California–they are reunited with their sweet doggie Aqua, and they have just found a place to settle into, for at least a year, right here in Sacramento. Long story short, there was a key–a very important key–locked in a safe-box in the Santa Cruz house–that was needed up here in Sacramento, and a trip down to get it was a great vehicle for hours and hours and hours of catching up.

So we did that.

More important than all the crazy details of Lorillyn’s family’s life–which they manage with amazing creativity and grace–is the reconnection with a cherished friend.

If life is about family, friends, community, love, sharing, giving….   I feel blessed.

The work of the day was about 1) getting that key; and 2) hauling as many boxes back to Sacramento as would fit in a Toyota Highlander… and still have room for Aqua dog. We built a dog cave:

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She was sad to miss a romp on the beach, and sad with limited attention… note very sad face… but satisfied, I think, with her temporary digs…

Next time, Aqua.

Last First Day

August 26, 2015

It’s going to be a year of lasts.

(Fair warning…I could get obsessed and overwrought with this whole last thing. For example, I was ecstatic when filling out the PTA and volunteer forms for the last time, and pulling together all that registration paperwork FOR THE LAST TIME, and I imagine I’ll have plenty to say about Peter’s senior year and all its many significances as the year goes on. Please bear with.)

With just a smidge of ado, here is the last in the series of first day of school photos.

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Each first day of school photo was taken, more or less, in the same place–next to the front yard sycamore tree (minus second grade, which has mysteriously gone missing). I have to say, while not an original idea, this first day photo project was executed pretty well, and it was quite cool to look at the whole collection, which I ceremoniously posted to Facebook today.

As you might expect, he grows and matures as the series progresses (it’s true!), as does the tree–the tree being that tree, the one planted when Peter was a teeny tiny baby, the one fertilized with his super-duper-vitamin-rich-high-octane placenta, which we’d stashed in the freezer until we’d found the perfect use for it.. lo those many years ago.

We are particularly proud of, and mightily impressed by, the health of that tree.

So anyway, this year’s photo required a flash because Peter’s taking off way earlier than usual to attend the traditional Senior Sunrise…. a breakfast offered to, well, seniors. Kind of a big deal, I guess, as they all seem to go.

The first of many such things to come this year.

 

Back

August 25, 2015

Home. A bit disoriented. But after a flurry of re-entry tasks last night and today, am ready to resume life as a normal Davis person.

We got in last night at about 6:30. Unpacked, separated out the dirty clothes, put a million things away, got through all 1460 emails (the ruthless way), found my computer and iPad–which were so well hidden I couldn’t find them for the longest time–and generally reorganized and reassembled life.

Today, we restocked the kitchen, which’d been emptied of all perishable items, and now has, once again, lots of perishables. Finished all the laundry, moved back into my normal purse, called my mom, looked at the 2000-some photos on two devices, culled some and uploaded the rest to my computer. Dealt with random little details here and there, fell asleep for two hours (the first nap I’ve ever taken in my whole life, just about) and am now backing up my computer with all its brand new vacation pics.

Got Peter ready for his first day of school, too–forms, check writing, lunch assembly. He’ll be up at the crack of dawn for the traditional senior sunrise breakfast (I think they call it). And so begins a huge, big, important year.

Wow.

Speaking of the kid I love so much…. as soon as we got back last night, he changed out of his stale airline clothes–rumpled and smelly from a 24-hour travel day–brushed his teeth, gunky from same, and headed out to meet his pub quiz team. He spent the next couple hours or so huddled with four other guys answering questions and solving problems covering a range of topics… as pub quizzes do. He thinks they came in 7th. Which I think he thinks is pretty good.

While my brain was toast.

The stamina. Boggles my feeble mind.

Will start blogging the trip, oh, maybe tomorrow, and back filling as I go. In the meantime, I did manage to get myself over to Mishka’s for a late morning break… it was heavenly, and oh so familiar.

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PS. These are not short shorts. When i stand up, they go all the way to the knee caps. Where they belong.

Trip Day 3: Preikestolen

August 7, 2015

No time to waste, we have so much to do!

We got up about 6:00 and had the most wonderfulest of breakfasts–a smorgasbord redux, which is exactly how it’s done, with the addition of coffee. Happy happy.

This was going to be a hike-to-Preikestolen day–considered by most to be the premiere Norwegian tourist attraction. We decided we’d stay the night at Leslie and Svein’s cabin–about an hour and a half from their home in Sola–so we gathered a sack of clothes and sundries for an overnight.

Leaving Sola, we drove through some typical rolling farm and graze land:

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Norway is really just millions of waterways and islands. The coastline is incredibly jagged and fjords are just everywhere. This means you’re getting from one land mass to another via bridges and ferries.

Drove aboard a short ferry:

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With views in and out of stunning passages like this:

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With quaint waterfront neighborhoods like this everywhere:

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We arrived to the trailhead for Preikestolen at about 10:15, ready to hike. It was cloudy and misty and we were not sure what kind of view we might get, but decided to go for it anyway… us and a few hundred others! How often does one get to Norway?

For me, it was the first real hike since messing up my hip. Real up, real steps, real irregular terrain… this was kinda it… was hiking going to work? All the babying and body work and physical therapy and cortisone and heavy doses of ibuprofen over the last seven months was about this moment. I was incredibly nervous, but also like, well, it’s going to work or it isn’t. 

Never mind the two jammed nails I was in the process of losing after a benign hike in Yosemite the week before… for a few days, that was the more incapacitating pain. Sigh. (It did subside after a couple more days, however.)

Preikestolen Hike facts: 2.5 miles each way. You climb about 1100 feet. The trailhead is at an elevation of about 900 feet. At the top of Preikestolen, you will be 2000 feet above the water. 200,000 people do this hike each year!

I went slowly, favored my good side, and it worked okay. Not perfect, but good enough to get there. And back!

We were very much elbow to elbow with people all the way up, but that was fine. The trail was really pretty. This was early on–as the trail starts in forested sections–then we crossed this boardwalk-protected meadow…

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Then started breaking out into more granite-y areas…

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And finally reached the cliffs that border the Lysefjord… some 2000 feet below. Gasp!!

This is looking west….

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And this is looking east….

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Here are P & me, definitely more of a view than we’d expected!  And it got increasingly clearer…

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And here we are on the famous edge of Preikestolen… Pulpit Rock!

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For perspective, here are some other shots…

The corner we are sitting on above is this one–just to the left of all those people… dangling our legs, sorta, over that edge:

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We hiked up a hill a bit and got this view of the rock. Fabulous!

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A couple things to note: 1. There are a LOT of people up there!  2. There is a huge fissure that runs diagonally across the rock; one day, after a few (hundred? thousand?) more incidents of expanding ice, this thing is going to break off and tumble spectacularly into the Lysefjord. A real treat for all the cruise ships that sail beneath!

Here’s what it looks like when you’re having lunch atop and among the masses.. Leslie, Svein, Jim and Peter…

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It’s worth mentioning, neither the Norwegian government nor land owners (of which there are many) go out of their way to protect people. Largely, it’s on you. The country is one big nature thrill… high mountains, precarious edges everywhere, deep canyons, crazy exposure. You choose to venture to the top, the edge, whatever. People are expected to take responsibility for their own safety; the risks are obvious. Nobody expects to sue anybody for anybody’s stupidity. It is kind of refreshing.

It’s also worth mentioning that Norway has a THRIVING hiking culture. There are trail maps, trails, signposts, trailheads, huts EVERYWHERE. I’ve never seen anything like it. It’s like one huge national park. The country is so huge, the network so extensive, you can hike places where you’ll never see a soul.

And then there’s Preikestolen!

I did not mind the people at all. I truly could have stayed up there for a few more hours exploring the area. Very fun scrambling thereabouts, even with all the tourists.

Here’s Peter on one such spot… (not as exposed as it would appear):

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We hiked down a slightly different way, rejoined the main trail (all trails are marked with a red painted T). Peter and Svein took a short cut on the way down…. a zipline!

Svein getting suited up:

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And Peter, disappearing into the mist…

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We all met at the bottom, got ice creams at the visitor center, then headed out. Crossed back via ferry, then on to our next stop, the far less-visited Manafossen.

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This is a 300 foot, very meaty waterfall! Definitely worth the short but steep hike up. The trail became a friction climb in places, so steep there were numerous places where cables were placed in the rock for support.

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Here’s a pic of the falls:

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The water is dropping down into a very deep narrow river canyon that is hard to appreciate in this picture. Quite a spectacular sight. That is not a trivial edge we are standing on! I have an iron grip on Peter.

We saw only a couple other folks during this entire hike.

We stopped at the Coop to stock up on some groceries for the next few meals… typical, grass-covered buildings.

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And then drove along some gorgeous, typical Norwegian country roads, up a valley whose name I’ve forgotten, to get to Svein and Leslie’s new cabin.

A fjord along the way… maybe the Frafjord?

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Some from-the-car shots….

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And then we arrived at their brand new cabin!

Had we driven straight from Sola to the cabin, without hiking and shopping stops, it’d have taken about 90 minutes. They will spend most weekends here, all year ’round. This is typical of many Norwegians. We passed hundreds and hundreds of cabins along the way.

Typical of many (not all) cabins, theirs is a walk-in, in their case, a half a mile. We managed to haul everything in one trip. (In the winter, they ski in–albeit from further away because the road is not plowed–and use a sled… and believe it or not, the snow makes the terrain easier to travel.) Here’s Svein with full wheelbarrow and backpack… down rickety steps, boardwalks, strategically placed planks, across wet and boggy meadows, up hills, through tall grass and brush… all of that!

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The cabin finally comes into view! It’s surrounded on two sides by lakes–one small, one large. New grass roof…

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Stepped inside and took in this view:

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Here’s from the loft above:

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First order of business: drinks on the back deck. It is about 8:00pm

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Here is the view:

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We ended up deciding to stay two nights because the weather improved so significantly (opening up the possibility of another hike the next day). In this time, we learned a lot about Norwegian cabin culture. So interesting.

WHATTA DAY!

These Norwegians know how to live.

Trip Day 2: Yes Way!

August 6, 2015

At some point, it turned into Thursday for people on the European side of the world… for us, we were still back in Wednesday, but prepared to catch up, because we’re totally game.

We landed in Stavanger, Norway late on their Thursday afternoon, and convinced our bodies we’d not just stayed up all night. They weren’t buying it, but whatever. There was lots to see and do before sleep time.

Norway, for example!

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(The above was a photo taken later this evening, but it shall serve as my Norway establishing shot..)

Below is a photo also taken later in the trip, but illustrates perfectly the very first thing we noticed about Svein when he and Leslie met us at the Stavanger airport: he is also mid-implant, AND he, like the ever sensible Jim, also isn’t bothering with the pricy little vanity-serving cosmetic prosthesis. These guys hit if off right away.

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And speaking of Leslie….along with Svein, she’s going to be one hell of a fantastic host for the next five days… I just can’t tell you…

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[By way of a short introduction: I know Leslie because her dad, Fred, hired my dad, John, sometime in the mid-50s at what was a small-ish, budding aerospace firm in Redondo Beach. They went on to become vice-presidents of what became TRW, a huge, multi-national, government contracting aerospace firm. On the day of the interview, after my dad made what must have been a very favorable impression, Fred suggested to my parents that they rent a small beach bungalow across the street from where he lived with his wife Betty, a block from the water in Manhattan Beach. They did, and became not only colleagues but lifelong friends, as did the spouses, the six Hesse kids and the four Peterson kids (as yet unborn). The Osbornes and their three kids were another family on the block that comprise the famous triad… you’ve heard me talk about their daughter Betsy, the ER nurse who’s always on hand during family medical emergencies. Anyway… that’s Leslie, who also factors with her sister Karen in the 2011 Nepali adventures.]

[Also by way of a short introduction. Svein is an orthopedic surgeon by day, and Leslie is a geographer and cartographer by training working for the Norwegian national oil company, Statoil. The day before our arrival, they had just returned from a three-week vacation of their own.]

We had to deal with a couple lost-luggage administrative forms, then headed out of the airport and over to their house, which, interestingly, is only about a five-minute drive.

(Actually, the airport is in Sola, a smaller town a wee bit south of Stavanger proper. Leslie and Svein live in Sola.)

You think, really?, five minutes from the airport?, can’t be very nice… but it doesn’t work that way in Norway. They live on rolling farm and grazing land that abuts the Hafrsfjord. It’s property that has been in Svein’s family forever with an ancient farmhouse they thoroughly renovated about twenty years ago. Here’s a shot of the front of the house I grabbed off Google street-view:

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Here is the shot I took pulling up the driveway:

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We unloaded our stuff, moved Peter into his own room upstairs and Jim/me into a guest room downstairs. We sat down to have some tea… and look who fell asleep sitting up, thumbs poised over the keypad. At this moment (5:30pm their time, 8:30am ours), we’ve been up a little over 24 hours.

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Decided to go for a walk around the property to wake up. Here are a few shots:

Barn and storage…

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Multiple greenhouses…

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One of their horses…

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Fields that grow hay…

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Svein described how the hay is cut, rolled, bundled and wrapped. We’d never seen such things–they look like giant marshmallows–but have since seen gazillions.

As needed, these giant bundles get hauled into the barn; it may take a couple weeks to get through a single bundle (they’re feeding four horses):

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We returned to the main house.

Svein and Leslie’s daughter Marie (we’ll meet up with her twin, Elizabeth, in a few days) had arrived with her boyfriend Knute to say hello. We had an evening smorgasbord (it’s about 6:30 their time): breads, cheeses, eggs, ham, smoked salmon, herring, plum jam (homemade), sparkling wine, teas….

I swear. I thought I was going to die from sheer happiness. I was so overcome with nostalgia I thought I’d pass out. The whole thing–the scenery, the food, the language–was killing me. It was simple, but fantastic. Here’s our group:

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It stays light so late that we still had lots of time in this day.. even though it’s August–well past mid-sommer–and we’re pretty far south as Norway goes (a latitude equal to about Juneau, Alaska), and it’s cloudy. Still…. time to explore!

We decided to drive into Stavanger to look around. Here’s the skinny on Stavanger: It’s Norway’s fourth largest city (126,000 residents) and is also the oil capital of Norway. Norway’s largest oil company, Statoil, is headquartered there in a huge business park called Forus, and is where Leslie works. The town was essentially founded in 1125, when the cathedral in the heart of town was completed (we did not see this!). It’s in the heart of Rogaland, a county in the southwest part of the country.

Knute is an expert in historical Norwegian architecture, so Jim, Peter and I squeezed into the back of his Nissan Leaf and he gave us a tour of the housing developments outside central Stavanger, which radiate outward in concentric age-circles. It was interesting. Here’s a shot of typical residential in-town architecture…

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We went over to Knute and Marie’s new place in a lovely row house…

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With a tiny garage, smaller even than a Leaf can fit into…

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The house is charming inside with a great beer cellar.

We also toured the older section of Stavanger–Gamle Stavanger. It’s a designated UNESCO site and comprises 173 wooden cottages dating back to the late 1700-early 1800s, carefully maintained through the United Nations Architectural Heritage effort. Extremely charming.

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People in Norway really cherish their flowers. They are everywhere and are breathtaking. I think flower season is short, but it is incredibly mighty.

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Then we walked down to the Stavanger harbor…

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Wandered around the docks and looked at some boats…

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Then up a hill to the Valberg Tower…

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…for some really nice views. You can see where Gamle Stavanger is…

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And a little closer up…

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We drove over to a nice memorial on the Hafrsfjord, “Swords in Rock.” The monument represents peace, unity and freedom commemorating a battle fought in 872 AD that unified Norway into one kingdom. The Viking swords are modeled after swords found in various parts of the country.

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And now, it’s about 10:30pm. Their time.

All in all, it was a “charm and beauty through the haze of serious jet lag” kind of afternoon. Between the lack of sleep, disorientation of jet lag, and the high of Scandinavian nostalgia, I was floating on a cloud and so out of my head I could barely process. Jim and Peter were just cotton-headed zombies.

Went back to Svein and Leslie’s and crashed.

The only trouble with exploring a land far away is the getting there part. It is one grueling endurance event. Not complaining (well yes, I guess I am), but it requires an abundance of patience, a sizable bag of tricks, a ton of good attitude. And amnesia. Forgetting how tedious air travel can be really helps.

But hey! We’re goin’ on a trip! Here are some shots from the first 24.

The Davis Airporter arrives around 10:00am. Super nice to let them do the driving. (Most especially on the back side.. a good thing to remember.)

First stop: San Francisco. And, first of many conversations with the boy.

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Flying SAS.

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Seemed like a good idea at the time. By the end of trip, I’m far less enamored of the Scandinavian Air Service, and not likely to fly them again.

But what I did love was that once you get to the SAS terminal, you find yourself among lots of Scandinavians who snacka Svenska och Norska och Danska.

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I was unprepared for the emotional impact of this. I hid it well, but I was tearing up all over the place.

Once onboard, these squirming brothers (not so squirming here) were a steady source of entertainment for me. I had their dad behind me, who apparently drew child management duties for this flight. He was also entertaining. And resourceful.

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Peter and I started our Gin Rummy tournament. We played a LOT of hands on this flight. So fun.

SAS did have this very cool set of cameras you could tune into if the in-flight movies didn’t grab you….especially appreciated if you were in one of those middle seats (in a 9-seat row) and couldn’t look out the window. Here’s a shot from the “looking down” camera, leaving the Bay Area…

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Here’s a shot pulling into Copenhagen…

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Always interesting to see different countries’ airport design. These are large lounge thingies in the Copenhagen airport where we had a short layover (so short, they missed loading my suitcase onto the next plane to Norway) …

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It was nice to get out into the sunshine and onto Danish soil!

Posting this picture not because it’s great of me, but because I like the bald head growing out of my own. And the sun…. it feels SO GOOD after a long redeye.

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And it was Denmark. I’m still emotional. I’m just so happy to be here.

This is actually the next day, as time zones go…Next stop, Stavanger, Norway.

(See, my suitcase is not on this plane…)