... to Norway and motorhome problems
I had a massive problem with my computer, it had absolutely
no charge in the battery, Windows was not starting up
properly, and I started thinking it was time to consign
it to the scrap heap.
So far we have done 10,500 kilometres in the motorhome it was due to have an oil change done two half thousand kilometres ago for every garage I have tried to check into have offered me dates for a service check in two weeks time.
It was the 8000 kilometre oil change that we were considerably overdue for, and yes they could do it, it would take 15 minutes, which made me wonder why the previous garages in Sweden would not even consider making an appointment for 14 days.
So after that and getting new grocery supplies we headed off out-of-town going through two Tunnels to leave the city the first one was 5.8 kilometres long and the second one was only 4.4 kms in length. There were still lots of houses to be seen as we travelled north along the waterfront, well as close to the waterfront as we could get, and is a reasonably slow job driving through Norway, what with the terrain and the speed limit that is often between 60 and 70 KPH it certainly gives you time to see the scenery on the way.
I'm beginning to think of Norway as one large block of stone made mountains that has been through a large fight with Thor their mythical thunder God who is has hacked large pieces out of this piece of stone making the fjord's the minor pieces of flat land which has made roadbuilding in this country and incredible engineering feat with long tunnels through the rock mountains, large bridges over the estuaries, interesting tunnels that go under the estuaries, which must have made the Norwegians the major experts on tunnels and bridge building.
We found the remains of an old road that had been made obsolete with the road straightening process and camp here tonight amongst some delightful trees.
June 20, 2006
21 June 2006
Tonight we are at the camp ground in a town called Forde 61.15°N
22 June 2006
Again on through majestic scenery of high mountains beautiful lakes fast flowing rivers, waterfalls everything you would expect, of course almost every boat we see on these lakes has the outboard motor left unattended on the boat.
With two ferrys today on the E 39 Highway and the longest tunnel of the many we went through was 3 kilometres in length.
Fine weather did not stay with us it moved on to rain so I hope the people getting their hay in were successful.
It would seem that we ever they keep their cows with an undercover they collect their manure and then sprayed onto fields as fertiliser. As you drive through the countryside you're very much aware of this procedure.
We had yet another ferry before we arrived at Alesund and of course several more tunnels, the camp site had firm ground, but was quite wet.
The guy in reception was able to give me the correct directions to get to the road called Troll Ladder and directed me to yet another ferry, but it ferry with a difference which took us through the Geiranger Fjord and the Eagles road which may be interesting.
23 June 2006
We are now on the road to Stranda, the first town into the mountains towards the Trolls Ladder Road, we stopped for lunch at about 600 metres elevation beside a lake being fed by the melting snow, the snowline is around 650 to 700 metres.
Yes it is raining again so the spectacular scenery we're going through is dull and has no contrast.
With the rain and the weather being so overcast with decided to stay around Hellesylt, the town on the Ferry leaves from so we went for a drive to Grødes a drive that had been recommended to us at the last camp, possibly it may be in a wonderful drive on fine day but today it was somewhat average.
We got back to Hellesylt about five o'clock just as the ferry was leaving and we discovered that they left every 1½ hours starting at 8 a.m. in the morning so we will be aiming for the 9:30 a.m. ferry, hoping for a fine day.
Is one thing about country like this when it is raining the water simply pours off the mountainside and fast flowing rivers or waterfalls, really dramatic!
Again on any tunnels today with the longest one being three kilometres. We are camped in a motor camp at 62.08° N and with the water that is beside the motor camp being a fjord were obviously at sea level.
24 June 2006
It was a 20 kilometre voyage, costs considerably less than one of the other ferry crossings that took 50 minutes, this one took an hour travelling up the fjord with the sheer rock walls rising straight out of the water going up 1000 to 1500 metres. On some of these almost sheer cliff faces we could see houses that had been built by farmers over a hundred years ago, almost all had now been abandoned, but the commentary spoke of one farmer that had one of the better incomes of all those in the fjord farming goats for their milk, so much for me saying earlier you couldn't even farming goats on these rock faces. This one farmer that they were talking about only access was from the fjord and one part of the access was via a ladder which they removed when unwanted visitors, like the taxman, were due to call.
It had started off raining, but then the sunshine came out, in patches, but enough to make the photographs interested. As usual for very many waterfalls with the water just flowing off cliffs whereever it could.
We arrived at Geiranger, had breakfast on the fjord front, and then headed off up the zigzag road that took us from sea level to about 700 metres. They say there were really 11 hair pin bends on this road but was not too bad. From that high location we carried on slowly going down again to sea level for next ferry, a little bit of waiting this time however because one of the ferries was out of action with engine trouble.
From Linge we again started to climb up into the mountains, not quite as dramatic as the zigzag, but nevertheless it took us to 916 metres, well into the snowline, in fact we are very large drifts of snow on either side of the road slowly letting their contents dispense into water. Eventually we ended up at Trollstigen, supposedly the home of the trolls, but we found a gift shop in a large car park filled with buses and motorhomes. We did a brief forte into the shop and we found a book on Norway written in Russian.
From there it was on down via the Trolls Ladder, 11 hair pin bends that went almost underneath the Sigfossen waterfall which we are able to photograph at the bottom of the "ladder". Eventually we joined the motorway onto Route 136, we did a righthand turn because there was supposed to be some thing significant, but after about 20 kilometres we saw not think different from the fantastic scenery we're been experiencing.
We pulled off the motorway in a clearing in a forest where we are camped for the night. Latitude 62.42°N, not a great deal of northwards movement today.
Well after lunch we drove on to the ferry, no problems there, the problem arose as I was getting ready to drive off, I got uncoordinated with the handbrake and let off too soon and drifted back into the small car behind me, but not being sure if I'd done sufficient damage I did it again, and then we both drove off and spent the next 45 minutes filling in the complex claims form, going to the police station to get my Green card insurer's photocopied and so it went on, he kept on saying he only had his car for six months, I did not feel like saying mine was only three months old because I was the bad boy.
That underway, we headed back on the road to another to ferry crossings with no problems, is interesting the price of the ferry crossings seem to have their no relationship to length of time or the distance travelled, so you just have to pay and enjoy the trip.
We decided to go on a secondary road towards Trondheim and in doing so we've lost all the motorhomes that travelling through this country, most are from Germany perhaps 90% a small percentage from Holland, we've seen one from England and the rest our even Norwegian Swedish or French.
We are again wild camping in a car park, near Kjørsvik at 63.41° N on top of a hill overlooking the fjord's and I think we'll get in a sunset tonight, last night at 11:30 p.m. it was light enough I think still to read a book.
We headed off again on north towards Trondheim on what we began to realise the really back country roads, we reached this conclusion after passing no motorhomes all morning and soon were back on the motorway.
On the outskirts of Trondheim we decided to go on the tollroad and we very quickly this discovered why they have made it a toll road, in about 20 kilometres there were seven tunnels one at 8k, 3k, 300m, 800m, 1.7,1.3, 1.5k, yes road building is fun in Norway.
When we reached the city we visited the Trondheim Cathedral, it was originally built as a Catholic Cathedral and when the King decided to change the faith of Norway on the 16th century and became a Lutheran Cathedral overnight.
On the way up the hill where we parked our motorhomes we saw the world's only "Bicycle Lift". You paid your money at the bottom of the hill, put your foot on a moving bracket, and if you knew what you were doing it would take it to the top of the hill, in a few minutes that we were watching no one managed but was probably a good moneyspinner for the boy at the bottom.
We are went on 10 kilometres outside Trondheim to the ferry terminus at Flakk 63.45° N
27 June 2006
They have very interesting approach in so much that they have one telephone number which is to the head office in Trondheim, and all inquiries go through this number, they have up to about 16 sales booths set up to handle these phone calls, and to do to telephone solicitation throughout Norway.
So the appointment is made via telephone, via Trondheim, for a studio in Ski, the photographs are taken in ski, the digital image and the order is emailed to Trondheim, the image goes to be printed, and the order with the frames etc goes to the framing department and the mats and frames are made ready for when the photographs are finished. At that point of time the order is completed, everything is framed, is then packaged up and beautiful "Fame" packaging and has sent out to the 14 studios in one large container once a week.
They are very well-equipped to produce the finished work for the studios from digital images. They have a large Lamba printed processor, a large minilab for the smaller prints, two very large inkjet printers, a large 60 inch professional laminator, and then with the framing section, a very large automatic mats cutter, a professional automatic glass cutter, and electric guillotine for mitering the joints of frames, and plenty of space for the actual framing. I counted about eight people in the framing section and when you consider all the automation they have each person would probably be able to do the work of two and a normal situation.
Thor went on to tell me that some of the printing the get done in India, something that costs 800 kroner to produce in Norway costs 8 kroner in India. That, to me, is an extremely interesting piece of business information.
Obviously they have a whole range of brochures and beautifully printed stationery all with the Fame emblem on it, the owners of the business, Thor's son and daughter are out round the studios on a regular basis upgrading the photography skills of all the staff, it is a wonderful design for somebody who is wanting to set up a chain of studios.
then had to leave to consult with a carpenter on some
building problem and we got on the road to continue the
route we had planned. After catching a ferry and driving
for about an hour and a half we decided to do some wild
camping on the side of Highway 755, just past Rønningen
at 63.73° N. It was a nice warm sunny day today and
was only spoilt by the very small minute sandflies, perhaps
you should call the midges, they appeared in their millions
around 6 p.m., we have not see them up to now, so it must
either be the time of the year, all we have gone far enough
north to be in their territory. They are so small that
reputed to be able to fly through the fine gauze that
we have to keep all normal flying insects out. There also
reputed to bite although looking at their size I don't
see how it is possible!
So we sprayed all of the midges, and drove on north on our route whilst they were dying. The route planned took us down a shingle road a shingle road beside a lake, with lots of trees, there are a lot of logs on the side of the road waiting to be collected from some of the harvesting that they had done in the forest, and the road look like it had been used a lot by heavy trucks.
Nevertheless we carried on down the road, around the edge of the lake, and we came across a tree across the road, it had fallen down the hillside and was effectively a wonderful roadblock. They were working on clearing the road, and they have already removed probably four or five other trees but without knowing how long this large tree would take the handle back the way we had come about 15 to 20 kilometres and took to the motorway for about 20 K. to continue her on our route around the coast.
Today is an overcast day with no rain, yet, so all the farmers along the route today were busy making hay, I think sometimes up here the winters must be terribly long in the summers terribly short to get in all the winter feed.
We have camped for the night in a small picnic area on the edge of a lake about 20k north of Skogmo at 64.56°N.
The next city is Bodo, 550K away and we will have to use six ferries on the route we have planned driving 200 k per day.
29 June 2006
Halfway through the day I discovered water leaking out of the motorhome and so on it became a task of finding where the surplus water was coming from. We eventually tracked down to a piece of hose that had been secured to a small stop Valve in the stainless steel hose clamp had not been done uptight enough in the factory, in fact it is my belief that the quality of the hose clamp was not in keeping with that of the van.
The net result of this stupid piece of workmanship was that the hose had come 95% off the tap feral allowing the water to escape in a jet of water which of course, being under pressure, saturated the inside of the heater cabinet in doing so saturated the circuit board that controlled the switching on and off of the water heater.
After such a saturation the heater, of course did not work, so we're on our left without being able to heat our water for the shower or washing dishes.
I sent an e-mail off to Germany asking them to organise a inspection of this problem and one of the three cities who is due to be in over the next 10 days. They organised it for Bodo and checking with them when I arrived today they do not have a spare circuit board in stock and one would have to come in taking about 14 days. So Monday will find out exactly what the problem is, get the circuit board ordered and then had fitted somewhere between here and Helsinki over the next 20 to 30 days. We will have to organise some method so we can take a shower when we wild camp.
The day was drawing to a close and we could not find a spot to wild camp, because the countryside would driving through was recently extensively farmed so we decided to camp and motor camp across the Bay from where the ferry left for the next part of our trip. The motor camp was at Leirfjord 66.15°N
30 June 2006
When I got to where we had to turn off to the ferry I made a decision to drive straight to the Hymer dealer near Bodo to get something started with the water heater.
So it was no longer along the coast of Norway, but across to the E6 through some rather beautiful countryside of fjords and lakes, and one massive piece of road reconstruction on the way to the motorway, as I said before if you build roads and Norway you are serious!
I stopped at the first major city on our way, called it the information office, and they admitted to having a slow Internet connection, which is quite fast enough for my needs, so the floppy drive was inserted, next problem was that they did not have Microsoft Word, so I used the notepad which was partially effective, but managed to get sufficient to get the e-mail off.
Then it was back on the E6 until we reached the Arctic Circle at 66.30°N so we stopped briefly for a couple of photographs and then back to the road and we finally got to the Hymer Dealer at about 5:15 p.m., all of the mechanics had left for the day, I checked with my e-mails and the German dealer and organise an appointment for me on Monday, but the spare parts guy and that he only had a circuit board for a heater six years old so roll on Monday!
We then went into Bodo city and then on down to the wharf to the ferry terminal and found that they ferry to our next destination left every four hours starting at 6 a.m. and carrying on through the night, this will be the longest ferry crossing we will have done on this trip which is to the Lofoten Islands.
It was on the find a motor camp and the one we have for tonight, is on the flight path for the airport, so we will probably move on tomorrow. The motor camp is in Bodo city at 67.28°N
At the moment it is 9:45 p.m. in the sun is still probably 30° from the horizon so it is very light all round the camp, the people in actual fact are just sitting down to have their evening meal outside with the temperature at 19.5° Celsius So these very long days that you get the further North you go gives much more time for leisure.
1 July 2006
We found that without much problem, stopped on the way to photograph four Moose (Elk) and then parked underneath the bridge that was over the inlet between two Islands where the whirlpool was located.
After parking the motorhome we looked at the one that was parked beside us and saw an Australian flag on the door, chatted to the supposed Aussies, and found that they were really Kiwis that had been in Oz last 20 years. They are travelling in a Australian motorhome which they shipped to Singapore and then drove overland through Cambodia, China, some of the Russians Stans (Uzbekistan etc), then from Georgia through Turkey to Europe, they did this last year and came back this year to carry on seeing all of Europe. They told me that they almost never go into a camp site that had no problems anywhere.
After that long chat we moved on to see the whirlpool, found it was formed by the incoming tide coming against a round inlet which directed the tide into a Circle. Obviously the stronger the tide the more effect there was of the whirlpool. Today it was just an average tide in the whirlpool was hardly visible.
We then headed back up the road they were due to come on yesterday and abandoned for the more direct route in her campaign on the side of the road near LakeValnesvatnet at 67.17°N
3 July 2006
I then went into the accessory shop and tried telephoning Germany, I was too early, I telephoned back later, Axel the service manager was busy with the client, I left a message for him to telephoned me, after 30 minutes I decided to send him an e-mail and hopefully I'll get a reply soon telling me when will have hot water again. The wet face cloth in the shower cubicle is not that exciting, I have bought a small camping shower, one that is designed to be hung in the sunshine and it will heat the water for you, it has a small plastic to with a on-off tap and a shower head, which I think maybe better than the face cloth. (it was'nt)
We then headed off to the ferry for the 100 kilometre trip to the Lofoten Islands, were three hours early so we just got on the line and waited, and we board the boat at 2:15 p.m. (15 minutes late) and as we pulled away from the shore we looked at people that had arrived about 30 minutes after us still waiting on the shore, they have 3 1/2 hour wait for the next boat.
It was quite an old boat, very few amenities on it, enough seats for the 318 people it was designated to carry, the trip was about 3 3/4 hours long, cost 661 Norwegian kroner (NZ$173) in being an overcast foggy day time was really only suitable for sleeping.
As we drove off the ship I figure there was about at least 50% to many vehicles waiting for the return trip, so the messages if you go into the Lofoten Islands you better book!
We drove for a few minutes and stopped the first village, at the moment the parked on the edge of the boat Harbour, looking at all the runabout's with the outboard motors safely left on the boats, this is after all Norway and you do not have to worry about somebody flogging your motor. There are abouts seven motorhomes parked in this area so will be interesting to see how many there are come the morning.
Naturally our evening meal is fresh fish purchased in this fishing village called Reine 67.93°N.
We finally found the camp near Kabelvåg, 68.20°N, it is a beautiful location on the edge of the Arctic Ocean, it was not overflowing with amenities, but they did have a wireless Internet connection which enabled us to catch up with our e-mails and to see what our motorhome dealer in Bielefeld had sought out for repairs.
The answer was really nothing! There was an e-mail from the service manager saying that they needed the model number of the heater, that perhaps advised to contact the agent for the heater (there was just one in Norway so not quite sure how we are to go about that) that perhaps the service department and Bodo could help me more, so I send him another e-mail, and enclosed a copy to the sales department, giving the serial numbers of the heater, suggesting I would like next before we went into Russia, giving them a timetable as to where I would be, told them I would be at this location till 10 a.m. tomorrow morning, problem and Bodo were not interested in helping me, and then I pressed the send button.
5 July 2006
Today we left the Lofoten Islands, with overcast weather, it would have been very nice if it had been fine, I assume they get some clear blue sky days, but not whilst we were on the Islands, but with that sort of weather you would need to have three weeks to wander around the Islands but then of course I'm not sure we would have been granted that many clear days.
We had to take the ferry to get off the Lofoten Islands, and again there was more wanting to go than available space on the ferry.
Just because we'll off the Islands, the magic scenery did not finish, so we found ourselves stopping reasonably frequently to record some images that would have been a whole lot better without the blue haze on the distant mountain scenery.
Tonight we have camped, in a layby, beside the E10 by an inlet of the Arctic Ocean near Våtvoll at 68.57°N it is not the quietest of spots, but I would like to think the traffic will not go all-night, at least the weather has brightened up with quite a lot of blue sky.
We checked our e-mails and there was no reply from Palmowski in Bielefeld, not terribly impressive, so I dashed off another e-mail and hopefully by the time we get Tromso there will be a reply.
Asked the local souvenir shop if the large Nazi guns (46cm bore) were still on show, they knew nothing about them, and the guy was not young, these were the largest guns in the world, he referred us to the museum saying they would know where they are, so we'll leave that to next time.
So we got on the E6 and headed towards Tromso, found another lay-by, again beside some water, this time the water is not large enough to be marked on the map. Tonight we at 68.63°N, not a great deal of progress since last night, but we headed south to go to Narvik before heading north again.
Satellite TV Reception ……. I can no longer get the English satellite Astra 28E No, but I can get the German channel Astra 19E with the two English News channels BBC & CNN however BBC is breaking up, CNN is still good.
7 July 2006
We saw a sign for an Arctic zoo, so we stopped off and viewed the animals, or I should say viewed what we could see, they advertise them as being in natural surroundings which of course is not ideal for actual fact seeing the animals. Like everything in Norway and was inclined to be expensive.
arrived at the Hymer dealer in Tromso and they had heard
nothing from Bielefeld
Well the e-mail arrived and basically said he could do nothing for me in Norway and suggested I tried to get fixed by one of the Hymer dealer's, which of course the overlooked the waiting period, up to 14 days, and we have to get to Estonia to go into Russia. I asked which try to sort this out with the Hymer dealer in Helsinki, place the whole problem on my web site on a non-indexed page and sent a request to Hymer in Germany so now I have to sit back and see what happens.
We are tonight at Tromso motor camp, one of the ones with wireless Internet, at least today we get 24 hours for the NZ$13. We are at 69.64°N and will probably carry on heading north tomorrow without piped hot water.
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