LUTMAN'S 2017 NORWAY FAMILY/BIRDING TRIP

NOTE:  When Sharon adds comments, they will be in {curly brackets}.

Report 2. Thursday, May 11, 2017. Waking Up. Snow. Great Breakfast. Picking up Motorhome. Outfitting Groceries. Finding Our First Camp.

I wake up naturally at 4am. I go to the bathroom, and now it's about ten after. It is clear that I am not going back to sleep, but I think 'I don't want to wake up Sharon.' So I decide to tiptoe around, and upon my first noise, Sharon says, "You can turn the light on if you want to!" Ha! {It's fun to lay there and hear him trying to be quiet when I've also been awake for a while. And we look outside to see the snow that has fallen during the night. SNOW? What, do they think this is, Norway or something?}

So to use some time, I review the luggage, answer our bird guide Simon's email about our Saturday birding schedule. He says the birds we are going to look for are:

Hawfinch
Lesser Redpoll
Redwing
BlackWoodpecker, and
Wryneck.

He says we also, if lucky, may encounter
Dotterel
Great Snipe
Tundra Bean Goose,
Nutcracker
Jack Snipe, and
Lesser Spotted Woodpecker.

He will pick us up at 6am Saturday May 11th at our camp entrance, and bring us back between 2 and 3. We are instructed to bring a lunch if we can, or he says we could pick something up on the way if we don't.

Great!

The snow is amazing, especially when the sky just begins to lighten, and a bit later when the sun is sort of up. We watch the snowplows clear off the runways. Fascinating.

Finally, about 7 am, we go downstairs to breakfast, which is served in this building. There is a nice, thick blanket of snow everywhere. It is beautiful, soft and WHITE, but with a gray sky. It's wonderful. We check out the first stop in the breakfast line.

There is everything you can imagine: hard boiled eggs, soft boiled eggs, poached eggs on toast, scrambled eggs. Plus tomatoes, every kind of fruit, cereal, olives, on and on, plus orange juice, tea and coffee. {Thank goodness for the coffee machine, but I have to decide if I want "latte, Americano, or Kaffe" I decide on Americano and it looks and tastes like coffee so I guess I picked right.}

When you wake up at 4, a meal at 7am feels a little like lunch. Walking back through the building, we get several more shots of the snow. Everybody we talk to says "Yesterday the sun was shining! This snow is unusual!" I feel extremely lucky to get this snow.

I take a picture down the hall,while Sharon gets a shot of me getting a shot down the hall. Then Sharon, high on caffeine, imitates the green man in the lighted sign above her. {Well, I am probably loopy from lack of sleep, jet lag, or something.}

We call the motorhome people, and they will have us picked up about 11. Excellent. We pack up all our bags again, get the hotel luggage cart and get them downstairs, ready to play a game of ping pong when this huge motorhome pulls up in front of the hotel. I can tell that they have changed the pickup method. Stian (say Steven, but leave the'v' out. Not Steen, but Stee'-un) is the manager of the place, and this is early in the season and today, he is his only worker so this is OUR camper he is picking us up in..

He helps us load all our stuff into a huge compartment in the rear of the motorhome, with giant locked doors on either side, for storage of big items - like, in this case, absolutely all our luggage except the things we want to keep on our person.

In ten minutes, we are to his shop. Here is a cool photo of Europe showing all the countries our company - McRent - operates in. And each country is its name, but mashed into the shape of the country.

We go in and he gives us a rundown of how to do all the stuff on this motorhome that we need to do. Sharon videotapes it on my iphone for later reference. {Later in the trip you will see that we need the video because all the things are new and different so who can remember them all. My job is, as always, to read the owner's manual to try to pick up tricks about our vehicle, whether it is a camper or not.}After 15 minutes of this, I go upstairs and we complete all the paperwork. Then a thing happens that occurs EVERY SINGLE TIME, WITHOUT EXCEPTION, when we first try to charge something overseas. Both our credit cards are rejected. This in spite of the fact that Citibank sent us a very special email saying that THIS TIME, we didn't have to inform them that we are going overseas. They already knew it, and our credit cards would work right off the bat.

Ha! Joke's on you, Citibank.

I call them and they ask exactly the same questions they always ask, and I answer. (The lady is so cute). She says that the charge we were making (about $1000 security deposit on the motorhome) is unexpectedly large, so they decided to go ahead and block it. We get it all cleared up, it goes through, we get the keys and it's off we go. A question from me to me: Will my legs be strong enough, especially my left one, to operate the clutch on the stick shift after a lifetime of automatic transmission work? Survey says: YES. No problem. Whew. Hurdle cleared.

We get our GPS set up {What OUR mister? I never use this GPS and have, patiently of course, waited all over Europe, Australia, New Zealand (you get the point) while Bob (and Brother-in-law Jerry in Italy) programs in the GPS, reprograms it as it doesn't seem right, and off we go. Only now, he also uses Google Maps, and/or Sygic along with the GPS. So at times, we have 2-3 voices telling us which way to turn. Yikes!!}and I iinput Bogstad Camping, and follow the purple line to get to that location. But on the way...

we need some special one-time-only camping gear, plus food to stock the refrigerator and pantry spaces. It's SHOPPING TIME!!! This is one of my favorite times for this type of trip - when we hit the stores on the first day. One of the first ones is to get better pillows, some more blankets {It did snow you know}baskets for organization of our stuff and more. Then as we are leaving that one, we see an everything store called Jula. I want to pronounce it Hula, as it might be in Brazil, but here it's Jula. Notice the 9-21 and (9-18). That's a code. Can you decode it? A hint is that they use the 24-hour clock. And the parenthetical numbers indicate Sunday. Now you have it: They are open from 9am to 9pm every day but Sunday, when they're open from 9 am to 6 pm. Very cool. You don't have to drive up near the store, get out, read the fine print painted on the window showing the days and times they are open. Radical. We buy a microwave oven to use during our six weeks here. We will figure out how to unload it just before we leave. Maybe give it to somebody who gives us some extra help or something. {Of course, after we leave the store we discover that we left the extra pillows behind. The good news is that we never brought them to the counter so didn't pay for them either. Jet lag still, I guess}

And while we're there, we get some shots of our rig. First inside, in the mid-kitchen area, looking back toward the bedroom. Can't tell much, huh? Then the dining area, showing the table and some of our stuff on it. Both driver and passenger seats rotate 180 degrees. I had seen this arrangement in RVs before, but I thought the driver's seat would be WAY too far from the table to actually sit in and eat, for example, in the rotated position. But, What Ho! cried Daniel - it ain't! It's perfect. The passenger seat, of course IS too far, but it rotates a few degrees and makes it easier for the driver to get in and out of his seat, going to the back of the motorhome. In summary, it's genius!

Above right, that's me, about to open one of the rear storage doors. And below, I have it open, but no photo for you, sorry.

We load up our stuff, and continue on the GPS road to the future.

But wait! There's more. We need groceries. We locate one of the top ten groceries I found listed in answer to googling "What are the top ten grocery stores in Norway". It's called a REMA 1000. Whatever I said was my favorite part is wrong. THIS is my favorite. The first grocery store in a foreign country. Here are some grocery shots. I like all the sauces, and the Missouri-sounding "TOMATER". {It's always fun to try to decipher the languages. These are obviously sauces but which kind? And what are "fish balls" or Fiskebollen as it says on the packages. Didn't buy those but did buy some nice looking salmon, shrimp and great vegetables and fruit. We have enough food to get started anyway and will learn as we go along.}

So helping Sharon find where to store all our purchased grocery items (by watching and waiting for me to be summoned), we head out again. And finally we arrive.

Ah, our first camp - BOGSTAD CAMPING, and it is very comforting to get here so easy. In past years, before the expanded features of the GPS, we would have to write down turns given over the phone, get lost several times, call again several times, and finally get there. BUT NOT THIS TIME.

There are many, many birds here in this camp, and they are all the same species. We finally nail them as Fieldfare. They serve exactly the same function, and in the same way, as the American Robin, with a different paint job. They hop the same, flock the same, but their call is radically different - a hacking double wacky call. Very distinctive, a little annoying..

We check in, sign up for three nights, pick our spot, run the supplied-with-the-motorhome 40-foot electrical cable, verify we have power, plug in all our electronics to top up the batteries, and relax. Tomorrow, we're taking the bus into Oslo for some planned sightseeing. {There is a bus stop right outside our camp, Bob picked this one based on our bird guide Simon's recommendation and that was one of the reasons. So we don't have to try to drive in Oslo which could be a nightmare in our large rig.} We have beef stew and salad for dinner. I give it a big old Missouri YUM.

We take a little walk to relax and exercise our muscles, checking out each new Fieldfare along the way. So this shot is about 11 pm. I go out past the trees into an open space and shoot off a couple of my LED-lighted rubberband-powered rocketcopters.

 

Ta ta, Guys,
Bob {and Sharon}


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