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

Day 8. Wednesday, May 17, 2017. Bergen North to Balestrand - Starting the Visually Stunning Fjord and Mountain Touring!

It's 5:45am, and today we plan to go to Balestrand. The first 60-70 percent of it will be regular road, then we will take one of Norway's 16 National Tourist Routes. I've worked out plans to see six of the 16 during out Norwegian adventure. The estimated time for this day's travel is four hours, but there is liable to be slow driving and photography, so that four may turn into six clock hours.

The GPS keeps trying to go the wrong road, avoiding the smaller National Tourist Route. Sharon suggests that we set the GPS target to Sande to begin with, then the gps will recognize that we want to go THAT way. It’s a national holiday, like our 4th of July. {This day, Constitution Day or Norway Day commemorates when Norway gained independence from Sweden. There was even a time when the King of Norway had his "headquarters" in Stockholm even though the Capitol of Norway was Kristiana (now Oslo). I've read that Norwegians really don't like it when we compare it to our July 4th, they want it to be recognized for itself.} All kids in grade schools dress up, often in Native costumes and walk in a parade. The grownups put on traditional wear and have parties and speeches and dinners. We hope to photograph some of this.

We are undecided. It's six am, and I've started the motorhome to warm it up as it's a bit cold. We argue the different ways to set the GPS and a man comes stomping out of his trailer and stops by Sharon's door and yells quietly, looking at me, "Man, it's six am. Turn off your MACHINE!!" Which I do. He turns and furiously goes back into his trailer. I think I can presume that today is a work day...{No, Bob, remember? It's Constitution Day, a holiday and he didn't want to be awakened at 6 AM on his holiday. Boy, he really did look and sound angry.}

We take our first ferry today. I'm guessing it will be sixty bucks. When the ticket guy, who's standing beside our motorhome estimating the length, adds it all up, it's $76, so I wasn't too far off, but under, as I usually am here in Norway. People told us that it's expensive, and those people are correct. But hey what's money for? For buying the experience, which is priceless. So that's a pretty good trade. Here's some ferry pics.

There are two ferries and they meet each other between stops, in the middle of the water. Here's our photo of the other ferry. Which is exactly like ours.

About 11:30 we pull over by a lake to have lunch. It's absolutely gorgeous. For lunch Sharon made me roast beef and jarlsburg swiss, she’s having ham cut off of the canned ham shank she bought. {Which turned out to not be a canned ham but a processed ham, kind of like Spam or Vienna Sausage, not the greatest taste. Oh, well, shopping is kind of an adventure.} Here's Sharon and her new sweater thing, with a great mirror lake shot behind her. What a beautiful day. {I kind of look Norwegian, don't I? I needed to dress up for the holiday}

Heading out again after our lunch break, we come upon an amazing V-cross-sectioned footbridge, going over a tumultuous series of waterfalls and rapids. {I think that concrete structure is a fish ladder to help the salmon get past this waterfall.}

The photo below looks like a flower, but it's two tiny butterflies chasing each other around. It's a warm day and they are out celebrating.

Rushing, rushing, rushing water. We have to yell to be heard. But then we're off again. We are at altitude here, and we come to a point where we can see a couple of things - first, there are a number of descending switchbacks ahead of us, which are remarkable, and second, there are two concrete triangles sticking up at angles such that you climb up to get to the highest point for great views of the valley.

It happens to be Constitution Day or National Day. It's a holiday for everybody. I like this man who brought his elderly father to this high point, and when I ask if I can take a photo, they heartily agree. Great stuff.

We finally hit the road again and down we go, down, down.

We keep at it and by 2:30, we're in camp at Sjoten Camping in Balestrand. There is a long stretch of grass down to the water. But nobody is manning the desk. There are neat cottages to rent and I like the design of the reception building also. We are the only ones here. So much for my superstitious worry that some of our desired campgrounds might be full.

I'm trying to lose this habit, but for now, it's comforting. I think it stems from a desire NOT to ever be disappointed. You know, assume the worst, so that even if it's a tiny bit better than the worst, I can say it turned out better than expected. Anyway, I'm ditching this habit, in favor of the philosophy of a 17-year old American skier named Mikayla Shiffrin (20 now, I reckon), who in the last winter olympics, when asked by a silly reporter how she would feel if she didn't win the gold medal in her giant slalom event (she was favored to win), letting America down, she replied, "Well, my trainer and I pretty much expect the best, and if it doesn't happen, WE JUST DEAL WITH IT." What a great attitude. I want that attitude. I'm going to pretend that I HAVE that attitude, and see what happens. Ain't life grand? We get chances to improve all along the way.

We had called them and talked earlier, and they said just to pick any spot, and they'd look us up later to collect. So that's what we do. They show up later, and we settle up with them, then settle in for the night.

Nigh Tall,
Bob and Sharon

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