Friday, September 29, 2006


Glaciers and Climate

Last evening I was watching a TV program about Global Heathing. I will not discuss reasons for this fact as I’m no expert. The only thing everybody agrees upon is the fact climate has changed several times through history of Tellus.

The consequences and results of global heathing can be demostating and the signs of it in artic areas are clear and very visible. The Glaciers are redusing their size in record speed. That’s why I post this short story with pictures from the largest glacier at the European Continent: Jostedalsbreen in Western Norway.

When Anna and I planned our trip to the Norwegian Fiords and Nortwest cities, we had to descide what we would like to see. And then find out wether it was possible or not to realise.
Deep fiords, steep mountains and glaciers are natural prohibitors. And a road closed or ferry out of service can cause many, many hours (or a whole day and night) detour.

We wanted to see and come close to the largest glacier by taking a road that opened only a couple of years ago. The road in facts tunnels under the glacier. When arriving from south, you’ll approching the glacier just before the tunnel entrance. There you’ll find a small parking lot, from where it’s a pathway to the green river and a tiny lake just beneath the Glacier. You have to be very careful, as the glacier can start ”calfing”. i.e. Large peaces of ice breaks out from the glacier and fell down the cliffs and into the water, which in turn creates intensive, local ”tsunamis”. Tourists have died from this nature phenomae, by simply behaving stupid. Staying to close to the water or trapped in narrow gorges.

The Glacierfront is higher up to day, than only 3 years ago. Below, Calfing glacier; can cause "tsunami's" , so be aware.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006


Bears: Real and copies

For many years, my wife Anna and I have taken a days visit to the west coast of the Hurum peninsula where there during our short summer are several art exhibitions. Everything from real art, paintings and sculptures to the more naïvistic type of art and handicraft and gifts. We can even go swimming if it’s not to cold in the fiord.

Usually we do not buy that much, but we have one tradition: We started collecting ”teddybears” some time last century . We buy one – and only one - each year. They are all the same shape, made by the same artist every year, but he colors and patterns differs. The challenge become more and more obvious:

The more bears we have, how do we cope with our minds: Anna what color will we bring home this year? Do you remember what we do have allready?

You can see for your self if our brains still are at work or …. Have the bears taken over the party well assisted by cats?

ooops don't fall down

Until now, I've only seen living bears in Zoo's and chained by "artists" along the road in Turkey.

So, it was a great surprise and a good memory to see 3 black bears hunting food in the litter containers in the middle of the night (Tahoma, lake Tahoe, CA). Only a couple of feet away. My blitz is not strong enough, so excuse the quality of the picture. Anyway it's real. And so good to see free bears. In Norway they shoot bears, the very few we have left. Shame.

The shadow: Is it me or bigfoot?

Friday, September 22, 2006

September 21

Day and Night

Thursday 9/21 day and night are equelly long. A summer has gone and fall and winter are coming along. What will it bring – darkness or hope? Will we have snow? Will there be frost? Plants to be covered. Boats to be packed and hidden away. But first of all: Enjoy the flowers who still waits for sun. And harvest the grapes and apples and beans. Dig up the potatoes and keep them cool and dry. The trees are blushing the leaves became yellow and red before they on ends at the soil. Nevertheless, life goes on.

Lit up the fire. Read a book. Have a good meal, invite your friends. Pack away your summer cloths. Clean up and lock the summerhouse. Bring out your sweeters and wintershoes. Where are the skis? I left them there. Look forward to the sky so clear. Be prepared for the christmas gifts and happy new year. Life is wonderful.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Long time, no seen

It was around noon the very last Sunday in July 2006. My wife Anna and I was sitting outside a Motel just South of Portland, OR.

I had called Shirley in the Morning. She said she happend to know where to find the Motel. ”I’ve been working in the Neighbourhood – we’ll be there in an hour or so. The girls are so eager to meet you. Can you propose what to do today?”

That’s why we were sitting outside. Reading Tourist Information: What to do in Portland, OR.

The Rose garden? The Chinese Garden? Colombia River Gorge with all the Waterfalls?

”This is what I want to do, Anna said, I’ll go to the Japanes Garden. It says here it’s one of the best in the World outside Japan”. I could not deny that. Besides, I’ve never been to a Japanese garden.

The Sky was heavy this Sunday. Might it be Rain? Or Shower? Or….?

Then came this car into the parkinglot. A woman went straight ahead toward me. Is it Shirley?

”Hi, she said, it’s so nice to see you after all this years (1995)”

”How are you”, I’m fine etc….

Then came the girls. A little shy. They had not seen me since they were 3 and 1 year. Could they remember me? No. Unless: They had seen pictures of me! Recently. And I haven’t changed that much in elleven years.

”Hi Tor and Anna, so nice to meet you”, said the two young ladies.

Could I recall them?

Kelly, yes, as she last time was 3. Only 11 years older and a little lady.

Brianna, no, she was 1 at that time. Now with tooth-regulation.

Both still blond. Nordic look. Wonder how long that will last?

After blah-blah, we came to the point:
Let’s go to the Japanese Garden.

Oh yes, that’s sounds interesting. Never been there before, Shirley admitted. Did she know how to get there? Yes, no problem (let’s forget all about parking).

It’s a free Coach from the Parking and up the Hill to the Entrance of The Japanese Garden.

The web-site starts:

The Japanese Garden is tucked into a cusp in Portland's West Hills, situated at about five hundred feet above sea level. It is a haven of tranquil beauty that has been proclaimed one of the most authentic Japanese gardens outside of Japan.

The tranquil beauty of the park I can verify. So can Anna, Brianna, Kelly and Shirley.

In this Park you don’t run, walk fast, speak loudly, bring food. You just relax and clean your Brain and Soul from day to day stress.

When we’re about to leave the Park, Brianna suddenly said: Thank you for choosing this Park for our Sunday walk. You see, I’ve choosen Japanese as my first foreign language at school.

What a surprise. Who has telepathic abilities. Anna or Brianna?

Seals in pebble sea

The Well

Late Sunday Lunch – Fish, Silver and Immigration history

After the Japanese Garden, it was time for a late lunch. We headed west out of Portland to a restaurant reknown for it’s good seafood. Shirley had been there before, and the girls as well.

You can see from the pictures we did have a jolly good time, with lots of jokes and fun.

We all had fish. Delikatesse. Tres bon. Herlig.

What the girls did not know:

The day before Anna and I left Silver Valley in Idaho. And in the valley they still have silver mines and lots of places where you can buy silver jewlry. We did – also for the girls. We thought about it: It might be risky to choose exactly the design and color each of the girls
would admire. After all they were no longer 1 and 3 years of age.

Shall we believe the photos, it looks like we
were close to hit the nail.

Then came the Question from Shirley: How are you related to Kelly and Brianna?

That goes back to the 1890’s. My grandma’s eldest brother went over from South West Norway to North Dakota and got his promised land. He after relatively short time realised he was not a farmer. So he went back to Norway again and convinced all his 7 brothers to come along with him and receive their promised land. The only hindrence was his mother, who would not let him return back to USA without bringing a wife. They at the end agreed upon he could bring his mothers maiden, who later became his wife. They in turn gave birth to three girls. The oldest, born 1899, was very good in keeping connections with family in the old world. I met her (Marie) first time in 1995, in Portland, OR. In 1996 she did visit Oslo, with her Grandson.

Complicated? Well, I’m second cousin to these girls grandpa (i.e. Their fathers father).


PS. Did you know that Norway is second to Irland when comes to percentage of the population that emigrated to USA? Well, thats a fact.

From Wikipedia you can read som interesting statistics
  1. North Dakota – 33% of all white people are of Norwegian heritage
  2. Minnesota – 20%
  3. South Dakota – 17%
  4. Montana – 12%
  5. Wisconsin – 10%
  6. Washington – 8%
  7. Iowa – 6%
  8. Alaska – 6%
  9. Oregon – 5%
  10. Wyoming – 5%

After some wonderful hours with family in Portland area, we went further west and at the end of the day we arrived at Seaside at the Pacific Coast. That’s another story.

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Monday, September 11, 2006

A Medieval Wedding in 2006

This Saturday in August 2006 turned out to be very special. We went from our rented Villa in St. Joe down South on I-94 in direction of Three Oaks. We were my wife Anna, my son Niklas, my daughter Ingelin and their Mother Solvi. Purpose: The Aabo Wedding.

In the USA it’s very easy to find a place when you only know the Interstate Exit. And even know how far you are to drive before leaving the Interstate. We entered at Exit 27 and had to leave at Exit 13. That gives 14 miles to drive.

We were strictly told not to arrive later than 3 pm, due to the fact we should pose for the ”Photograf-man”. After all, the wedding place was on a Farm, several miles away from the Interstate, and we had only been there once, driving one route to the Farm and another when we returned in the evening. After a confusing start from leaving the I-94, we remembered the name of the roads and avenues, and ended up at a Road Block. Luckely, we did see a sign poste on the Road Block: Aabo Wedding. Puh-ha, how could those guys manage to have the road blocked for their wedding? Well, we were obviously close to the wedding spot. As we saw no police on the blocked road, nor hidden behind trees or in the Corn-fields, old Viking instinct gave us courrage to pass the Road Block. And there we drove until we discovered a new sign: Carriages Chariots and Longboats and a painted Viking Ship.
No doubt, this was the parking spot, whatever one used as transportation means. No planes allowed, though.

In the sunny weather, we crossed the meadow and then suddenly, horses and people dressed medieaval. And we, with modern 2006 dresscode, sharply separate from the others. A strange feeling. I wondered if our car was not a car, but a Time Machine. At least it felt like it.

Lance dressed like Thor

The altar was situated at the lawn under a tree, with the soyabeans and the cornfields in the background.

The Groom was led to the altar, where he, the lucky youngster, was left behind with his best man and the Priest.

Suddenly, music - medieval you should notice - and the Bride riding her horse over flowercovered grass arrived the scene. Truely centeries ago we were. They both said Yes, Rings on, and they lived happily ever since.

Yes and Yes

Happy, Medieval dog

Where did they go for Honeymoon? To Oslo, Norway, and the Medieval Festival which takes place last weekend of August or first in September!
Happy, Medieval dog Every year. Come along and jump into your private Time Machin and go centries back, in Oslo.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Beach Bears in Michigan

St. Joseph, MI, July 18-22, 2006

Last year My Wife and I experienced something that seems to have been very popular in Europe: The Cow Parade. Last year we suddenly met some creative cows in the streets of Bratislava (Slovakia). Each cow differently decorated and painted by local artists. This year Oslo had a Cow Parade as well.

So, what could be more natural than finding Bears in Michigan? Artisticly decorated. And of no danger, of course. These Beach Bears, 33 in all, are in fact located in the centre of the small city of St. Joseph in South-West Michigan. USA.

We stumbled into the first Bear, near a parking area. And at first hand, we thought it was put there by a shop to have attention from people walking in the City. Then we discovered paths on the sidewalk and another Bear and another. All in different shapes and colors representing individual expressions. Then we realized: Here they have the Bear Parade instead of a Cow Parade.

You can go to the Home Page and read more about the Beach Bears. This outdoor art gallery lasts until October 22 this year.

St Joseph is not the worlds bully, so why are we here? First explanation: A Son and his wife living and working in the Area. Secondly: Beatiful Beaches and surroundings. And the Light House. The River. Good outdoor concerts down by the riverside. Beautiful houses and Gardens.

How to be a pedestrian in Berrien County and other parts of the USA.

We were warned by our Son: Don’t walk. Don’t cross the Streets. They are not used to Pedestrians. People walking are considered suspicious. You can do jogging, if dressed for it.

Well as European, we are used to walk. We do not drive for a 10-20 minutes walk. Old habit don’t easely go away. So, we walked to the Marked and crossed the Street. It was nearly our last roadcrossing. It looked like the drivers did not realize it was people in the Pedestrian Crossing. Scary.
It looks like you are safest as pedestrian in the Large Cities.

Luckely, in St Joe (thats what the locals call the city) center, Pedestrians have priority.

South Haven, MI.

The Beaches, shopping and Cufflinks

The Beaches are situated down the Bluff. White Sandy Beaches stretches from St. Joseph river mouth and southwards. We did go swimming in Lake Michigan – 20-21C (70F) which is our lower limit to find it agreable to swim. Unfortunable, the weather our last two days in the area was windy with rainshowers, thus we went shopping in St Joe and in South Haven some 30 minutes (by car!) to the North. South Haven is also a nice little city by the Michigan shores. Quite Busy in the Pedestrian area with it’s countless Gift and Art Shops. We also gott he impression the citizens of South Haven have a special focus on pets and pets treatment.

South Haven, MI

I focused on finding a shirt with holes for cufflinks. But in vain. In every shop they said: No one have asked for that in years. Remember this, if you plan to use cufflinks. Bring the shirt from home. I did not, so my cufflinks was brought back home unused.

Do you know of other places but Bratislava, Oslo and St. Joseph with Cow or Bear Parades? (Vancouver B.C. has Bears).

St. Joseph, MI

Photos by Anna (Canon ixus V) and TorAA (Canon PowerShot A620)

Friday, September 01, 2006

Chicago July 17-2006

When you have only one day in a large City like Chicago, it's hard to descide what to do and what to see. This Monday in July the Air Temperature was 96 F (36C) and it was very Humid. The papers said it was like 110F (44C) for Human beings. For us Norwegians, it was hard. And we went out with nothing to cover our heads from the Sun. First thing to do: Buy a Chicago Cap - I bought a Wrigley Field and Anna a red Chicago cap. During this circumstances Our primary choice were a River Cruise, arranged by Chicago Architecture Foundation. It starts at the Mercury Dock just across The Wrigley Building at the Chicago River. During the Cruise we learned about the The Great Chicago Fire (Oct 9, 1871) which turned downtown Chicago into ashes. I recommend you to visit the website and read the history. At least city developpers did learn from the fire and Chicago grew up with new architecture and the first signs of Skyscapers.

The sightseeing lasts for 90 minutes and 50 sites (or buildings) are described and the architecure explained. We were amazed by the guide's knowledge of each of the buildings and their respective architecs and the history behind why they choosed just that architectual expression. But pictures explaines more than thousand words.

The second place we did visit was the Millenium Park. A very modern park with a.o. Two Huge Water Towers.

What makes these watertowers so unique is the fact they display the faces of 1000 Chicago citizen - one at a time on each tower, and they are face to face. Water pouring down from the top.
In the heath, it was really

refreshing. But what happened suddenly? Out of the mouth a jet of water made us all wet. Guess the Children loved that! And they ran from the one watertower to the other in hope> of a refreshing free shower.

What more to see in the park. Lot's. In fact it was planned and build to cover old, dirty Railway tracks.

One more thing that I found creative and exciting:
The Kapoor Sculpture, a stainless beanlike sculpture that reflects the buildings, the sky and all people around and below it. See for yourself.After the sightseeing, walking in the park lakeshore to Michigan, a visit to navy Pier, where we happened to have a light dinner with wine, we were rather tired and went back to our hotel (Best Western River North) and fall soon asleep. Chicago is a fascinating city. But do not drive on the Interstate from O'Hare Airport and downtown during the Road Work season. Take the train. Anyway, we'll come back. Next edition: Bears in South-West Michigan, Berrien County