Day Thirty Five

Today is definitely the day – we are on target to cross the Arctic Circle, presently at 66° 33′ 39″.  Apparently it changes by 2° each 40,000 years due to tidal forces from the moon.  I’m guessing it’s a safe bet that it’s going to be stable for the next few days.

The best news as we, yet again, hit the E6, is that the fjords are back!  We are once again surrounded by mountains, forests and waters every shade of green and blue.  It’s a very welcome return; their beauty is completely addictive. Also back are the gorgeous wildflowers of all colours framing the waters and roads with splashes of pink, white and blue.

The  northern train, the Flamsbanen, has followed most of our way North.  It’s been through spectacular scenery and I’d highly recommended the journey to anyone who wanted to cut out the centre drive.  All scenery, none of the terrifying turns!

The Artic Circle is well marked – there’s a tourist stop, complete with boys stenciling a new sign on the roof, with all the expected souvenirs, but also a representation of all the animals one might find in the northern wilderness.  Sadly, they are all stuffed.

Polar bear, red fox, red squirrel, lynx, ermine, elk, wolverine, otter, bears, arctic fox and hare are all fixed in eternal still life.  I’d give a great deal to see even a fraction of the animals on display. Instead I settle for a small polar bear toy with a jaunty red scarf.  He doesn’t have a name yet, but it will come to me.  For now, he and Squiz are keeping a watchful eye on each other.

Outside of the tourist stop, the landscape is alien.  Snow capped mountains in distance, sandy, stone filled plateau all around.  Take out the mountains and it looks like a moonscape.

We climb a hill covered with little cairns to view one of several monuments, the most poignant of which is the one dedicated to the Yugoslav prisoners of war who died building the railway.

Crossing the Arctic Circle is a huge moment in our trip and I do my best to commemorate it with photos.

The debate of where we stop for the night begins and ends, badly, with tempers frayed as we play our version of Goldilocks and the three stops. This stop is too busy, that one’s too small, this one blocks the view. Chris wants the rocky lunarscape, I want national park for the chance to see in real life any of the creatures I saw in the shop.

In the end, neither of us gets their way.  We drive past the rocks and barren plains, through stunted silver birches, down the mountains into tall forests, past all the stunning rivers and rapids (everyone would agree to stop here, but it’s not possible)  and eventually into the town of Korgen by a tributary of one of the rivers.  The scenery along the way is stunning and I’m smarting at the lack of opportunity to explore it, Chris from not stopping two hours before, when he wanted to. It’s clear the long drives are taking their toll on us both.

I find nature good for what ails you and take myself off for a walk.  Tractor tracks through the woods lead me to a stream and a speckled water bird catching her insect dinner as they skim the surface.  The water and banks here are unlike anything I’ve seen before, both a deep ochre, more at home in central Australia than Norway.

One track leads to another, up hill and down dale, eventually circling to bring me back to where I started.  My speckled bird in the meantime has paddled down stream and caught up to me, still busy with her bugs. Flushing out a few birds, greenery and a chance find of wild mushrooms has stilled my mood but I still feel quite cheated and therefore hissy. Those who know me well know this mood is best avoided.

Hoping for more chance to explore tomorrow.

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