Sittin' on the Docks of Bodø
(From) Boston, September 1, 1:00PM

''The strangest feeling came over her. She felt like a doll that had suddenly been brought to life by the wave of a magic wand. Wasn't it extraordinary to be in the world right now, wandering around in a wonderful adventure!'' - Jostein Gaarder, in Sophie's World

My wonderful adventure has brought me to Edgerton Hall, a graduate residence at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. My two-week journey is finally at an end, although it seems like it was only yesterday I bid farewell to Espen, Stefan and Kjersti at the airport in Tromsø. Somewhere in there, I travelled through northern Europe, relaxed with my family, took part in some unbelievable escapades at my alma mater in Kingston, and drove a 26-foot U-Haul behemoth to Boston - almost without incident.

I'm going to try to do the impossible: squeeze the experiences of my trip down into a few pages worth of stories and pictures. I've got heaps of both.

It's not my intention to provide you with a travel guide; if you'd like one, I'd recommend Fodor's Scandinavia. Nor is it my intention to provide you with a play-by-play of my journey, because nobody wants to read that - least of all me! Hopefully, I can offer you a unique view of my crazy trip across two continents. Let's back up to Bodø and take it from there.

Back at the docks of Bodoe

On the Friday before I left Tromsø, it struck me how cool it would be to bring home five bottles of Mack's Håkkon Øl to share with my family. I realized just after I'd boarded the plane that I'd left them in my suitcase, tucked between my trenchcoat and the Norwegian Sweater I'd picked up for Caleigh (with much help and assistance from Mona). Shannon and Tamsin were right - the flight from Tromsø to Bodø took only thirty-five minutes (as opposed to the thirteen hour bus ride I last experienced), but it was the longest thirty-five minutes of my European trek. I was somehow spared: none of the bottles burst, and Caleigh's sweater is a white, Telemark pattern - not Mack Øl brown.

Boats and the unfinished city

I wrote at the end of Arctic Week that Bodø looked a bit like an ''unfinished city.'' On this second visit it still seemed unfinished, but now I understand why. On the 27th of May, 1940, the Germans launched a massive attack on the city. Less than three hours later, 420 of the 760 houses in Bodø were completely destroyed, and the rest were damaged severely. Miraculously, with 70% of the population already evacuated, only sixteen casualties were suffered during the attack.

The old and the new together at the docks

Bodø has grown from that disaster into a center of communications, education, and commerce for northern Norway. It's also now the northern end of the Norwegian train line - although, from what I understand, there are more than a few Tromsøvaeringe who would like their town to some day hold that title! Take a look at the combination of old and new vessels docked here.

The lighthouse

I had six hours to relax sitting by the docks of Bodø. I started thinking about my friends in Tromsø. Either Tromsøvaeringen have no tolerence for self-pity, or they simply choose never to show it. Kris's ''sister,'' her brother's ex-girlfriend, has no ''real'' family in the North American sense; but she does have a family - Kris, her parents, and her other siblings. Her brother's ex is welcome in their household as if she were a blood relative. How it's possible that someone like Kris finds the situation completely comfortable is, to some extent, beyond the North American comprehension. Moreover, the strength and courage of Kris's sister, raising a child in the face of this adversity, is beyond reproach.

Trondheim, eight hours by train to the south

One comfortable night-train ride later, I arrived in Trondheim, eight hours to the south. I only had a thirty-minute layover there before heading to Oslo to visit Paul and Nadia. For some reason, I instictively turned my camera towards the harbour to capture the above shot of Trondheim before I hopped back on the train.

There are two routes between Oslo and Trondheim. The ''Østerdalen'' route takes the rider within a two-hour bus ride of the ''AukrustSentret.'' Mr. Aukrust is the gentleman who wrote the books about Solan, Ludvig, Reodor, and the rest of the Flåklypa Grand Prix crew. Alas, it would have taken me a day out of my way, so I opted for the route that took me through Lillehammer and Dombås (pronounced dumb-ass). I was convinced I'd be able to find a Flåklypa Grand Prix poster in Oslo; unfortunately, I had no such luck. Another good reason to go back to Norway, I suppose!

As I traveled south, the trees became thicker and the forests more dense. There were proportionally more deciduous trees, and, as expected, an increasingly high tree line on the mountains. The landscape, which had become more subtle and flat near Trondheim, once again became mountainous, with fjords and water on my right. I hopped off the train at Oslo to meet the Maltese Vixen!

[Aside: Bloody North American keyboards! Where are my å, ø and æ keys when I need them?]

Click here to stop in Oslo