La Raison d’Être

I have a confession: when I left the US for Europe, Norway and Sweden were lumped together and only given a cursory spot on my list of places to visit. There was a chance, my manager told me, that I could support testing, and Bosch has a thriving winter testing facility in Sweden. “Norway is like Sweden,” I thought, “so it doesn’t really matter if I don’t go to one or the other. Besides, there’s plenty to do on the mainland.”

 

This changed about two weeks after I arrived in Germany, and the reason was an until-then unknown mountain called “Reinebringen.” The hike, I was told, was very steep but doable, and I agreed with the consensus that the view at the top would make it entirely worth it. I set out the morning after my Aurora Fiasco in search of the trailhead. Cue my thanks for staying in a hostel — one Swiss woman who had recently hiked it drew out a map for me.

 

The hike really… wasn’t a “hike.” I was expecting steep and rugged walking, not rugged crawling. There were a few places that I had to scramble up, and in other places I was actually using bush roots to pull myself up steep sections. I even had to tramp through some blueberry bushes, though I admit this was because I had wandered off the trail. Even so, the trail wasn’t quite as I imagined: it wasn’t as strenuous as I though, but the dropoffs were far more exposed than I had made them out to be in my mind. (I later saw a description in another trail description that the hike was only for experienced mountaineers — a bit of an exaggeration, but it was the only warning of its kind I had seen.) Even so, as promised, the view at the top was quite astounding. The mountain looks down at the fishing village of Reine, roughly 400 m straight down. I grabbed a few shots with dirty hands, signed the trail register, and headed back down after about 20 minutes at the ridge at the top. The water, even from this high up, was startlingly clear. I can’t see that the blue waters of Lake Michigan are quite this calming.

     

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La Raison d’Être

Hope and Expectation

Sleep had come naturally, though in fits, while I was aboard the M.S. Trollfjord. When I awoke, it was clear it had rained overnight.

Throughout my three days in Tromsø, it hadn’t rained while I was outside. It had sprinkled a little on my last day (the museum day), but not like this; most of the mountains on either side of the boat remained shrouded in fog and clouds during the rest of the trip.

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Hope and Expectation

North of Green

At the University of Illinois, “North of Green” refers to the College of Engineering — the biggest college that is, naturally, north of Green Street. I actually enjoyed my time in classes that were south of Green. It was nice to be able to exercise more than just formulae and mathematics and physics; it was relaxing to practice French, or have gymnastics Tuesdays and Thursdays for an entire semester. Football games and most flash frisbee mobs were south of Green.

Norway is not.

I got the urge to go to Norway with the coaxing of [mostly] two people. One has a blog that I’ll mention in a future post — probably tomorrow or Wednesday — and the other is generally a travel buff who encouraged me to enjoy travel and not focus only on the cost of the trip. When I figured out I could get to and around Norway for less than I had originally anticipated, I jumped on the chance. Weather was an unknown, total trip cost was an unknown, what exactly I would do — other than the reason I wanted to go in the first place — was an unknown. Whether I would be able to see the Northern Lights was an unknown. Sounded like a good engineering problem, then: lots of unknowns and just a few assumptions to go on.

I landed in Tromsø, the Gateway to the Arctic, sometime after 9:30 PM on a cold, drizzly Friday night. I had been on three planes already, none of them Boeing, so I took a picture of a Boeing plane. Midnight sun had ended nearly a month ago, but even this late it was still quite light out.

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North of Green