All good things must come to an end…in some instances. I’m not a big believer in that adage, but when it comes to vacations it’s a no-brainer. A grand vaca must, at some point, come to a close. But our close in Norway was a great one!
One of Tormod’s brothers, Knut, and his family, were on a Caribbean cruise and in Florida most of the week we were in Norway, so Tormod wanted to get to spend a nice day or so with them once they arrived and before we headed back to Berlin (on Tuesday). Knut and Anita and their 3 fabulous children, Jon Kristian, Ruth and Lisa, came home Sunday and before all of the bags could be unpacked (and that would be quite the feat considering how much luggage they had) the 4 of us and the 3 kids hopped on cycles and rode to the harbor to catch some crabs! It was a splendid idea– a great way to welcome the kids home and have some fun while Anita and Knut could relax just a smidge without 7 children running around ;0
Now I’ve never been crab fishing, and I’m not much a fan of outdoor activities, but cycling and fishing are two outdoor activities I actually enjoy. I figured crab fishing would be great on 2 points. 1) if it was anything like fishing I would enjoy it and 2) you gotta try everything once.
Before we set out to crab fish we had to take care of prep matters, and that meant fashioning crab hunting poles and boxes, and stringing along for the bike ride dead fish bait. Eek!
But these kids handled it like pros! They brought out to the barn a frozen fish from the freezer and over to the chopping log. Jon Kristian wielded an ax and I was simply fascinated. What was going to happen? WHACK! It was like Gimley-action! Well, there went the fish head. It was lopped off, it bounced off the blade, and Tormod placed it in the bucket. Of course, who said they needed to give this a try? Me! Hey, I milked a cow, why not cut off a fish’s frozen head?
But see, I’m no pro, and when I hacked into it not much happened to the body in terms of splitting in half. Rather, little chunks of frozen fish flesh flew off in all directions. I’m sure on me, too. I tried again and again, and more flesh chunks flew. The kids laughed and laughed and said that now that fish was all over the barn it’d really smell delightful on a hot summer day. (Do they actually HAVE hot summer days in Norway? haha)
Nevertheless, we got that fish all hacked up, and after we fashioned some crab fishing poles out of metal wire (where you hook the fish gut onto the end as bait) and a piece of wood on one end (to make the pole float in the event we dropped the pole), and after we snagged the crab fishing box that had already been made for a previous crab fishing evening, we took to the bikes! And off we rode!
Tormod opted to take the two-man bike that he, Jon Kristian, and little Lisa all rode together. It took quite the man-power to make that bike go, but Tormod made it a fun football training activity for Jon Kristian (who I like to refer to as “mini Tormod” since they look so very much alike and have that signature orange hair and freckles that every 7th Norwegian child seems to have out of all of the blondes). The two of them would be pedaling and pedaling up the hill and then coming down Tormod instructed Jon Kristian to hop out and push and push the bike with Tormod in it, run back around Chinese Fire Drill-style, and hop back in, ready to pedal. “What are you DOING?” I inquired. “Football practice!” Tormod shouted. Jon Kristian looked over, all-smiles and a bit of sweat on the brow. “Football practice!” he repeated. Gotta love Norway…gotta love the Sletteboes. Always an adventure!
The bike jaunt wasn’t too exhausting. I find biking to be enjoyable as well as exercise-worthy. I’m sure if I took to mountainous hills and strapped pedals to my feet, put on a helmut, and had a nifty squirt water bottle strapped to a rod I’d be huffin’ and puffin’ and really working out, and looking like it, too, but I prefer the leisure slash workout type of bike riding. Some little hills made me really pedal, but nothing I couldn’t handle in non-sporty clothing.
The views were impeccable, though. That was all worth it! Whether or not we got to crab fish was irrelevant. The views of Norway by bike were stupendous. And it was just a little 15 minute or so trek to the harbor from the house– not a path that was mountainous and super scenic as many a biking Norwegian traverse. But it was amazing!
Along the way to the harbor we found some little ponies and of course I wanted to pet them, and the kids and Erin sounded in as well. “Yeah!” Jon Kristian took the bull by the horns and hopped over the fence and assessed the fencing situation. Turns out it was electrified so the ponies couldn’t break out, and probably so we couldn’t break in…easily. But Jon Kristian checked the lines, safely removed one so he could easily hop over the fence, and then, once on the other side, checked to see if there was an easy way to disassemble the rest of the lines temporarily so we could walk through the gate. But no such luck.
So off we went to the harbor and that’s where I learned how to crab fish! I loved it! First, Ruth showed us how to stick the fish chunks onto the ends of our poles, and then threw in to the box a few pieces as bait. I somehow finagled my way out of baiting the hooks. I didn’t really want to get THAT fish-y.
Then it was time to lower the box into the water! We literally fished right there in the harbor by the boats and against the rocks and harbor ledge as that’s where all the crabs hang out. And it’s convenient for us to not jump from here to there on sludgy and slippery rocks.
Tormod manned the crab box by lying chest-down on the harbor’s walkway, slowly dropping the baited box into the water. The trick was to wait patiently for just a couple minutes before the scent of the fish trickled into the water and loomed about, luring the first crabs to crawl on out and, eventually, into the box.
And then they came! First just little ones– ones that we wound’t bring home to eat– but they were fascinating to watch! I love sea life and have such an affinity for the treasures of the ocean. However, I like to steer clear of them when it comes to my body. Unless it’s a little waist-high dip in somewhat warm waters, or a beautiful snorkeling adventure in tropical Hawaiian waters or the like, count me out of the ocean. That’s for the whales and the sharks. But if I can spy on these fascinating sea creatures I’m all in, especially if it’s at a safe land-lubber distance, like the harbor!
Funny thing– once Tormod spotted a big mother of a crab coming towards the box he wanted to get even closer to the water, but that meant really leaning over the harbor edge. He asked Erin to sit on him and she was busting up laughing so much, sitting on his legs, she started to slip off. He was screaming and flailing and Erin was cracking up. In between my fits of laughter I finally plopped down on his legs because, well, I was really eager to snag that crab and get it for dinner! Honestly, if we had gotten up off his legs and let him go he would’ve been head-first in that water in a matter of a mili-second! No joke! Guess he was determined, too.
We did some crabbing ourselves with the poles we made. I was much more interested in the crab box as you could just watch 2, 3 then 4 crabs come right over and actually fight for territory. And pulling them up out of the water, once caught, was a lot easier in a box. The pole was a little difficult with lifting it out of the water, crab intact. But I actually did pull a baby crab out, and Christian and I enjoyed watching little crabs creep on out of their safe rocks and actually ON TO our fish chunks that were dangling off our poles. It was so much fun to watch them grab and grub up. So cute.
We actually brought two large crabs up and put them in the box. The general plan was that in the event we actually caught quite a few large ones we’d ride home with them to cook, but with just 2 decently-sized ones in the end we opted to fish for fun and send them back home.
Unfortunately, when we chunked the larger crab that we caught back into the water he landed on his back. He was already missing one claw and 2 or so legs, so flipping over was a challenge. And Erin and I were insistent on waiting to see if he flipped over or not. We just couldn’t fathom leaving the poor innocent sea creature to die, not this way. It was one thing to cook him for dinner, but to have him die after releasing him to his freedom just seemed so wrong.
We tried to flip him over with the aid of a rope in the water, but that failed. But after 20 minutes, literally, of just standing there and crossing our fingers that the little guy could make it, he finally flipped over! And he got to enjoy all the leftover fish chunks that we threw in for him.
Though we went home empty-handed, crab-wise, we didn’t really go home empty-handed. Ok, maybe empty handed, but not empty-minded or -hearted. Norway had filled our memory bank with many fabulous memories. Norway had filled our hearts with a lot of joy. Norway had filled our minds with lots of stories to share. And Norway had filled up our photo memory card with lots and lots of photos (about 2,000) to edit! Norway…was…fulfilling! In so many ways.
Norway gave us a grand chance to meet with two of our dear dear friends and roommates from our college days. And Norway did not just provide a picturesque backdrop for our adventures and vacation experiences and stories…Norway was, in itself, an experience.
Norway was an opportunity for us to not only see our dear friends and have a great summer vacation, but it gave us the chance to spend some time with Tormod’s delightful family and get to know a bit better some very kind and warm and welcoming people. Norway gave us the opportunity to meet some of Tormod’s close friends and be welcomed into the home and family as close friends.
Norway gave us fabulous memories and adventures like cow milking, croquette at 11pm in the bright winter night, a trip to the bottom of the ocean floor, and to the top of the world at Preikestolen, overlooking the Fjords. Norway gave us an amazing farm visit, a fun wedding, a ride in the most super cool taxi van I’ve ever seen (neon lighting inside the van– super cool!), delicious BBQ a few times over, a chance to catch up on some “quality” American TV with Erin (Jon and Kate Plus 8 (or, uh, I guess ohne Jon now), and more nature- and animal-exposure than I could have ever imagined possible for me in an lifetime, much less one week!
Norway gave us the coldest summer I’ve ever experienced, and the most frigid waters my toes have ever touched, just as it gave us the warmest people and welcomes, not to mention tasty afternoon baked goods from Tormod’s mom, delicious gummy candies, super fun crab fishing, and the unforgettable adventure schlepping through the mud and marshlands for some tasty coffee and a good game of cards during a visit to Tormod’s dad up in the family cabin!
Norway, Tussend Takk, Danke Schoen, many many thanks. It was so lovely to visit you and all your offered us. Christian and I had such a fun time and have over a thousand pictures, and now several blog posts, to remind us of the fabulous time we had.
So as my Blog says farewell to Norge and Hallo to Berlin, Christian and I send out very big thanks and hellos to everyone a part of our special Summer trip in Norway! Now it’s off to blog about the trip through Berlin with Erin and Tormod that immediately followed our Norwegian adventure!