Barb’s sister Audrey Visits — Feb. 24-Mar. 3, 2018

Audrey came to Bonaire for a one-week visit recently.  We kept her busy with various social activities, but she still found time to just read and relax.  We were invited out to a sushi dinner at Ron and Nancy’s; one of the last engagements at their “old” home before moving into their “new” larger home just a few doors away.  The ladies visited with Pat on several occasions.  Don and Pam were back to the island for a very brief visit; we saw them at Burger Night at Zazu and also got together at La Crêperie on Saturday morning.  We took Audrey to Coco Beach to introduce her to Yhanni and her arepas.  Barb and Audrey snorkeled a number of times, including one trip to the dive site Thousand Steps with Pat.  On another occasion we all went to Klein where they snorkeled while I dove.   And then the pièce de résistance: Barb took Audrey out to the Donkey Shelter!  I suspect that will become one of the must-see experiences for visitors to Tusen Takk II.

Norwegian Friends Visit us in Bonaire — January 23-February 1, 2018

On January 23 friends Lars Helge and Tove Brunborg arrived from Norway to spend some time with us on Tusen Takk II.  They were knackered after a long day of travel, first to Amsterdam from Kristiansand and then on a direct flight to Bonaire, but they stayed up long enough to partake of a glass or two of welcoming Prosecco.

Next day we showed them a little of Kralendijk with a walk through some of the village.  Here they are at the waterfront near the cruiseship dock.

On the 25th we boarded our beloved “Wanda” pickup and toured the south side of the island, making our usual stops at the salt pier, the white and pink slave huts, the kite surfing beach and finally the Sorbonne Resort for lunch. Afterwards we took the side road up to the north side of Lac Bai in search of flamingos.

On the 26th we were all invited to join Mary Grace and Frank aboard Let it Be on a sailing trip down to Salt Pier, where we tied up to a dive buoy and then took their dinghy under the Pier for a snorkel. On the way back we sailed around Klein Bonaire. Thanks Mary Grace and Frank for a great afternoon!

On the 27th we counted parrots. We had been trained and assigned a territory on a previous night. We arose shortly after 4 AM in order to get to a roost just south of Rincon. The counting was from 6 AM to 8 AM. The protocol was to count a parrot only after it had risen up from the roost and flown away. Since they generally did not land again in the immediate area, double counting was largely avoided. Our first parrot left at about 6:25 AM and our last about 7:45 AM. We counted a whopping 74 parrots in all! Our results were turned in at the entrance to the Washington-Slagbai Park, where we learned that the preliminary total count was 10xx, considerably up from the 8xx count of the previous year. We were served a breakfast of sandwiches and fruit and then returned to our boats (plural because we also gave a ride to Mary Grace and Frank), stopping at Seru Largu (Papamiento translation: large hill) along the way.

On Sunday, January 28, we went into Kralendijk and had breakfast at La Crêperie.  (No photos: too busy eating).

On the 29th we took Tusen Takk II out to deep water in order to empty our holding tank. We took the opportunity to do a little motor cruising and circled Klein, discovering in the process Paul Allen’s Yacht Tatoosh anchored in deep sand west of Klein.

On the 30th we took the pickup round to Windsock Beach where we lounged in the sand under a small tree and some of us snorkeled. We also partook of sandwiches and adult beverages. For most of the visit we’ve had periods of precipitation, and this day was no exception. We were ultimately chased home by a gusty shower.

On Wednesday, January 31, Barb got up early to check out the special moon. Alas, the cloudy weather persisted. We took our pickup “Wanda” out to the donkey sanctuary and fed them carrots we had purchased on the way.  Afterwards we had lunch at the Windsock, the Beach Bar and Restaurant. That evening Mary Grace and Frank joined us at The Bistro for the famous burger night. Afterwards, we enjoyed drinks and conversation aboard Let It Be.

We have been trading visits with the Brunborgs for many years now. It is always fun to spend some time with these good friends from Norway. We are already discussing our next get-together.

Back in the Caribbean — Curacao, November 6-16, 2017

On Monday, November 6, we flew out of Atlanta and on to Curacao via Miami. Bill met us at the airport; he was already there getting his boat Dolce Vita ready for sale. The boat was in Bristol condition and passed the subsequent survey with flying colors. But to no avail. At the last minute the prospective buyer got cold feet. The would-be buyer had absolutely no complaint about the price or the boat or Bill’s conduct; he simply realized rather late in the game that he didn’t want to be a blue-water sailor.  Bill subsequently took the boat up to the BVIs where he left it under the care of a broker in Trellis Bay.

Our stay in Curacao was relatively brief and relatively busy, but we did have some pleasant outings with Bill before his departure, including some memorable orders of ribs at the nearby Rodeo Restaurant.

We took delivery of our newly upholstered settee cushions (manufactured during our summer absence).  We got help from Curacao Marine to install two new 8D batteries for the bow thruster.  We had the bottom painted with antifouling.  I cleaned off the huge propellor and rudder, opting to leave it bare this time as an experiment, given that Prop Speed is expensive and keeps peeling off, and given that the Sergeant Majors in Bonaire do a creditable job of keeping the hull and running gear remarkably clean.

We splashed on November 14 and departed for Bonaire on November 16.  Along the way, as we passed through calm seas, we caught a small Mahi-mahi.  Yummy!  (When we got the fish aboard we discovered that our container of “fish pacifier” had evaporated, so we pressed into service some under-utilized Sambvca. I think the fish died happy.)

Back to Georgia — Rincon, Savannah & Atlanta; October 27 – November 6, 2017


We flew from Phoenix AZ  into Atlanta, where we rented a car and drove to the Savannah area.  Our initial stay was in a motel near the Savannah airport, since that afforded relatively easy access to Rincon, where daughter Danielle and her daughter Abigail live.  We were joined for most of our socializing by Danielle’s older daughter Kristen, who lives south of Savannah but is pursuing an MBA at Georgia Southern University in Statesboro.  We all enjoyed several rousing games of Kings Cross at Danielle’s, and we all patronized a number of local restaurants.

On October 28 we all went to a local corn maze, where we saw dramatic evidence of the ill effects of too much rain for too much of the summer.


We subsequently moved to a motel within Savannah in order to be closer to our various doctors and to the Savannah College of Art & Design annual film festival.  We had scheduled our visit to correspond to the festival, but alas, we had waited too long to secure our tickets and consequently saw many fewer than we wished.

One that we DID see, however, we enjoyed immensely.  “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, stars Frances McDormand, in a role written just for her.  I understand it opened initially in just a few markets, so we were doubly pleased to be able to see it before its official opening.

On an off day, one without doctor appointments or movie tickets, we drove out to Tybee Island. Very quiet place, this time of year.

And we found time to visit the Miwa Sushi Restaurant in Pooler, not once, but twice during our stay.  We think it is the best Sushi restaurant in Savannah, and we always try to drop in at least once when we are in the Savannah area.

And while I am praising Savannah restaurants, I must mention  Joe’s Homemade Cafe, Catering & Bakery.  We discovered it last year, and had to go back.  It is a tiny place with only a few tables, but the staff is super friendly and the offerings — salads, sandwiches, panini, and desserts — are extraordinary.   By the way, as you pay at the register, ask “which one is Joe?”


On Friday,  November 3, we drove our rental back up to Atlanta in order to spend the weekend with daughter Nellie, her husband Michael, and their two sons Michael and Connor.  It was a very good visit.  On Nov. 4 we all took a nice long walk (20,000 steps on my Fitbit) along the nearby Beltway, ending up at Piedmont Park, where we entered the Botanical Gardens.  Lovely place.  I took a gazillion pictures, with special emphasis on the orchids and on the colorful pitcher plants.  Also a few of Venus fly traps.  With enormous misgivings I include only one of each here.

On Sunday, another nice walk, but perhaps only half as long.  They live in a very interesting part of Atlanta, very near the Carter Center.

Early Monday morning we took our rental car back to the Atlanta airport and hopped a plane to Curacao, via Miami.  But Curacao is another topic for another post.

More Time With Friends — Lake Powell & Grand Canyon North Rim; October 17-27, 2017

The gang of six got settled into the Wahweap RV & Campground on October 17, and took the pontoon boat out onto Lake Powell the next day.  The day was mostly sunny, but fairly cool.  Our destination was Rainbow Bridge.

From Wikipedia:

A natural arch, or natural bridge is a natural rock formation where an arch has formed with an opening underneath. Natural arches are formed from narrow fins composed of sandstone or limestone with steep, often vertical, cliff faces. The formations become narrower due to erosion over geologic time scales. The softer rock stratum erodes away creating rock shelters, or alcoves, on opposite sides of the formation beneath the relatively harder caprock, above it. The alcoves erode further into the formation eventually meeting underneath the harder caprock layer, thus creating an arch.  The caprock itself continues to erode after an arch has formed, which will ultimately lead to collapse. The Natural Arch and Bridge Society identifies a bridge as a subtype of arch that is primarily water-formed.  [Indeed.  Bill & Colleen report that a number of years ago they were able to boat all the way up to and directly under the bridge.  Today, because of receding lake depth, there is a significant hike from the Park wharf to the bridge.  CTS ]

Rainbow Bridge is often described as the world’s highest natural bridge. The span of Rainbow Bridge was reported in 1974 to be 275 feet, but a laser measurement in 2007 has resulted in a span of 234 feet. At the top it is 42 feet thick and 33 feet wide. The bridge, which is of cultural importance to a number of area Native American tribes, has been designated a Traditional Cultural Property by the National Park Service.

Rainbow Bridge is one of the most accessible of the large arches of the world. It can be reached by a three-hour boat ride on Lake Powell [which is what we did] followed by a mile-long walk [not really that long] from the National Park wharf in Bridge Canyon, or by hiking several days overland from a trailhead on the south side of Lake Powell (obtain a permit from the Navajo Nation in Window Rock, Arizona).

The weather not looking favorable on October 19, we took a day off from boating and instead drove up to the Northern Rim of Grand Canyon.  The weather wasn’t perfect for that either, since the mostly cloudy skies provided sub-optimal illumination for the colorful canyon sides.  But then, just as we were on our way back to our vehicle as the sun approached the horizon, the sun broke through for a few precious moments.  Joan and I quickly grabbed a few consolation shots.

On October 20 we returned to the Lake despite a rather grim forecast of high winds later in the day. We told ourselves that we weren’t going far and that we would be protected by the cliffs to the west, since we planned to go south to the Glen Canyon Dam. On our way, we lallygagged at the marina, spending time looking at the huge pontoon boats moored and docked there, and perusing the gift and nautical shop. When we arrived in the vicinity of the dam, we had a leisurely snack of cheese, crackers, grapes and margaritas. And then the wind hit. We soon discovered that the winds were coming from the direction in which we needed to travel in order to get back to our launch ramp, and that the wind-swept waves were hitting the front of the boat and splashing up onto we hapless passengers. To make matters worse, the wind began to threaten to rip the canvas bimini, and so we had to stop and disassemble that. When we reached the launch ramp, we realized that the wind and waves at that site were broadside, rendering impossible getting the boat back onto the trailer. So we retreated to another ramp that was more protected, moved the truck and trailer to our new ramp, and ultimately arrived safely back at our campground, albeit more than a little cold and wet.

While Barb stayed back to do some RV chores, the rest of us drove out to Horseshoe Bend, on the Colorado River about 4 miles southwest of Page. It is accessible via hiking a 1.5-mile round trip from U.S. Route 89, and can be viewed from the steep cliff above the river.  The distance from the overlook to the Colorado River below is about 1,000 feet.

On October 21 the brothers and their wives got up early and joined a guided visit to Antelope Canyon. Barb and I had been there the year before (see our blog coverage here), so Barb did some laundry while I worked on our overdue blogs. When they returned, Matt & Joan split off and headed northward toward Utah’s National Parks and the rest of us returned to Parks, where we spent a few days cleaning our RVs and getting ours ready to be tucked into an RV storage facility not far from Parks. Late in our preparations we realized that the Chevy Tracker could fit into our rented space as well if only it could be put in sideways in front of the RV. Bill had four stands on wheels, and so that is what we did. We had inches to spare.

With Friends Again — Parks & Lake Havasu, AZ; October 9-13, 2017

We returned from the Valley of Fire to Las Vegas, where we spent a few days preparing to be gone from Barb’s dad for another year.  Then we drove straight to the home of friends Bill and Colleen, some 20 miles west of Flagstaff, located in the beautiful boonies about 8 miles north of the one-horse town of Parks.  There we met Bill’s brother Matt and his wife Joan.  Matt was there to help Bill modify his garage to accomodate Bill & Colleen’s new-to-them Allegro 36 Bus.  When we arrived they had already pushed out an extension to accommodate the length of the bus, and they were just about to begin raising the height of the front door.  The brothers are both accomplished mechanics and builders, so my role was confined to fetching tools and giving an occasional hand when a little extra muscle was needed.

Bill’s friends Bruce & Jan Dodge had left their pontoon boat with Bill, and so after the door modification was brought to a point that it could be left for a while, the six of us proceeded down to Islander RV Resort, a ritzy campground at Lake Havasu, AZ.  When we called for a reservation, we were asked the year of manufacture of our RV.  When we responded with 2004, we were told that they only accept RVs that are less than 10 years old, but that we could request special permission if we sent pictures of the RV so that the manager could consider the request.  We sent a package of pictures of the exterior, and were granted admission.

Bill towed the pontoon boat behind their powerful diesel-powered RV, we towed our Chevy Tracker behind our much-less-powerful gas-powered Allegro, and Matt towed their fifth-wheel camper.  The RV office and the campsites were indeed several cuts above the average campground, and the attendants were likewise especially polished and professional.  A very nice place to spend some time.


From Wikipedia:

Lake Havasu is a large reservoir behind Parker Dam on the Colorado River, on the border between California and Arizona. Lake Havasu City sits on the lake’s eastern shore. The concrete arch dam was built by the United States Bureau of Reclamation between 1934 and 1938. The lake’s primary purpose is to store water for pumping into two aqueducts.

The London Bridge crosses a narrow channel that leads from Lake Havasu on the Colorado River to Thompson Bay (also on the river). It was bought for US $2.5 million from the City of London when the bridge was replaced in 1968. The bridge was disassembled, and the marked stones were shipped to Lake Havasu City and reassembled for another US $7 million. Since its inauguration on October 5, 1971, it has attracted thousands of visitors each year.

Lake Havasu City is an active destination for a wide range of people. During the spring months, the community is joined by university students during Spring Break. The city is also home to the International World Jet Ski Final Races, multiple professional fishing tournaments, custom boat regattas, the Western Winter Blast pyrotechnics convention, Havasu 95 Speedway, the Chilln-n-Swilln Beer Festival annual charity event, the Havasu Triathlon, the Havasu Half Marathon, and the Havasu Island Hot Air Balloon Fest & Fair.  In the winter months, the community is joined by snowbirds from colder regions of the country and Canada. 

We spent two lovely days on the Lake, and then returned to Parks to finish the modification of the garage. When we had done as much as we could do (lacking only an on-order additional panel needed for the longer door to fit the higher opening, the six of us took the pontoon boat (and our campers) up to Lake Powell. But that is the subject of the next post.

Camping on Our Own — Valley of Fire, October 1-7, 2017

At the recommendation of son Jeff, we left Las Vegas on October 1 and drove the approximately 55 miles northeast through the Mojave Desert to The Valley of Fire State Park. It is the oldest Nevada State Park and was dedicated in 1935.  It covers an area of approximately 35,000 acres and was named for the magnificent red sandstone formations that were formed from great shifting sand dunes during the age of the dinosaurs more than 150 million years ago (Mesozoic Era).  These brilliant sandstone formations can appear to be on fire when reflecting the sun’s rays.  Other important rock formations include limestone, shale, and conglomerates.

We had a marvelous time driving to the various named sites and then hiking about. The last day we went on a ranger-led hike to the Atlatl petroglyphs.  We had been there earlier in the week, but thought it might be interesting to get more information.   We were amazed at how many petroglyphs were in the immediate area that we had not noticed.

 Jeff came out and visited us for a few hours one afternoon in his new Jeep Wrangler.  

Next time you are in Vegas, take some time off from the glitter and gloss and spend some time in this beautiful patch of nature.

With Family & Friends — Las Vegas & Bismarck, Sept. 15-28, 2017

Bill & Colleen accompanied us to Las Vegas, where we both took spots in Sam’s Town KOA. Barb’s sisters Audrey and Mary were in town, as was Barb’s son Jeff. We all gathered to do some bowling in the extensive lanes at Sam’s Town Casino. The family celebrated the birthday of Cliff, father of Barb & Mary & Audrey. Jeff had asked Cliff what he wanted for his birthday, so when we gathered for cake, Jeff presented him with a (model) Mercedes. Later in the week we  RV-ers helped Audrey pack up a truck in preparation for her move to Kansas City.  We also partook of a number of Vegas’ attractions, but no significant gambling. We had some inexpensive meals at various casinos. We saw a movie. (Dunkirk) We spent some time walking the gaudy casinos on   the strip. We visited the Springs Preserve, much of which contained displays targeted towards youngsters, but that also contained an excellent Nevada State Museum. And we attended the Cirque du Soleil tribute to Michael Jackson. Pretty good tribute, but not really in the awesome tradition of the other Cirque du Soleil programs we have seen that featured such an intriguing combination of bizarre costumes and amazing physicality.

After Bill & Colleen returned to Parks, AZ, Barb and I focused on our parents. I flew to Bismarck to see Mom (and Sis Zona), and Barb focused on helping her father get more comfortable with his new iPhone and, more importantly, get hearing tests and then hearing aids. We both had good visits.

When I returned on Sept. 28, we caught our breath and then took our RV out to The Valley of Fire. But that will be the subject of our NEXT post.

South toward Las Vegas — September 4-14, 2017

We were joined in our trip from Hood River southward by Bill and Colleen, and later for a time by Tom and Leslie.

John Day Fossil Beds National Monument

We spent a number of days in the vicinity of the National Monument, which has three separate units, two of which we visited.  Our first was to Painted Hills, where besides enjoying the colorful hills we were surprised to encounter a couple that were carrying the bottom portion of a mannequin.

Painted Hills Unit

Sheep Rock Unit

The second unit was Sheep Rock, where we made a number of stops.  We visited the impressive  Thomas Condon Paleontology Center, visited the Cant Ranch complex, an interpretive site showing an early 20th-century livestock ranch, and took a number of hikes.

Kam Wah Chung

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:
The Kam Wah Chung & Co. Museum, also known as Kam Wah Chung Company Building, is a state park and a National Historic Landmark that preserves early Chinese culture in the city of John Day in Oregon. Built in the 1870s, possibly as a trading post, along a wagon road later known as The Dalles Military Road, it later became the center of the Chinese community in John Day as a store and apothecary run by Ing Hay (known also as “Doc Hay”) and Lung On, Chinese immigrants from Guangdong.

The building remained abandoned after Ing Hay died in 1952. He asked that the building be deeded to the city of John Day with the provision it be turned into a museum. His wish, and the ownership of the building, were forgotten until 1967. While surveying for a new park the city discovered its ownership of the building and began to restore it as it was in the 1940s.

Today the Kam Wah Chung & Co. Museum contains one of the most extensive collections of materials from the century-long influx of Chinese immigrants in the American West. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973 and designated a National Historic Landmark by the Secretary of the Interior in 2005.

Malheur National Wildlife Refuge

Malheur National Wildlife Refuge is a National Wildlife Refuge located roughly 30 miles (48 km) south of the city of Burns in Oregon’s Harney Basin. Administered by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, the refuge was created in 1908 by order of President Theodore Roosevelt to protect habitat for diverse waterfowl and migratory birds, and grew to encompass 187,757 acres of public lands. A popular site for birding, fishing, hunting and hiking, the refuge gained widespread attention in early 2016 after its headquarters complex was occupied by armed anti-government protesters.

Steens Mountain

Steens Mountain is in the southeastern part of Oregon, and is a large fault-block mountain. It stretches some 50 miles north to south, and rises from alongside the Alvord Desert at elevation of about 4,200 feet to a summit elevation of 9,733 feet. It is sometimes confused with a mountain range but is properly a single mountain.

Steens Mountain is the largest fault-block mountain in North America. Pressure under the Earth’s surface thrust the block upward approximately 20 million years ago, resulting in a steep eastern face with a more gentle slope on the western side of the mountain. During the Ice Age, glaciers carved several deep U-shaped gorges into the peak and created depressions where Lily, Fish, and Wildhorse lakes now stand.

Diamond Craters

Diamond Craters is a 27-square-mile volcanic field in SE Oregon, 40 miles southeast of the town of Burns. It consists of cinder cones, maars (explosion craters) and lava flows.  Diamond Craters were named after the Diamond Ranch.  In 1982, the area was designated an Outstanding Natural Area.

 California Trail Interpretive Center

Located off I-80 near Elko, Nevada, the California Trail Interpretive Center tells the story of the 250,000 people who, between 1841 and 1869, sold their belongings, packed wagons, and set out for California on a 2,000 mile trek; some seeking land, some gold, others seeking adventure, and some for unknown reasons.

This extensive and impressive center should not be missed.  We took no photos inside, but snapped a few of the external (but temporary) exhibit.

Nevada Northern Railway Museum

In Ely, Nevada, we found the Nevada Northern Railway Museum is a railroad museum operated by a historic foundation dedicated to the preservation of the Nevada Northern Railway.

Museum activities include restoration and operation of historic railroad equipment, steam-powered excursions throughout the year, winter photo shoots, locomotive rentals, hand car races, lectures, an annual railroad history symposium, changing exhibits, and other events and activities.

Ward Charcoal Ovens State Historic Park

The charcoal ovens are associated with the silver mining ghost town of Ward, Nevada, established in 1876. The charcoal ovens are two miles to the south of the townsite. Six large ovens remain in excellent repair, 30 feet high, 27 feet in diameter, with walls 2 feet thick at the base. The ovens were in operation from 1876 through 1879. They were built of quartz latite welded tuff by itinerant Italian masons who specialized in the ovens, who were known as carbonari. The charcoal ovens prepared charcoal from locally harvested timber for use in the smelters at Ward, using 30 to 60 bushels of charcoal per ton of ore, for 16,000 bushels a day. The Ward ovens are the best-preserved of their kind in Nevada. They were listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1971.

We arrived in Las Vegas on September 15. But this post is already too long, so we’ll talk about Las Vegas on our next post.

Norway — August 20-30, 2017

We flew from Amsterdam to Norway on August 20, and were met at the Kristiansand airport by Lars Helge and Tove in one car, and Rasmus and Kari in another, since we were four with luggage.   We all gathered for an official welcoming and dinner at the home of Rasmus and Kari, where we four Americans would stay during our time in Kristiansand.


The next day Rasmus took us all out for a sailing cruise through some of the waters around Kristiansand.  We stopped for a time at Bragdøya, an island in the archipelago in the Kristiansandsfjorden, just south of Kristiansand.  The island has been owned by the municipality of Kristiansand since 1969 when they bought it with a government grant as a public open space. It was purchased with the requirement that the islands would be a recreational space for the city. During the summer, the island is used as grazing land for sheep.

We saw the sheep, but we were especially interested in the works of Bragdøya Kystlag, a voluntary association which aims to preserve local maritime culture along the coast.The warehouse complex of the Bragdøya Coastal Heritage Centre contained many interesting examples of restoration and authentic reproduction using traditional tools and methods.

Ogge Gjesteheim

In anticipation of our visit, Lars Helge had arranged for a gathering of all of the Norwegian friends we have met in our visits to Norway.  We gathered some 38 km north of Kristiansand at the Ogge Gjesteheim, where we would spend the night in a set of yurts.

The Norwegian guests included Lars Helge & Tove Brunborg, Rasmus & Kari Morvik, Per & Ingunn Skretting, Mardon & Marie Meihack, Rune Teisrud & Bodil Fjelde, Terje With & Mika Andersen, and Harald Knudsen.

It was fun to see them all again.  We had some fantastic meals, competed in an improvised game of “toss the milk can”,  took a walk along a path that had posted questions, spent some time picking blueberries and lingonberries and a few cloud berries, and spent a lot of time just visiting.  And of course, we slept in the yurts!

In & Around Kristiansand

We went on several walks in the neighborhood.  One was along the scenic waterfront, where we had lunch and visited the sea food market.  We paused for photos at the Christiansholm Fortress. The fortress was finished in 1672 and formed a part of King Christian IV’s plan for defense of Kristiansand when the city was founded in 1641.   It was built on an islet, about 100 yards from shore. Today the fortress is connected to the mainland.

The only time the fortress has been in battle was against a British fleet force in 1807 during the Napoleonic Wars.  The fortress was decommissioned by royal decree during June 1872 as part of a major redevelopment of fortifications across the nation.

Today, Christiansholm is a tourist attraction by the Kristiansand Boardwalk and venue for a variety of cultural events and festivities. It is now owned by the municipality and is a site used principally for recreation and cultural events.

We also went to the nearby Kilden, the new (January 2012) performing arts centre for Southern Norway.  It  is used for concerts, theatre, opera, dance and entertainment.  The building itself is spectacular.

On another day we parked the cars and walked through woods to Ravnedalen, a nature park with scenic surroundings. In the park there is a grand outdoor stage for summer concerts.  We had lunch at the associated Café Generalen, known for its impressive hamburgers.  On the way back to the cars we took another route that took us to an overlook of Kristiansand.  Later that day we all visited Lars Helge’s and Tove’s son Erik Brunborg.

The Morviks were warm and gracious hosts that excelled at keeping us entertained and making us feel welcome, to say nothing about feeding us delicious meals.  On one occasion, Bill noticed a set of wooden blocks in their home.  An query revealed that they actually didn’t know what the blocks were for.  But Bill did.  And so we all competed in a contest to see who could remove a block without the structure collapsing — a task that became increasingly difficult as the structure became increasingly unstable.

Morvik Hytta

We spent the 26th & 27th at the Morvik’s hytta.  Our first walk was along a small river near their cabin, where we found blueberries.  On the second day, we parked the car and first visited a spectacular cliff and waterfall, and then took a much longer hike through the woods to the site of an old old cabin.  (A date carved into a door header reads “1660”.)  The cabin survives because the Government has paid the land owner to keep it sound.  Tools and bottles and old shoes can be seen inside.

We made a fire in a meadow near the old cabin and had a yummy lunch of pancakes and coffee.

Farewell Dinner

On our last day in Kristiansand we had dinner at the Brunborgs.  Tove served a dish that had us all swooning and asking for the recipe.  Now I just need to translate it into English.  And the dessert kept us coming back until it was all gone!




Next day we took a bus to Oslo, where we rented a car and spent a frantic two days absorbing as much of the sights as we could.

We visited the Fram Museum, which tells  the story of Norwegian polar exploration. It is located on the peninsula of Bygdøy,  an area with several other museums, including the Kon-Tiki Museum and the Norsk Folkemuseet (Norwegian Museum of Cultural History), as well as several others that we didn’t get to.

The Fram Museum is centered principally on the original exploration vessel Fram. The original interior of Fram is intact and visitors can go inside the ship to view it.  In May 2009 the museum also took over the exhibition of the Gjøa, the first ship to traverse the Northwest Passage. Roald Amundsen and a crew of six traversed the Northwest Passage aboard the Gjøa in a three-year journey which was finished in 1906.

The Kon-tiki Museum houses the Kon-Tiki, a raft of balsa wood of pre-Columbian model that Norwegian adventurer Thor Heyerdahl used to sail from Peru to Polynesia in 1947. Another boat in the museum is the Ra II, a vessel built of reeds according to Heyerdahl’s perception of an ancient Egyptian seagoing boat. Heyerdahl sailed the Ra II from North Africa to the Caribbean after a previous attempt with the reed boat Ra failed.

The Norsk Folkemuseet is dedicated to Folk art, Folk Dress, Sami culture and the viking culture. The outdoor museum contains 155 authentic old buildings from all parts of Norway, including a Stave Church.

On our way to Frogner Park, we stumbled upon the Oslo City Museum, which holds an interesting permanent exhibition about the people in Oslo and the history of the city.

We went to Frogner Park to see the well-known Vigeland installation, a permanent sculpture installation created by Gustav Vigeland between 1924 and 1943.  Although sometimes incorrectly referred to in English as the “Vigeland (Sculpture) Park,” the Vigeland installation is not a separate park, but the name of the sculptures within Frogner Park.  The sculpture park consists of 212 sculptures as well as larger structures such as bridges and fountains.

The Oslo Opera House is the home of The Norwegian National Opera and Ballet, and the national opera theatre in Norway.  The main auditorium seats 1,364 and two other performance spaces can seat 200 and 400.  The angled exterior surfaces of the building are covered with marble from Carrara, Italy and white granite.   Construction started in 2003 and was completed in 2007, ahead of schedule and 300 million NOK ( about US$52 million) under its budget of 4.4 billion NOK ( about US$760 million).  The roof of the building angles to ground level, creating a large plaza that invites pedestrians to walk up and enjoy the panoramic views of Oslo.

It had been a tremendous three weeks in Europe, made all the more special because of our companionable traveling mates, Bill and Colleen.  We flew back to the USA on August 31, arriving in Portland, OR to discover that the western United States was ablaze in wildfires.  But that is the subject of another blog post.