Posts for August, 2014


Glaciers (Sognfjell, Norway)

Journal entry for Friday 1st Aug, 2014 (day 382, miles 4807)

We decided that the two vehicles would travel separately today but that if possible we would meet up for the night. Romy and Wolfgang were on the road first and so would probably find a spot first. If so they would text us their GPS coordinates.

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Descent (Sogndal, Norway)

Journal entry for Saturday 2nd Aug, 2014 (day 383, miles 4868)

Our two groups parted ways this morning. Wolfgang, Romy and the children need to start south tomorrow whereas we (Nina and I) are headed towards a town called Flam in the hope of being able to find a base for exploring the area. So we said our goodbyes and then the VW van was off leaving Nina and I to slowly get ourselves organized for the days travel.

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No messy pants on the snow road (Flam, Norway)

Journal entry for Sunday 3rd Aug, 2014 (day 384, miles 4953)

First let me explain the title of todays post. Between the towns of Laerdal and Aurland there is a famous tunnel. It is the longest road tunnel in the world at 15.23 miles (24.51km) in length. The tunnel opened in 2000 and made obsolete the original road between these two town that traveled over the mountains reaching over 4000'. That original road still exists and is called locally the snow road (I don't under stand why it is called that as when it is snowing is the very last time one would want to use that road). But never the less it has become a tourist attraction in its own right. We read some weeks back in our LonelyPlanet guide book the following statement about driving the snow road "the drive was worth the messy pants" Giving us the hint that the road would be steep, narrow and probably a little scary. Well this morning we got to the town of Laerdal and it was time for us to try the Snow road.

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A train ride to Bergen (Bergen, Norway)

Journal entry for Tuesday 5th Aug, 2014 (day 3386, miles 4953)

We have skipped a day. We spent August 4th in the town of Flam generally having a break but also getting some arrangements organized for today and tomorrow (Aug 5th and 6th). We plan a one night excursion without the big yellow truck. In the process we will get to experience two of the areas scenic wonders (we hope).

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Fjords, the second scenic experience. (Flam, Norway)

Journal entry for Wednesday 6th Aug, 2014 (day 387, miles 4953)

The second leg of our two day scenic extravaganza was our return journey from Bergen by high speed catamaran ferry. Now of course the ferry boat was not the scenic bit only the transport. The scenic bit was the transit down Sognefjord and particularly the final leg into Flam harbor.

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Underground roundabouts (Nesflaten, Norway)

Journal entry for Thursday 7th Aug, 2014 (day 388, miles 5091)

During this trip we have been often quietly amused by the enthusiasm Europeans exhibit in their efforts to take some sun. We often see travelers pulled up at some little way side stop, with their deck chairs out, sitting faces up catching the summer sun. Mostly the men (regardless of age or physical condition) have their shirts off to maximize their solar dose. Well yesterday evening we saw what might be the ultimate example of solar craving. In the parking lot of the Flam train station we observed a well conditioned young man repacking his car wearing only the briefest of swim suits (or maybe undies - we did not ask).

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Pulpit rock (Netflaten, Norway)

Journal entry for Friday 8th Aug, 2014 (day 389, miles 5195)

Today our goal was the famous Pulpit Rock (Prekestolen) it took us a while, and more interesting roads and nice scenery to get there, but eventually we pulled into the parking lot and were confronted by hundreds of cars and motorhomes all packed together. We had read in our guide book that this was the most visited tourist attraction in Norway and the number of vehicles in the parking lot gave credence to that claim.

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Grass tops (Gvammen, Norway)

Journal entry for Saturday 9th Aug, 2014 (day 390, miles 5366)

Today was pretty much simply a travel day. We headed approximately east all day (approximately because road directions in this country are dictated by valleys not the destinations) passing through a number of winter skiing areas and areas with what looked like lots of holiday cottages. We got captivated by the grass roofs and the little raised log constructions - see the final picture. We would be interested if anyone could tell us the function of these little structures, we speculated that they are some form of storage.

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Sweden here we come (Byalven River, Sweden)

Journal entry for Sunday 10th Aug, 2014 (day 391, miles 5558)

We are now on a bit of a mission to get to Stockholm. There are a number of reasons for this not the least including that it seems like a good place to do some preparation for our upcoming trip to Africa (without the truck). So today we set off from our camping spot with the plan of getting to and crossing the "border". There was a noticeable change in scenery as we passed by Oslo (on the southern side). Up until then Norway had been characterized by very steep, mountainous, rocky terrain and consequently with roads that wound between the terrain. Not far east of Oslo we were suddenly in flatter more open country and by the time we got to the Swedish border the country was flat and either forested or farmed. What a difference.

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Water water everywhere (Stockholm, Sweden)

Journal entry for Monday 11th Aug, 2014 (day 392, miles 5774)

Had I known what the day was going to bring I may have stayed in bed, but I guess thats not how things work. This morning it was raining, a really wild storm with heavy driving rain, which was (as it turned out) the perfect weather to expose a leak in our trucks roof-top air conditioning system. Only a few miles down the road we noticed a wet patch on the ceiling of the truck's head liner. As we drove the wet patch expanded until almost the entire drivers side ceiling was wet. A few miles later and it was now raining inside the truck. Fortunately we found a convenient truck parking area and stopped. However the rain did not stop and neither did the the water leaking into the truck. Eventually I got out a tarp and covered the roof of the truck. That eventually worked but by then the entire head liner was soaked and we had containers catching water all over the inside of the truck cab.

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Stockholm (Stockholm, Sweden)

Journal entry for Saturday 16th Aug, 2014 (day 397, miles 5774)

As you can see from the dates we have spent quite a long time in Stockholm, 6 nights in fact, a long stay by our normal standards. It has proven to be a good base for some Africa prep, a bit of sight seeing and some vehicle work/repairs.

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Oops! (Granna, Sweden)

Journal entry for Sunday 17th Aug, 2014 (day 398, miles 5946)

This morning I discovered that during yesterdays removal of the hot water tank I committed a rather embarrassing oversight. After packing up and doing all the other "leaving-camp" chores this morning I decided that I would start the truck and warm up the engine while Nina went and paid the bill. So I was sitting in the cab letting the engine idle when suddenly the truck computer started making it's unmistakeable something is wrong noise, a high pitched siren; to be helpful the computer also displayed a sign on the instrument panel that indicated low coolant. Shutting down the engine I rushed to the side of the truck to check the valves that close off coolant flow to the (now removed) hot water tank only to discover that those valves were open and that coolant had been pumping into the space under the kitchen sink where the hot water tank resides. That commenced a good hour or so of soaking up red coolant with paper toweling and topping up the cooling system with water. What a stupid mistake, but fortunately with no significant consequences.

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DCU (Copenhagen, Denmark)

Journal entry for Monday 18th Aug, 2014 (day 399, miles 6162)

The final leg of the drive into Copenhagen was good, 4 lane motorway and weather that was the same as yesterday a mix of sun and heavy rain, but all in all an easy days driving.

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The half day tour and a new water tank (Copenhagen, Denmark)

Journal entry for Tuesday 19th Aug, 2014 (day 400, miles 6162)

Our original plan was that today would be a sightseeing day with the main question being how much of Copenhagen could we squeeze into a single day. But the mornings check of email changed our plans somewhat. Overnight GXV responded to yesterdays enquiry with some info about getting a new hot water tank from the US but also gave me a name and phone number of a Webasto dealer in Bremmen that might be able to source the tank. Well the Bremmen phone number did not answer but by using their name and Google I was able to get a list of Webasto dealers worldwide and what do you know there was one in Copenhagen and they did answer the phone. And more over they knew the product I needed and had one in stock. So our sightseeing would be cut a little short so that we could go pickup the tank.

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That water tank (Copenhagen, Denmark)

Journal entry for Wednesday 20th Aug, 2014 (day 401, miles 5774)

It would to accurate to say that I have long been nervous about the job of re-installing the hot water tank. That is one of the reasons I did not remove it to check it for leaks much sooner. I have been concerned that I would not be able to reconnect the engine coolant supply well enough to prevent leaks. That concern was based on the difficulty I foresaw of working in the tight confines under the kitchen sink, and because even the original installation had some very minor leaks - suggesting that it was difficult to make good connections.

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A weekend organizing (Nekargermund, Germany)

Journal entry for Sunday 24th Aug, 2014 (day 405, miles 6764)

We are in a transition period between traveling with our truck and our adventure in Africa so there is a lot of boring organizational stuff going on which I deem to be not of much interest but just to complete the picture I will give a very brief summary of recent days.

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Africa!! (Niarobi, Kenya)

Journal entry for Saturday 30th Aug, 2014 (day 411, miles 6764)

Yesterday, Friday, the big day finally arrived and we were off to Africa. This trip has been in the planning since last year in Iran and Nina and I are both quite excited. But unfortunately as often happens with exciting vacations they start with a long spell of waiting in airports and sitting squished up in modern planes. Our Africa vacation started the same way. Hours at Berlin Airport waiting for a delayed plane, a packed plan of Egyptian families and their spoiled sons. More waiting in Cairo, a reasonably comfortable flight to Nairobi and finally a 4:00am landing and the inevitable paper work. But never the less we were in bed at our hotel by 5:00am and got some welcome catchup sleep.

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Animals, first taste (Nairobi, Kenya)

Journal entry for Sunday 31st Aug, 2014 (day 412, miles 6764)

Today was an animal day. With a driver and car to take us around we started with a visit to an Elephant orphanage, the Daphne / David Sheldrick Elephant Santuary. They collect young elephants from the wild that are in danger for what ever reason and raise them. Each day between 11:00 and 12:00 they open up a feeding session to the pubic. It is a popular session and today there were maybe a couple of hundred people (including us) in attendance. The feed that looks like milk in large white bottles is a vegetable concoction developed over many years of experimentation.

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