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Many Adventures of a Nomadic Poet A young poet with Asperger's makes travel his passion, and away he goes...

The Great Northern Light Chase

NORWAY | Tuesday, 4 December 2018 | Views [163]

After today I'll think twice about flying with Norwegian on a future trip to Norway. Though my flight wasn't until 12:30 PM, I was on the road at 7:30 AM after thanking Nina and Zeljko for their hospitality. Hønefoss is only about a 55-minute drive from the airport but I allowed plenty of extra time in case I didn't get a lift, and I created a sign that said "airport" with a picture of a plane next to it. Within 10 minutes I was picked up by a taxi driver heading back to the airport. Sometimes you'll get lucky in that regard: if a taxi is heading back to the airport anyway there's a chance they'll pick you up but you must make it clear that you're hitchhiking. Taxi costs in Norway are among the highest in the world and if you call for one, you're charged from the point of dispatch! Since I had some time to burn before my flight I collected some geocaches, and then I found out my flight was delayed by two hours. Good grief! Norway is considered the world's best country to live in and is a very sophisticated, high-class country but Norwegian feels like it belongs in the dark ages. With not much I could do, I spotted blue sky for the first time in Norway and enjoyed the sun for the last time until at least next week. I landed in Tromsø at a little after 4 PM, and this marks the furthest north I've ever travelled as well as my first time north of the Arctic Circle. I was asked if I plan on going to Svalbard but I'd rather go there in summer. I didn't realize until after I left the airport that I left my favourite geocaching pen on the plane. Boo! However, I had no time for caching, I had to get to Gibostad on the island of Senja, more than two hours away. Cold enough that I needed to slip on my gloves and hat, I didn't get a lift out of the airport as two out of every three vehicles were taxis. My journey was far from over as I had to get through Tromsø in the dark and cold. A tunnel cuts across the island but pedestrians and bicycles aren't allowed to use it, so I had to walk a long way around until I put my thumb out in desperation and then was dropped on the eastern end of the bridge connecting the mainland on the island of Tromsøya. Searching for a CS host, I didn't want to stay in Tromsø but somewhere with little light pollution, so I found a host named Staale who lives in Gibostad. He agreed to pick me up in Buktamoen if I got there by 8 PM, but many seemingly good places to hitch from have little stopping room. "Flow" is what I thought of tonight as Elie, my perpetual traveller friend, and I were discussing the other night. Somehow, I got a lift and then I ended up at a petrol station in Nordkjosbotn. After being outside in the shivering cold, inside a petrol station with a hot dog, a hot coffee, and free wifi is a treat. Even better is that there were three Somali guys filling up on their way to Harstad, and they agreed to give me a lift to Buktameon. Flow worked really well for me tonight as Staale met me there. Many Norwegians own electric vehicles, and petrol costs weren't an issue as Staale drove his electric car to meet me. 

On the magical island of Senja, it was time for the great chase of the aurora borealis. Beforehand it was time to warm up with a cuppa and chat with Staale. He's not married and has no children, and he's been out of Europe only twice, to the US and to India. He and I discussed hikes on Senja but with about 20 hours of full darkness and a fair bit of snow, I won't be doing much hiking. My sleep patterns have been out of sync and tonight I was exhausted but I had to get out there and hope for the aurora. 

Viewing the Northern Lights requires patience, humour, a thermal full of coffee or hot chocolate, and fully charged camera batteries. In extreme cold, it's best to place unused batteries in your armpit to keen them warm (in your pocket, only one side is warmed). In temperatures teetering on the brink of zero and a light dust of snow, I put on my Antarctic parka and beanie, grabbed my camera, and hoped enough clouds would clear for the aurora to dance across the sky. I searched for and found a couple of geocaches but I unfortunately didn't spot the aurora on my first night north of the Arctic Circle. I practiced and took a fair few photos I would eventually end up deleting. There's something magical and surreal about being this far north during the polar night. Photo opportunities aren't all that great but it's surreal with no sun. 

No aurora tonight but tomorrow, the Great Northern Light Chase continues...


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