Friday, August 1, 2014

When days start bad.......


...... they might end up like that..........

But today was not such a day.
Well, it did start of pretty lousy. There was this one fly.... Just one fly..... in a sweltering hot sleepingroom. And that damn fly managed to do something unproportional to its size; wake up an entire family and get them out of bed before and just after sunrise! That little, pesky, buzzing..... critter kept on annoying everyone by landing on or around our faces until we were all awake and up. I just before 05:00, the rest shortly after. After another uncomfortably warm night we were all in a less then good mood. Despite that we tried to see the sunny side of things..... Quite literally too, actually.

We enjoyed the early morning freshness, opened every window and door we could find in an attempt to get the heat out of the house. And let's be honest, early summermornings can be quite enchanting!


For this day we had planned to go and see one of the ancient forests in the region, the Vällingsjö urskog. It is said to be untouched by human industrial activities, meaning no logging has been done there since the 30's and many of the trees are old, up to 300 years. I've never experienced such a forest, so I just wanted to go there. Initially I had planned going by myself and in hindsight I think I should've.
Since our hosts told us that Sweden's second highest waterfall, Västanåfallet, is situated on the way to Vällingsjö it was an obvious site to visit too. We set out early and arrived at the waterfalls just after 08:00 and the temperatures were already rising considerably. The site itself is quite nice and the surrounding area is reported to be likewise, but just the climb up, alongside the waterfall, left us all bathing in sweat. The fall itself should be quite impressive during the snowmelt or after heavy rains, but now it had died down to a trickle. I guess the drought and warmth caused that.





We kept the visit short, before moving on to Vällingsjö.
Arriving at the scene 2 major problems surfaced. Due to the heat only I was dressed for the occasion. The rest of the family attended in a much more summerly fashion, not the most suitable for the terrain really. The added bonus of the most forest ants per square foot I have ever seen did not make things more appealing and the aggression they showed against the expedition members in short pants and soft shoes meant a quick end to the ancientforestexpedition.....
On our way out I wanted to stop at one spot to take some pictures and to deal with my disappointment in solitude. That nearly cut the already short vacation even shorter! I was approaching the edge of a small lake to take a look and some pictures, when suddenly the ground gave way and my right leg disappeared into the ground. I was caught totally off balance and my fall was only broken by my groin hitting the surface, but after my right elbow had taken the biggest part of the blow...... sending that directly into my shoulder.... Yep, the one that already did give me quite some trouble.....

Me, directly after the incident
 The following image is the result of me taking a picture, focussing, pressing the releasebutton and sinking through the ground at the same time...
shot at the moment of impact!

what I intended
<----
what actually happenend
                          ---->





 

After this episode we tried to keep up our spirits and looked for alternatives to do or see, but the excessive heat in the car made short notice of any other plans...... Via a small detour we headed back to the cabin and enjoyed the rest of the day in a relaxed manor with books, some sewing or listening to some music. Which was just as well, since it was our last day and the day after meant a more than 4 hour drive home in this heat.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

What history can teach us.....

A visit to a museum like Murberget can show us. A place like this shows us how generations before us lived, how they managed without all those modern gadgets and massconsumption. True, many suffered, but many more made it and I do think that they were happier despite their hardships and maybe because of their simple hardworking lives than we are today with all our luxury, agendas, stress and cluttered up daily lives.
I do believe we have gone too far, that technology and the desire for luxury have become too dominant and that we need to turn back to a simpler and more honest life. Places like these can show us how, if we chose to listen to what they have to tell us....
The only thing we have to figure out is how to combine the best of those two worlds.

This museum has a great variety of subjects and exhibitions, ranging from 18th century style town square with wooden houses over a medieval style church replica to farm buildings of several eras.
They moved the old townhouse, a shop, an old tannery, a weaving mill and other buildings and unfortunately these buildings are not open to visitors nor are they operational.


Luckily for us others were, like the old school and there was even a "teacher" present and he was more than willing to show us how kids in the olden days were "educated". We even had the chance to try the old way of learning how to write. First with the fingers in sand, so we could get used to the letters, then with a slate and stylus and then with a dip pen and ink.









Another living exposition were 2 maidens, showing and telling how to make butter the old way and we got to try some freshly made butter too, which they just had done. We agreed that we had never tasted better tasting butter and it really is a simple procedure, which requires a bit of time and effort. For us the hunt for a butter churn is on now!

They regularly have days especially for kids so they can see and try hands on how certain tasks were done back in the days, but we missed one of those days. Still there was an opportunity for the young ones to try some cowmilking and one of the maidens showed how they got the milk from the cow to the churn...
There were also some exhibitions on the Sami, showing a woodsami settlement in summer and a birchbark kåta or tipi. This fitted in nicely with the things I am reading regarding this subject, making it more visual and alive.
 


 





Some random shots we made of buildings both inside and out....

This one strongly reminded us of that 1970's tv-serie "the little house on the prairie"....

An item I really liked. 
Looks like a suite made out of sealskin, but it was displayed quite high up, so I could not have a closer look.

There was also a display about hunting.... well, actually more on antique guns and for me that always means a sense of mixed feelings. Hunting and killing was and is a necessary part of life for humans, but guns also mean the willful killing of man and animal alike, more often than not for profit and gain instead of living and surviving. Yet, it was a great collection to look at...
This part also showed some stuffed animals (do not like those at all), a crossbow and hunting accessories. 

We spent a whole afternoon there and after a while the kids were just as enthusiastic as we were. It also helps if there are enthusiastic and knowledgeable volunteers, who can show and tell about it all. We learned a great deal, but there were 2 specific incidents I would like to tell a bit more about. These were a visit to a farmhouse completely in 40's style and the visit to the museumshop.
First the 40's house. As you can guess it was completely in style, even down to the magazines and pens. I love the style of the householditems (and motorised transport for that matter...), but what really caught me off guard was the scent in the house. It triggered memories of the time I lived with my grandparents and these were suddenly so strong I choked up and got tears in my eyes. I really needed to breath deep in order to catch myself again. It always amazes me how strong I can react to smell.....
The other one was related to the museumshop as I said. The kids wanted to have a little souvenir and so we went in. The shop itself was decorated in style of course and had 3 rooms; the shop itself, the hall and a guestroom. While the Mrs. and the kids were drooling around in the shop (they had oldstyle candy too!) I looked around in the guestroom and my eyes caught something I have been looking for for ages; a pair of felt and leather ankleboots, once used in the military for winterconditions. These are said to be warm and comfortable, but I have not been able to locate a decent pair. Yet here they were, brand new, standing on the floor as display items...  Oww... that hurt! And they were even my size...... I just had to try them on....!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Rocks, caves and heat!

As I said in my first holidaypost the Höga Kusten-area is rocky, hilly and right next to the sea. In order to give you a little impression I'd like to show you 2 trips we made during our stay there.
The first one is a "little" hike in an area called Smitingen. It is a natural park, containing some natural caves we wanted to go and have a look at. I wrote "little", because while the overall length is only 1,6km it took us 1,5 hours to get there and back! The terrain is quite challenging and the summerwarmth did the rest. You will notice the latter keeps coming back, since it was such a dominating factor.

First we walked toward a small inland lake. Being in the shade of the trees was a very welcome moment of respite. It was around 10:00AM, but the sun was already making its presence very much felt.


When we had passed this little lake we stepped away from the shade providing trees and onto the rocks, where the pines were getting more and more scarce as we approached the coast. The terrain was also becoming steeper and more barren.











One of the caves we were looking for was somewhere down there.

The waves had carved and polished the rocks smooth.

And there it was; the lökgrottan or onioncave. No idea where the name originates from....
And maybe I am twisted, but it reminded me of the mentioning of the Great Mother's birthcanal as in the Jean Auel's Earth's Children series....



After this little endevour we really had to cool down and what better way to do that than to take a dive into the sea right beside it. That was a very first for 4 out of 5 family members with only my wife having had a swim in the North Sea in Holland. To me however this did not look and feel as a sea at all. The water was very clear, there was no sign of any sort of shells, minimal life apart from some seaweed and small fish and a total lack of waves. More like a lake, but with a salty taste....

This daytrip reminded me that one needs to prepare before doing an activity like this. We did bring water, but it would've been better if we had brought more. Despite being out there for only an hour and a half or a bit longer, the 1 liter we brought was actually not enough to be comfortable. Luckily we had 3 more liters in the cooler in the car. We also seriously underestimated the terrain en the footwear most of us wore, was certainly not sufficient! Sandles and rockclimbing do not match!

Another trip was to the Skuleberget. This rockformation lies right beside the Skuleskogen national park and that was to be our destination after the Skuleberget.
took this one from wikipedia, because our picture sucked..
Once again we set out on the morning of a beautiful sunny day with not a cloud in sight. The cartrip to our destination would take about an hour, so we did not waste much time. On our way north we passed the Högakustenbron, a large suspensionbridge, which despite its size does not really give the impression of being out of place in the landscape....
When we reached our destination we first checked with the mountain's and park's informationcentre, the Naturum, which you can see in the first picture. We noticed large groups of hikers gathering there. I also noticed my son starting to limp... That did not promiss a good start on a tough hike, so I asked him what was wrong. He said it felt like he had a small wound on one of his toes and I told him to take of his shoes and socks. Turned out he had clipped his toenails incorrect and the sharp edge of one of them was pressing into the skin of the toe next to it. A small reminding lesson in personal care there. Luckily it was easily remedied. We gathered some information on both sites, before setting out to the first one. It was our intention of taking one of the paths to the top, but again the weather made us decide otherwise. It would have been murderous to go up there on foot. However we did prepare ourselves a bit better this time with proper footwear, plenty of water for this short trip and some food. If we had to we could always resupply at the cabin at the top.
As I said we did not go to the top on foot. We took the cable chair and I am glad we did. Enjoying the nice view, while still having energy at your destination can be a good thing at times...


 



After we had reached the top we noticed larger groups of people had been gathering, some fully loaded with large backpacks. There were also folks busy erecting tents (??). Turned out we had landed in the middle of the finish of the Höga Kusten-hike, a populair 3-day hike through the Skuleskogen and ending here. My daughter and I already fantasized on participating and the rest of the family could see themselves plodding along too. Now that would be an awesome experience, if only from a logistical point of view, since you are meant to carry everything you need with you.... Just the thought of that made me sweat.... Did I mention the heat? Out here on the bare rock the temperatures were already quite high even an hour before midday.
So there we were, 300 meters above sea level, a slight breeze and no sense of releave or cooling down what's however!!
We also knew there had to be a cave on this mountain too and since we did not want to have come over here and do nothing we took the marked trail to the cave "only" 400 meters away. I have to say those are some of the toughest 400 meters I ever did! But we pulled through, even our youngest one at age 8. I wore my M59-pants, the backpack with food, water and some other things and my boots and I must say that I was pleased with the wearingcomfort of them. Not really hot and roomy enough to climb and circulate air.
Enough talk, I'll let some images speak for themselves....




It was quite a tough and demanding decent. Some of the steeper parts had stairs or ladders, but a good deal of actual climbing was needed too. The sun's rays and warmth radiated from the surfaces and these were often to warm to touch for long... And then finally we reached the cave! Heaving and sweating we sought the cooling shelter of the cave. And right in front of it stood a fully grown maple... It gave the whole scene a bit of a surreal atmosphere.

The cave, seen from the inside out
source; Hogakusten.com
After this we had to go back to the top again. On our way down we had met a number of people going up, complete with their large hikingpacks and those encounters were brief, since we gave way to them and their struggle. Now that we were going up too and had to pause regularly, we had the opportunity to chat with a few of them and they as experienced hikers were having trouble themselves. Exhaustion quickly set it with everyone and frequent breathers and drinking stops were needed. I was amazed at the resilience of my little gang of kids. They kept going and hardly complained. The compliments they received from the others made me even more proud of them! It was the Mrs. who suffered the most, but we were unanimous in our opinion that it had been worth it.


After we had reached the top again we had a longer break, had lunch, refilled our waterbottles, had a last look over the land and took the cable seat back down. The initial plan of doing a small hike in the national park was abandoned. We would have been pushing ourselves to and possibly over the limits under the given conditions and we wanted it to remain fun and healthy.