Willing workers on organic farms is the old time practice of trading hard labor for room and board. The idea of WWOOFing is what made our decision to spend two months in Norway feasible. Without such a prospect we simply didn't have the funds to cope, especially at a daily average of 4 degrees celsius and raining. While bicycling our way across the Norwegian countryside we often remarked how fun this process would be, even though we knew hard work was just as much involved, if not more. Farm after farm looked like an ideal candidate for a postcard, the rolling grasslands stretching forth from a red and white barn or house with stone foundations. I was ready to work quietly with my hands. What's more is Katy and I were both eager to establish deep, lasting relationships with the locals, a thing largely absent from our travels thus far.
Nestled between two such imagined farms was Sneglebo. Less of a farm and more of a home and garden, Sneglebo reminded me of many of the homes in Portland's Alberta district, charming if not a little run down. Our hosts, Eva & Marten, with two other wwoofers, greeted us as we pulled up on our bikes. They were immediately imparting knowledge to us about the landscape and practices of their farm. Soon thereafter we were invited in to dinner. While Sneglebo was not what we expected or hoped for, we were prepared to make the best of it and excited to be in community.
Three days later, feeling both shameful and shaming, we announced our intentions of leaving. This decision was deliberated each of the previous nights prior to Katy and me turning in to bed. We really did not want to disappoint Eva and Marten. That said, a few disappointments of our own were that we were often left alone on the farm, but then again there was a promise that that would soon change, so it was acceptable. Food was also scarce and it didn't appear enough was on hand to feed us all, but I was willing to see how this too would turn out in time. It can be said without exaggeration, however, that the farm was infested with deer ticks inside and out, and when Eva announced she had been diagnosed with Lyme disease only two weeks prior we felt we had to call it. Despite having committed to a three week stay we cut our ties early. Sleeping with Lyme ticks just wasn't worth it.
Of course they were sad, more sad than disappointed, of our premature departure, but also understanding. Before we left Eva and Marten toured us about their farm to show us what native foods were edible and Eva made us a natural bug repellent to help keep midges from biting our backsides while cycling. And then we were gone, not knowing what or how we were going to manage the next three weeks, but nevertheless feeling a weight had been lifted.
Kanestraum to Meisingset: July 01, 2015
“‘Who has cleft a channel for the torrents of rain and a way for the thunderbolt,’ – Job 38:25
It was quite the rude awakening on the edge of the Halsafjorden this morning. Rain, heavy, fell hard while striking camp. 40k to Sneglebo. Currently in a diner cafe next to the ferry gate, eating carrot cake, apple cake, raisin sweet bread, and a lot of coffee.
‘And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the son of man comes, will he find faith on earth?’ – Luke 18:7-8
… Now back to another 1 am entry, some 12 hours later. After my last entry (above), the weather finally improved considerably. Everything improved, it seemed, except for the nagging biting flies. Dry and warm weather followed us all the way along our comparatively easy 45k ride down the 70 and E39 through Tingvoll, and into Meisingset. The neighboring mountains across the fjord are breathtaking, and the ones immediately near us are going to be good for hiking as well.
Eva and Martin are both friendly and knowledgeable, and I know we will learn a lot from them. Their home is cluttered, and a little messy, but Katy and I feel okay here otherwise. Eva just found out she’s infected with Lyme Disease. Martin broke his chainsaw, and he also cuts grass at cemeteries for work. Two other WWOOFers from France are here as well, Hugo and Lilly. We tried to catch a turkey.”
Sneglebo Seaweed: July 02, 2015
“‘Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God; for “all flesh is like grass, and all glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord remains forever.” And this word is the good news that was preached to you.’ – 1 Peter 1:22-25
Today I harvested some seaweed. That was quite the gross task in the smelly slimy residue on the edge of the sea. I didn’t do much else all day except walk the two corgi dogs with Katy. I felt a little worthless as a WWOOFer, and definitely am experiencing anxiety with the amount of clutter this place has and the lack of direction it seems to provide. By nightfall, however, I began working with Martin on building a large chicken coop.
Martin is an interesting and quiet sort of classical hippie, and he reminds me of my dad, or how I think of my dad when he was nearer my age. He also told me much of the forests are spruce that grow quite quickly, and that the trees are smaller for that reason, not because of how far north we are. I guess it makes sense that forestry would be big here.”
Proposing to Vacate: July 03, 2015
“Last night Katy found a tick crawling across our bedding, this after I had [just] killed one on the bathroom floor. Of course this prompted discussion about our feelings about what to do, and we decided leaving suites us best. There’s a part of me that finds this a little weak, but after further tick episodes today, and considering Eva just got Lyme Disease, we simply are not only uncomfortable with staying, but we are not safe, either.
Even so, today was a day that felt like we were invested in this home. From shadowing Hugo and Lily in the garden, and playing football with Nathaniel and the pups, to nearly completing the [chicken] coop with martin, it was a good day. We ended with a fantastic veggie greens soup and salad, and some delicious scones that were a hit. After we all watched a banned French film called, La Bella Verte, (The Beautiful Green), and then finished cleaning up the kitchen.
Our conversation with Eva and Martin was on such a high note that we didn’t bring up our departure plans for tomorrow. I hope it goes well, and we don’t offend. Anyway, the kitchen looks good.”
Detour – Retour: July 04, 2015
“Back at home friends and family are beginning their celebrations of Independence Day, although given the severe heat they’re experiencing I doubt many fireworks are being allowed. A very nice Dad with his family said, “Happy 4th!” to us while we were sipping coffee and reading at a farmer’s market in Tingvoll–we hadn’t considered the day’s significance until then–it was very nice of him indeed.
Everyone and everything has been so incredibly nice today! What favor!!!
Due to our delay to breakfast, and the scurrying of packing, Eva and Martin had guessed we were leaving by the time we told them. The entire family, plus Hugo and Lily, were waiting for us in their living room when we came down to break the news; it felt like going to mom and day with a confession. They were so, SO very gracious and understanding about it, and [even] walked us through their garden one more time, sharing their wealth of knowledge yet again. After saying goodbye we saw them twice more at the farmer’s market, as well as their friend Milli whom we’d met the night prior.
The sun later followed us out of Tingvoll all the way to camp at the floated boon bridge, despite a thick marine layer seen in this area during our ride along the 70. Additionally, the Bunnpris checker reopened her store, after having closed the gate, so we could get dinner and breakfast. Then our camp for the night practically found us! Wow!”
Møre og Romsdal: July 05, 2015
“The heat, of all things, is what awoke us today. The temperature is quite nice, and the sun is out with the exception of a few high clouds that seem to follow the fjord water. This morning’s breakfast was oatmeal, coconut, blueberries, dried apple, peanut butter, cinnamon, and cream–it was so good! We are now finishing our reading and devotions; earlier we listened to Wesley’s gospel music, and I suggested he is like to C.S. Lewis in that he is a sophisticated poet, and yet he prefers to present the gospel with such simplicity and clarity. We’ll be riding approximately 45 km to Molde today.
“And Hezekiah said to Isaiah, ‘what shall be the sign that the Lord will heal me, and that I shall go up to the house of the Lord on the third day?’ And Isaiah said, ‘This shall be the sign to you from the Lord, that the Lord will do the thing that he has promised: Shall the shadow go forward ten steps, or go back ten steps?’ And Hezekiah answered, ‘It is an easy thing for the shadow to lengthen ten steps. Rather let the shadow go back ten steps.’ And Isaiah the prophet called to the Lord, and He brought the shadow back ten steps, by which it had gone down on the steps of Ahaz.” – 2 Kings 20:8-11
It has been so sunny, all day! The view from molde over to the Sunnmøre Alps!!! [see journal entry below]
Two hours of riding took us nearly 50 km west, over a relatively easy pass and alongside a couple of fjords. The riding was overall easy and safe, although the latter portion of the E39 was a bit tight prior to a bike lane. To both of our great surprises we again ran into Thomas Prichard, even setup our tent next to his! So funny. His initial thought at seeing me was I was a cyclist or going to the mountain festival–quite a shock when I turned [around and he saw me face to face].”
Molde to Ålesund: July 06, 2015
“A little to our surprise the skies were without rain this morning. With about six to eight cups of coffee at our disposal, Tom helped me figure out the mystery of my [phone] package. We are getting closer, and the hunt continues.
About noon we parted ways, he to Åndalsnes, and we to Ålesund. His journey is coming to a close as he will then take a train home to Lillehammer. We hope to visit him on our way out through Oslo Gardermoen.
In our attempts to leave Molde we discovered there is no ferry all the way to Ålesund, so we took a bus instead [after the initial ferry ride]. Our driver looked and acted like Alex Honnold. The drive was on very narrow, wet roads, and we were thankful to not be cycling.
There’s but one campground here in Ålesund. It is a bit run down, and over priced in all but tent site fees, which are actually cheaper [than elsewhere]. Steak for dinner with Nøgne O. No internet. Dark clouds overhead. No rain.”