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13 July 2005

in place upon a stare, sustained


i'd set my alarm to go off at 0700; plenty of time to prepare for the arctic circle crossing, so i thought. i was awakened by the loud double tone which preceded a shipwide general announcement. looked at my watch: 0655. i listened intently to the announcement in norwegian (which preceded the english), trying desparately to pick out any semblance of the words 'arctic circle'; and _there they were_. before the english started, i'd already pulled the keys out of my pocket and was fumbling to unlock the pacsafe which contained my camera and gps. english: 'in a few minutes, we'll be crossing the arctic cirlce...' AH! no time. i managed to extract my camera, threw on my shoes, and ran down to deck five and outside to snap this picture of a globe on the small island of vikingen signifying the circle. we'd crossed at 0700:21, 18 minutes and 3 seconds before i'd predicted [blah!]. in my rush to get outside, i'd left my daypack, gps, sleeping bag, and other important articles lying on the couch in the lounge.

my mother keeps telling me that i should include myself in more of my pictures; here you go, mom. love you. [source: mulletsgalore.com]. really, contemplating the meaning of life with morning hair. i've decided this world trip is a dry run for global recon trip 2010. on that trip, i'll bring a trip photographer whose sole responsibility will be to capture pictures of me in interesting candid moments. i'll also seek endorsements from garmin, fujitsu, canon, palmone, kensington, and rayovac.

slight tech digression here: i'm using rayovac i-c3 nimh 2000mah aa batteries to power my camera (four batteries) and gps (two batteries). these batteries can be recharged in only fifteen minutes; rayovac makes both four and two battery chargers. the four battery charger has an external power source and bulky cable; i'm carrying the two battery charger which is lighter and much more compact. i could not have picked a better battery/charger system in the consumer price range. in addition to the six batteries always in use in my camera and gps, i'm carrying six spares which i charge whenever i have a free moment and see an open electrical outlet (in fact, i'm charging two batteries in one of the lounges on the ship as i type this). i also have two batteries in a portable razor; these are emergency spares (if you've seen the picture at the link above, you'll know that the razor isn't seeing much action these days). i've not run out of power once during my travels. amazing system. the global reconnaissance organization endorses the rayovac fifteen minute charger system. i recommend it to every traveler i meet who is still using the eight hour plus overnight chargers.

while i'm on the subject of technology, a quick note about my photos. my camera, a canon powershot a95, uses compact flash memory cards; i have a 512 mb card. i've only filled this card up twice. my laptop, which i'm always carrying on my back when i'm taking photos, accepts compact flash cards and it takes only minutes to transfer all of the images from the card to the laptop hard drive. on the two occasions when i've filled up the card while out in the field [what a great expression. makes me feel like a real photographer; while i was out in the field], i simply transferred all of the images to my laptop hard drive.

finally, a note about my camera and photography. i bought my camera shortly before departing on my trip and didn't get a chance to read through the entire manual. in addition to being very new to 'semi.serious' photography (which i define as the level above 'snapshots' where i deliberately look for interesting subjects and take time to properly frame the image), i may be missing a feature which would help me correct the two problems i've been seeing in my pictures. the first, when taking a picture of a typical landscape (ground/sky), i've noticed that many times the blue of the sky has turned to white in the pictures. i've typically been using the camera in 'auto' mode and it often fails in its guess regarding how much light to allow in. i've tried other camera modes, including 'manual' which allows the specification of shutter speed and f-stop (i believe), but haven't been very successful in eliminating this problem. the second, occasionally when taking pictures in darker settings, i'll notice that the corners of the image are darker, creating a circle effect around the middle of the image. again, these issues may exist due to my ignorance of all of the camera features or my lack of experience with semi.serious photography. in any regard, i feel that i'm ready to progress to the next level of photography. whether that means purchasing a new camera, simply studying the manual in greater detail, or taking a photography class, i'm ready. i feel like i should take time now to bring myself to that next level so that my photos in the next phases of this trip are of higher quality; i'm just not sure how to proceed. end of tech digression.

i felt at home on the boat. stops at ornes and a rainy shore leave from 1230 to 1500 at bodo. tracked by a submarine (look closely). onward to the lofoten wall, the string of islands so called because from a distance they give the appearance of an impenetrable wall. calling at stamsund and passing the ms vardik before svolvaer. the most remote. beautiful skies, afternoon to evening. i'd been tracking our progress on my gps as the ship carved its way north through the islands, the channel narrowing gradually. the tour manager had made an announcement an hour before, warning the passengers not to go to sleep early as the ship would be passing through the trollfjord at approximately 2230.

2225, the ship made an abrupt turn to port, much to my surprise as my gps indicated this was a dead end. the double tone and the announcement. we were about to enter the realm of the norwegian troll.

slowly and steadily, the nordlys sailed into the impossibly narrow fjord, the steep rock rising, the darkest green of the plants which seemed to scurry amongst the rocks during a glance, freezing in place upon a stare, sustained by the sparkling of magic, all the while the glowing eyes of the trolls watching intently from beneath their rocks. the water fleeing the cliffs running to the ocean was forced to slow here, crawling; the fog surrounded and enveloped us, wondering. a calm fell on us beholding this place; a silence, as if anything more than a whisper would stir the monsters. into the widest at the end, the ship steered around. and i didn't want it to end, i wanted to be placed on the shore and sleep amongst them.

i was standing right in the middle of the deck with my full attention to the magic, everyone's was; the magic of that place demanded it. and for that reason we were oblivious; five trolls had made it aboard the ms nordlys and were wandering freely on deck five where most of the passengers had gathered and were watching the walls of the mountains. i'll repeat; five norwegian hill trolls had been disturbed by our presence and had climbed silently aboard and were wandering _freely_, no doubt searching for a meal. only when the pack of trolls was upon me did i take notice and i literally jumped in fright upon looking at the horrific visage of the lead troll. quickly my horror faded to laughter as he put his hand on the shoulder of an old woman facing in the opposite direction, intently focused on the scenery. she turned slowly and looked directly at the troll, confused but not frightened. i'm not sure how she did it; a stronger soul. the stocky man wearing the mask old and stodgy and wrinkled and troll-like with a long white beard lead four children trollings around wearing makeup; as the pack walked on i was still laughing. the absolute best; i couldn't have imagined better, truly. still laughing as i watched the pack part the crowd, jumping during the parting. the most gigantic smile on my face; the ms nordlys withdrew from the trollfjord as slowly as it had entered. even more than the amazing geirnanger fjord scenery yesterday, i was affected by this place, the highest of highlights.

the slowness of the water [avi movie file; 1.19mb]

posted by paul on Wed 13 Jul 2005 at 00:00:00 est (-05:00)


Fjord. I always liked that word. I used to have Fjord Mustang you know.

Hey Paul, thanks for taking us all on this trip with you. Still miss you around here.

Gotta share a story with you:

Yesterday morning on the way to work one of my friends called as a truck with the bumper sticker "Visualize Whirled Peas" passed by. I commented on how funny it was.

This morning on the way to work, I was driving in, and the same truck drove by.

Every day, like the one before...

posted by Joey on Thu 28 Jul 2005 at 13:56:56 est (-05:00)

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