And where is Norway? I received a cell phone call at 4 a.m. on the Friday (or was it Saturday) that Marshall was hit by a disastrous storm (July 1), from a Marshall teen that often helps us with yard work. He wanted to know if he should come over and help clean up after the storm. I told him he would have to call my husband on the land phone because I was in Norway. There was a pause and then he asked, "Norway? Is that near Ghent?" Ya, you betcha.
While traveling through the county of Rogeland I did think it looked a lot like Rock County near Jasper. But for the most part Norway is spectacular with its mountains, fjords, small grazing fields, waterfalls and glaciers. We traveled through the countryside by bus, train and ferry.
In the rocky portion of Norway we counted 39 tunnels that we passed through in one day alone. This area is where the legendary trolls live. These creatures are usually quite large with short bodies but long arms and legs - and, of course, they have very long noses. Some of these creatures sport one leg shorter than the other - making it easier to walk around a mountain, but not good for walking up or down. If you are confronted or chased by a troll it is quite easy to get away by just outsmarting them, as they are simple-minded creatures.
While going through a long and dark tunnel we were warned to watch for a beautiful female troll who sported a cow tail. This troll only went after human males, whom she wanted to take away with her and marry. We were also told that she was very tricky and could easily seduce a man. So while going through this particular tunnel my two nieces and I blindfolded and bodily hung onto and protected my nephew-in-law. He was the "man" taking care of us on this trip and we sure did not want to lose him. Then unbeknown to me, this beautiful blond troll was spotted on a mountain cliff later in the day, where she was dancing and beckoning men to join her. If I would have seen her I would probably have used my knitting needles on her.
We visited Avaldsnes, which has been populated for more than 10,000 years but is best known as the residence of King Harald Fairhair. In 872 Harald Fairhair set up his main estate at Avaldsness making this Norway's first royal seat. The most prominent monument in this area is the medieval church built by King Hakon Hakonsson around 1250, which is named Saint Olav's Church. Next to the church is one of Norway's highest monoliths, 7.2 meters, which is leaning toward the church. The stone may even have been higher once: legend has it that the Day of Judgment will come when the stone touches the church wall. The priests of Avaldsnes are said to have hewn pieces off the top, in the dark of night, and thus save the world from Doom's Day. Those who built the church also showed respect for this legend and slanted the northern wall of the nave away from the stone. Today the gap between the doomsday stone and the church wall is 9.2 cm. It turns out that one of my relatives is the president of this church congregation.
Also in this area we visited the Norwegian Historical Museum. Inside was a life-like mannequin of King Harald the Fairhair, who was the first reigning king of Norway. The image was so life-like that we thought it might be a live mannequin. Several of us just stood in front of it for several minutes watching for it to blink. Finally one of the tour members reached over and touched the little finger - and the whole hand quivered.
My family genealogical history traces our roots back to King Harald the Fairhair down 17 generations. Over the years when I have mentioned this fact, that I am related to the first King of Norway, they reply "well, isn't everyone related to him?" History tells us that Harald wanted to marry a certain princess, but she refused to do so until Harold could unite Norway. At that time there were several kings reigning within the country. So Harold proceeded to do just that. Sometimes he would conquer a king and at other times he would just marry the king's daughter. Ten years later he indeed did unite the country (but also had 20 wives). The princess rewarded him by becoming his wife and first queen of Norway. Believe it or not, my lineage comes from that line.
(continued next week)