Friday, August 31, 2018

Cloud of Witnesses--ready to pre-order

“The stars and black sky closed over me. I was not Pip with the hope of great expectations, just an eighth grader looking for a lucky break.”

Book cover Cloud of Witnesses by Jane Hertenstein preorder now on sale September 2018Roland Tanner is looking for a benefactor, someone to rescue him from his family, the sorriest characters he’s ever met: a sister who works at the Curl Up and Dye salon, a brother who takes motors apart in their front yard, a grandmother who flashes him the evil eye from her ragged vinyl armchair, and a father who keeps him at arm’s length. Tested as gifted, Roland gets bused from his poor, rural home to the middle school in town, where his new classmates only see him as a hillbilly.
He is desperate to reach out beyond the power lines that crisscross the hills surrounding the family’s trailer in southeastern Ohio. Yet he’s afraid to step outside of himself to ask Patty to the dance, to stand up for his Muslim friend Hassan, to see that his father loves him. It’s only when he realizes he’s in charge of his destiny that Roland accepts the cloud of witnesses—the saints and sinners all around him—that his future is whatever he makes it.
Age range: 10-13
Grade level: 5-8
234 pages
Fall 2018 publication | $8.99
ISBN 978-1-7320276-2-6 print
ISBN 978-1-7320276-3-3 ebook

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Every Pigeon

Readers of this blog know that I often post about memories. I've blended the art of flash with memoir to come up with flash memoir.

Memoir, unless you've had a ridiculously exciting life--such as people who survive a bridge collapse--most of us lead lives of quiet desperation--even Thoreau's life was made up of unmemorable experiences. The ordinary, the mundane.

And what can be more ubiquitous or mundane than a pigeon. Here in the city we call them flying rats. There's nothing special about them--mainly because they're EVERYWHERE.

A pigeon exemplifies the very idea of writing about the ordinary. Consider, then, submitting flash to

Every Pigeon publishes works which magnify the mundane.
Works that find significance in everyday routine, light and layered color in the grey coat of every pigeon.
We publish twice a year in June and December.
We favor work that puts its face right up to the glass.
Let us see the details of everyday life, the buttons and acorns found on a Tuesday afternoon, the stain on your shirt at the last staff meeting.
What is underneath? What is the sum of all these small things? Only you can show us.

Monday, August 27, 2018

Places to Submit Flash

Check out these publications if interested in submitting FLASH:

New Flash Fiction 1000 words or less


FlashBack Fiction is an online journal dedicated to historical flash fiction, prose poetry and hybrid work. 500 words or less

Friday, August 24, 2018

Cloud of Witnesses--ready to pre-order!

Book cover Cloud of Witnesses by Jane Hertenstein preorder now on sale September 2018

“The stars and black sky closed over me. I was not Pip with the hope of great expectations, just an eighth grader looking for a lucky break.”

Roland Tanner is looking for a benefactor, someone to rescue him from his family, the sorriest characters he’s ever met: a sister who works at the Curl Up and Dye salon, a brother who takes motors apart in their front yard, a grandmother who flashes him the evil eye from her ragged vinyl armchair, and a father who keeps him at arm’s length. Tested as gifted, Roland gets bused from his poor, rural home to the middle school in town, where his new classmates only see him as a hillbilly.
He is desperate to reach out beyond the power lines that crisscross the hills surrounding the family’s trailer in southeastern Ohio. Yet he’s afraid to step outside of himself to ask Patty to the dance, to stand up for his Muslim friend Hassan, to see that his father loves him. It’s only when he realizes he’s in charge of his destiny that Roland accepts the cloud of witnesses—the saints and sinners all around him—that his future is whatever he makes it.
Age range: 10-13
Grade level: 5-8
234 pages
Fall 2018 publication | $8.99
ISBN 978-1-7320276-2-6 print
ISBN 978-1-7320276-3-3 ebook

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Rejected Manuscripts

I recently had new work published at a small online journal called Rejected Manuscripts.

I'd only just started circulating Examples of Synchronicity, and while at Calvin College and the Festival of Faith & Writing I received a rejection. This in and of itself is no big deal. In fact I barely ever emotionally register a rejection. Mainly because I'm ALWAYS sending things out. I know the odds are I'll eventually get an acceptance.

But it was WHY it was rejected that baffled me. The editor said dismissively--this seems like a bunch of random coincidences. And, I thought--well? yes--that was the point. It's sort of the meaning of synchronicity and the basis of the piece, a series of small flashes that detailed examples of synchronicity.

I sort of thought that was evident, self-explanatory.

Image result for joy williams, god
I sat in on a session with the famous short story writer Joy Williams, who has her own book out containing what I might describe as flash essays/fiction/synchronicity/random musings: Ninety-Nine Stories of God.

Afterwards I walked with her to the pedestrian bridge over the highway and told her about this rejection. She laughed. Yeah, I thought so too!

It was funny.

Later I submitted to Rejected Manuscripts and it was accepted. Just goes to show.

go here to read:

Monday, August 20, 2018

New Work Accepted

Hi! everyone

what a summer!! can you believe it's almost over??

I've had a few acceptances this summer--one of which is a short story called Museum of the Mall--forthcoming from Colere, a literary mag out of Coe University

Colere is a literary journal that publishes works of fiction, essays, poetry, and artwork dealing with culture and cross-cultural experience. 

 Image result for colere

Friday, August 17, 2018

Oyuvsbo, mountain hut to Lystbotn ferry

Tuesday July 3, 2018, 56 km (35 miles) - Total so far: 1,918 km (1,192 miles)

My alarm went off at 5 this morning. I was the only one sleeping in the hut so didn't worry about waking others.

Last night a man and his little girl showed up. I asked if they were staying. No, just getting food. (The hut has a pantry where people can grab stuff and leave $$) We talked a bit about my trip. I told him I was hoping to make it to Sandnes. I'm from Sandnes, he said.

He suggested I take the road to Lystbotn and then the ferry. I said I'd heard the switchbacks were crazy. (28 total) Not too steep, he answered, and I'd save a heap of KM. I would definitely make it to Sandnes. On the map the ferry goes through the fjord past Pulpit Rock. It sounded beautiful and a perfect way to end the trip.

He mentioned there was some ups. But he seemed certain I could handle it.

It took me 1.5 hours to relay my stuff out. Much better than the trip in, and cooler. It was 7:15 by the time I made it to the parking lot.

Some ups and downs, then a BIG down to a gas station in Sulakard, where I bought my standard sausage roll. And where I encountered the mocking lady.

Just before turning into the station I forgot to downshift and sort of Fred Flintstoned in. There was a fullly-loaded-and I mean fullly-loaded, cyclist. Like on the Harley of bikes, a real hog. We greeted one another with the standard stuff. I asked if she was going up or down, and I answered I'd just come from the top and planned to go to Lystbotn. She looked at me-not if you're already walking up this hill.

Wow, I thought. That's harsh, and we'd only just met.

Her husband pulled up, fullly-loaded. He asked where I'd started. I said, Amsterdam. Then she interjected, A half year trip.

Really? No, I answered, I started 19 days ago.

Then she kept challenging me. Saying stuff like the way to Lystbotn is super hard. It would take forever. I asked how often the ferry ran. Twice a day. So I said definitely after lunch. Since it was 9 a.m. I was thinking I could definitely make the second one. She seemed doubtful. She left me with little confidence. Maybe I should take the longer road and just plan on finishing my trip tomorrow.

..But, wait! Who is she to steal my moment, make me doubt myself. I asked the fully-loaded how they got to the top. They said, We took a shuttle. They were in for a reality check. We parted--me for Lystbotn.

And, that my friend, has made all the difference.

The road is called Lysevegen. Another narrow, windy, climb, perhaps even more dramatic than the Suleskarvegen. Coming from Sulakard I found that it starts slowly. Not gut-wrenching. You climb high and higher by degrees and lakes. You eventually leave pines, there's these scraggly trees, then you are above tree level. Around you is only rock. I'd climb, turn a corner, below a lake...keep climbing, turn a corner, another lake.

The weather has been so dry that many of the lakes and definitely the waterfalls were reduced. I was riding by small pockets of snow--the source of where all the lakes came from. The road seemed like a motorcyclist destination, many passed me. I kept wondering where the top was. The road was too narrow at places for passing. If, say, I was in a low gear and struggling to get up and a camper was either passing or coming down to pass, I'd slow, stop, and then have to get off and push it up. The edge of the Lysevegen was built up asphalt, what I think in the U.S. is called soft shoulders. Very little berm. So if my tire slipped off the edge I couldn't quickly yank it back onto the road. In fact, I'd fall down the ravine. After awhile I chose to ride close to a guardrail (if there was one) no matter if it was on the left or right.

There were very few chances to take breaks. No where to lean the bike, or safe. At 12 noon I was by a hydro station. An actual building, the size of a shed, and parked the bike and had a tea and looked out. The world down below me. About 30 minutes later, I was getting hungry. I can tell because I made a shifting error and had to walk the bike. This was constant, walking, getting back on, then hopping off again to walk it. So I came to a shady spot and pulled out food. Cheese and crackers.
I continued on up. There was a holiday atmosphere the "closer" I got to the top. Motorcyclists would beep-beep at me. People were giving me the thumbs up out their windows. A German couple on motorcycles ahead of me stopped. Photo time, he said. He insisted I take their picture in the snow and he snapped one of me. At a kind of plateau there were many rock cairns, man's monument to man.
So at one point I saw in the distance a fjord, and suddenly in the distance down below, so far that it looked hazy, was the bottom.

This is going to be crazy.

I just prayed. Hung on. Made frequent brake cool down stops. It was the kind of thing that if you thought about it, you'd lose your nerve. I got to Kjerag, which I'm still not sure what it is, but a big parking lot. And a rock formation, someone said. A rock between two rocks. I'll have to research this later. I had 7.5 KM to go to the bottom.

Down. Down. Down. Until I came to where a guy was holding up traffic. I asked a motorcyclist what was happening. She said, We wait to go through tunnel.

As if I hadn't been scared enough. The tunnel was 1.5 KM and very poorly lit. I stopped before entering to take off my sunglasses. It didn't help. Also from what I could tell, the attendant didn't have a walkie talkie. So when would the attendant at the other end know a cyclist was coming through last and when to release traffic on the other side???

The tunnel wasn't like a real tunnel, like the Lincoln tunnel going into New York city. It was more like a cave. You could see rough stone walls and ceiling. There was a curve and so NO light at the end of the tunnel. And it was DOWNHILL. I kept up a constant audible honking noise. I saw a twinkle of light. Walkers!! I shouted I'm freaked out and they shouted back, so are we!

Finally I emerged. Put back on sunglasses, and continued down. By the time I reached the ferry my legs were shaking. My whole body felt rubbery. It was 2:30. The ferry came @3:30. Time for a sandwich.

At 3:30 I found that the ferry was booked, so had to wait for 6 pm ferry. The trip through the fjord to Lauvik would take 2.5 hours. My friend Camilla in Sandnes volunteered to pick me up. Yes! I was glad becaue getting off the ferry, even though still light out, at 8:30 and have to navigate to Sandnes I knew would take me hours. I'd actually be done riding.

Then it hit me: I'd done it. This crazy, solo woman bike ride. Thank God.

I will likely have a few follow up thoughts, corrections, and add more photos once home. But for now, the journey ends.
UP 1,020 m · DOWN 1,806 m

almost at the top of Lysevegen (notice the snow)
meeting French cyclists on the way up

at the top
on the way down

at the ferry


Kjerag from ferry
ferry ride

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Rest day at mountain hut, Oyuvsbo

Monday July 2, 2018

For exactly 24 hours I have not been on a bike. Today I rested. It felt a little weird.My skin no longer burns from the sun, it's cool to the touch. I had a big plate of pasta for lunch, several cups of tea. But most of all I rested.

That tension muscle that runs behind the neck and between the shoulders is gone, relaxed. I finished reading the book I bought in Plon, ages and miles ago. My trip is almost over. Tomorrow I will ride close to Sandnes.

Being here at the mountain hut healed me (I hope). I was feeling so overwhelmed and unsure if I could finish. It's amazing what I've already done. Still tomorrow I have figure out how to get stuff out of here, but have a sort of plan that I'm sure will still be physically taxing.

Unbelievably I'm the only one here. This a.m. said good bye to two ladies who seemed like they were life-long friends. They were only planning 5KM to the next hut. Also the young German couple left who I shared food with. After lunch a family with children and dog came for a few hours to swim. They left while I was napping. Maybe hikers will show up. If not I'll be alone with the mountains, wind, and lake.
outside of hut

outside of hut

outside of hut

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Grimdalstunet - Oyuvsbo

Sunday July 1, 2018, 84 km (52 miles) - Total so far: 1,862 km (1,157 miles)

I had a feeling. All the bugs flitting about the rain fly sounded like rain. A sizzling all night long. This a.m. I made a quick potty dash. Oh boy. I scrambled back into the tent. I decided to forgo firing up the stove for hot water and had a dry breakfast. But eventually I'd have to come out of the tent and pack. It was like zombie bug apocalypse. They swarmed me as soon as I crawled out.

At one point I quickly switched out shirts--but not fast enough. It was like I was covered with fur. They were so thick I could hardly breathe. I coughed and shoved and batted them away with my hands. I was out of breath just getting away.

Then my chain fell off. And there were hills out there. Then my chain seized up almost sending me to the ground. It was early morning Sunday, no one around; I felt alone and afraid. What if my bike breaks? What if I do smash to the ground? The higher I climbed, the more absolutely barren and empty the landscape became. My God, I thought, I might die. It was still freaking early when I turned into Hallbjønnsekken where there was only a hotel and a cafe. Which was closed. But some people were knocking on the windows. They wanted to pay for their room before leaving. So they roused the owners who saw me and and the woman took pity. Would you like a cup of tea?

My tea thermos was in my handlebar bag. Earlier I thought it was making a lot of noise, klinking and clanking, until I discovered it was sheep with bells around their necks. I could hear the bells echoing off the rocky slopes. While she filled my thermos I went into the bathroom. Sheesh, what a disgrace. My face was sooty with bug carcasses. I spit into the sink and it looked like pepper. I used a paper towel trying to get all the bugs off my teeth.

The cafe was closed but I asked the lady about distances and using my hand, up or down. Then I said I'm afraid. She looked confused. My English not so good. Very little traffic. So she sent me on my way.

I'm going to die, but I kept pedaling. And it didn't seem as scary after awhile.

It was ALL downhill after awhile. I flew into Valle. It all seemed actually not to be as far as the lady indicated. I stopped right before Valle at where a river spills around flat rocks where people where swimming and sunbathing. A hardcore motorcyclist pulled up and looked at me. Respect, he said, and gave me a package of cookies. I was starving.

In Valle I had a gas station sandwich and filled up water bottles. Also tried to send messages. My phone is a big piece of ---. The stupid thing keeps shutting off or turning on the flashlight or any number of settings I don't want. Last night it dialed a number without me pressing any buttons.

So I leave Valle and like what seemed like five minutes later I was at the turnoff for a big climb up to the Suleskarvegen, the famous road over the mountains all the way to Sandnes. I wasn't at all sure I'd get this far today. By my records,1 pm, I might just make it to the mountain hut I'd dreamed about staying in.

If I hitched a ride to the top. Once again an eager person stopped who had a full trunk. And he only spoke German. So I threw everything off the bike and quick released the front tire to show him we could get it into the back seat. He was game. And that's how I got up.

But it was hard to know where the top was. He drove and drove and there was always more up. I was worried he'd drive past Oyuvsbo. Silly girl. Even when he did put me out I still had to walk the bike. Up. Up. Up. But I also rode and it was high in the mountains and I was in Norway. Then I was there, at the parking lot for Oyuvsbo. Where's the hut?

I was greeted by sheep. I took their picture, their cute little faces. Then they proceeded to try to eat my $140 Ortlieb panniers.I smacked it on the head. Shoo!! Okay, this is going to be a problem.

My plan had been to carry in only what I needed and stash a bag by a rock and pick it up the next day. Roaming sheep meant having to carry in EVERYTHING. Okay, no big deal. Only 1.5 KM. But, oh my god, it took forever to relay my bags as there were too many for one load.

I'd given up on sunscreen. I mean every day I'm outside ALL day. But today was different, so high up, cloudless skies. I thought my sunglasses made my skin look so red. No I was frying. It took 1.5 hours to get to the hut. I was exhausted.

As I sat trying to recover and thinking about the hard last few days climbing and what a pain it was to get here: I decided I would stay 2 nights. It's pricey, at $40 a night, but I worked too long and hard to get here to pick up and leave the next morning.

I bathed in the lake. Ate a good supper of ramen noodles, and had tea on a bench in solitude. Except for the tinkling of sheep bells.

I need an extra night and day just to enjoy Norway. That's hard to do when climbing or running from the insects. Or carrying your stuff in like a pack horse. So happy now, knowing I don't have to move in the a.m.

83.8 km
UP 1,321 m · DOWN 943 m

Honnevje, a bathing place where water flows over rocks




before it started eating my bag
view from my mountain hut

Click here for a larger version of the picture
Sunset at mountain hut

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Seljord Camping - Grimdalstunet Museum

Saturday June 30, 2018, 64 km (40 miles) - Total so far: 1,779 km (1,105 miles)

Last night my camper neighbors wheeled a long power strip out to me. I was able to give all battery banks 100%, important as I'll be wild camping at least a couple of times. The Telemark mountains are getting to me in good and bad ways. Really, they're breathtaking.

Seljord sits in a steep-walled valley. Almost like a gash. I camped by a big lake, but chose to be near the outer toilets, which incidentally also had a couple shower stalls. A big wind came up so the lake tent area was too exposed. Where I was was perfect, and like I mentioned my neighbors were kind. They said I'd ridden my bike further than they'd driven their camper that day. And, boy, were my legs feeling it.

I felt lucky to have made the climbs, to have made it to Seljord, and to have found reasonably priced camping. She even let me charge it and gave me cash back. (See earlier troubles finding an ATM.
So this a.m. leaving didn't know what to expect. I knew there would be hard climbs. Not sure how much fun I'd have. The Telemark are dramatic mountains. Think Rockies. The scenery is just like a wall calender. Hard to describe without falling into using awesome.

Another thing about last night was that the sun didn't as much set as it slipped, at 10 pm behind a mountain and it immediately cooled down. This morning it was about 49 degrees. So started with windbreaker and pants, but they quickly came off. I prayed I wouldn't have to climb straight off, and, indeed, it was gradual. Made it to the top of something and stopped at an info sign. I'd entered Tokke Kommune. Picked up a new map. In Morgedal bought some great wool socks on special, like the price for bread. In Hoydalsmo ate a great weird sausage sandwich. Fuel for the hard mountain up ahead. It seemed never-ending.

Reaching the final final always feels great, because you can start the descent. This one was crazy and chaotic. Way too steep and fast. I was a run-away train. I pulled off in Eidsborg--right up to another stavekirke. This one had most of it's original interior still intact. I also toured the Vest (West) Telemark museum with tons of cool stuff such as costumes tools, phallic stones, old wool mittens, and rosemaling-decorated chests. This area is very special because it was hard to get to and folks living here had to be self-reliant. It's also a big center for skiing.

Then I continued my crazy zigzag down the mountain. I bottomed out in Dalen. It was only 2:30 and I wanted to get further. I'd already come about 54 KM and climbed over 900 meters. Leaving only meant up, up, up.

First another hot dog pit stop. All water bottles were full and I bought an ice tea for the road.
Here's where the Telemarks got me. The road out started at 12%. I couldn't keep up that kind of climbing. Nada. So I pulled over and put out my thumb. A guy pulled over and said he couldn't because he had a dog taking up the trunk. But surely someone would take me up the mountain.
I walked my fully loaded bike up, all of 2 hours. Even at what might have been the top, I just couldn't get on the bike. I had no more leg power. I rested in someone's yard. I rested on someone's front porch. I walked the bike more. I told myself there's got to be a top. Finally I got back on and rode.

I rode to Shangri-La. Actually Grimdalstunet. Which isn't a town but gallery and cafe. All of which were closed. I parked the bike and explored the grounds. Anne Grimdalen was a 20th century sculptor. On the grounds are stone statues of animals, realistic yet imbued with character. Also there is set up some historic buildings from the region. I feel like I have stepped back in time to Kristin Lavransdatter. There is a particularly decorative loft.

I went over to a stone carving of a bear and its cub and said, Thank you.

Then to add to the magic, I heard beautiful singing coming down from the peaks above me. I couldn't figure out where it was coming from or why. I mean I'm in the middle of nowhere by this deserted gallery. (UP 587 m · DOWN 14 m--from Dalen)

I went to move my bike and here comes a young couple down a trail. Hey, I said, I heard you singing. Then I asked for water. If I had a little more I'd be set to camp here. They took me to a cute little house off from the cafe and gallery, and we chatted for awhile. They said it was okay for me to camp.

So here I am. With the Anne Grimdalen carvings, the Kristin Ladsdatter loft, and a very sweet set up.
Except for the biting no-see-ums. I'm hiding from them in my tent.

Europe's oldest wooden structure

interior of stave kirke

interior of stav kirke, because of the remoteness of the valley, most of the original interior intact

detail, rosemaling chest

wall of rosemaling chests

remoteness of Telemark valley, leading down to Dalen

corkscrew turns going down to Dalen

Monday, August 13, 2018

Efteløt - Seljord Camping

Friday June 29, 2018, 105 km (65 miles) - Total so far: 1,715 km (1,066 miles)

So last night I put on my big girl pants. Actually some performance underwear I bought at Target right before leaving. The waistband has inspirational sayings. I needed some inspiration.

All night long grave tenders arrived. I woke up early and was taking a poo at 5:30 and someone pulled up.

The weather today started out cool. 52 degrees. I rode out in leggings and windbreaker, but after climbing it all came off. While climbing a tank passed me. Downhill into Notodden the wind roared in my ears. My cyclometer also broke down. I put fresh batteries in before leaving, so again a mystery. The phone recovered though.

It was 49.8 km KM to Heddal, with 603 up and 623 meters down. I now know what this feels like. Actually fresh and in the cool morning, it felt do-able. On the way out of Notodden, not sure why, I asked these two ancient Norwegian ladies if Heddal was ahead. They answered in Norwegian, and I believe they were blessing me, they kept touching me and saying soothing things.

The Heddal stavekirke is only one of 28/29 left. In Telemark they have as many words for wood as the Inuits have for snow. I ate a solid hot meal in the cafe (I'd been eating nothing but crackers since leaving Moss. I also charged devices. Upon leaving it was a scorcher. Down the road I bought a drink and refilled water bottle in graveyard. I knew there was climbing ahead. I took frequent shade breaks.

At 4 p.m. I was having a sit down break on a bench outside a store where they played country music. Yuck. When a guy walks by. He said he saw me ride up to Kongsgaemoen, then he saw me in Notodden, now here (?). He said you must be in great shape. Then he said I had 2 more hours until Seljord, 55.8 km.

What he didn't mention was the big climb. From Heddal I had followed a valley and the climbing was do-able. Suddenly the last push up became eternal. At one point I walked the bike. Big mistake. I was breathing so hard I though my heart would burst through my chest. It was hot, hot, hot. Harder to take breaks because the side of the road was steep. I took a few breaks just to catch my breath, but no chance for leg recovery. It felt awful and desperate. How did I do it????

Then I knew I was at the top. Thank God. I turned a corner and saw a vista that was HOLY CRAP. A narrow valley opened up. And down, down, down were teeny tiny houses. How will I get down this?? Seriously.

I took it in stages and no trucks, cars, or buses passed me. I just flew. According to Google, I did UP 542 m · DOWN 447 m. It was like a Norwegian Monte Carlo with hairpin turns.

Tonight camping in Seljord, where my camper neighbors are letting me charge devices!!! Tomorrow Dalen, 54 KM, 901 up, 966 down.

 traditional Telemark houses (e.g. lofts and stabburs

 traditional Telemark houses (e.g. lofts and stabburs


Friday, August 10, 2018

Moss - Efteløt, Norway

Thursday June 28, 2018, 64 km (40 miles) - Total so far: 1,610 km (1,000 miles)

I'm not sure what to write about today. Lost in Norway.

Yes, I'm in Norway, but lost here has many dimensions--mostly vertical. Lost can be scary and dangerous. I've never had such a day such as this one.

First the good bits. Woke up and took my time, eating and packing; said goodbye to my host. She wished me luck.

I caught the ferry to Horton and made it to Asgardstrand in about an hour and a half. I did ask two people where Munch's house was, as I had to go down a big hill and wanted to be sure. Not a clue and we were about 300 meters from it. Sheesh.

It was a great tour of Munch's house--his favorite and the one he had before becoming rich and famous. He was a very complicated man.

view from Munch's front door

Munch selfie (and, if you look closely--me)

quiet Swedish road before craziness started

Left around 12:30 and somehow my directions sent me forward and backwards. I rode up a serious hill twice. Finally I said to myself, this is crazy. Why would Google send me south when I need to go north? Sometimes the map loads slowly. I cannot account for it, but got extremely frustrated and prayed, God help me get going in the right direction on the right road. Finally found the road and was on the blue line.


It was VERY hot today. I went through water like crazy, yet my lips still stuck to my teeth, my mouth was so dry.

I'm not sure when and maybe later I can update once I'm home, but maybe around 2 p.m., the hottest part of the day, Google sent me down a gravel road. I've had this happen before, while on the Kattegarden. No big deal. And I could tell it took me under the E6(?) So I followed it and it remained gravel and steep. Okay. I kept going, thinking it must meet up with a real road. It took me by a sheep pen. Oops, off the blue line. I went back and down a creepier gravel road. The blue line took me over a slag heap and where trees had been uprooted. It was like a lunar landscape of red rock. There were big machines, as if to quarry. I walked the bike in circles trying to connect with the blue line. I went one way then another. There was no shade. I rolled the bike to a plateau at the top of the rock heap. There was another massive machine. I leaned the bike next to the house-size tire. I was thinking of taking a picture and sending it to Sandy Ramsey. But my battery was dying. Over-used. I put it on charge and said, you've got to get out of here. I started back, retracing my steps.

Then up by the sheep pen I saw a man with big buckets. I moved toward him with my fully loaded bike. I must have looked like someone from another planet. He threw the buckets in the back of his van. I thought he was leaving. HELP, I cried out. He stopped. I got closer. He stared at me. I took a breath: I only speak English. I'm lost and can you take me to a road. By now it was 4 p.m.

Get in, he said.

He told me I was lucky--I wanted to laugh--because he only comes out twice a week to water the sheep. Then I wanted to cry. I did.

He said he'd take me out, then he said he'd take to the next biggest town. Then he said he'd take me halfway to Kongsgårdmoen, my destination. I said that would be great. We passed roads with bike paths beside them. Why couldn't Google have put me on them?

It was 5 pm when I started toward Hvittingfoss on route 32. I'd have about 40 KM, but that's only 24 miles. I have time, the sun wouldn't set for another 7 hours.

But I had a headache from the sun, the stress, and crying. And there was wind. At one point wanted to take a photo of the Lagen river, and the wind almost blew me over, so kept going. Even going down hill I got no speed.

My cranks started clicking. Not serious, but annoying. Everything felt awful and bad. At 6:15 and only 64 KM, I pulled off the road at a church where I sat for a very long time. I only had 18 KM to go, but was done. Beaten. I went to fix my cranks (maybe) and discovered my lube had leaked. I cleaned up my front handlebar bag, got out my allen wrench, which was still slippery and went to tighten the cranks. My hand slipped and I fell head first into gravel, gashing my forehead.

Then my phone really blitzed out, like that day I tried to get to Zwolle.

I got permission to camp behind the church. Maybe the word is out a foreigner is here, every 5 minutes a new person drives up to water around a grave. Hopefully, tomorrow Kongsgårdmoen and Heddal.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Bjälveröd Camping, neat Strömstad, Sweden, to Moss, Norway

Wednesday June 27, 2018, 101 km (63 miles) - Total so far: 1,546 km (961 miles)

Left camp early, as I wanted to beat the heat. I didn't mention that yesterday I took 2 wrong turns that added about 10 heartbreaking miles. Both times I had to backtrack, once up a very serious hill and the other was the last straw. I was fed up. So today I was on my GPS like white on rice. I took 176 all the way into Norway and the 118 all the way to Moss. I'm sure I'm pronouncing the name wrong.

Yesterday I did one new thing: finally used my credit card. Paid for camping 100 Swedish crowns. I was afraid my bank would jam me, but so far all good. I held off using cc in Norway for small purchases because wanted a cash machine.

Before leaving Chicago I purchased currency at the bank. They kept asking, why? For convenience I said, knowing I'd be on a bike, maybe in small towns, etc. I held off getting NOK. So once in Norway it was on my mind. Then I got thirsty, wanted an ice cream. I was in nowhere's land. In Rade started looking. In Rygge got desperate. Between these 2 towns stopped at a total of 4 stores trying to get cash back. Finally found an ATM outside a real estate office. It was temporarily out of service. So be aware: cash stations are getting scarcer and scarcer. Eventually they will go the way of the internet cafe and VCRs.

Rode a bit on 1, the North Sea bike route, but boy is it spotty. Then outside Moss took bike route 7. The hills in Moss are crazy steep. When I finally found an ATM I took out 1200 NOK. About $140. And spent over $200 NOK buying pizza and grocery items.

The other new thing I did on this trip: booked an Air B&B. I sat on the side walk in the shade and figured it out on my slow, measly phone. I knew from previewing the trip that Moss options for camping and stealth camping were limited. There were no cheap hostels. I wanted to keep things charged before heading into the mountains. So got a tiny house, a little backyard cottage. Bathroom is across the lawn.

So tonight well-fed, got $$, got a bed, sipping black currant tea, charging devices, and watching kittens bounce on a trampoline. Next report from the other side, going up into Telemark country.
Swedish mile

5th and last country

part of the North Sea Velo route

tiny house

tiny house