Through the Woods


Even simple tasks can lead to the most unusual adventures…  like going to church.  The mystery of finding a the church had been solved last weekend with Nathan in town.  And thank goodness because today’s temperature was 7F (January 31).  This kind of weather requires a two-layer bodysuit, but my Long Johns had cross-country skiing all over them.  So, it took a little bit of extra courage to want to leave the apartment and extra resolve not to get lost.  After all….

“It’s a dangerous business going out your door.  You step
onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s not telling
where you might be swept off to.”

-Frodo, recalling the words of Bilbo Baggins, Lord of the Rings

The route to church requires 3 buses, which run every 30 to 60 minutes.  So, if you miss one, then you may as well go back home.  It also cost an extra $28 for bus fare (in addition to my monthly pass), but whose counting?   After (relatively) little trouble, I arrived at the 3rd bus stop in Sandvika and walked on the 761 to Skui. 

“Is this going to Tangum?” I asked.
“Tangen or Tanum,” he said. 
“Tangem [a slur of the two choices], I think? It’s spelled T-A-N-“. 
The driver interjected, “No, you want the 762 going to Tanum”. 
“Oh, thank you sir. Do you have a route map?” 
Studying the timetables and my gut, I asked the driver to open the door.  “I want to go here,” I replied.
He said, “oh, Tangen, well get on”

And with that, he refused to take my fare! Sweet! I saved $7; I could buy lunch with that [in Texas].  On the bus, I talked with a Somalian immigrant, who doesn’t like watching the news. “All you hear is people dying”, he said.  As I was getting off, he asked, “Do you know where your going?” I replied, “Sorta.  If I don’t, you’ll hear about it on the news, I guess.”


Would you find a church along a trail like this?

This is the spot where Nathan and I got lost last week.  I had studied the map carefully before leaving, but as usual, I left a good part of the details to chance. Going off instinct, I came to the trail leading to the church. Nobody had walked it in a few days, so I was packing inches of virgin snow.  Arriving at the church, I was startled to see no cars in the parking lot.  “Is joke?” I thought.  It’s Sunday, the only thing that’s supposed to be open is a church. But sure enough it was.  I recalled something on the website about a join service with another local Norwegian church to celebrate baptism at 1:30pm, but surely that didn’t replace the main service, right?? No, it did. 

Not wanting to stand around for 3 hours in the weather, I had limited options.  The bus back to Sandvika was coming soon, so if I hurried, so I hurried only to watched it drive off.   The next bus won’t be coming for another hour, and the idea of standing made me even colder. I decided to walk the 2 km to Sandvika without directions.  Hurray for a GPS!!  Unfortunately, it doesn’t give great walking directions, so I had to improvise.  It was working great until I hit a walker’s deadend.  The “sidewalk” was buried in 2 feet of snow and on my right was a tunnel and my left was a 4 lane highway. Which way to go??


The entrance to IBC the week before (notice the cars)

Checking traffic, I waited for the highway to clear.  Looking ahead, I caught a glimpse of more snow piles, but it didn’t look too bad.  I half-sprinted, anticipating ice patches, and threw myself at the guardrail keeping me from the median.  I wish I had leg extensions for moments like this.  Up and over, and DOWN.  Ughh, I was knee-deep in snow, but there wasn’t time to care. As traffic cleared, I ran (like a penguin) across the rest of the highway.  And then, I heard sirens!

I thought, “The cops? Really? Just my luck, I’m probably going to jail for this. Now, my Somalian friend is going to see me on the news! Geez, I’m just glad I did this on my own.” Those peaceful thoughts, I paraphrased all into in a single word.

Switching to a full sprint, I hoped to at least out run ’em (works on TV!).  Only one obstacle remained – a 4-foot high concrete wall covered in fresh snow.  Throwing myself on the wall, I had to use my bare hands as support, as I pulled my legs up.  At the top, I looked back as the sirens grew closer.  A yellow ambulance flew past me.  Whew!! I wasn’t going to jail… today.

As the adrenaline diffused, I began thinking more clearly.  “Where are the witnesses?!?! Who is going to believe this? What is a Norwegian jail like anyway? And why isn’t at least one friend here to share this with me? And who really does something this stupid??”  Then, my hands began to burn from snow climbing. Ooohh, it was so cold.  Bare hands weren’t made for snow. 


Looking down my street (Søndre Rød). The apartment is on the far right

It would still be another 75 minutes before I made it home.  I missed the next bus by 2 minutes (again).  Luckily, there was a 7/11 equivalent open with a heater.  Later, as I walked to the final bus stop, I still 40 yards away when I saw it approaching.  I was not going to miss it. This half-frozen, half-crazed Texan probably would have beat Usain Bolt to the bus.  As I approached, the door closed just as I made eye contact with the driver.  And then, it magically opened. Perhaps my miserable face made him reconsider leaving me.  Sweet Victory.  It’s funny how quickly a day of mis-adventures can be forgotten by catching one bus.

(photo credit to Nathan)