Saturday, 26 March 2016

The Invasion of the Parentals and the East Coast.

Tip of post? : Yamaha variator belts do not like 120kph (75mph).

So since the last post we've been up to a lot though at the same time nothing that felt like it was immediately requiring a blog post so to sum up we had...

 - Heathers Parents visited
 - Went Dog-Sledding
 - Many hikes up Trollsteinen and skiing
 - A fair amount of alcohol has been consumed, and student burgers...
 - A trip to the East Coast

Heathers parents came to visit and we had a great time laughing near non-stop. They took me dog sledding which was absolutely incredible; I was notified about 2-3 hours before departure, when I was mid class, that I would be leaving for the kennels and I could barely contain my excitement though I don't think I was half as excited as Heather was to see the dogs, she's a little nuts over them it would seem. Anywho, we arrived and spent about half an hour touring around about 150 dogs, all of which were beyond ecstatic to see us and all wanted a bit of a cuddle and by cuddle I mean they wanted to knock us down and lick us to death. All except this one dog, named Peanut, that just wanted to sit on my lap and cuddle into me. She was absolutely beautiful:

What made it even better was that Peanut was the lead dog on the sled that we were given, of which we had to assemble to team ourselves including harnessing and strapping in which was entertainment and a half. Our team consisted of: Peanut, Tequila, R2-D2, Clint, Gaillardo, and another whom the name escapes me bringing the total to 6. With me and Heather to one sled and her parents to another we set off in the eastern direction of Adventdalen for a short adventure.

Our dogs were very strong and competent meaning that it took a bit of effort for Heather to be able to stop the sled at times but her parents sled took a small journey with Petrey (Peter) hanging on the back desperately trying to hold the brake down, mildly entertaining. Upon returning we were treated to an introduction to 2 of the pups of the season. My British readers will understand when I say they were like slightly smaller and poofier Andrex puppies but for those that aren't familiar with Andrex, just imagine a really tiny polar bear and you're just about bang on. Unsurprisingly Heather broke and started making inaudible noises at the sight of them. Bless her.

During the time Heathers parents were here we went skiing, hiking, fooding (70% sure that's a real word), and just generally had an awesome time. The skiing was awesome and I've started getting my skiing legs back from the last time I ski'd when I was 12, I've since taken as many opportunities to ski as I can and I'm slowly getting better which is great!

Since the week that the parentals invaded we've been doing the occasional thing, though nothing of huge consequence as I mentioned prior, that is till we came to the Easter break and had huge eyes from the thoughts on what we could get up to. Unfortunately for us we pulled the short straw on the rifle situation and thus weren't really able to govern the trips we went on and had to strap ourselves onto other trips that had rifles. This bode well for Heather and Noel as they have a scooter and thus were able to go out and about with the rest of the scooter people on long awesome trips but we were somewhat stuck back at home base waiting for something to come up. This did mean a few rather tedious days ensued but up came the opportunity to take a hike up Sarkofargen (the out of of the back window of the barrack) and I jumped on it. It was such a glorious day up there and many funs were had. Then came the skiing down and I have to say I wasn't great; the fact that I didn't have my helmet on probably knocked my confidence slightly but then that's my own fault.

And then came the biggest breakthrough, we found someone, with rifle, to come on an East Coast trip with us. YES! So we hopped down to the scooter rental as fast as we could and booked in for the following day. To say I was excited was an understatement.

Skipping to the morning of the next day I was described as a child on Christmas as I just wanted to get out and onto the scooter as fast as I could to start the journey. So we walked down to the rental place again, suited and booted, had a short tutorial on how to use the scooters, and awaited the arrival of Heather, Noel, and the new addition of Lucien (the "with rifle" part).

And we waited.......

...........and waited...........

About half an hour later they turned up and just in time too as my thumb was getting itchy; equivalent of trigger finger but for scooters.

Shortly after the arrival of the trio, the 6 of us began our adventure towards the east coast, passing valleys engulfed in the sun and stretched out to the horizon, cliffs that rose vertically from the land and reached out into the sky, mountains capped in wispy clouds like fancy icing on a cake, and glacial ice as blue as the bahaman sea.

And then we reached the East Coast. Mohnbukta was the final destination of the route and whilst the weather wasn't the clearest and there was a lot of white on the horizon, the views were still stunning and the search for the polar bears was on. Cameras and phones at the ready we scoured the area for about half an hour but no luck on the polar bears, twas a shame but something that we weren't overly surprised about.

We knew that polar bears are common in the area but with the dwindling sea ice due to the warming of the sea, the sightings of polar bears near the ocean seem lower than ordinary. Nonetheless this didn't dampen our spirits, so onwards we pressed and more spectacular views were to be had just a few kilometers north, including a very large glacial front that calves in the summer.

After food was had and many a giggle too, we decided it was time to start heading back considering it was going to hit sunset shortly. If I had managed to use a camera whilst riding I would certainly have tried to capture some of the sights in the stretch between the East Coast and where the next adventure occurred (keep reading to find out more). The sun was setting in the direction that we were riding and the lighting conditions made for some spectacular displays of the scooters travelling through such a beautiful landscape and the rays capturing the spray given off from them speeding across the snow. It was absolutely stunning. I did however stuff my GoPro into my scooter suit and tried to get some footage of the event and we'll have to wait a while to see whether anything came of it!

Aaaaaand then came the adventure that none of us had expected. So to give a bit of background there is a procedure carried out whilst riding scooters that simply says you intermittently check that the scooter behind you is still behind you and hasn't disappeared into the ether. So we had just entered a stretch called Sassendalen which is for all intents and purposes flat and very long and there I was being all safe and ensuring that the scooter behind me was still there and hadn't died. Surely enough it hadn't died, great, upon checking a second time the scooter suddenly wasn't in sight and of course I started to slow down just incase there had been an issue. A quick flash of my eyes back to the front to see whether anyone else had noticed this sudden lack of scooter revealed that the scooter hadn't in fact disappeared but was now speeding past us all. Naturally I wasn't going to allow this to happen without getting involved and within a relatively short period of time, 60kph turned into 100kph and then 120 kph. Oops. In short, the 120kph didn't last long as there was a loud bang from the engine and suddenly my scooter didn't want to go anywhere. Oops again. Under closer inspection I had managed to demolish the variator belt in a rather spectacular fashion. Though we could have picked a worse place to break down...

And the final thing of the day, once the belt had been replaced, came fortuitously a short distance outside of town where we were flagged down by a small group of scooters and they asked us whether we had any experience with fixing variator belts, it just so happened that the scooter that they were having issues with was the same model as the one that I was riding and thus we had literally just completed the identical procedure not an hour earlier. So there was our good deed for the day too!

But with the day finished we were all tired and worn out from all the awesome we had encountered and just wanted to curl up in bed and dream about the East Coast some more. I for one will find it hard to forget about such an awesome trip.

So there's that, an amazing few weeks doing different things and generally enjoying the time we have here. There's just under 2 months left here and it's going too fast, but you can bet we'll make the most of what we have left.

Time for a cuppah I think.

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