Am I a short-timer now? One more big – and important – week in Norway – at Neset Camping – a short stayover in Oslo, a day in NYC, and home. But this moment is still Kristiansand. It’s been a completely enjoyable few days with my gracious family hosts and that brilliant road trip. In between there was some art that I found most interesting so thought I’d share a few photos as a farewell to Kristiansand.

The excellent and welcoming Sørlandets Museum of Art has an exhibit with which I quite fell in love: Between the Trees. I’ll try to get the names right with my favorite pieces but you can also go to

So…who knew? The University of Agder here in Kristiansand has the largest Beat-Art collection in the world. Bigger than San Francisco’s. My cousins found this out when visiting The Beat Art Museum in San Francisco ( which they had assumed would have the most substantial collection. Turns out it was right here where Tone works at the University of Agder.

Of course I visited and collected more photos. For more info go to

All of the information about this collection and the beat artists is available on line so I didn’t try to document each photo. Just wanted to share the knowledge that these collections exist and are pretty spectacular…maybe particularly for those of us who only know the Beats as poets and writers.

Some of the names are below. Also the University of Agder has published a beautiful book about this collection. Unfortunately it is both heavy and expensive so won’t be coming home with me.


First bluebells I’ve seen in years and years.

Tone and Simon gave me an extra nice treat on Sunday—an all-day road trip around the southernmost points of Norway. Road trips being my favorite form of recreation, and a road trip in Norway being about as scenic as would be geographically possible—may I just say it was a perfect day.

In our ten hours on the road we traveled by green fields pleasantly ornamented with white sheep and golden llamas and grand gray mountains; through well-preserved historic villages and by some of those famous fiords of Nordic legend. There were two geographic/historic standouts: Lindesnes and its lighthouse and the village of Loshavn.

Please enjoy this fat album of a full-day ‘on the road.’

We left at ten, me with great anticipation and Simon a bit happy as well as we were going to be covering some of the territory of his family’s ancestral farms and villages and he hadn’t been in awhile. Tone says they often enjoy Sunday drives, though perhaps not always as long as this one turned out to be.

I won’t try to name any of the locations except the two already mentioned above. Here’s the beginning…

The Lindesnes Lighthouse stands on the southernmost point of the mainland of Norway, nearly 1,100 mi southwest of the northernmost point of mainland Norway. May I brag just for one sentence—the lighthouse is 1413.62 miles from Longyearbyen where I just was!

Our next main stop was Loshavn is a small port village located at the mouth of the Lyngdalsfjorden. The village, with only a few residents has “perhaps the best-preserved wooden buildings along the southern coast of Norway. The place has a history of character, especially from the years of the Gunboat War (1807-1814), the so-called ‘privateer era.’ During these years, Loshavn was militarized to protect the mainland from any British invasion and some of the residents also ran unauthorized hijacking of British ships with government approval along the coast.”

This is where one side of Simon’s immediate family came from—he was often at one of the grand and stately white houses that make the village so distinctive. Although his family apparently was not part of the privateering…I enjoy thinking of him as a pirate since I know so few. It’s a nice change from touting us all as descendants of those bad-boy Vikings.

And then we took the long way home.


There was that most pleasurable rainy ride from Stavanger shared in all of those raindrop photos—leading up to the best possible time in Kristiansand. My family here includes Tone, Simon, Oda and Erland. Tone is the daughter of my second-cousin, Gurine, whom I first met in 1985. I liked her so much; she and I agreed back then that if only we lived closer to each other we would become such good friends. We did write a few times and spent a nice but too-short time together in 2005.  With the easier communication possibilities like Facebook available now I’m sure we would have managed a fine friendship.

But now there’s Gurine’s exceptional daughter Tone as family and friend. What make it all even better are her husband Simon and those charming grown children. Simon feels like a great comrade as well and I love the fact that Oda and Erland treat me like a familiar and somewhat interesting adult aunt/cousin and not some doddering distant relative who’s accidently wandered onto the premises. If the world can just hang on until people like them (and my grandchildren of course) are ready to run things, we’ll be okay. These individuals are each involved in their own interesting lives, Tone and Simon are university and energy administrators, Oda is in marketing for an international corporation and Erland studies in a master’s program in IT.

Considering my Norwegian cousins along, with my Minnesota and South Dakota cousins, wonderful folks and friends all, I realize how fortunate I am. I should send them all thank you cards for sharing their DNA with me. Since I’m so bad with those gracious kinds of gestures, please consider this your thank you.

Here are a few first and most casual family and food photos before I start on the remarkable road trip to which I was treated yesterday.

I quite surprised myself by finding these photos of rain on the train window so beautiful. Hope you enjoy them. I do realize people from rainier climates might not find them so special…but New Mexico friends you may like a raindrop in your day.

The few photos that follow seemed to me to be more abstracted than even the rain-drenched group I called landscapes. So with my eye for art (that’s a joke, okay?) I thought they should have their own post.


Friday I took the train from Stavanger to Kristiansand. It rained hard, downpour-hard, almost all of the way. The trains are clean, cozy and efficient; the countryside is beautiful and yes, most beautiful of all, it rained—snakes and snails and puppy dog tails or, as my Norwegian dad always said, it’s raining pitchforks and ax handles!

Of course I took pictures the entire three hours. Because when will I ever see this much rain again? I’m sharing these in three separate posts, one for the rain-dimmed landscape, one for the abstract art that emerges, and one for simply the rain in all its own glory. If you need your images clear and scenic you might not like these—but then again you might?




Having family in Norway and Sweden is possibly the nicest thing that’s ever happened to me. I’ve now visited often enough so that the country of Norway and my Norwegian cousins feel like they must have been part of my life always. With my newly discovered Swedish cousins it just gets even better. I’ve mentioned before pondering all of the reasons this extended family pleases me so very much and there are several. However the biggest reason remains that they are simply such great people! Wise and kind and interesting and well…fun to be around. I know, I know, I always say this about them but actually…it’s true. So, I’ve just left Stavanger and visiting with Arne and Aslaug. It was the best of visits both because of these nice people I keep bragging about and also because I’m getting to know Stavanger better. Just  a few final photos… then on to Kristiansand and Tone and her lovely family.


Yesterday was photographer heaven. A sunrise to make you believe all’s right with the world and a day’s rain to confirm that. A sunrise outside my Stavanger window so incredibly beautiful I wanted to shed a tear or two from sheer joy or the fear that our determination to wrest every natural instance from the environment will block out rose-colored sunrises forever.

So here’s 5:30/6:00 on a Norwegian early autumn morning. A little repetitive perhaps but who am I to waste these awesome photos of an awe-inspiring moment in time.


One ship was still in port and looked most festive from a short ways away.

Cruise Ship Mania; 7:30am: I pulled the thick dark curtains shut when I went to bed last night. Now I stumble forth to draw them open upon a new day and… Voila! A massive take-over-the-world-cruise-ship (Independence of the Seas, registered in the Bahamas, capacity 4,370 passengers) has landed and the occupants are disembarking. My imagination is not that active—it’s why I cannot write fiction—but Leviathan was the word that immediately sprung to mind, an enormous sea creature with a rich and gruesome history…vomiting up last night’s supper.

With my first sips of coffee a possible scenario manifested itself—this monster could pull innocently enough into souvenir village at the head of the bay and the creatures pouring out could be anyone…. Monsters, the Undead, Enemy Soldiers, Trump’s Base….  They look harmless enough right now, cleverly concealed in hooded raincoats, umbrellas overhead, but as they spread throughout the city in numbers way too big to ignoreand rip off their coverings it’s anybody’s guess. It’ll be immediately obvious if they’re the Army of Sleazy T. They’ll start chanting…. “Trump is God, Woodward is the Devil; We’re Here from MOG (Middle-of-Godland), to Save You From that Evil.” But then…all of the Norwegian trolls in front of all the souvenir shops come to life, and soon their comrades are streaming into town from under bridges and behind boulders—together they push the white strangers with the Nazi tattoos back onto Leviathan, set her loose to drift back out to sea where slowly the ship’s infrastructure starts to disintegrate, and … I think the invaders eventually drift to Plastic Island where they must live for a plastic eternity.

Sorry. I should stop drinking wine for breakfast…just kidding, it’s just my usual Nescafe, Wasa rye crisps and Roros butter.

I have become completely obsessed with cruise ships however. There might even be three in port today. I’m quite excited. Between that and the Petroleum Museum my last day in Stavanger is very nearly perfect. Well it is perfect actually. It’s raining.

Here is the description of the Royal Caribbean’s Independence of the Seas from their website. I’ve just kept the best parts.

In the spring of 2018 (Independence of the Seas) was extensively modernized. New attractions include the Sky Pad virtual reality experience, a new escape room, a glow-in-the-dark laser tag facility, and the “Perfect Storm” waterslide trio for all water lovers aboard. New restaurants, Izumi Hibachi and Sushi, Playmakers Sports Bar and Sugar Beach extend the culinary offer on board./A large part of the guests on board this ship comes from the United States, but the ship is also popular with many Europeans. Cabins: … As with the ships of the “Voyager” class, there are even cabins with a view on the shopping promenade of the ship. Culinary Delights: There are different possibilities for enjoying the fine food on board. The main restaurant spans three decks and is decorated classical and stylish. The intimate “Portofino” restaurant offers delicious specialties of the Italian cuisine. …. The “Johnny Rockets” is a Diner in 50s style. Tasty burgers and hearty American fast food are cooked fresh to order here. Entertainment: From piano music to shows in Broadway style to the huge disco, all souls on board can find their favorite place…/Sports and Wellness: The Spa is one of the largest at sea./ Our Recommendation: The Independence of the Seas is the ultimate of the seven seas. You can surf on board in a special surf simulator, bathe in two whirlpools that hang 30 meters above the sea, romp about in the “Aqua Park” or climb the huge climbing wall – the ship becomes the destination.

I suppose my favorite line of all is “there are even cabins with a view on the shopping promenade of the ship.”

For just a moment the other day I was feeling kindly toward cruise ships, not like I wanted ever to set foot on one, but the people roaming about the dock area did seem nice and normal enough. The area didn’t seem raucous or more commercial than one would expect.  However, the last view from my window has put me back in cruise ship-loathing-land. My god…it’s like taking the Mall of America or better yet, the Mall of the Emirates which includes Ski Dubai, and your favorite four/five star hotel chain, say the Four Seasons, throwing in some Vegas entertainment, a music-blasting gym, and super-sizing a new Hard Rock Café … and setting it all on water. A holiday on Plastic Island starts looking good. Just me and the trash. Whoops. Forgot. Consigned the invading Sleazy T.s to the island.

9:30am:  Time to make the bed, brush the teeth and go adventuring. Mostly to see where the second cruise ship is resting and also where they may have tucked a third. And then for that oil-souvenir I so desperately seek.

5pm: Super nice day. Has. Rained. The. Entire. Day. I walked and got wet. I got wet because it was too hard to open the suitcase where all the Svalbard clothes and souvenirs are packed to find my rain jacket. I walked because rain is good and soul-cleansing and so so rare in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Before taking you to the excellent Petroleum Museum, here’s the cruise ship update for which you’ve been breathlessly waiting. Independence of the Seas has left the port. Here’s a description I just thought of for the way it feels when these giant edifices move in across the street while you’re sleeping. Like waking up in your normal house and an eighteen story apartment building has sprung up across the street.

To be fair I must mention the Costa Mediterranea, registered In Genoa, capacity of 2,680, with twelve decks, is in port as well. And finally, back in that corner, there’s the Zenith/Pallmantur, one of those registered first in Liberia, then Bahamas, now Malta ships, capacity 1,828, and I didn’t even see any balconies or water slides. A poor cousin of the big kids I guess.

Those are the last words I’ll ever speak or write about cruise ships and here are the last pictures of those funhouses of the non-traveling middle classes I’ll ever post. My 48 hours of cruise-ship fascination have left the building.

But Leviathan towers over all.

Norsk Oljemuseum / Norwegian Petroleum Museum: Stavanger is Norway’s Oil City—sister city of Houston, tiny in population comparison but not at all insignificant in wealth creation and transfer.

There are many stories about Norway’s oil history and about Stavanger’s role in it; I’ve heard a few just in the time I’ve been here and I’m hoping to find a good history of it all (that’s been translated). The Museum is simply excellent, well laid out, with the basic realities of oil production as developed in Norway taking front and center, but as well thoughtfully presenting all of the inherent conflicts in funding the best social structure in the world with oil revenues. A good deal of space is given to the environmental issues raised by the very resource that’s making this country the world’s best in which to live. It is complicated indeed. The museum made me pay attention and think seriously while giving me information about an industry to which I’ve paid little attention other than to bemoan its bad political intentions.

Who knew drill bits were beautiful?

I have no idea what the following fascinating things are, except for the last one which holds up the platforms. They are the most interesting pieces of machinery or tools or equipment I’ve ever seen.

I viewed and thought and had a nice lunch, and walked home in the rain. No t-shirts though. Just a head band with a drill bit design!

Tomorrow it’s the train to Kristiansand. My grandparents’ original stomping grounds.

It’s Day 27 of being a Norwegian and I’m almost feeling it. But then I touch on-line reality and remember I’m an American with a President Sleazy-T. I’m sad this evening. It usually happens a little sooner on these epic journeys but being in Norway has kept the inevitable down-day during any given month at bay. It’s not exactly depression or anxiety or physical-offness—more like I need a pajama day with eight hours of streaming deep dark drama, drinking licorice tea and not thinking.

But let’s further analyze this feeling. First of all the probable source of my momentary melancholy ….  I spent much of the day with Arne and Aslaug and I like them so very much. The sadness stems from getting to know each other so late in life and living a continent and an ocean apart. I feel close to them, family/friend close, and each time I see them feels like it could be the last since we are ageing people living in an increasingly crazy world. So…I guess this is just a note to self…remember to spend time with people you care about…it is such pleasure.

Aslaug and Arne, when they were married in the 60s. Norwegians still use traditional costumes for special occasions and celebrations. A handsome couple indeed.

And then there’s the next giant cruise ship outside my window. I’ll bet you want to know about this one too? It’s the Aidasol. Big damn boat. Sphinx class. Holds 2,174 passengers. Want to know what Sphinx class means don’t you? Well, it says it’s brightly colored everywhere, focuses on sports/fitness related activities and encourages  togetherness in the way dining rooms and communal areas are set up. My kind of place—just me and my 2,173 best friends. Registered in Genoa, Italy, aimed at German market. For just under $8,000 you can book a junior suite. There you have it. My cruise tips for today.

Whoops, just looked out the window and another giant seems to have pulled in on the other side when I wasn’t looking. Maybe I’m suffering from some version of cabin fever.

Tomorrow there will also be two cruise ships in port. It doesn’t matter though because I’m spending part of my day at the Petroleum museum. I’m determined to find a souvenir t-shirt from Stavanger…but only if it has an oil rig front and center.

There must be something else to blog about—otherwise I will be forced to open MY BOOK file. I give up.

Let me try to find the odd photo from the Norway collection to justify publishing this post.