July 11

    We have been dealing with rather weak internet connections and blog loading problems for a few days. It has been frustrating trying to resolve it all. We needed a good internet connection at the right time of day to make a phone call to our blog server in the US. One day we tried at a hotel while watching the Tour de France (2 Pepsis = $12) but didn’t get anywhere. The next day we found a cafe with free internet, but lots of noise from the street four feet away had David shouting into the phone (2 fruit smoothies =$16). So much for free internet, and who knows what the phone call to the US will cost. But we hope we now have the problem solved. (Please note that we uploaded three blog entries and ‘Things We Have Learned’ in one afternoon.)

    Yesterday we left Rover in a parking lot in Notodden and took a bus about 45 miles on a road we didn’t want to drive. Our destination was Rjukan, the site of a hydro power plant at Vemork, where the Germans in WWII made heavy water for nuclear research. The result was a famous sabotage story, a pretty good movie, and (the town hopes) new life as a tourist destination for this now economically depressed region.

    Rjukan is strung out for several hilly miles in a narrow valley, requiring us to take taxis to get where we wanted to go. This included crossing a very narrow bridge 84 meters above the water.

The town also offers a trip up the mountain in the oldest cable car still in operation (originally used to take laborers up to the sunshine once in a while, since the town gets so little). We are told you can see 1/6th of Norway from the top, but not when that top is covered in clouds, as it was during our visit . . . so we decided to skip that trip.

    Today we first headed to Heddal to see the 800+ year old wooden stave church, the largest of the few remaining examples of these old churches. “Stave” refers to the large wooden posts inside that hold up the high roofs.  They are just amazing structures. Like the others we’ve visited, this one was set in the middle of a cemetery with some very old gravestones.

    Then we drove on to Oslo. We managed to get lost when the signposts to the campground ran out well before the highway maze did, while the GPS directions resembled a pretzel. We went through the Operatunnelen three times in about 10 minutes--probably some kind of record, at least for an American-licensed vehicle. But we finally made it up the hill to the campground to find motorhomes and trailers parked any which way in a big wet field. We headed for the highest and driest point. We were lucky to find an electrical hookup, but our cord is strung out across a road. We didn’t go into the city because it was already well into the afternoon, we were tired and Susan wanted to do some laundry.  Unfortunately, so did everyone else in the campground. By evening we were surrounded by other vehicles. A neighbor said there is space here for 700 but only 150 electrical outlets are provided.  Worse yet, only three washing machines.