Route 66: 2010

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Paisano European Tour 2010 - Final Chapter

This is the "Final Chapter" of this long and winding road that we've dubbed the Paisano European Tour 2010.  It's been my pleasure to recount the tale and relive the adventure. 

Originally, I had planned to chronicle the last couple of days and tell you all about the amazing lack of consideration and customer service shown by various arilines, specifically in the area of luggage handling, (NOT Luftansa), however I've decided to "get over it" and realize that's Not how I wanted to end this trip.

Ultimately, what REALLY mattered about this trip was the amazing quality time I got to spend with family.  I was lucky enough to celebrate Momma Paisano's 80th birthday, (admittedly 8 months late).  There were SO many high points to this trip that I would end up spending another several days talking about it.  The reality is
the time spent with Momma was wonderful.  Being able to see Switzerland and meet Eva & Mike.  The time spent with Marc, Heike, Jana & Frank as well as more of the family there in Germany. The time spent with Hanso, Line, Morten, Ronja, Kristen, Maja and the rest of the Norwegian family. That All added up to a phenomenally exceptional adventure. 

We couldn't have asked for a better time and amazing wealth of history, nature and the most important point of all, FAMILY.  As you might have guessed by now, I place a pretty high value on family.  Even though my blood family is relatively small, it's my extended family that makes me proud to be who I am. Sure, I talk, (alot), about feeling like I'm a dork, but in reality, I know I can do anything I put my mind to and with the help of this family, it WILL be possible.  I hope one day to welcome a wonderful woman into my life and children of my own as well.  In the meantime, I am Very proud to call all of You my family and for me, it's Not just a comment, it IS from the heart.

Deutsch: Momma und ich möchte Ihnen für Ihre Gastfreundschaft, Freundschaft danken und vor allem zur Herstellung von uns das Gefühl, wie eine Familie.  Sie alle haben immer eine offene Einladung, hier zu Besuch in Colorado, wann immer Sie wollen. Die Familie ist immer willkommen!

Norske: Momma og jeg vil takke deg for din gjestfrihet, vennskap og mest av alt for å gjøre oss føler at familien.  Dere alle alltid har en åpen invitasjon til å besøke her i Colorado, når du vil. Familien er alltid velkommen!

I AM blessed for All of my family, all over the world.  As each year goes by, I get to meet and interact with ever more people, see and experience more sights, sounds and yes, "experiences", too.  With that, we'll call this blog session over.

Bless You and may your life Always be as good as you deserve.


Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Paisano European Tour 2010 - Day 22

Day 22 is September 28

Today is a our last full day in Norway and we're out to make it a good one.  As you might have guessed, I was up coughing again at 12:30 and down stairs until about 4:30.  I was up a bit after 8am, finished up my medicine and then we were off.

The adventure today was a trip to Hans and Ronja's school.  It was nice to see  the halls of a high school outside of the US.  While we weren't able to get an "official" tour of the school, Hans did a good job of showing us the highlights.  It was also nice to be able to wonder around a bit without going through all of the security issues as we have to here, especially in Colorado.  Momma and I had a chance to sit in on a biology class that was kind of fun although we did miss most of the lecture since it was, (understandably) in Norske.  I So should have studied both Norwegian and German for this trip.  ;)   Just before the class started, I got nice surprise and had a chance to meet up with Thomas again.  Thomas is a schoolmate of Hans Olav's who was also in Colorado for the year that my boys were here.

After we finished up at school Morten took Momma & I to "The Castle".  As we got there, a bus tour was just finishing up, so we went in for that last of that.  I thought maybe that was the tour, but I should have trusted my friend Morten Much more.  He, Of Course, Hooked Us Up.  What we got instead of the normal "touristy" variety was a great personalized tour.  Our tour was very interesting and full of great information.  The furniture was beautiful and very intricately designed.  There is great amounts of history here and much of the building is from the 1100's.  Of course, there were many additions over the years and a very interesting mix of old and a little less old. 

 Some of my favorite things about the tour were the excellent historical stories which included the story of the "happy virgins" and the "mad" or sad virgins.  The story says that the happy ones look pretty (and happy), because they were clean & fresh, (and therefore became part of the "chosen").  From looking at the statues, the unhappy ones were pretty ugly...).  The guide said the statues actually represented a scene from a cupboard found in Florence, Italy.

At the castle, there is also a burial chamber off the chapel area that stores the wooden coffins of the "master of the castle" and his 3 wives, (no not at all at the same time).  They had many, many kids and unfortunately, as the years wore on, the estate and castle, (and wealth), seemed to dwindle.  On the grounds, outside the walls of the castle is oldest pyramid in Scandinavia.  It's a rather unexpected sight but really very cool.  Right here is a perfect place on the grounds for echo, echo, echos.... great stuff.

Our next stop was a quick trip to Hans & Ronja's condo and then we head off for a tour of the cannon/gun turret/fort on the coast.  This gun was orginally installed on a small German battleship.  That ship was partically destroyed so the German WWII war machine decided to install them in a 5 story battlement which was meant to defend this area of Norway from Allied Forces.  The World War 2 history here is very interesting and when we are able to step back, you can see the very machine like precision of the German war effort.  The facility was built by POW labor and is really a model of efficiency.  Luckily, this gun was never fired in anger.  Thankfully, this installation came on line later in the war.  Had it been eariler, the outcome could have been different.

Again, Momma was a trooper and made her way through the building just like she'd been climbing around in things like this for years.  In fact, she even demonstrated how the soldiers would have loaded the shells.  She's so awesome.  Of course, I also got a Huge chuckle out of the interaction between Hans and Ronja (and Morten, too).  In one area, Ronja was trying to blow through the communication tube to no avail.  Hanso, being the big brother, had to show off and made the whistle blow loud and clear.  It Could be the fact that our son is full of hot air.  ;)  I Really like the photo I was able to grab before the tour.  I think it shows two young adults that have grow to respect one another and will help each other through trials & tribulations through the rest of their lives.  THAT's Great stuff!

After we finished up with the canon tour, we 5 head off to Line's Mom's house.  Liv was a wonderful host(ess) and dinner was excellent.  Momma and I got to hang out with Liv and Kyrre as well as Line, Kristen and Maja.  Of course, Morten, Ronja & Hans were also there.  The house and location were perfect for a great view of the water and a really awesome moon rise.  We topped off the great dinner with fantastic desserts.

Tonight is our last night in Norway.  It hard to believe we are at the end of our time here.  Everyone here has not only shown us amazing generosity, but Momma and I have both felt like a true part of the family.  For that we say Thank You, Thank You , Thank YOU.

Takk, hver og alle for innbydende oss inn i deres hjem og liv. Vi vil alltid sette pris på vår tid sammen

Friday, January 7, 2011

Paisano European Tour 2010 - Day 21

Day 21 is September 27

Well, it's 12:30 am and I'm up coughing again.  I'm still trying to get over this crud and so I head downstairs to the cough and banish myself until about 5am.  I got some sleep until about 9am.  By the time I drag myself back downstairs, it was breakfast time with Morten and Momma.

Today, our first adventure is a trip to Kristin and Maja's school.  Line and Morten worked with the school and Maja's teacher to allow us to visit.  While we were visiting the school we got to spend time in Maja's class.  It was really fun for me and Momma too.  The kids were great, very polite, had some great questions for us and even though they were pretty shy, really were a lot of fun.  I think it was a learning experience for all of us.
 After we finished up answering all the great questions, we got a chance to hang out with an older class as well.  In this class we spent some time on geography.  It was great to spend time with the older kids and especially for them to get a feel for how far the US is away from Norway.  It also gave them a great example of how similar we are, even if we're half way across the world.

After we finished with our classroom activities, Momma, Morten and I spent some time outside during the recess time and were treated to a nice little performance from Kristin, Maja and some friends.  It was fun for me to see how much kids here in Norway remind me of kids back home in Colorado.  We got a few more pictures at the school and after a great day with the kids we were off to the store to pick up more medicine to try to get rid of my crud.

Dinner tonight was Great!  We had moose and roe deer meat.  Here's a thought.  If we woulda had more moose would it have been meese meat or mooses meat???  This was Really great stuff!  I, of course had never had either.  It was really outstanding!  This great meal was topped off with a wonderful bottle of Spanish red gifted from Hans.  He brought it back from his, (and the family's) trip to Spain.  Yahoo!  Great, great stuff!

After the dinner, Hans and Ronja were hanging out and we all went to Raustein Farm to checkout the sunset.  It was beautiful.  I always enjoy both sunset and sunrise, but in reality, sunset is easier for me to deal with.  You know, it's later and I'm not still trying to get my Much needed beauty rest. :)  We were able to get a few pretty cool sunset pictures and even one with some gray haired dork.


We all enjoyed a nice coffee and dessert with the family and got ready to call it a night.  On our way home, Morten decided to drive the '56 Chevy and well, Morten's a nice guy, so he kindly let me drive...Yay!

After we got back home, we call it a night, I head upstairs and try to get healthy(er).

Good Night All!  It's SO hard to believe that this trip is nearly over.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Paisano European Tour 2010 - Day 20

Day 20 is September 26

This morning I was up around 7 am and coughing up a lung and a half.  After catching my breath, I did grab shave and a shower.  Even though I'm still me, I do look a touch more "civilized".  I was able to spend a bit of time catching up on my journal, (you know, if I don't write this stuff down, I'll be in the same boat as the Route 66 ride and forget important stuff), I also got a couple emails out as well. After I caught up on my paperwork duties, breakfast was with Line, Morten, Momma, Kristin and then Hans and Ronja a touch later.

Our plans for today start with a "pic a nic" lunch, (you need to hear that in your head as Yogi Bear;) ).  After packing up the lunch, Momma, Hans & I head out to take the ferry to the "other" side of the fjord.  We three met up with Morten at Orland, (that's pronounced "Er-land" or at least that's how an American might pronounce it) field.

We went to Orland, well, mostly because that's where Morten landed his plane and well, That's where we need to be if we want to head up into the "wild blue yonder".  Momma was the first one up in Morten's small two seater single engine trainer.  The look on Momma's face when she got all strapped in, was Priceless!  Momma said she really enjoyed her flight.  To hear her tell it is the coolest, but I'll do my best.  She said it was so great being up in the air in the small-ish, (but Very cool plane).  When Morten asked her if she wanted to fly she said "oh, I don't know, I think I'll pass".  She thought about it and then said; "I'm 80 years old, I may never get the chance again..."  I Love that!

After she flew for a bit, Morten did a couple rolls with her as well.  She came through like a trooper and had a grin on her face for the rest of the day.  ;)

We finally drug Momma out of the cockpit and it was now my turn.  The flight was awesome!  The scenery was absolutely beautiful.  The mountains, fjords, trees, and the water all Amazing!.  We did rolls, flips and other Way cool stuff!  We pulled a bit over 4Gs during "my" flight, what a Rush!!!  Morten even let me land  :)  Ya- Hoo!!!

Our next stop after the flights were over, was a trip to Hans & Ronja's condo.  They stay here because it is So much closer to their high school.  It's a place they share with a couple others and it's really a nice place.  I'm Very proud of both Hans and Ronja.  I had an extra little smile when Hans told me he has a glass of wine at the end of the day, a little something he learned from his "American Dad".  Not that he indulged while in Colorado, of course.  Hans takes good care of his sister and roommates, too.

After the "Condo Tour" and pic a nic, with Line and Kyrre, (Line's brother), we head over to celebrate with Morten's sister Mayanita.  Hopefully, she had a Happy 40th and it was great for Momma & I to meet ever more of our adopted Norwegian family and we got to see the video of the wonderful wedding in Spain.  There were lots of kids around and I sure wish I had their energy.  I'm still feeling poorly, but keep on going because I can't bear to miss anything on this trip of a lifetime.

As the time as starting to get a bit late and closer to dusk, we decided to head back home.  Morten and I took the plane back as Momma rode with the rest of the family.  Hanne and her girls gave us a lift back to the airfield and Morten and I got ready to fly home.  Man, I Love the way that sounds!  Morten, in his infinitely patient way, "let" me take off and even fly for awhile   Cool doesn't even begin to touch the feeling.  It was starting on it's way to getting dark, but it was a Beautiful full moon this night.  After I "gave up" the stick, we did some more awesome sightseeing and more rolls, Very Cool!  We landed at the small hanger Morten has somewhat close to home and after putting the plane away, I got to ride Hanso's "spaghetti racer" back home.  I decided to ride a little bit past the house and along the highway that follows the shore.  I've now Officially ridden a motorcycle in Norway.  I SO need to get my Lowrider out here.  Hmmm...I need to work on that idea.

As much fun as the day was and as cool as the ride was, I, of course, am sicker now.  Oh well... We had more great conversation and then it was off to bed for me.  I woke up at 12:30 or so and headed downstairs again, this time until about 5:30.  Sickness...yuck...

Another great day in the books and a need to get ready for more cool stuff tomorrow.  Good Night All!