Nothing is waterproof…

Day 41 – Sunday 4th of August – Narvik to 10 km east of Mo i Rana (445km)

…if it rains hard and long enough. The sound of rain woke me up this morning, as Alf was coming down from his room and we both realized we were a bit hung over. The cup of wine had turned into two bottles that we drank with Bjorn as we enjoyed what they said was a very rare warm night out in the terrace. Wanting to make the best of the good weather, Alf got the barbecue going and we had some midnight grilled meat, which tasted wonderful. Then the wine gave way to home-made spirit, what they call moonshine, and then at about 1 am, as the day was starting again, a fine drizzle started to fall, so we moved the party inside until about 5 am. I had a great time with Alf an Bjorn, and discovered some excellent new music.

Alf offered me to stay for one more day, and I was very tempted to do so as the rain was quite hard that morning and I did not fancy another long ride in it, because that would mean having to pay for accommodation at the end of the day to dry all the gear before going on, and prices were just too high. We checked the weather forecast and it seemed that it would not last long, the sun was supposed to come out in the afternoon and there was no rain in Mo i Rana, 400km to the south, so I decided wait for a while and then go. We watched a couple of episodes of a comedy I did not know, called Better Off Ted, which I really liked. I will download it when I get back home. (Do not download things kids, it is illegal, buy the DVDs)

At midday I loaded the bike and set off under the rain, expecting it to clear soon. 80km further south, it was still raining hard, and I pictured the weather service offices that morning – two meteorologists sitting in front of a computer, writing the forecast for the day, and one asks the other ‘what do you think the weather is going to be like today?’ and he replies ‘I have absolutely no clue’, so the first one says ‘right, I’ll just put in the sun-cloud-rain icon, one of the three is bound to be right’.

So as I came to the first ferry crossing of my trip in Norway I wondered how long I would have to wait under the rain for the ferry to turn up. I was happy to see it coming as I stopped at the ramp behind only two other cars, and I thought that it would not take long. Sure enough, it docked, the cars rolled off and a guy approached us with a credit card terminal in his hand to charge us for the crossing. It was almost 8€ and there was no choice but to pay it, as the road ended there. As he walked to two other cars that had arrived in the meantime, I put on the gloves again, ready to board, but to my dismay, nothing happened. It seemed that the ferry was going to wait until there were enough cars to fill it up before sailing off, and with quite thin traffic that morning, I had to wait for half an hour in the rain. Great.

We were finally allowed onto it, and I parked the bike at the front. For safety reasons, passengers were not allowed on the car deck during the crossing, so I went down to the lower deck, were there were some benches and tables, hoping the sea would not be too rough, as I did not like the idea of the bike falling on its side again, especially on the hard metal deck. I walked into the passenger deck with my suit dripping with water and people looking at me with funny faces, found a quiet corner in front of an old lady knitting and had lunch, taking the opportunity of being in a warm, dry place. Just as I finished and packed the food again, people started getting up and going back to their cars, we were on the other side of the fjord. I went up, put on the helmet and the wet gloves again and rode off the ferry. To my surprise, the weather had improved in the 20 minutes the crossing had lasted, it was still very cloudy, but it did no rain anymore. My suit was soaked, but the waterproof layer was doing its job well and I was dry and comfortable, but the same could not be said of my gloves. They were supposed to be waterproof, but in less than an hour the water had soaked through. I turned the heated grips to the max to keep my hands warm and hoped the sun would come out soon.

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It did not until I was practically done with the day’s riding, past Mo i Rana and near the Swedish border, where I stopped for the night. I only stopped once for fuel and once at the point at which I left the Arctic Circle, where there was a monument and a souvenir shop. I was about to get a wristband, but the print on them was really bad quality and they were ridiculously overpriced, so I just took a few pictures, talked to a guy who was on his way north from Germany on a Harley and rode on.

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I had seen on the map that Sweden was only a few kilometers away from Mo i Rana, so I decided to cross the border and maybe find a campsite instead of camping in the wild, as prices were bound to be more reasonable than in Norway, where you had to pay a minimum of 20€ just to set up the tent, and they charged extra for using the Internet… In the end though, the sun came out and the clouds all but disappeared from the sky, and the area near the border was so nice that I just decided to find a good spot and camp. I found a picnic area that was away from the road, by a small pond, and I set camp there for the night.

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