Aug 24, 2006

INTO THE MAELSTROM
BODO, Norway: The boats are not quite Zodiacs: more dories with water wings and inflated rubber benches for the passengers to straddle. Each is reduced to a pointillist dot: a blob of neon survival suit. The colors – scarlet, orange, chartreuse – sear the Arctic grey.

Yes, the Arctic. Last night the Nordnorge slipped over the elusive circle.


This particular wedge of Arctic has churches, factories and houses. Little red barns crouch along the coast every few miles, thanks to the Gulf Stream. Every time we plow under a bridge, Edward sighs. He's an extreme-latitude man: give him ice and suffering, not Vikings with handrails.

Sometimes I sigh along. I've had this wild hair, growing ever longer (metaphoric, OK? Ignore the tresses for a minute).

What's over there? Can I see? Could I suffer dramatically en route?

Please don't send me home, merely chubby from the cheese platters...

This boat trip isn't burning Brie exactly, but it does skirt the world's strongest maelstrom. As high tide flushes the Saltstraumenfjord, a 20-knot current funnels into a 150m-wide, three-kilometer-long corridor.

Mythological whirlpools live here.

But, ahem, they're not in now.

However, I stay fairly happy, because we spot sea eagles. And because the corrugated cliffs resemble the charred, flaking remains of rolled newspapers. Fish spangle the quicksilver waters, as the Fauxdiac slaloms in another's slipstream, hot-dogging for the greenhorns.

I may be dialing it in, but at least I'm broadcasting from 67 17'N.

2 comments:

  1. Anonymous7:47 AM

    The gray Arctic water seems like it is making you feel a little gray? I would love to see the red barns.

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  2. Apologies, but I haven't a single red barn shot, mainly because I developed a horror of them, growing up in Skagit Valley...

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