Monday, February 4, 2013


"I should be there in no time, just follow the squiggly blue line", I mumbled. 
Only 730 km, easy. 
Under normal conditions. 

In any season other than Winter it would be. 
And without hundreds of twists, turns and mountain passes. 
Oh, and without riding on an Ice Hockey rink all the way down to Alta. 
AND without being a photographer too. 

Honningsvåg, Norway. Jan 2013.

I hadn't even made it 10 km out of Nordvågen when my Kodak radar, or in my case my Nikon radar went off for the first shot of the morning, a lovely image of Honningsvåg, the warmth of the street lights were contrasting nicely with the dull blue grey snow clouds that were rolling in and about to cover everything with a layer of the fluffy white stuff that I love so much. 
It's one of the things I sometimes struggle with, do I stop and take the shot or do I keep going. Sometimes I have to force myself to stop, which I shouldn't, but I do. I mean, when a 240 km journey takes me 8+ hours I sometimes feel like I'm going to need a helluva lot more than 7 years to get through my 
7 continents in 7 years trip.

Nordkapp Tunnel, 6870 meters (4.25 miles) long.

E69 South of Honningsvåg, Norway.

Being a photographer has it's drawbacks, namely, for me at least, there's not a minute goes by when I don't see something I want to stop and take a picture of, and that can be a bit of a problem at times.
On many occasions, usually at the end or close to the end of my days ride I have forsaken a shot or a location because I just didn't have the energy or enthusiasm left to stop one more time. Or because I just had to get to where I was staying for the night before it turned into the next day.
Or because it was just too damn cold to take off my gloves and take out the camera again while my fingers froze and then the pain set in to them after a few minutes of handling a cold bodied camera in -20. They get cold and painful really quick, and even though I have heated grips, once cold they're hard to get warm again. It doesn't happen immediately. They start to get warm, then the pain comes, then goes in a minute or two then all is good.

Basically that was the scenario all the way down from Nordkapp to Alta in Norway. I was initially thinking of heading east from Nordkapp to Murmansk in Russia, but had no idea of the condition of the road road from Murmansk to Moscow, so I wanted to leave that for another leg of the trip and wait until I had a little more info about it.

So instead I headed back to Alta for a week or so before I headed south into Finland and the city of Rovaniemi, the official Home of Santa Claus. I had wanted to spend a little more time there before I left the North of Norway for this year anyway.

Alta Church, Alta Norway, built in 1858.

Alta Cemetery with a 2 second exp. 
There's an accidental spooky feel to this shot, I didn't plan it that way. It was just so dark I figured a 2 second exposure would lighten the shot up a bit, and then I saw how it turned out. I didn't alter the colors in edit either. 

There were still a few places I wanted to photograph in Alta, the new Northern Lights Cathedral being one of them.

Controversial since it's inception, the residents of Alta questioned the need for a  120 million kroner ($21 million) church, which by now has run well over budget and has been delayed by a number of construction issues.

It was a spur of the moment decision when I just pulled up inside the construction gate of the Northern Lights Cathedral one evening. 
Well, at least it seemed like it was evening it was so dark, but then I checked the time and it was only 3 in the afternoon. One of the construction workers came over to me and told me I couldn't photograph there, so I tried to explain to him that all I wanted was a few pictures for an article. So he said "well, let's go to the foreman's office and see what we can do".
Upstairs in the office I was a bit of a celeb as the foreman recognized me from an article that came out in the local newspaper, Altaposten. That smoothed out any ruffles that might have been there in the first place and off I went with a hard hat and a Day-Glo orange vest into the bowels of the yet to be opened Northern Lights Cathedral.

The original drawing and design description, from what I saw look very interesting and definitely not your average looking Cathedral. According to the architects website there is an area inside the building where visitors and churchgoers will be able to observe the Northern Lights.

The Cathedral is slated to be opened this month and I'm looking forward to seeing if the final design is near to the original. If it is it should be quite a spectacular looking building.Have to wait until December to see it though, as I won't be going up there before then.

Amazing what you find in the hills of Norway.

3 Generations of Reirsen's are in this photo.

 I said my goodbyes to Bjorn-Erik and his Mom and left Alta early the next morning. It was only a 520 km ride and under normal circumstances an easy days ride. I had a great host in Bjorn-Erik and his family during my time in Alta and had a really relaxing stay. I wanted to spend a bit more time in Alta for a number of reasons, one of them being to go Northern Light hunting. For all the time I have spent so far up here in Scandinavia I have yet to see the Northern Lights. My last shot of seeing them is going to be Rovaniemi in Finland. Any further south than Rovaniemi and I'll be too far below the Northern Light belt.

The Northern Light Belt in Scandinavia.

And a Top of the World View.

Early Morning, Route 93 South, Norway. Jan 2013.

There's not a whole lot of anything between Alta to Kautokeino, just 130 kilometers of beautiful, cold and barren landscape covered in snow. 
Right up my alley. 

South of Kautokeino, Norway, a few kilometers before the border of Finland.

This is where I saw the sun for the first time since late November, 2012.
Riding south on Route 93 toward Rovaniemi, Finland I was approaching the Norway/ Finland border and there it was, right in front of me. 
"Hello Sun. Nice to see you. Been a while".

The further south I rode, the more beautiful the vista got. The sun, in all it's radioactive glory, was bringing everything to life. I mean, I enjoyed myself in Alta and Nordkapp, but until now didn't give it much thought that I never saw the sun up there. As a photographer it's an essential ingredient, one that can't be substituted with a flash or any other type of lighting. We need the Sun. My camera needs the sun.

On the other side of that green traffic light is Finland. I bade Norway and it's people a heartfelt farewell and thank you for all the wonderful experiences I had there. 

Now it was time to make some new ones in Finland.

Coming next week on Wherethehellismurph:

Welcome to Finland.


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