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Old 18th November 2013, 22:20   #121
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Default Re: Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora

Wonderful photos, how do you manage to get mirror images? do you have a wait for long to get those outstanding photos?. I think sony nex camera does wonders for the cobalt blue sky in your pics.I am considering Sony for my next camera.
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Old 19th November 2013, 11:26   #122
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Default Re: Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora

Originally Posted by bullock-Car View Post
Wonderful photos, how do you manage to get mirror images? do you have a wait for long to get those outstanding photos?. I think sony nex camera does wonders for the cobalt blue sky in your pics.I am considering Sony for my next camera.
When the wind dies mirror image automatically happens . But yes, sometimes you have to wait.

As for the camera, my shots are mixed D7000 and NEX-5N
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Old 19th November 2013, 15:00   #123
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Default Re: Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora

Wow Tanveer jee, awesome T-log!

Missed your post earlier and read from page one till the end in 3 hours flat. Awesome! Wow again.
How, I don't regret missing lunch this afternoon since I was so much into reading your log.

Last edited by Divya Sharan : 19th November 2013 at 15:01. Reason: Spell check
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Old 19th November 2013, 15:26   #124
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Default Re: Day 2 #7: Gravity

Originally Posted by tsk1979 View Post
...Well, a jingle peppered with mooing happy cow voice can only be an advert for milk. If it was for beef I am sure they would have used a screaming cow instead....
While your narrating style is simply superb, this one takes the cake, in my opinion. I broke into after reading this.

Thank you for all the hard work you have put in till now to make your experience(s) reach the masses.
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Old 19th November 2013, 18:19   #125
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Default Day 3 #2 : Frozen

We have seen many glaciers.
Some like the Durang Durung show themselves from the road. Some require a walk like the Samudri Tapu, while others require a hard hike to the Eggishorn, like the Altesch.
Some are long, some are short.
Some blue as the sky, and some grey as soot.

But never, never before have we been to a glacier. Never touched one. Never kissed the eternal ice. Never
Until now.

And here we are.
We have crossed the warning boards which foretell doom and death from falling ice. If there is something which has to be ignored, its the warning signs. They are put there to be ignored.

The call of the ice is strong
And it has pulled us, right to the glacier.
To its blue depths
Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora-dsc_dsc01110_lrxl.jpg

Many climb the crevices, and scale along the shifting ice, but we have no such equipment, so all we must do is touch
Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora-dsc_dsc01111_lrxl.jpg

The cave is inviting, yet deadly. And from it flows water in its purest form on Earth.
Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora-dsc_dsc01114_lrxl.jpg

We fill our empty bottles, and drink the Nigardsbreen
Its here, right here
Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora-dsc_dsc_3099_lrxl.jpg

It glows blue like an alien artifact
Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora-dsc_dsc_3100_lrxl.jpg

The tall spires dwarf us
Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora-dsc_dsc_3103_lrxl.jpg

And its dying
Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora-dsc_dsc01118_lrxl.jpg

We have walked over its remains for the past one hour, only wondering, how majestic it would have been
But all we see behind is desolate rock left behind
Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora-dsc_dsc_3104_lrxl.jpg

Every passing year, it retreats, as if withdrawing into its loving parent
Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora-dsc_dsc_3106_lrxl.jpg

After decades and centuries, even the vegetation makes its claim
Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora-dsc_dsc01121_lrxl.jpg

We sit here for an hour, if not more.
Looking over a magnificent glacier from the road moves you. But being here is a different experience.
Every bare rock reminds you of the warming planet.
The ones before us saw it even longer, and the ones after us may only see a blue lake.
And the ones after them may only gaze at dead rock, and wonder, who went wrong where.

But there is not much time for pondering, and we start our walk back.
Somehow, going back is tougher.

Here and there trail markings indicate where to go, but at most places there are faded, so slipping and on all fours, we try to climb and make our way back.

The then it happens.

My wife puts her foot on a seemingly dry rock, but in the shadow its hard to make out the black icy film.

She has a fall, a very very nasty one.

In Norway, you are truly on your own. Unlike the USA, there are no armies of medvacs and helicopter corps.
So the best thing to do first, is make sure nothing is broken.

The fall is severe, and the rock is tall and hard, but thankfully the thick jacket has dulled some of the impact.
Only some.

The arm which has taken the impact is not broken. However, its atleast a muscle or ligament tear, and if you are no stranger to sports injuries, you would know its almost has bad as a broken bone.

More than half the stretch is remaining, and it will have to be done without support of the right Arm.

In a foreign land, getting injured is one of the worst things which can happen, so now its time to be doubly careful.

Slowly and agonizingly she proceeds with me, and we reach the parking lot.

I check out the emergency kit of the mini. It has lots of stuff for cuts and wounds, but no pain sprays or pain killers.
All that stuff is in the cottage.

Pain teaches the best lessons. And we have learnt one the hard way. Always carry your medkit with you.

There is a bus full of local tourists, most probably students, and I go over and explain the situation.

In not time, every one of them is searching their backpacks. Unfortunately, murphy has the last laugh. There is none.
The bus driver digs though his med kit, and finds something. Its a wound bandage with antiseptic and painkiller for deep wounds.

This will have to do.
Slowly and agonizingly we test out the moment of the arm to make sure nothing is broken, and tie the big bandage for support. The shoulder is not dislocated, and no bones are broken.
This won't be the first of the mishaps on this trip, but for the next story, there is still time.

For now, time to fix this.

After resting for a while, I decide we should go back to Luster and get medical help. But she will have none of it.
"We are here for the glaciers, and we will see all of them. My arm is fine".

I know the fine bit is a lie. A muscle tear is a painful injury. But she's the medico here, so her world is final.

So we march on. To the next.

The wild lady of Norway showed us her dangerous side. And there is more to come...
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Old 19th November 2013, 18:36   #126
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Default Re: Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora

Awesome professional pics, Sir. After your photo-rich travelogues on Europe and the Ladakh guide, this thread has even better pictures. Probably you have used a better DSLR this time. Every pic is wallpaper worthy. Please keep it up!
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Old 21st November 2013, 13:42   #127
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Default Re: Day 3 #2 : Frozen

Originally Posted by tsk1979 View Post
We have seen many glaciers.

The wild lady of Norway showed us her dangerous side. And there is more to come...

Having been through each and every one of your T-LOGs over the years, I never thought it possible that it would get any better, but WOW, it sure has. You have outdone yourself.

You have taken us to the Himalayas and Europe and made us hunt for snow with you and taken us over 18 and more passes, but this really, really takes the cake.

This is fantastic stuff; both visually and in words. Thanks, old chap, you really made my day.

More power to you. May you go on many many many more trips such as this one and then some more, so that we may enjoy it all with you as well!
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Old 21st November 2013, 18:01   #128
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Default Day 3 #3 : The Lake on the mountain

Lakes are always quite interesting. Some are as big as oceans, filling up with countless rivers which flow from the mountains flanking them.
Some are jewel like, fed by a solitary glacier for millennia.

If you find a lake on the top of the mountain, its usually a small glacial lake. But sometimes we intervene. Build walls, check dams, barriers. And so, what you have is a lake on top of a mountain.

Our next destination is one such lake. Its big and huge, and it sits on top of the mountains. And to the lake its a narrow bumpy road.

But, before that, we have to bid goodbye to the big and Scary Nigardsbreen
Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora-dsc_dsc_3107_lrxl.jpg

The landscape is all yellow. Soon it will be all white
Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora-dsc_dsc_3109_lrxl.jpg

And our mini, well it looks same as before.
Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora-dsc_dsc_3111_lrxl.jpg

Like many of her siblings made in the bowels of Bavaria, mini also has a built like a tank personality. But with an injured right arm, even simple things like opening the tank like doors or pulling the tank like handle is a pain in the tank. And inside the claustrophobic interior, every bump with the tank like door is quite painful.
But what cannot be cured, has to be endured.

For now, we start up the mountain road. An ominous sign declares "Road not maintained". Well it has a pothole here and there, but then... different standards!

We climb up the narrow road, which is quite steep. Over the next few kms we will gain almost a km.
Typically such climbs are done in first gear with engine grunting, and black smoke painting the landscape in soot.
However, for the mini, its 2nd or third. Right from 1100rpm she pulls "Is it all?".

And on the cold sunny afternoon, we reach our destination, the Styeggevatnet.
Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora-dsc_dsc_3113_lrxl.jpg

From the parking lot, its a short but tiring steep walk uphill for few minutes and we reach the check dam road
Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora-dsc_dsc_3115_lrxl.jpg

This lake is famous for its icebergs. Every now and then, a part of the glacier falls into the lake, and you have a floating iceberg. Today however, no such luck!
We go to the shore, and sit there. Nice place to have sandwiches, eh?
Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora-dsc_dsc_3116_lrxl.jpg

Behind us, rocks sit silently
Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora-dsc_dsc01123_lrxl.jpg

The wind refuses to die, so we get few reflections. The bright blue lake has upped the mood. There is nobody here till now, and then a lone skoda comes in. Its a couple with their dog.
As we sit and watch, they had upto the mountains. They are going to be staying in some mountain hut for the night.
As for us, we bid the last goodbye to the blue glacial lake
Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora-dsc_dsc01125_lrxl.jpg

Its time to walk down, to our steed. For there are more things to see today
Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora-dsc_dsc_3119_lrxl.jpg

And those things lie way way down...
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Old 21st November 2013, 18:57   #129
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Default Re: Day 3 #2 : Frozen

Originally Posted by rajeevn View Post
More power to you. May you go on many many many more trips such as this one and then some more, so that we may enjoy it all with you as well!
I too wish the same Tanveer! Travelling to places oneself has its own charm but if that could not be done then seeing the place along with you is as close as it can get
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Old 22nd November 2013, 12:46   #130
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Default Day 3 #4 : Und die Vgel singen nicht mehr

Daylight is fading now, and we race down on the narrow road. We have just one more destination left for the day. The Bergsetbreen.

As the sun lights up the valley, its a riot of yellow and golden.
Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora-dsc_dsc_3128_lrxl.jpg

We make a quick pitstop on the main road, looking at the Nigardsbreen glacier
Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora-dsc_dsc_3134_lrxl.jpg

The shadows are moving high, and very soon, the valley will be dark and cold. So there is no time to linger for now, and we take the narrow fv 335 to the Bergsetbreen parking lot.
A short hike will take us the the head of the valley, where glaciers fall down from the mountain. Short arms of the majestic Jostdal.

Evening is a time of noise and cacophony, when the birds chirp with song, and a frenzy of activity as they fly to their nests with the days catch.

However, there is no birdsong here. No cacophony. No frenzy. Its cold and dead. Silent.
The birds sing no more here. The fir forest is cold and frigid. In the narrow valley the winter is already here, defeating the autumn sun.

Reminds me of one of my favorite songs

Ich werde in die Tannen gehen
Dahin wo ich sie zuletzt gesehen
Doch der Abend wirft ein Tuch aufs Land
und auf die Wege hinterm Waldesrand
Und der Wald er steht so schwarz und leer
Weh mir, oh weh
Und die Vgel singen nicht mehr

On the gravel path we must walk, to the very end, where the ice falls, and brings with it almost perpetual winter
Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora-dsc_dsc_3135_lrxl.jpg

The grass is still green.
This is probably the last harvest, after which it will be rolled up in bales for the long dark winter ahead
Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora-dsc_dsc_3136_lrxl.jpg

Once upon a time, not so long ago, these majestic glaciers used to roll down the hills, but now, only the heads remain, and the forest fights for territory
Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora-dsc_dsc01130_lrxl.jpg

Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora-dsc_dsc01134_lrxl.jpg

All that remains are the narrow glacier fed falls. Falling till they freeze
Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora-dsc_dsc_3140_lrxl.jpg

As they fall, they may not look very big, but they roar like only water can roar. This is the water of life. It feeds cities and villages. To their credit the Norwegians have ensured that this water remains clean, and untouched.
Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora-dsc_dsc01136_lrxl.jpg

As we walk the cold path ahead, the vegetation seems to be fighting a losing battle against the cold. Far away the trees may rule, but the cold is winning. All that remains are stunted shrubs bracing against the icy gales of Jostdal
Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora-dsc_dsc_3143_lrxl.jpg

The ground is wet, and there are many streams to cross, a task made easy by these logs, but beware, don't slip
Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora-dsc_dsc_3146_lrxl.jpg

For these little ones, its already winter, and ice cakes the leaves. Many months from now, when the sun shines high again, often till 10pm, they can bloom again, but now they must sleep
Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora-dsc_dsc01137_lrxl.jpg

Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora-dsc_dsc01139_lrxl.jpg

There is so much silence here. Only the water dares to make any noise, and even that sounds muted in front of the spectacle in front of us. We are at the head of the valley, and darkness is falling
Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora-dsc_dsc_3148_lrxl.jpg

The sun still lights up the tops
Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora-dsc_dsc_3153_lrxl.jpg

Its time to head back now. We have been trekking for 45 minutes now, and this is one forest we wouldn't like spend the night in. Its getting colder and colder, and we cover the remaining distance far more quickly
Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora-dsc_dsc_3157_lrxl.jpg

How the colors have changed. Its a different shade of grey now, peppered with green and gold.

The cows still graze. For that is all they know. eat and then eat some more. And then some more. Maybe sing a cow song every now and then, for the milk commercial
Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora-dsc_dsc01140_lrxl.jpg

Alongside them graze the sweaters, preparing to warm their owners
Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora-dsc_dsc01141_lrxl.jpg

Today has been a long day, and a taxing one. Tomorrow we were supposed to kayak in our very on fjord, but the injury means we have to give it atleast a day more.

So we drive on, reflecting upon what we have seen. What we have experienced.
We have seen many mountains, many waterfalls, many lakes, many glaciers, and very few people.
Norway is a lonely place I guess. And the only crowd we found is all under the ground.
Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora-dsc_dsc01144_lrxl.jpg

The church makes you sad, for life is short, and I guess you have to live as much as you can, for there is no rewind button.

At sunset we reach our Fjord. And the clear skies and the still waters greet us. Not tomorrow, but some other day we will venture into these.
Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora-dsc_dsc_3158_lrxl.jpg

For now, its time to rest, and just sit by the fjord, in our warm cabin. Tonight's dinner is a simple affair, but the next few days are going to be quite a treat. But more on that later.

For now, its time to end the day, and prepare for the new dawn, when we again go up the mountain, up the snow road.
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Old 22nd November 2013, 16:16   #131
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Default Day 4 #1 : I'm on a boat

New day, new dawn, new plans.
There is something about the morning, which is refreshing. You are all eager. The night has taken away the fatigue, the worries and you are rearing to go.
And all this is even more refreshing if you start your day at a wonderful time of 9am.
Its 12:30pm in India, which is a very very jolly nice time to wake up.

Today we will go to Aurland and Flam.
Our plan for the day is to visit the narrow fjord, or to be specific Nryfjord.
This fjord is 11kms long, and only 500 meters wide at many places.

There are many many ways to reach this fjord. You can take a helicopter and fly to it. But we had no helicopter.

You could drive on the mountain road to Over-Ardal, and make a many many hour long journey along narrow roads.

Across the sognefjord, which is our fjord, you could simply take the worlds longest tunnel. Or, you could instead, cock a snook at the engineering Marvel and take the old high snow road.

We decided to do it in a mixed way.

first of all, the journey across Over Ardal was ruled out. Shortage of time, and too much driving. But the snow road will have to be taken, definitely!

So how do we cross the fjord? Well the shortest way of course, across it.

So with egg bread stuff done, we begin our day, looking at the cloudless sky, and hoping yr.no is wrong for the next few days.

Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora-d70003160xl.jpg

Traffic is thin, but we do manage to find wonders of wonders. An extended load with a plastic bag for warning. Made us feel so much at home, eh?
Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora-nex5n01154xl.jpg

The route winds through the countryside
Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora-nex5n01156xl.jpg

At Sogndal, you again touch the sea waters, and head all the way to Kaupanger.
After Kaupanger its the Amlatunnelen, which lands you at the edge of the fjord.

for all its German technology, the poor mini still cannot swim. And there is an ocean to cross
Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora-d70003162xl.jpg

So we do what the locals do. Climb aboard the ferry. Its 99NOK, i.e. 1100INR for a one way ticket, but then if we take the ovre Ardal route, we will spend more in fuel, and a lot more in time. Where the fjords are wide, these ferry lines carry you across, cutting travel times by hours. Some places where are bridges and tunnels, but ferries still rule the roost.

Traffic is thin, and we get our berth on the first ferry and begin our 11 minute journey
Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora-d70003163xl.jpg

Car ferries are always fascinating. The first time we experienced this was in very own Goa, riding a rental Santro over the backwaters. And it was raining. The ferry was a lot rickety too.

This one is a modern ship, with its expensive pantry and heated lounge etc.,
Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora-d70003165xl.jpg

We slowly amble along, and from the other side, another crosses us
See how wide a berth these ferries give each other
Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora-d70003166xl.jpg

Thanks to Mr Bernoulli, a close shave can lead to a shave of the sides. And I guess they play it safe.

11 minutes later we are on the shore, and heading towards our destination. I have marked a point on top of the mountain in the GPS waypoint, and it guides me away from the Engineering Marvel. Soon, we will start our climb, on the lovely Aurlandsfjellet, also called the "Snow Road".
Its time to bid goodbye to sea level, and rise
Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora-d70003168xl.jpg
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Old 22nd November 2013, 17:10   #132
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Default Re: Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora

The Norway Videos added to First post
Norway in a Nutshell - A time lapse of our journey in the cars

And the Aurora Timelapse : The song of the sun
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Old 23rd November 2013, 17:04   #133
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Default Re: Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora

The Aurora Tim lapse video is surrreal
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Old 24th November 2013, 23:03   #134
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Default Re: Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora

Day 4 #2: The beauty and the beasts

24.5kms long. That is how long the Laerdal tunnel is. Taking the tunnel to Aurland reduces the distance from the ferry terminal to Aurland by approx 15kms. However, the major saving is in time, for now there is no narrow mountain road to climb. Only an arrow straight tunnel with 80kmph limit.

Our plan was the mountain vistas, and the mountain lakes. So guess what, we give it a skip, and turn towards the snow road, or the old road.
Its called the snow road for a reason. Thanks to its altitude and the weather system of west Norway, it opens only in June. Even in Autumn, there is some snow by the side, and till end July you can see high snow-walls.

The snow also means, that the entire mountain is dotted with exotic lakes and water bodies.
This is one of the most popular "Tourist routes" of Norway.

So as we revved our tiny go-card up the hill, our first traffic obstruction came pretty soon.

What is this Animal? I won't tell you, keep guessing!
Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora-nex5n01161xl.jpg

The ear tags definitely show it as a domestic beast
Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora-nex5n01162xl.jpg

And another beast comes up the mountain. I guess this is the vehicle built for Norway!
Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora-nex5n01166xl.jpg

Our steed just sits by smirking... I can run rings around that elephant and never even need to take a breath
Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora-nex5n01172xl.jpg

And from top this one seems to be asking. Have you any food
Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora-nex5n01174xl.jpg

Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora-nex5n01175xl.jpg

We would have hung around here some more... but the open road awaits, the mountain awaits
Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora-nex5n01176xl.jpg

So its time to leave the beasts behind
Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora-nex5n01177xl.jpg

Say a last goodbye
Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora-nex5n01181xl.jpg

And ride.. up the mountain!
Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora-d70003171xl.jpg

Last edited by tsk1979 : 24th November 2013 at 23:05.
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Old 27th November 2013, 21:16   #135
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Default Day 4 #3 : Mountain

And so we set off, rising
Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora-nex5n01182xl.jpg

Till we are almost at the top. This is where the snow road technically starts. A small barrier is let down every winter when snow blocks this road
Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora-nex5n01183xl.jpg

The road is amazing, and soon smoothens out into a straight section. Unfortunately, not many places to stop. So I guess, I let the dashcam do the photography.

Finally, after many kms, near the top, we get a place to pitstop
Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora-d70003175xl.jpg

Its past noon now, and this calls for some sandwiches. Can't help it. If I see a nice lake I feel hungry.
The mini is still quite full though. We can defer refueling till the end of the day. Anyways, she just sniffs fuel, thats about it
Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora-d70003179xl.jpg

Another angle
Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora-d70003180xl.jpg

And yet another
Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora-d70003181xl.jpg

See how there is nothing on the horizon, nothing taller. We are at the very top of the snow road, and all that is left is a spec here and a spec there. Autumn is the time of least snows, and somehow all our travels happen to various places in Autumn.

This is our lake, one of countless ones which do this landscape
Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora-nex5n01184xl.jpg

Behond these hills, short walk away are many more such hidden lakes. But on holidays like this, lack of time is always something which makes you choose!

As we drive on, I take one glance back at the snow road. Objects in the mirror are prettier than they look?
Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora-nex5n01185xl.jpg

And soon we stop again. More lakes.. yay!
Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora-d70003184xl.jpg

And more.. yeah.. more
Sonata Arctica : Chasing the Aurora-d70003186xl.jpg

We keep driving on and on, and soon a series of switchbacks start bringing us back to terra ferma from the lofty heights.
Today's drive has been ideal. Short, sweet and simply stunning. The road is narrow, but surface is smooth, and traffic...? Well whats that. Again, the side effects of off season.

The skies have been deep blue all throughout. Nothing betrays the raging torrents which are going to come shortly. But then they say, always trust yr.no
And yr.no says today and tomorrow are all we have, and we intend to make the most of it.

So with thoughts and plans, we turn towards our next pit stop : The Stegastein

Last edited by tsk1979 : 27th November 2013 at 21:17.
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