Archive for July, 2013

Adventures in Norway

Last week Mark and I left Sweden to make the journey across Norway to a small town called Fitjar, which is located on the west coast. Once there we met up with our wonderful hosts Geir Ingolf and Ingeborg, who made us feel right at home.

We had allowed both a day before and a day after classes to explore the area. After a great night of sleep Geir Ingolf, Ingeborg, Mark and I hopped on a boat to explore the islands. Along the way we pulled crab pots, and took the the tasty crustaceans to an island that is owned by Geir Ingolf’s family. Once there we had a feast, munching on crab and talking about the classes that would take place the next couple of days. We also visited several other islands, exploring old buildings and munching on freshly baked cinnamon rolls at one of two small shops.

Geir Ingolf pulls up a Troll Crab.

Geir Ingolf pulls up a Troll Crab.

Mark hangs out with dinner.

Mark hangs out with our dinner.

Several other joined us on the island for dinner, and there was enough for everyone.

Several other joined us on the island for dinner, and there was enough for everyone.

The weather was stunning. For the most part it was hot, with clear blue skies and hardly any wind. Perfect weather for the rolling classes that I was conducting and the technique classes that Mark was teaching.

Sunny weather and warm water were perfect for rolling classes.

Sunny weather and warm water were a perfect mix for rolling classes.

Lessons in balance.

Lessons in balance.

Games are often a fun way to teach valuable skills.

Games are often a fun way to teach valuable skills.

After two days of instruction we had a day off to explore, and opted for a hike in the local mountains.

Tinka enjoys soaking in every body of water that she passes, no matter how small that body of water might be.

Tinka enjoys soaking in every body of water that she passes, no matter how small that body of water might be.

There were streams to cross...

There were streams to cross…

...and the easiest way to get around this lake was to swim right through it.

…and the easiest way to get around this lake was to swim right through it.

The climb to the top was challenging at times, and required a little scrambling.

The climb to the top was challenging at times, and required a little scrambling.

Geir Ingolf found a deer antler.

Geir Ingolf found a deer antler.

And we all made it to the top.

And we all made it to the top.

Thanks to Geir Ingolf and Ingeborg for hosting us. We had a wonderful time exploring your part of the world!

A girl and her baths, a boy and his Cheetos

I am learning that in Sweden, when a person refers to a bath, they are referring to immersing themselves in any body of water, not specifically a bathtub, and this week has been filled with baths, wonderful Swedish baths, and wonderful Swedish culture.

A lively group of ladies show their musical talent in Orsa.

A lively group of ladies show their musical talent in Orsa.

Rolling classes were well advertised around town.

Rolling classes were well advertised around town.

It was hard not to relax here.

It was hard not to relax here.

A week ago we headed to Mora, Sweden. Upon arrival we met up with Magnus Fernstrom of Magnus Marine Mora. He took us to Orsa, where there was a wonderful community gathering, complete with live music on every corner and a festive atmosphere. It reminded us a little of a monthly event that we enjoy at home, Arts Arcata.

After a really fun evening, Magnus and co-organizer Anders Theren took us to the house where we’d be staying. It was a large property in the woods, with several cabin-type buildings surrounding a large grass area. Words cannot describe how spectacular the place was, and we felt very welcome. Owner, and builder, of the property, Lars, fired up the wood burning hot tub for us, which was a fantastic place for both evening and morning “baths.” He also showed us around. The property includes a sauna, archery, numerous warm lakes to swim in, swings hanging from tall trees, a well and everything else that both children and adventurous adults could really enjoy. What the property didn’t include was running water or an Internet connection, both of which was fine with us! We stayed on the property for two days, and when we weren’t running classes, we spent lots of time relaxing.

Our incredible room.

Our incredible room.

Anders demonstrates how to use the well.

Anders demonstrates how to use the well.

Lars shows us the playground that he has created around his spectacular property.

Lars shows us the playground that he has created around his spectacular property.

Classes were wonderful too, and held on a large, warm lake in town. The participants did very well, and we hope that they had as much fun as we did!

Of course there was archery as well.

Of course there was archery as well.

And a portable sauna to take to the lake after a cool swim.

And a portable sauna to take to the lake after a cool swim.

A happy tiger takes a nap in the sun at the bear park.

A happy tiger snoozes in the sun at the bear park.

After leaving Mora, we headed to the Orsa Bjornpark. It was our second time visiting this park, and both times we’ve really enjoyed it. The animals have TONS of natural space to roam around, and they seem happy and well fed. The enclosures are so large, that if the animals don’t want to be viewed, they don’t have to be.

After this wonderful treat we headed to the west coast to run classes in Hunnebostrand. On the way we got a little toasty in the car and stopped for a quick “bath” at one of many lakes that we passed. We arrived in Hunnebostrand late, and were greeted by our host, Per Hanson, and his friends.

A huge celebration was taking place at the Hunnebostrand harbor which created a lively atmosphere.

A huge celebration was taking place at the Hunnebostrand harbor which created a lively atmosphere.

Mark demonstrates strokes.

Mark demonstrates strokes.

For the next two days we ran classes in this area for an enthusiastic group of kayakers. It was wonderful to work with so many skill levels, from people who had started kayaking just two days before, to people who had several years of experience behind them. Congrats to the group because everyone got their rolls!

We utilized the spectacular archipelago for the two-day class.

We utilized the spectacular archipelago for the two-day class.

Besides from rolling, we also taught strokes and rescues. The islands in Hunnebostrand provided a gorgeous setting, and we enjoyed warm weather the entire time. Of course, mornings started with yoga, attended by both students and neighbors, and one evening we enjoyed a sit down dinner with our hosts and participants. Thanks to everyone for taking such good care of us!

The channels behind the islands can be a great place to duck away from the wind for a few minutes.

The channels behind the islands can be a great place to duck away from the wind for a few minutes.

The day after classes we slowly made our way to Norway, where we’ll be running classes this coming weekend. We stopped at a hotel for some rest and relaxation. I couldn’t help but laugh when the first thing that I did upon entering the room was pour a glass of red wine and fill up the large bathtub (not as great as the one in Mora, but still nice), and Mark settled on the bed with a beer, a movie and a large bag of Cheetos…

The Nordic Tour Continues

Since my last blog entry Mark and I have been hopping around Denmark and Sweden teaching classes in some very fun, and yet very different locations.

Mikael enjoys a gorgeous day in Sweden.

Mikael enjoys a gorgeous day in Billdal, Sweden.

The wind provided perfect conditions for a BCU 3 Star Sea Assessment.

The wind provided perfect conditions for a BCU 3 Star Sea Assessment.

Demonstrating rescues during the assessment.

Demonstrating rescues during the assessment.

After leaving Copenhagen, we headed to Billdal, Sweden, to run classes for Sea Kayak Bildal. For four days we ran Simplifying the Roll, Simplifying the Stroke, a BCU 3 Star Sea Training, a BCU 3 Star Sea Assessment and Coastal Navigation and Tidal Planning. For the most part, the weather was gorgeous, although the wind picked up just in time for the Assessment, which provided the candidates with the perfect conditions to demonstrate their skills. Several mornings were spent doing yoga on the beach, and evenings were spent with our wonderful hosts, Jessica and Mikael enjoying tasty food and beverages. Before departing, it was wonderful to spend some time horseback riding with Jessica on her gorgeous Icelandic horses.

Congrats to the BCU 3 Star candidates!

Congrats to the BCU 3 Star candidates!

After classes I enjoyed a morning with Jessica and her horse Aspar.

After classes I enjoyed a morning with Jessica and her horses Aspar and Galdur.

After leaving Billdal, we headed back to Denmark to run classes for Frederiksvaerk Ro and Kajakklub. We found this group of enthusiastic kayakers to be tons of fun, and we had a wonderful time running classes there. I ran two sessions of Simplifying the Roll and two sessions of Complicating the Roll. Mark ran full-day technical skills classes. We enjoyed our visit so much that we decided to stay in the area an extra day to explore. Not far away, on a hill with a gorgeous view over the sea, is the house that used to belong to explorer Knud Rasmussen, which is now a museum. Knud Rassmussen is often referred to as the “Father of Eskimology,” and we spent an afternoon checking out his house, which featured incredible Greenlandic artwork and artifacts. Special thanks to our wonderful hosts Mette and Jakob, who made us feel right at home.

A little pre-class meditation.

A little pre-class meditation.

One of many exercises to get people rolling.

One of many exercises to get people rolling.

Working on the Balance Brace.

Working on the Balance Brace.

While my class was rolling, Mark's class was balancing.

While my class was rolling, Mark’s class was balancing.

Mark discusses the fine points of various techniques.

Mark talks about the correct way to hold a paddle.

Knud Rasmussen's house.

Knud Rasmussen’s house.

Expedition reports decorate bookshelves.

Expedition reports decorate bookshelves.

Mark checks out a paddle in one of the rooms.

Mark checks out a paddle in one of the rooms.

A harpoon sat in the corner of a room.

A harpoon sat in the corner of a room.

Our next stop was Grebbestad, Sweden, to run classes for the KajakCenter for two days. Grebbestad is a spectacular fishing town located on the west coast, and one of our favorite places to visit. We enjoyed the stunning weather while we paddled to an island to run full-day rolling classes. This was my fourth time instructing here, and Mark’s second, and it was wonderful to catch up with all of the knowledgeable staff. Thanks for hosting us again!

I find the islands around Grebbestad to be very peaceful, especially on a calm day.

I find the islands around Grebbestad to be very peaceful, especially on a calm day.

A great beach for rolling classes.

A great beach for rolling classes.

The paddle back to Grebbestad.

The paddle back to Grebbestad.

Our next stop was Karlstad, Sweden to run classes for Vanerkajak. Once again the skies were clear, and the sun was shining. It was nice to be in a part of Sweden that neither of us had traveled to before. During the full-day rolling classes we paddled to an island on Lake Vanern, which is the largest lake in Sweden. The island has a warm sandy beach and water so clear that if something was dropped, it was easy to spot on the sandy bottom. Thanks to Bjorn for hosting us!

A warm beach is a wonderful place to talk about rolling.

A warm beach is a wonderful place to talk about rolling.

Mark works with a rolling student.

Mark works with a rolling student.

I help a roller figure out the set-up position.

I help a roller figure out set-up position.

After the group was done rolling we enjoyed a scenic paddle back to the launch site.

After the group was done rolling we enjoyed a scenic paddle back to the launch site.

Yesterday we arrived in Mora, Sweden, where we’ll be running classes tomorrow before heading back to the west coast for more classes.

Photos by Mikael Svalstrand, Jacob Skov, Mark and Helen.

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