27 September: We’re about an hour away from the farthest point north we go—71 degrees. We will dock and I’ll join a tour to the North Cape (Nordkapp), return for my last night onboard, and then tomorrow it’s Kirkenes and the bus south. The terrain is still mountainous but seems treeless; shrubs have moved into their place. Fewer people. A brief glance at an Aurora last night. It’s been a superb trip; I can understand the temptation to stay aboard and return to Bergen but even if I had the time, wouldn’t do it. I may not see equal beauty and mystery of landscape again but I wanted to spend time in and looking at new places and I’m doing that with considerable satisfaction. The Earth is big but not unknowable and even with differences place-to-place never seems completely unfamiliar. It’s like a very extended family, although the sense of kinship does not abate as I reach the edges of the previously unknown, even though the faces change.

28 September: I had looked at this ferry trip as the highlight of the trip with the Ring Road in Iceland right behind it, and both have met my expectations. The joy of Nature’s great expressions, of course, but seeing how many people carve lives in relative isolation in remarkable landscapes turned out of more interest than probably would have occurred to me if I had thought about it. I feel the importance of place more than ever, of small community, of life in demanding, unique, and beautiful places where Nature’s domination is never in doubt. These are small countries I’m traveling through, superior ones in most ways. Can they hold onto it in a commodity themed world? I have three weeks and three countries left, and I want to learn what I can of them; I feel myself on the downslope toward home.


Photo by: Arnstein Rønning

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