The day to end all days
There I was, perched on a rock, my bare butt sticking up to the cloudless sky, the sun warming my back, a playful gust of cool air whipping my hair. The water tumbled over the rocks and rushed between my hands, splaying my fingers before swallowing the frothy soap. As I scrubbed I wondered. How did I end up here?
I straightened up, wrung out the cloth and returned to shore. I carefully pulled away the branch of a tree and draped my dripping underwear, like tinsel on a Christmas tree. The branches drooped under the weight of the wet clothing. I guess it was a celebration of sorts. It was a beautiful day in a beautiful place and I was free to do as I pleased.
I waded into the river. The water swirled around my legs, cold and crisp, sending tingles up my body. It was a strange translucent colour, the clearest water I’d ever seen, graduating into a deep rich blue in the center. I squirted a dollop of biodegradable soap into my hands and lathered it up and down my body, a fragrant smell of peaches exploded into the cool morning. Later, as I sat on that large round rock by the water’s edge to dry, I thought about everything that had happened. I sat for a long time. Just thinking.
“The thing about adventures is, the more underprepared and uncomfortable you are, the greater the adventure.”
It’s true that money can’t buy happiness. But in many ways it also goes beyond that. Money denies happiness. Money gives you the choice to sleep in a bed. Money gives you the choice to be driven. Money gives you the choice to plan where you’re going. But the thing about adventures is, the more underprepared and uncomfortable you are, the greater the adventure.
We all like to imagine ourselves as heroes playing out our lives in adventurous stories – but in comfort. We can’t imagine being dirty and cold and tired and hungry and lonely. We like to plan everything so it runs smoothly. But by doing this we slam down the book and opt out of writing our own tale. We don’t want to be amazed. We don’t want to feel alive. We just want to relax. Because we’re all so goddam tired of working so hard to make that money that never makes us happy. The more money you have, the more you think you need it. The more you think you need it, the less time you think you can live without earning it. We love to live beyond our means.
I’m lucky. If I had more money I wouldn’t be here. I would have seen nothing.
Lot’s of serious thoughts this morning.
▣ Highly recommend ▣ Boring but safe ▣ Shit. Boring, strenuous & dangerous ▣ Incomplete
What I thought’d happen
I’d take my time, see where I end up
What actually happened
I took my time and ended up amazed
Nordberg to Geiranger
It was late in the day when I finally set off. Sitting on that rock this morning I thought a lot about the way I had been treating the trip. Riding all day to get to somewhere. To where? What was the hurry? I would do this no longer.
I followed that mesmerising river to Grotli, where it pooled into magnificent milky blue lakes, swallowing the sky, the earth, the trees. The road was long and flat and straight, and surrounded by forest, mountains and lakes. It reminded me a lot of what I’ve seen of Canada on instagram. Joke.
After a while the road began to edge upwards, winding gracefully up a mountain and perilously down the other side, revealing one of the most beautiful fjords I’ve ever seen. I mean it this time.
Unfortunately, I wasn’t the only person to think it. Tour buses and cars of all shapes and sizes buzzed up and down the windy road. Scenic lookouts were packed with people jostling for space to take the perfect picture. A picture of a fjord mouth, with rocky edges and cascading waterfalls and the bluest water you could ever see. Complete with a tiny toy town and harbour with dormant white giants, their decks empty of tourists now swarming the town.
After a week of solitude it was confronting. It was unsettling. I could not bring myself to stop no matter how picturesque the view. I drove on.
I followed a tour bus down to the bottom, impatiently waiting at every hairpin turn whilst simultaneously admiring the driver’s skill. I potted down and around the last bend and into the crowded town. The sun was in full swing. Hot and bothered tourists fanned themselves under cafe umbrellas and waited patiently in-line at porta-loos. Others seemed incapable of escaping the gift shop’s magnetic pull. Like moths to a lamp they walked in and out and in and out of the shop.
I parked my bike by the side of the gift shop in the shade and began my quest for food. Not just any food either. I’ve noticed a lot lately how nutrition affects my performance. When I’ve forgone eating healthy, or haven’t eaten at all, I haven’t slept well and my energy levels bottom out. The next day riding seems harder and I fatigue easily. It is a challenge finding healthy food when you’re adventure riding, but believe me it’s worth the effort.
Supermarkets are your best bet, this time I managed a pasta salad, spinach and fruit. Content with my purchase I swaggered back to my bike, sat down in the shade and munched away. It was a stark contrast to the fat, tomato red tourists sitting about, dripping soft serves in their pudgy little hands. Maybe they went to the gym on their cruise ship. How am I to know?
I thought to myself I should stop being so judgemental. After all my face was even more burned than theirs. Even Australia isn’t this bad.
Over the hill
From Geiranger I wound back up the adjacent mountain. It was empty — aside from spectacular views of the fjord equal to if not better than those before. Waterfalls poured hundreds of meters from the cliffs into thin air, dissolving into giant clouds of mist, gently spraying the sea below.
The best part about it? No tourists.
I thundered along through vibrant green fields, lazy bees hovering in the tall grass by the side of the road. Until suddenly, it seemed almost out of nowhere, I plummeted into a thick cloud of sweet strawberries. It wafted into my helmet, enveloping my nostrils. I had never smelt anything so amazing and so delicious in all my life. You won’t believe it. Honestly. It’s like living in a Hubba Bubba wrapper. It’s like the world is literally made of Hubba Bubba.
And THAT is why being a motorcyclist is the best thing in the world.