Part 2- the third in a series about my trip to Norway. I made it to Tinn! September 8, 2016.
Driving north on 361, I traveled through a sparse and open pine forest, merged onto 37 north, went past the small village of Tinnoset until Tinnsjøen (the Tinn sea) began to appear on the right: first glimpses, then vistas, then back to glimpses. The sheer rock on the left somehow bore birches, now beginning to turn gold in the cooler nights of September.
I pulled off once or twice to take a few photographs, but I couldn’t linger long because I had one more farmhouse to visit that day. That section of 37 on the west side of Tinnsjøen is about 35-40km long and all of it is beautiful. At the north end of the sea (lake), 37 turns left into the Rjukan valley and 364 goes right into Atrå and Austbygde. This is officially Tinn country. Hilly, mountainous, rural, cozy, and special. Little bits of communities clinging to the limited arable land between the solid rock mountains and the deep, dark water.
Coming into Atrå, there is a sign on the left for Husevoll. Perfect- someone knew I was coming. I headed up this small road, following my grandmother’s directions from 50 years ago. Up and up- I was surprised at the elevation gain- twisting and turning and crossing the river back and forth, past a gorgeous waterfall, I drove for 5km until I found the small, rugged farm hanging onto the mountainside with a bridge over the stream at the driveway (kind of like my house…). This place was old.
Above, my great-great aunt Thora Ingebritson Grottum speaks to someone about the Husevold gård. On the back of the photograph, she says, “Meat and grain storage on Bernas’ gaard, where Aase Husevold Bernas lived. She was aunt of Grandfather Knute Husevold. Date on building 1648. The gaard was next to Husevold gaard.” The lower right view of the farmstead has this written on the back: “Husevold gaard where Grandfather Knute Husevold lived with his parents. It is situated almost at the top of the mountain near Tinn, Telemarken.”
Jean Cummings’ description of their visit to the Husevold farm records the following: “And true to Uncle Bjarne’s description, across an old (but well-built) bridge and up the hill lay the old Husevold farm. We looked in the windows and noted the inscription painted above a faded but elaborately rosepainted door in one of the old grain sheds. Left a note back at the Berna’s farm, where no one was home. Someone is obviously living in the Husevold home. A beautiful stream dashes along the road beside the farm.
When I arrived, I could see bicycles in the driveway by the house and a trampoline in the yard, so I knew it was being lived in. I pulled up and knocked on the open door. I spoke (in Norwegian and English- we were about equal) with a very kind mother of two small white-blond boys, a woman maybe younger than I am, slightly shorter, energetic, with golden caramel hair and sparkling turquoise eyes. I explained who I was, why I was there, and wondered if I could take some pictures. She said sure. She explained that her husband’s mother’s mother was a Husevold, and she and her husband take care of the farm now. His mother comes to spend the summers in one of the smaller cabins on the property. (I don’t blame her for being a summer visitor. I wondered how in the world my ancestors had ever gotten down that road in winter back in the day. It must be quite challenging, still.)
She asked if I wanted to wait there until her husband came home at dinnertime, but I wasn’t prepared to throw myself into their lives unexpectedly like that, though I felt her offer was sincere. I did sit down and write him a note in Norwegian, including a bit about the genealogy that connects us and my address in case he was interested in writing to me about it. I thanked her, made the images I needed of the buildings and location, then, with a heart full of gratitude for such kind people, I made my way slowly back down the mountain road.
Before going father toward my destination, I turned off the main road and found the Atrå white church. Having read through so many of the church records from this particular location, I felt I knew it pretty well already. The clouds were gathering now, and I walked through the churchyard just to confirm what I already knew; there were no old graves, even though all the headstones looked a thousand years old from the back. As I reached the far south-east corner of the yard, I turned back around and the sun broke through the clouds- coming from the direction of the Husevold farm up on the hill- and I made a few photographs with golden light glinting off the church and highlighting all the beautifully kept graves. I sent a little thanks in that direction and paused to memorize the moment. Then it was gone and the flat gray light returned.
It was time to take care of some practicalities, so a stop at the local SPAR grocery store was in order. I found two kinds of lefse (thin, rolled with smør, and thick with a cinnamon spread), a couple of apples, some muesli and lactose-free milk. I also picked up what I thought was a nice looking apple-plum juice, only to discover to my surprise later that it was saft. (A concentrated juice that is intended to be diluted significantly.) That was fun! The shelves right by the check-out offered some goodies I thought the kids might like, so I chose a few of those as well.
I was almost “home” for the night and the light was fading behind the cloud cover. The Sandvika Campground was easy to find, just on the right by the sea, before the town. The office was closed with a note that the keys for the campers checking in were in the box by the door. There was no envelope with my name on it, so I called the phone numbers on the sign on the door. Byron, a very pleasant young fellow from Guatemala (whose English and Norwegian were great) came down to help me out. Somehow, my reservation through booking.com had not made it into their system. Luckily, they had a cabin to rent me for the three nights I was planning to stay there. We got things arranged, including my purchasing the 100kr eco-friendly disposable bedding set they had. I had brought my own camping towel, although I think they offer something to fill that need as well.
Skeleton key on a wooden fish-shaped key chain in hand, I let myself into sod-roofed cabin number 17. Two words describe the place: warm and cozy. Pine walls, pine chairs, table and a pull-out sofa, laminate wood floor, a twin bunk bed with a curtain, a heater on the wall under the picture window, a little kitchenette with a fridge (no freezer), a 2-burner hotplate, cupboard with dishes and pots, dishpan and large water jug. The cabin to which I was assigned did not have running water (which was the case with most of them), so one carries the jug over to the bathhouse to fill up.
The bathhouse has two half baths (just toilet and sink) and two more that have both a shower and sink/toilet. The showers are 10kr for 4 minutes. There is another building behind the cabins- the one for the semi-permanent residents of the RV park- which has lots of showers and bathrooms, but I didn’t use that one very much. It appeared to also have a laundry room, but my key didn’t fit there. Presumably, one could ask Byron about it since he mentioned it to me when I checked in. The main office building also has a sitting area, little shop (very limited offerings) and a big kitchen and dining area in the back for larger groups.
My dinner for one was eaten on the front porch of my tiny cabin in the cool evening air: a tin of lemon pepper herring, a few rolled pieces of lefse, and some Stash licorice tea I brought with me. One of the things I enjoy about solo travel is the way I only eat what I want. Maybe it’s a female thing, but I eat less and healthier food when I’m alone. (Oh, except my lunch was, um, crackers and candy bars….) I’m just not alone that often. Somehow it’s just easier when it’s just me. I hear you saying, “But aren’t you in control of what you eat all the time? Aren’t you the one who cooks the food for the family?” Yeah. In theory. Family food is different. As a stay-at-home mom of growing children and wife of a very busy husband, there is some kind of (conscious? subconscious? on my part? on theirs?) expectation that the food served is served at scheduled mealtimes (maybe this just makes life easier) and the the food served is a lot of food, and that it is somehow “REAL FOOD”, food worth having one parent stay home to make.
But there’s an element of emotional fulfillment and self-centering to solo travel which does not exist in everyday home life and somehow that effects what I eat. Whatever, anyway dinner was simple and awesome and no one in my family would have put up with it.
Thursday slipped away into the darkness. The wind made gentle waves on the nearby water and blew through the whispering birch leaves outside my door, and I fell asleep, grateful that I had such a fantastic place to rest my head for the night.
Yes, if you’re counting, I just finished writing about Thursday. Half of day 2 and I’m up to about 1500 words in this, the second post! A gallery of pictures might have been easier, but somehow I think both are needed.
Friday took me to the 150th anniversary of one of the biggest agricultural county fairs in Norway. Stay tuned, because it was awesome….