I fulfilled a dream today. I remember in middle school social studies class learning about the world and all of the different places in it. Much like every kid in America, we covered the world in chapters with each culture being a week or two in school. Three chapters resonated with me: Australia, the Nordics, and Antartica. In 2014 I checked the Australia box. 2105 brings the Nordics. 2017 will be Antartica.
Mountains move me. Even as a little kid, I remember pouring over the the world Atlas we had at home learning about places like Idaho, Colorado, Montana, and Wyoming. Having been a product of rolling hills suburbia the topography of mountainous places spoke to my soul. One of the things I deeply appreciate about California is the Sierra Nevadas three hours to the east.
In my job at work I do a fair amount of traveling to some pretty incredible places. Recently, an event popped up in Finland that I jumped on. The Nordics were on my bucket list. Have passport; love to travel!
Norway is a long way away from San Francisco. No way around that. Right as I was boarding the plane, a rash popped up on my wrist. If I was going to Atlanta, not a big deal. But, I was going to Norway and wanted to make sure I have the right medication for the trip as paying for medical care in foreign countries is a completely unknown thing for me. Checked into the airport doctor and got a shrug of “I really don’t know what it is.” Not exactly confidence inspiring, but rashes are tricky beasts. They could be allergic reactions, viral infections, bacterial infections, or fungal infections. Each requires a different treatment. Apparently the only way to really know what you have is to treat one of them and see if the rash responds. Our best guess was a fungal infection from a newly acquired Fit-Bit. Doc said go get cream in Norway as they’d have better stuff over the counter than we do here.
It was 10 hours to Paris, and then another two to Oslo. To add insult to injury, I thought I was booking a premium seat in the front of the plane. I figured 80,000 miles a year would get you something! Turns out, all the premium seats are in the back of the plane. Note to self – fly Delta, not its code share partner Air France as SkyTeam benefits don’t fully transfer between airlines.
I arrived in Paris groggy and irritable as didn’t sleep at all and found the airport lounge extremely lacking. So much so, it was better outside in the open airport. A quick flight later I landed in Norway and the next adventure was to begin.
I was really excited to drive in Norway and learn the local norms. Much like South Africa at the time, all of the economy rental cars were stick shifts. In theory I knew how to drive a stick shift, as almost all motorcycles are manual transmission. The fact is though, I’ve really only had to drive a stick shift three times in my life:
- In driver’s ed because the instructor felt like stick shifts weren’t for girls (got to love old school Georgia)
- In South Africa because that’s all they had
- With Anel who was graciously patient teaching me in her car.
As soon as I sat in the driver’s seat all the questions came up around my insecurities: how do I get this thing into reverse? What if I get stuck in traffic on a hill? What happens if I stall on the mountains? In truth, none of that really mattered as my vacation was ahead of me in a stick shift wasn’t going to stop the excitement!