Meet Thor

So after almost a year of planning; making lists and Google maps and ordering various essential rv-gizmos from Amazon, this was the day when it all came together. We were plucked from the hotel by the rental company and soon after, we were introduced to Thor. Tom suggested several months ago that having had Harvey, we should call our next RV something and given the neighbourhood, Thor seemed appropriate. He is quite the most modern RV we have ever had, with sleek Scandinavian wood styling inside and a modern diesel engine which pulls swiftly through six gears. Its a little smaller than we are used to but perfectly laid out and a doddle to drive. There was one small hitch in that the gas cylinders which fuel the stove, water heater and furnace turn out to have different connections in Sweden and Norway, so once across the border (in about four days time) we would have been somewhat stuck. Thankfully they found a Norwegian tank and switched it with the Swedish ones so we  should be set. After completing all the checks and safety videos and paperwork we were off.

Driving off onto flat, straight and empty Swedish roads  is a lot more straightforward than battling LA’s rush hour traffic, as has been our usual renting experience in the past and in moments we were cruising past golden wheatfields and long stands of copper-trunked spruce. Every now and then a red barn or a farmhouse broke the swirl of greens and golds. The road was straight and flat and we slowed only to pass through little settlements of timber framed houses.

Our satnav, is by modern standards an antique. It is a dial-up modem in a fibre-line world. Actually it works well enough but the maps were probably drawn up by Magellan. Every now and then a warning comes up which says “here be dragons”. Anyway the point I am labouring over is that it is unaware of quite a lot of recent roadbuilding activity, to the point where it didn’t realise that there was a much faster road through Sweden than the one we were on. I turned off to follow a motorway sign and soon we were heading north a whole lot faster, through what the satnav insisted was open countryside.

Next stop, Uppsala with its beautiful cathedral and ancient city centre. We didnt see any of that because we were interested in only one thing in Uppsala: Willy’s! Home of “Sweden’s cheapest grocery basket”, Willy’s is not quite Walmart, but its a big ol’ supermarket with low prices and the perfect place to stock up for the next month on the road. Using Google Translate, I had exchanged Swedish emails with the Willy’s people and become a member, so in we went and out we came with a groaning trolley’s-worth. I was pleased to find some products which I remembered from a few months spent in Denmark as a kid – like Remoulade and the onion chips to sprinkle over open sandwiches.

So after shrimp baguettes in the car park – courtesy of P – now we were truly off.
We could easily spend our entire month on this long stretch of the Swedish Coast, part of which is a world heritage area but we are, as you know, on a Mission To The Arctic. It is really Quite A Long Way so something has to give. Sweden, we will be back.
The scenery was an unbroken stand of forest either side of the E4 for the 300 or so kilometers we drove today, but then we turned off the motorway and onto the Horslandet Peninsula and it turned into Cape Cod. Well a bit anyway. There were timber framed buildings (although mostly red) small roads with sandy scrub and the glint of sea through the trees. At the tip is a nature reserve and a quiet campsite that was so full it looked like a Volvo convention. We got one of the last four overflow spaces and walked down to the beach. The sun was low in the sky but still dazzling and casting long rippling shadows over the sand. The beach was lined with tall waving grasses on one side and little lapping waves on the other. A perfect spot for our first night.


Categories: Up to the Arctic

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