Archive for June 7th, 2009

Badgers and Babies

Sunday, June 7th, 2009

I (David) got up Tuesday morning, May 26, and saw only one Dan sleeping in the car so I assumed the delivery had been a success. Matt made some porridge while I took down the tent; we let Dan (Ziegler) sleep due to his early morning chauffer service. After a late breakfast I tried to do some sleeping bag repair because my stuff sack and actual sleeping bag’s stitching wasn’t holding up very well. I don’t pretend to moonlight as a tailor and it showed. I had quite a battle with the needle and thread, but I eventually conquered them. I also lined the stitching on the bottom of my stuff sack inside and out with duct tape to curtail any other potential tears.

We then headed east across Sweden toward Stockholm but stopped by Lake Vattern when we saw a ruined fortress on top of a steep embankment that we wanted to climb. On te way up we saw a spot where scrambling up a vertical rock face would be necessary; Matt and Dan decided to try it, but I didn’t think my ankle could handle it so I stayed on the path. (In February I broke my leg several inches above the ankle and also tore almost all the ligaments that connect my foot to my ankle and leg. I needed surgery to repair the damage.) This was really the first time this trip that my bum ankle has kept me from doing something that I really wanted to do. I made it to the fortress quite a while before Matt and Dan, so I looked out over the lake and the local farms and waited out the rain under a large window frame.

After our hike hiatus, we went to Stockholm to try to secure ferry tickets to Tallinn, Estonia, but the terminal closed 15 minutes before we arrived. We got some groceries as we headed out of Stockholm, and when we stopped at a rest stop to make supper, I realized my money clip containing 300 kroner (about €30) and, much more importantly, the group debit card wasn’t in my pocket. I re-checked my pockets twice and then we searched the car without success. I had it at the grocery store, but ended up using a bunch of change to finish paying our bill. I assumed that I left my money clip on the counter but wasn’t sure (you never are if you lose something). The store was already closed so we decided that our only real option was to wait until the morning and check the store for the card. We made supper north of Uppsala and while we were eating supper on a picnic table (under natural light at 11:00), we heard a rustling behind us. We turned around and saw a badger running in the opposite direction. Dan and I ran after him to try to get a better view of it and we saw it run along a path. We were both quite excited! We had both always wanted to see a wild badger, but had never been able to fulfill our desire…until now. Cross that one off our bucket list.

After supper we enjoyed a delicious pineapple for desert and found a camping spot. The next morning we headed to the ferry terminal first and procured tickets for the following afternoon. We then went to the grocery store and described the card to the manager. He disappeared into a small room and came back with the card and the 300 kroner. Seeing the card lifted a huge weight off my chest and I suddenly felt light and carefree. We thanked God for answering our prayers.

We spent the rest of the day in Uppsala, north of Stockholm. We first visited Old Uppsala, the portion of town that dated back to the 12th century. We found a model of a farm from that time period and had fun arranging the toy animals in odd places around the farm—like cows on the roof and in the tree. (It was good to reconnect with our inner child: we would have amused ourselves in the exact same way 15 years ago.) We then found some croquet equipment, Matt set up an irregular course, and we played a quick game. After our fun, we decided we were done with Old Uppsala and headed into the real city to see the largest church in Scandanavia. Quite a few of the Swedish Kings are buried there and it is still used for some official state functions. It is a Lutheran Church, as 87% of Swedes are nominally Lutheran, but it is a largely symbolic relationship for a large majority of the population.

We spent the night north of Uppsala again and went down to Stockholm on Thursday morning. We found a parking spot that also gave us a WiFi connection so we could use the internet. Dan and I went and saw the Stockholm City Museum (it had nice bathrooms) and made it down to the “Old Town” before we had to turn around to meet Matt for lunch. When we got to the car we saw Matt watching school children playing soccer across the road. Soon he asked to play with them and was running around with a bunch of ten-year-olds.

For lunch we wanted to experience Swedish meatballs and fish. We found a restaurant that had both of these dishes as daily specials and ordered a dish of both. We also got some salads and delicious bread with our meal. The dishes came out and I discovered that none of us enjoy fish (we got it for the cultural experience) and the dish also contained prawn and a small lobster. At least the meatball dish looked (and was) delicious. The fish itself was actually pretty good, but we all took a prawn and examined them as we tried to determine the best way to eat them. Suddenly Dan looked up with a quizzical and slightly squeemish face and declared, “It has babies.” Sure enough, his prawn had a buch of little prawnletts on it underside. Eventually Dan worked up the courage to eat not only the prawn, but also the babies (thus ignoring his personal moral code to abstain from eating babies).

After lunch we had to get to the ferry terminal, which proved to be quite difficult and included driving through a pedestrian only zone (we did follow a taxi, so I don’t know if it was illegal), and anticipated seeing the Balkan nations of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania that were only a boat ride away.

david miller