The Haunted Shack

 By Lana Rodlie

(Names have not been changed to protect the innocent. Live with it.)

It was a dark wooden ivy-covered shack clinging to the banks of the Columbia River just off  Clark Street in East Trail – and every kid between Merry’s Flats and Sandy Island knew it was haunted.

You couldn’t see the shack from Columbia Avenue. It was kind of behind Bobby Alton’s house on the lower side of the 1600-block. And you couldn’t just walk up to it. It was tucked in behind. There was no easy access. To get to it, you had to go to the river bank and launch yourself onto this telephone pole that kind of dangled at a 30 degree angle over the fast-flowing river. (Remember, the Columbia River was quite high and thick back then – before the building of the Hugh Keenleyside Dam at Robson.) 

Once you got yourself safely to the pole, you’d have to throw yourself back onto the bank while grabbing for a rickety fence that served as a barrier to the old cabin. From there, you could make your way around to a little yard, tucked inside a two-storey L-shaped building.

The yard itself was scary enough – overgrown with creepy vines and one of those tangly black locust trees leaning against the shack. The windows were boarded up; but what was worse, because of the shack’s obscure location – no one could hear you scream and there was no quick way out.

I only went there one time – once was enough. But I’ll have to back up the story a bit to let you know how I got there. Continue reading

Viking search: A funny thing happened on the way to the penis

You have to keep in mind that this is northern Norway – land of the Vikings. And yes, there are still a lot of Viking relics around here (some are actually dead). And you haven’t seen Helgeland until you’ve seen the Viking penis (although the proper term for this monument is “the Phallus.”


A Viking view. Lana Rodlie photo

 September 20, 2013  

The last few days have been a blur, punctuated with rough ferry rides, catamaran tours, gale-force winds, getting lost in the wilderness, and a bomb scare. It all began with the arrival of our friends Doug and Joyce from Nanaimo, B.C. or I should say their “expected” arrival. Continue reading

Viking search – A house at the North Pole


Our "cabin at the North Pole."

Our “cabin at the North Pole.”

Well, it isn’t exactly the North Pole but 66.33 degrees N. – the Arctic Circle. Actually, we are not right on the Arctic Circle but you can see it from here.

Why do we come here? For that you have to understand the Norwegian psyche – and I’ve been married to a Norsk for 35 years and I’m only beginning to get it. Dan is a  former cargo ship navigator who I stole from the sea, literally; but then we spent the next three-and-a-half decades jumping back and forth between Canada and Norway. Continue reading

Medieval Norway: Past and future collide at Alstahaug

Alstahaug church outside

Alstahaug Church dates back to 1200. Lana Rodlie photo

About 20 kilometres south of Sandnessjøen, resting under the shadows of the giant Seven Sisters Mountains is the Alstahaug church and Petter Dass Museum. Alstahaug is the name of the island on which sits the city and was the most powerful perish in Helgeland for hundreds of years. The Russian-inspired church is over 800 years old and one of only seven Medieval churches still standing in this part of Norway. The country’s famous poet-priest Petter Dass served here from 1689 until his death in 1707. The farm connected to the church is now part of the museum and displays artifacts depicting Dass’s life and family. Since we’ve visited this museum more than once,  I’ll include notes from my last visit. Continue reading

Land of Midnight Sun: Helgeland

Norway 2010 158

The Seven Sisters mountains are actually on an island. They rise about 1,072 meters and tower over the landscape all along the coast. Lana Rodlie photo

Norway 2010 093

Midnight sun. Lana Rodlie photo

Helgeland is that section of Northern Norway where the postcard pastures of green valleys give way to stark barren mountains of rock. These massive mountains stand frozen in time, like petrified remains of giant gods, once worshiped as harbingers of rain, fish or thunder. Millions of islands are sprinkled along the coast. As an old Norwegian saga goes – God molded the mountains out of clay and then shook his massive hands, leaving the clay bits – big, small, connected, alone, distant, close – all growing hard in the midnight sun and reshaped by millions of years of washing by the sea. At various points in time, ice glaciers carved through the granite like giant grindstones. Trees on these islands are small and spindly; branches knotted and gnarled, as if shivering from the cold wind. Low bushes sport various berries: tyttebaer (a smaller version of cranberries) and moltebaer (a kind of wild blonde raspberry). And then the mushy green moss which covers everything from walkways to roof-tops, like a warm blanket. It’s an unforgiveable landscape which accounts for the toughness of the Norwegians. I mean if they could eke out a living on these barren rocks, they could live just about anywhere. Continue reading