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

Land of Midnight Sun: Helgeland

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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

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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

Land of fish and Vikings: Norway’s Helgeland

Midnight Sun over Herøy.

Midnight Sun over Herøy.

First published in Viking magazine, March 1993 with current updates and photos.

Helgeland refreshes, revives and replenishes visitors to its island shores.

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The Seven Sisters mountains.

Helgeland is the cool ocean breeze spraying salty mist over the massive rocks that jet out of the sea. It’s the rough tiny islands harboring low-bush tundra mosses and cloudberries. It’s the giant seabirds following the fishing boats homeward in hopes of feasting on some discarded entrails. It’s the home of sagas and legends, trolls and Vikings.

Helgeland, incorporating more than 12,000 islands, is bordered by Sweden to the east, Nord-Trondelag to the south and the Saltfjellet Mountains to the north. Located halfway up the country, it is the geographical center of Norway and is a special hidden treasure few tourists have the pleasure of experiencing. If you’re looking for a place to escape the “civilized” world, this is it. Continue reading