A tourist in Colorado

My trip to Colorado in June was to see my daughters … but it was fun to explore a new part of the world and be a tourist!

My second day there we drove through Manitou Springs and Old Colorado City in the foothills of the Rockies, people-watching and giving me an overview of the area.  The next week we stopped in Manitou Springs at the Manitou Brewing Co. after our trip to Garden of the Gods … remember this photo? :)

June 13, 2015 - a tourist in Colorado

… and then walked around a bit after our refreshment.

With Pikes Peak and the Manitou Incline rising in the background, there’s a sense of permanence and presence as you approach Manitou Springs.

June 6, 2015 - a tourist in Colorado

A little about Manitou Springs from Wikipedia:

The City of Manitou Springs is … located in El Paso County, Colorado … founded for its scenic setting and natural mineral springs. The downtown area continues to be of interest to travelers, particularly in the summer, as [it] consists of many one-story, adjoining, small shops, restaurants, and pubs … Among other services, shops cater to tourist interests such as clothing, candy, souvenirs, and outdoor recreation. The main road through the center of town was one of the direct paths to the base of Pikes Peak.

… and from a historical marker in Manitou Springs about their Healing Waters:

Manitou’s mineral springs have been appreciated for their healthful benefits throughout history. For centuries, Native peoples revered the effervescent waters. They used the mineral water to calm stomachs, soothe skin problems, and as a tonic for other ailments. In the Victorian era when diseases like tuberculosis were rampant, spas and health resorts became popular as a way for people to escape the cities and find fresh air and curative waters … Each spring has different amounts of mineral content and natural carbonation and was prescribed by doctors for ailments such as liver and kidney disease and digestive disorders.


A little about Old Colorado City:

Old Colorado City … is a national historic district in the city of Colorado Springs. [It] was founded [in] 1859, when the Colorado Town Company … envisioned that Colorado City would be a major supply hub via Ute Pass for the new gold mines in South Park and the Blue River, where major strikes in the Pike’s Peak Gold Rush had recently been made … [Today] Old Colorado City has a shopping district featuring dozens of independently owned art galleries, boutiques, restaurants and special attractions.

Favorite photos from our visit to Old Colorado City:


And how about ending with something fun I saw in Manitou Springs?

Garden of the Gods

The focus of my recent visit to the States was, of course, to see family … but in doing so, I also traveled to parts of my country that I hadn’t been to before. Colorado was one such place, and I was there just long enough to see a few highlights while also spending time with my daughters.

You know that I live in a mountainous area here in Norway; I was eager to see a different type of mountain. The foothills of the Rockies delivered, especially when we visited The Garden of the Gods. It is a perfect name. I felt as if we were driving through a giant garden, with interesting rocks and formations growing out of the soil. From Wikipedia:

The Garden of the Gods red rock formations were created during a geological upheaval along a natural fault line millions of years ago … The outstanding geologic features of the park are the ancient sedimentary beds of deep-red, pink and white sandstones, conglomerates and limestone that were deposited horizontally, but have now been tilted vertically and faulted by the immense mountain building forces caused by the uplift of the Rocky Mountains.

Then first formation you encounter when entering the park is Steamboat Rock and Balanced Rock. A full perspective from a short distance away is here; the photos below are my views from closer to the formations. My legs won’t let me climb up, but the affect of *looking* up at the people who were crawling around was interesting!


We got back in the car and drove towards our next stop. Looking out the car windows, I experienced that impression I mentioned earlier: a huge garden of rocks sprouting up out of the ground. Out one window, the backdrop of Pikes Peak was rising in the distance:


Our next stop was another well-known area, a hogback formation with the Kissing Camels boulders. We got out and walked a bit here. The “camels” above us and the texture beside us were intriguing. The graffiti etched into the stone was frustrating to see. And the warnings of rattlesnakes off the trail weren’t really needed for this traveler!


We stopped to rest in a shady area out of the hot sun for a bit, and absorb the generosity of the gift of this park to Colorado City in 1903 “… by the children of Charles Elliott Perkins in fulfillment of his wish that it be kept forever free to the public”:


Time to get back in the car for the trip home, with one last shot out the window:

June 13, 2015 - Garden of the Gods


But first, a stop for a little liquid refreshment at at the Manitou Brewing Co. in nearby Manitou Springs:


The perfect end to a delightful trip. :)

Planes, Trains & Automobiles

“Planes, Trains & Automobiles!” No, not the movie … but a pretty good description of my last month!

A plane flight from Norway to Iowa (with my luggage catching up with me three days later).

May 14, 2015 - planes, trains & automobiles


A short lunch train trip in historic Boone, Iowa.


A longer overnight Amtrak train trip through Iowa, Nebraska, and Colorado.


And many automobile trips, both local and long distance. This collection shares the highlights of my first few (cloudy) days in Colorado.


I love taking in the scenery around me. But the best part of this trip is, of course, the family connections — especially time spent with these three!

May and June 2015 - Family!

Hello blogosphere!

It’s been a busy month since I’ve last connected with you, with work and then travel to the middle of the U.S. to visit family.

Yes, I’m back in Ottumwa. I’ve enjoyed time with family (especially celebrating my Dad’s 85th!), seeing a few sights (including a musical in Des Moines and a day trip to Boone, Iowa to ride an historic train), a trip to Illinois to visit my younger brother and his family (Aunt Cindi was tired playing with her young nieces and nephew!), a stop at a wonderful restaurant on the trip back to Iowa that honors the American farmer (The Machine Shed), and time spent enjoying my brother and sister-in-law’s hospitality here in Iowa (including a gorgeous and intense double rainbow).

And in a few days I’ll be traveling via Amtrak to a new part of the world for me — Colorado Springs to see my daughters!

Fun, fun, fun!! Here’s a few photos of my time so far. I’m sure more images will find their way to this little part of the blogosphere eventually … until then, I hope your part of the world is peaceful and full of contentment!

the interplay of clouds and sun: a perspective

While sitting together over coffee this morning, we watched the interplay of sun, clouds, and rain across the fjord over Fanafjellet. I didn’t get up to get my camera; I just sat and absorbed the subtly changing scenery.

These photos aren’t from today, but they have cloud, sun, and rain patterns similar to what I saw.


We’ve lived in this little piece of paradise for almost two years now. Our views here are a different perspective compared to those we saw when we lived at a higher elevation on Løvstakken overlooking the southern Bergen valley.


The intermittent rain stopped a couple hours ago, and the sun and clouds have been playing hide and seek. It’s a little nippy to sit outside and enjoy it, but I did go out for a bit … just in time to catch this.

April 26, 2015 - 8:01 pm - interplay of sun and clouds

A magical moment.

And then, just as I was about to hit the “publish” button, my husband called me out to see this.

April 26, 2015 - 8:54 pm - interplay of sun and clouds

That sun and cloud glow: two magic moments in one hour. Thank you, Norway!

innovation and adaptation

As many years as I’ve lived in this mountainous area, I’m still amazed at how people can move mountains to carve out a place for themselves. Whether from my “used to flat land before moving to the West Coast of Norway” perspective, or the reality of “how humans are able to literally carve a place for themselves out of a more inhospitable geographic area” perspective, it’s an important example of adapting to life in this country.

Need to get to the other side of a mountain? Small paths and narrow, winding roads were the norm for centuries. Whether a big or small car, truck, or train transport in our modern day, it’s not a problem; Norway has perfected the reality of tunneling *through* it.

May 2006 - innovation and adaptation, tunnel through that mountain!


Those small roads? Examples of them are still quite abundant! Narrow and winding, in many places they’re only wide enough for one car to pass at a time. Sometimes they’re closed because of an avalanche … which requires more innovation to clear the rocks and boulders safely.


Building a home? Dynamite a place out of the mountain rock for the foundation! Need a cement mixer to pour that foundation, but it’s too big and bulky to get close enough to the construction? Innovate with an extension!


No room for a building for construction and storage, with an adequate parking lot for big trucks to maneuver? Not a problem — blast away the rock.


And when the rock is removed, the streets and walkways set, the buildings constructed, and the people are settled … take any extra space available and plant beautiful flowers or tasty vegetables.


Nature does a good job of …

… innovating and adapting to a carved-out mountain, too, don’t you think?!

Emigration from Norway to the USA

Two weeks ago I shared photos and observations of a short trip to Fusa, and mentioned my husband’s recent discovery of ancestors who come from this area.

Jan’s explorations into his family’s history have been fascinating for me, especially when he discovered family in the States and I thought about that reality from the perspective of *my* ancestors that emigrated to America from Scotland and Germany. So I asked him to share a little of his family’s story with you, set against the backdrop of Norwegian history.

Take it away, Jan!

by Jan Eek

In the span of less than a hundred years, from around 1825, almost 900,000 Norwegians emigrated to USA. To put it in perspective, the population in Norway in 1860 was 1,595,000. That means that around 10 to 12 million Americans are of Norwegian ancestry.

These are just numbers, so what do we know about the people, the human side of this emigration?

Emigrating from Norway to US

Norwegian settlers in 1898 North Dakota
in front of their homestead, a sod hut

I can only relate to my own family, and as it turned out, I was in for several surprises.

The first one came as we moved from Bergen to a smaller place, Os, an hour’s drive from Bergen. So, what did I find out? Well, I have always known the name of my grandmother and connected it to Bergen, and the first thing I found was that my grandmother’s father was born on a farm very close to where we now live and that he belonged to a prominent family in this area. So, I was back at the cradle of my family!

Further inquiry led me to the most interesting person, my great-great grandfather, Wilhelm. He was a wild one in his youth. He became a father for the first time at the age of 16 and his first son is my direct ancestor. He then roamed Norway, Sweden and Denmark and fathered several children. His family, including a priest and a fairly rich farmer/shopkeeper, of course was embarrassed and tired of this unruly young man, so he was married to a sturdy woman, Thora, and promptly sent to America.

That was the second surprise for me. I had no idea! I have family in the US …

Here is a picture of Wilhelm and Thora in America.

Wilhelm and Thora in America


Wilhelm and Thora had eight children and the first years in the US they lived in a cave in Minnesota. Then they managed to get some land and slowly they developed it into a proper farm and later on established an hotel in the nearest town.

So, I have family here where I live and a large number of cousins in America. I have been in contact with my local family and also connected with one of my American cousins. She came to visit me and I showed her the area and the old farm house which is the origin for both of us AND it is still owned by my family, which was another surprise.

For a while I was hung up in tracing my family, but I stopped when I got to the 16th century. I turned the focus, thinking of the next generations, so I am now writing everything I know and can find out about people in my family. I want my grandchildren and their children to be able to connect with the history of our family.