Mega Transect proper – the start of our cape-to-cape expedition
By Four Wheeled Nomad: Words by Lisa Morris, images by Jason Spafford
Backing out of my mum’s driveway in southeastern England was nowhere near the heart-thumping-in-my-throat, tear-jerker as it was on our motorcycles, destined for the Americas in 2014. Getting situated in the reclinable passenger seat – coffee cup holder on my left, Jase on my right – a heartfelt goodbye was exchanged before releasing the handbrake. The same 35-minute ride on the Eurostar permitted us quick rail passage through the Channel Tunnel but this time on four wheels, not two. A hot-as-blazes zip through Germany’s Black Forest later, we were on the trip proper.
Invited to firstly attend OutDoor, Europe’s biggest tradeshow, White Rhino took front and centre on one of the stands. Four intense days saw us yap non-stop about the upcoming cape-to-cape expedition, showcase the rig in all its glory and quietly gush over every conceivable adventure brand in the outdoor arena. A record influx of people buzzing in nine Ikea-sized halls represented the passing footfall.
Scooting out of Germany via a forested region south of Hamburg, led us to the northern beaches of Denmark. Perhaps not your average view of the country, the wind blew sea-salted and strong. It seemed forever gusty during our passing through but well worth a Danish rendezvous with the setting sun.
Jason’s birthday – celebrated over a pricey canteen breakfast from the ferry as we sailed out of Denmark – may have been the least inspiring way known to man to mark the occasion. Narrowly saved by a visit to the bridge, whereupon the captain steered us to public showers on the Norwegian mainland (hopefully not a hint about our personal hygiene), which serendipitously led to meeting Espen and Malin (unurban.no). Coincidentally, the local couple had travelled from Argentina to Alaska like we had, and then conquered the length of Africa in a 4WD as we were about to. Common ground in abundance, they welcomed us into their home like old pals. An unexpected week’s wondrous hospitality, thank you guys.
With as many tolls as there are tunnels, most are as steep as the sheer cliffs through which they’re built – although not as tall as the country’s car parking fees. There’s no such thing as salt and vinegar flavoured crisps nor a Norwegian word for “please” but conversely, there are passing places for people on the boardwalks. What could be more civilized when taking an evening stroll?
More surprising things up the country’s sleeve awaited us. Moose and reindeer I hoped residing in the north. Initially, we clocked nothing bigger than an otter and porpoise in crystal clear waters and a stoat, mink and shrew on land. Encountering the world’s longest road tunnel was easy, home to roundabouts lit in tungsten intersections; it took over 20 minutes to drive 15-miles cut through solid rock.
Norway is at least twice the length of the UK but with only 8 per cent of the British population, it boasts more forest than people. The trees are so dense in huge thickets, you’ll think you’re in the Yukon. Fjords, the rain and snowfall of millennia, having helped to create some of the world’s most impressive waterfalls, slice the terrain. I wondered if we should have waited for the shoulder season. Typically, July is when Norwegians take their holiday, which coupled with the month that magnetizes tourists – attracts the international masses on a serious scale.
In true redhead style, I’m so pale that I’m almost blue, and burn like a vampire at the mere suggestion of sunlight. I slapped on the sunscreen in an unseasonably warm heatwave for Norway. Candidly: not what I was expecting from this Nordic country – portions of which lie well above the Arctic Circle and Iceland’s latitude. Fjords and tunnels galore, yes. Mountainsides shrouded in deep fog that once they decide to lift, reveal jagged peaks and enormous glaciers cascading down into deep turquoise meltwater, yes. I couldn’t wait to be a human doing in this country, not just a human being. fourwheelednomad