June 13, 2018

Netherlands-Norway Trip Part 4

Ålesund, Norway

  • 62 miles sailed
  • 184 steps climbed
  • 6 traditional caches found
  • 3 caches not found (DNF)
  • 1 epic birthday

Happy Birthday to me! When I awoke this morning, I looked at my fitness band to see what time it was. At first I thought that it had malfunctioned during the night, because all I saw was a bunch of lines, red dots, and squiggles. Then, I realized it was a birthday cake. My fitness band was telling me happy birthday! 

Today’s port was Ålesund, Norway, and we did not plan any excursions for this stop. Instead, we decided to explore the town a little and do some geocaching. 

After a late breakfast, we went ashore and made our way to the location of the first cache on my list. Unfortunately, after searching for it for some time, we were unable to locate it. Deban was tired from our bike riding excursion the day before, so decided to go back to the ship and rest. I agreed to return at noon so that we could eat lunch and take showers to prepare for our afternoon activities. 

Ålesund is very hilly city, and everywhere you go there are steep streets and steps to climb. I made my way to a nearby park where I quickly found a cache. It was hidden on the sign telling the history of  Uræd, the steel, egg-shaped enclosed life boat that was invented by Norwegian sailor Ole Brude in the late 1890s. The last remaining example of these boats was nearby, and Signal posed on it for a photograph. 

I then walked down a steep street, up three flights of steps, and up a very steep street to the next cache location. Unfortunately, I once again came up empty, not finding what I was looking for. I finally decided to give up and make my way back down the steps and back toward the ship so that I would not be late for lunch. 

Near our ship’s dock was another geocache that I found easily. It is a type I have seen in the past – a fake electrical outlet cover that attaches to a metal host with magnets. As I signed the log, I realized that it was probably just this sort of hide that I had just looked for and not found. Sometimes you have a pre-conceived notion of what type of cache you are looking for, and it prevents you from finding the most obvious caches. 

I glanced at my watch and realized that I had time to walk a couple of blocks to a nearby church and log one more cache before returning to the ship. However, once again I was unable to make the find. Some days are just like that!

I rushed back to the ship and arrived just a couple of minutes past noon. Deban and I showered, and then went to eat lunch. We then made our way to the ship’s spa for our 1:45 massage appointments. We enjoyed relaxing massages and then returned to our cabin. After resting for a short time, I told her that I would like to go ashore again to see if I was right about the cache that I suspected might be a fake electrical outlet cover. I had also identified some other caches in that area of town that I would like to hunt for. 

I made my way back out, and took a route to that cache that was a little longer, but did not require going up the many steps and steep street. Once there, I quickly found the cache. Just as I suspected, it was an outlet cover. However, it was hidden on the back side of a metal electrical box, in the narrow space between it and the wall. I was happy to find and log it. 

I then made my way to a nearby park, and began the long walk up to another geocache. The cache page told me that it was on step number 164 These steps were not all together. There were sometimes long stretches of a paved, uphill path between sections of stairs. Along the way, I stopped to take photos of the city below and to catch my breath. I also lost count, and had no idea how many steps I had climbed, but was depending on my phone’s GPS to guide me. A couple of times, I noticed a number on step: 47, and then 82. These seemed to be rather random numbers, but it suddenly occurred to me that they may be marking the number of steps. 

Eventually, I reached a step with the number 161. Three steps higher was a wide landing where the steps turned, and there was a bench here. This is also where my GPS led me, so I decided I was in the right spot. The hint mentioned looking for something “…with a twist.” As people passed me going up and down the steps, I sat on the bench and felt around. Eventually, I felt something square beneath the bench that twisted in my hand, and knelt down to look. It was a wooden block that covered a hole containing the cache. I was able to retrieve, sign and replace it between muggles passing by.

The cache page had advised climbing the rest of the way to the top of the mountain, but indicated that it was another 209 steps to the top. I decided I didn’t have the time or energy to do that. 

Instead, I made my way back down the steps and continued to the north side of the island in search of another cache. I found it quickly, and then continued on to find one more. This one also eluded me, bringing my DNF total for the day to three. 

Time was running out before I needed to be back on board the ship, otherwise I would be left behind. So, I headed back toward the dock, stopping off to log one last cache on the way. This gave me a total of six finds for the day. 

After a delicious dinner, I enjoyed the evening show by singer/songwriter Sweet Baby J’ai. Her show paid tribute to women who have changed the world with songs of protest and love. It was a great end to a wonderful birthday. 

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