Day 32 Somewhere near Alta, northern Norway

11 Jul

Wake to much clearer skies than yesterday, though still grey and cool. Shower, breakfast, pack, load bike, load coffee flask, hit the road. Early light, light traffic, enjoy being out early, as does the wildlife. Through Mosjoen, ugly dump of a town. To Mo, another ugly dump that wouldn’t look out of place in Mongolia. Past the sign for "Bimbo, 900 metres" whatever that’s offering, into the supermarket to resupply the picnic hamper. Quality, range and service like Netto, prices like Fortnum and Mason. Onwards, to the Polar Circle Centre. "Welcome to the Arctic circle". First act inside the Arctic circle? As in so many other significant places, important monuments, famous viewpoints, first thing you do is visit the loo. Obligatory commemorative sticker for the bike. Avoid other tourist tat. Avoid tourist rip-off price junk food and instead back to riding. Balmy 10 degrees C at 66 and a bit degrees north. Land of the midnight sun? There isn’t even a mid-day sun. Landscape suitably barren, raw and wild, but soon a downhill stretch leads back into greener, lusher, more inviting scenes. Surprised by the amount of population and the amount of agriculture, annoyed at the amount of caravans. Some of the area looks surprisingly hospitable, but in a "Scotland in winter" way, and this is the middle of summer. Rain, cold hard rain, heated gear on full, it wins, rain loses. Heated jacket even has heated collar keeping back of neck cosy warm. Long roads, long distances, long queues behind motorhomes, blast past. Not much to see, obscured by clouds, obstructed by mist, occluded by rain on visor. No reason to get off, except for petrol, picnic, photo, pee. No need even to peruse map or consult gps. Route instructions for the next 1000 miles? Follow E6. Evening begins, rain pauses, traffic subsides. Petrol station for a fill up. Bike gets 95 octane unleaded, I get tiger burger. I don’t think it really has tiger in it. Local pronunciation is "Tigger burger". Really hope it doesn’t have Tigger in it. Back out for the joyful freedom of an empty road and a full tank. Full belly and an eyefull of impressive scenery on a grand scale. Roadsign for a town called Moan. You would too if you had to live there. Conditions now better than they’ve been all day, so keep riding. Good light, empty roads. Who else likes that? Wildlife. Encounter my first moose. First live one, at least. Big bugger, the size of a big horse, which is what I automatically think it is until I see the big antlers, and it turns its big moosey face my way. Braking really hard, ABS pulses once, moose saunters back into the woods. Quick glance at indicator light for the on-board video cameras. Yep, it was recording. Another entry for the "things that nearly killed me" category. Riding on, best conditions of the day, burning up the miles, cruising, confident in the bends on a dry surface. Eventually it seems sleep is required. Check 6 different camp sites, hotels, motels over the next hour, all stupid price-to-facilities ratio. Selection criteria weaken as miles pass. Find reasonable compromise with view from room as in photo. Lube chain, clean lights, check pressures and fluids. 3 tanks of fuel burned today, 14 hours on the road, one ferry ride. About 700 miles from where I started. Tomorrow, Nordkapp.