“She has nothing, in short, to recommend her, but being an excellent walker.”–Mrs. Hurst’s opinion of Elizabeth Bennett, Pride and Prejudice
My whale safari plans scuttled and the clouds low and brooding, hiding the mountaintops I’d hoped to hike, I declined the offer of a borrowed bicycle (because the end result of cycling for me is usually acquainting myself with the nearest acute medical care facility). Instead, I did what I do best. I walked.
I headed out along the Strandgata, or Beach Road, out of Andenes and toward the community of Bleik, famous for its 2.5km-long white sandy beach and for overlooking Bleiksoya, the “bird mountain” as I’ve heard it called.
Bleiksoya is a spire of rock, jutting up from the waves off the coast of Andoya, that is home massive colonies of puffins, gannets and other birds. According to my map, it was about a nine mile walk, one way, from Andenes to Bleik.
Sure, why not.
The rain and winds came and went, but it was an easy, flat walk. And how great it was to walk, just walk, something I haven’t done in a long time.
Nearing the halfway point, I passed an array of antennae behind a fence, with a small building flying a German flag. Well, that’s interesting. Across the road, the mountain rising above me was also fenced off, with signs warning me that it was a military installation and off-limits. A dark tunnel mouth offered a tantalizing suggestion of Secret Stuff.
A little further down the road, I passed a rocket launch site.
Clearly this is where Norway keeps its UFOs and captured aliens.
Of course, I have no shred of evidence to support that, but then, “evidence” is passe these days, especially online, and just because I don’t have evidence doesn’t mean I’m wrong.
Andenes is, after all, home to the Andoya Air Station, which has Norway’s only surveillance squadron. There are civil defense bunkers and mysterious berms all over the village. And the rocket range is one of the world’s busiest “sounding rocket” launch sites…sure, “sounding rockets”…nice cover story, Norway.
After rounding the spiky headland of Sostran and catching a glimpse of Bleiksoya and Bleik, still a couple miles ahead, I saw something else: black skies descending.
I decided to turn around and made it back to the hotel moments before the downpour that’s lasted most of the afternoon. The skies are clearing again, however. I think it’s time for a walkies. I’ve only done about ten miles so far today.