Sunday, February 03, 2013
A couple of blocks along we came to the old village square which was the centre of town and parked in the shadow of city hall, built circa mid 1700s. Most of the buildings in this historically preserved village date back around that time, with a few of the old houses a bit older. You can tell the really old ones, they lean into their neighbour like drunken sailors. In fact Aeroskobing started off as a trading village from which the fresh sea catches were sold to the mainland folks. For 400 years this has been a seafaring village where tough sea going boats where built and tough sailors manned them.
Today tourism has taking over most of the business dollars and the neighbouring village of Marstal has become the main sea going centre.
I stood and looked around the old square, and was sure that not much had changed in a few hundred years; the old city hall stood large on one side of the square, with the local church taken up another side, and roads leading in three directions brought citizens in and out of the square. And I had to wonder, how many times my relatives had walked past this way or stopped at the side by side hand pumps for a drink and sat on the bench under a sheltering tree.
Back in the car we explored the small island looking for a hamlet called Risemark and another called Dunkaer, both of which were listed in our family history. Turns out Risemark is where the island's church is located, a smattering of small houses around the the church was our only clue we had found it. Once again we were treated to a wonderful white washed historical church with a garden-type setting of a cemetery surrounding the church. We strolled the small paths that meandered through the small cemetery and again noticed the commonality of the Danish names like Jensen and Pedersen, and thought that must have been confusing when you were yelling "hey Pedersen"! to catch some ones attention, and 12 people turned around... :)
We had one more location on the island to find, and that was a farm area on the outskirts of Dunkaer where Dunkaer road sits a field's width away from the ocean. We found the Dunkaer Rd sign and turned onto the road, we even felt good as the sign pointed to "Dunkaer" with a small logo that we took to mean the farming area. We knew that a large farm operation was once here and that some of my relatives had lived and worked right around here. The road went for a couple of kilometres, turned past a quaint family farm and house right at roadside, then meandered over a rise and petered out a kilometre past the rise. Back down the road we went, slow past the farm house letting the farmer's ducks and geese get off the road and into the small pond by the house, then back down to where the road ran alongside the field with the wide ocean as a backdrop. Judging by what we knew, the large farm house operation that once stood here was now gone, and only wind waved crops remained to show what good fields had been found at the historic location.
Sitting at the ferry slip waiting for our ship to arrive, I had a feeling of satisfaction knowing that I had seen everything I could see on the island, and been to all the places where my people had worked and lived, yet I knew I would be back here some day in the not too distant future. I still wanted to spend days here, sitting in the old square watching the village life go by, I wanted to walk the country roads where the ocean breeze created ribbons of waves across the fields, and I wanted to hear the soft, muted voices carried on the still air that said " hello Edwin, glad you could make it home"
See the full video of our Aeros visit here; as Rick Steeves, the European travel guide has noted, Aeros is a place where time has stopped and the past is there for us to enjoy
Tuesday, January 08, 2013
Europe Part 4
Which was a hard message to understand when you're a young man living in the city where you were born, as you are already home and your life is good with little responsibilities and fun being number one on your list of things to do.....still the whisper was there even then.
I felt the full tug when we crossed over the border from Germany into Denmark and drove a few miles north till we came to a small village called Rise. This was one of the areas where some of my relatives had lived, and died; first stop was the old church and a walk around the pleasant cemetery that was more like a garden than a final resting place. First thing we noticed is that, either I stumbled onto an enclave of Pedersens or it's a common name in Denmark. Turned out the latter is true; Pedersen is a very common name, just like Williams or Brown or Johnson. As a matter of fact, the most common names we seen consisted of a variation of just three names. Jensen, Peters, Pedersen....you could have any name you liked as long as it had those three names in it.
It was surreal walking around the graveyard and seeing all the Pedersen headstones; many of these people were obviously "strangers" to my family tree, yet it was enough to make me overcome with emotion to realize that I was finally "home". I had to take a few minutes to level myself out before I could continue wandering around the cemetery, looking at the headstones and graves of strangers that shared my blood line going all the way back to the Vikings.
After getting our fill of the sights and sounds of the lovely church and the graveyard, we drove a block down the small street into the village and realized after going up and down a couple of small city-sized blocks, we had seen the whole village. We pulled into the parking lot of an old folks care home, the driveway adorned with life size statues of an old man and an old woman. It was evident that the community valued their senior citizens as the care centre was the nicest and newest building in the village.
Heading north on the freeway we had another 100 hundred miles or so to go before we cut east and headed to the shores of the Baltic Sea. Our destination was Sonderborg, a seaside town where we would spend the night before catching the ferry over to the island of Aeros.
Sonderborg is a lovely town with an old section right down at the waterfront; congrats to the town as they have revitalized the seaside area and made it a popular tourist destination for Danes. There are only 3-4 good hotels in Sonderborg, one of them was a Best Western; turns out it was the largest of the hotels and was also a conference hotel. I can understand the draw to have your company's convention in the tourist town and enjoy the scenery while you are there. Problem is, when you drop into town as a tourist winging it when it comes to hotels, it makes getting a room a bit of a challenge.
We snagged the last room they had - one of the suites and we got it at a discount rate equivalent to 240 Euros, which is about $480.00 CDN. Not much choice, as the next nearest town was either 120 miles to the north, or we drove back into Germany to Hamburg, now approx 150 miles to the south. OK, Sonderborg it is!
So here's the thing....this would happen to us several times more while we were in Denmark. The room was originally 350 Euros and we did get a bit of a discount when we told them we were tourists from Canada, but when I pulled out my credit card to pay and the young lady behind the desk spotted my last name Pedersen on the card, suddenly we were treated like long lost cousins coming home. The room was suddenly reduced more and the friendly desk clerk became even more helpful and suggested places to see and places to eat. When we got up to our room, the TV screen said in Danish "Welcome to the Pedersens"...at least I think it said that...I could understand the "welkommen" and "Pedersen" parts.
We dropped our bags in the sitting room and wandered into the bedroom to look out the window and what a great view we had of the outer harbour; that's the picture you see at the top of the page. We watched a large two masted schooner drift into the inner harbour as we simply enjoyed the serenity of the scene, complete with soundscape of birds chirping in the gardens around the hotel. As much as it cost to stay here, I have to say it was worth it!
We went out around 8.00 PM to grab a bite at one of the lovely dockside cafes but they had all closed up for the night; I guess we weren't quite into the full on tourist season yet. We ended up on the outskirts of town at the local Burger King, of all places. It was a busy place as the local Danes enjoyed this bit of Americana. Again prices weren't cheap....each of our meals for a burger, fries and a Coke was $18.00 CDN. On the plus side we did get to talk to a young cop for a few minutes; we wanted to get an idea of the area but the young guy had been recently transferred here from somewhere to the north, so he didn't know much about the area. The older cop waiting in the car was impatient with the tourists who were cutting into his meal time and said something in Danish to hurry the young guy along. We said thanks in Danish to the officer, "Tak", and we got a smile out of him as he jumped back in the car.
We meandered back into town and did a sight seeing tour of the town and the surrounding inlets and farm land. We also cruised a few miles out of town to find the ferry landing and check on the schedule to ensure what we read online was the same as the posted schedule at the dock. We headed back to our expensive but nice hotel suite and opened the windows for a while as we read more about Denmark, including the region we were in now, and the regions we were heading to in the coming days. We went to sleep with the curtains open, had a sound sleep, and awakened early the next morning to the sun streaming in and the promise of excitement on the small Island of Aeros and the village of Aeroskobing, main homestead of the Pedersen clan!
Take the time to view the video of the area, it's only a few minutes long and the scenery is wonderful.
You can view the video full screen by clicking here
Monday, August 13, 2012
Click on any picture to see the full size version
No I'm not talking about the Skagit Valley casino...I'm talking about the Skagit Valley in BC that is accessed just west of Hope.
Jeannine AKA Cookie Cacher and I had decided on hitting some out of the way caches that would take us to some where we don't usually go - in this case, down a mountain valley that runs for 40 miles before it dead ends just beyond the Canada - U.S. border. This is one of those rare places where you can cross the border into the U.S. without going through the full blown security protocols.
For those of you who don't know, or don't remember, the Skagit Valley was to be logged and flooded in the 1960's on behalf of the Seattle City Light Company so they could be a higher dam further downstream on the Skagit River. The new lake would back up many miles into the Canadian side; "Curley" Chittenden worked for a while on the logging and then recognizing the natural beauty and the significance of the area, refused to to any more work. Eventually a deal was brokered where BC Hydro would supply power to Seattle City Light to offset the power that would not be realized through the now shelved project.
The Skagit Valley itself was created by retreating glaciers over 10,000 years ago, and the First Nations people were known to be in the area approx 8,000 years ago. Their trade routes were the first paths through the valley, followed later by the gold miners using the now established Whatcom Trail.
The Cascade mountains start off smooth at the north end of the valley and as you go south the mountains become more rugged and jagged, which makes for excellent photographic opportunities. The road itself is a well graded forest service road that is almost flat all the way to the end - many cars make the trip with little effort other than the odd flat tire.
You have to travel quite a few miles along the FSR before you come to the Skagit Valley Provincial Park border, but when you do, you are rewarded with a number of day-use areas and another campground named Silvertip - no doubt named after the silvertip of the Grizzly Bears. The Centennial Trail and the Trans-Canada Trail also bisect the valley, leading hikers and horseback riders to either head west over the mountains to the Chilliwack Lake area, or east following the original Whatcom Trail as it heads over the next mountain chain and into Manning Park.
We spent 7 hours in the Skagit Valley finding 24 caches, covering aprox 90 miles of good forest service roads, side roads into campsite areas, and over grown old logging roads while we zig zagged our way to finding caches. The highlights was the wonderful mountain scenery, the overgrown decommissioned dirt road where Ed had to make a 6 point turn around in the Jeep in an area that was no wider than the Jeep, and a small hidden cabin by a river that someone had built and was presently using as their hideaway.
All in all we had a wonderful time in Skagit Valley and were very happy we had taken the time to seek out of the way caches in a beautiful area.
I've put a few pictures in the story, to see the rest click here and then start the Slideshow as indicated in the top right above the pictures
Monday, August 06, 2012
To see all the photos go to Ed's Flickr web site and then start up the slide show (upper right above the pictures)....it will be enough to make you wish you were there! :)
Thursday, July 26, 2012
Cookie Cacher and I managed to find a nice Sunday late in July when it wasn't raining and made a spur of the moment decision to do a long distance trip to Merritt and surrounding area for a mix of geocaching and backroading. I hadn't talked to Jeannine AKA Cookie Cacher in weeks, maybe months, but I sent her a quick text on Friday and said "you up for a long distance drive"? She answered back "giddyup"! Glad that gal can make up her mind quick... :)
We met up 8.00 AM Sunday morning in Maple Ridge, both of us not quite shiny bright - I had 3 hours of sleep and Jeanine was operating on one hour of sleep.....sounds like we were gonna be great company for each other!
We made a bee line for Merritt passing up caches all along the way in favour of saving time at our destination area. We hadn't even gotten to Merritt yet and Jeannine started talking about this puzzle cache she solved two years ago and keeps driving by when ever she travels through Merritt. "We just have to stop and grab it" she says.....for the third time in 20 minutes. "OK" I say, I'm easy, and I surely know the feeling of driving past a cache you know you should stop and grab, but just never do.
So, we get to the cache area, south side of Merritt, and you guessed it, the cache is missing! Jeaninie can't believe it..and is slightly disappointed as she reads the past logs online and realizes it's been missing for a few weeks. So, I suggest we replace the cache for the cache owner, and claim a smiley as a reward for our good deed of the day. DONE! And the cache can finally be struck off Jeannine's "to-do" list.
Off we go, to do a few city caches and some in the ranch land on the out skirts of town. Then, it's a fuel up for bodies and Jeep, then off towards Quilchena and Douglas Lake Ranch we go. This is one of my all time favourite back roads drive... turn east off Hwy 5A just north of Quilchena along the Douglas Lake Rd and head over to Douglas Lake and the famous Douglas Lake Ranch, the largest operating ranch in Canada.
The ranch has a lot of history, it has always been a working ranch, but it has catered to celebrities like Tom Jones and Prince Phillip looking for that "dude ranch" experience.
South from Douglas Lake to Minnie Lake Rd, for a few miles, then pick up the Pennask Lake Rd and follow it north-west back to Hwy 5A close to Quilchena.
I have done this trip a few times over the years, and have written trip reports in my blog about it already, so I won't go into all the details again. If you would like to read them, peruse my blog for previous entries.
I will say that we ran into thunderstorms complete with heavy rain and a musical background of thunder, which can be heard in the video....that rain in places turned the Minnie Lake Rd to the texture of slush, and it felt just like driving through it, complete with the rear tires throwing out rooster tails of goo.
The Jeep started the dirt roads pretty clean, 10 miles later most of the Jeep was brown, not red. That's OK, "a dirty Jeep is a happy Jeep". And a few dollars spent at the car wash will let me power wash the mud off the fun-mobile.
Total mileage on the day was 700K, caches found was 25, time on the road was 14 hours, and the fun factor was up around "awesome"!
We were using Jeanine's GPS for caching, but I was running mine to record the trip and make a route out of it which I then posted to Every Trail.com Their web site is pretty cool, it takes your GPS waypoints and track route, then overlays it over top of Google Maps and even lets you "play" the trip back, complete with elevation gains shown along the way.
I have embedded the route here for you to view, you can also go to my Every Trails account and view the this and other trips I have done.
PS - X the elevation box closed so you can see the trip play out on screen. Mouse over the bottom of the screen to pop up the PLAY button to re-start the trip playback.
Sunday, June 03, 2012
CLICK ON ANY PICTURE TO ENLARGE IT
Sunday, May 27, 2012
With the weather finally getting nice on the weekends, I've been out in the yard weeding and pruning and power washing and enjoying the view of the garden. Here are a few pictures I snapped today... you can click on any picture to make it full size and see more of the details.