Saturday, July 20, 2013

Norway


 


A few weeks back I went to a conference in Bergen Norway to present a paper.  We used it as a great opportunity to have a nice get together with my parents and Lynne before she leaves on her mission.  It was an awesome trip.  The prices were heart burn inducing high, but that aside it was awesome. 
 We had a nice time going to church there, a lot of nice people there and a nice building there too.  They had an English Sunday school class which was nice. 

 This is one of the funniest statues I have seen, a little naked boy getting soaked with water.  If you look at his face you can tell he isn't happy about it!

 Bergen was a beautiful city, these houses are some of the more famous ones. 

 We are going to miss Lynne when she goes on a mission!  While I was in some sessions for my conference everyone else went exploring, this was an old tower that they went to.

Me at the conference.  It wasn't my favorite conference but the location was great!


We rode a train up the mountain, it was pretty awesome.
 
 
 Mom and Dad at the top
 Mom and Lynne at the top
 
 Me and Maris at the top
 At the top they have some nice hiking trails.  Of course we didn't hike them we drove around on them, all the beauties of hiking without the effort!  A few spots were a little tight with the car and some hikers weren't too eager to get out of our way but it all turned out ok. 

 Maris at the top.
 While I was at the conference everyone went to  a Grieg concert, it was one of the highlights for them.  At first I was like who cares I don't even know who Grieg is, then I found out he was the guy who wrote the good morning song!!!



Maris' favorite was march of the trolls



 One of my favorite things was the aquarium.  They had some awesome penguins. 


 Since Maris is pregnant she wears her awesome stretchy pants.  And for those of you still looking at her pants there is an awesome waterfall behind her. 

 Me and Lynne feeding the fish.  In 2 weeks Lynne will be a fisher of men!  We are proud of you Lynne!

 Our favorite part of Norway was "Norway in a nutshell"  It was a train, boat, and bus ride.  We saw some amazing things.  One was this waterfall.  They also played some Norwegian folk music and had a Norwegian girl dancing below the waterfall it was pretty neat. 


 The boat trip was really nice.  It was even prettier than the Snake River Canyon if you can believe it!


 






This was the luxury restaurant in our hotel.  You can tell that the owner doesn't speak English.  Needless to say we did not eat there. 

Friday, July 5, 2013

Happy 4th of July!





 Happy 4th of July everybody!  Hopefully you all had a great time.  Most years I have always been abroad for the 4th of July (since 2002), this year was no different.  In general it is much better to be in the US for the holiday, as it is just a normal holiday here.  That being said celebrating the 4th of July abroad can be pretty interesting.  It always make you appriciate the good old USA.  I remember the 4th of July in 2007 when visiting the Red Square in Moscow Russia I saw Newt Gingrich (see photo below).  Usually me and Maris have a nice dinner or lunch to celebrate. This year Maris was in Finland for a Young Woman's camp so I decided to do something different, I went to the US Embassy 4th of July party at the Ambassador's residence!  It was super awesome.  I got to see my favorite diplomats, meet some nice US citizens, and enjoy some fantastic food!  They put away the burger stand before I got there, but I did get two pulled pork sandwiches, a cheese quesadilla, and two pieces of cake.  I had a few carrot sticks just for the fibre of it.


I thought the Hollywood sign was pretty awesome.  Almost as good as the real thing!

They had all the state flags there!  All of them kind of look the same, but after some searching I did find Idaho!  The greatest state in the union!  

 I was surprised by how big the event was, hundreds of people!  Pretty nice place the ambassador has.


 
This is Newt in 2007 in Moscow.  I think he was there on some book tour.  Funny, I don't see a flag pin on his lapel!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

New trains


On July 1st the new trains entered service!  Some of the old trains will still be working until the 27th, so for the first two days we still got old trains, but tonight I got to ride a new train!  It was fantastic, worth the wait.  I think it is the closest thing to time travel that I will ever experience.  It was like going from 1970 Soviet Union to 2020 Western Europe.  Here is what makes the new train so amazing:
  • Ground level entry.  Instead of walking up several steep stairs (good luck if you are in a wheel chair or with a baby stroller) you just walk on.
  • Smooth ride.  Instead of bouncing all over the place at high speeds the train just cruises along.  Instead of jolting at the beginning because every train car is loosely connected with a 50 year old hook system, it just moves as one single unit.  It is also very quiet, no loud heating systems. 
  • Air conditioning.  It is sure great to have a modern climate control system, no freezing in the winter time and no sweating like a pig in the summer time!
  • Incredible acceleration, not quite as fast as a Z06 Corvette, but compared to the old train it feels like one.  It is like going from a 3 cylinder Geo metro to a 8 cylinder Corvette. 
  • It is gorgeous!  Estonia needs more colors, and this will do the trick in the winter time.
 They have a nice monitor inside that gives the time, date, speed, temperature and a list of the next stops with the estimated time of arrival for each stop!

The wagons are all connected!


Here is a picture of the old train for a reference point.