Back in the States

Well, we made it home all in one piece. The first week was a bit of a blur. The house was musty, stinky, and overgrown, but otherwise intact.  Parke and Eli spent the first week cleaning up the place and managed to get rid of most of the dirt.  Parke’s mom came up and did some painting for us, so our bedroom looks spiffy.  We also went to IKEA and picked up some flooring for the basement.  The goal is to finish up some remodelling projects before all of our stuff arrives.

We spent the next week, including the 4th down at our house in Confluence, PA. It was great to spend some time in the woods. Eli had his first hiking/camping trip. He had a blast running around the woods and then sleeping in a tent. We hiked around the Wolf Rocks area in Forbes State Forest and slept near the turnpike shelters of the Laurel Highlands hiking trail. 

 The air shipment arrived today. This was exciting as it contained mostly tools and toys, both of which were badly needed. The computer was in there also, but it only has European power cords, so it is useless until tomorrow. I tried to pick up some new ones at Meijer, but they didn’t have any. I couldn’t help but think what my European friends would think if they ever saw Meijer.   A single store is about the size of several city blocks, open 24 hours a day  I think I counted 30 or so check-out counters. Everything from food, to furniture, to bikes, toys, electronics, …. 

 The other funny one was at a gas station.  There was a coffee mug that could hold about 2 liters of liquid. Seriously, it was not a joke.  It cost 4.99 for the cup and then refills were .89.  Can you imagine consuming 2 liters of soda/coffee in one go!?!  No wonder we have a weight problem here in the States. Crazy. I contemplated purchasing one and sending it over to Sweden for a few laughs.

Shooting clay pigeons

Shooting Clay PigeonsA few weeks ago, Jan arranged an event at a local shooting range.  Having never used a shotgun before, I was a little nervous. But after a few shots, I got over it and had a good time.  We each had 20 shots and I managed to hit about half of them.  On the way out, we got to watch some of the more serious guys. They would have one pigeon come from the left and one from the right, and the pigeons were moving much faster.  They somehow managed to blast both of them.  It was impressive to watch.  Pull

Picnic in Slottskogen

GrillingInSlottskogenThe project that I am working on is wrapping up in week or two and we had a team picnic in a local park this evening to celebrate. Typically Swedish activity for a nice night in the Summer is to pick up some grillables, a one time use grill, a few beers and go to Slottskogen for some relaxing and game playing. We were introduced to the Swedish version of baseball, brännboll. Eli enjoyed running the bases and chasing after the ball.

Since we are an international team, we were to bring along something from our own culture to play during the evening. Mats brought the materials for brännboll, Markus brought some beer because that was somehow a German activity(Although it was the weak Swedish variety), and we brought along Candyland. The other ideas we had were pies for a pie eating contest, pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey, some relay type race where you spin around a stick and try to run fast. Since we didn’t really get a chance to plan anything, we grabbed candyland figuring Eli would enjoy that as an activity. Next time I think we’ll do the pie eating contest.


Nationaldagsgrillfest på Delsjön

GrillfestWednesday was Sweden’s National Day. I felt like I managed a whole weekend in just one day. Mats and I decided to ride in the Nationaldagsloppet. It is a bicycle race with a 25k, 60k, and 100k option. We decided to take the 60k option. The race began at Kviberg, an old military base. We were treated to an escort out of the base by a group of guys dressed in old military outfits, riding old military bikes and there was also an impressively loud canon blast announcing the start of the race.

We managed to finish 4th and 5th in 1:50:20, averaging 32.6km/hr (20.3 mph). Most of the serious bikers took the 100k option, so the competition was pretty slim in the 60k group. The course went through some beautiful areas. There is one really big hill that just about killed me as I stink at hill climbing. Going back down was exhilarating, we made it to around 60 km/hr. Thankfully there was a volunteer warning us to slow down as we approached the bottom. There was a sharp turn that would have been impossible to take at the speed we were going. We were hoping to find a group to ride with but after the big hill, we were forced to go by ourselves. It was good practice for Vätternrundan.

After the bike race, Parke, Eli and I met up with a group of friends for a little grilling at Delsjön, a local nature area. Eli found the world’s biggest anthill and managed to become the world’s dirtiest kid. The life of a three year old is fascinating. The two pictures below of were taken about 1 minute apart. One moment shear joy, the next, complete sadness.

Worlds Biggest AnthillHappiestFaceSaddest FaceMorgan

Climbing in Utby

Mats and Eli at UtbyEli has been asking Mats to go climbing with him since our picnic at Delsjön on Wednesday. Mats, Parke, Eli and I went to Utby after work on Friday. Eli had a blast climbing all around the boulders. I think his favorite part was after Mats and I set the top rope and tossed it over the cliff. He was impressed when the rope came flying down. He did really well scrambling up and down the rocks. Mats and I also had a good time climbing. It was much better on the rock since the bugs didn’t seem to fly above 2 meters. Parke has been nursing her bug bites since the adventure.

There is a climbing gym at home in Ann Arbor that offers classes for kids. We talked about it with Eli and he is excited to try it out.

A Marstrand Ride: beautiful scenery and a spectacular crash

Route MapAlthough, we have lived in Gothenburg for 2 years, we haven’t yet made it to one of the most popular destinations on the West Coast of Sweden: Marstrand. Getting there by bicycle was an excellent way to go.

The air was still and cool, perfect for riding. I met up with Mats around 9:00 and we headed out. The first section of the ride across Hisingen has a few busy roads and is not particularly nice, but once we crossed Kungälv, the scenery was beautiful. There is no bridge over the river, instead there is a very flat boat that constantly shuffles back and forth carrying cars, people, bikes etc. The section between Kungälv and Marstrand was very peaceful. Once we got to Marstrand we stopped for a short fika by the water and enjoyed some strawberries.

The ride back home was much more challenging. The wind picked up and our legs were getting weary. By the time we reached the river again I was starting to bonk a little. After eating a little and chugging lots of water my situation improved. Once back on the busy road on Hisingen, I was in the front when Mats lost his concentration for a moment. His front tired clipped mine and he crashed: two full flips, some rolls, and lots of sliding. We were doing around 30 kph at the time. He is bruised and scraped, but all things considered very lucky; no serious damage to himself or his bike.

After several minutes, we got ourselves put back together and made our way home. Overall about 106km, 6 islands, several powerbars, a box of strawberries, and the smell of sea air. An excellent way to spend a Sunday morning.