It was our first full night in the land of the midnight sun. It's daylight 24/7. After a light breakfast of eggs, bacon, muesli, bread, and cheese, we hit the open road. We visited one of several white beaches that look very much like the Caribbean. It's still only about 50 deg F, so we weren't fooled too much. Next stop, the government liqueur store. Success after several failed attempts! We loaded up on wine for future wine-thirties and Amy got her much-loved pistachio ice cream with a new bonus - dipped in dark chocolate. (Brian likes it too!). After a 3 hour ride through the snow-capped mountains of Bardu, we arrived at the Polar Park. It's a combination wildlife preserve and zoo. The enclosures are huge wooded areas (acres and acres) fenced in but house only a few animals. It feels a bit like a walking version of Jurassic Park with Moose (Simon), Lynx, Musk Oxen (Ulrich and his girlfriend, Nina), a shy Arctic Fox (Hankie), a Brown Bear and Albino Brown Bear (Salt and Pepper), Deer, Reindeer, and...Ulv...Wolves! We were a little early so they let us walk through the mostly empty park. It was amazing to have it
all to ourselves. We got familiar with the layout and meet several of the park "residents". We checked in near closing time because we were staying the night in the Wolf Lodge, inside the wolf enclosure. We thought there would be other people joining us, but it turned out it was just us. We had the whole lodge to ourselves in addition to the Park. We met Kjetil ("Chetil"), our guide and host. We're not sure but we think he may have been like Bjorn in Lord of the Rings, both man and bear. We followed him up to the lodge and parked outside the fences. To get to the front door, we passed through a heavily fenced area that separated us from the wolves. They checked us out (in detail) as we went in. The wolves are not trained but this pack of 5 two-year olds were heavily socialized since birth. As pups, they spent time with people and early on, it was 24/7. They are very social and comfortable around people, but they are not domesticated by a long shot. Heidi prepared us the best salmon we'd ever had. Despite not being a huge fan of salmon, Amy
ate the whole thing! We had a wonderful lively dinner with the two of them, discussing both U.S. and Norway culture and politics, Afterwards, Kjetil took us for a private guided tour, sharing the history of the park and animals, as well as improvements and additions they have planned. He told a great story that included him as guinea pig to test out their prototype zipline. It ended with Kvetil having a high speed encounter with the wooden barrier at the end of the line with all his co-workers just watching him wizz by the platform. He pointed out no one even made an attempt to help stop the speeding huge man going by. It seems to be a running joke there and would probably be what would happen at our offices too! Through an increasing harder and cold rain, we squished back to the lodge and shared some coffee, Kjetil's special Norwegian snacks (halibut, brown cheese, bread and butter), and more stories. We lost track of time (because it never gets dark) and it ended up being way after midnight before we knew it. We did get a picture of the light of the Midnight Sun at Midnight. Time
for bed because tomorrow, we meet the wolves. Stay tuned.
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