Wednesday, June 15, 2005

The Eagles’ Way to Molde

June 13

The climb out of Geiranger on switchback roads was just the warm-up. We climbed from summer to winter. High in the mountains the snowplow had been through recently. In places, the snow banks flanking the narrow road were nearly as tall as the bus. Stopping at a mountain-top café/gift shop (few opportunities to sell Norwegian sweaters are missed here), we bundled up and experienced “season lag.”

We found bicyclists resting and, serendipitously, the band and orchestra having lunch. Among the family reunions was the Mahrs'. For the second time, they were all together: conductor Tim with his wife, Jill, and two daughters, and Jeneane and Don Mahr, who was celebrating his 70th birthday.

No Brakes
We took Ånesveien (the Eagles’ Way) down the mountain. The height may be that of eagles, but downward progress is that of snails. Looking out the windows, we saw the switchbacks and the band and orchestra buses below, creeping like colorful centipedes. Were the parents’ hearts in their throats as mine was, watching the progress of such precious cargo?

Engineering marvels that they are, these mountain roads are narrow; vehicles that meet execute a slow dance of backing, yielding, proceeding.

At the bottom, applausen å dømme acknowledged drivers Trond and Ove. Queried about his technique, Ove revealed that he’d made the whole trip down using gears only, never touching the brakes.

A spectacular green valley opened before us as we drove along a rapids-only river. Joanie on the Fram! Fram! bus said, “Just when you think you’ve seen the most beautiful part of Norway, you go some place else. It gets better every day.”

Molde Charms Students
We stopped in Molde for a break in the sunshine. Students were unloading equipment and rehearsing for the joint concert on June 13. The seaside setting with sharply angled mountains is beautiful, but the long-term cost of the Germans’ bombing is a modern-looking town.

What the town lacks in historic charm, the citizens made up for in hospitality. They feted the three music groups with a meal and post-concert cruise to watch the midnight sunset.

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