August 06, 2007 GMT
USA - The Middle

Being an Arctic citizen on a motorcycle in South Dakota has its disadvantages. Temperatures rose to a record high 107 Fahrenheit; or 42 Celsius if you like. I felt like a polar bear in a zoo in Cairo. In Rapid City I found relief in an aircon motel with a fellow biker from Canada, but eventually I had to move on. It was plain awful because the breeze when driving was warmer than me thus heating me up instead of cooling me down. And if that wasn’t bad enough - Americans everywhere gave me a really warm welcome.
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A moment feeling at home
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I perspired my way into a nearby town to find a new refuge, but they were all occupied by fashion-conscious men with soft leather pants, stylish bandanas, and with colorful drawings on the back of their jackets. It seemed to be a group thing; matching tattoos and everything. Their motherly attachment was underlined by resting safe in the lap of the women sitting behind them. The name of the town was Sturgis which is famous for arranging the largest motorcycle rally in the world. One week a year approx. half a million Harleys roll into town. However, it might be the world’s biggest rally, but not the best. The best rally in the world is Nord-Norge Treffet arranged by HMC. Everybody knows that. Maybe that is why the boys in Sturgis were seeking comfort in the bosoms of their loved ones – Nord-Norge it’s just too far away.
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Mt. Rushmore: Four of the most significant characters in US history.
From left: Mickey Mouse, Winnie the Pooh, Tom Selleck and David Hasselhoff
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After a sun scorching, sweat slobbering drive through Nebraska the temperatures finally plummeted as I rode into tiny Parkersburg in Iowa. I was relaxing in the shadow outside the gas station next to a sign saying “No Loitering” when the local Sheriff pulled up beside my bike. As he stepped out of his vehicle and the polished star on his uniform twinkled in the sun I knew what to expect. Oh yes, I’ve seen Rambo; the wandering veteran in small town America. I would be dragged down to the station, stripped for all my belongings and brutally flushed with the fire hose while all sorts of traumas would go through my head. I tried to remember where I had my sewing kit, but the Sheriff was too fast. The interrogation was something like this:
“What are you doing here?”
“I’m driving across America.”
“Cool! Would you like a cup of tea with me and my wife?”
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Jason Johnson, the nicest Sheriff in America
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With a map kindly sponsored by the Butler County Sheriff Department I maneuvered up to Decorah, a center of Norwegian-American culture and the annual Nordic Fest. The official reason for the festival is to celebrate Norway as an independent country. The real reason is to have fun. The people behind the festival are the ancestors of the Norwegian settlers in the 1850’s, and the result from 150 years absence from the motherland is remarkable. Add some influence by the American way and you’ll see ladies in traditional dress (bunad) roaring down the street on Kawasaki ATV’s. In Decorah you’ll learn that the prime leisure in Norway is to make kitchenware of whatever you find in the woods, that lutefisk is served with potatoes only, and that the main instrument in traditional Norwegian polka is the tuba. Amy and Dane who runs a café on Main Street gave me the opportunity to clarify a few things, and together we designed an up to date menu. So if you want the most delicious Norwegian stuff, visit Oneota Net Café. Nam nam. I promised to mail the recipe on kvæfjordkake. And of course, when interviewed by Decorah Newspapers I made sure to invite all Decorans to next years Festspillene i Nord-Norge. Oh yeah, its gonna be a good one.
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The parade in Decorah was somewhat different from those at home
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What nice people look like
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In Wisconsin I came across the Harley Davidson factory. I though why not, knocked on the door, apologized for not driving a Harley, and wondered if I could have a look inside. Sure, no problem, and a member of staff gave me an hour tour through the factory halls. It was very interesting.
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The factory
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.. and their latest model
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Encouraged by the good start of the day I continued to Michigan. I was still recovering from the jolly Norwegian time in Decorah when I saw a road sign approx. 10.000 kilometers sooner than expected:
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???
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Within an hour I was in the city of Norway. Within the next I was invited to the Mayors office (or City Manager as he was called). Suddenly I knew loads of new people. The owner of Norway Mercantile Gifts, Crafts and Apparel gave me a Norway-Michigan sweatshirt, cheerful Paula at Norway City Hall invited me to an evening with her family, and I spent the night in BJ, Trisha, Josh and Grace’s camper van. And as I woke up in the quiet sunrise, watching two deer jumping across the road, I felt grateful for yet another day where anything could happen. As usual I started by folding out the map to evaluate my options. I was not that far from Canada.
Hmm, Canada…
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Paula is putting a life jacket on her dog before it goes swimming
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Posted by Erik Saue at August 06, 2007 04:26 AM GMT
 
 

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