Saturday, March 23, 2013

Adventures in Dane Land!
Mark Williamson
March 2013
12,285 words

Day One:

Like most all travel that begins at an airport, ours begins this day with a small bit of highway robbery. After having spent the last few days under the weather, not only was I bit dehydrated, but I wasn't thinking completely clearly and I forgot to bring earplugs with me. Earplugs, for those of you who don’t know, are excellent for helping prevent the headache you get from the constant drone of aircraft engines.

So, I went into the little shop there at the Boise airport and located a pair, as well as a 12oz. bottle of green tea, which looked like it might be good at the re-introduction of fluids into my parched frame.

13 dollars poorer when I walked back to the gate, I was disgusted with the concept of capitalism and how it has been applied to captive audiences stuck behind security in the wake of 9/11.

The flight to Seattle was easy enough, lasting a little more than an hour. Sadly, there wasn’t much to see out of the plane, except for the A-10s on the runway at Gowen Field as we took off. Seattle, surprisingly, was overcast and cloudy. Despite the brevity of the trip, I was uncomfortable and wondered secretly if attempting the trip so soon on the heels of my bout with health maladies might perhaps be an exercise in stupidity.

International air travel in coach class sucks enough on a good day, but crossing 10 times zones wedged into the middle seat in the middle row of an Airbus 300 with a bad case of diarrhea creeping on makes it just miserable. The trip from our gate to the International Departure gates was accomplished via a train which had announcements is English and about 5 Asian languages, but weirdly, no Spanish, which, being from Idaho, I thought –was- the American 2nd language.

And, in typical rotten luck, on the plane bound for Amsterdam out of Seattle, it should have come as no surprise to me the person in the seat next to me was not going to be some big-breasted lady with a Dutch accent, or a typical Northwest hippie-hottie; no, I got to squeeze in beside a fat, short Chinese-American man who snored and hogged the armrest.

As horrendous as the flight was with a bubbling in my gut, at least the seatback had an entertainment center with a lot of movies on tap. I got to watch several I have been meaning to see, and some that just appealed to my curious nature. I have heard other cops rave about “End of Watch,” but I quit liking it the moment the cop took off his badge and belt to get into a fight with a suspect. That shit just doesn't happen in the real world. “Liberal Arts,” “The Perks of Being a Wallflower,” and “Silver Linings Playbook” helped burn the hours until we touched down at Schiphol and I liked them.

Of course, given my worsening physical condition, my immediate thought was not making the connecting flight, but finding a warm place to let my bowels abuse me. You’d think an International Airport in a modern, northern European country would have been designed with ample number of shitters; you’d be wrong. Horribly wrong. I walked into every toilet between the gate and the immigration desk, no fewer than 5, and only found 1 (the 1 at the immigration desk!) that had more than 3 stalls and did not have a line 3 deep.

Also, I realize coming from “The Land of the Free Re-fill” like I do, I tend to take fluids for granted, but for the love of all that is holy, could you bastards in Europe please install some fucking water fountains in public? Seriously, there is not one public water fountain in all of Schipol airport and that’s just silly.

Finally able to get some degree of comfort from my adversarial digestive tract, we stood in line to go through immigration. The young guy running the line we were in was as effective as I could expect, but the buffoons doing the carry-on inspection were idgits. Not only was there only 1-FUCKING-TABLE, about 2 foot square, to do the “unloading of pockets” drill, they made me empty my camera bag completely, lenses and all, into a plastic bin for x-ray. It was a nightmare of incompetence that took so much time by the time we reached our gate, they had already begun boarding the plane for the last leg of our trip to Copenhagen.

I had to laugh, though, when I overheard this exchange between a tall, young Dutch immigration officer with a crew-cut, his wrinkled blue uniform looking a little slovenly, but off-set by the Glock 22 in his holster, and a dark-skinned man with a shaved head bearing a US pasport:

Immigration Officer: “Do you speak English?”

Dark-skinned man with shaved head just shakes his head.
Immigration Officer, very obviously perturbed: “You live in The States and you don’t speak English?”

Welcome to my world, pal.

Once we boarded the plane, we were informed there was going to be a delay because the late snowfall resulted in the planes needing a coat of de-icer on the wings. It was interesting to see the planes line up at the de-icing stations, which are these cool, small cranes on wheels with big nozzles, manned by a guy in a little glass cockpit. The lightly brownish fluid the de-icing guy blasted on the wings of the plane had the unfortunate resemblance to another brownish fluid I had recently seen, but I was thankful watching the snow piled on the wings wash off in a matter of minutes, and soon we were once again airborne. And somehow during all this, I managed to lose my sunglasses, a nice pair of Oakleys.

The plane ride to Copenhagen was mercifully short, but by the time we landed at Kastrup, I was in rotten shape. Chills and shivering had set in to the point I had trouble un-zipping my jacket. The two meals served on the Seattle-Amsterdam flight, cheese tortellini and a bagel with egg-and- cheese, came back with a vengeance. But, I can say this for the Danes, they had plenty of toilets for me to deposit my goods. By the time we got outside and Stine’s folks picked us up, I was dreaming about bottles of water and a warm bed. The snow was still falling in Copenhagen and the trip in Jørgen’s new Volvo was uneventful.

My wishes for water and a warm bed were granted a little later, but the joy was short-lived. The cruel bug I contracted forced me to get up out of the warm bed every 10 minutes or so to go pollute the cold bathroom in the tiny guest cottage where we are staying. Fortunately for her, Stine went and spent those hours away from the horror, having lunch with her folks.

There is no fan in the little bathroom, so I cracked a window to let the foul stench out, and I was a little concerned when I heard loud sniffing outside the window and looked out to see a big, black lab had trotted over from the neighbor’s house to investigate what he must surely have believed to be a dead body.

I have smelled dead bodies that did not reek with as much ferocity, so this guy was probably shocked to find the smell came from something alive when I peeked out the little window and spoke to him. He had a dusting of snow on his fur, but he wagged his whole back-end like really happy dogs do, and it made me miss my critters.

The rest of this day was spent alternately sipping water and then expelling it out, until finally, at about 2100 Copenhagen time, I felt good enough to drink a couple ounces of Coca-Cola. I’m not sure my body was able to collect any decent calories out of the airline food, and the bottle of mineral water I chugged as soon as we got to the cottage, while helping with hydration, wasn't helping with nutrition.

I had also forgotten what Danish tapwater tastes like, and for someone accustomed to drinking 3 or 4 big glasses of cold, Garden City tapwater a day, the un-flouridated, un-clorinated, generally clean water in Copenhagen just tastes -weird.-

Stine finally returned to the little cottage, but it seems she was overcome with joyous gluttony upon seeing a trove of traditional Danish foods at lunch and ignored her food allergies and gorged herself to the point that she’s now in the bathroom heaving.

Despite the inauspicious beginnings, I am now feeling better (at 0430 Copenhagen time), and looking forward to an easy day of rest and relaxation. Stine’s folk’s new house sits near a place called “Dyrehaven” (translated into English as “The Animal Garden.”) Dyrehaven is an old Royal hunting preserve that was used by the Kings of old as a place to hunt and drink. The deer, which are now no longer hunted except by the care-takers who are responsible for keeping the herds healthy, were imported from Germany in the 1800s. The care-takers also feed the deer during the long Danish winter, so to say they are ‘hunted’ is a bit misleading. “Managed” is probably a better word. I am not sure when a member of the Royal family last shot anything here, but it’s probably been a while.

This area, while not wild like the wonderful land of Idaho, is one of the largest hunks of undeveloped land on the island of Zealand, and is protected and cared for by the government. It is completely surrounded by a long damn fence. The only plans I have for tomorrow are to take a stroll in Dyrehaven and try to eat a banana. If I can get through that with no ill effects, I will get more ambitious with my activities, maybe to include eventually having a cold glass of Tuborg somewhere.

Day Two:

Today started well enough. I woke a little after 0600 and, knowing that attempting more sleep would be futile, I decided to get up and go for a short walk. Not feeling terribly energetic, I decided against a pre-dawn walk in Dyrehaven, instead opting for a stroll down the sidewalk.

The snow plows have been busy and both the sidewalk and roadways were clear, but it was probably 25F and so I ended up wearing my fleece hat for most of the walk. I only encountered two other folks, one guy, a jogger with a black poodle on a leash told me “Have a good day!” in English as he went by. Those Danes and their ability to just break into English at a whim always make me feel a little linguistically inadequate when I am in Copenhagen.

While the walk was fairly uneventful, I did take a lot of pictures of many mundane items such as Danish Post boxes and road signs, as well as a couple of a big, yellow bus. The Danish public transport system is well known for clean, tidy buses that run on time. I know we Americans disdain ‘the bus’ as the most menial form of transportation, ranking somewhere well below riding a bicycle in the rain, and only slightly above walking with a club-foot through sewage, but I can assure you, riding the bus in Denmark is a cheap, effective, clean way to get from point A to point B. I’ll get pictures from the inside later this week when we go into Copenhagen.

The little town we are staying in is called Naerum. I’m not sure what the population is, but at 0630 there wasn’t anyone else but me out walking. The crisp air felt good and my stomach is feeling much better. I got more tired on the short walk than I feared, though, probably due to lack of food in my system and I returned just in time to meet “Lulu,” the lady whose cottage we are staying in. I also got to formally meet “Mike,” the big, black lab I saw out of the window of the bathroom yesterday. He is as friendly as I suspected he would be.

Upon returning to the cottage, I finished the last of the Coca-Cola and ate a banana, which, so far, has managed to stay down and in and didn't have any sort of negative gastro-colic reflex action. Stine, who has not improved from her fight with vomiting, is still pillowed in the warm bed, but is slated to go with Sanne today to get her hair cut. I wonder how drastic she’s going to go?

Later in the morning, we walked up to Stine’s folk’s house for breakfast, which for me was a few slices of bacon on bread and a glass of orange juice. I am not sure what Stine ate. She left to get her hair cut and I stayed behind, working on my photos and working on the wireless internet connection.

While hanging out at Jørgen and Sanne’s house after breakfast, I was able to get the wireless working and checked my e-mail, which contained very good news from the Ada County Prosecutor’s Office. Also this afternoon, I was able to upload some pictures and ended up falling asleep on the little couch in Jørgen’s office and was able to sleep for three or four hours until Stine returned. Her haircut was not drastic at all and in a few short weeks she’ll need another cut. Later, when she woke from her nap, we were able get in a short walk in the forest this evening before it got completely dark.

Afterward, I was feeling well enough to eat supper this evening. Sanne made chicken and potatoes, which was very good. So far, it has stayed inside me. Tomorrow, Stine and I will go with Jørgen for a tour of Copenhagen, which has, apparently, changed quite a bit in the more than a decade since I last set foot here.

Megan tells me Chani is doing well, which is welcome news. I have also heard that is was damn near 70°F in Boise today, which figures since it’s not gotten above freezing since we landed. I am told the weather tomorrow will be ‘fantastic,’ but I will reserve judgment.

It’s a little after 2100 now and Stine and I are preparing to turn in for the evening. I've not been to the cottage since I left this morning and I am weirdly looking forward to it. I hope I am able to get a full night’s sleep. I think the three glasses of wine I drank with supper might do the trick for that.

Day Three:

I slept really well...for about 4 whole hours. A little after 0300 Copenhagen time (0800 Idaho time), I found myself lying comfortably on the soft bed in the warm cottage –wide fucking awake-. I don’t know why I had this delusion that perhaps going on vacation across the world to the land of the Vikings might re-set my body-clock and let me get some proper rest, but I was sorely mistaken. It appears that once the “Night Walker” mutation is in one’s DNA, it cannot be removed regardless of how many time zones one crosses to escape it.

So, after many futile minutes of attempted slumber, I resigned myself to the inevitable and got out of bed. Now I sit here, trying to type and not wake Stine, who is asleep just mere feet away in the sleeping area. I was a little concerned the soft, staccato tapping of the keys on my little Acer netbook, which reverberate like gunshots in the still quiet of the cold, Danish night, would cause her to stir, but she seems to be deep enough in the embrace of Hypnos to not notice.

The bed sits in a small alcove underneath a round, decorative window, just adjacent to what I have taken to calling “the living room.” The living room is cluttered with all the scattered, random clothing and accouterments of travel. I’ve taken a lamp off a small bookshelf packed with books about horses and art, and I have it draped with my big, black Carhartt coat to prevent the light from shining into the sleeping area.

I am writing with the lamp sitting in front on my little computer on the glass-top table, which is too high to be a proper coffee table, but is a good height for me to sit and type. I've got my earphones in and I am listening to Sgt. Barry Sadler sing a ballad about Green Berets, and it reminds me of a question Jørgen asked me during dinner about how I pick the men for my “Badass of the Day.” Sanne wanted to know –why- I post about those guys and I tried explaining that people remember infamy, but few remember true heroism.

I’m pleased to report I’ve grown quickly accustomed to the taste of the tapwater here again. It was bound to happen considering how much I have drunk, but given the radioactive neon yellow color of my piss, it’s readily apparent I am still dehydrated. The master, Cody Lundin, says one’s urine should be “clear and copious” to indicate proper hydration, and a lack, even in cold climates, is the primary cause of folks buying the farm when caught in some otherwise survivable situations. I’m pretty sure he’d disapprove of the cold can of Tuborg I've stolen out of the fridge as a means of hydration, but, given what I have endured these last days, I felt desperately in need of a beer.

For a few minutes I sat and considered going for another short stroll, but I abandoned that idea. While 0630 is early, a person out walking that time of day doesn't really raise any suspicions because he could just be an early riser who likes to get some fresh air before heading off to work, but a guy wearing a black hoodie, a big black Carhartt coat, taking a slow stroll down a quiet, country lane at 0400 is of a completely different character and probably not something I want to really do.

I just had a problem with the lamp and, while attempting to fix it, ended up waking Stine anyway. My attempts to repair it and sort out a workable solution have failed, and so I moved into the bathroom where I am now sitting on the toilet writing in the harsh glare of the bright light above the mirror. The toilet seat is loose and every time my weight shifts even a little bit, the seat slides over the edge of the rim and it feels like I am going to get pitched headlong onto the porcelain floor. You can well imagine how fun –that feeling- was two days ago when I was constantly using this apparatus for its intended use.

In other, really unfortunate circumstances, it appears that all the ablutions and such stacked in this bathroom (a bathroom very obviously belonging to a woman) are balanced with such precarious precision that even the most minor movement on my part sends all manner of tubes, tubs, and bottles cascading to the floor in a cacophony of clattering plastic and glass, which I am sure sounds to Stine in the next room like the proverbial bull in a china shop…Fuck! At least nothing broke open.

Necessity, being the mother of invention and all that, I have sorted out another writing solution I think is the most acceptable one yet, but I sit here pondering if Hunter Thompson ever found himself hammering out words while sitting on the floor of a bathroom in a foreign country with his IBM Selectric perched on a loose toilet seat? Somehow, I doubt it. The good news is the floor has some sort of geothermal heating system and so I can sit here without freezing my ass off.

Despite the inevitable weary sluggishness I am sure to suffer, and the fact it’s supposed to be sunny and clear and I am without sunglasses, I am looking forward to today’s trip into the city. I've not seen Copenhagen in a long time, and I have found myself missing it. I recollect days long ago when, after Steffen closed Store Kongens Køkken for the night, Theis and I would walk down Strøget to find beers and hot dogs, the neon lights shining and making the night magical. If only I’d had the foresight to realize then what great days I was living.

It’s 0430 now, and I’m nearing the end of tonight’s inspirations. I’ll download and edit some pictures for a while and try to kill some time until I can go outside without it being too weird or suspicious, even though I am both of those during the brightest hours of the day.
I was only able to sit quietly in the dark listening to my music until a little after 0500, when I decided to take a walk. I made it all the way into Nærum proper before I encountered anyone. Seely will be mildly surprised that the one person I encountered who was up and moving at that hour was actually a Danish hosedragger. He will be not surprised at all, and probably mildly disgusted, when I explain I ran into this fellow as he was making his way back to the fire station from the local “konditori” (Danish for ‘bakery’) with a double-armload of fresh pastries for the crew to munch on for breakfast. I will give the hosedraagger 1 point, though, for actually having the courage and heroism to get up before sunrise and brave the below-freezing cold to walk the 300 yards or so to the place on his own. I don’t know if Danish hosedraggers even have “Fire Rehab.” Maybe he’s a probie?

On my way back, I spotted a football lying in the snow behind the end zone at the local football field, so I made a detour to go and pick it up. It looked odd as I approached and from the blunted shape I assumed it was flat and thus the reason it had been abandoned, but when I picked it up, I noticed the stitches were pretty small and I immediately recognized the outline of Australia on the ball. I thought it was pretty cool because I’d never seen an Aussie Rules Football before.

However, that it was lying on the ground behind an American Football field goal makes me assume some poor Danish kid didn't know there was a difference in the shape and just bought the first brown, oblong ball he saw. I briefly considered keeping it (Finders keepers, Losers weepers). But then I thought to myself “What the hell is my anti-social ass going to do with a ball that requires other people to play the game?” and so I just dropped it on a bench inside the sports complex.

As I crossed the road back towards the cottage I saw a street sign that I had asked Stine about yesterday that read “Døvehjem,” which Stine informed me means “Home for the Deaf.” I began to laugh out loud when I realized the irony of the Danish government putting a damn exclamation point on it!

When I finally returned to the cottage, I found Stine still asleep and so I decided a much-needed shower and shave was in order. She’s going to be pissed when she discovers I used all the hot water in the tiny water heater, but at least my noggin is now freshly scraped clean and I feel like 2 dollars.

Whoever told us the weather was going to be ‘fantastic’ today has been sadly misinformed. The clear skies of yesterday have given was to gray, overcast ones today, and I wouldn't be surprised to see rainfall today, or even some more snow if the temperatures stay suitable.

Stine set the alarm on my watch for 0800, but I watched as she slept right through it. I then woke her up at 0900 and she managed to say a half sentence before dropping back asleep in under 4 seconds.

Right now, I am sitting at Jørgen's table finishing up my breakfast, some bread, cheese, and orange juice waiting for Stine to finally get up and get moving.

Day Three (Cont.)/Four:

Stine finally got out of bed around 1100 and we loaded up in Jørgen’s venerable Volvo wagon and went on a whirl-wind tour of the “new” Copenhagen. The weather broke and we were able to see a lot of the new city. I’m told that when I lived here back in the 1990s, the city was very nearly bankrupt, but after I left, Copenhagen went into resurgence and there was amazing growth. Jørgen showed us community developments in former industrial areas or just areas that were undeveloped that were just amazing. Some of the architecture was incredible and some of it, while structurally impressive, can only be described as ‘butt ugly.’

There were so many things to see, we sadly were not able to take ample time to see it all. I got to see a little of the old neighborhood and I was a little saddened that Søborg, once a community for young, working families, has become a bit of a slum, overrun with refugees from those countries where our servicemen are in harm’s way. Meanwhile the ‘slum’ area we once lived in has turned in a hipster, cool area for urban Yuppie sorts.

I had kept my eyes peeled for ‘De Grønne Bude,’ which are Copenhagen’s main bike messenger company, sleek cyclists wearing green and black. I had dreams when I lived here of becoming one, but they are considered the best in the world and competition is fierce. After an hour or so of not spotting one, I asked if they were still around, and Jørgen assured me they were. Just minutes after I asked, I spotted one. He was a tall, young guy standing on the pedals of a filthy, black ten-speed, trying to get around some bulky-dressed commuters on fat-tire bikes and I could almost hear him yelling “Come on, people! I’m trying to make a living here!” as he swung around them on the left. Then I realized he was, of course Danish, and wouldn't go in for such rudeness.

The clouds and fog gave way completely and the bright sun came out, reminding me of my need for cheap, Chinese-made shades. Sadly, search for some was unsuccessful and I squinted through most of the day. I wonder if being a Night Walker for nigh on a decade is what has made me have such light sensitive eyes?

When we returned, I was a bit tired and took a nap in the cottage until Stine got me for dinner. I had expected our beautiful friend,Nanna, but I was pleasantly surprised to also see my sister-in-lawSara had come over. She was accompanied by my ‘great-niece’ (is there such a thing?) Samira, the 3 year-old daughter of my niece, Victoria, who I’ve not actually seen since she was 9 or 10.

Most people who know me realize I have such an aversion to not-grown-humans that I can barely stand to be in the same room with one for any length of time, but even I have to admit I was very pleasantly surprised with the little one’s behavior. I was quite taken with her. She’s so typically Danish-looking, with blond hair and green eyes, that it was funny to me. She vaguely reminded me of Sgt. Schneider’s little girl. She was polite, and nice, and not loud. She did not whine, she did not cry and we got along fine because my Danish is only slightly worse than hers is.

Of course, please don’t be so foolish as to misread any part of this to imply that I have even one iota of an inkling to produce offspring of my own. As charming as that little girl was, I am almost positive it was a trick and she had been drugged or something to put her on her best behavior.

Supper was finally served and the bulk of the conversation revolved around a bit of recent news here about a couple of Danish cops that dumped a guy brandishing a sword at them and the resulting media shit-storm and liberal public outcry. I say two cops went home to their families that night, so all is right with the world. After supper, I dozed on Sanne’s little lounge until Stine woke me a little after 2300 to go back to the cottage, where I slept soundly until a little before 0600.

Realizing I had very nearly 8 hours of pretty good sleep, I decided to get up and go for a walk. Lazy-head Stine wanted no part of it and stayed in bed, so I stole 200 crowns out of her purse for breakfast.

The sky remained clear throughout the night and the sun was just breaking to the East and the “city center” in Nærum had a cool light to it. I shot some pictures of the city center and was gleeful when I found a little historical hosedragger mini-museum/display on the north side of town. There is a little hunting shop in town and there was an ad on the door for a bolt-action Sauer hunting rifle. I wonder what kind of hoops someone has to jump through to buy a rifle over here. The price, 20,000 Danish crowns is about $3,500 US. I don’t know if that’s a good deal or not.

I had decided that for breakfast I was going to go to the same bakery where the early-morning hosedragger from yesterday had bought his pastries, so I strolled back towards Nærumvenge Torv. As I passed a grassy area, I happen to glance down and was so absolutely shocked I actually said ‘Oh, Shit!” out loud. Right there, just lying in the grass, was a frost-covered Glock 17!

Being a cop, and being American, I immediately suspected, because it was in the grass next to a hedge and was covered in frost, that it had been tossed out of a car window after a drive-by or something. Then I remembered: I am in Denmark.

I didn't even know they sold Airsoft guns in Europe.

The first time in more than a decade I've set foot in a Danish bakery and the smell did not disappoint. I immediately went to the “snegle” (“snails) section and ordered a one with chocolate. I also bought a coke. The dark-haired girl behind the counter spoke perfect English, of course, and I gave up on murdering her language and just finished the rest of our conversation in English.

When I lived here, I made no attempt to hide my nationality, but even still, I began to fit in with my dress and mannerisms. I usually wore my USS Nimitz command cap given to me by Joey Stubbs, and my language, though (and I know you’ll find it hard to believe), was always tainted with an unmistakable southern drawl, so if I opened my mouth, people –just knew-.

On this trip, however, I am –flaunting- it. My digital pattern camo pants, Carhatt shirt, and hoodie, and Payless Crosstrekker skate-board shoes probably scream ‘AMERICAN! (Ugly one, too!)’ to the fashion-sensitive Danes that see me. In unexpected news, my skateboard shoes are actually proving to be much better at keeping my feet warm as I stoll on the cobblestones than the “Magnum” brand duty boots I brought just for the cold. Weird.

The total cost for breakfast was 34 crowns, and at 9.5 crowns to a dollar, it works out to about 4 bucks and change. It was worth every penny. Or crown, whatever. I sat at a little table in a gray, hardback chair for quite a while, until I began to feel like I was imposing and staying longer than 4 bucks buys.

On the walk back a few minutes later, I spotted what appeared to be a couple of links of belt-fed ammo. Of course, they too, were plastic. What’s with the Danes having toy guns and such? I also found a hammer some workman had lost and placed it on a green electrical box in case he comes back to look for it.

Stine was, of course, still asleep and didn’t wake up until about 0900. We’re now arguing about how to spend possibly the last day of good weather we are going to have. The Danish weather forecasters, considerably more accurate than Larry Gebhardt, have predicted a massive snowstorm for Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Today is sunny and not too cold. Stine’s made arrangements at 1300 to see a friend, which leaves us precious little time for a stroll downtown.

I’m unopposed to a stroll in the upcoming snowstorm but I can hear Stine bitching already.

Day Four (cont):

I decided to do a little photo-editing and writing since Stine wasn't out of bed when I got back from my walk. I have given up trying to work out a place to type other than the little sofa in the living room, and she didn't wake up when I clicked on the little wall lamp, so I think it’s the best all-around solution. It’s certainly a damn sight more comfortable than the damn bathroom floor.

Eventually, around 1000, Stine got up and I was able to convince her to push back our visit with Pernille and Christian so we would have some time to just leisurely stroll around downtown. I was pretty happy about that. After a glass of juice and a slice of bread, we walked outside and waited on the #193 bus to drive us up to the train station.

It was still pretty brisk out, but the sun was shining and I was looking forward to a Saturday of seeing my old stomping grounds in the big city. The bus arrived in a few minutes and when we got aboard it was nearly deserted. The big bus took us down through Nærum where I had walked the two prior mornings, and I was impressed the driver could pin-hole that big yellow monstrosity down the narrow lanes.

Once we reached our stop, we had to take a short walk through a tunnel under the bridge next to the highway and it was, like most open expanses of concrete in this place, festooned with graffiti. I had forgotten how much I hate the graffiti in Denmark, and by some of the dates written by the taggers, it seems the authorities have completely abandoned the idea of doing anything about it. It’s an eyesore on an otherwise beautiful country and should be something of a national shame. Summary execution should be the penalty for anyone caught tagging something they don’t own. Or, am I being too draconian?

The little commuter train from Nærum to Jægersborg was neat and clean, of course, and the female conductor who came by to check our tickets was friendly. She was also wearing these really cool, thick-soled duty boots and I secretly wondered how much they cost and where I could get some. I am sure those things were warm. I dismissed the idea. My Danner boots are awesome.

The train ride to Jægersborg, and the subsequent one to “Hovedbanegarden,” the main train station in Copenhagen was uneventful. There was a pretty, blond Danish girl wearing a gray cap that I found quite attractive sitting across the car from me, but the space between was filled with 4 teen-age boys who were speaking English with varying accents who got aboard near Copenhagen’s International School. One kid, a short, black kid wearing a green rain-jacket and sipping from some red-colored drink, was very obviously American by his mannerisms and accent, and was and probably, given that he disembarked at Hellerup, probably the son of an American diplomat.

Once we arrived at the main station, what had started out a ‘brisk’ day had turned ‘blustery’ as a cold wind moved inland from the sea. The sidewalks near the city center, which I remembered as wide and easy, are apparently now under construction and we were herded along like cattle, bottle-necked through little fences on our walk to Rådhuspladsen (a big square where City Hall sits). I was really surprised at how many people were braving the cold weather to take a walk down Strøget, which is a tourist-trap walking street maybe a half-mile long.

Strøget was packed, and it was nice to stand and remember what it was like to live among the madding crowd, but as we strolled, weaving our way between the throngs of people, I could not help but desperately miss the quiet solitude and the light and space of a Saturday walk with the dogs in south county near Initial Point. I was little sad.

Stine located a candy shop and I laughed when I saw that Pop-Tarts were for sale for 59 crowns. I have learned that I was giving the dollar too much credit and it does not buy 9.5 crowns, more like 5.9, so this box of Pop-Tarts, maybe $2.50 at Fred Meyer, is going to cost some unsuspecting sap $10 here on Strøget. Stine found Danish candy area, which was sold in bulk. The Danes love licorice and Stine spent a good 20 minutes with a little gray scoop and black paper bag, collecting one or two of this, three or four of that, until she was satisfied with her selection.

A few shops down, I was finally able to locate a serviceable pair of shades, black Ray-ban Wayfarer knock-offs, so I was able to quit my Clint Eastwood-like squinting, which was probably frightening the shop-keepers. We walked all the way to Kongs Nytorv (“The King’s New Square”) and then around to Nyhavn, where I used to work for Hotel 71 and the Tholstrup Company, which owns several restaurants and bars in Copenhagen. Had I stayed, and been able to learn Danish better, I’d probably be pretty high up in the company now.

They've painted Nyhavns Færgekro a weird light blue color and it made me a little sad. I liked the old forest-green color the place used to be and I felt the light blue didn't match the rustic interior. Few people know the floor in there is marble brought in from some chapel in Italy that was leveled back in the 1700s. Or so I was told when I worked there.

We got a good view of the new Opera house, as well as some of the water buses, the low-sitting bright yellow boats that serve the bus line to the parts of the city not yet connected by bridges. The water bus makes a trip from Nyhavn to the Opera house a snap. There was also a Danish Navy vessel of some sort anchored in the harbor and I wondered how many people there are in the Danish navy.

Continuing on the nautical theme, we passed a shop run by a couple of old Swedish gals dealing in antique maritime items. There were old-timey sextants, compasses, clothing and other stuff. It was very neat to look at the stuff, and going inside was a welcome respite from what had by then become a damn cold, hard wind.

I was getting a little hungry and I directed Stine to find a shawarma shop. A shawarma is a little gyro-like sandwich of lamb (I think) served with lettuce and tomato, and I have been missing them since leaving Europe. They taste great. We found a shawarma shop, but somehow Stine had managed to leave the cottage with the equivalent of about $12.85 in crowns, and the candy and sunglasses had put too much of a dent in the funds to where we would have had to share one.

I was pretty unhappy and whatever motivation I had to force-march in a cold wind had been destroyed, so I suggested (if you can call me disgustedly, dissapointedly saying "Fuck it! Let's just go see Pernille!" as "suggested.") we just leave and go see our friends.

Pernille and Christian live in a nice suburb called Vanlose, and the short train ride out there was fairly easy. Unfortunately, Stine had printed directions to their house and had forgotten that as well, and thus had no idea where we were supposed to go once we exited the train station. Fortunately, Pernille answered the phone and gave us verbal directions, which must have gone something like this:

“See that road across the street? Take it and bear left at the first block, then go two more blocks and turn right and we are the next-to- the last house on the left.”

I was pissed that someone could forget such simple instructions. Fortunately, I met “Mickey,” Pernille’s big, calm, friendly yellow Labrador and, like most dogs do, he made me feel better about the world.

Pernille has two children whose names I forget, but they were well-behaved and it wasn't an unpleasant visit. We spent a few hours there, eating cheese and bread before taking the train back to Nærum for supper with Jørgen and Sanne.

Sanne prepared roast beef and potatoes with some sautéed onions. I was a delicious meal, served with ample red wine, and considering I’d been up since a little before 0600 and not napped, I dozed off on the lounge in the reading area until Stine woke me about 0100 to walk back to the cottage.

Sunday will be the actual 40th anniversary party we came here for, and I am told there are approximately 50 guests, some of whom I will actually know. I’m looking forward to seeing my nieces and sisters-in-law, even though I saw them “just last year” when we were in New York.

Day Five:

I was very pleased when I got out of bed this morning a little before 0600 to see the winter storm predicted for Monday did not make an early arrival. The sky was clear and bright. I stood for a few minutes, looking up at the stars until I got too cold and went back in the cottage to do a little writing.

I have given up being concerned whether Stine wakes up or not, because she told me she didn't hear any of the noise I made the other night, moving the lamp and knocking all the shit from the shelves in the bathroom. Based on that, I am working under the assumption the soft light from the reading lamp and the click of the keyboard aren't going to be enough to disturb her, and so when I went back inside, I collected my computer and sat down on the little sofa.

I had filled my water bottle and considered eating a banana when I spotted the black bag of candies Stine had bought yesterday. While I would not have turned down a pastry and a Coke if one had been presented to me, I didn't really feel up to the 2 mile round-trip to the bakery again this morning, and after yesterday’s fiasco with money at the shawarma shop, I figured it was just as well. I am not sure there is such a thing as the “water-and-licorice diet” but if there is it is surely going to be a bust.

I got a little chilly for some reason, so I put on my big Carhartt on over my hoodie. I must have made a sight sitting here in the dim light, hoodie, coat and hat, while wearing old school military wool long-johns and big white puffy socks. After a while, I noticed the sky was getting bright, so I dressed fully and went out to the little patio where I have sat the last two mornings. The wireless internet works way better outside and so I posted some pictures and finished up my “Day Four” status update.

Today is Sunday, and is also St. Patrick’s Day, which, I think, makes a fine complement to today’s 40th anniversary party. I can see a repeat of last year’s insanity where the shelves in the Fred Meyer were stripped bare of any beer product even remotely resembling Guinness by all the damn amateur drinkers what come out in droves on this day, so I’m going to recommend to my drinking friends they hit the stores early!

After a little while, Lulu came out and Archie, Harry and Mike all ran up to greet me. I enjoy getting to see them each day, even if it does make me miss my dogs more. It was much colder outside than it has been the previous days and when my toes and fingers began to get numb, I decided I’d go inside and start getting prepared for the party, which is going to be around noon(?), I think.

I’m a little disappointed that the term “bath towel” hasn't made it into the Danish lexicon yet, because those little slivers of cloth that have been left for me to dry off on are hardly adequate. Many of my friends will know precisely what I am talking about simply by saying “jail towel.” I stood at the sink and shaved, only cutting myself twice, which is a big improvement. I did manage to get soap in my right eye and it now itches and has taken on a glowing crimson color.

I also managed to drop the button down shirt I was going to wear today in the toilet, so it is hanging on the rack in the bathroom drying. Fortunately, all the goods had already been flushed, so I didn't have to deal with that nightmare.

I was told two weeks ago the dress code for this event was going to be ‘casual.’ Sanne must keep forgetting her daughter married an American because ‘casual’ to me means Carhartt cargo pants, sneakers, and a sweatshirt I got from the St. Vincent thrift store that reads “Got beer?” Apparently, ‘casual’ means something else, and, after much arguing and many changes of clothes one night, Stine and I agreed that my black sport coat with a white button down and jeans would be acceptable. Ironically, the ‘nicest’ jeans I have are…Carhartts!

Speaking of Carhartt, while walking around town yesterday, I noticed about 50 different people wearing Carhartt watch caps, and a couple wearing Carhartt pants, and when I mentioned it, Stine informed me Carhartt is now ‘a thing’ among the Danes. When I asked how something like western workwear could become a popular fashion item, in a scathing indictment of her own culture, Stine explained “The Danes are fanatics about name brands.”

It’s about 1030 now and I am getting a bit hungry. I am really craving…Taco Bell. Do you know how many Taco Bells there are in Denmark? Zero. If I had money, I’d start a couple of franchises here, putting one near Strøget and one over by Copenhagen University. College kids love Taco Bell and I don’t see any reason why Danish college kids would be any different. Plus, the way the rules are set up here, we could have Carlsberg on draught! (No free re-fills, though). I’d make a fortune.

Stine finally got up and, after mumbling a few incoherent words, went and got in the shower. I am impressed she didn't get completely pissed when she realized I again depleted the tiny water heater.

In sad news, while taking a shower this morning, I found my arachnid friend “Frank” crumpled on the carpet in front of the toilet, his spindly little spider legs forming a little ball. I’m gonna miss him.

Stine finally got out of the shower. In typical fashion, she had no idea when the party was happening, except for the vague information “lunch time.” We walked up to Jørgen and Sanne’s house and it was then I realized we were actually on time, which amazed the shit out of me considering not only were we dealing with Stine, but her mother as well, both of whom are notorious for their tardiness.

We all loaded up and took a short trip to the grocery store where Jørgen had to make a quick stop to get a grill-lighter for the candles on the tables. While we were in the parking lot waiting, a low-slung, black Subaru WRX came rolling in. I’d heard the damn thing several seconds before I saw it and I was shocked that the Danish motor code actually allows those horrific fart-can mufflers like Mikey has on his damn car. There has to be a place one can escape those.

A few more minutes and we were rolling into the parking lot of the Rungsted Golf Club, where Jørgen and Sanne have rented a banquet room for the occasion. Having grown up in the 1980s, I couldn't help but make a mental connection between the place and the fictional Bushwood Country Club of “Caddyshack” fame, especially when I went into the men’s locker room to hang up my coat.

We were the first on scene, but the banquet room had already been laid out. The next one to arrive was Andreas Møller, a local jazz pianist hired to play for the day. I laughed at how handsomely Aryan he appeared with his Hitler-youth looking haircut and high forehead. He set up his electric piano while I helped Sanne set out the name tags for all the place settings. Of course, unhappy with where I was initially seated, I did some re-arranging to get me near the wall, between my two beautiful sisters-in-law. It was also a corner seat, so I had plenty of elbow room.

I was told the event proper would begin at 1330, but, unlike Sanne and Stine, most Danes are late if they are only 10 minutes early, and folks began to trickle in within minutes of our arrival. Sara and Christian arrived and I spoke with Christian while Sara and Stine went downstairs to form an informal welcoming committee for the arriving guests. It was with great joy I learned SAS, the Scandinavian Air Service, is going to start with direct flights from San Francisco to Copenhagen on April 8, so we should be able to hack out at least one plane change from Boise! A pretty blonde girl (say it ain't so?) dressed in black with a black apron was walking around with a tray of white wine, so I helped myself to a glass.

Finally, after many introductions to people whose name I would be hard-pressed to remember with a gun to my head, Jørgen rang a bell and announced the commencement of the party. He then did what he does best: He gave a short speech, peppered, I could tell by the laughter, with many jokes and funny anecdotes. While my Danish is horrible at best, I did understand the admonishment to not use cell phones during the party. I of course, had to laugh when I immediately saw Sara had taken hers out and was texting furiously. Of course, I took a blackmail picture.

The staff, a couple of tall, young men and the one pretty blonde Danish girl were very serviceable and brought out trays with beef, salmon, potatoes and rice and all manner of vegetables. There was also delicious roast beef and some sort of dead bird being sliced on a table in the rear. The roast beef was tender and delicious, but since I didn't know exactly what bird had given its life, I chose to not eat any of that.

I later learned I could get draught beer rather than wine, so I made a bee-line to the bar, which was adjacent to the banquet room through a couple of double doors. It was cold and good and I was shocked at the speed in which it disappeared. Dinner was done and had been taken away, but I wanted another cold one, so I headed back toward the bar, and I was standing there when one of the servers, a young man with cropped blonde hair came walking out of the kitchen carrying a tray with coffee on it for the rest of the party. He saw me and when I said I’d like a beer he spun around and set the coffee down to draw me one out of the tap. I joked “So, you’re going to hold up all their coffees to get me a beer?” to which he smirked and merely remarked “Priorities.”

The party lasted a few more hours and then we retired to Jørgen and Sanne’s for a St. Patrick’s Day beer and to look through the 592 pictures I had taken. Sadly, a lot of them were blurry. Again, I fell asleep on Sanne’s lounge until Stine woke me up around midnight.

The weather predictors have adjusted their call on the arrival of the snow storm to Tuesday morning, so maybe we’ll get another day with decent weather. I think I’d like to go to the Viking museum again tomorrow.

Day Six:

When I got out of bed this morning a little before 0600, it was obvious that Danish weathermen are no more accurate than any of the others. It was cold, but no snow had fallen and the streets were still clear. I was pretty happy to see it because I was hoping we’d get to go to Roskilde and visit the Viking Ship Museum.

I initially got out of bed and went outside to sit at the little patio to write, and I was able to stay out a while, but finally the cold wind was even too much for me, so I went back inside and tried to figure out a way to use both the wireless internet Jørgen hooked me up with –and- keep from freezing to death, so I moved some items off a window sill and now I can type while my knees and feet stay toasty warm near the radiator underneath.

The Viking Ship Museum is a pretty big deal. In the 1950s, after hearing local legends about ‘medieval ships’ being intentionally sunk in Roskilde Fjord to help prevent a Dark Ages D-Day, divers went out and scoured the floor of the ocean, eventually finding 5 scuttled Viking ships in the murky depth on the silt-covered bottom.

The excavation effort was tremendous, with people coming from all over to aid in the process, and the end result was the partial reconstruction and study of all 5. Scientists and scholars did extensive work, to include building and sailing exact replicas using period-correct tools and methods. It’s quite impressive and well worth the 80 crowns for adult admission.

The trip down to Roskilde was fun, with Stine driving Sanne’s C30 Volvo, the little two-door job Jørgen and Sanne picked us up in. It's really nice and if ever I was to replace my wonderful little CRX (for shame!), I think I’d like to have one of these. It was interesting to hear the Garmin GPS system speaking in Danish. It was the same voice as the English model Stine has in the van.

As we were walking over the little footbridge from the parking lot to the museum, we noticed a handful 0f local hosedraggers standing on a small dock. The water had patches of ice floating on it and one of the hosemonkeys was toying around with a yellow cable that ran underneath one of the larger pieces of ice. I stood for a moment watching them, wondering what the hell they were doing, when I saw some poor bastard in a dive suit just beneath the surface.

“Whatchy’all looking for,” I inquired “a dead body or something?”
One of them chuckled a bit and told me they were just training.
“Ugh,” I said “who’s next in the drink?
They then all started laughing and pointing at each other.

Firefighters are the same the world over. I have to say I was a little impressed. It was damn cold out and to don a suit and strap on a lead belt and jump in water covered with hunks of ice is not something I’d really be interested in doing.

We toured the museum and watched a short little film about the project. There was one area, mostly for kids, where they had replica Viking-age clothes hanging on racks with signs inviting you to try them on, so I had some fun playing dress-up and pretending to be “Mark The Bald,” the infamous Viking raider out to pillage, loot and rape.

After we finished with the museum, we braved the blustery wind to walk on Roskilde’s version of Strøget, a small walking area near the famous, 800 year-old church that sits atop a small hill in the center of town. Our attempt to find a shawarma shop there was a dismal failure until I came up with the bright idea to ask the GPS system.

Eureka! We discovered, after we’d walked from one end to the other of the walking street, that we’d been mere yards away from one, just around the corner from Mulligan’s Irish Bar and Grill near the main train station. Stine was able to successfully find a place to park the car and I had the first shawarna I’ve eaten in about 15 years. It was delicious. It was served with a big bowl of fries and ketchup, which was slightly more vinegary than Heinz 57, but good nonetheless.

Afterward, we took a drive to Nanna’s house in Kokkendal, which is a quiet town north of where Stine’s folks live. I got to meet her 17 year-old son, Dylan, a very polite young man. He’s a tall, blonde kid (say it ain’t so) whose father is from England, so, of course, Dylan’s command of English is actually better than mine, though he talks in a funny accent.

Nanna works for a company that has its own cafeteria, and the chefs there make food for take-out, so Nanna had bought some beef and bread-like things with broccoli and cauliflower. She made rice and green beans, as well, all of which was really tasty. We chatted for a while and after solving the mystery of why her piano was randomly making some high-pitched sounds, started preparing to go home.

I was shocked standing in the mudroom to look down and see that Dylan wears the exact same “Magnum” brand duty boots I was just yesterday complaining about, and I asked him if he had the same issues with foot-warmth. He said they key is to have warm feet before you put them on. I suspect, since he’s 17, the second half of the advice, which he failed to give because he didn't think about it, is “keep moving.” Kids. Pffft!

After supper we made our way back to Jørgen and Sanne’s where I learned the lady who owns the little cottage had called Jørgen in a frightened panic when she went in to put some groceries away and discovered what she believed to be a real handgun just tossed willy-nilly on a basket, next to a few rounds of belted ammo! Jørgen explained the items to her and no police were called and no international diplomatic incident ensued.

After a while visiting, Stine and I walked down to the cottage where I ate a couple of short-bread cookies called, horribly enough “Digestives,” and drank one of the Tuborg beers out of the 6-pack we've bought to replace the ones I have stolen from Lulu. We’re told the storm is slated to move into the area on Tuesday.

Day Seven:

Well, in what has become my routine, I was again up before 0600, and the snow the weathermen have been calling for had arrived. Not nearly the amounts they predicted, but enough to give everything a good dusting. It was still lightly falling when I looked out.

As has become my practice, I got dressed in the most warm clothes, hat, and gloves, and went outside to the small patio to do some early morning writing and uploading of pictures so that everyone can keep track, both in writing and images, of the most mundane details of my excursion here to the land of ice and snow.

As has become their practice, Mike, Archie, and Harry Potter race up to greet me as soon as Ms. Lulu lets them out and today was no different. Harry even jumped into my lap and seemed a little reluctant to get down. I like having dogs around me and it makes me miss ours. Ms. Lulu came out and grabbed a snow shovel and began clearing the walk. I considered telling her to let me do it, but she seemed content in her work, with her dogs about, and I’m not sure the tough, old gal wouldn't have taken it as a male-chauvinist insult, so I snapped a picture of her instead and keep my seat.

We have planned for today to be one of relaxation and rest. I sat outside, typing on my little computer, until my hands and feet felt as if they were frozen solid. At that point, I went and resumed my position by the radiator in front of the window, which isn't the most comfortable, but is nice and toasty. The chair in the cottage is a ‘very nice’ chair. You should read ‘very nice’ as ‘expensive as hell and fragile as egg shells,’ so I have to be careful not to damage it while hammering out my early morning words.

Stine finally got up about 1030 and went to borrow the little Volvo to drive down to the konditori for more Danish pastries. When she returned, we made our way up to Jørgen and Sanne’s house for breakfast. Afterward, Stine and Sanne went to do some shopping and I just hung out at the house with Jørgen, passing the time and taking my ease, dozing on the lounge and editing some pictures.

Later, we all sat down for a typical Danish ‘smørrebrød,’ a midday meal of bread with toppings such salmon, beef, sausages, and cheese. Think small, open-faced sandwiches. And beer. Apparently Denmark is finally coming around and small micro-breweries are cropping up here and there. We had two nice beers, a thick chocolately stout that was vaguely reminiscent of North Coast’s Old Rasputin, and a crisp pilsner which was decent enough.

Lunch, though, always reminds me of another heartache I have with Denmark and that’s the size of their drink-wear. Sanne and Jørgen serve beer (and most other fluids) in glasses the size of which Stine and I use for whiskey neat. I have a sneaky suspicion that Danes are perpetually dehydrated. A “single serving” Coke contains about .5 liters, and “the big” Coke in the store comes in huge 1.5 liter bottles. I’m American. 1.5 liters is enough for me during a good meal. What are y’all going to drink?

After lunch, Stine again borrowed the keys to the C30 and we took a drive, just cruising around her old neighborhood. She showed me the house she grew up and the little park she played in as a child. A big boulder in the middle of the playground Stine remembered from her youth was still there and she remarked on it.

We drove to her old riding school and she took me to see the stables one of her friend’s family used to own that sits on the grounds of a former Royal hunting lodge. There was a small, round thatch-roofed building in the middle of the ‘compound’ and Stine me it was once used for curing the meat after it was brought in from the hunt.

It was interesting for me to see the class divisions of society in the ‘olden days’ actually brought to life in actual, physical structures, and it made me appreciate America for the equality on which our nation was based. Everyone was allowed (probably more like –required) to hunt. It wasn't some ‘sport’ reserved for the nobles, and while there was some small degree of aristocracy among our Founding Fathers, it wasn't of the sort in which one was born to one’s class. Hooray for upward mobility.

After seeing the stables and such, we drove down to the ocean where, in the foggy distance, I could see Sweden just across the waves. The cold weather had resulted in ice forming along the shore and on the hulls of the boats in the marina we parked near. One boat in particular struck my fancy, a lean, slick single-mast sailboat, and when I looked at her anchored in the cold water, I had visions of jumping in and sailing off to some tropical isle, all the cares of the modern world cast aside. Sadly, I think boat theft is a hanging offense in Denmark.

We returned home and Stine and I busied ourselves with pictures and Facebook while Sanne prepared a nice supper of  leg of lamb and potatoes, with salad and mint jelly, which I didn't eat. Afterward, we had a dessert of “lemon fromage,” which is a lemon meringue. Coffee and cake rounded out the menu and then we walked back to the cottage for a nice, restful winter’s nap.

My sister-in-law, Lise has invited us for lunch at her house in the city tomorrow, so we’ll get to take the trains one more time. Lise is a food-blogger, specializing in cakes, so I am looking forward to some delectable, delicious sweet treats.

Day Eight:

On my last full day here in the land of the Danes, in keeping with my 6 day-old tradition, I am once again up and moving before 0600. A larger amount of snow fell out of the sky last night and as I sit here on the little patio typing up today’s status, it is still lightly falling. But for the occasional early morning traffic, mostly what I hear are birds chirping loudly in the trees, probably cursing the snow.

I am waiting for Ms. Lulu to let Mike, Archie, and Harry Potter out so they can come greet me as they have done every day since I started taking my ease on the up here. Ms. Lulu herself will come out and shovel snow, and once again offer coffee, which, being my last day, I am inclined to accept. I looked around for the snow shovel when I first came out because I thought it would be a nice gesture to do the shoveling for her this morning, but I couldn't find it.

Despite the snow, it’s not nearly as cold today as it was yesterday and the day before. The wind is light and the sky is getting brighter, but still overcast. It will probably snow for a while longer.

Stine told me last night before retiring to be certain to wake her up in time to go to Lise’s for lunch in the city, but that still gives me a couple of short hours of quiet time. I am a little sad that today is my last day, but though I am not looking forward to the trip, I am looking forward to getting back to my dogs, and the light and space of Idaho.

Many people have asked me this trip if returning makes me want to move back here, and it does. And it doesn't. While I enjoyed my life here among the Danes those years ago, and I am very keen on their culture, and living near Stine’s folks would make her happy, I’m not willing just yet to trade the life I've set up in Idaho to go back to living in a country where I don’t speak the language. I could learn, of course, but even if I was fluent, what few marketable skills I possess would be inadequate enough to produce a comparable living for me and Stine, and I don’t want to be reduced to being a dishwasher or kældermester again.

Besides, I’d miss the wilderness.

Day Eight (cont.):

Ms. Lulu finally finally got up and showed me where the snow shovel was, so I cleared the walkway. She was in a bit of a hurry and did not offer any coffee this morning. She told me she was taking a trip to Hamburg, Germany. She asked me if I would be willing to feed Mike, Harry, and Archie tomorrow morning when I get up, and of course, I agreed.

Stine and I finally got ready and made our way to Lise’s house around 1130. We took the bus, the local commuter train, the S-train, and then another bus, crossing 6 “zones” to finally reach Kingogåde in Vesterbro (“West Bridge”) where Lise lives. The snow was still drifting down and the ground and sidewalk are wet and there are puddles everywhere.

As usual, the public transport system provided all manner of interesting things to see, the most appealing of which was a sexy, tall Danish gal with pouty Angelina Jolie lips who got on board the train at Gentofte wearing some skin-tight stretchy-fabric pants and Doc Marten boots.

When we reached the main train station, I spotted an ad for lunch at McDonald’s for a mere 45 crowns, but we discussed it and rather than fall for the Mickey D’s ad campaign, Stine bought us a couple of Danish pastries and a bottle of “Cocio” from the 7-Eleven which I will describe as the Danish version of Yoo-hoo, only with real milk and real chocolate. It was a decent enough breakfast. Given the shitty weather, we decided to wait on the bus rather than walk the half mile along Vesterbrogåde from the train station. I didn’t mind, even though I’d dressed for a walk in a wet, snowy headwind.

By the time we got there, Lise had already spent many hours today preparing some of the ingredients for the cake she planned on making us. We had some bread and cheese and I promptly fell asleep on her little sofa, leaving Stine to attempt to get us decent seats on the plane out of Amsterdam.

The cake they made was a monstrosity! It was cheesecake wedged between layers of chocolate chip cookie, jammed between layers of brownie, all with marshmallow cream between the layers, covered in chocolate icing. It has 2 lbs. of butter.

If I wasn't diabetic before eating that damn thing, I am now.

I finally met my nephew, Magnus, and I gave him the Airsoft Glock I’d found underneath that bush. Not sure he wanted it, but it’s not like I could smuggle aboard an international airline flight.

Afterward, Stine and I strolled down Vesterbrogåde, enjoying, despite the weather, what might be our last walk in downtown Copenhagen. We passed a little museum that had a model of Copenhagen circa 1350 out front and I snapped a picture. Sadly, it was covered in snow and not a decent representation. I saw a De Grønne Bude blast by, but he was too fast for me to snap a picture. I almost got nailed by a guy in a silver Mercedes when I ignored the crosswalk light and stepped into the street.

Once we got back, I stopped by the cottage and let the dogs out to play in the snow. Sanne and Jørgen were going out for the night, so Stine and I stayed at their house for a few hours. I cooked some pasta with a simple sauce of olive oil, garlic, basil, and oregano and drank possibly the last ‘real’ Tuborg beer for many years to come.

It’s just before midnight now, and Sanne and Jørgen have returned. I am hoping the snow quits because I really don’t want to take the train to the airport tomorrow, preferring instead to be dropped off. We've just had some champagne and chocolate and are about to retire for the night.

Day Nine:

We've busied ourselves this morning packing and straightening up the little cottage. Stine has gone to feed Ms. Lulu's horses and I have come up to Sanne and Jørgen's to wait for breakfast and try to send some e-mails before heading out the the airport. Our plane leaves here around noon.

We'll arrive in Boise at 2355, making this a really long day. I've arranged to collect my dogs tomorrow (except Amos and Pepper, who will be with Lumpy when he picks us up) and maybe go shooting sometime this weekend. Stine is slated to go back to work first thing Friday morning.

And so it goes...

KLM again fucked up our reservations and we were once more stuck in the middle seats! At least this time, I sat next to a hot, black gal who didn't hog the armrest.

I’d like to give a big shout-out to the Customs and Border Patrol and the TSA. We spent less time getting through passport and customs and security here in Minneapolis than it took to just get our fucking boarding passes in Schipol.

I'm never again flying through that airport.

Now, I am an equal opportunity hater and I am going to bitch about the severe lack of seating in the Minneapolis/St. Paul airport. Right now, I am sitting on the floor with about 15 other folks, and it sucks.

And 19 hours after we got started, we made it home.

Snow was falling in Idaho when Jared picked us up. He brought Amos and Pepper along and I was happy. Poor dogs, this is the longest they've ever been without me.

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