going to the dogs

November 2, 2008

The clocks went back while I was swanning around Iceland and Boston, and winter is definitely on its way. No more peeking under our bedroom blinds at 11 pm to still find a light sky, and this week the studded tyres will go on my bike.

On the plus side, snow has started to fall in the mountains and with that, the full plethora of winter fun can begin! In March, I read a hilarious article about husky sledding in Norway, which made me never want to try it myself (and doubt the wisdom of living here at all). How could a trip with a guide and an organized cabin stay end up with breaking into a stranger’s cabin and stuffing your 10 year old child through the window? The article below and the accompanying photo series by Marcus Bleasdale describe the perfect holiday from hell.

Going to the dogs

by Jon Ronson, the Guardian, 1st March 2008.
Sliding across a frozen lake in the Norwegian wilderness, the stars twinkling above you as a team of huskies pulls you onwards sounds lovely, wouldn’t you say? You might even think it sounds idyllic. Well, let me tell you: it was horrible. Here is my cautionary tale.

It’s October and my thoughts turn, as they do each year, to finding a way to stop us from going skiing. I don’t like skiing. I especially don’t like what it does to my wife, Elaine. She becomes a different person. A frightening, over-daring side of her comes out. She bombs down black runs like a lunatic. It’s like The Devil In Miss Jones but with skiing instead of sex. Last year she crashed straight into a ski school full of children. My son Joel and I watch her climb into the chair lift and give each other sad, scared looks that say, “It’s surely only a matter of time before she skis off a cliff and dies.” So I try to find ways for us not to go skiing, although I’m resigned to the fact that we’ll have to do something in snow.

And then I have a brilliant idea. An overnight husky safari! It’ll give Elaine all her skiing kicks (sliding in snow, etc), but the huskies will be in charge and they know what they’re doing, so we’ll be less likely to die. “Plus,” I think, “it’ll be nice to have dogs do something for me for a change. Usually, with dogs, I do all the work, throwing sticks, etc. I like the idea of them pulling me up a hill. It’ll be an adventure but I won’t have to exert myself. I’ll just be standing there on a sled.”

The travel company says it has a great husky safari in Norway. I furrow my brow. “Norway?” I think.

I have a saying when it comes to Scandinavian holidays:

“Norway? No way.” My antipathy stems from a skiing holiday we had five years ago in Trysil. We paid a supplement to hear traditional Norse tales in front of a bonfire in the snowy wilderness. The bonfire turned out to be in the car park of a plastics factory. Snow or no snow, it was an industrial estate. They are a no-nonsense people, the Norwegians, and I like a bit of nonsense when I’m on holiday.

Read the rest (at your own peril) here.

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