Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Glorious Dalsland with Eva

Yesterday, Eva took me on a day tour of Dalsland, a cross-sectional sample of Sweden, a bite of Sweden. On the west shore of Lake Vänern and in the midst of a cazillion lakes (Minnesota eat your heart out!), except for some rocky elevation, Dalsland is very similar to Northern Minnesota topography near my hometown, Hibbing, Minnesota. In my biased opinion, Dalsland is gloriously beautiful. 
We first stopped at Skållerud to visit a charming old county church where Eva's family had attended; the sanctuary includes an intricately-decorated pulpit and altar, painted portraits of the disciples, half-walls around the pews, fresh wild flowers in small vases on the half-walls. 
Then on to Håverud on the Dalslands Kanal. The multiple Håverud lock system, designed by Nils Ericson in 1860, also incorporates a 32.5 meter aquaduct (33,000 rivets) to transport boats over the rapids between two lakes. Overhead, a train trestle and an arched auto bridge complete the transportation complex. Connecting many lakes, the Kanal is 250 kilometers long. Initially built as a commercial route, the Kanal presently provides access for recreational boats. The Kanal has 31 locks at 17 lock stations, so many of the stations have multiple locks; the elevation change between the upper lakes and Lake Vänern is 66 meters. 
After a scrumptious lunch in Håverud, we visited the Dalsland Museum, featuring an exhibition by local artist Otto Hesselbom (painted between 1880-1913) who painted a widely-famous landscape titled Vårt Land/Our Land. Hesselbom's work mostly depicts hauntingly shadowy winter landscapes. The museum also features local artist and artisans. 
Next, we stopped at Tisselskog to see 3000-year-old hällristningar, Viking rock hieroglyphics. Many town names end in "skog," meaning forest. Our drive continued through other small towns, many with the suffix "fors," meaning water fall, culminating in Bengtsfors, where we relaxed on a very high hill overlooking the towns and surrounding lakes and forests. Historically, many of the towns had been organized around large factories, many connected with paper products gleaned from surrounding forests. Some towns are almost destitute due to closed factories, including Volvo and Saab. 
Although rain clouds threatened all day, we drove under clear skies and in temperate temperatures. Another grand day in paradise!

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