King me!

This morning was a “Guy event”. Me, John Wrenn, and Sam all took off on an adventure to visit a local castle. Anyone who reads this blog might think that this story would have all the usual elements…”Ooh…I can’t wait to see how lost Jon got this time!” “Haha, Jon can’t speak Swedish, this ought to be good.” Well to heck with all of you. We made it to the castle with very little problems. I won’t say we didn’t get lost, but we didn’t get THAT lost. Ok, sure the tour was almost completely in Swedish and we didn’t understand it. Hey…we went to a castle in another country, what more do you want?

The castle really wasn’t very old in castle years, but interesting and fun nonetheless. Here is a link that gives some history of the castle which is more than I picked up on the guided Swedish version of the tour.

Tjoloholm Castle – Actually the link is horrible. I find very little information about the history of the castle on the web. Tjoloholm is a beautiful Castle witch was built by a Swedish businessman J F Dicksson in the in the beginning of the last century. It is open to public in guided tours but the castle park is public area and always open. You can also take a swim in the ocean right by the castle. Tjoloholm is owned by the Kungsbacka community

We had a good time. The weather was beautiful and the grounds were pretty cool. Here are some pictures.

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It’s good to see some familiar faces and, no offense Jen, talk to some other people. The Wrenn family has joined us for most of a week and we have already been having some fun. As you can see by the picture we spent some time at the beach. Funny thing about this beach. We’ve visited it a bunch of times previously and never had to pay anything. The day we take off with an entourage is the day there is a sign saying you have to pay to get in. I trekked back to the house to retrieve the equivalent of 38 cents per person. I didn’t occur to me until I grabbed the money that I had done this to chase roughly a single dollar. Turns out the toll takers weren’t really a very diligent bunch and had let the group in on the promise of my return. Sam and I played in the “sand” which was fun, but really a good solid stretch of mud with some sand mixed in. After all of that it was off to dinner in Gothenburg. We didn’t get lost, didn’t have to pay to park, and the waiter spoke 172 languages (that’s what he said). All in all it was a great day.

Mama Mia, turn down the music!

It all started out just like it was supposed to. Our visitors arrived with no problems. They were exhausted, but happy to sit down, get settled, and enjoy a great meal that Jen cooked. How great was this? I started to become aware of the party happening behind the house during dinner, but thought little of it. Probably just some family getting together for a BBQ and a few beers. At 2:00 a.m. as I was listening to “JUMP” by Van Halen at full blast and suffering the slurred Swedish speech coming from across the fence I was less than impressed. I even heard children running around screaming. Needless to say this was less than a perfect introduction to Sweden for Jen’s sister and her family. At around 2:30 I contemplated going over there, but given my luck encountering people who don’t understand me I thought that trying to explain how rude they were being wouldn’t go over well…in any language. It’s roughly 10:30 a.m. here and everyone is still trying to sleep off the effects of either jetlag, or ABBA Fest 2009. It’s going to be a long day.

Status updates

Mom and Dad are traveling this weekend, so if you are between the Quad Cities and Kansas City keep an eye out for them. There is a stop scheduled in Alton to visit the “other” Carrolls and then it’s on to Kansas City to visit with the gang. I think I’ve been promised pictures, but that Kansas City group is know for their wild parties, so they might forget. I think everyone was wondering how Dad might do traveling, I’m hoping it is a non-event.

We are expecting visitors later today from Indiana and hopefully we will have adventures to report from that visit also.

All of this adds up to a big fat ZERO news day from Sweden. I DO, however, have some links to other interesting blogs or articles depending on how bored you are. Look below.

Repair Pal

Try this next time you get your car repaired. I haven’t had to have anything fixed so I don’t know if it is any good. Mechanics can chime in. I know you are out there.

Time killer entry

Superheroes past their prime. Funny. (Click here for more)

This is not how Sendak got his start

It started innocently enough. Sam was trying to get to sleep in a new room, new bed, new country and he wanted me to tell him a story. I made up some goofy story about a couple of strange characters named Ted and Scooter. This was fine for a few days, a week even. Pretty soon the plots had to become more elaborate and it became harder and harder to remember all the stuff I had made up about them. Don’t worry…Sam had me covered. Every slip I made about their history he jumped all over. “Dad…Scooter can’t read! Don’t you remember?” Fast forward 5 months and I now have a whole cast of characters and I’m on the verge of either killing them all off in a major bedtime story disaster or writing my own children’s story line. How do I get out of this? I start to get nervous about an hour before bedtime. What if I don’t have a good enough story? Is Scooter’s best friend Tiny or Bug? What else could they possibly do? I’ve sent them on cruises, airplanes, to a pancake eating contest (Ted won by the way), argh! I’m telling you it doesn’t look good for Ted or Scooter. This kid has to learn to read…and soon!

“The list”

Things I’m going to do when I get home

1. Probably gain 10 lbs. I’m committed to changing our “eating out” lifestyle, but we’ll probably have to get a culinary tour of Land O Lakes out of the way.

2. Get our bikes in working order.

3. Figure out where we’ve gone wrong with the electric bill. All my electric bills since we’ve left and the Europeans have taken over, have been much lower.

4. Solve our cell phone situation. This one needs sub-categories, but we spend way too much money on cell phones. In a strange twist the only recession hit we are going to take thus far is that my company has determined that I don’t need a cell phone and they aren’t paying anymore.

5. This one isn’t this far down the list because of importance. See my mom and dad and anyone else that will have us.

6. Get a haircut from my favorite barber without resorting to hand signals.

7. Wander the aisles of Publix.

8. Take a big long swim in the pool.

9. Thank the neighbors for their help while we were away. They’ll say they didn’t do anything, but I’ll buy beer anyhow.

10. Start real life again….ugh.

Just goofing…

Practicing posting something from a deal site I look at often…just in case I see a deal I think would be interesting to anyone. Good thing Larry is not creating any news huh? Keep me bored dad…


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Odds and ends

I’m just throwing things around lately. Here is a picture that keeps popping up on my Facebook site. I’m pretty sure it is due to my overwhelming popularity in college….or maybe for some other reason. I doubt it. I vaguely remember having hair. My mom and dad made it to quite a few Parents weekend parties at Western Illinois University. The guys at my fraternity were always happy to have a beer with Larry and Wilma.


I scream!

36 days left. I actually didn’t know it was that many until I counted them. I’ve already started to plot the purging of the crap that we will be lugging back to Florida. In reality I would like to donate all my clothes and shoes except what’s on my back and fly home. This should tell you how much I hate the backpacks now. I’m sure I’ll have this discussion with you again inside of 36 days. Beth, John and little Allie will be here Saturday via Copenhagen. I guess we better stock up on the ice cream.


More of nothing about something.

Let’s review. Nothing happening in Orion. Holding pattern here in Sweden. If I were in Iran I would have something to tell you about, but it’s not a big home exchange location really. I’m relegated to either making the mundane interesting, or making stuff up. You can decide which I’ve done here.

- We’ve been watching “Mad Men” from Amazon after downloading season 1. If you haven’t seen it you should check it out. Madison Avenue Ad men set in the early 60’s. The sets and wardrobe alone would keep you interested for a few episodes…although some of you lived it, so maybe not.

- Pat and Leo, thanks for Sam’s birthday card. The international postal system could use some improvement. We have had mail returned to our people in Norway, forwarded mail from the Netherlands and pretty much general chaos for mail. Hell, mail has been around forever I can’t believe it’s still this hard.

- Tolerance is critical to a successful long term relationship. You need to be able to tune out certain stuff that gets old and let it pass you by without getting annoyed or upset. – Not sure where I got that from but I’ll source it here LINK

- There’s nothing worse than coming across a book that you think you would really like to read and then realize it is in another language. Well, ok there are worse things.

- NEVER take the E6. It just isn’t worth the aggravation.

- Yes I’ve had Swedish meatballs. Curiously this is one of the first questions that gets asked when I tell people where I am. It’s sad in many ways.

- Forget hamburgers and ice. I miss tacos.

He who walks behind the cans

There is a very helpful mysterious garbage helper here in Sweden. I’m supposed to take the garbage out on Monday night but I keep forgetting. However I have a shadowy assistant. The last two weeks someone has taken the garbage out to the curb and brought the can back after. Since it is never dark here they have not had the benefit of the cover of darkness, so they are very good at what they do. I now have a dilemma. Do I try really hard to do this myself or continue to let this person take care of my garbage needs? Do I try to catch them in the act, and if I do what do I say? “Unhand that garbage my kind sir or madam!” Maybe everyone takes turns taking care of the neighborhood garbage cans and it’s my turn soon. Do I leave a note thanking them for their service to the international community? Obviously thinking about this has used up a lot of my time and I need to move on. My neighbor in Florida sometimes would help me out with the garbage when I forgot. Maybe I’ll ask him what to do.

Paper towels

Now this is funny… UPDATED! – Looks like the video that is supposed to be below is hit or miss. It was likely only funny to me. A parody of the shamwow commercials.


I think I will just post some randomness today, although if you’ve been reading here long enough you realize that it’s just like everyday lately.

I talked with Dad and have exchanged some e-mails with Mom…things in Orion are ok. Dad isn’t going for a jog every morning, but he never went for a jog before either. Apparently there are plans to travel to Kansas City next weekend or this upcoming weekend. Good preparation for a Florida visit I think.

I’ve discovered the method that non-English people have for dealing with us only-English speakers. This mostly applies to businesses, because most other people just seem to put up with it. Apparently if an English speaking customer comes in and tries to order something in English you are supposed to yell for the person in the place that does speak English and then walk away. This has happened to me a few times. The only problem with this method is that it leaves me wondering if I somehow stumbled on an English phrase that means something else in the other language and I’ve offended this person. Why else would they yell something and walk away from me? It took me a couple of times to figure it out.

The weather here is just now starting to get a little better, approaching the 70’s. This will give us more of a chance to enjoy the area more. I also need to enjoy mowing the lawn here again.

Some family is coming to visit on Saturday. Jen’s sister and her family are arriving on Saturday for a short visit. They are bringing my little niece Allie, we can’t wait. Jen also has a friend who lives in Zimbabwe coming to visit for a day or two. Her friend is visiting London and is swinging by to see us. They have been in touch, but haven’t seen each other in something like 20 years.

We have 5 weeks left on the road. We have some exciting things left on the list, but I think everyone is winding down. I’ve posted to this blog almost every day for 7 months and I feel it in the writing also. Pictures later. Here is one of Dad last weekend. They ran into an old college buddy of mine and his wife sneakily had a camera.


North, South, East, West

Remember the other day when I said I didn’t mind asking for directions and blah, blah, blah? Well coming home from the train station after dropping Jen and Sara off for their trip to Copenhagen I got lost. This is the most lost and frustrated I’ve been in a LONG time. You know how you get on the interstate and basically the sign says I75 to New York or El Paso and you think to yourself…well I’m not going towards El Paso, I must want the New York on-ramp. Well pretend that those two locations were Malmo and Mondal. First…both of those places are the same direction, second neither of them is where I’m going, and third what would be so hard about putting North or South next to things? So this part is troubling as it is, but the next part is even more fun. Have you ever been lost and then drive around repeating your mistakes over and over? I must have hit the same off-ramp at least 3 times thinking I must have missed something the first two times. Did I mention it was raining and that most everything was closed due to the impending holiday here? So at this point the last feeling of getting lost hits me. I made a decision about what way to go, but I could find no evidence that it was the right decision. Do I turn around? Do I keep going? By now the terrain has changed, the signs are even less familiar, and I think the language on the signs might even had changed. I quickly run through my geography and rule out having entered another country. It took me over an hour to make a 15 minute trip. I don’t even really know how I figured out where to go, but Sam was very impressed that I figured out how to get home. If he only knew.

Father’s day

Happy Father’s day dad!

I’m a lucky guy. At some point today I will get to tell my dad hi, happy father’s day and that I love him. I’ve been very lucky over the years to have my dad in my life and to be able to share my time and my family with him. I don’t think I’ve had an argument with dad in forever, probably since I was a teenager. I’ve spent the last 8 months or so thinking about my dad on a daily basis as I write about the things we do, the trouble he has had, and the triumphs too. I look forward to coming home to tell him these same things in person. The other day Jen was goofing around with Sam and asked him what his “long” name was, trying to get him to say Samuel. Sam thought about it for a minute and said…”Samuel Lawrence Carroll”. As I remember that moment today I realize how special father’s day is to me. I get to celebrate the two “Larrys”. I love you dad. I’ll see you soon.

Cards2 DadSam3

Dad3 Dad2


I’m loving it

Where do you go? Pretend it’s, say, Christmas and for whatever reason you didn’t know what Christmas was. You didn’t buy milk or bread, don’t have any cereal and the kids are crying and starving. Ok the last part was to build the drama. First rule of visiting a new country…find out the local holidays. Here it is midsommar, the Scandinavian equivalent of a combo 4th of July, Labor day, and a touch of Xmas. I knew it was coming and heard that it was a big deal, but I forgot that “big deal” means “Sorry folks, parks closed”. Where do you go? Then it hit me…McDonalds! Nirvana! Once we arrived at McDonalds I realized that McDonalds was an oasis. They had everything I needed. Food, ice, hamburgers, free bathrooms and the menu was its own common language. I could order a Big Mac and be understood. Coke – understood, McFlurry – check, Happy Meal? No problem. McDonalds here even has this wall of recycling. There are slots and pictures on the wall that show you where to put your various trash components so that they can be easily recycled. I left McDonalds thinking that if I ever run into any problems in another country I’m going to be torn. Do I run to the U.S. Embassy or the golden arches?


Just when I complain about not having something to write about you get one of those chances to write about something you wish didn’t happen. I received a chat this morning from our exchange family in Norway and a link to an online article. Apparently someone is building a home behind them and since the ground there is basically stone they had to use explosives to clear space. Yep…you guessed it, the explosives went wrong. The explosion that was set off sent rocks flying through the neighborhood and amazingly no one was hurt. Stale tells me he had just stopped his daughter Seline from going to the neighbors since he hadn’t heard the alarm he expected to hear saying all was clear. It’s a good thing he held her back. No telling what might have happened. Here is the link and the article. It’s in Norwegian, but you can use google translate ( if you are interested. Link to the article (Norwegian exchange)

All of the pictures are of Stale and the home we lived in.


We are glad they are all ok. I don’t see any pink paint on that garage Ståle!!

Top ten signs you’ve been in Europe too long

10. Your kids ask if we are taking the Metro or a train when we go someplace.

9. You see someone wearing tourist garb and you mumble to yourself, “Tourist”

8. Sam hears sirens and says “Politi!”

7. You forgot to put ice cubes in your drink.

6. You see someone ride by and you think “Cool bike”

5. You panic when you get in the car and realize you don’t have money for parking.

4. You check the World Cup standings instead of the National league central standings.

3. It doesn’t faze you when someone cuts the line on you.

2. Hitting 1000 or greater on the ATM is nothing

and the number 1 sign you’ve been in Europe too long…..

1. The temperature hits 18 and it’s time to hit the beach!

Peek a boo, I see you!

It occurs to me that I should share with you a small issue I am having with our current accommodations. First…the good stuff. The house we are using in Sweden is perfectly fine. The home is large and nice. There is a nice backyard and wonderful sun room to have breakfast or lunch on. The problem I have with this place isn’t even a fault of the place itself, but its proximity to the neighbors. If any of you have been to my house you might be asking yourself, “How can he complain about proximity? He has 5 feet on either side of his house in Florida!” Well I’ll tell you why…the proximity issue here is out the front window of the house. There are no shades or curtains here, which seems to be the standard setup, and there is a road / sidewalk combo directly in front of the house. I have never met the guy who lives directly across the way, but I could tell you what he has had for most meals and probably his hat size. I have even traded a wave or two with him as I prepare my morning cereal. He seems nice. I think I prefer the system I have at home where I can smell Joe cooking some steaks, but not necessarily see him do it…no offense Joe.

Transaction reaction

I’ve been complaining the past few days about having very little to say or write and today is not really any different. I considered adding up all the “transaction fees” Wachovia is charging me for ATM and debit card transactions, but that sounded a little too geeky and depressing. I will tell you that if you travel outside of the U.S. make sure you know what you are in for with your bank. Wachovia is getting me for $5.00 per ATM transaction and 2% on top of that for other transactions. I am participating in the banking bailout against my will. About once a month or so I have to call one credit card company or another and have some security restriction removed. I called them all ahead of time and even listed the countries we would be traveling in, but I guess it is good. The hard part is that you typically find out that the credit card has been flagged when you are out to buy milk and bread. The Europeans have a system for their credit cards where they have a chip embedded in them and it requires a PIN validation for all transactions. Probably safer and better to do it that way..I can’t figure out why we don’t have that in the U.S. I’ll add it to the list with ice cubes and roundabouts.

Pinball wizard

Sorry regular readers, but I had to take a trip to the beach this morning, so this is the first chance for an update. Orion seems to be relatively calm. I know the healing process is VERY slow and confusing, so my mom and dad have their ups and downs. Anyone who lives nearby take my place and make sure they are good.

We spent a short time at the beach this morning having a picnic. We scooped up some sandwich items out of the fridge and had lunch on the rocks. It was a little windy, but it was nice to get out and get some fresh air. Sam had a great time because it included all of his favorites. Beach, outside, rock climbing, water, mommy, and…a dog. Once again a visit to the beach included a mystery visitor. Sam called him my “mini Sunny” (his dog at home). I called the dog “Pinball” because this silly dog spent the whole time bouncing around from person to person trying to score a potato chip or two. Short post for a short event. Here are a couple of pictures.

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Yesterday we finally got the chance to wander the streets of Gothenburg. Prior to yesterday we had only checked out a few blocks, one pub, and not much else. We have fallen into a trap of sorts having been to some very glamorous sites in Europe, so while we enjoy most aspects of Sweden, Gothenburg has had to work very hard to keep up. We did find some very quaint and interesting side streets and parks yesterday, so “the Goth”,as Jen calls it, is improving its status. They do have a very extensive tram and bus system here, so the girls have been moving around the area with ease. One of the main goals to this trip was to demystify the world a little bit for our kids and to make sure they weren’t intimidated by things like language barriers, mass transit, and different cultures. I would have to say that we have succeeded greatly in this area and hopefully their knowledge sticks. By accident I have provided myself with the same benefit, so double win. We are off to explore more of the area, but I will provide some pictures from yesterday. Two to be exact. One of the architecture of Gothenburg and the other is from the “Sam’s Fountain tour – 2009”.

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To my amusement

Today we spent a lot of the day at a theme park here in Gothenburg. After living in Tampa for 5 years theme parks have a pretty big hurdle to get over to impress us. We live about 20-30 minutes from Busch Gardens and in Florida if you go there one time, your ticket is good for most of the season. We visited the Liseberg amusement park and we had a good time. We turned the girls loose in the park and to their credit they hit every deadline we gave them for checking in. Sam didn’t care what country we were in, he loves amusement parks. Here is the link to the parks web site, if you are interested. Liseberg

We took a ton of pictures, but most of them are just random shots of us riding rides that could be anywhere in the world. It is a little strange to be in a huge crowd and not hear your own language at all. I do have to say that the Swedish people are very kind to us and very accommodating of our lack of Swedish. This is the first time I’ve found that it is true that EVERYONE speaks English. We even managed to get there and back only getting lost once. I have been cured of the male “I don’t ask for directions” disease. I get lost so often now that it’s like a relief to get out of the car and ask where the hell I am. I was afraid that we were really lost last night when I asked the clerk to direct us to the town we live in and she looked at me like she had never heard of it. Imagine my surprise that is was simply my pronunciation. Here are a few “we had a good day” pictures. Enjoy.

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Slide to the left

One quick post while we prepare to go off to the Swedish version of Six Flags / Busch Gardens.

I have discovered the best job to have in Sweden. I don’t know why this didn’t occur to me before as they have the same system in Norway, but the job is…..Grocery clerk. The grocery clerks entire job here is simply to scan the groceries. After they slide your food over the magic scanner they simply wait until you complete the transaction via the ATM terminal or sometimes they have to slide the money into the slots. They have a system like a bill acceptor that is labeled with all of the denominations. They slide the money in the properly labeled slot and then a change machine spits out the change. If you only have change to pay with you just put it in the machine yourself. So here’s the recap: The only skill you need for this job is to slide food across the scanner and to match the numbers on the bills with the numbers on the machine. Sorry if this seems lame, but I need to find a proper retirement job. Maybe supervisor of grocery clerks! Even better!

Ummm…no title

At the risk of coming across as a bad parent or one with questionable judgment I will tell you another story from our trip to Copenhagen. I can’t remember how it came to be or how much knowledge I had before hand, but while we were in Copenhagen we visited a part of the city called Christiania. To give you a perspective on what this might be leading up to, they don’t allow pictures in this part of the city. Now don’t get the wrong idea. There wasn’t anything too horrible going on…at least on the surface. Christiania is described as a social experiment and a democracy based on dialogue replacing majority voting. Translation – a commune of hippies. To take some additional heat off of myself as a possible bad parent subjecting my kids to an environment of “free living” I will note that there were numerous families and other touristy people roaming the town as we were. To get it out of the way, the worst activity going on in the streets that day was the open sale of marijuana and some drug related paraphernalia. To be fair this wasn’t the only thing going on, but it was surreal to see. The “town” itself consisted of some pretty run down buildings and grounds that led you to believe you were wandering a third world country.  There was a moment of tension when a couple of the tourists decided to take a photo or two despite the numerous “NO PHOTOS” signs and pictures. This resulted in a frenzy of yelling and screaming from the pot hazed crowd. I thought it was kind of funny because if those tourists would have just taken their pictures and challenged the pot heads to catch them, the game would have been over right away. There was no way any of the pot crowd was going to be doing any sprinting after tourists. We did have a chance to take a couple of photos on the outskirts of the town that speak to the creativity of the inhabitants, but don’t really have a lot of substance to them. A Google search will give you plenty of images I think.

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I guess I’m due for one of my “observations” posts because I don’t have any new pictures and Dad is doing well in Orion.

I get why things are different here, and by here I’m using Europe as my reference. Customs and cultures are different. No problem. What I don’t get is why certain things exist or are used in either location that aren’t used in the other. Example – Garbage disposals. Why wouldn’t you want to have a garbage disposal? I get tired of fishing the crud out of the sink. None of the homes we’ve lived in have had one. It’s not like it’s a big deal, but I’m weird and wonder about things like that. Peanut butter is another one. I know that certain foods are more popular and more ingrained in cultures and all of that, but again…why wouldn’t you want to eat peanut butter? I’m half joking, but it sure seems that there are some big marketing opportunities available. Here is one I’ve totally forgotten about, but every time it happens to me I think “Man I’ve got to mention that”. Sandwiches. In most of the countries we’ve been people eat sandwiches with a fork and knife. Now correct me if I’m wrong, but the whole reason that sandwiches were invented is so that you could eat them with your hands right? Imagine my surprise when I went to eat that first hamburger way back when and had to fork and knife it. You would be surprised at how this affects the taste of the sandwich. It doesn’t make it taste better let’s put it that way. The Earl would be mad, mad, mad. This isn’t really a rule, but people will look at you funny if you swoop up that burger and eat it like you are supposed to. The Europeans are in for a treat when they go to Disney and some fat slob is chomping on one of those medieval style turkey legs. Actually street food is fair game for eating with your hands. I think next time I get a sandwich I’m just going to wander around and eat it. I have a couple of more I’ll have to save for a slow day. Catch you soon.

“I’m on a boat”…can’t believe I made that my title

I was giving Jen a hard time the other day because she said she couldn’t think of anything to write….and now I’m sitting here in the same boat. We don’t have a lot left on “the list” for the next seven weeks so I’m afraid there might be more days like this. I think today we tackle the tram and bus system for Gothenburg to see if we can use it to get in and out of town. We don’t have a GPS to rely on here and strangely the roads are all called something else when you actually get to them. I’m having the same issue I had in Norway. The signs here are not very helpful or the helpful ones are placed directly at the decision making point.

There is one thing on the list that we are trying to figure out if we can schedule or afford. I’ll post it here, but then I’ll feel bad if we never figure out how to accomplish it. Jen found a river rafting adventure that we talked a long time ago about doing. You have to build your own rafts and then sail them down the river. I think you can even choose to sleep on the raft you build overnight. I think the kids would really benefit from it. I’ll let you know if we can get it on our busy schedule. Oh…here is the link to the full deal. Timber Rafting

Timber Rafting on Klaralven

I saw the sign

For those of you that have been reading here for a while you know that I think I’m clever by finding signs along the way that are silly or funny. Well I’m pretty sure I didn’t have a corner on the market when it came to this, but I had no idea that some other joker had taken the task to a whole new level. Apparently a guy built signspotting, a web site pretty much dedicated to my little hobby of 4 months. When we were in Copenhagen they had a display out in one of the city squares and you could take pictures with replicas of some of the signs. Take a look. These are actual signs from around the world, re-created for this outside exhibit.

Well there ya go. The people who started this have a book, postcards, exhibits…the whole thing. I might have to concede and send in a couple of my shots.

Random Copenhagen

Here are a few random pictures from Copenhagen. Look closely and you can spot our newest addition. Grace is joining us for Florida for a couple of weeks. I only have one more story from the visit itself and it can wait. It has intrigue though, so check back later.

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I did forget that I have funny signs to post also. So I owe you 2 posts. Then seriously, I’ve got to move on. We only spent 24 hours there for goodness sake.

A kroner saved is a euro earned

No one told me there would be any math on this trip. After our trip to Denmark I realized that my brain is REALLY tired of math. Specifically currencies and time. I find myself momentarily perplexed at the grocery store now as I try to remember what trick I’m using to convert the cost to U.S. dollars. Then I wonder why I really converted anything at all because I was going to buy it anyhow. Maybe I’m trying to guard against getting tricked into buying the $20 pack of gum or something. We have dealt with 5 currencies during the trip and all of them have different values to the dollar. Even funnier is that while we have been traveling the valuations have changed enough to make my conversion “tricks” change. Oh and I blew the time zone thing the other day. I called my mom to find out how dad was doing… 4:00 a.m. her time. I’m sure that helped her stress level with dad in the hospital.

Larry update

Well I’d like to give you the full Larry update, but it is getting too late. I’m getting old and when it gets close to midnight, well, that’s too much. I talked to dad for 12 seconds as he was exiting the hospital. Yes…exiting. I have no details, but who cares he’s headed home. As soon as I hit the publish key on this entry the phone will ring. More later…Good night!


I’m skipping to the middle of the Copenhagen visit simply to prove that if you miss one naked guy on a bike, it doesn’t necessarily mean that lightning doesn’t strike twice. We wandered down a famous “shopping street” in town, Storgat,  with masses of other people. Since we weren’t really shopping it was a lot easier to navigate the crowd. There were the usual cafes, Burger Kings, and shops mostly catering to women. Once you get far enough you apparently enter the street entertainer area where we encountered an Irish guy singing some familiar songs. Look out for this guy on American Idol. He was really good and drew quite a crowd and quite a guitar case full of money. The interesting part is that he was followed up by a team of two juggler / gymnasts, an unusual combination of a tall Norwegian guy and a short goofy French man. The had a really long routine with a little bit of everything, but they kept telling the crowd that if they stuck around they would be treated to the “Striptease!!” I thought they were joking and after half an hour their routine got a little…routine. We wandered off and down the road a bit but I turned around when their shtick got a little louder and I assumed we had reached the finale. Oh we had reached the finale all right. Off had come their clothes and I had the unfortunate luck to turn and see them doing their final bows. As distasteful as it was I was forced to take a picture. Here is that picture and a few more PG shots.


Me love you long term

Ok Wilhouse family…get a load of my latest parking ticket story.

By now you all know about our issues getting going on trips. We rush around, goof off, and just wait for the unexpected to happen rather than planning for it. We never leave enough time. I vowed it would be different this time!!! We arrived at the train station in plenty of time for the most part….30 minutes before the train left. Jen spots the long term parking sign which is written in Swedish and is gibberish to me. Can’t get any better…we are parking and we are on time. Wrong. We park and search out the parking kiosk to pay and get our ticket. Now I know that terms, phrases, and words have different meanings in different languages, but to me long term is, well, long term. NOT 24 HOURS! We parked in the parking area that only allows 24 hour parking after paying. We decided to go up into the terminal and ask around for some clarification. This is where it goes all to hell. For once I actually find that everyone I do ask about this situation DOES speak English, the problem is they don’t know a damn thing about parking. Not a single soul had any idea what to do if you wanted to park at the bus/train terminal for longer than 24 hours. Great. At this point we had no choice but to leave the car where it was and hope that the parking police weren’t as diligent on Sunday afternoon. Skipping ahead 33 hours it seems that there is no slacking in the parking dept. Parking ticket #2 in country #2. The only thing consistent at this point is the fine. $50. Seriously…I can only take so many of these $50 lessons in travelling Scandinavia. If I do write a book about these experiences you will be in on an inside joke because the price is going to be $50.

Larry update – June 7, 2009

Just back from Copenhagen and returned to find that all is pretty good with dad. He is still in the hospital, but is feeling better and expects to go home on Monday. The details involve the usual suspects. Coumadin levels (INR). Hemoglobin. Pulse ox. You name it. None of those things were too far out of whack, but when all of them get weird it makes recovering from pneumonia touchy. They could still hear some wheezing and fluid on one side…but I think he’s on the mend.

Good night

Late update of no real value except to say I talked with my dad for a little bit and he SOUNDS good. I only say it that way because I didn’t get any information, just a chance to talk to him one on one. He said he feels a lot better than last night and didn’t like the fact that he didn’t get into his room until 5:00 a.m. I don’t blame him there.

We are off to Copenhagen tomorrow to pick up Sara’s friend. I’ll have to do an update on Sunday night. That equals late Sunday afternoon for you people.

More in the morning if I hear anything different. Thanks for the good wishes.


More from Trinity…yes, I did find that out.

Just talked to Mom and even Dad for a bit. He is at Trinity, room 772. My Mom has learned by the previous visits to get requests and information in quickly or they zip past you. She requested, and received a private room for him, so at least he should get some good rest. He sounds good and the doctor has been in to see him. It’s basically a question of curing and monitoring a case of pneumonia. My mom has been up all night and is going home for some rest in a bit. If anyone needs more than what I’m typing you can call me at 813-435-6241. I’m 6 hours ahead of you!! 7 for you Midwesterners.  : )

Just so you know – Larry update

I wasn’t even going to put this in the blog, but since the whole thing started with Larry, I guess I’d better at least get the word out. Dad is in the hospital tonight. Before you read further and get all worked up, he has pneumonia. My mom called the ambulance at around 10:00 p.m. after Dad was complaining of trouble catching his breath. It is now, roughly, 2:00 a.m. and he is being admitted to Trinity West. I actually don’t know that 100% since my mom never told me where they were, but it’s a safe bet. He is resting quietly, getting oxygen and antibiotics. I’ll update this more when I know more.


(Insert Swedish chef joke here)

We finally wandered into Gothenburg proper for a short look around. After the requisite parking maneuvers – finding a spot, finding the proper coin from the proper country, finding the machine and then running the ticket back to the car – we went investigating. We only managed about an hour of fun because the APC day was about to start back at my computer and we couldn’t wander far from the meter. Apparently the parking fines in Sweden are even more stiff than those in Norway. I think I’m going to get one of those machines for Hawk Hill Loop back home. The mail lady is always mad at the guys next door for parking near her mailboxes and I can probably make some good coin off of that group. The event of the day was lunch. We stopped at a little cafe, sat outdoors and let Sara order for us. The guy who ran the place seemed to speak pretty good English, so I had to ask him to let Sara practice. Imagine my surprise that the “Meal of the day” was Swedish meatballs. I’m not sure why, but I kinda figured that Swedish meatballs were sort of fake, as in not really Swedish, just called that. Sam and I had the meatballs and they were great! It seems that the meatballs are served with a local berry and you are supposed to eat them together. Sara had to coax me into trying it, but the combination was also very tasty. Lingonberry in case you are interested. All in all it was a good start to our time here near Gothenburg.

A thousand words times 1100?

For those of you that haven’t caught on, there is a link to our trip pictures on the right…click the “Shutterfly” link.

I just added up all the album picture totals and it seems there is about 1100 pictures there. In the age of digital photography you have the luxury of clicking until you get it right. I guarantee you that many of these pictures fall into this category, but there are a lot of moments captured in them that we may not have written about. Once we get home we will probably sift through them and caption most of them. Take a look if you have about 12 hours and the need to see my handsome face. Locander…it’s blocked for you.

So 8 years ago…

Not a lot to tell you from Sweden today. We have some events coming up, but I’m a bit at a loss today for information. Sara is trying to wrap up her online school year in time for her friend Grace’s visit. Grace is joining us for two weeks via the Tampa – Atlanta – Copenhagen connection. We are taking the train to Copenhagen on Saturday in time to pick Grace up at the airport on Sunday. The weather has turned on us a bit today and it looks like our beach opportunities are going to be limited for a bit. We did get a chance to take a short tour of the area with the father of our exchange family, Roland. He is very nice and seems to like to keep Sara honest with her Swedish and give her some practice. Yesterday was our 8th wedding anniversary and the picture I’m including shows we really went all out. Sara cooked us a wonderful meal and with full glasses of Diet Coke we still seem to be happy huh? We are having a great time and we are a very good team.


Beach combing

Well we are getting more and more settled which means we usually venture out and get in trouble. Sara, our self described translator, pretty much declines to interrupt the Swedish folk to try her Swedish. So far I’m glad I didn’t spend $50,000 to send her to United Nations Swedish sleepover camp. We went out looking for a small beach location that was on one of the maps left here by the home owners. As usual the “10 minute walk to the beach” became a 45 minute “Where the hell is the beach?” walk. Yes, even with a map. We eventually found where we were going and it IS probably a 10 minute walk if you know where you are going. Surprisingly the water was relatively warm. Sam the “I’ll swim anywhere” member of our party was dressed in his trunks and took some time to enjoy the water. More pictures later. Oh…and in an effort to beat to the punch I’ve included the much sought after “Man-pris” picture.

DSCN2758 DSCN2752


Well here we are. As the plane was descending I looked over at Sara and she could barely contain herself. Sweden. We have been hearing about Sweden for two years now. Swedish songs, Swedish food…the whole 10 yards. We haven’t had time to really look around. It usually takes us a day or two to organize, buy some groceries and make ourselves at home. So far the thing that is driving us the craziest is the daylight. We already knew, and you’ve probably heard, that darkness is limited during this time of the year in Scandinavian countries, but when you experience it, it’s a whole different story. Sam can’t get past the idea that he can’t go to bed when it is so bright. Sunset is officially 10:00 p.m. and sunrise is…get ready for it…4:20 a.m. This means it’s really almost “dark” at around 11:00 and starts getting lighter out at 3:30 a.m. No pictures yet of our surroundings, but we are getting ready for a walk as I type. Stay tuned.