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Part One: Arctic

Dear Jim,

There are no trees.

I mean, there are shrubs, and large bushes that grow sort of sideways into the ground.

But there are no REAL trees. Nothing stretches up into the sky.

There are two camels.

Yes, that's right, camels.

They are from Mongolia.

They have two trainers here with them - one is Mongolian, the other is his translator.

They are being trained to be domesticated.

For rides and such, I am told.

Oh, and there is a film crew making a documentary about them.

In the arctic.

It makes no sense at all.

Which I quite like.

The water is crystal clear.

There are sea urchins every where.

Giant purple and red jelly fish bloom in the water and dry in geometric patterns on the beach.

The sand is a strange ash white.

There's an almost apocalyptic feeling about the place.

There is the most beautiful and bizarre driftwood here.

It comes from forests in Siberia, falls into the sea, freezes, and floats to the beaches here in Norway.

You cannot possibly see these fossil-like ghosts of trees, and deny that whatever gets thrown into the sea will pollute oceans everywhere.

The ground is covered with grasses and moss and tiny beautiful wild flowers, all growing low to the ground so they don't get torn apart by the wind.

The base we are staying at is cozy, comfortable and simple. Two of the buildings have no electricity, but there is a sauna.

There is always a sauna.

And as part of the ritual, we run naked from the steaming wooden hut, 100m down the beach, straight into the freezing ocean.

It's funny how extreme experiences make you feel so alive.

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