Friday, February 18, 2011

Colorful ice, the world's largest spark

Today we drive to Røros for the Handel- og Kulturfest. After much debate – train or car? – we decide to drive. I love taking the train and enjoying worry-free and comfortable travel, but it will cost much less to drive. We head out mid-morning, looking forward to the day's adventures ahead.

One of the best things about driving in the winter are the ubiquitous frozen waterfalls along the highway. Highways have been cut along the edges of mountains, resulting in many roadside waterfalls. The smaller ones are generally not very noticeable in the summer, but in the winter they freeze into majestic walls of icicles. These are often colored in blues and greens and yellows, perhaps from minerals leeched from the earth, or perhaps from optical properies of bubbly ice.

At this time of year, the frozen water looks tired. It is thick and not well-defined, the product of repeated thawing and freezing throughout this unven winter. The colors, though, are no less dramatic.

Along the way, we sing along to the radio and to the iPod. We always begin with Willie Nelson's "On the Road Again", but soon settle into Odd Nordstoga as the music of choice on this trip. After an hour, we begin to suspect we've missed our turn somewhere. We've been using the car lighter to run the iPod transmitter and not our GPS, so we stop to switch gadgets and check our location.

Oh yeah, we are FAR off course. We were supposed to turn off onto highway 30 a long while ago. The GPS recommends we continue forward to highway 3 and loop around, hitting Røros in the other direction. We've just added an hour on to our trip – ugh.

No worries! We were MEANT to have done this, we are certain. It is a chance to see highway 3, a place we probably never would have seen in our lives had it not been for this error. Now we just need to keep our eyes open for the big adventurous thing that the fates have decreed we are destined to find.

As we near the town of Tynset, a big sign announces what we are looking for: Se verdens største spark på torvet! ... See the world's largest spark in the square! "Sparks" are a kind of kick-sled on blades that are a popular way of transport in icy areas. We've had fun riding sparks before, and now an opportunity to see the world's largest spark! Irresistable!

The bridge into Tynset is interesting, the first half is shaped as a large semicircles, and the second half is shaped as two smaller semicircles. Math problem: if the two smaller semicircles are half the diameter of the larger semicircle, which is greater: the circumference of the large semicircle or the combined circumferences of the smaller semicircles?

Driving through Tynset, we see many sparks parked outside of houses, businesses, and chained to the bus stop. This really is a spark-crazy town! In the center, we find it. The world's largest spark. Overjoyed, we hop out for photos. Sorry Tynset, we're behind schedule and don't have time to explore further. It looks like a lovely little town. Next stop: Røros!


  1. If you mean are "each" half the diameter of the larger semi-circle then 2d=D, and thus PiD=2*(Pid).

    I've been to fewer colder places than Tynset/Dombas/Roros in winter. I believe they are among the coldest in Norway as they are inland and mountainous. Roros the old mining town is a real gem though. Have you thought about a visit to KrSund or Molde during the jazz festival?

    There's a Norwegian-Swedish movie called Kitchen Stories which sees a 1950's mailman put the spark to good use on his route.

  2. the combined circumference of the 2 smaller circles is the same as the circumference of the larger circle.

    We missed the jazz fest in Molde by a week last year, but that's a lovely town as well!