Wednesday, July 23, 2008

24 Hours of Sunlight

When you travel for a while you start to develop some peculiar habits. These are little things that you always do. They aren’t really superstitions but you can no longer recall the reason that you started doing them but you just keep doing them. One such habit of mine is to carry an extra pair of socks with me. This is the story one of those pairs of socks.

On a recent trip to Trondheim, Norway I had the pleasure of visiting near the summer solstice (June 20th). The summer solstice is the longest day of the year for those of us in the Northern hemisphere and the further North you go the more daylight you get. Now, I’m not one to usually pay attention to these kind of things but this was a fairly important thing to not know about when traveling to the area at this time of year.

Norway is pretty far North and around the solstice they get 24 hours of sunlight. This would have been nice to know as I’ve never been someplace where it’s light out all the time and I could have prepared a bit for this.

I started to notice that something was wrong on the first night when I went to close my curtains at 10PM and it was still light outside; I thought this was odd. I woke up…at 2am, noticed light peaking around the curtains and never got back to sleep that night. This of course put me in great shape to work the next morning. I did make it through the whole workday without much trouble (and quite a bit of coffee) but I knew I couldn't get away with just four hours of sleep again. I needed a plan.

If only I had brought a sleeping mask with me(I occasionally get these from airlines and I hang onto them but I usually forget to keep one in my backpack) then I wouldn't have to worry about the light issue. I didn't have the energy to hunt down a sleeping mask in Norway so I looked at what I had in my hotel room. I could always cover my face with a pillow but that makes breathing difficult. I tried making a better light seal with the curtains but light was coming in through the top and the sides. Note to Norwegian Hotels: GET BETTER CURTAINS.

I did have my sewing kit from making sock monsters and I also had an extra pair of socks. This could work. I dug through all of my clean socks and I found my softest pair of clean black dress socks which coincidentally had a habit of slipping down and getting bunched up in my shoes so I really didn't mind sacrificing them.

I overlapped the foot parts of the socks so that my eyes would have a double layer of the softest sock part on top of them, I sewed them together toward each toe (no stitches near my eyes). This left me with one long sock with two ends. These weren't long enough to tie behind my head so I had to similarly overlap the part of the socks with the opening in them. I wrapped these around my head, pulled them comfortably tight, held on to the positioning and slid the sock mask off my head. This was pinned and sewn in two places just like the front.

After about 15 minutes of work I had my face mask, it was a little tight but I figured that was better than being a little loose. It did however do a good job of blocking out all of the unwanted light. That night I slept just fine even though the mask slipped down in the night and I had to put it back on (there was however plenty of light in the room for this opperation). The next night I spun the sock mask around and this resolved the slipping issue. Over several nights the mask did get looser but it still did the job.

In addition to my normal jet lag I found it strange to to be in a place where the sun never set. My system was just slightly off and I never quite got used to it. I'm sure that given enough time I would have adjusted to things though I still think that it would remain a bit strange as 24 hour sunlight is something that it so unknown to me. The sun is just supposed to set at night, that's how it is. Part of me wishes that I had woken up at midnight, walked around and had taken some pictures. Another part of me knows that I would have paid dearly for those pictures the next morning. Oh well, maybe next time I'm in the neighborhood.

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Coming Soon: That Time Denver Got Snowed In


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