The Sandy Beast

Sept. 8 - Yesterday I bored you to death with a rambling geography lesson interspersed with a few digressions having to do with our weekend trip to Skagen. Today I'll bore you to death with a rambling and disassociated account of our trip to Skagen interspersed with some inaccurate asides on Denmark.

Many of our friends and family expressed surprise that we would even dare to attempt such a trip with such a young child. Their concerns were not ignored lightly. Molli was nine weeks old on Saturday, but only would have been two weeks old if she'd been born at full term. So she was certainly young for a road trip. Our pediatric nurse (all new mothers get regular home visits from a pediatric nurse), however, had assured us the trip would be okay.

"Sometimes you have to get used to your baby," she explained. "And sometimes your baby has to get used to you. If you like to travel, she's going to have to get used to it." She advised us not to make it a habit of putting her in the baby seat for extended periods and left it at that.

We took her at her word. In the following picture you can see the lovely nest we made for Molli in the trunk. Baby seats? We don't need no stinkin' baby seats.

Molli on the road.

Most of inland Denmark looks like the rural midwest—think Indiana. Most of coastal Denmark reminds me of New England. Northern Jylland looked to me like North Dakota. It had the same bumpy features, the same weird grasses, the same wide-open sky. It gave me the same weird feeling of having walked (okay, driven) into a Dr. Seuss illustration.


The finger that sticks out of Skagen into the seas is called Skagen Grenen (do not attempt to pronounce), meaning "Skagen Branch." It begins above the town of Skagen proper, narrowing from a broad peninsula bristling with dunes and pines to a sandy length of beach. The beach quickly narrows to a point, and it's by walking as far out onto that point as you dare that you become the northernmost person on contintental Europe. Yesterday I showed a picture of myself and Molli in that northernmost position. Today I share what Molli and I saw when we glanced to the south.

Not as northernmost.

Following our adventure in northernmostness, Trine suggested we drive back down through Skagen to a park on its southern side. It was a kind of desert, she told me, the only desert in Denmark, and in the middle of it was the tilsandede kirk, the "oversanded church." She was working from memory, having visited the area many times in her youth, so she spent most of the ten-minute drive impressing the unreliability of her recollections upon me.

I've lived in Los Angeles. I'm familiar with deserts. The idea of a desert in Denmark seemed completely absurd, if only for the fact that most of the deserts I'd seen were bigger than all of Denmark. Deserts don't spring up between a couple of little coastal towns: they blot out thousands of square miles.

As it turns out, "Råbjerg Mile" isn't technically a desert (though it's still billed as "Denmark's only desert," and, one must infer, the "northernmost desert in continental Europe"). It's what's known as a wandering sand dune. Sounds like a monster from one of those role-playing games: you have been attacked by a Wandering Sand Dune....

This particular sand dune doesn't wander very extensively, but it has wandered enough in its day to consume the entire ground floor of an old Danish church, to the extent that only the tower remains above ground. Predictably, the exposed tower no longer houses a church, but rather a gift shop, where one can buy little replicas of the "oversanded church" or spend 30 kroner to climb the stairs of the tower and look out at the weird wandering sand dune, currently some distance away. (The buried church itself now sits in a happy little dune more reminiscent of Cape Cod than the Mojave.)

The gift shop also offered postcards and big aerial photographs of the wandering sand dune. It looked like... well, it looked like a big sand dune. (Maybe if we could have seen some video of it moving about we would have been more impressed.) We asked ourselves if it would be worthwhile to tote Molli half a mile for the privilege of standing in the middle of a giant litterbox. We answered ourselves that it would be much more worthwhile to have lunch. So we never did actually make it to the northernmost ambulatory litterbox on continental Europe, but we did find a cheap buffet in the middle of downtown Skagen.

Truly, tourism is not without its rewards.

Once again I'm out of time. More tomorrow.

Et Cetera

On this date in 1628, John Endicott arrived in Naumkeag, Massachusetts, as the leader of a group of Puritan Bastards who had purchased land patents from the Plymouth Council in England. A previous group of settlers had established themselves in Naumkeag in 1626 but had no patent and were therefore Villainous Heretics. They gladly surrendered their claim in the face of the newcomers' Superior Moral Virtue, which came in a variety of gauges.

Later Naumkeag became Salem and developed witches, ultimately resulting in a profitable cottage industry.

* * *

Constantine the Great's three sons, Constantine II, Constans, and Constantius II, named themselves Caesars and divided the Roman Empire between them on this date in the year 337. But it was nearly sixteen hundred years before Sid Caesar himself was born, on September 8, 1922.

Birthdays and Holidays

It's La Vierge de Meritxell in Andorra.

Today is the birthday of Patsy Cline (1932), Peter Sellers (1925), the aforementioned Caesar, Claude Pepper (1900), and Siegfried Sassoon (1876).

Happy Hump Day!

© 2004, The Moron's Almanac™

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