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Thread: Reflections on Scratching the itch - Nordkapp 2013

  1. #17
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    5th June - What a carve up.

    I quite like staying in hostels; you meet some interesting people. I was talking to a French couple, not in the first flush of youth, who have ridden their tandem from the south of France to Nordkapp. That's pretty hardcore. It has taken over a month so far.Also, the breakfast was good and it provided a good sandwich for lunch. The hostel at Honnngsvag is worth a punt if you need somewhere to stay near the cape.



    I was on the road by 9 to go back round the island to the tunnel entrance



    This gives a reasonable impression of what it is like. I wouldn't fancy it on a push bike. It's a long way down and then up again,



    The first 40 odd miles were retracing my way up along the side of the fjord.



    Luckily this lot decided to cross just behind me





    At the end of the fjord I headed west and the road climbed up on to plateau at around 1000ft.





    The previous picture is a good test. If the wilderness doesn't appeal you might find the trip to cape boring. I rode equally straight, featureless roads in Morocco last year and that is rarely called boring.

    Eventually we dropped down into Alta where I wanted to visit the museum to see the prehistoric rock carvings on what is a world heritage site. The museum was a chaotic jumble of bits but included this Sami drum, one of only 70 authentic drums in existence after the Christians burnt them all in a typically open minded way in the 17C. The Sami religion was based on Shamanism and the drums were the key to the Shamanic rituals.



    The museum cafe has what must be one of the best balcony views of any museum. As you can see the sky cleared and the sun emerged.



    Which was good because the carvings were on a 7km trail outside.



    They were excellent. As you can imagine, I took a lot of photos. I'll just give you a few edited highlights. The oldest carvings date from about 7,000 years ago.





    They have been coloured in red ochre to make them more visible. The original carvings look like this



    This splendid boat is the museum's logo. Notice the moosehead prow.



    Apart from the carvings, it was another pleasant walk through the woods



    and along the shore



    I particularly liked this depiction of pregnant reindeer



    And this rare depiction of a hunter on skis which shows that skis were in use in Norway in prehistoric times. I have seen modern skiers in a similar position.



    Back round the shore



    and back on the road to find somewhere to sleep. This splendid fellow and his young lady grazing by the shore deserve inclusion



    And this is where I wound up.



    I've camped in worst places. So now I am sitting in my tent at 10.15 typing this up. It's still broad daylight of course but the sun is behind the hills so I am in shadow and it's not warm. Sleeping bag and brandy next.

  2. #18
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    7th June - Too many views

    It got very cold as the sun dipped behind the ridge round the fjord although it stayed broad daylight of course. According to Markus, about whom more in a bit, it got down to 5C. My 38 year old down sleeping bag was toasty though. Then it started to warm up again by around 3 o'clock and it was warm and still when I got up at half six.



    Markus is a German lad on a 1200 GSA whom I first met in Finland and then again at Nordkapp. He is following broadly the same route as me at themoment although with different timings. I had just got my tent up and made a cup of tea last night when he pulled into the campsite. That was strange because it was quite out of the way. So we ate together and chatted until it got too cold and we retired to our tents. Turns out he is ex Luftwaffe, although he called it the air force, and is now a motorway cop. It's all right though I didn't mention the war. He shot off early to go into Tromso to have a new set of tyres fitted. I thought they were ok myself but he felt they were too worn. I wanted to say, "You won't win the war with that sort of nervous ninny attitude!" But I didn't.

    I was conflicted about routes today. I couldn't decide whether to go into Tromso or not. It was essentially up a fifty mile cul-de-sac and in the end I decided not since there wasn't really anything that caught my fancy there so I pushed on towards the ferry crossing to Andenes in the Lofotens where I am for the next two days. The problem early on was that it was all a bit too spectacular. There was a view round every corner





    And it was difficult to make any sort of progress when I had to keep stopping to take photographs



    Eventually, I climbed away from the Fjords and up on to the tops again



    then down to more vistas.



    They do good waterfalls here as well. They often take me by surprise right by the side of the road. I saw this one in time to stop.



    Another fjord, another view. The waterfalls were ever present, tumbling right down the sheer sides of the fjord



    They do good rivers too.



    Then the road turned inland and we were back to forest.



    And that's how it stayed until I pulled into a campsite which is an odd place behind a motel. The owner is a friendly guy though. He was very impressed at my efforts to speak Norwegian which he understood and responded too. However, the conversation soon stuttered to a halt.

    I cooked Asda soya chilli tonight. I really enjoyed it. My strategy is working so far; I have spent almost nothing on food since entering Norway. I knew it was going to be expensive but it is shocking what things cost. A tin of baked beans is £2.50 and a Bounty is is nearly three quid. Fuel is a bit over £2.00 a litre. So all in all I might have get through Norway a bit more briskly than I intended to avoid going bankrupt.

  3. #19
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    6th June - Oh my island in the sun

    I slept well and was up at 6.30 with the kettle on and my socks and pants drying in the sun.

    Breakfast was a leftover raisin bolle - currant bun - and I was packed and ready to go not much later. Ahead of me was a pleasant amble. It was only 40 miles to the ferry at Gryllefjord and once we docked I only had to book into my room. Most of the way was the usual trees with the occasional view in the distance. There were beginning to be clouds ahead but not overhead.

    About half way there there was a good bridge across the mouth of a fjord.

    Look right and it led into the open sea

    Look left and it opened out into quite a big fjord.

    The water was a beautiful translucent blue green and the tide was coming in.

    As I was pottering around trying and failing to photograph some distant terns fishing Markus rolled up and told me he'd heard the ferry left at 11 and that the next one was 7 pm. So the saunter became a dash to catch the boat. It started to rain for the last mile or so.

    We made it with a minute or two to spare. Getting the heavily laden bike safely stowed on the slippery car deck was a nervous few minutes. Markus's bike is a brand new one, not a scratch on it and he very nearly dropped it. His face was ashen.

    It was very like catching a bus. The boat was waiting at the dock, we rode straight on and parked. A young lass with a ticket machine came round and took our money and a deck hand lashed the bikes down. We were pulling away from the dock within a few minutes, leaving the mouth of the fjord and heading out to sea.

    There was still some blue sky looking along the coast.

    I had one of the ubiquitous polse (like a hot dog) and a coffee in the lounge and wondered about whale watching. The sea looked calm but the boat was rolling and yawing quite distinctly in the underlying swell.

    The crossing was 1hr 40mins and it wasn't long before the destination became clearer. An old Norwegian feller insisted on taking this photo of me. He and his wife were on their fifth trip to the north. They had been at Nordkapp for the ceremony for the unveiling of the stone showing the establishment of the footpath to Sicily. All she said was the band was too loud.

    The island is very mountainous and the town of Andenes is bult on the low lying headland on the point.

    The Navy was in port

    These looked quite sinister I thought. I'm not sure what they see the threat to be up here unless it's fishery protection.

    The bikes survived

    and we rode off into the wind and rain. I was pleased to have a room to go to and not to have to find a wet campsite. We parted and Markus went to buy some groceries. He wasn't sure what he was doing then. It turned out he didn't get the new tyres in Tromso. They wanted silly money for the old model Tourances despite what they had promised n the phone, and he told them to get stuffed.

    The check in for the hostel was managed at quite a swanky hotel in the town and I was given a bag of sheets (72kr) and sent off to find my room. It's very nice with an en suite shower. all for under £40 a night which is amazing in Norway.

    I bought some polar bread (sort of swedish flat bread) and some brie and had lunch in my room listening to the rain crashing against the window. In the end I set off to see the town and check out the whale watching which was my reason for staying here for two nights. It has a reputation for being the best, i.e. most reliable, whale watching trip available. The headland is quite narrow. Standing at a crossroads on the main street looking left is the church with its back to the shore

    and to the right a short street and the sea.

    But they have a bandstand

    a war memorial

    a liitle fishing port

    a Disco Duck

    a good lighthouse

    which is probably a good thing given the complexity of the apporaches to the harbour

    and a polar museum which was closed.

    I did see some anchor chain from the Tirpitz on the lawn



    So I talked to the chap in the whale safari place. They had sailed this morning. The afternoon cruise was cancelled. He doesn't know about tomorrow until the morning so I signed up to a provisional list and have to turn up at 8.45 to see what's happening.

    There is a Coop right next to the hostel and I bought a ready meal of meatballs and mashed potatoes which wasn't bad. So now I am sitting in my room listening to the rain.

  4. #20
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    Great stuff, keep it coming

  5. #21
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    I Ride, therefore I am

  6. #22
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    7th June - Sod the bloody whales

    I was up early and off to see the whales. The town was buzzing with life. This is the main street at just after 8



    Honestly I was a bit worried about how bumpy the ocean was going to be but I had resolved to be stoical about it since it is the best opportunity I am likely to have to see a big whale. There were a few of us hanging about at the Hval Safari office



    At 9 o'clock they announced that the wind out at sea was too strong for safety and they would have to cancel both of the day's planned trips. I could choose to stay on for another day and try again but I have decided to move on. On the way back to my room I realised the the war memorial had been hung on the back of another memorial to fishermen lost in a great storm in 1821.



    I really had seen all there was to see so I did some routing for the next bit. Luckily the bike was invisible under my cunning camouflaged cover so I wasn't worried about it.



    The sun did almost appear briefly after lunch. This is the view from my window.



    It didn't last. I listened to the cricket on R4 while I was working. Thanks to a good bit of geekery involving vpn's I was able to watch the end of it once I had transferred the routes to the GPS. It's always good to beat Australia.



    Dinner was a tin of Brun Lapskaus, about £5 a tin! There is a Lyt Lapskaus as well which I will have to try one day.



    I quite enjoyed it. It was a meaty stew a bit like Irish stew.I couldn't have a beer with it though, I think because it is the weekend. They call Saturday Lordsdag and Sunday Super Lordsdag.

    Last thing was to repack and get ready for a reasonable start in the morning to ride the length of the Lofoten archipelago.

  7. #23
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    8th June - "A very ancient and fishlike smell..."

    It wasn't raining when I set off today which was about the only good thing you can say about the weather. The cloud was down, it was 9C and there was a biting wind from the NE. Not a promising day for photographs



    I really enjoyed the road though and I could imagine the views would be spectacular. I was island hopping by bridges



    tunnels, which you've seen before, and a boat. I like the boats. You join the queue



    The bike in front belongs to a couple from Oslo. He rode up to the cape, she flew up and is travelling back with him. I had an interesting chat about how much the GS costs in Norway. Essentially a year's salary was the answer.

    The boat arrives



    and opens its big mouth to swallow you all up.



    It's a good job the skipper knew where he was going. It's complicated out there



    He found a jetty ok



    Back on the road, this is Lofoten cathedral.



    The weather didn't improve much



    It is quite common to see this traditional approach to roofing



    And now the fishy part. Everywhere you pass these drying racks hung with thousands of cod



    Both the bodies



    and the heads





    These are stockfish, production of which is a key industry on Lofoten and in N Norway generally. The heads go to Africa where they are apparently much prized. A lot of the bodies go to Spain and Portugal to make, for example, Bacalhau. This is air dried fish not salted which is different. It smells but is not as unpleasant as you might think. Lofoten has the world's only stockfish museum, or so they claim.



    And now I am in my room in the little Hostel above the museum. The window at the top above the wheel is mine. Or rather ours, I have a bed in a shared room. The guy in the bunk beneath me is the husband of a woman who teaches at St Mary's school just up the road from me in Shaftesbury. He lives near Bath. In one of the other bunks is a chap from China who is studying at York Uni. He was singing the praises of the Peak District so I've just told him how to find the Dales.

    They were still sorting out the day's catch when I arrived.



    This is the view from my window. I'm as far south as the road goes on Lofoten in A. I have to be up and off early to catch the boat to the mainland at 7.



    The harbour is full of kittiwakes and they don't half make a racket.



    Curry flavoured pot noodle for tea. Yum!

  8. #24
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    June 9th - "Blow winds and crack your cheeks"

    Up for an early start this morning. i Left the hostel at 6 for a bigger boat than usual



    The crossing back to Bodo on the mainland was a bit over three hours. Everything about these boats is well organised and efficient. We sailed out past the breakwater on time



    In the distance you can just make out the distant shapes of the outlying islands in the chain.



    I read the paper on my pad and fell asleep. When I woke up we were still an hour away but had started picking our way through the small islands that are a feature of this part of the Norway coast.



    Bodo, once it appeared seemed to be full of cranes



    Getting out of the city on the right road was the usual nightmare, mainly due to roadworks and deviations but eventually I settled in on route 17,



    sometimes called the coastal highway, which is a minor road that follows the coast from Bodo almost to Trondheim. It's 390 miles altogether with some splendid bridges and six ferry crossings.

    The next few hours need glossing over. It was cold with a cutting icy wind and regular, sudden, squally showers. I was cold, tired and miserable. I just had to grit my teeth and get on with it. With hindsight, it was the only time I was fed up on the whole trip so that's not bad. This glacier cheered me up. Poking out beneath the clouds. it was a reminder that I was still in the arctic, just, (see below) don't forget the fjord is at sea level.



    Otherwise there wasn't much point in taking pictures because it was so grey.
    The boats broke the routine



    This one was an hour and the weather did start to improve a little bit during the voyage.



    There really is a ticket collector like a bus conductor complete with ticket machine.



    And not long after that picture was taken we crossed back over the Arctic Circle. The exact point was marked by a globe on the shore



    and an announcement on the ship's tannoy.

    So that part of the adventure is now done.

    Occasionally, there were glimmers of light ahead which suggested a possible improvement in the weather and I did cheer up again; the road was fun to ride.




    And at around six I pulled into a campsite and rented a hyt on the shores of the fjord. Crucially, it has a heater. My next door neighbours are the Anne and Giljaan, a Belgian couple I met in the hostel last night. She's in the doghouse because she forgot his birthday until lunchtime. They are following a pretty similar itinerary to me, in fact they persuaded me to follow the 17 all the way to Tromso, so our paths keep crossing. Tomorrow starts with another boat.

    This is the view from my little balcony.



    The wind is gusting and is still icy but the rain has stopped. The woman who runs the campsite says the weather will change tomorrow.

  9. #25
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    Walrus,
    Excellent trip, what a fantastic country. Lovely photos and info. Makes me want to be there, even the cold bit.
    Awaiting a further instalment.

    Andrew

  10. #26
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    Nice One enjoying that Muchly
    Oh Great and Wise Deity, Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,

    Courage to change the things I can! And the wisdom to know the difference!

  11. #27
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    Thanks for the encouraging comments. I've started so I'll finish! I'm enjoying going back over it to be honest but I am worried that it is going on a bit.

  12. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by walrus View Post
    Thanks for the encouraging comments. I've started so I'll finish! I'm enjoying going back over it to be honest but I am worried that it is going on a bit.
    I too am enjoying this. We were up there in May'12, although not on a bike, and you have done many of the things we had no time for. But, having been to Nordcap, I would not bother with the schlepp to get up there again. The Lofoten were the highlight for me.

  13. #29
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    9th June - When the boat comes in
    Today started better than yesterday with a sign of hope from heaven



    and indeed, if you looked in the right direction the weather was improving



    So it was straight in to a boat for 20 mins



    That's Ann and Giljaan in the foreground and in the Hi Vis in the background is a couple from Italy. I never caught their names. He is a retired policeman from Sicily, "The mafia is my business." Actually he now lives in Venice. And then the open road with blue sky ahead.



    There were 5 bikes in convoy by now. And we stayed together most of the day. In addition to the two couples above there was a dutch policeman on extended leave, a German lad on a nice airhead, and me.

    This bridge, Helgeland Bridge, is quite famous in Norway because it was designed by Holgar Svensson who, Google tells me, now has the brilliant title: Honorary professor for cable-stayed bridge design at Technical University of Dresden. It's a pity I couldn't get a shot of the whole thing; it is very graceful as it climbs up and then curves back to land. Anne took this one when we were held up in traffic




    We were early for the next ferry so we had to wait for an hour. When an hour and a half had passed it transpired that the ferry was broken and another was on its way. However, nobody knew when. Therefore, a good part of the day was spent waiting by a dock. It was very picturesque though



    The Italians had a cuddle



    The rest of us stood around



    Until eventually another boat turned up



    and we had a nice fjord cruise in the sun



    This boat had an open car deck so I had a new perspective on the bike




    The scenery was good



    A bit of road and one more boat trip with more views later



    It was time to call a halt. The German and the Dutchman pushed on and I am on a campsite with The Belgians and the Italians. Tired but happy. We only did about 100 miles today but it was fun and in good company.


  14. #30
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    10 June - Oh frabjous day..."

    As quickly as it formed the impromptu band fragmented and I was back on my own and having a glorious day. The sky was blue as I set off



    and it stayed that way for the whole day. Despite appearances it wasn't hot. The air was still cold, especially by the water. It did struggle to nearly 20 deg by late afternoon but it was mostly around 14. It was a great road, sweeping and twisting along the shoreline of the fjords, and I had a great 100 miles with a grin in my face. The downside was that I didn't take many pictures because I didn't want to stop. I am beginning to feel as though I am taking the same pictures every day. I did take a few though to give the flavour of the scenery.



    I really like the chubby little fishing boats that they use on the fjords.



    It really was a still, blue day.



    The landscape became increasingly pastoral. It was almost like Austria or Switzerland.




    I found a good spot for my lunch by the shore although I had to negotiate a tricky gravel path to get there.



    And I had a good lunch



    The land continued to flatten out until the first boat of the day. I was right at the front as the bow opened



    And I set off to find a campsite. The hills were growing again.



    I ended up in a little hut for not much more than pitching the tent



    by the shore of another fjord



    And again, tired but happy: brandy and bed.

  15. #31
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    The day started with the patter of rain drops on the roof of my hut. By the time I got up though the weather was clearing. So a Bombay Bad Boy for breakfast and en route. I think I'm really in Norway now because the man next door has married a troll wife. I was going to post her picture but decided I was being unkind - and she might turn me to stone! So here's the view instead



    The forecast was showers but it was much warmer, 22C by 9 0'clock. Once I was on the road the blue sky looked to be holding its own.



    I was really looking forward to the day because there were three of the key things I had come to see in Norway on one 150 mile day. Once through a few tunnels and past Kristiansund, the first was visible on the horizon. The Storseisundet Bridge which is the longest of the eight bridges making up the Atlantic Coast Road. Google it for better pictures.



    The road is only about 5 miles long but it was apparently number one on the Guardian list of best roads in the world (I'm not sure about No 1 but it is good). It is an impressive engineering achievement and the bridge is really beautiful.



    The rest of the road links a chain of rocky islands to join the road to Molde.



    It is a picturesque drive





    Seeing this made me wonder for the first time how you maintain a grass roof. Cutting the grass is bad enough when it's on the ground. The house was well kept but the roof was a disgrace.



    This shed, which may be a bus shelter, was much better looked after.



    Once again the hills were building in the distance.



    The cruise ships were in, cluttering up the view! This is the Queen Mary 2. It gives you some idea of the scale of the landscape when you know that she displaces nearly 150,000 tonnes, is almost 350 metres long and can carry 2,600 passengers.



    The next excitement was the Trollstigen, a steep climb up the wall at he head of the valley.



    The pictures really do not capture how big and forbidding these huge slabs of black, wet, greasy rock are.



    I had another good picnic spot. The water was the definition of icy blue.





    Then on to the head of the valley and the road which you can see climbing up ahead. Note the small packhorse bridge middle right.



    This waterfall, and another on the other side of the valley was what was feeding the picnic spot torrent.



    The photograph looking up doesn't do the steepness of the climb justice. This one, looking down from bridge gives a better impression.



    It took some concentration not because it was particularly steep, but because it was full of camper vans and coaches, the hairpins were quite narrow and the left hand ones involved heading for the drop! I was pleased to make it to the plateau at the top, 2,826ft up. I rode straight past the visitor centre; too many coach parties.



    The drop down the other side was comparatively gentle. All the motorcycles I saw came up this way. Wimps!



    The road dropped right down to sea level and a short boat trip, the 63 to Geiranger.



    After surviving the Trollstigen, I could ride on water!



    Then we climbed up, on a more civilised road, back to 2,800 ft and over the ridge



    to drop down for sight number three, Geraingerfjord.



    This is the only road into what is the epitome of the Norwegian fjord. It is a UNESCO World Heritage protected site. It is too steep-sided for roads.



    Quite stunning. They wanted silly money for huts at the campsites so I am back in the tent



    With this view from my door



    I have had a really good day. I am staying here for two nights so that I can take a boat trip on the fjord. By using the tent instead of a hyt I have saved the cost of the tent in one stop. I drank my tea, cooked my Asda pasta in cheese sauce, which was very good, ate it and washed up and all the while watching a German couple trying to park their camper van level. Bed, brandy and book. I'm beginning to worry that the brandy won't hold out.

  16. #32
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    I could hear the rain on the tent when I woke up so I used the old school camping technique of going back to sleep until it stopped. It worked and the blue returned.



    I camouflaged the bike again so you probably can't see it here.



    Sweet and sour noodles for breakfast



    and I was ready to walk down the mountain into town to find a boat trip. There is not much to the town of Geiranger



    Although there is a lovely little school



    And some vikings moving miraculously without a sail



    I mooched round the shops while I waited for boat to come in. I would have bought one, only £250 (!), but luckily I haven't got room on the bike.



    The viking mystery was solved when they tied up to the jetty. I didn't realise they invented the outboard.



    Geiranger is basically a huge souvenir shop to cater to the hundreds of tourists a day decanted from the ships and tour buses to wander aimlessly for an hour. This is the first time this trip that I have been in a tourist hot spot. It seems as though this time of year Europe is full of older people just wandering about.



    The fjord cruise lasted 1.5 hrs and was excellent. This is a good view of the road I came in on. It was only built in the 1960's. Until then there was just a track.



    Then it was farms and waterfalls. This is the "famous" one which is called "the seven sisters" for obvious reasons. There was the usual (made up) nonsense tale of unrequited love to explain how it got its name.





    It was good though. In truth the walls of the fjord were streaming with water everywhere you looked. there was a strong wind as well so often the water just disappeared into mist



    One third down, in the centre, is a farm, in action until the 1950's. The last farmer's wife apparently gave birth to ten children up there.



    There used to be ten farms clinging to the sides of the fjord which are between 900m and 1400m high.



    The farm in the top centre here was the most remote and was in use until 1917. It is in a very steep and not easily accessible place. Ladders are needed to get there and they say the farmer would pull them up when the taxmen were in the area. When the farmer and his wife were out working they tied their children to the wall to stop them falling off a cliff.



    And then we were back.



    This was the only sign of old Geiranger I saw apart from the church. I liked the stone slipway markers.



    To get back to the campsite was an uphill trudge and I dropped into the church for a rest


    .


    The jointing in the wooden walls was interesting



    This is what I call a gravestone. Simple and eloquent



    Tomorrow it's up to the top of Dalsnibba, which is the obvious 4,843 foot peak behind the town in the view above. There is the annual race up it tomorrow so I will have to start early before the road is closed

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"Its about being a grown up hooligan - and if that means a dark visor, remus open pipe and a bit of speeding out of town then all well and good" Kaister 2005

"I have always known this community is full good people even if most of you cover it up with piss n vinegar" Chad 2018