Pines Everywhere by Tobias Haglund


“Pines everywhere. And we have been driving in this stinking Volvo for three hours without a break.”

“A much needed coffee break, indeed!”

Joe tapped the car window a few times. A clear blue lake could be spotted behind the pines, but Joe turned his head and just missed it. He turned on the radio.

“Listen. What the hell is he talking about? Is he talking Elvish?”

“No I don’t think it is Elvis, it sounds Swedish to me.”

Ulriksberg 4 km.

“Drive towards Owhlricksburgh. It must be Norway.”

“A much needed coffee break, indeed!”

“Who knew Sweden was so large? Who could live in such a place?”

Bobby turned up the radio.

“Are you kidding, higher volume? What – you don’t want to miss anything?”

“Maybe it’s a traffic announcement. It could be important.”

Joe lifted his coke.  As he feared it was empty. Pines and spruces grew on both sides. The lake was once again visible to the right, but Joe missed it to reach for another coke.

“What do you think Norway is like?”

“I tell you what it’s not like. It’s not like this shitty socialist country.” Joe opened his coke. “Hey, how fast are you driving? You must be speeding.”

“No I’m not. It’s ninety here, I’m doing eighty-eight miles per hour.”

“Well floor it then!”

The car was shaking and drove them over a hill down a valley and over another hill.

“Stop! On the road. Some kind of weird horse!”

“It’s a moose!”

“Then speed up!”

But Bobby didn’t. He just managed to break. If it wasn’t for the hilltop he wouldn’t have managed to see the moose so far away. The moose looked at the two.

“Get out of the road, you commie!”

Joe threw his can of coke at the moose. It missed. But the moose got what he was getting at and moved a few Swedish meters, which is like a regular meter only a tad slower and a bit moosier.

“Damn it!”

“Yup, but it was close.”

“No, that was my last coke.”

“You should have thrown your empty can.”

“It was a commie moose. He would have picked it up and invested it in something.”

Bobby started the car and drove away.

Ulriksberg 3 km.

“What the hell!? Did you see that? How long is a fucking km?”

“It’s pretty long I think. Sweden is pretty long I think.”

“And there is no chance of knowing. Everywhere we look pines, pines, pines!”

“I think that one there is a spruce”

The lake was once again visible. But Joe turned to see the spruce Bobby pointed at. A car was parked on a road of gravel. Bobby drove right by.

“Bobby! We should have asked him.”

“I’m pretty sure he would have agreed with me. It was a spruce.”

Tidigare nedlagda byn Ulriksberg…

”What the… turn it up! He mentioned Owhlricksburgh.”

“I told you we would need the traffic announcements.”

They listened to the entire announcement and agreed to keep driving. They were so close and it would be almost admitting defeat to give up now.

Ulriksberg 2 km.

“Are they kidding? Two kilometers? Is one kilometer the size of Montana? I want to get out of this car.”

“A much needed coffee break indeed.”

They reached another hilltop and could see the lake, but Joe missed it.

“The smell… There are four Christmas trees dangling from the mirror.”

Joe grabbed them all and threw them in the backseat. The car took Joe and Bobby further in the rural lands of Sweden. Pines and Spruces everywhere.

Ulriksberg 1 km.

“What!? They have got be moving that place!”

“Should we give up?”

“Are you kidding? There is only one Montana left!”

Joe reached back to the backseat and grabbed the wunderbaums. He threw one of them out.

“In case we get lost, we could follow the stream of wunderbaums home. I bet you there is an asshole driving just ahead of us putting up these signs.”

“That would be typical Swedish behavior. False hope.”

Joe threw out another wunderbaum. A few hundred Swedish meters later a sign appeared.

Tidigare Ulriksberg. /Former Ulriksberg.

“Drive in! I don’t give a crap about ’former’. Let’s see how former it is.”

Bobby turned left into the former village, which was a former village for woodsmen. A woodsman raised his hand and bowed his head to them. He had plaid clothes. He had parked his Volvo at a red cabin. Bobby stopped next to his car. Both got out.

“You got some explaining to do. First of all: What’s up with the signs to this place? Second of all: Are we in Norway?”


Bobby and Joe looked at each other.

“I think he’s retarded.”

“Nej då. My English is nicht so good.”

“Then why didn’t you say so instead of neither? No. I’m still standing by my first impression of you: retardation.”

The woodsman shook hands with both of them and laughed a bit. He said something Elvis-ly. Bobby thought it would be better to be tactful.

“Could you please point the way to Norway? The direction, that is.”

“One direction. One way, that way.”

The woodsman smiled and pointed with his entire hand. His gloves were sturdy. Joe was fed-up. He got in the car and threw a wunderbaum out the window.

“How long? How far to Norway?”

“Oooh only a few kilometers.”

Bobby exhaled, but got into the car and drove away.

The wife of the woodsman asked what they wanted.

“Some American tourists from Sweden. I pointed them right back.”

 Tobias Haglund

7 thoughts on “Pines Everywhere by Tobias Haglund

  1. Hi Tobias. Nice touch. I gather there’s no love lost between Sweden and Norway, or am I blinkered. This story reminded me of a journey I made around Ireland in the 80’s. No road signs, but plenty of crossroads and left turns. I’d still be there if I hadn’t followed a petrol tanker back to the ‘main’ road. Cheers Des


    • Ha yes Des, that sounds about right. I made a roadtrip with my Belgian girlfriend. Five hours of driving in unchangeable forest and she goes: “We must be in Norway by now?” and I reply:” We haven’t even left the county.” – true story! Thanks for commenting, Des.


  2. Hi Tobias, this is written with your usual charm, madness and just a hint of surrealism. I think we all have preconceptions about our neighbours or international visitors. Whether they are correct or not depends on who the neighbour or international visitor is!!
    All the very best my friend.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Hugh. I decided to make them Americans but I could have made them any nationality. My Waffle works as a guide and she tells me the Americans are the nicest tourists. Very friendly and listens with enthusiasm. Thanks for your kind words .
      ATVB my friend


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