Hei again from Norway! (Part 3)

24 Feb

I can’t believe that this time last week we had already taken three flights, been in three different countries and were sitting peacefully in a little cafe having our first homecooked Norwegian meal watching the snow fall outside the window. Not gonna lie, kinda wishing we were back there right about now! Coming home from vacation is always the hardest, amiright?

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So, we saved what turned out to be our best adventure until our last full day in Norway. We knew spending the day dogsledding would be alot of fun- and a definite winner in Neve’s book- but we had no idea just how amazing it would be. Oh. My. Word. Hands down, one of the best true adventures we’ve ever done- and one that we’re still talking about daily. When we were first doing our research, we were so torn as to which ‘tour’ we wanted to do in addition to the Northern Lights. There are so many options- whale watching, fishing, snow mobiling, snow shoeing, hiking…And even after you make the decision, then you’ve got even more options- large company, private guide, full day, half day, evening…We ultimately chose an afternoon of dog sledding with a small company- a husband-wife team who live way out in the wilderness (a little over an hour drive from our hotel) on a neighboring island. They love Alaskan Huskies, own 30 of them, and like to share their passion with visitors. No puppy mill, no looking to become millionaires, no breeding for Iditarod racing…Just going to their house (the business is on the ground floor, they live above) for an afternoon of fun and adventure. It was the perfect fit for us.

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We arrived just before lunchtime and spent the first little while with the wife- learning all about the sleds, the dogs, how to ‘drive,’ what to do when you’re falling over and going to bust…Ha! Next, we set off down the road another mile or so where we met up with the husband, the ‘musher’ of the operation. He had all the pups harnessed and ready to go with each of our sleds. He’d also just gotten back from a run up the mountain on the snow mobile because it was snowing so hard that day that it was impossible to see any of the paths we’d be taking!

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All ready to go!

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And with that, the eight of us and our dog teams loaded up in our respective sleds and started up the mountain behind Thomas (the husband). John started out as the musher, so Neve and I rode shotgun in the sled ❤

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I actually took this picture on accident not realizing I had my camera flipped around, but it turned out to be one of my favorites. We were whizzing down a hill at this moment and John was out of breath from running and pushing us all the way to the top, but then he saw the view (that I thought I was taking a picture of!) and I caught that moment right here. ❤

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One thing folks don’t realize, or at least we didn’t, is just how much physicality is involved with dog sledding. You are NOT just riding on a sled behind a team of dogs. You are WORKING. You’re controlling their path, you’re strategically using the brake to control speed and direction, you’re hoping from one side to the other of the sled to counter balance curves and turns, and most of all, you’re hopping off and running/pushing the sled to help your team make it up any hill whatsoever. Within 10 minutes of starting, you are sweating and out of breath! That’s one of the main reasons we chose this company- we wanted to actually do the sledding rather than just riding in someone else’s sled! All just part of the adventure!

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And we thought our views from our scenic drive were awesome…The views here were INCREDIBLE. Wide open icy tundra as far as you can see, snow covered jagged mountains all around, dense forests lining your path, racing rivers carving their ways through the Earth…And here’s the thing. Yes, it was some of the most beautiful scenery we’ve ever seen, but it was more than that. It was that feeling again- that feeling of being part of something so much greater, of realizing just how much is out there that you’ve never seen and never experienced, of how truly grand this Earth really is…Here we were, alone, in this vast, majestic wilderness. No sounds, no buildings, no cars, no other people…Just us. For miles and miles and miles. For hours. It was truly moving…and humbling.

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Halfway through, we switched ‘drivers’ (and got a nice serenade from our pups! Ha!) and I’ve got to say that it was one of the most exhilarating experiences for me. The freedom and the power and even the bit of nervousness that inevitably comes when you’re learning something new…Oh goodness…Yes. Please.

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Amazingly, the sun came out for a few minutes just as we got back, which was nice so we could take a minute and play with the pups. What a sweet group of dogs, and so gentle and kind. And just in case any of you have the same questions that I had…Their pups ranged from 2 years to 12 years, which is the average span of a sled dog’s career. Girls and boys on all teams, lots of brothers and sisters in this group. Girls tend to make better leaders and are therefore, usually at the front. The strongest are generally at the back, leaving the middle spots for newbies and slower dogs. All of them get along well and live together, but the same teams run together at all times (ie. each 6some is set so they each learn their specific roles).

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We even got to meet the next generation before we left! Three pups born just 12 days prior- they had just opened their eyes the night before! What icing on the cake, especially for our girl. There’s nothing better than puppies, is there? They will start training in the summer (sleds with wheels) and should be able to do some short runs by next winter.

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The next generation meeting the next generation ❤

What a perfect afternoon we had- more fun than any of had even hoped for. The perfect Arctic adventure for our last day in Norway. We were famished by the time we got back, so a nice warm meal was first on our agenda- after marveling at how especially pretty the harbor was that night. We found this great little tapas place and just got lots of small plates- smoked reindeer, tacos, mussels, salmon, cheese plates…Have I mentioned I wish were back there right about now?! 😉

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But by the next morning, another blizzard had blown in and we woke up to…

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Saying goodbye to our hotel’s ‘dead polar bear…’ Lord.

It took some doing to actually get to the airport- lots of delays with both traffic and planes!- but ultimately, we made it. We can now say that we know what it’s like to have a truck come to de-ice the plane last thing before takeoff (they have a boom that hovers above and sprays a viscous liquid all over the place!) AND what it feels like to take off in three feet of snow! Ha! Neve also made the most of the airport by becoming best friends with a little girl named Eleanor. No, they didn’t speak the same language, but you sure wouldn’t have known it! I swear my kid has never met a stranger ❤

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I told John that it’s probably a bad thing to have already taken this trip because now are sure to pale in comparison. This was unlike any trip we’ve ever been on and in all the right ways. It was so perfect for our trio. It’s one that we’ll remember always and always. And the best part is that we knew that while it was happening. We knew to take it all in, to savor it. We knew it was special. And how fortunate we are. ❤

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One Response to “Hei again from Norway! (Part 3)”

  1. Eleanor Sims February 26, 2017 at 3:11 AM #

    What a great adventure. Fantastic. Love you!

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