I’m still blown away by how each day can be one of the coolest days of my life… and how each day can continue to build upon the last.
We jump in cabs to a destination unknown, and after 15 minutes we round a corner into town where what do we see in the field? Two choppers!!! Forty-five minutes later me, Kate, Johnny, and Brittany are taking off in a helicopter and flying through Norwegian fjords!!!
My dad has always told me, you don’t forget your helicopter rides. Ask anyone how many rides they’ve ever taken and they can tell you an exact number. This was my third ever (Hawaii as a kid and Grand Canyon back in 2013). Words can’t describe how cool it was – huge sweeping turns, cutting into new fjords – it felt like we were filming aerial scenary footage for a nature show. Hopefully the footage from the show will do it some justice.
After a fly by and extra loop, we land, and scurry off. We’re immediately pulled aside and interviewed on camera about our “first steps on Norwegian soil”. Of course this is technically our 5th day in Norway, we’re happy to play along. After our interviews, we’re tossed on a small boat, and whisked across the fjord for the other groups to fly in. After an hour or so, everyone else finally arrives, and we shoot our “Welcome to Norway” scene with Fridtjof. We do this scene multiple times from multiple different camera angles which is what I expected from reality TV. Fridtjof announces that they’ve found all of our relatives, and even though it’s the same as previous seasons, actually being there and knowing that it’s my living relatives that they’ve found hits close to home.
Fridjof continues, telling us that tonight we’d be staying at a post office, and that the path just behind us is a mail path that was used in the 1800 and 1900’s to send letters, or “Amerika-breve” as they were known back then, due to most of them going to and from America. We’re broken into three groups of 4, and taken in separate directions. My group consisting of Kate, Kelsey, and Richard, walk down a path to a Fjordsafari power boat, where we’re whisked away down the fjord and dropped off on the coast with a small hut. Perhaps this is the tiny post office where we’d be spending the night? We weren’t sure.
We’re filmed walking down the path – a trail that looked like something straight out of middle earth. We discuss what it must have been like to send letters back then, when all of a sudden as we approach the hut we see a post bag, and inside we find letters to each of us describing a bit about our respective families! My letter was an excerpt from an actual letter that Knut Lien wrote to his father on MAY 17TH, 1917! The letter was in response to a letter they had sent him. He had sent his parents a wedding photo of he and Leaffie – Leaffie was very happy to be referred to as daughter in law by Knut’s parents. Knuts dad had been complaining about the price of horses in Norway, and Knut mentioned that things were expensive in the states as well, and he wasn’t a huge fan of the busy cities! Additionally, Leaffie was worried about Knut being drafted into WWI! Woah!
Needless to say it was pretty special, and a piece of my family history that I never knew about. Apparently these Norwegian letters are very rare, and to have one written on May 17th nonetheless… absolutely amazing!
It was also really cool to experience this with the rest of the group. Kate knows so little of her family history, so just the tidbit that she got was more than she’d ever known. Richard comes from fjords very close to where we were, and Kelsey had a photo of Iver… where her last name Iversen comes from! To top it all off, one of the camera men who was with us commented that this very location at this very moment, was as beautiful as he had ever seen Norway.
After interviews we were taken onto a boat to a “post office”, which is now a family home, located in the gorgeous tiny town of Dyrdal – there were likely 10 houses or less here. We have delicious dehydrated “just add hot water” meal for dinner, and get the run down on tomorrow – apparently those who are interested will be able to jump in the fjord in the morning, and then we’re going somewhere, but they won’t tell us where – only that we need to dress warm.
I have a great chat with Thomas about how cool this experience has been, and what it means to him being here. (His family came from nearby in the Sognefjord.) As I write this it’s after 10:00 and it’s still light out… there’s something beautiful about the late sunset and long twilight. Tomorrow should be a blast.