Lenore does friendship very, very well! Anybody who has known and been loved by her will agree. And this is what friendship looks like:
That photo represents the origins of this trip...Lenore wanted to visit her high school foreign exchange who came from the small town of Nesbyen, Norway 47 years ago to attend school in Susanville, California when she was just18 years old. After graduating from college, Lenore made one trip to Norway to visit her...so she was long over due to see her friend Marrit, with whom she had kept up with, originally through letters and more recently through emails and FaceBook! I have to give Ron a big shout out for surprising Lenore at Christmas with this trip to see her old friend. (Good job, Ron!)
We took a 2 hour train ride from Oslo to Nesbyen and were met at the Nesbyen train station by Marrit and her husband Hans. I stayed true to my promise, and STEPPED gracefully off the train with 2 feet...preferring to leave the "traditional Hunt train dismount" to Ron...who missed the last step and landed flat on his face! Oh if only I had a photo or video of his graceful recovery as he sprung up quickly to greet Marrit and Hans...it was most impressive! The man has some awesome moves!
We were taken to Marrit and Hans' home on their farm in Nesbyen. This beautiful farm has been in Han's family for 4 generations...since 1850! Hans inherited this farm when, at the age of 21 his father passed away. This beautiful home was a treat to see...let alone sleep in!
Gary at the gluten free booth...Norway is so accommodating to the whole GF thing...menus are very clearly marked and every single restaurant has GF bread available. It is so much easier than at home to be GF.
Next up on the agenda was picking up a friend of Hans and Marrit, Torstein. We drove to the Gardnos Meterorite site. This meteriorite hit earth 70 million years ago. Torstein is a guide at this site so he was a wealth of knowledge and even loaned us his eye piece so we could examine the details in the meteorite rocks!
We still had lot more to do and see so we dropped Torstein off at home and headed up to the golf course that Marrit and Hans own. Hans, as I said is a farmer, growing barley...but also has been a "farmer" of timber. Boy you should have seen Ron's eyes light up when he was talking about a big tractor with some kind of huge chain saw apparatus attached! Hans took uS up to see the huge parcel of land further up the mountain above their home where he has built one of the finest golf courses in Norway!
Before we could explore, Marrit insisted on giving us a snack (but wait...hadn't we JUST had lunch!? We got homemade chocolate cake, carrot cakes cinnamon rolls and waffles with homemade jam to go with our coffee...and GF Gary got ice cream. This is Bernard, their son, pouring coffee for us!
We got a tour of the place and hit a few balls at the driving range but couldn't play as there was a tournament that day. This golf course is fascinating to me because of the way it was conceived...Hans had this huge piece of land for his lumber farming. Since all Norwegians are "born on cross country skis" as Hans told me, there was a lot of skiing activity on this mountain, and he began selling cabins for winter use on the land about 15 years ago. It was popular in the winter...but there had to be a reason to get people to come in the summer to these cabins.... the idea of the Nesbyen Golf Course was born. It has been hugely successful and the cabins are adorable! Oh, and by the way, we bumped into my new BFF, Bjorn Kjos...who came out to play golf! I was secretly hoping he had followed us is order to give us some free airline tickets...but no, he really just wanted to play golf!
Below are some condo/apartments that were the original part of the development on the mountain.
The living roofs looked so cool.
Yes, that's Ron inspecting the living roof! We even toured the inside of one...we all loved the wood, wood, wood! (I guess that's why the Beattles sang about "Norwegian Wood"!
When we were standing outside one of the cabins, I asked how far Han's land went..."everything you see" was the answer...and it was one REALLY BIG mountain we were looking at! It feels like the start of something like Northstar at Tahoe...the ironic thing is that Hans had never played golf...he just had a brilliant vision and was not afraid to make his passion become a reality.. As we drove higher up in the mountain to look at some really spectacular cabins we met one of the very first purchasers, Christian. This young gentleman described cross country skiing with Hans UP the mountain to look at his home sight before there were any roads...let me say that again...UP THE MOUNTAIN! As it turns out Christian works for the king of Norway as a personal attaché! (At this point, I was beginning to think that we were hanging with some pretty special people...way to go Lenore!)
But Hans was not done with showing us houses...next we were off to see his family's summer home. (Also 4 generations old!). It wasn't that far away...just higher up the mountain, we pulled up and walked down the road, through the gate and came upon this compound of old houses...and I mean really old! I was so confused because Marrit had told us that their family always celebrates Easter at this home...I just couldn't believe it. But Hans opened the door of the ramshackle house contained a pristine new home inside. I hope that this picture is clear, Hans said that he was not allowed to change anything on the outside, so he just built a new home inside the shell!
Hans showed us this old photo of his father and his father's best friend cross country skiing. He explained that when the Nazis occupied Norway, they came upon this friend out skiing and asked him where the rest of his family and friends were. He did not tell the Nazi soldier anything and was shot on the spot. In this photo, Hans's father is on the right, his best friend is in the snappy ski outfit on the left.
The other house on the property has yet to be restored, but it was a treasure trove...like walking into a museum! This is the original stove that Hans remembers his mother and grandmother cooking on!
You can't see it in this photo, but the floor slopes down at about a 20 degree angle...the stone foundation has definitely settled in 150 years!
Hans later drove us by this marker on the side of the road not from the house...it was the spot where the shooting of the family friend by the Nazi had occurred, and the mans family comes and places flowers there frequently. It gave us all pause as we thought about the sacrifice this family friend had made...and how many lives he had saved by remaining silent.
Time to head home and have dinner. On the way, Gary noticed an old ski jump...no longer in use, but Hans had built this for his son when he was little! No wonder the Norwegians win all the Olympic medals in ski jumping and cross country skiing... They have ski jumps in their yards!