I do have some pictures, lots of them, but I am using Margaret's MacBook. So I will just list some of the highlights of this amazing trip...
1. Our hotel in NYC was comfy and clean, and we ordered pizza and watched HDTV, the home decorating/remodeling channel, then an earthquake movie with cheesy dialogue. Suzanne and Sonja were (are) loaded with candy, as we stopped at the Dollar General on the way.
2. We drove from the hotel the next morning to long term parking, then took a shuttle to the airport. As we entered JFK, a worker asked us immediately if we were looking for Norwegian Airlines, we don't know how he knew.
3. Our bags were just the right weight, phew, they were loaded down with stuff we were bringing to Margaret and Abigail, and it would have been painful to have to part with the American chocolate if we had to unstuff them.
4. Our flight was delayed again by a few more hours, so the airlines gave us each an $18 food voucher to use in the airport. With several hours to hang around before departure, we planned our attack: first two orders of Chinese food to share...(a few pieces of chicken was enough for me, the thought of eating that stuff before a seven hour flight, blah). Then Starbucks, a drink each and another voucher was gone. After going through security, we used the last two vouchers at a different Starbucks, getting breakfast sandwiches to eat on the plane, and iced coffees and teas...we spent $38.11 at Starbucks, but it only cost $2.11, and yes, it was fun.
5. The wings were icy, we waited a while for takeoff, and the plane had no televisions or movies. But since I don't get bored, I didn't get bored. I drank a lot of water, got up frequently, and it was a nice flight. Usually this airline doesn't serve food but they did! We had a hot dinner meal, which I enjoyed (key lime pie/cake in a little jar!). They also served a breakfast snack of smoked turkey on a baguette, orange juice, and a little cranberry orange loaf. I couldn't drink the juice or eat the loaf, too much sugar, and let me tell you, I am afraid of too much sugar. The night before I had had pizza, and had eaten candy while we were driving, and I had this horrible experience of shaking and feeling awful, I can't tolerate sugar anymore) (that did not stop me from trying Norwegian ice cream though, ha!)
6. We arrived in Norway, and guess what? The plane just parks there on the tarmac, all snowy and icy, and one exits the plane onto snowy stairs...interesting.
7. Since Emily is fluent in Norwegian, going through customs was quick and painless.
8. We made through in record time and boarded a train to Stokke, but first, Sonja and I successfully purchased a lime fizzy water from a vending maching, for lots of kroner.
9. Two hours on the train. The scenery was too beautiful for me to nap.
10. Arrival at the train station, and there was Margaret!!!! Big hug!
11. We got to the conference center, to our cabin...the bedroom is up a steep wood ladder, a loft room. Very cool, yet it is what my nightmares are made of. But it was either climb that ladder, or sleep on the couch. I climbed the ladder. But not yet. We put our suitcases down, dressed for the meeting, and headed through the snow and slush to the meeting hall.
12. And it was incredible. 4,000 girls, ladies, moms, sisters, all there in the meeting hall. (look up brunstad.org)
13. Yet, despite how amazing it was, I was falling asleep. I would blink, and my eyes wouldn't open back up. So after an hour or so, it was back up to the cabin for a little nap. After all, noon here is six a.m. at home, and I had missed the entire night of sleep, because you all know I don't sleep on planes.
14. I climbed that ladder, and it was the most comfy bed in the world. I sank into it, and had the best nap ever. Emily shared with me, then Suzanne and Sonja had the bunkbeds. We slept and slept, couldn't wake up, and missed the afternoon meeting. But it was a good thing in the end, because we were all good to go, for the feast in the evening.
15. We stayed up until 4 a.m. back at our cabin, talking and catching up...and um, yes, eating Norwegian chocolate. Heck, when am I in Norway? Their chocolate is SO yum. I exercised restraint, in that I didn't eat ALL of it.
16. We visited our friends, Vern and Linda, who used to live in our area years ago, and were very very good to our older kids, ect. They made a nice meal for us, and served us excellent coffee, and the warmth we felt there in their living room makes me almost cry just thinking of it now. Words can't describe their goodness.
17. Our trip up to the mountains: Dark and snowy and slightly terrifying, and I am used to snow! It was a four our trip, all snuggled in the minivan, one of Margaret's friends at the wheel...when we started up the mountain, I started praying. It hadn't been plowed, and the van was balking at every turn, rrrrmmm, working at getting through the snow...the road was steep and twisty and turny, and we climbed higher up this mountain...then rrrrmm, that van wouldn't go, and right at that moment, another van came down the mountain, and it was a group of boys who live in the other house here, one of them hopped in and made it look easy as he drove up the rest of the way. I found every muscle in my body tensed up, as we rounded curves, but we made it safe and sound...and this place is beautiful.
18. We couldn't see the view last night, because obviously it was dark out. So we explored the hotel. Only one other guest was staying but the candles were lit, and a fire was burning in the fireplace. Very cosy. Here in Norway, the bathrooms are different...there is a drain in the floor, and the shower just runs right onto the floor and gets the floor wet, instead of being a separage tub/stall.
19. This morning, we had a scrumptious breakfast of bacon and eggs, coffee, and that yummy Norwegian bread with butter. We sat and talked, then decided to go for a walk.
20. We bundled up, and headed out into the snow. The view is astounding! We are up in Hallingdal, almost at the top of this mountain. The girls left the road and went plodding through the waist deep snow, laughing and shrieking, to climb a hill to see better. I took pictures of them falling in and floundering. (Emily, Suzanne, Sonja, and Margaret) (Abigail is in Oslo, we are taking the train there tomorrow to spend a day with her before heading to London)
21. The girls headed back out for some cross country skiing, but the mile and a half of walking up a hill in snow was good enough for me. I told them to do whatever they want, I am fine! I am sitting in our hotel room, on the comfy bed, on the dune (the Norwegians use comforters with sheet covers over them, they put the dune right into the dune cover, and that's the bedding.) It is quiet, and I am happy.
22. So Margaret lives in the house next to this hotel, and works here, but is a guest at the hotel with us for these days.
23. We have big plans for tonight: up the road, there is a place in the woods with a little wood shelter and a firepit, so we will bring some hot dogs and cocoa, and make a fire there. I figure I already walked a mile and a half, tonight will make three miles, that's enough for an old lady on vacation, ha. To get from the road to the shelter, one must navigate through waist high snow, so I think I'll just go last.
24. Overall, I give this vacation a ten out of ten so far. Of course I miss Paul and the kids at home, but this is absolutely amazing. The best part is the goodness of our friends! Margaret has made friends here with girls from Peru and Portugal and Switzerland. They speak Spanish, Portuguese, and Norwegian, so our conversations have been interesting!
25. God is good. Have you ever felt so blessed that you know you don't possibly deserve it? That's how I feel.