Part One~Oslo & Tromso, Norway
When we moved to Europe, we made our "Bucket List" and at the very top of mine was the Northern Lights! The Northern Lights were something I had always wanted to see. For as long as I could remember I had the goal of getting an amazing photograph of this spectacular phenomenon.
We slowly checked off trips on this list we had made, and finally last fall we began talking about the one on top...Chasing the Northern Lights. I had a few friends who had gone on this expedition and raved about it. It is cold, they said, and not relaxing, but it is the trip of a lifetime, one you have to take while living in Europe. That was it; someone said that we have to take it, we have to take it! So, I started planning and talking to everyone that I could about this amazing trip. During one such conversation, a friend of mine said "Oh, we'll go with you!" Was she serious? I thought that I was the only one foolish enough to drag my family to the Arctic Circle in February! Nope, she was serious and so the excitement of this trip gained momentum. The kids would have friends to enjoy their trip with, and the adults could commiserate on the fact that we were indeed crazy, frozen and at the end of it...broke!
We counted down the days until our February 14th departure and finally 8 loud, crazy American's and one hesitant Brit boarded the flight to the cold, white North.
We arrived in Oslo and checked into our hotel. We proceeded to order pizza for the kids and as they played games in the lobby, we had a civilized dinner in the hotel restaurant. The next morning we woke to an amazing winter wonderland. The light in Oslo was "low" as there are only 5 hours of daylight at this time of year, and the sun never seems to get very high in the sky. That did nothing to dampen the spirit of the kids. Hours were spent playing in the snow...snowball fights, snowmen and a few snow angels were had on this first day of our adventure.
The next day we boarded our flight to Tromso, Norway. Tromso is considered the "Capital of the Arctic" and is actually located on an island 190 miles inside of the Arctic Circle. It is a wonderful little city full of old wooden houses and a beautiful port. This small town would turn out to have some of our favorite activities on our adventure!
In Tromso, we were going dog sledding to view the Northern Lights and we were all very excited! I had images of quietly riding on a dog sled, nestled under reindeer hides as the Northern Lights danced above me...oh, how wrong I was. This was hard-core dog sledding. Dog sledding that involved work. Dog sledding where you got it...I was driving the dog sled!
After changing into the arctic suit, because the three layers that we had on underneath our own snow suit weren't enough to keep us warm, we headed out to meet our dogs...
These are some seriously STRONG animals. They are sweet, and friendly, but they want to run and when they are ready to go, they do not hesitate to do so. Lyngsfjord Adventure maked this an amazing experience and the two guides that we had were great, the only thing that they couldn't help us with, was the weather. It was a blizzard...okay, maybe not a blizzard, but for families from California and Florida it sure did seem like one! Overcast skies and blowing snow prevented us from seeing the Northern Lights but it didn't stop the fun. The adrenaline rush that you get from driving your own dog sled in blinding snow, while not killing your small passenger...shout out to "princess", was exhilarating. Never once was I cold, and never once was I wishing it was over. It was for me one of the highlights of the trip! At the end of our ride we were able to spend a little time with the dogs that had taken us on our adventure and we were all amazed at the muscle that they had. Our guide informed us that they eat 6 pounds of meat a day and they sure seemed to love their jobs!
After all of that work, I too had built up an appetite and lucky for me, this was waiting for us when we arrived back to the Sami tent.
This was the amazing reindeer stew we had been waiting for. I have to admit I was a little hesitant about eating this because of the fact that the next morning we would be doing our reindeer sleigh ride, but I was hungry and it wasn't Rudolph, right?
Stay tuned to continue on this frozen adventure!!