There is no such thing as bad weather,
only bad clothes.
– Norwegian saying
My mom spent a lot of time in my youth begging me to go outside and play, ” Go outside and get some fresh air. ” I think this was more for her own sanity then for my own amusement, but I did end up being quite the tree climber and fort builder. Sometimes I got on my bike or skates and roamed the neighborhood, surprising my mom later as to where I went and what I did.
Guess her words sunk in, because I repeated the same thing to my kids. I told them to go outside, but I spent less and less of my own time outdoors. We tend to get caught up in doing this and that adult stuff and forget about having fun and p!aying out in nature. Being an “adult” can be a bit boring, especially if we don’t set aside time for recess.
Friluftsliv is a Norwegian word that literally translates to free air life. It’s the philosophy that believes that spending time outdoors exploring and appreciating nature is healthy for our minds and bodies. By making time to connect with nature we will live less stressful lives and improve our creativity.
It would be great to be able to set aside a little time everyday to get outside. Like, in Vietnam we had a guide who encouraged us to get up to do Tai Chi under the morning sun. I did it a few times with my own twist. I couldn’t remember the steps, so I did some stretches in a corner away from the crowd. It was a good way to get my limbs moving.
But the Norwegians know that everyday might be hard to schedule, so they encourage us to just make sure we put aside time to get outside, whether it’s a Sunday walk with the family or a more arduous monthly hike.
Norway is such a beautiful place, that we found ourselves living the Friluftsliv life as soon as we landed here without even knowing the word existed. We were hiking up hills and down hills until we were exhausted, I wonder if they even know the concept of flat here. But, we wanted to do more and play more.
Our first attempt at snowmobiling taught us that there is such a thing as bad weather here in Norway as gale force winds canceled our trip. Major bummer, but we got a thrilling view of the Aourora Borealis on board ship instead. Even better, the next day we signed up again for a snowmobile ride across a frozen fjord. It was full throttle over the ice. Yipee! Until the passenger’s right hand grip fell off, then we went a bit slower.
It took us two attempts with the snowshoes, as well. It was dark the first time. They gave us a map and headlights, but as complete newbies we ended up having to turn back. I managed to get us off trail and into some deep snow drifts, so we turned back before they had to send out the rescue crew. Early the next morning we bravely went forth again. The markers were clearer in the daylight. It was a wonderful experience feeling like we were out in the middle of nowhere.
Awesome! Tucked up in a sled being pulled by a team of ten frisky Huskys over the snowy hills and through the woods as night approaches was quite the experience. What would have been even cooler would have been if we were allowed to drive the sled ourselves, but our musher did a great job. One of our lead dogs was a bit free spirited, but her partner was a pro. The dogs loved their job. They would get so excited to start running. Once they were running, it was all business. We couldn’t help but catch their enthusiasm.
“Be a kid,” our Snowhotel guide kept reminding us. The Snowhotel, located 3 miles from the Russian border, was somewhere to be a kid again. We got to actually sleep in a snow fort. Childhood dream accomplished, check. The Snowhotel builders were a bit more artistic than our youthful hands had been and we got to sleep on actual mattresses instead of ice, but it was cold enough at around 25 degrees (warm by their standards up here).
We were provided with hardy sleeping bags, baklavas, with socks, and sheets. We slept in our long johns and put our clothes in the bottom portion of our sleeping bags so they wouldn’t be frozen in the morning.
With all the wonderful choices for rooms, we were a bit bummed to get the igloo room. With it’s blue lights it looked cold. A red lit fireplace room looked warmer, even if it wasn’t. In the end we were very pleased with our room number 12. There were 24 rooms in the snowhotel. The higher numbers were closer to the bathroom. Our nightly hike down the icy hall was at least shorter than Room 1.
I asked Kevin if he would recommend the Snowhotel to someone. He said yes, with caveats. If you have to get up often at night to use the bathroom, know that it is a long, cold trot to the bathroom. Give yourself time to get yourself out of all your wrappings. If you get itchy during the night, it is a bit tricky to reach it in a mummy sleeping bag. If you are claustrophobic, you have to make the tough choice of being cold or zipping up, just repeat to yourself, “The zipper will not get stuck, I will make it out of here alive.”
Other than that, it was fun. We slept in an igloo. How cool is that?