Julafton & God Jul: Christmas Eve & Merry Christmas
We left Stockholm on Sunday, Dec. 22nd, having rented a 9 passenger van (late rental = limited options for something large enough to haul our skis around). Good news is that a 9 passenger van + all our stuff = plenty of room to stuff the Christmas tree in as well- so we did! 8 hour drive from Stockholm to Lillehammer- no snow until we hit the border with Norway. Beautiful to come up along the lake and into Lillehamer- snow banks galore.
Linda & Steve rented a lovely airbnb an easy walk to town. They flew into Oslo and took the train up, staying Sat. night to get over their jetlag.
Happy to be out of the car, the kids could hardly resist not sharing the surprise we'd hauled with us... so we pulled out the tree and soon had it set up again, ornaments homemade in Sweden with the help of my mom earlier in December. Nice to have a comfy living room full of books to read too!
Christmas morning and a chance to open presents, eat Swedish pancakes, then go for another ski- back to the Birkebeiner Stadium and some gorgeous views as the sky lifted a bit.
Stephen tried skate skiing for really the first time and managed to ski 23 kilometers- a hefty distance when you are figuring out how to do something! Loads of people out on every sort of ski- class, skating, sleds, dogs pulling people, quite a scene...
Everyone was a bit tired today but the weather was supposed to be good and clear, so we rallied for yet another spot to explore: Sjusjøen. High up on the plateau above Lillehammer, I wasn't sure what to expect when we pulled into the parking lot-- but I wasn't expecting a vast parking lot leading to a veritable super highway for x-c skiing... and not just a few skiers, but hundreds of all ages: little kids to grandparents, racers to tourists. We were rewarded with absolutely stunning views and even a view of the sun: rising, moving across the sky, and the longest sunset, that we've ever seen... fun day of skiing and we're enjoying some quiet before dinner.
Sunrise (at 9:30 AM), and the alpenglow on the trees (at about 2:30 PM)
We again parted ways, sending Steve, Linda and Elizabeth back on a shorter loop while Chris, Stephen and I headed to the tops of all the nearby hills... these photos don't show the pinky orange of the sky beyond, nor our feelings of fatigue as the trail headed up another hill. Today is the day that Stephen outskied me on cross country skis!