First of all, there are so many people to thank: the parents and families of the choristers, the Norsk Høstfest, Pam Davy, Fred & Joyce Evans, the Minot State Music Department, and the Minot State University, and everyone else who is so rudely left from this statement of thanksgiving. We send our warmest regards and profound thanks for your support, your love, your patronage, and your friendship! And of course this would have all been impossible without our Director of International Programs, Libby Claerbout, the Norwegian delegation, Rolf Haugen, and no doubt, many more who have worked for nearly 2 years now to make this trip a reality! And one more thank you to MSU’s Marketing Director, Teresa Loftesness who made our lovely Norway Trip shirts and new logo with the help of our own chorister, Kaylee Capp, and the very talented, Roxi Mathis.

But now for news, we have arrived in Skien, Norway after a harrowing 24 hours of travel from Minot, ND by way of Minneapolis, and Amsterdam. On our bus ride from Sandefjord we were met with gorgeous alpine landscapes, and while the conversation was plentiful, now and again a collective gasp from all the travelers would resound when a particularly beautiful vista presented itself.

When we arrived at our hotel, Thon Hotel Høyers, we were greeted by Minot celebrity, and Skien City Attorney, Rolf Haugen. Having flown to nearly thirty Norsk Høstfests in Minot, we greeted him like family. He addressed the choir, and welcomed us to our beautiful accommodations here in Skien.

After a four-course meal of cream of cauliflower soup, roasted chicken breast with a side of potatoes and balsamic reduction, and a yogurt parfait for dessert, Libby and I, headed off with Rolf to have a meeting with the directors of the Skien children’s choir, GLaVox, who are interested in traveling to Minot for the 2020 Norsk Høstfest. We ended up singing and sharing tunes, for quite a bit longer than the time we had allotted.

We returned to our hotel at 9:30pm, and despite being awake for 24 hours, I felt like I had been granted a second wind after singing and playing piano with our Norwegian friends. I set out to have a nightcap with some new Norwegian friends at a pub nearby, and tasted Gammel Opland aquavit and learned that it spends two years aging in oak barrels before it’s bottled, which imparts a sweet, creamy vanilla touch to the overall flavor profile, which is rich with caraway. The recipe harks back to 1875.

It was still quite light out at 11pm, which reminded me of how close to the Arctic Circle we are, and of course reminded me of my Alaskan roots.

Tomorrow will be full of singing! And I will document it as best I can. Jack Springgate at KMOT is also giving highlights from time to time, to keep everyone current on our escapades.

In the meantime, thank you to all of you in Minot, North Dakota who made this trip possible, and for supporting your Minot State University Choir!