My great-grandfather on my mothers side was Norwegian, which makes me 1/8 Norwegian. I have never felt particularly Norwegian as I have more Russian (1/4), Polish (1/4), German (1/4) and because of my curly red hair and freckles people often think that I am Scottish (1/16??) or Irish (0). My mom has always identified more with the Norwegian side of her family as she grew up a "Berg", but she has never visited Norway. When I told her about Tara's invitation she decided that she would meet me there for a week. My mom looked up info that she had about her grandfather's family including a genealogy that some aunt or cousin had put together from a family bible and a letter from her aunt talking about a visit to Norway about 30 years ago. We had a destination, we had the information, Norway ho!!!
Since Tara lives in a small (but very nice) apartment and with my mom coming, the whole sleeping on the floor thing wasn't really going to work. Luckily that Norwegian guy that she was with also had a lovely Norwegian family and his sister was going to be out of town for the week, so we could use her place, perfect! It was also nice to be out of the way since as I mentioned Tara and Tor were getting ready to move back to Denver also and they were packing up their place (including selling off some furniture-there's a funny story about selling their bed, but that's for Tara to tell).
Anyway, I arrived from Kiev and my mom arrived from America (first class on the first flight she tried, flying standby which I will talk more about when I get to the part about going home). Tara made dinner and we went to crash in our gorgeous apartment. The next day, we went on our family searching expedition. Based on the letter from my great-aunt Doris, we knew that we should go to the village of Prestfloss and look for the museum there. We took two buses from Oslo and arrived at the small village museum of the Sigdal and Eggdal valleys. After a few minutes of searching around we found the caretaker of the museum, Sigrid. We told her that we had good reason to believe that our family was from this area and that one of the houses in the museum was from our families farm. I have no idea how Aunt Dorris had found this information, but it turned out to be correct. Sigrid showed us around, including in the "Bergen farm house" a typical farm house from the 1750s donated to the museum by the family, and also a nice exhibit of musical instruments. When we sat down in the museum shop for some waffles and tea, Sigrid went and got "the book," a record of the family genealogies for all of the local farms. On the Bergen farm we found my great-great-great-grandmother Kari who left in 1854 for America with two young kids including Marte my great-great-grandmother. In the book we found that her brother had stayed on the farm and in fact his decedents still owned the farm to this day- we had cousins! Sigrid knew the family (of course) and so she called them up. The farm is run by a bachelor and his sister is married and lives nearby. This brother and sister are my 6th cousins (I think???). The sister's husband (former mayor and history teacher) came to the museum to drive us over to the farm and introduce us to the family. Maybe I'm just dreaming here, but I could see some family resemblance- the farmer looks uncannily like my grandfather- the same thin frame, the same features; they could be cousins. . .
One interesting thing for Americans traveling abroad is explaining to people the "Heinz 57" mix that many Americans are, especially after a few generations. In Albania, I got the question all the time "what is your origin- Albanian?" since one way that they could explain my presence in their country was that I was Albanian originally. When I would answer with my litany of origins they would be amazed. I don't think about my different backgrounds so much and I don't think that most Americans do anymore. This was the first time that I had gone searching for my roots; it was interesting, but I don't know if it made me feel more Norwegian. It was nice to be there with my mom, because she was excited about it and it was fun to see her so happy. And it is kind of cool to know I have family- somewhere out there.