Norway Road Trip 2017: Gausdal

They say you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. Sometimes they are wrong.

Back when we first started thinking about this Norway trip, one of my first steps was to check out overnight options on AirBnb. We had no exact itinerary at that point, so I just scrolled around the map, clicking on anything that looked interesting. This extremely specific and technical search method brought us to Gausdal.

Evening in Gausdal

A little bit of background: the first chapter book I ever read was Little House in the Big Woods. It didn’t take long for me to collect the whole series, and I can’t tell you how often those books got reread. They’re all still in boxes at my parents’ house, in fact. When the new and snazzy annotated edition of Pioneer Girl came out a few years ago, yep, got that one too (thanks, M&D). I was fascinated by those books, by that life.

Luckily for me, I also grew up quite close to Old World Wisconsin, a most excellent living history museum run by the Wisconsin Historical Society. It was built as part of Wisconsin’s bicentennial project, and basically involved a bunch of hippies driving around Wisconsin in the 1970s knocking on the door of old farmhouses and asking if they could take their buildings. Eventually about 70 historic structures made their way, piece by individually labeled piece, onto nearly 400 acres in the Kettle Moraine forest. Going there as a kid was as close as you could get to pioneer life, and I loved it. I even went to work there, post-college. It’s very much one of my favorite places in the state.

At this point you might be asking yourself what in the world pioneer life children’s books and a museum have to do with a Norwegian road trip. Fair question.

This is a very long-winded way of saying that I saw a picture, fell in love, and decided that I would do my damndest to work a stay at this beautiful place into our trip. Which is exactly what I did. Behold…

According to our hostess, our little cabin was the original farmhouse for this small dairy farm, perched halfway up a hill in Gausdal. The owners upgraded at some point to a large house just in front, but have preserved the older outbuildings. They’ve converted some of them into holiday apartments, and have done an absolutely beautiful job making them comfy and cozy (all the Hygge!), while still keeping them very authentic feeling.

We had no running water in our cabin, but a tank that we could refill as needed. The bathroom was in a side entrance of the main house, along with a laundry room if we had need of it. The bathroom itself was quite large, with heated floors, shower essentials, and also looked recently redone. We shared access with another cabin, but the door locked so no problem!

It is a farm stay, and guests are invited to hang out with the animals, or help with bread baking or milking. We only had two nights, sadly, but we did end up going on one of their “moose safaris.” (More on that later.) Next time I want to get in on the bread action, because these were delicious, as was the fresh loaf we got.

A quick side note: none of this is #sponsoredpost whatsoever. I’m gushing because I loved it. We spent our hard-earned Euros to stay there, and I would happily do so again. Plus, there was a giant dog to pet!

Friends!

Off the farm, we found some other interesting things to do in the area.

Lillehammer wasn’t far away, so we spent an afternoon there. We poked around shops, put our feet in the lake, and drank a beer on the rushing river…

We also took a drive to a nearby ski area, which in summer transforms into kilometers on kilometers of beautiful hiking trails. The ski area is called Skeikampen for one of its mountains, but we circled that one and headed for Prestkampen, the highest point in the Skeikampen area. Considering that it’s only 1244 meters high, this should’ve felt like child’s play after Galdhøppigen a few days beforehand. I think my legs were not fully recovered though, because the last steep climb nearly did me in.

BV demonstrating scale.

Oh, hai.

The weather changed during our hike… from hot when we parked the car to windy and cooooold up top. The views were outstanding though. We could see the mountains of Jotunheimen National Park off in the distance, and just green, green, green, dotted with lakes and Hytte all around. Stunning.

 

One of the things I was really surprised by in Norway was how incredibly uncrowded it seemed to be. Cities were busy, sure, but it never seemed crowded. On this hike, for example, we were out for about six hours, and according to my Fitbit, I walked nearly 19 kilometers that day, and we didn’t do much else. Six hours, about 19kilometers, and we saw maybe, maybe, 10 other people. And did I mention how beautiful it was? Not too difficult, gorgeous, and practically empty. Perfect.

Sigh.

Sheep hanging out around the ski trails.

Later that evening we were enjoying a beer and our dinner on our terrace, when our hostess came by and asked if we’d be interested in their moose safari. Her husband was taking the family staying in the other cabin, and we’d be welcome to follow (note: for the cost of the tolls roads, maybe €5, and a few for his top-secret knowledge). Since BV hadn’t seen a moose yet (I had, or at least I thought I had), we figured why not?

As it got darker, we all packed into our cars and drove down through the valley and up into the hills. We stopped at a toll road, usually for hunters and farmers with cows up in pasture, and turned onto the winding gravel track. Our host was in the van with the other family, and we could see him checking out the fields with a  pair of binoculars. He had relinquished his other pair to their kids, but not sure how helpful they were.

We crept along, pausing here and there, and it wasn’t long before he stuck his arm out of the window, and there it was… a moose.* (Click to enlarge, for moosey goodness.)

A few minutes later and a different field and, another moose!

Just here for the pretty.

When those had disappeared, we drove back to the main road and to another small toll road. We stopped off for an excellent view (including their farm), of the valley from a hang glider launch pad.

Our temporary home is down there, too.

We were chatting a bit about the area when one of the boys got bored and threw a good-sized rock off the hill into the abyss… great idea. That was their cue to turn it around, but our host told us to keep heading uphill and we might spot something. Cows, yes, sheep, yes, and a gorgeous sunset yes… but no more moose. Two in a night was pretty decent though.

There was one other thing that I wanted to do while in Gausdal, and that involved creeping around some churchyards. But that’s a post for another day. 🙂

 

*Slightly blurry, still not sure how to make my camera stop hating low light.

3 thoughts on “Norway Road Trip 2017: Gausdal

  1. This history museum seems really nice.
    But where are the cowboys and the Indians?
    Without these typical American exhibits the museum look like the nordic Freilichtmuseum Molfsee in Schleswig- Holstein, although the American one has more äktschn.

    • No cowboys and Indians… the focus here was much more on the agricultural lives of the early settlers to Wisconsin. Plus many of the tribes had already been pushed out by the historical periods being represented there. Details. :/

  2. Pingback: Norway Road Trip 2017: Gudbrandsdal | Heather Goes to Deutschland

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