Kayaking in the Fjords

May 15, 2013

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This post is brought to you by The New Santa Fe from Hyundai.
Text by Gabrielle. Images by Gabrielle and Ben Blair.

I’m still going through the bazillion photos from our trip to Norway, but I’m impatient to share one of the trip highlights: Kayaking in the Fjords. As you may remember, a couple of weeks ago, I wrote about Jordan and Liz zip-lining through the Redwoods. Well, the whole family was really inspired by their adventure and we’ve been craving an epic family playdate for ourselves.

Since I knew we had a trip to Norway on the schedule, I started searching out activities that would be amazing and that the whole family could participate in — which is sometimes tricky when the youngest is 2 (actually 3! she had her birthday on this trip) and the oldest is 15. Kayaking was perfect!

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We weren’t sure when and where we would find kayaks during our stay, but in this case, flying by the seat of our pants worked out really well. On one night of our trip, we stayed in charming cabins that were right on a fjord in a tiny town called Aurland.

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We knew we needed to catch a ferry at 3:00 the next day, but the morning was free for exploring. And luckily, there were kayaks to rent just down the road (just look for the “padling” sign). Fantastic!

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After getting prepped by the Kayak Guide, and donning lifejackets, everyone rowed out to a waterfall — all the way across the fjord. Friends, it looked a lot closer than it actually was. Hah!

Also. The water was cold! And the air too —in fact, you can see parkas in some of the photos. But the day was gorgeous, and rowing kept muscles moving and bodies warm.

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What a day!

When we ask the kids what their favorite part of the Norway trip is, everyone instantly says: Kayaking!

I hope we’ll seek out more adventures like this. Good exercise. Gorgeous scenery. And a dose of thrill. I would call this an epic playdate for sure. Happily, I know there are adventurous options wherever we are — we don’t have to go to Norway. Although I wouldn’t say no to another fjord visit! : )

What sorts of things do you like to do on vacation? Are you more of a read-a-book-on-the-beach kind of person? Or are you more of a thrill seeker? Maybe a little of both?

P.S. — Did you spot the 9th member of our traveling party? My niece, Ruth, was with us too. She’s currently an exchange student, living with a French family here in our town.

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{ 39 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Sandra Gonzales May 15, 2013 at 9:40 am

Wow! Looks like a wonderful trip and love the highlights of the Earth’s majesty.


2 Design Mom May 15, 2013 at 3:46 pm

Majestic is the perfect word to describe Norway.


3 marian May 15, 2013 at 9:53 am

We are decidedly a do something or die kind of vacationing family. Definitely NOT a sit a read a book (sigh), but we have wonderful memories and I love to hear my kids re-live the past adventures and plan the future outings.


4 Design Mom May 15, 2013 at 3:48 pm

Yes! The re-living of past adventures always brings a smile. It’s so great that the siblings have these shared experiences.


5 Chase @ The Smell of Summer May 15, 2013 at 10:05 am

Stunning! Looks like your family had an amazing time. I can imagine the scenery was even more beautiful in person.

Chase Miller
The Smell of Summer – A Boutique Lifestyle Blog


6 Design Mom May 15, 2013 at 3:49 pm

It really was stunning. And we kept reminding ourselves it was about to become more stunning — the trees were just starting to bud, and we could picture how green the mountainsides will be in just a week or so. Amazing!


7 Christy@SweetandSavoring May 15, 2013 at 10:13 am

I soaked up these pictures and then viewed all of them again. Wonderfully dramatic scenery!
Eager for my own little vacation at the beginning of June- I’m a do-it-all kind of traveler, which may lead to exhaustion and some slip-ups, but in the end it’s worth it.


8 Design Mom May 15, 2013 at 3:50 pm

It’s true. Norway is high on drama!

I’m excited for your upcoming trip, Christy. I agree that travel is exhausting, but worth it.


9 Kristen E May 15, 2013 at 10:51 am

Just a silly, nitpicky correction: you were paddling, not rowing. When you paddle, you face where you’re going and pull the water toward you. When you row, you face backward and pull/push the water away from you. :)


10 Design Mom May 15, 2013 at 3:51 pm

Hah! You will know what a novice I am when I tell you I had no idea there was a difference. All this time I thought you could interchange those words. Too funny!

Confession: I’m also unclear on what makes a boat a canoe versus a kayak. : )


11 Heidi May 15, 2013 at 7:51 pm

The open boats were canoes, although somewhat different that our Canadian ones. The yellow boat in one of the first photos is an ocean kayak. (or k’ayak, as was recently told us by an Inuit storyteller) There are so many different variations on canoes and kayaks than there used to be. My brother has 2 open kayaks that you sit on, and they are a ton of fun. (plus, you don’t have to learn an Eskimo roll – which might be a politically incorrect term, now that I think of it) For awhile, we would go canoeing with all 7 of us in one boat, but luckily for us, we now have 3.


12 Mary M May 15, 2013 at 11:23 am

We’re a little bit of both. We like to get out and DO stuff, but relaxing is always plesant as well.


13 Design Mom May 15, 2013 at 3:52 pm

I hear you, and I feel it’s hard to find a good balance sometimes. I feel like when we’re with the kids it’s go, go, go. And if we take a grown-ups only weekend away, then I get to relax.


14 Linda Kerr May 15, 2013 at 11:45 am

Ohhhh…literally bringing tears to my eyes. I want to go so bad. Sad we had to cut this out of our trip. Looks amazing.

Love the photo of Ben in the boat with the littler ones with the mountain/town in the back. Beautiful.


15 Design Mom May 15, 2013 at 3:53 pm

Oh Linda! I hope you get to go sooner than later. I know you will love it. We were already daydreaming about our next Norway trip before we’d even arrived home.


16 Cathie May 15, 2013 at 11:49 am

Love these photos. We have fjords in the US–Misty Fjords National Monument, just outside of Ketchikan, Alaska. They look so similar to Norway, although they’re much more isolated than the Norway fjords seem to be. I used to work at the Monument as a kayak ranger–it was a beautiful, wonderous place and your photos reminded me of it. Thanks!


17 Design Mom May 15, 2013 at 3:55 pm

Wow! I feel like I’m learning so much in the comments today. I didn’t know Alaska had fjords! That’s fantastic.


18 MB May 15, 2013 at 12:08 pm

Love this! I grew up canoeing and kayaking in Canada, and spent my summers in college guiding overnight canoe trips for a kids’ camp. Nothing makes me happier than paddling! I absolutely cannot wait to teach my little ones to paddle, when the time comes :)

P.S. Makes me think about the post earlier this week, about helicopter parenting. In my experience, nothing builds independence and resiliency like spending time outdoors. As a child/teenager, canoe tripping taught me to take responsibility (setting up my tent, carrying my load) and work with others (a canoe won’t go very far unless everyone is cooperating!). I also learnt to weather little bumps in the road (a rainy day, sore muscles) with equanimity. Just a thought :)


19 Design Mom May 15, 2013 at 3:55 pm

I love your thoughts on parenting and outdoor time!


20 Deidra May 15, 2013 at 12:19 pm

I can’t wait to see more of your Norway adventures. My father-in-law served his mission in Norway a long time ago. He wants to take his children & spouses back next year and I’ve been tasked with doing a majority of the planning. The father-in-law hasn’t given me much to work with, so I’ll be looking to you for pointers! Thanks for sharing!


21 Design Mom May 15, 2013 at 3:56 pm

That’s a big job, Deidra! I’m sure you’ll make a fantastic plan. I’ll try to post our full report soon.


22 Stella May 15, 2013 at 12:23 pm

Wow, gorgeous! I like to mix it up on vacation. One day of relaxing. Next day go on an adventure. Next day do something educational. Variety is the spice of life.


23 Design Mom May 15, 2013 at 3:57 pm

How fun, Stella! I like the idea of mixing it up each day. Smart.


24 Jennifer F. - American Mom in Bordeaux May 15, 2013 at 12:43 pm

Stunning!! It’s so nice when vacations are long enough to not rush around and feel you have to do everything quickly. That’s what’s actually so nice about Kayaking – everything slows down….just as you glide through the water, you can enjoy the peace and serenity of any area you are in!! What a great experience for you kids! Looked like everyone had a great time!


25 Design Mom May 15, 2013 at 3:58 pm

You really feel like you’re part of the landscape out in the water like that. It’s wonderful.


26 milly jones May 15, 2013 at 3:37 pm

Wow, looks like fun. Your husband looks so much older than 40 though! He should shave his beard thing …


27 Design Mom May 15, 2013 at 3:59 pm

Hah! I must say, I disagree. I think he looks fantastic with his beard! It suits him perfectly.


28 Meaghan May 16, 2013 at 2:49 pm

Certain men can pull off a beard. Others cannot. I say Ben Blair ROCKS the beard!


29 michelle May 15, 2013 at 6:42 pm

Wow, I love this! What an amazing adventure you’ll never forget. Happy Fjordieth!


30 Carly May 15, 2013 at 7:55 pm

House Hunters International is in Aurland tonight! And I just pinned your picture from Pinterest without realizing it was yours, then saw tonight’s tv guide, then clicked over to your blog and saw this, haha. Norway! I’m so excited to see more of your pictures!


31 Jenny May 15, 2013 at 8:11 pm

Kayaking is so fun! Now you need to go kayaking in the Kenai Fjords in AK and watch glaciers calve! I’m from Seward and every time I have gone kayaking we’ve seems seals or whales or sea lions.

Although I will tell you the architecture in AK is nothing compared to Goegeous Norway.


32 Megan M. May 15, 2013 at 10:28 pm

Sooo beautiful! I now feel terribly guilty that I’ve never thought of doing things out in nature with my girls. I mean, I let them put on their bathing suits and splash in rain puddles today, but that hardly compares to kayaking the fjords of Norway. LOL

I think Ben Blair looks fantastic! I love beards AND redheads. ;)


33 Jen May 15, 2013 at 10:46 pm

Mission accomplished. Your husband looks so happy in the photos. What an amazing birthday!


34 Chloe R. May 15, 2013 at 11:46 pm

We were at that same fjord last summer, although we stayed at the marina in Flam – so gorgeous!! I really wanted to kayak, but the timing didn’t work out. Instead, we did a zodiac boat tour of the fjord, which was so fun. We saw a herd of goats running along the shore, thinking that we were the farmer bringing them their supper. Such an amazing country – and we had the opportunity to meet some relatives there too. So glad you had the chance to visit!


35 Sadie R May 16, 2013 at 2:13 am

Beautiful! Do you think you could post about how you celebrated the two birthdays on the trip? I always love to hear about your birthday celebrations!


36 kim @ DESIGN + LIFE + KIDS May 16, 2013 at 5:58 am

That might be the most beautiful kayaking setting I’ve ever seen. The rocks, the water, the houses!!


37 Jessica May 16, 2013 at 12:35 pm

So fun to see this! We are heading to Norway in June, and this just got me all excited again :)


38 Angel May 23, 2013 at 6:03 am

House Hunters International was in Aurland the same night you published this post!


39 Colleen July 11, 2015 at 12:04 am

Do you have more tips on your trip to Norway?! Going with my four kids next summer (ages 3-11).


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