Jim and Bonnie Lilleodden’s first trip to Norway coincided with the country’s bloodiest violence since the Second World War.
Jim Lilleodden said the nation is shaken, but neither his pride in his heritage nor Norway’s self-image will change.
“They’re not gonna let one man change their life,” said the Hanska man, whose ancestry is purely Norweigan.
The couple traveled with their son and daughter-in-law, who were visiting Sweden. Jim and Bonnie, though, spent all but two days of their two-week trip in Norway. They returned home Tuesday.
The highlight of the trip, for Jim, was visiting the Lilleodden family farm in Lom, about 200 miles northwest of Oslo. His great-grandfather and grandfather operated the farm until the younger Lilleodden moved to the United States.
It is still running as a farm, but they’re not sure who the owner is now.
On July 22, a Friday, the couple boarded a bus in Oslo en route to a train that would take them to Sweden, to join their son and daughter-in-law. Travelers would normally take a train from Oslo, but the tracks in the area were under repair.
They never heard the explosion that killed eight, but later learned it was only about six blocks away and happened about the time they boarded the bus. The bomber also killed 68 youth in a camp.
Jim said most Norweigans speak good English, and were able to talk about the tragedy.
He said they believe the killings were “flukes” by a man who went “off the edge.”
Even so, when asked for the most memorable part of their trip, he doesn’t mention the violence.
“The highlight of our trip was seeing the family farm, for my son and daughter-in-law to see the family farm,” he said.