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Feather River Bulletin
Quincy, California
January 22, 2014     Feather River Bulletin
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January 22, 2014

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Bulletin, Record, Progressive, Reporter Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014 111t The Finnmarken is docked in Trondheim, Norway, one of 32 stops along the route of the cruise that the Bequettes took during their vacation to Norway and Finland. Jim and Billie took a three-hour bus tour of the "small, beautiful and fascinating" city of Trondheim while the ship was unloading and loading cargo. dock in Kirkenes, NOrWaY,- t,h._e e Finnmarken, left, rests a_tt" I,,nn cruise. The ship stopped Th =L^ =n. ties wu~'v =- .,_...,=., western 1of ~tOD OT t-= ,,~.~_e -- --~ ,.,harTs on r~u,--=~ s. ~__ X '=" - ." ,:~-,^ *owns, ports auu :- ~ .~ Norwegian ~0' at at[ the .tu,= ~_ : .... av north throug" ."'~__ coast as it maoe-.~=.-- ", ;~+o the Barents ~u=. \ across the Arctic ~.~rcte a~ :S # Laura Beaton Staff Writer hey. went to see the I northern lights, but I they came back with much more than memories of faded pink and blue undulating skies. Billie and Jim Bequette returned to their home in Quincy with warmth in their hearts and smiles on their faces after their trip to Scandinavia this past November and December. The Bequettes initially F planned a trip to see the northern lights in December 2011 on a Rhine River cruise, but they had to cancel due to health reasons. When it came time to reschedule, they got a tip that Norway was one of the best places to see the aurora borealis. It was then that they decided to visit three of their former exchange students who live in Norway and Finland. The trip was rescheduled for January 2013, but again canceled for health reasons. Although Billie and Jim made new plans, they worried that their health would force yet another cancellation. Turns out the third time was the charm, and Nov. 24, the uettes flew out of Jim Bequette stands at the Russian border gate 25 miles from Kirkenes, Norway, on Dec. 6. There were no guards at the cold and desolate outpost, where the temperature was 4 below zero. Norway, via Copenhagen, Denmark. In Oslo the Bequettes met up with Cecilie Bakke, who lived with them as an exchange student some 31 years ago through the Quincy Rotary Club's program. They Former Quincy resident Billie and Jim Bequette flank their host Jaakko Heinila outside Marissa Castaldini and escort his home in Helsinki, Finland. The Bequettes called Jaakko a Jaakko Heinila pose for a "master tour guide" who showed them many wonderful sights photo at the 1986 QHS senior of the city, using the extensive public transit system to travel, prom. Billie, Juha Ratinen and Jim display a copy of the Feather River Bulletin inside Juha's Helsinki, Finland, home, where the Beq uettes were guests for a couple of days. spent several days touring Oslo with Cecilie and her family, visiting such landmarks as the Viking and Kon-Tiki museums and the 1962 Winter Olympics Stadium, which houses the famous Holmenkollen ski jump. The next major leg of their trip was aboard the Finnmarken for a one-week cruise up the coast of Norway. The working ship carried freight as well as 600 passengers, and made 32 stops along the t ord-studded coastline that consisted mainly of sheer, steep cliffs and ice. After crossing into the Arctic Circle the ship rounded the northern tip of Norway, entered the Barents Sea and made port in Kirkenes.' ................... A 25-mile bus ride brought the couple to the Russian border, a lonely outpost with stern warning signs, below-zero temperatures and nobody around. After two days in Kirkenes, they flew back to Oslo and on to Helsinki, Finland. There, the Bequettes visited two former Finnish exchange students: Juha Ratinen and Jaakko Heinila and their families. With Juha, the Bequettes toured the countryside, which was blanketed in snow and reminiscent of Quincy. They visited a castle built by the Swedes in the early 1300s to establish their reign over Finland. In the course of their exploration they learned a lot about Finland, which was at various times occupied by Sweden, Russia and Germany. During their stay with Jaakko, the Bequettes spent a couple days touring the city of Helsinki, a very old and massive fortress, using the public transit system, for which Jaakko is the head of security. And then it was time to return to San Francisco, about Juha Ratinen, of Helsinki, Finland, holds his diploma from Quincy High School in June 1988. Billie and Jim Bequette pose with their former exchange student, Cecilie Bakke, center, outside her home in Oslo, Norway, in late November 2013. Photos submitted Billie, left, exchange student Cecilie Bakke and Jim pose for a photo in spring 1982 in Quincy Rotary member Bob Edward's home. an 18-hour journey. Their trip experience after graduating involved planes, trains, from Quincy High School in automobiles and a ship that 1982, and Aleece traveled to transported the Bequettes Japan for her student through an area of the world exchange opportunity. The they had never seen before. Bequettes visited their Both said they were younger daughterin Japan, impressed by the cleanliness, and said they learned a upkeep and lack of graffiti in tremendous amount about the cities. They were , that country. pleasantly surprised by the Billie and Jim said that courtesy, friendliness, being involved in the student manners and willingness of exchange program was very the locals toward visitors that enriching. They enjoyed the they encountered, opportunity to expand their The Bequettes saw the horizons and interact with northern lights a few times, young people from other despite less-than-perfect cultures. weather conditions. The lights The director of Quincy were paler shades of pink and Rotary Club's Youth Services blue than anticipated and did Program, Suzan Leonhardt, not show up in Billie's said the club is accepting photographs. But they were applications for a long-term able ~o cross it off their exchange in May. "bucket list." Leonhardt said there will be They said the real highlight an information session at the of the trip was visiting their end of February and strongly former exchange students, encourages any graduating meeting their families and senior with an interest in seeing how the teenagers they traveling to another country, had welcomed into their home learning the language and some 25 to 31 years ago have experiencing the wider world grown and prospered in their to contact her at 251-7874. native countries. Leonhardt said the program The Bequettes first became would not be successful involved in the Rotary without the host families who ExchangeProgram when take foreign exchange their daughters were in high students into their homes. She school. Ann and Aleece took extends a huge thank-you to advantage of the Quincy host families, and credits Rotary Club program. Their them for being the key part of older daughter, Ann, traveled making the program to Belgium for her exchange successful.