Bound for the other Norway

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Bates professor tapped as naturalist on Garrison Keillor’s fjord cruise

A little music, a lot of fjords, early mornings on deck narrating the landscape, glimpses of Garrison Keillor over the dessert table – it’ll be a full 10 days.

Dyk Eusden, a geology professor at Bates College, said he’s been boning up for months, learning all he could about Norway and its iconic fjords, before he sets sail on Prairie Home Companion’s Cruise Norway 2007 on July 13.

Eusden teaches a “Geology of the Maine Coast by Sea Kayak” class in May; through that he met naturalist Natalie Springuel from College of the Atlantic. She was already affiliated with the cruise and extended the offer to come aboard over the winter.

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“It’s a place I’ve always wanted to go because the geology is so similar to what I study here. My reaction was, ‘Let’s go,'” said Eusden, 49, who lives in South Paris.

He, Spinguel and her husband Rich, all from Maine, are the only three U.S. guides with the cruise. Another husband-wife team studying in Norway will join them.

He and the other naturalists – each with their own niche – will give four or five onboard lectures, several 5 a.m. “Naturalists on deck” talks, lead excursions onshore and write for the daily shipboard newsletter, “The Ballast.”

With prices based on accommodations, more than 1,200 people paid between $2,800 and $10,840 a ticket, plus airfare, to join them, the full Prairie Home Companion cast and a slate of musicians and authors. The cruise sold out a month ago.

On Eusden’s itinerary: Walking through, and across, a glacier.

Norway has “an odd, odd terrain,” he said. “These sheer cliffs come up from the fjords and meet these flat pancake-top mountains.”

He was already a Prairie Home Companion fan; the boat’s bound to be teaming with National Public Radio listeners. He figures they’re going to be pretty inquisitive. They’ve probably studied up themselves before the cruise.

“My biggest fear is sort of a fun fear,” he said. “When I ask, are there any questions? they’re just going to go wild.”

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