Thursday, November 19, 2015

The final stretch of the trip...

Sunday morning we were supposed to get up in time and be on the road by 08:00. That became 09:30. We just did not feel like rushing and stressing.
The main objective was to drive south toward Helsinki, a 5hr drive, to meet up with Kai. There we would head out, hike toward a lavvu (shelter) in a national park and spend the night there, before we would visit Varusteleka surplus store in Helsinki on monday. After that Matt would drop me off at Helsinki airport for my flight back to Stockholm and my train back home.
Last night we heard the news of the horrendous attacks in Paris, killing and injuring hundreds. Knowing what I know I really wondered if it would not be another false flag operation. Would be highly convenient in the current refugésituation and with the upcoming climate convention in Paris. I chose not to pay anymore attention to the happening, no matter how evil it was. I figured I would see or hear nothing else for the next week or so...
It had been snowing again last night and it was still snowing when we left. That was to change the further south we came. The color of the sky did not change. That remained various shades of grey with the darker ones being dominant. The snow changed to rain of various intensities.

The little house in the back is the sauna
The drive south was uneventful and we stopped at a highway restaurant for lunch. There Matt also bought provisions for the overnighter, which made me feel bad. My financial situation had seriously deteriorated due to my wife having to buy new brakes and brake discs for the car. The right front one was broken, so both sides at the front had to be replaced. And that in a month where we already had to miss my income.... Sometimes I really wonder when this stops. I am getting really fed up with it!
It ruined my mood a little, but I tried not to let it show....
As we were approaching the Helsinki area the weather started improving slightly. The rain lessened and we even saw some blue and gold. The clouds opened up and let through a rare ray of sunshine! That would be so nice if we were spending the night in the woods!!!
However..... things would not turn out as planned.....
We arrived much later at Kai's place then anticipated and somehow Kai did not look really ready or eager to get going. He told us his wife would prepare Chinese food (which I love and have been missing ever since we moved to Sweden!), so we'd have dinner first. The welcome we received was heartwarming and after the initial introductions we gathered around the kitchen table and were treated to soup and minced meat filled dough balls.
One thing lead to another and we found ourselves still sitting at the table at 20:00 caught up in lively conversation, much too late to be heading out. Matt hadn't really been in the mood actually and I somehow suspect Kai neither and me? Well, I would have enjoyed spending a night out in a lavvu with a fire, grilling sausages and having a beer. But I got something much better; social interacting and gaining friends!
Because we talked..... talked all evening and Kai turned out to be pretty un-Finnish in that matter, since he also seemed to have a liking to talking. Liya, Kai's wife, also participated lively and I relished it. I have been missing this sooo much! Talking and discussing with like minded people. All sorts of subjects came up. Paris of course. Food and illnesses, comparing cultures, family. Even politics and religion! All in good respect and with decency. Who ever said to avoid those latter 2 topics in a discussion?
Yet we men felt that we did need to get out for fresh air and movement and we figured we might go for a walk through the area in the dark. Liya and the boys however did join us and we were out for a good while. Still talking, breathing fresh air....
Pretty tired we turned in for the night just after 22:00. I did spend the night in a sort of outdoorsy fashion though; on a sleeping mat on the floor under an Italian army wool blanket. ;)
I did not have the best night's sleep ever. I have very much grown out of camping. That became painfully obvious. Nevertheless I was not all that tired anymore and I joined Kai's family in their morning ritual, after I waited for about half an hour, so they could get going, before I came barging in.
Some things are universal and getting a bunch of young kids ready for school on a monday morning is one of them. Couldn't help but smiling in recognition. :) I was treated to a typical Finnish breakfast, according to Kai; oatmeal porridge with lingonberries, rye bread with cheese and coffee. Hej, no complaints here!!

Shortly afterwards Liya had to be off to work and I got a hug as a goodbye. We'd be on our way too, soon. Off to the Varusteleka surplus store before lunch and after lunch the airport. As we enter Helsinki I notice a strong smell. The pungent, industrial odor (stench is more like it) of the city. Sickening.
The store in it self was nice and had a couple of really cool features. Some displays were museumlike with dummies dressed up in (old) uniforms, weapons on the walls and even machinegunpits up along the walls!! The merchandise however was typical for these days. Much of the really cool and good old stuff was gone and replaced by shoddy former Iron Curtain army items or mil-tec replicas. I was actually hoping to find one of those Finnish wool pants. They had 3, all of them way to big for me. Matt had wanted to buy me a souvenir, but there was nothing I wanted, did not already have or needed. I left the shop empty handed and that is saying something!!!
Like I said before I did bring home something much more valuable; friendship. And an old German BW backpack Matt gave me. A so-called Gebirgsjäger backpack in canvas. How's that for a souvenir!!
However some knives did follow some of my companions home.....
After this Kai took us to a lunch restaurant that serves good food. Good, I'd be needing that for the rest of the day! It was one of those places where workingmen would go for their lunch. It resembled a 60's or 70's factorycanteens and the food indeed was very good! I made sure my battery got recharged well and then it was time to say goodbye to Kai as well.
But in the meantime however plans had been made for summer visits or even an autumn meet including Odd (Skaukraft) from Norway and Pasi from Finnish Lapland. Now that would be something!!!
A little later we arrive at the airport, only a 5 minute drive from the restaurant. Matt follows me in and shortly after check in it is time for the final goodbye. Damn, I so suck at this!! Once again I am alone in a chaotic environment and once again I see people staring at screens, oblivious of their surroundings. I feel so out of place, not just because I am reading Vanier's snowchild as a hard copy or am writing down my thoughts and recollections in a small notebook. Y'know, with a pen and with turnable pages..... It doesn't matter. In an hour I'll be boarding the plane that will take me back to Swedish soil, to the train that will take me back to southern Dalarna.... Back home...
5 hours later I step of the train and I immediately hear a little girl's voice calling me. My youngest daughter just had to come along and pick me up. My wife greets me with a hug and a kiss. The tears in her eyes were caused by the wind blowing freely across the trainstation, she said. Mine were not....

Matt and yours truly...
Thanks for everything, my friend 
and that is a name or title I do not give to just anyone.


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  2. Ron, I am so glad to hear that you had such a good time in Finland! It was great to finally meet you in person and get to know you more. In this age of "Internet friends," it shows you that meeting someone in person is still a much more rewarding and real experience. I am looking forward to meeting you again, this time in Sweden or Norway!

    Thanks again so much for doing these blog posts. I will go back and re-read them many times over. :)


    1. Well, so far the internet or this blog has given me the opportunity to meet people I would normally never would have met. Folks like you, Odd and Kai, but also others. And there are more to come too.
      And meeting people irl simply remains unbeatable.

  3. Sounds like you had a really good time. That is great! So good!

  4. A joint-scandinavian gathering would absolutely be something:-)

    1. Wouldn't it? I think we really should be looking into that. Maybe early autumn or something.

  5. I have enjoyed your blog about your trip to Finland. Reading your blog makes me wonder in what world I live in. Meaning the hectic in which I have grown in to and adepted to. It makes me long to my 14 days of peace in the Fjällen in Northern Dalarna, Grövelsjön. Just my family and the peace and quiet of mother nature. My choice would be to pack my stuff and go to Sweden, but I am not alone in this deciscion. Please keep your blog alive. With kind regards, Helmut.

    1. Hej Helmut,
      Sometimes you just need to do what your heart tells you is right, even if it seems like a very hard thing to do. Which is what moving to Sweden would be. But do feel that the hardest things can be overcome and the reward will be the greater for it.
      I am in no way planning on stopping this blog, so no fear! ;)
      Thanks for dropping in and commenting.