Friday, March 4, 2016

Grant's Graduation Trip

In honor of Grant's (anticipated) graduation, he got to choose the family vacation spot this year.  So we all headed up to Lapland in Finland for a week.  It was Grant & Mark's third time there; for the sun-loving Kate and Lori it was their first.  We were at Saariselka, a small town located 250 km north of the arctic circle.  

First activity was snowmobiling to a lake to ice fish.  Temperatures were around -10 degrees C so we were pretty bundled up.  

At one of the breaks, Grant got off the trail -- you can see how deep the snow was.  And it snowed more every day that we were there.

Kate looks like a cross between a bedouin and an eskimo.  Grant (below) took his normal approach to fishing.  The ice fishing was fun, but unsuccessful.  In the three years that we've gone, Grant has snared one fish; Mark zero.  One of the other members of our group caught three good sized fish in 5 minutes.

After thirty minutes of sitting on a cold lake not catching fish, we gladly departed for the warming hut.  Our guide had a warm fire, hot sausages and tea ready for us.  The sign on the building below says "Arctic Toilet".  It should have said "Dark Arctic Toilet" because there was no light inside so you had to leave the door open to see.  Ask Kate if it was cold.

We saw a small group of reindeer foraging for food.  

Kate practiced some yoga in the snow...snoga.  We also did a snowmobile trip at night to view the Northern Lights.  It was a beautiful evening.....if you like to watch it snow.  It was not a beautiful evening for seeing Northern Lights.  As we were waiting to go, one optimistic member of the group said he was keeping his fingers crossed to see the Northern Lights.  The Bulgarian guide's response was fairly straight forward "you can cross your fingers, you can cross your arms.  We're not going to see the Northern Lights with all the cloud cover and snow".  

We cross country skied every day.  The Finns approach skiing like the Dutch approach bicycling.  There are 250 km of groomed ski trails near this town.  They have warming huts and restrooms along the trails.  You see 5 year old kids skiing and you see 75 year old people skiing.  It's very impressive.

No, Lori and I did not share a coat.  

The warming hut.  The firewood is stacked nearby and the first one there is expected to get things going.

It was Kate's first time cross country skiing; once she got her boots in the bindings, she did great.  

The light post outside our cabin gives you an idea of the snow volume.  

Since it was Grant's trip, he got to choose the food.  So we ate at the same restaurant every night; the Laanilaan Kievari.   It's a family run place serving local food.  The braised reindeer shank was delicious.  Nobody disagreed with Grant's restaurant selection.

On the last day Grant & I went winter swimming.  We spent 15 minutes in the sauna getting our bodies as warm as possible.  Then we ran (carefully) down the steps to the outdoor pool, which was really just a diversion pond from a stream.  We chipped the ice off the pool, lowered ourselves down the ladder and stayed in for the count of 10.  Then we high-tailed back to the warmth of the sauna.  We did this for a total of three times.  The Finns claim there are tremendous health benefits from winter swimming.  I think it was more like one of those things that builds character.  
This is the top of the downhill ski mountain.  The wind never stopped blowing here  Looks cold, huh?  

The Dutch Royal family was also vacationing that week.  But not in Finland; they were in Austria.  

No, I did not take this picture of the Northern Lights.  A friend of mine was in Norway the same week and this is what his family saw.  Grant & I went up to the mountain top on the last night and saw a few wisps of Northern Light so we can claim to have seen them.

Grant & I had an 8 hour layover at the Helsinki Airport on our return.  After a week in a cabin with no internet he had no problem passing the time until our flight.

After a week in the kennel, Graber was happy to go on his park walk.