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Home – Feb 26

The alarm goes off at 4:45AM but we’ve both been awake for some time. I’ve already showered and Barbara is dressed and just about ready to go. We had repacked our bags last night so now it’s one more check of the room and down to the lobby to check out and wait for the shuttle bus to the airport.

The shuttle bus is on time and very convenient. I doubt that a taxi would be happy to pick us up at 5:00AM for the small fare that the short ride to the airport would generate. But the convenience of the bus is dampened by the drop off at the airport’s P57 shuttle bus stop.

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Helsinki – Feb 25

We check out of the hotel at about 10 and start the last couple hour drive to Helsinki. It’s bright but cold and we’ll have the sun in our eyes all day. We just have to grind it out.

The road starts to widen but also the traffic starts to pick up and the number of trucks on the road starts to climb. The bad news is that there seems to be a speed camera every 3 or 4 kilometers. The good news is that we start getting stretched of divided highway with 100 kph speed limits and no speed cameras.

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Mikkeli – Feb 24

There’s not much to say. The trip is winding down and the drive south is leaving the snow and cold of the north. Of course, that means we renew our acquaintance with the speed cameras.

The speed limit on Finland’s 2 lane highways is a maximum of 80 kilometers per hour or lower if the there is any need of extra caution for things like pedestrian crosswalks or traffic interchanges. The problem with the metric system for drives used to the imperial system where speed is measured in miler per hour is that though the number looks high the speed is actually a visible speed that is much lower.

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Jormua – Feb 23

The sky never cleared overnight so there wasn’t a chance of seeing the Northern Lights again. And it had snowed lightly. The snow was actually welcome. Last night the walk to the restaurant was very slippery. The temperature during the day had been just above freezing and then had dropped as it became dark causing the packed road surface to freeze and get very slippery.

The route we’re taking today goes east to the E63 and if the road is as slippery as the roads around the resort, it’s going to be a very long, slow day. A covering of snow on the road will give a great deal more grip. Driving will still be a bit dicey but the snow will help a lot.

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After last night’s excitement we sleep in until 8 and then head for breakfast. We’re hoping to see Sonya and Alex at breakfast and chat a bit before they leave for Nordkapp.

They aren’t in the restaurant but we know they haven’t left yet. Their car is still in front of their “igloo”. We start on breakfast and just a few minutes later, they come in to the restaurant. I walk over and ask them to join us.

We thank them again for helping us last night. They demur. “It was nothing. We were happy to be of help.” “No matter. We weren’t very excited with the prospect of sleeping in the car.”

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It turns out that we didn’t get much snow. But the wind is still howling and if it does start snowing with any force, driving is going to be a bummer. We text our contact that we are leaving and thanks for the night. Off to the “igloos”.

It feels like we’ve been driving this road, E75, forever. Of course, today it’s a good deal more serious driving. There still isn’t much traffic but the wind is starting to cause the snow to drift across the road, and when we get to the flat tundra, the drifts start to be an issue. They aren’t blocking the road but they pulling the car to the side of the road every time we hit one of them. Whenever, some traffic appears, especially trucks, I slow down until they pass.

When we leave the tundra and the road gets back into the hills, the driving gets easier. The forest and the hills are sheltering the road. By the time we get back to Inari, thew snow and wind aren’t a problem.

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Utsjoki – Feb 20

Esko arrives out on the ice promptly at 8:00 AM and starts hauling the cabins back to shore. It’s a beautiful clear day and we get a few last minutes out in the clear air and blue skies before our cabin is hitched up and slowly pulled back the parking area for the cabins.

We unload our gear and toe it in the car. Inside for breakfast and some last chats with Sampsa, Esko, Craig and Keira. Craig and Keira have to leave make a 10:30 bus in town to their next stop, the Saariselkä ski area. They’ve been fun to be with and share this fabulous place.

We only have about 120 kilometers to our next stop, Utsjoki, so we catch up on emails, post photos and update the blog. The out for a walk in the cold, bright morning. Back to the car. Load up and we’re off to Utsjoki.

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Lake Inari – Feb 19

It’s a beautiful morning. Barbara sleeps in after the late night/early morning trip to the hill. We get a late start but it’s only about an hour’s drive to Lake Inari.

We check out of the apartment at nearly noon and head north. We’re getting very close to the northern end of Finland and since we don’t check into Lake Inari Cabins until 4:00PM, we plan to stop at a couple of museums along the way in Inari.

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Ivalo – Feb 18

Last night, we had tried to make reservations for a reindeer sleigh ride but we couldn’t link up with the contact person. Later, we also tried to see up a guided Northern Lights trip. That seemed, at first to work. At dinner, I got a notice from American Express that Lapland Welcome wanted to charge 194 euro to my card. I authorized the card. We finished dinner and walked back to the apartment for the night.

This morning, I get an email from Lapland Welcome that yes, they can do a reindeer trip but time is late (it’s 8:08 AM) and I need to respond immediately because the trip leaves at 9:00AM. But by this time we’ve given up on the reindeer and are only interested in the Northern Lights trip tonight that, coincidentally, we’ve also booked on the Lapland Welcome web site. I send them back an email telling them that we can’t do the reindeer trip but we also haven’t gotten any confirmation on the Northern Lights trip.

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Ivalo – Feb 17

The alarm goes off at 6:30 and a quick look out the window. Rain, wind and slush. Up and a quick breakfast . We have a long day’s drive to Ivalo. We finally leave the coast and head northeast toward Lapland. Hopefully, we won’t be driving the entire way in a driving snow storm when the road leaves the coast.

When we leave the hotel the rain has subsided to a heavy drizzle. After the first 50 kilometers, it has stopped altogether and the road starts to dry out. There’s a fair bit of traffic but it is Monday morning and life moves on in Finland just as anywhere else.

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