9 weeks 2 days on the road
7142 miles driven by Tim
Number of elk/moose seen 0 (well, one , if you count a stuffed one)
Boden had a very good campsite, if a little more exposed than we are used to. As we sat eating our breakfast, we seemed to provide a degree of amusement to the locals that walked past the campsite along the lake, including a whole school group off to play sport and a lovely collection of older Swedes, off to get their exercise. It was nice to hear their cheery ‘hey-heys’ as they went by (OK, we waved at them when we saw them gawping at us, but they did seem friendly). We thought we might look at a local town; Luleå was quite nice, with some fine old buildings, but not very exciting, so we headed off south.
(There was something interesting going on- we watched this crane being operated by remote control, great use of hydraulics, but we were concerned when the bloke in charge of the remote decided to get more interested in the dog than the crane…)
It is hard to express the tedium of driving through northern Finland and Sweden, but someone we met said you can drive 50km and, if you are lucky, you will see a house.
They were pretty accurate. I now feel bad about complaining about Norway. Now it goes trees, trees, trees, trees, trees, HOUSE, etc. It did get a little better further south as we started to see fields, houses and barns and the occasional glimpse of the beautiful coast.
I should not complain too much as the roads are very good, straight, higher speed limits and no tolls so far. It gave me a lot of time to think, and I started listing all the things I had wanted to see, but had missed. Whales, Elks (loads of signs, but not a single one, meh!) (Tim was quite content to not get up close and personal with one in the road, they don’t get out the way of cars, a bit like reindeer, apparently) and the northern lights. I had thought we were too early, but a few kind locals had told us how beautiful the aurorae had been recently. It had been so cloudy and cold that we had missed it every time.
One bright spot; we finally found a proper rest area with space to park safely (very rare since we left Norway), picnic tables and toilets and we met, not only a cute and friendly husky, but also a very pleasant German artist, who has been travelling around on his own up through Norway, painting as he goes, living in his car and he has had to cut back through Sweden, because his funds are running out. He has a blog, so, if you are interested try enricoliebig.tumblr.com.
So on for another couple of hours until we found a nice big campsite, had some dinner and off to bed after watching a lovely sunset (bloomin’ cold, so we gave in at about 9 30).
I had to get up in the night to go to the loo (stay with me here). It is always a hard choice to make, when it is so cold, but it was the only way I could go back to sleep. Lucky me! I looked at the sky and thought there were some very odd clouds and then I looked more closely and realised that I was looking at the northern lights!!!! YEH!!! (I can’t remember how young I was when I fist started wishing that I could see them.) I was astounded that I could see them, OK, some of the sky was clear, but there was a full moon and the campsite had a lot of artificial light. They looked nothing like the photos you see; they were pale and wispy and very subtle, but entirely entrancing. I made Tim get up and we stood there for as long as we could before our fingers dropped off. You could just make out red and green, but my photography was totally inadequate, as you can see!
On again a short way down the coat to the start of the Höga Kusten and a much improved outlook. After all those trees, this is a lovely part of Sweden with islands, blue sea and rugged terrain.
After a couple of unsuitable campsites, we found a lovely place to stay, right by the sea, with good facilities and a wonderfully relaxed atmosphere. There are friendly people and cute animals (including a ridiculously sweet kitten on a long leash that thought it was a tiger) and the most fabulous view over the water. It is a shame there are so many lights here, because the skies were very clear on Saturday; no sign of the northern lights (probably because my camera is ready for them!)
One of the great things about this ‘adventure’ of our is having your preconceptions overturned. I have always thought that all Swedish people were tall, blond stunning and rather reserved. Here at the campsite are a whole load of jolly and friendly middle-aged people, many of whom are a bit over-weight and a bit shorter than me and Tim. Another thing that has struck us throughout this trip; time and again there have been examples of trusting behaviour. For example, in Iceland, you payed for your washing in an ‘honesty box’, which nobody nicked. At many places you pay for the use of the machines when you pay for your camping and they trust you not to cheat. At the last few campsites, there has been nobody in reception,(we never did find anyone to pay in one of them). In another, there were envelopes with keys in them for the huts (one up for a tent, and common throughout Scandinavia). People had to take the key and leave money in the envelope. Here, you have to sign a book and put your money in a letter box.
After a very relaxing break at Barsta we drove south to Orsa, near Mora. The journey started well, as we still had to drive around some of the delightful Höge Kösten.
We stopped to do some shopping, but I was intrigued to see individually wrapped parsnips
It then went back to trees, trees ,trees and more trees (with a few god views of lakes and other bits) for ages, but eventually, after nearly 300 miles we have come to the lake near Mora, and it is, indeed, as lovely as we had been lead to believe. We decided to stay two nights at Orsa, as its a very well equipped campsite, next to the lake.
The town is nice as well (and very flat), so we took the Bromptons for a spin