I’ve put up some annotated Lapland photos from the trip I just took with my dad. I’ll be writing a few articles about the trip, backdating them to the actual travel dates of 17th–21st of September.
Finally, “real” license plates on the Audi! With the help of my dad the tags had shiny new holes, and after some tinkering were mounted nicely on the U.S. backplates.

Norwegian Lapland: Fjords and tundra

Written late in the evening in English • Tags: , ,

It seems that as soon as we arrived in Norway all the trees bursted into colors. In fact, there is a camping site (packed full) just on the norwegian side of the border on the valley floor surrounded by brightly colored mountain sides. It would have been just another 15–20 minutes to get there last night… (I should have stopped for a picture, but didn’t since we had “just” stopped when crossing the border.)

The road became much wider (there’s a lane divider!) by the fjord at Skibotn. We stopped to take some pictures of the fjord, but it was difficult to capture the size of everything. The drive up north gained length from the fact that there are no bridges across, instead you have to drive to the bottom of each fjord and back. The power lines have been strung straight across, though, in an impressive demonstration of modern engineering.

There were frequent tunnels as well. I guess after so many rebuilds of the road after landfalls it is simply the cheaper option. We only saw one road construction site from a landfall, and didn’t realize what it was until we were passing the crew. (Which is why we hadn’t readied our cameras…)

Once the road climbed high enough that we reached the snow line! The tundra was really more colorful in real life (and this sample has the most color from all the pictures I have from the tundra). The road was drawn with a ruler in long straight lines across expanses of flat land. There were no villages or shops as far as we could tell (except for one tourist attraction, which was closed) yet regularly there would be low small houses by the road with cars parked next to them.

It is good that we refilled the refrigerator in Finland: there are no restaurants, cafés or diners anywhere! I guess everyone eats at home. Or we don’t know how to recognize such establishments (but really, I can read most road signs, or so I think). Finally there were signs for Kafe E6 well in advance. I would have missed it, but fortunately dad likes to enjoy the views and spotted the rarity. However, our coffee break seemed to confirm the suspicion that the Norwegians do eat at home…

Alta seemed a bit too early for camping for the night (and the only camping site we saw there wasn’t at a very attractive location) so we just kept on driving and arrived in Hammerfest well after sundown. There should be some nice photo opportunities on the road back to Skaidi tomorrow. There’s a strong wind going on in Hammerfest with occasional rain. Doesn’t sound that attractive, does it? But it is not all that bad — just keep a good grip on the handle when opening any door…

Snowcaps at Kilpisjärvi

Written early in the morning in English • Tags: , ,

The view of the snowcapped fells is absolutely beautiful in the morning sun. I took off the windshield cover before breakfast so we could enjoy the view, even if it meant that the windows will get a bit foggy by the time we were ready to drive. The view is certainly worth the trouble. After breakfast we decided to do some shopping at Kilpisjärvi before continuing on to Norway.

Driving up the Tornio river

Written in the mid-afternoon in English • Tags: , ,

The border between Finland and Sweden is a naturally formed one: it follows the Tornio and Muonio rivers and their feeds. On the drive to Kilpisjärvi there are many beautiful views of the often wide river. Even though there don’t seem to be that many bridges connecting the countries it seems that villages have sprung up on the same spots on both sides. I wonder how it is today: could you just take a row boat across to visit your neighbors on the other bank?

We saw reindeer today! Before I could take a picture they had already run into the birch woods and practically disappeared, as far as a camera is concerned. This is not at all what I remember from 30 years ago about reindeer. Back then I recall they were jogging peacefully on the road in front of our car, or collecting outside our front door in the morning. Speaking of the woods — a lot of green still among the yellows. Maybe we are a bit early still, even though the forecast has already been below freezing a few nights.

The road keeps narrowing the further up we get. In the end they can’t even fit the lane divider in the middle of the road anymore… It’s good that we arrive at Kilpisjärvi early enough before the camping site is closed for the evening. It is just into off-season already, apparently, so some places have already closed for the winter and others have narrowed their operating hours. Something to remember next time, and maybe even plan a little more in advance and check which places are still open.

Lapland tour 2005

Written at evening time in English • Tags: , ,

I have been wanting to go to Lapland to see the autumn colours (ruska) for a few years now, but somehow always managed to put it off due to busy schedules. Last year I decided I would make sure that the trip wouldn’t slip another year anymore, and I stuck to that regardless of everything else going on.

My dad has been hiking in Lapland with my brother a couple of times, so he was immediately into coming with me on the trip. Hiking not being exactly my thing we took advantage of the RV my parents have. We’d be overnighting on camping sites, so we’d have hot water for washing and could refill drinking water easily.

However, the first night dad spotted a nice rest area by the Tornio river before we got to the planned camping site in Ylitornio. Instead of driving on, we decided to stay — it was late enough anyway, as we hadn’t started too early from Kauhava that morning.

2000 km myöhemmin

Kirjoitettu puoliltapäivin suomeksi • Tägit:

Englanninkielisillä on sanonta ”hurry up and wait” (olisiko se ”kiirehdi odottamaan” — kääntäminen on aina niin vaikeaa). Se on kuvannut melkein kaikkea muuttamiseen liittyvää. Tavarat tuli seulottua kiireellä kesäkuun puolivälissä, että ennätin ennenkuin pakkaajat tulivat viemään kaiken pois. Onnistuin kiitettävästi — toivon mukaan rojua tuli muutettua varsin vähän (takaisin) Suomeen. Sen jälkeen kontti taisi odotella parikin viikkoa ennenkuin se lähti ylittämään Atlanttia. Suomeen se saapui elokuun toisella viikolla. Ensimmäisenä kiirehdin tullaamaan auton, vain odottaakseni vielä viikon saadakseni sen kuormasta… (jatkuu…)

Keeping quiet

Written in the mid-afternoon in English • Tags:

I never got that good at small talk, although I think I would have gotten a passing grade already. Well, Therese Catanzariti explains the whole Finnish silence deal on Crikey in another entertaining and insightful article. I will now have to keep my own habits in check, to make sure I pass as a Finn again.

Fortunately I still feel comfortable with silence, but now I wonder if I might be making others uncomfortable by accidentally “switching on” small talk. Apparently I’m already shaking hands more than an average Finn would. Maybe it’s good that I never got a hang of the whole kiss-on-the-cheek custom…

I know I’m already expecting a response to my emails, rather than assuming success from silence. However, I don’t think this really comes from being Finnish, but from the fact that email is no longer a reliable means of communication. There are too many content filters (often disguised as spam prevention tools) that silently drop messages, so some kind of an acknowledgement really is necessary nowadays.

Euro conversions for the Audi

Written at evening time in English • Tags:

Not everything is considered a user (driver) preference, apparently. Temperature display in Fahrenheit or Celsius is switchable, but the odometer readout cannot be switched to kilometers just like that. Daytime running lights (DRL) is mentioned in the manual as an option that can be configured by the dealer. Did you know that a U.S. radio cannot tune into all frequencies on the FM band?

This weekend Otto helped me get some things reconfigured:

  • temperature display
  • odometer readout
  • daytime running lights

The radio still needs to be adjusted. The 2003+ Audi A4 models have more on-board diagnostic capable devices than a single K-bus can handle, so there are 2 buses. Unfortunately the equipment we had could only communicate with the first bus, and the radio appears to be on the second bus. In any case, there is supposed to be a country ID there (if its values were just known).

Read on for the details. (more…)

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Kirjoitettu puoliltapäivin suomeksi • Tägit:

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