Lands of bog, lake and troll: day 6

Two $980 round-trip plane tickets, eight months of waiting and two flights later, Cavan and I arrived in Helsinki, Finland. We had no idea where we would sleep that night, or where we’d go the next day. What we did know was that we had each other, our packs, a bit of food, a bit of money and a huge case of wanderlust.

For the next the next thirty one days, I’ll recount our trek across Finland, Estonia and Sweden (plus a little of Norway and Latvija) as if it’s happening in real time. There will be blood, thievery, epic folk metal, a meat-eating vegetarian and other scintillating things you definitely don’t want to miss.

Lands of bog, lake and troll: day 6

(archive: day 1, 2, 3, 4, 5)

 Thursday 11, August 2011

Because Cavan’s a coward–I mean, because the rain was coming down hard enough and the cold bit with sharp enough teeth, we decided to forgo Pyhä.  A sensible decision, though I was still all for it, proving that it’s probably a really good thing that someone in this relationship has common sense.

Instead of waking early and catching a bus, we had a lovely breakfast of scrambled eggs with blu cheese on rye, cherries and a bit of apple, followed by a walk to the train station to seek out a way to Sweden.  The unhelpful man at the counter said “Sweden?” like it was offensive and mumbled something along the lines of “I don’t know about that place.”

We were planning on plotting our travels for the night, hoping to catch a train from Kemijärvi  to Kemi and then take a bus from Kemi to Sweden–before our trip, Cavan had read some forum that said you can grab a bus as soon as you arrive, even at night. Since the station master wouldn’t help us, we decided to wing it; we’d ride the train to Kemi and take it from there. (A bit of blatant foreshadowing from my self who’s back home in Washington: BAD IDEA)

After our uninformative trip to the train station, we went for a short walk, through a sparse forest carpeted by low-growing berry bushes: blueberries mostly, but also a few lingonberries still dangling.  We also found raspberry and, by the lake, juniper (no, we didn’t make any gin).

Later in the day, we went back to Minnä, intending on buying postcards.  Instead, we had tea, found out her dad was American and that she was born in Chicago (where she lived for eight or nine years, before moving back to Kemijärvi, where her parents had met).  We ate lunch with her at the ABC Grocery, Finland’s only national gas and food chain, so it was a like a little taste of home, only Cavan and I haven’t exactly ever shared a meal at a gas station and the food there was higher quality than American…’food.’

We went back to the campground after lunch to retrieve our packs; earlier that morning, the exceptionally nice owner had offered to lock them up for the day.

The first thing she told us upon arrival was that our eggs were ready.


We’d given her our leftover eggs (because six of them in one breakfast would have been kind of absurd), for her, herself, to eat or do whatever the hel else a Finnish campground owner would with the two raw eggs a couple of footsore backpackers couldn’t exactly take with them for fear of getting liquid yolk everywhere they didn’t want it.  But she’d decided to temporarily adopt us and, instead of keeping the eggs for herself, hardboiled them to give to Cavan and me.  She was even readying a couple of eggcups to serve us right then and there, but when she learned we’d just eaten, she wrapped the eggs up safe and sound and handed them over into our care.

Oh, yeah.  Not only was this lady replacement-mother-extraordinaire, but she’s also the actual mother of snocrosser Toni Haikonen, the man who (according to this site) “single handedly revolutionized the sport and was the first man to “fly a snowmobile across the US, Canada and Europe.””

(he looks like his ma)

After thanking his mother profusely and signing her guestbook, we left for the webcam.

See, earlier we’d arranged with my family to go stand beneath it at 18:00 our time ( 8 am theirs).  So we did, brandishing our eggs, hoping to confuse them (my family, not the eggs, though I’m sure they were confused, too) and just waving and gesturing and carrying on like any other deranged tourist would in Lapland, all at once amusing, disgruntling and confusing the citizens of Kemijärvi  (Cavan was especially befuddling, waving at the passing vehiclists, instead of the webcam).


Her hair is the copper of pennies
his head is shaved.
Coins drop and shiver against the old wood.
The hotel has no reception
just a bar.

Ember light
the sort that makes her look like a bloodstained Freja
the sort that makes him nervous.

Eighty two euros, he says.  And it comes with breakfast.
(stay please)

Three soft folded prisms is all she has.
I don’t have enough, she says.

She opens the door, moonsilver drenches her.
The door closes, he picks up the coins.

If only ribcages didn’t exist, she could keep
warm.  She wishes she could crawl inside
nestle against his lungs.

The bus doesn’t leave till morning, but she has no key
no money.

She lies down under the trees, with the beer cans and dead leaves
while he polishes his coins, wondering if they’re keys.

(We weren’t in Kemijärvi during the winter, but if we had been…)

(The bridge across the lake)

(Epic purple moss.  I think.  So maybe it’s not moss, but it’s most definitely epic.)

(If you look at the trees further back, you’ll notice that the upper halves of their trunks seem a little…naked.  Like they’ve been scalped or flayed.  Pretty much all the trees (except the birches and other deciduous trees) were like this everywhere we went, missing the bark from their upper bits.  I have no idea why.)

(A museum)

(The lake)


(Lake Kemijärvi)



5 thoughts on “Lands of bog, lake and troll: day 6

  1. Pingback: 10 (or so) things you didn’t know about Karelian Finland «

  2. Pingback: Lands of bog, lake and troll: end of day 6, midnight of the 7th «

  3. Pingback: Lands of bog, lake and troll: Day 7 «

  4. Pingback: Lands of bog, lake and troll: Day 8 |

  5. Pingback: Stockholm Has Not Infected Me |

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