20/6/17. As you will have gathered from the title of this post today saw our journey south take us past two milestones which, while not not in the same place, may be connected.
The first one was that we crossed the Arctic Circle so we are no longer in The Land Of The Midnight Sun, although strangely the sun doesn’t set on the town of Kuusamo (more than 50 km south) for a period of 10 days – at least according to a webpage that we found. Disappointingly there was no sign on the side of the road to indicate this landmark, although this may be because the Circle is moving north at the rate of 15 feet per year (something to do with the moon and the tides changing the Earth’s axis of rotation) so we estimated our crossing using the Garmin and an approximation of 66° 33.7’ North.
Another 20-30 km on, we saw actual signs showing that we had left the Finnish administrative region of Lapland and entered Northern Ostrobothnia. The coat of arms for Lapland was rather surprising, depicting a caveman wearing only a loincloth – hardly the attire suitable for this country!
The day had started late with Christine surprising herself by waking at 9.05 after more than 11 hours of well-deserved kip. We pootled around for a while as we were intending to take relatively easy day but then, just as we started taking the bags out to attach to the bikes Stephen struck! In an act of ineptitude reminiscent of his locking us out of the car in Charleston in the US, he contrived to shut the door to the log cabin with us on the outside and the keys on the inside!
And of course, this being laid-back Finland, reception did not open until more than an hour later! We tried to explain our predicament to the elderly couple in the next cabin but their English was no better than our Finnish so, initially at least, they did not really grasp what we were saying and miming. However, eventually they cottoned on and phoned the cleaners (our phones were, of course, locked inside the cabin!) who rode to the rescue!
Stephen was hanging his head in shame and Christine was looking forward to dining out on the story for months, if not years!
Not surprisingly since we were staying in a ski resort, there were a few hills at the start of the day’s ride but they were not too taxing and then the road levelled out. With the help of a cool north wind at our backs we made good time and, shortly after crossing the Circle, we stopped at the information centre for a National Park for lunch which we shared with Marc from Holland who was enjoying a motorcycling holiday around Scandinavia. We had a very pleasant conversation with him.
As the afternoon wore on we continued to make good progress and decided to make for another ski resort, Ruka, even though it was further than we had intended to go – mainly because the weather was significantly better than yesterday and, in addition, the forecast for tomorrow was even worse (pouring rain and a high of 6°).
We were starting to regret this decision over the last 10 km as the climbing started again (not surprisingly since ski resort = hills!) but arrived at the town at about 6.30 and, after a couple of attempts, found a cheap and warm cabin to stay in.
After the evening meal Stephen jumped on his bike to do a little bit of food shopping (including the vital issue of beer acquisition!) while Christine washed up. When he returned Christine was looking a little sheepish and quite cold. She confessed that she had contrived to lock herself out and it had taken 10 minutes to get herself let back in again! How Stephen chuckled!