2-10 March 2002
Ski Week Vacation Highlights
2 March, Saturday
Hi/low 25° F / 4° F (-4° C/ -16° C)
I had set a goal to cross-country ski every
day of my vacation. I didn’t quite
achieve my goal, since my body started to
complain after three days.
On Saturday, it was a clear, sunny day. The
Isotalus family asked if we would like to
join them for cross-country skiing at the
track ten minutes from our home. It
is in the forest near the airport, where
I had skied with them during a past evening.
It was John’s first day to try cross-country
skiing – what a good sport he was! His
skis had not been properly waxed, so they
were sticking in the snow. Finally
we traded skis and he seemed to be able to
slide along more easily. I like it
when we are skiing with the children, because
then I don’t feel guilty for holding other
people up. The children set a pace
that works for me; but I must say everyone
is very patient.
This was my second day of skiing and I felt like I was getting the hang
of it. After about an hour, three kilometers and surrounded by the
beauty of nature we headed home. Pertti and Marjo invited us in to
have some delicious salmon soup. Yummy!! I hope to get the recipe so I
can make the dish for you when we return home.
In the evening we were off to the Marbach’s for a wonderful dinner. We
enjoyed the video tape John had made of the UNICEF event at school and
we visited about life in Finland, Germany and the United States.
3 March 2002, Sunday
Hi/low 20° F / 1° F (-7° C/ -17° C)
We were off to try cross-country skiing again. Pertti had waxed both pairs
of our skis and suggested we add a different wax to the center section
of each ski. John added the wax, but he shouldn’t have, because we
both found we were sticking at times, mostly on the hills. Oh well, it
was still fabulous to be out on the trails of the forest in the glorious
John – Waxing skis is more art than science. Cross-country skis may
have two types of wax on them. A “speed” wax on the entire ski, or at least
the outer thirds. The center portion, measured by where the ski does NOT
touch the floor when you are standing on it, has a “sticky” wax. The intent
is that the center portion only touches when you push hard, otherwise you
are gliding on the “speed” waxed portions of the skis. My problem was that
whenever I went over the crest of a bump or hill the skis would stick and
my momentum would carry me forward. I usually landed on my knees and elbows.
Nothing hurt but my pride (and it sure has taken a few bruises)!
4 March 2002, Monday
Hi/low 24° F / 0° F (-4° C/ -18° C)
Skiing on the Kiiminkijoki
Heikki Soini, our third grade teacher, called
and wanted to know if we could join him,
his wife Riitta and their daughter Maija
at her parents’ cottage on the Kiiminkijoki
(Kiiminki River). We met at school and
Heikki along Highway 20 towards
We stopped along the highway and
met Riitta’s father who had driven there
to give Heikki an ice drill. As soon
as we arrived at the cottage, Heikki and
John went about ten feet out from the bank
of the river and re-opened hole in the ice.
(John – the drill was Russian-made and it
screws counter-clockwise – not what I am
accustomed to.) After pumping the buckets
full they were put in the sauna (so they
wouldn’t freeze), we had a little snack and
then headed out. Down on the river,
we put on our skis and started upstream.
Heikki was very patient as we made our way
slowly along some snow mobile tracks to the
area near the bridge where we had seen the rapids
with Outi Tuovinen in October. It was hard to imagine
that we were now skiing on the same river.
Occasionally we would heard a burbling sound
and see an opening in the ice where the water
was bubbling past. One time I thought
I saw a river otter and later John saw an
otter run across the ice farther upstream,
so I must have seen his head like I thought.
Next we headed to the bank, sat on some stones
and enjoyed some coffee and blueberry bars
that Riitta’s mother had made. What
Then we headed back towards the cabin and
met Riitta and Maija. We started into
the forest and skied for about twenty minutes.
Then Heikki skied ahead and decided we were
on the wrong trail. So we turned around,
backtracked and found the correct trail.
We skied/walked to a fire hut/shelter in
the forest where we cooked sausage, drank
coffee and enjoyed the outdoors. The
fire huts are small log huts, stocked with
wood, with a fire ring for use by anyone.
It was clean when we arrived and clean when
we left. It really didn’t matter that
we had taken an extra trail, because the
sun shining through the trees was so beautiful
and the forest was so peaceful with the diamond-like
snow sparkling in the sunlight that I had
to pinch myself to see if this could be real.
We enjoyed seeing the animal and bird tracks
in the snow. It hardly seemed any time before
we were around the fire having hot rum coffee
The sun was starting to set so we headed
back to the cottage, restoked the wood-burning
sauna and Riitta started fixing dinner. Then
Riitta, Maija and I enjoyed a long sauna.
It was my favorite sauna experience so far.
My body was nice and hot and the outside
air was cool – very refreshing. Then
Heikki and John had their turn. The
sauna sits on the bank of the river.
(John – we had some great conversations about
the Finnish perceptions of America and vice
versa, what we had learned from our fathers
about World War II, and life in general.)
After the men returned from their sauna,
we enjoyed a wonderful poached salmon for
dinner. We visited over dinner and
then headed home. A great day.
Heikki had made a great call on the weather
since it was a perfect day; clear, sunny
and cold with no breeze. The next day
the weather was overcast.
5 March 2002, Tuesday
Hi/low 23° F / 4° F (-5° C/ -16° C)
Off to Kalajoki
Our neighbors, Pertti (“Pepe”) and Marjo
Isotalus, invited us to join them for the
day at a cottage they had rented about one
hundred kilometers down the coast in
Kalajoki. We left just as a weather front was
started to snow in Oulu. During our
drive down we encountered heavy winds and
snow drifts on the highway. While we
sitting at the table in the cottage enjoying
chicken curry, the sky turned blue as the
tail end of the front passed by!
Later they took us for a tour of Kalajoki
and then on to a swimming facility.
What a contrast to walk across a snow-covered
parking lot, with two-meter high drifts along
the sides, into a warm resort watching people
drift by in the pool. The main pool
was circular in shape. For five minutes
the water pumps supplied water massage jets
along the pool walls or for a central fountain/water
fall. The next five minutes the water
pumps circulated the water around the central
island (with swim-up bar lagoon, seating
area and a hot tub) so that you could float
and be carried all the way around the pool.
For the next two hours the six of us swam,
soaked in a Turkish-style steam bath, “enjoyed”
a dip in the +8°C (46°F) “cold” tub (brisk
is an understatement!) and a final Finnish
We returned to the cottage for “coffee and”
with fire-cooked sausages, a good visit and
then drove home under clear, starry skies.
When we got home we called Natalie to wish
her a Happy Birthday.
9 March 2002, Saturday
Hi/low 25° F / 4° F (-4° C/ -16° C)
Salo family for lunch
Raimo Salo and his family came for lunch.
We enjoyed our afternoon sharing about our
different interests in types of music, learning
about their children's kindergarten experiences
and hearing about their summer plans at a
cottage and doing some fishing. It was pleasant
to have a chance to learn more about their
10 March 2002, Sunday
Hi/low 23° F / 4° F (-5° C/ -16° C)
It is an absolutely spectacular day. John is out clearing the driveway
from yesterday’s steady snowfall. I’m starting our newsletter for the highlights
from the last two weeks and looking out the window to see the mounds of
snow becoming higher and higher along the driveways, watching the shrubbery
move in the wind, seeing the snow on the roof tops glisten in the brilliant
sun. Wow! This is what the Finns say they have been waiting
for – bright, beautiful days with the temperatures around -5°C (23°F).
Well, I can see why they like it. It is unbelievably beautiful.