It’s our last day inside the arctic circle and we’re dragging our heals. Laundry is drying in the sauna, the washing machine is grinding away on the last load, the kitchen is slowly being packed away and our packing cubes are filling back up. This week has been pure magic and we’re sad to leave the far north, but excited for new adventures.
Yesterday we drove about an hour away to a populated tourist area and joined a snowmobile excursion that took us to a reindeer farm. The snowmobile ride was a lot of fun, each leg was about 16k through snowy forest where you rarely saw any other traffic. As we approached the reindeer farm the trail went from two-way traffic to a single track through the woods… it was pure magic! Loads of snow draped itself across trees, rocks, streams… it mounded and melted together seamlessly making it look completely fake. As we drove through the last part of the trail it had more switchbacks and low hanging trees we had to dunk under to continue on. The snowmobiles drove fairly easily but were a little more challenging to drive than I had imagined. Definitely along the lines of a large fwd four-wheeler. During one stop where our guide allowed everyone to take a break and capture photos he stopped to speak with us. Marty jokingly complained about the speed of the snowmobile (it was pokey, we were both at full throttle most of the ride up to that point) and our guide laughed and said there were different programs. We talked about motorcycles and four-wheeling for a bit and then he turned our snowmobiles up… lets just say the rest of the trip was 10xs more fun!!
At the reindeer farm we met the owner, Hannu, and he taught us about how they raise their reindeer; essentially it’s like raising cows in the U.S. around the Midwest where you have free range government land. The reindeer are raised for their meet and furs but they only sell them twice a year. The reindeer each have an owner and a unique snip in their ears– the farmers will not give you a distinct number of how many heads they own because it’s essentially their currency and it’s like sharing how much is in your bank account.
Our host, Hannu, welcomed us into a traditional teepee with a warm fire inside where we enjoyed learning from the owner about the Sami people– who are the only indigenous people in Scandinavia. Their best known means of livelihood is semi-nomadic reindeer herding and in some areas they are the only people allowed to raise reindeer. Each and every reindeer have an owner and they cannot be hunted unlike moose in the area. It was nice to learn briefly about the Sami history, how they raise their reindeer (foods they eat, herding for auction, etc), drinking a hot berry juice our host and his wife make as well as a cloudberry pastry.
After speaking with Hannu for a bit we were loaded into reindeer sleighs, covered with furs and taken on a loop around the farm. The reindeer were beautiful and of course all you want to do is go pet them, unfortunately they do not like to be petted and we were asked not to. I likened them to cats… they wanted to be in your space on their terms, but as soon as you showed interested they dismissed you. LOL After sitting still for so long I was freezing and ready to head back, thankfully our snowmobiles had heated grips and the engine heat radiated where your feet sat. It was a fun ride back to our starting point.
Today we’ve spent the day traipsing in and out taking snowshoes out or Nordic skiing. Benko and Lilly have such beautiful land and we have loved exploring different areas and of course photographing it. Benko came around this morning to stoke the house fire so their dog visited us for a bit, it was 27 degrees Fahrenheit this morning– quite warm here so everyone had an extra pep in their step.
The snow is so deep it’s almost comical, no matter how many times we’ve fallen into drifts by accident or on purpose we explode with giant belly laughs. Laughter makes everything better no matter the cause! From running outside between sauna sessions and having our own “polar bear plunge” in 4 foot deep snow, jumping off paths just to see how deep you fall in to loss of control on Nordic skies we have landing in our fair share of deep snow this week and it’s hilarious each and every time.
Bedtime… we have a long 12 hour drive back to the capital, Helsinki, in the morning. Until next time…
Marty & Charity