Saturday, May 2, 2015

Lapland Safari

We were excited to have John and Julie's family come visit during spring break.  Jarom and Christina Hughes and their children traveled with them.  We got permission from Pres. Watson to travel to Lapland with them, and had a wonderful adventure together!

This map shows where we were in Finland.  We flew from Helsinki to Ivalo, which is about 235 miles north of the Arctic Circle, and almost 700 miles from Helsinki.
Nathan, Brooke, Larry, Joey, Anne, Sam, John and Julie at the Ivalo airport.


Anne and I stayed in this traditional Finnish house.  It had
a central fireplace which heated both of the main rooms.
A modern sauna had been attached to the side, and proved
to be very relaxing. 

Anne relaxing by the fireplace in our bedroom.  The rocker was very comfortable, as was the whole cabin.

John and Julie's family and the Hughes stayed in two newer cabins, which were quite comfortable.  They also rented a glass igloo and took turns spending the night in it.  We had hoped that one night would be clear and that we would have a chance to see the norther lights. Unfortunately it was overcast while we were there so we didn't get to see the stars or northern lights.  The igloo experience might have been better on a clear night.  

Our first night there we visited a reindeer farm.  This is Armi with Anne.  They are pulling a sled with some lichen on it.  Lichen makes up most of the reindeer's winter forage.

The teepee in the back is a temporary kota or shelter.  In this case it is used to store the lichen that they feed the reindeer.  Kotas can be covered with canvas, reindeer hides or poles and pine boughs.  They also have a long house type wooden kota, that is a more permanent structure.  You can view different images at
Sami kota images.
Nathan is feeding the reindeer lichen.  The reindeer are similar to Alaskan caribou, but are quite a bit smaller.  We went on a reindeer sled ride one night hoping to catch a glimpse of the norther lights, but it was overcast.  It was a nice peaceful ride.

This is the large permanent kota at Joiku Kotsamo.  Timo and Armi are the owners.  Armi is at the front door welcoming us to come in and enjoy a traditional Sami meal.  The Sami are the indigenous people of Lapland.

Our dinner started with reindeer soup.  The main course was plank roasted salmon.  The center of the kota was the fireplace and the salmon was pegged to a plank and then hung upright around the fire.  It was delicious!!!

Armi cutting the salmon on the planks.  We were delighted to be able to go
back for seconds!  Some of the best salmon I have ever eaten!!!!
Our hostesses in different types of traditional Sami dress, which is very colorful.  The different shades of blue on the borders designate different home villages or towns.

Anne and I at the dinner table.  Our grandchildren are smiling in the background.

On our second day in Lapland we went ice fishing.  We rode snowmobiles for about 45 minutes to a lake that was frozen over.  We had to clear away the snow and then drill through about 3 feet of ice in order to go fishing.  The augers were razor sharp and made pretty short work of it.  After drilling three holes, however, I was ready to give someone else a turn.  
(Not sure how this video displays, but you can get the idea.)

Before we could fish we had to bore a hole through three feet of ice.  

Ice fishing!  Each person is at a hole in the ice jigging a lure and bait up and down.  We were told repeatedly by our guide that they had never been skunked before.  Unfortunately, there is always a first time for everything.  They won't be able to say that anymore!!
Joey the fisherman!!!
It was amazing how patient the kids were.  Some continued
fishing even after the adults had given up!

This is our whole group all dressed up for the snowmobile ride back to Saariselkä.

Another exciting adventure we had was dog sledding!  It was probably the funnest thing that we did.

This Anne and Kathryn Hughes getting ready to mush their way out.

After a quick instruction course, which lasted about 5 minutes and included instructions on slowing, braking and turning we headed out.  It was pretty exhilarating!

My poor dogs had a lot of weight to pull, but it was a lot of fun.  I think I probably lost 3 or 4 pounds in the 2 hours we were sledding.  On hills we would get off and run behind the sleigh (which I only tried once), or push with one leg to help the dogs.  When I got off to run with them, they really took off and almost pulled me off my feet.

Here we are with John and Julie's family and two of our trustee dogs.

It was a beautiful day!!  Halfway through our sledding trip we stopped at this kota for a snack of hot juice and cookies.


Inside the kota.

When we got back to Helsinki we took the ferry out to Suomenlinna, a fortified island at the entrance to Helsinki's harbor.  The kids had a lot of fun playing on the old walls, cannons, in the tunnels and dungeons, etc.  Suomenlinna is a world heritage site and is a must see for anyone visiting Helsinki.

The Brashers and Hughes kids hamming it up on one of the cannons.

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