Tag Archives: vacation

My life changed today

Who knew that a simple accident would cause such profound consequences and just 4 days ago I thought it was just a simple problem. Yep it was then that I fell, slipped in the mud, heard a snap, cried out in pain, and limped back up to a supposed “sprained ankle”. After returning to my hometown, after 3 long days of international travel, I realized today that my bone was broken.

Now it was not excruciating pain 4 days ago, it was an inconvenience. I hobbled around, packed my bags, rumbled through airports, arose early, went to bed late and finally returned home this AM and I knew what I needed to do first.

To get my ankle checked out. Since I was a hobbler, I needed to know the truth, to be set free, sorta.

The “snap” was bugging me, and I thought many times that was just a twig, my pants, anything but that “crack” sound in my brain. So here I sit, temp cast place, waiting for the next update and maybe stronger cast. I have lots to think about.

Driving, eating, cooking, sleeping, bathroom breaks, work, travel or not, dressing up, or down. Now I’m a bit tired trying to adjust to this time zone and get back to normal, but that seems so far off now.

Tranquillity…why we all need it. 

Like most people I find myself busy all the time. Busy for work, busy with friends, stuck in front of a computer or TV. Nothing beats sitting still in the outdoors. This location is not exactly nature but in a country of 100’s of thousands of lakes, it’s pretty close. 

My father often spoke of just walking in the woods thinking and contemplating life. I have heard that often from my relatives too. And so I sit, as I begin my second day in Finland, a beautiful country with a rich and proud heritage. 99 years old as a country. The clouds roll in as it will be overcast today but it doesn’t change the beauty. 

Being at peace is a beautiful thing and having a place where you can be at peace, all the better! I’m happy that I chose Finland again for vacation. This time to spend more time relaxing, enjoying the moments that are far from me. Dipping my toes in the water to just pause and rest, now that is peace. 

Why is it important though, why do we need it? I contend that it resets our core, that being busy is just an excuse to thinking you are productive. But isn’t this what we all say we want. Just a moment please, I need to rest, I need time for myself, I need you here with me.  

Already I miss those I love. I want them here with me but for now, I’ll take what I can get in this moment. The gentle breeze against my skin, the occasional pop of the water from a fish taking a breath, the song and chirp of a bird.

This is what I have been wanting, and my soul is receptive. Don’t you deserve that too? Is life so busy you don’t take time to smell the roses? Take the time now, before they are placed above you and you won’t be able to appreciate them. Balance in life and work is so important. I have neglected that for many years and it came at a huge price of loss. Loss of family. Loss of love. Loss of peace. Loss of tangible things but those are replaceable. Unfortunately the loss of time is not. 

Find your tranquillity, you will be glad that you did. 

Musings from my epic vacation Pt. 2

I arrived in Pornainen on 8th of July to my next hosts. It is a small farming town with many fields of barley and rye, perhaps other crops, some cows and apparently a well known 36 hole golf course. I don’t golf but I learned about the 2- 18 hole golf courses amongst the fields. I wondered whether or not the fields were more stable in $ or was the golf course self sufficient, since playing golf only lasts for several months; June- August. Perhaps the same amount of time that crops are able to grow, but crops have 20 hours of growth vs. ? how much of golf time. I am interested to know what the truth is.

After arriving we enjoyed afternoon coffee, with pulla, a sweet tart and a sour cheese kind of bread, hard to describe but it is similar to cottage cheese baked onto a crust. Not too tart and not too sweet.
After coffee my last host departed and we were soon off to a hiking trail. I learned that there had been 500 guests on this trail per year, and at one point, I was able to sign the guest book. The trail allows for no camping since it is on private land. We followed a creek, viewed a rock formation that proved to have a small lime deposit, and also saw some grinding stones that were probably used to grind grain of some sort. These stones were hundreds of years old. The highlight of the trip was the “pothole” like the ones found in Askola, Finland. Holes that were created by the glaciers that once were in the area, 10,000 years ago.  
After dinner, which composed of a mushroom gravy over potatoes, herring, salad with lingon berry, bread, potato salad, apple juice and beer, we also had a clear schnapps of some kind. My host presented me with a glass egg as a gift. Something that will remind me of my visit to Pornainen.
On the 9th of July we were headed to Kotka via Porvoo. We first stopped at some rapids which provided great photos. it was also the place where Pornainen celebrates Midsummer Festival, which occurred on June 19th or 20th, which is the longest day. I had received many e-mails from relatives wishing me a happy midsummer. A bonfire, live music, food, beer, singing, seems to be all part of the celebration.
I wanted to stopped in Porvoo to see if I could find a “moose” and I determined that if I were to find it, it was fate, and if not, it was fate! It is a ceramic white colored moose made in USSR. I have one already, though it is chipped, I wanted to see if I could buy one. I should have last time, now its somewhere else but not in my hands.
On our way to Kotka, I was able to see new bridges that are made for animal to cross the road over the top, an interesting concept that I think is being considered in Colorado somewhere.
I have carried on the tradition of bringing flowers to my hosts and I need to buy some for my cousin. I stopped in a little flower shop and found the florist making a colorful bouquet of pink, yellow, and purple flowers for someone already. I just asked her to make an identical kind and she did a great job. These I shared with my oldest cousin, she liked them. As we discussed it, she is my oldest cousin and I am the youngest cousin, on my father’s side of the family. I had never thought of it that way before but found it interesting. 
I found out that the florist had been an exchange student in Las Vegas for 6 months and has traveled with her family to California and New York.
We arrived in the main city of Kotka and this is one of my favorite places to stay. An eastern coastal town, close to the Russian border, maybe a little too close for comfort, but Russian tourists spend a lot of money here.
We walked through the local garden, saw a new statue in town, went by the harbor, had an ice cream, and went to my favorite garden by the harbor. It has a waterfall which the water comes from the ocean. I was looking for a particular flower, or at least what I thought was a flower and I think we found it, but it was not exactly like the one I captured by photos last time, but very similar. It was from a vine, still interesting. Anna noted that we must look quite silly taking a picture of a vine.
We continued on our walk through the Kotka National Urban Park along the shore and then through the forrest, which a sign said to leave everything as is, even if it falls. Anna enjoyed this area as she had squirrels eating nuts from her hands. I was not interested in doing it, knowing Squirrels carry disease, but maybe I should have. It was a nice walk with my cousins, enough to build an appetite. We enjoyed home made pizza and the # 1 table wine in Finland, all quite good.
The next day (the 10th of July) we were going to the cottage for some relaxation and sauna. We would need to travel to the island by boat. The name of the island is Horse Island or Hevossaari. The dingy was small, but I wore my life jacket, which fortunately fit fine. I protected my phone with a temporary plastic sandwich bag and loaded up the boat with what we needed for the day.
We had lunch, and I had a “brief” nap, which once I was awakened was told it was over two hours long and it was my time for sauna. With Vasta in hand, we proceeded to the sauna and 100 degree Celsius…. After several swats of the Vasta and ladles of water on the hot stones we decided to take the traditional dip in the icy cold water, in this case the sea. What a refreshing experience, this traditional sauna. First the sting of the water and then realizing how refreshing it is, as your body immediately cools down, and you realize the heat of the sauna is both a sweaty cleanse and an almost daily ritual in some households, especially those who are at their cottages. It was the best sauna in recent memory, but I am sure that I will have more during the next 13 days. After just resting out of the water, and washing up in the sauna, we packed up, and gathered our items so that we could head back to Kotka. We launched the boat back into the sea, and loaded up. It had remained cloudy all day with bursts of sun throughout. 
The cottage property was large with a nice sandy beach, not like the other properties filled with rock, large and small. A separate grilling area with a clear roof and surrounded by large windows to block the wind, several storage areas for wood, tools, work bench, and outhouse, though I wouldn’t consider that a building, the main cottage with new running water and electricity, a modern day convenience. The sewer has not been connected but apparently lines have been run to the surrounding cottages. And of course the sauna building, with modest sauna and changing area as well as a separate sleeping area for guests. What a great place to enjoy extended periods of relaxation, surrounded by countless fields of blueberry bushes and the occasional prize of yellow mushrooms.    
It was a great day on the island. A little hike to the top of the island, a view of Kotka and the surrounding area, a better view of Suusaari Island, which is now owned by the Russians and is visible from Kotka. It was once Finnish owned.
Off we were in the boat with the 5Hp engine, churning water as we head around the island, clouds at our backs and heading to the dock where the car was.
Once back home in Kotka we had another cousin come visit. It is nice to see as many relatives as possible, so far 32 to date.
Saturday the 11th was another day for another cousin to visit. So we went to the market in the morning, found some vegetables, postcards, and flowers for my host. White roses and white carnations, fortunately she likes white! We enjoyed a full afternoon of lunch, coffee, local sites, several gardens, and beer. We took many pictures, some silly, so just of each other. It was a really nice day though it has been cooler than typically. It has been the coolest summer thus far since 1962. The Finns value their summer, looking forward to the warmth and disappointed when it doesn’t arrive. I was in Finland on one of its warmest days before I headed to Poland.
My cousin and I chatted about the importance of finding someone to spend life with. It is important to me to find that person. Traveling alone has it’s advantages and certainly its disadvantages. A sign in a store said ” the lifestyle you ordered is currently out of stock” . That is certainly the case for me. I am surrounded by a great family and extended family and also many great friends too and I feel I am in a much better place now with so many good friends. 
I have thought about the items I brought on my trip and I realized the few that I have not used. Slim jims, rain pants, suntan lotion, my water shoes, knit cap, water bottle. Perhaps I will use them soon, but so far, just extra luggage.
I’m going to miss Kotka, it is one of my favorite places to visit. Still so much to see here, but I will wait for the next visit. Today I head to Marinkyla for my next set of cousins.

My Epic trip to Finland chapter 1

I started the idea of this trip in September 2014 when I purchased my ticket Finland. It was a great price on Iceland Air, a radio host I listen to, suggested the best time to purchase European trips. I didn’t have any idea at that time what would actually take place but I decided that I must visit my extended family again and who knows when I would return for a visit. My last visit was in 2009 and I thought that visit was amazing, life changing in many ways, I wasn’t sure if this could top the last visit.

I shared my news with my cousins via e-mail, and kept in regular contact over the fall and no ernest planning until the new year. I am fortunate that I have been able to open lines of communication among my father’s and mother’s  nieces and nephews  and stayed in regular contact with them.

On this trip I decided to do something different, add a new country to my itinerary. After consultation with a few relatives, I decided on Krakow, Poland.  The highlight of this trip will be the visit to Auschwitz- Birkenau Concentration camp and the Wieliczka Salt Mine.  Both significant and historical on their own. I  have always been interested in this aspect of WW2. 

So I departed Denver, CO and had a direct flight to Iceland. From  Iceland it was a short flight to Finland. One of the amazing components to this flight segment was that my cousin Anita would be on board the same flight.  We used our charm to get close seats and then eventually, sit next to each other.

After traveling for more than 10 hours, I pushed through the night with walking, laughing, drinking and seeing the sights of Helsinki.  We spent part of our night enjoying live music and dancing to a few tunes. 

I was exhausted, I just didnt know that I would sleep t 10 hours.

I have a great host family and they have made sure that I am well  fed and taken care of.

The next stop today will be leaving for  Poland .