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Paula said, “Have you thought about going to Finland? It’s not that far.”

(Ha Ha Ha)

“Why not?” we replied. We decided to go to Finland on Tuesday as long as Jonathan didn’t stay up all night looking at the summer solstice on Monday. He did take photos at 2 am and 6 am, but the day started out sunny and we left for Finland at 8:30 am.

Our first pit stop had lots of local color.

It was a pretty long drive. We celebrated at the halfway point when our destination was finally on the map, Kilpisjärvi.

6.21.16 trip to Finland-008smYou drive across the top of Norway and then south to the border with Finland.  The mountains along the route were spectacular.

6.21.16 trip to Finland-013smInstead of the tree line at 12,000 ft. it was at about 1500 ft. just above us. The vegetation of fir trees, small birch, alder, aspen trees, and thick moss is considered taiga, one of those areas you learned about in geography and never expected to see.

6.21.16 trip to Finland-011smKilpisjärvi is the first town you come to on this route to Finland. There are rental cabins, fishing trips and lake tours. We ate lunch overlooking the large lake. After lunch we did a bit of birdwatching and saw a brambling, and others that didn’t stay long enough to identify.

6.21.16 Finland trip-004smDespite the fabulous scenery, one highlight of Kilpisjärvi is shopping, that is, beer is much less expensive than in Norway, about € 1 per can. It’s a bit like going into a store on the edge of the Navajo reservation.

We didn’t need to stock up but we found a source of postcards, stamps and even a mailbox that offers “a special postmark”. I can’t wait to see when they get to the US. I now have a pair of wool socks that say “Kilpisjärvi”. Jonathan has a tshirt with reindeer, and Paula has a small bag that says “Finland”. Woo hoo, we’re souvenir-ed up, complete with selfies at the Finnish border. There was no one to stamp our passport.

6.21.16 Finland (3)The map showed no roads into Sweden, so I checked on GoogleEarth and found a spot that looked like it went into Sweden, so we continued another 20 km down the road to see if we could hit a third country. The road was there, though a rather unprepossessing neighborhood–it was the recycling depot with about a half dozen wrecked cars, two recycling containers and a small parking lot. Bummer–no road to Sweden. However…..

6.21.16 trip to Finland-014smThere is a footbridge from one gravel parking lot to an equivalent spot on the other side. We crossed the river, checked our cell phone maps to make sure we were actually in Keinovuopio, Sweden, cheered, and went back to Finland.

The drive back got a bit long. We arrived back at our house in Kjerstad about 12.5 hours after we left, having traveled just over 700 km. Quite an adventure!