30 Jul Cycling Across the Arctic Circle
Despite taking the train for the past 13 hours, we still have nearly 500 miles to go before reaching Nordkapp. However, by taking the train we gave ourselves a 5-day buffer, so unless something really goes wrong or the weather turns to total crap, we should see the midnight sun.
Our train arrives promptly on schedule and we have 20 minutes to unload our stuff and get our bikes. No worries! Considering we have had next to no sleep, we feel pretty good, but before leaving the train station, we take some time to just relax, have a couple cups of coffee, and chat a few minutes with a couple that will be traveling around the eastern part of Finland, into Norway, and then making their way down through Russia before retuning home in Finland. After several minutes of small talk, they gather their stuff because they have a bus to catch.
We eventually get going and start our ride north, well sort of! First we cycle into town and search for a grocery store to stock up on supplies. We hear the towns are very far apart and getting food supplies can be tricky, so we want to make sure we have enough to eat; because the last thing a bike tourist wants after a long day of cycling is to go to bed hungry.
After loading up on groceries and eating a small breakfast, we head off to find the local tourist office and hopefully pick up a map of the area. We score a really nice map from the tourist office and we are finally rolling. As we are leaving the town center we notice it is nearly noon and we cannot believe that it is so late already. We both jokingly laugh and say something along the lines of: no biggie because the sun does not set for at least 2 weeks, and off we go.
The road-leaving town is busy and no bikes are allowed on it, but luckily for us there is a nice bike path. About 10 miles into our cycling, the bike path disappears and we find ourselves now on the busy street. We also ride across the Arctic Circle and past Santa Claus Village, which appears closed to us. Despite being on a fairly busy road full of trucks, motorcycles, and cars all the drivers are very courteous and give us plenty of room while passing. Eventually, we come to a fork in the road and our route goes to the left. From this point, the traffic seems to be less and we are able to just ride along and enjoy the sights. Not too long after making our left turn we come to a park that sits on a lake and in the park there are several shelters. A couple is camping and there are a few people taking a quick swim to cool off. Believe it or not, we are in the Arctic Circle and it is freaking hot! Unreal!
After checking out the area, Ron decides that he too wants to go in for a dip, so he changes into his swimming trunks and walks into the water. That is about as far as he got because the water was pretty cold. After chilling out in the park for sometime we hit the road again.
We slowly lose track of time with the sun being up, but we realize that it is time to start looking for a place to camp for the night. However before stopping, we find a river and pump out a few liters of water for dinner, tea, and hopefully enough for coffee in the morning.
Not too long after getting back on the road we spot our first reindeer and what do we do? Correct, we stop and take photos like anyone would!
Following our little reindeer photo op, we locate a nice spot in the trees and up on a small hill where there is a breeze that we pray will help keep the deer flies and mosquitoes away.
The breeze was nice and refreshing but it did little to keep the bugs away that were determined to eat us alive. Since the weather was so nice and warm out we decided to just use our tarp and mosquito net.
We eat dinner and get settled into our new home for the night when we realize that it is past 23:00 and are amazed how bright it is. The past 40 plus have been pretty busy for us so falling asleep should be easy. Slipping our Buffs over our eyes to block out the daylight, we slowly drift off to sleep.