Happy New Year 2022

Some photos from New Year’s ski promenade with friends. We were lucky – clear sky and -12 °C gave perfect conditions for some outdoor BBQ at Stora Stenen. And when the wind increased we went inside the wooden cabin of this public recreation area and fired the oven.

Have a Happy New Year 2022 all together!

Sun salutation

While the polar night in Tromsø started in the end of November and continues for two more weeks there is no polar light home in Obbola which is 6 degrees south of Tromsø. So if there is clear sky, then there is sun.

After Christmas in Norway Annika and I arrived in Obbola some days ago. First the weather was cloudy and stormy but today  sky was quite clear. Therefore I could witness the sun today for the first time in more than a month. I only had to go 200 metres to the edge of our little bay Grundviken where I waited for the sunrise.

I love sunrises and sometimes I can stand up quite early to witness it. But today it was really special to watch the sun rise higher and higher up the sky while in Tromsø polar night still continues.

After breakfast we took the car to Byviken in Obbola to join the winter bath. Round 40 cars were parked there and a queue of winter bathers waited at the ice hole. Winter bathing has really become a popular sport within the last years. We decided to avoid the queue and continued to our favourite beach at Vitskärsudden where we had to climb over a wall of ice but then we were the only winter bathers. Air: -10 °C, no wind – perfect conditions. Great!

(Photos: Annika Kramer)

We may take another outdoor bath today, but then in the hot water of our friend’s hot tub. I guess this bath could take slightly longer than the previous one.

Kayaking in the fog

Before I post some more black-and-white photographs from our car trip through Finland I’ll show you some photos from Annika’s and my kayak tour today. I cannot remember a week as foggy as this one since I moved to Sweden and it was foggy today, too. We couldn’t see the islet Lillskär from our house because it was hidden in the fog. It was however visible from the place where our kayaks lie. Or should I write float, because we had a water level of +45 cm.

Our tour wasn’t long but fun as every kayak tour. Now our kayaks lie on land and are waiting to be cleaned and dried. Then mine will be stored in the garage because I’ll travel to Tromsø on Tuesday and won’t be here before next year.

Saskarö in the fog

From Monday and Thursday Annika and I made a trip that I had in mind for a longer while. Travelling round the Bothnian Bay which is the northernmost part of the Baltic Sea. The first days we travelled by car along the sea. The last hours we travelled by ship from Vaasa in Finland to Holmsund in Sweden. From there it’s only a 12½ additional km to our house in Obbola where we live.

On our way to Haparanda we made a detour to Seskarö, an island that is connected to the mainland by several bridges. As the whole day (and half our journey) it was quite foggy.

Especially by the shores there was not much to see. A near island, a bit of ice, some rocks and and a white sea merging seamlessly into the white sky.

Winter weekend in Kusfors

Annika and I used the weekend to visit good friends in Kusfors. While it was still autumn home in Obbola by the sea, the inland experienced an onset of winter with 20 cm of snow and frost below  -10°C. And so did we in Kusfors.

There’s a reason why it’s a good idea to change to winter tyres already in October.

Morning paddling in Obbola

I’m home in Obbola – 6:20 – it’s still quite dark.

The sky is clear – hardly any wind – frost at -4.5 °C. – my kayak lies at the shore.

A good opportunity to do some pre-work kayaking and watch the sunrise at sea.

 

Travelling from Tromsø to Obbola

Live from the journey …

Part 1 – written in Hotell Sørreisa.

Saturday 16 October at 12:17 my train to Umeå will depart. Not from Tromsø (no train station), but from Abisko Östra. From there the train to Umeå will take nine hours. Then it’s only twenty more kilometres to our home in Obbola.

From Tromsø to Abisko I’ve planned to take the car. And this was the forecast for the Swedish mountains four days ago:

Half a metre snow! Holy moly! Luckily you can rely on the fact, that these forecasts are unreliable. Now only some centimetres of snow are forecasted for tomorrow.

Wednesday

While some trees in town shed there coloured leaves the mountains are already clad in snow. The first photo is taken in the centre of Tromsø, the other one near where I live.

Thursday

I change to winter tyres, a must have for crossing the Norwegian/Swedish mountains. Due to unsure weather conditions I decide to start my car trip already on Friday and book a room with breakfast in Sørreisa.

Friday

Half past three I have packed my stuff (why is the large suitcase so heavy again?) and start my car trip TromsøSørreisaAbisko. The first fifteen minutes stop and go in town, then over the bridge and onto the E6 that I follow for round 130 km south. The temperature slowly drops from +3 °C to -2 °C and gradually snow is not something far on the mountain slopes but lies left and right from the road E6.

It starts getting dark quite early. Sun down here in is already at 17:20. Here, that is Sørreisa Hotell, where I’ll stay overnight. This hotel does not only provided affordable rooms but really good Thai food as well.

Part 2 – written in Kiruna, sitting in the train to Boden.

Saturday

The next morning my car windows were covered with frost and the temperatures were slightly sub-zero. I had enough time to avoid the main road and instead took road 84 that has both mountain and coastal stages. I can warmly recommend this detour.

The smaller lakes in the mountains were mostly frozen. To my surprise even parts of the fjord Sagfjorden near Sjøvegan  were covered with thin ice. I thought it would take longer to make the saltwater freeze.

After I joined the main road E6 I left it again to follow the E10 to Sweden. There was some snow on the ground, but it wasn’t snowing.

45 minutes later I arrived in Abisko Östra. Here’s a cozy cabin, where I had stayed several times to explore Abisko. The owners generously allowed me to park my car here for free, while I am in Sweden. Thank you, Anneli and Thomas! It was nice meeting you again!

In Abisko it started snowing. I bought some lemonade and then waited for the train to come. It came in time. I got into the train. Now it’s only round nine hours to Umeå. With the car it is 700 km to Umeå so taking the train is not only more ecological and comfortable but also faster.

Part 3 – written in the train between Kiruna and Gällivare

When the train arrived in Kiruna it was winter. Everything was covered with snow, it was windy and constantly snowing. We had a stay of half an hour and I went out to take some photos. My anorak was warm enough, the summer barefoot shoes weren’t. No problem, since the train was overheated I quickly got  warm again.

After we left Kiruna more and more snow sticked to the slightly warmer train windows until I could hardly see through the window anymore.

Part 4 – written in the connection train somewhere between Älvsbyn and Jörn.

In Gällivare and Nattavaara there was more snow, but then the train approached the coastal region where it uses to be slightly warmer. The ground was also snow covered but the snow looked wet and probably won’t last long.

Meanwhile it had started to get dark. We were late but the connection train in Boden was supposed to wait for us. And so it did.

In Älvsbyn I took the last out-of-the-train photo today. It was dark and mostly I took photos from my own reflections, not from the outside.

I’m glad when I can leave the train. First of all I’m tired and want to arrive home. Then the train compartment is strongly overheated, too. I’ve been in saunas colder than this!

Part 5 – written from home on Sunday.

There’s not much more to tell. Leaving the town Vindeln behind I could see less and less snow until soon no more snow covered the ground. At 21:09 the train arrived in Umeå where Annika already waited on the platform. Half an hour I finally was home.

Today, after a rich breakfast:

I’m so glad to be here. At more than two weeks I’ll spend home in Obbola until I’ll take the same way back to Tromsø in early November.

Hejdå home office

Hejdå home office – hejdå Obbola – hejdå Sweden.

This picture is from yesterday, my last day in home-home office. One “home” is for not being in the office, another “home” for working from home in Obbola, not in Tromsø.

This room was my home office for eight months.

In normal times you meet colleagues in real life and have landscape photos on your computer monitor as a desktop background. The last eight months it was the opposite: I met my colleagues digitally but the view of the Baltic Sea was real. And so were the sail boats, the screeching sea birds and the roe deer passing by.

While I write this Annika and I sit in the train to Riksgränsen that departed in Umeå at 2:08(!). In Riksgränsen we’ll get a private lift to Narvik crossing the Norwegian border and then take the bus to Tromsø. If everything works well we’ll arrive there this evening. After a week Annika will return home while I’ll stay in Tromsø to continue my work for the Norwegian Polar Institute on-site.

Eight months Annika and I had together in Obbola. I appreciated every single day of this unexpected gift caused by the COVID-19 restrictions and I’ll keep this time in my heart.

What the future brings? Too early to say.

Three summer days in Råneå

(Oops, I’ve become lazy with blogging. This happened already a week ago!)

Last week Annika and I used our one-week holiday to visit friends in Råneå – 300 km from home, 100 from the Finnish border. Three days – three sections.

Thursday – getting wet

After a sunny morning a large cloud front approached Råneå, bringing thunderstorms, heavy rain and hail. It was short-lived and probably only some strawberries were harmed. (Or was it a snail that tasted them?). In the afternoon it cleared up and we spent some time by (and in) a bathing lake.

Friday – kayaking

We had booked the day before. Four kayaks (three single, one double) and a canoe. On tour: four children between 5 and 13 and five (more or less) grown-ups. We have booked for three hours and decided to paddle through a small creek and then take the Råneå river back to the boat rental by the sea. I have paddled quite a lot on the sea but hardly on rivers, streams or creeks. A great experience!

Saturday – open air concert

Annika and I had heard Daniel Wikslund before. On this day he played two open-air concerts in Överkalix – the first one on a large wooden raft on the river Råneälven. It was wonderful to listen to his folk-inspired music from the a small jetty, the water or even from the raft. It was his first concert since February 2020 due to the covid  restrictions. Hard times for musicians!

You see the wooden keyboard instrument? That’s a pump-organ (Swedish: tramporgel). We’re lucky to have such an instrument in our house soon. Today we’ll meet friends that will help us with the transport from the previous owner’s summer cottage by the sea up the hill to the gravel road and then to our house. Wish us look, that the transport succeeds.