01 August 2008

Camping last weekend

I went camping for the first time* ever in Finland! And it was about time.
The last time I had gone camping was many years ago before I moved to Finland, probably even before I knew about my connection to Finland. Needless to say, I was much younger and most likely young enough that my parents still took care of the major part of camping and I was only responsible for my clothes and personal stuff. This time around, I was responsible for most everything, with the help of my Friend Ronja.

The biggest difference I found between camping in Oregon and in Finland is the light.
Even though we are a month past mid-summer, the nights are still decently light. Especially when there are no clouds about. The only time I really felt I needed a flashlight was when I used the outhouse (our only "amenity") in the middle of the night. It gets dark in there. Other than that, the flashlight was almost more of a hindrance then a help.

This is a very different experience than camping in the USA. No matter what time of the year it is in the USA (except maybe Alaska, which I've never been to) you will need a flashlight or some other sort of light to make your way around at night. It always gets dark at night.

The following picture was taken at 22:06, Friday July 25th, 2008.

And now onto the rest of the camping story:
There was a group of about 30 of us there camping in Päijänteen national park on the island of Hietasaari.

The island itself can be walked in about 45minutes on a leisure walk. There are beautiful views out over the water to the other islands, looking inwards on the island itself and just all around.
The weather cooperated with us perfectly. It has been raining almost all summer, but not that weekend (or the 2 days before and entire week after! It is still sunny as I sit here and type this one week after I arrived on the island).

We rested, played in the water (the kids were in the water all day), went to sauna, cooked, read, talked, laughed and just had a good time. Some of us knew one another, but there was still many of us that didn't know most of the people (myself included). So it was a nice chance to get to know some great people and just hang out.

I packed more stuff than I needed, but I always do that. *sheepish grin* I would like to say, that I didn't pack as excessively as I could have though.
It just didn't get cold during the day or at night for me to need the jacket, sweater, socks and other warm clothes. It's always better to be over prepared for cold than under prepared, right? I only needed to bring a sleeping bag and pillow because Ronja had a tent and some air mattresses for me. What are friends for?

For food, I took a kylmälaukku (soft-side ice box/cold bag. Sorry I can't think of the correct term in English**) with several bottles frozen full of water, some already cooked chicken breasts to reheat, hummus & bread, pasta salad w/sun dried tomatoes & pesto, nectarines, grapes, makkara (sausages), chocolate, watermelon, zucchini bread and some other stuff I can't recall. I didn't touch the regular salad, uncooked potatoes and uncooked oatmeal.. I mainly drank tea (boiled from lake water), water from my bottles (town tap water) and a tiny bit of mango juice.
I also can't forget to mention that I brought S'mores ingredients and made them for all who wanted to eat them. That was lots of sticky fun. :)

I got to experience canoeing. It was easy to learn and from what I was told I picked it up quite quickly. At first I had only the paddles to propel me forward and steer me, then Sami, the guy that was teaching me, put the rudder down and I was able to steer with my feet, leaving my hands free for paddling only. It was so easy and fun with the little rudder! I think I may have to join Ronja in the canoeing club (next summer).

If you'd like to see more of the camping trip pictures, feel free to check out the album:

*I have slept on an island before during my very first visit here in Finland, but I don't really consider it camping because we slept in a summer cottage.
** I've been informed that the word for a (pehmeä)kylmälaukka is soft sided cooler.