"Dreams are the touchstones of our characters" -David Thoreau

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Midsummer and a Bird Rescue Operation


Midsummer's was fantastic as we spent four days at the summer cottage.  Annina and I left on Wednesday evening after our work and headed for the cottage.  When we arrived we were greeted by a really nice sunset and some fantastically warm weather. 

The next morning we awoke and had a nice relaxing breakfast.  The weather was okay and I wanted to try and extend the old 2nd dock a bit to see what  it was like.  So I took this floating island that her uncle had made and I rowed it over to the end of the dock and anchored it down.  We were greeted by beautiful lily flowers and these mohawk ducks.  Fun to see them and the little ducklings.  Now with an extension we could see the sunset around the trees better!  Also was nice to drink a nice glass of wine after dinner and relax.  The next day was filled with just putting around until Annina's family started showing up.  It was nice grilling and going to the sauna all together.  The evening was spent chatting away and we turned in with a relaxed feeling ready for the next day despite the awful cold rain and windy weather.

The next day we were hoping for good weather as it was midsummer eve.  We were in luck as the weather was pretty reasonable.  It was partially cloudy and quite pleasant.  I started my day by loading up the motor boat with some trees to contribute to the lakes huge bonfire on this small island.  Every cottage on the lake comes there to add some wood, old beds, etc.  Once that was done I decided to just enjoy the rest of the day so the first beer was cracked pretty early.  Then some more family members arrived as there were quite a few of us.  We had the traditional brunch on the porch which Annina's dad graciously provides every year.  Markus also brought some homemade smoked fish which was really good.  During dinner we had some toasts with snaps and sang a few songs.

After the brunch we headed to the sauna and some really nice swimming to cool off as the lake is only about 10 meters away.  The water was only 18C but felt really nice.  With a happy mood all around and a few beers more it was time to grill the evening food.  We filled our bellies to the brim and then realized it was time to head to the island to watch the lighting of the bonfire.  Only the young un's went in the boat and we enjoyed the fantastic fire in the most impressive sunset.  The bonfire raged in a huge fashion at almost 5 meters (15 feet) in height.  In the tradition of the lake the usual silence of the finns was broken as we greeted all the other boats and then departed back to the cottage.

Once we arrived back we lit a small fire near the shore and chatted the night away again with some more beer.  What a most wonderful midsummer eve as we remember fondly when my Austrian friend Michael was here two years ago the weather was atrocious.
The next morning we awoke to again problems with the seagulls.  I am not very fond of them but when I saw this baby chick on the ground shivering so helplessly I melted.  I decided immediately to climb into the tree and return it.  I pulled out my ice climbing gear and headed up the tree.  Everyone was concerned that they would attack me.  but once I reached the top of the tree I lowered the rope down and Annina put the chick in a basket.  I raised the little guy up and the nest was quite far out.  So with a washcloth I grabbed the little guy and swung out on a sling and almost dropped him but he managed to jump atg the last second back in to join his brother and sister.  With a sigh of relief that the mother accepted him the troubles were far from over.  After that we had some fun picture taking with Annina's brother Robert.  It was pretty fun and the pictures he got looked realy cool.  The day ended again with a fine sauna and some more grilling.

The next and last day was again fantastic weather.  We sort of moped around again until we realized the chicks decided it was time to come out of their nest.  We saw them drop the 10 meters(30feet)to the ground and then the first two swam in the direction of their calling mother.  The third one was the little guy we had just saved earlier.  He plopped down and when he got the the waters edge his foot got stuck in the grass and he was hanging upside down.  We helped him once again and he managed the big swim to his mom but when he got to shore he took a good 15 min to climb the rock.  He looked a few days behind his brother and sister in development.  He was so exhausted he couldn't move.  The dad and kids headed down the shore but I was surprised when the mom stayed with him and kept him warm.  Eventually after sitting there all day she had to leave to take care of the others. Not knowing what to do I scooped him up and ran him down the shore so he could to join the rest of his family.  I felt so sorry for the little helpless guy.  I really hope he made it and with some good luck and next hard days he might have made it.  I will always remember that little guy.  That day I also learned a lot about seagulls as I assumed they were all the same.  The ones found in downtown are called grey seagull(Harma Lokki) but the ones at the summer cottage are called old fisher gulls (Vanha Kala Lokki). 

Once all the bird drama was over we continued picking up the place and started heading home.  A very nice Midsummer and one that I will never forget as there are so many good memories.  Thanks for reading and stay tuned for more soon!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Short and Sweet


My last weekend started out rather relaxed indoors as it was pouring all day outside.  I contemplated going out anyways but never really managed and got sucked into the couch.  On Sunday the weather cleared up and Illari came and picked me up to head to for a quick climb to Rollarit.  There I climbed some pretty easy routes which included one solo called Hylly to make a top rope for a harder climb.  It is very easy route but none the less is quite fun.
Then once the top rope was set up I did this harder climb which is a E3 trad climb called Super Shell.  It went fairly ok but looked pretty scary to lead!  We just dinked around for the rest of the day playing on the rock.  We called it an early day and headed home.

Today after some long work hours I headed to Taivaskallio for some easy bouldering.  It was pretty fun as I met this big group of people whom were great to talk to!  Then I climbed a new route called Hakahalkeama, which was supposedly the first bouldering problem in Finland!  Crazy fun!  Once I climbed a few more problems I zipped home. Now am getting ready to take off for mid-summers weekend and head to the summer cottage! All the long hours so I could have a 4 day weekend will be worth it!  I am sure there will be some fun adventures that I will have to report about during mid-summers esp since the sun doesn't really set!  Until then thanks for reading and stay tuned!  Take care and a happy mid-summers to everyone!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Relaxed Weekend and a Week of Climbing


Last weekend was a very relaxed weekend as on Saturday was Robert's graduation party and on Sunday was Annina's birthday.  On Saturday the car seemed to not want to start so we decided to take the bus for the morning brunch at Robert and Ellu's house.  We stayed there for a few hours and then headed home.  The weather was really nice so we decided to come back for the small party Robert was having.  We decided to ride our bikes along the beautiful Vantaa river.

It was fantastic as I had many memories as I used to spend a lot of time there.  It was also really nice to see everything so green and see all the flowers and such.  The ride was pretty short at 16km one way but we took our time and was just having fun.  I also had a huge backpack full of beer and Annina's things.  It was really nice and relaxing.  Then once we arrived after a quick sauna we enjoyed the small get together to celebrate.  We had some very nice conversations and then when they headed to the bar we decided it was time to cycle home.  With the midnight sun it was really beautiful.  The weather was a calm cool and the breeze felt really good after such a hot day as the cool air came off the river.  The ride home just seemed to zip by and suddenly we were home.  Really a great feeling once we were home.

The next day was Annina's birthday so we decided to have a small celebration just the two of us.  We sort of just were laying around the house and on the porch most of the day.  Then later in the evening we decided to try and cool off so we went and sat next to the sea.  We were watching all the kingfishers fishing and was a really nice way to spend the evening.  Once we came back we indulged ourselves with fancy wine, crackers, and cheese.  Of course I also had to sing her happy birthday although her 'cake' was an rather unusual one! =)
This week I got a small renewal contract for my research so I was back at work again.  but on Tuesday evening Christian and I decided to go climbing.  We tried this spot that I have been looking at for a long time but when we got there the rock was a bit too rotten and brittle.  When we were just looking around and some of the holds were snapping off without doing much.  So we decided it was to dangerous and headed to this nearby local bouldering place called Pihlajamäki.  I surprised myself by easily warming up with a font 5 bouldering problem.  Then somehow I managed pretty easily a 6B straight afterwards.  The day continued like this as we ran around the cliff climbing as if we were two kids exploring the world.  We were lucky with the weather as it was quite threatening all the time.

On Wednesday one of the last days Christian will be around we decided to head to this place called Luhti.  We were surprised that it was down these small dirt roads and pretty remote.  Once we were there we didn't know the proper way to reach the cliff so we plowed through the forest and hopped a small creek in the process. Once we were there we found this quite impressive cliff.

The first route which we climbed was only rated 5a but was this steep trad climb...meaning I had to place my own protection.  It seemed somehow pretty hard for a 5a but when I came down I realized why it was somehow harder.  The route was a bit overhanging almost the whole way!  For some reason I thought it just went straight up.  In anycase I managed it cleanly and then proceeded to top-rope two other hard sport routes.  Then we did one more easy trad route while doing the mosquito dance.  Towards the end of the last trad climb it started to rain so we called it a day and headed back home.  We quickly found the correct path and was much easier leaving the cliff.  I will definitely have to come back to visit the cliff as there is a lot of climbing still to do.  Such a peaceful place with the small creek and almost complete silence except for the normal buzzing of the nature in the forest.  Nice after climbing a lot next to some busy roads!

All in all it was a pretty interesting and busy week.  This weekend should be something similar.  We will have to wait and see as the weather might not cooperate.  I know for sure I am looking forward in a weeks time to mid-summers!  Can't wait!  Thanks for reading and stay tuned for my weekend update!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Long Weekend at the Summer Cottage and the Black Pearl


Last Wednesday we left for the summer cottage because on Thursday was a public holiday.  So we decided to spend that time until Sunday morning at the summer cottage.  The trip was somehow a bit stressful as straight from the start we had a boat tied to our roof!  I checked all the rules and regulations and it fit all of them due to its light weight.  Also there wasn't a back yet on the boat so it helped with the airflow.  Christian Stöhr, Simo, and Ville helped me winch the thing to the roof with these ratchet straps.  With four straps we managed to get it securely to the roof.  Once on the highway I didn't dare drive to fast and got some pretty funny looks.  The drive seemed to drag on longer than usual.  At some point we finally arrived safe and sound and the boat was still on the roof!

We were greeted by a beautiful sunset and started up the sauna right away.  With the sauna going it was time to unload the boat.  I had forgotten that maybe Annina could not lift part of the boat.  So I stood on the car doors seat and with a huge grunt flipped it off the roof with a huge crash.  I guess if it can survive that it can survive anything!  After a nice sauna we just peacefully relaxed the rest of the evening with a few beers.

The next morning Annina's dad and his wife showed up for one night.  It was nice to see him as we haven't seen him in awhile.  The first thing we had to do was to go back into town to get propane for the grill.  Seemed a bit silly at the time as we were still a bit sleepy but we managed fine.  Once back we started doing some chores.  One of the first things I seemed to end up doing was going back up in the tree to check why the seagulls have come back after I cut their branch down.  I decided that if there were eggs in their nest I wouldn't disturb them.  Once i finally manged to get to the top of the tree of course I found three eggs.  So they stayed in place in their nest.

Then one of the next things I did was to start laminating the back onto the boat.  After all it will not really float without the back!  I had the boat situated pretty far from the cabin so the fumes would not disturb everyone else.  It somehow went really well but it seemed like every time I laminated, my gloves melted within one minute.  Then I ended up trying to wash my hand with gasoline.  Thank goodness we went to the sauna everyday we were there to get really cleaned up!

The next day I decided to throw the boat into the water and see what happens.  It was probably a comical sight as I dragged the boat alone through the forest and field towards water.  Good thing it is pretty light!  Once I got to the shore I immediately threw it in the water and jumped in.  At first it seemed a bit wobbly but after all I was standing up!  Then I went to my knees and with one oar headed to the other dock.  I realized that the boats water line was only a few centimeters.  In that case it seemed extremely fast.  I pulled it on shore and decided to laminate a small keel and two small directional keels in the back.  This would make it way more stable and be able to accommodate the small motor

The lamination went really well again but once again my gloves were melting extremely fast with the resin.  A bit funny to laminate outside with all the bugs and dirt.
Now the boat is ready to be sealed up and painted.  After relaxing in the next days in the sun and going for a quick row in the old boat we decided to paint the boat black and name it Black Pearl due to it's unique design and character.  Should be fun once it is all painted up! =)  Can't wait to try it with a motor as well!  Then the last day we fixed the other dock as well which had some broken pieces and put it into the water.  It was such a fantastic long weekend and did not really want to come back to Helsinki!  Thought about staying there for the whole summer!
At midnight on the last evening
Once back in town Annina headed to work and I headed out climbing with Christian Pröhl and Arnaud.  We just went for a quick climb to Rollarit and I managed to lead some pretty easy trad routes but also successfully top rope a route called Jätkä which I lead last year... it is a sport climb rated 7a...which is the hardest for me this year and plan to lead it soon.  It was a fun day of climbing and then on the way out I quickly soloed a easy route.  Fun fun and really nice memories from the cottage.  Can't wait to get back to finish the boat!  Thanks for reading and stay tuned! =)