Learning About The Moments

Hello dear ones! I checked the weather map this morning after waking up to strong winds grabbing at the house. They warned of hard winds in this area and outside the snow is creating a thick veil of fog. Somehow there’s something very cozy about sitting inside when the wind howls and snow whirls through the trees outside the window. And I always feel so safe in these old, wooden houses.

On Sunday morning just gone, my mom, brother, Loke and I went on an adventure, and once again I meant to write about it earlier but I keep forgetting how these road trips zap all my strength and energy.

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If sitting still and crammed into a car for hours is strenuous for me, it is even more so for my mom who has arthritis. But she loves adventures, too, and when I asked if she wanted to come along on this trip she of course said yes. She had an SLR when we were younger and has filled many pages in our family albums with photos. Now she uses her phone and happily shoots from the seat in the car, so the photos with me in it are courtesy of my mom.

One of our first stops was at a frozen lake with the most beautiful view. I got out to climb a snow drift to get a better view, but when I wanted to get down on the other side it didn’t occur to me that the snow wouldn’t be as packed down there. Loke whined in the car when I gave out a shout as I went straight through at least one meter of snow.

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I started laughing as I sat there in my hole in the snow. Mom called out and asked if I was all right, which I of course was. I got snow into my shoes and inside my coat, which I didn’t realise until I had sat in the car for a while and the seat and my pants were all wet. Haha But I got great photos!

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You know, this area we drove through was one of the most beautiful on the entire trip. Ever since the road trip with my brother last summer I have wanted to go back toward the Norwegian border, toward the fell mountains to take photos. Now when the world here is covered in all this snow, I got an image in my head and decided to go chase it. All along the road Mom and I ooh-ed and aah-ed at the breathtaking sights. Driving a white road lined by tall spruces in their snowy coats, leaf trees bowing beneath the weight of the snow, is so incredibly magical. It’s like being embraced by winter itself. A sense of warmth and peace spreads through every limb in the body and I didn’t even stop to take photos. I wanted to continue along that road into eternity.

So often I have both read and heard that it’s not the destination that counts but the journey. It’s so true, too, I have found, but I also forget this so easily. When I get an idea and the inspiration to move, I sometimes become so focused on reaching my goal that I only give glances to what happens around me as I work toward it. In spite of knowing each step holds valuable experience in itself. So often along the drive I saw such beauty, but I only stopped a few times. I knew that we only had so many hours of daylight, and since we left two hours later than I initially planned, I would have had maybe one hour at our destination before sunset. A thick sheet of clouds also hung from the sky so the light was very mellow to begin with, which didn’t matter so much. I love the melancholy, too, that the landscape is wrapped in when the sun doesn’t shine.

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Jämtland, the province in which my destination was, is so beautiful. It’s not all that different from Ångermanland, just more. The mountains a little higher, the valleys a little deeper, the lakes a little more to count. Or at least it feels like that. And then of course the fell mountains to glimpse on the horizon as you near Östersund. Åre is situated in Jämtland, which might be if not the most popular winter holiday destination, then very far up there. My brother and I drove past Åre on our way to Norway last summer, and it sure was spectacular to me, even without its winter outfit.

These last photos I’m sharing are from Ragundadalen, about halfway to our destination Gräftåvallen, which lies about 100 kilometers below Åre.

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After having some coffee and sandwiches at this rest stop, we drove on until I had to pee so badly I feared I would wet my pants. Haha Then I wasted precious time driving around a small community called Brunflo trying to find a toilet. We were in stitches by the time we found a service station where they had four toilets. Brun is brown in Swedish, and I commented on that no wonder it’s called that; people have been driving on for hours and they come here bursting at the seams in search for a toilet and find none. I have a very childish sense of humor. 🙂

When we finally left Brunflo, the sun was disappearing behind the brief break in the clouds, and even though I knew by then we would be arriving after dark, I drove on. All the way up the mountain that looked nothing like what I had imagined. In all honesty I saw no fell mountains within our reach, only those towering on the horizon, far too far to reach on that day’s trip. At the top outside the small resort, I stopped the car and didn’t even get outside. My brother took Loke out to leave some poop on top of the mountain, and then he had a pee in a snow drift before we drove back down. Mom laughed at the fact we had driven 300 kilometers for this, which is funny. We also looked at renting a room for the night to maybe salvage the trip and take the next day to drive around, but my brother had to be at work at eight the next morning, which he said his boss would probably be okay with, but I drove us back home anyway.

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I have a tendency to think at times like these about purpose. That pretty much anything we do, things that happen have a meaning. Especially when I drove 600 kilometers there and back without barely getting out of the car. I didn’t take photos up on that mountain when I so easily could have, but I just didn’t feel like it. When I sat there I thought that this trip wasn’t meant to be about reaching a destination or a goal. I didn’t come here to find the visuals to fit the image in my head. This was about looking at how to be in the moment, how to savor the journey. The people I was with — spending time with family I don’t get to see very often. And believe me, we had the greatest time. We talked about everything imaginable and laughed so hard my face hurt. And before settling in for the drive home, we stopped at Brunflo again to get some dinner.

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After a couple of months of feeling like my passion and motivation for all things photography and going on adventures had slipped away, I am so incredibly thankful for this drive. I talked a little with my brother about these things when I picked him up on Saturday night, and he, too, has felt his own inspiration for drawing (which he is so amazing at) has abandoned him lately. Maybe this is just truly due to the seasons within us. The winter in our minds. We, too, fall into hibernation and need to do so. Our minds are capable of incredible things, we as humans have so much power and energy flowing through us, but can we expect it to be constant? Is it natural? Is it nature’s way?

I look at the river and the mountains outside my window and it lies in peaceful rest. The tall birches don’t attempt to sprout buds, no animal out there pretends it is anything other than winter. The water slows its course beneath the ice. Just the same our thoughts and actions need a little extra time to unfold.

I wish you a continued great week. Much love. ❤

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A Spontaneous Road Trip

I got a call from one of my brothers on my second night here in Sweden. He told me he had Monday and Tuesday off work and wanted to go for a drive to Norway. I had no idea you were here, but Dad told me, so I thought you might like to come along. Since you love photography so much.

You know when someone asks you to go for spontaneous a drive–usually it doesn’t end up in a twenty-four hour, fifteen-hundred kilometer trip. Across country borders. With barely any sleep in that entire time. At least not in my experience. But that is exactly what happened. We started at 10 a.m. on Monday morning and we didn’t get back until 2 p.m. the following day. As we drove back through our Swedish forests, the past day and night felt like a distant dream. Like something I had honestly only imagined in my head. It was the strangest feeling. Luckily, in spite of my camera battery dying after seventeen photos, I got enough images as proof it was all wonderfully real.

I have spent pretty much all day, on and off, going through and editing these photos, and it honestly amazes me how good camera phones are. Of course there are things I cannot possibly do with them, like taking photos at night. They turn out grainy and look more like paintings than photographs, which was kind of cool.

I finished editing earlier, but my body isn’t fully recovered so I wasn’t going to do this post until tomorrow. As I lied in bed with my clothes on–I felt so ill I went straight to bed after the last photo was done–I thought I don’t have to write a novel about it. And you know what? I am going to let the photos speak for themselves. My brother and I didn’t speak much, either, while we drove. We were both so engrossed in the impressions this wondrous country continuously gave us. And I am so grateful to him for asking me along. This was above and beyond anything I could have imagined beforehand. So without more delay, I invite you along on this beautiful adventure.

On Our Way Through Sweden

 

Norway – First Impressions

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Agdenes – Along Trondheimsfjord

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Canon EOS 1100D & Tamron 90mm macro lens.

Agdenes – View Of The Ocean

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My brother has stared at Google Maps satellite images, and to finally be out here made him jump for joy. Such a happy moment. / Canon EOS 1100D & Canon EFS 10-18mm lens.
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Canon EOS 1100D & Canon EFS 10-18mm lens.
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Canon EOS 1100D & Canon EFS 10-18mm lens.

 

Agdenes – Gravvikbukta

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Canon EOS 1100D & Canon EFS 10-18mm lens.
GravvikbuktaInnerRoad
Canon EOS 1100D & Canon EFS 10-18mm lens.
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Goosebumps sped up and down my body as I stood here, choked up on tears and utterly overcome by this breathtaking beauty. / Canon EOS 1100D & Canon EFS 10-18mm lens.

 

When The Battery Dies

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As I set up for this photo, the camera flipped, then stopped working. I couldn’t even focus it. It was an incredibly long exposure and imagine my surprise when I uploaded these to the laptop to find this intact. / Canon EOS 1100D & Canon EFS 10-18mm lens.

 

Dawn Over Midnight Lands

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Sunrise Reflections

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Farewell, Norway

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I will go back here. If not to these particular places, I will return with my Canon and capture more of Norway’s treasures. For now I am just so thankful to have gotten to experience these places.

If you want a daily photo and much less words, come join me on Instagram where I keep it short and sweet. 😉 I have also started to share spontaneous moments through Instagram Stories. Now I am just working up the courage to speak while at it. One step at a time, eh?

Thank you so much for reading, liking, and commenting. It means so much to me. ❤ See you soon!

An Evening Of Magic And Serenity

For days now I have wanted to share the absolutely wonderful and magical evening I spent up on Skule Mountain with my brother during my visit to Sweden last week. Last night I got started on editing the photos, but I have been so tired since I came back home to Finland that I had to go to bed. Even though I added a few extra days to my stay it still seemed like I ran out of time. I was in constant motion, and my head burst with ideas–so many places I wanted to visit. I knew that I will be going back later this summer, with Lilli and Loke, but something happens when I am back in Ångermanland, among the mountains, deep rivers and old forests. If I am not outside I keep being drawn to the windows, knowing what is out there, waiting.

My brother works in a flower and gardening boutique. On my first day back in Sweden I went to see him with my mother. I even bought a couple of plants that came back to Lappi with me. Later that day we went for a drive–my brother is getting his license and does practice driving with our mother. We were out for a few hours. I had some coffee and sandwiches with me and the original plan was to sit by a lake out toward Viksjö, about 20 kilometers inland from Härnösand–another truly beautiful place. When we arrived so did the winds, and massive clouds floated toward us, hiding the wandering sun. My brother listened to me gush about the views while we huddled inside the car and drank our coffee, and we ended up driving all over while he showed me some highlights he had discovered during his drives with our mother in the past few months. Eventually it was time to go back to the apartment and I asked my brother if he wanted to come with me to Skule Mountain that weekend. And of course he did.

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They are currently doing a lot of landscaping and building at the foot of Skule Mountain, so when we arrived we weren’t sure where to put the car. One other car stood in the turning zone, though, so I parked there. And then we were on our way. We had already decided to take the Mountain Path, which is a 0,6 kilometer steep climb–and the shortest way up. Little did I remember my fear of heights. But my camera came out a few steps onto the path and my brother laughed as I crawled around on the ground to take some photos of the steep, rocky path disappearing into the forest.

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We also took the same way back down, and it was just as challenging going up as it was coming down. In different but equally taxing measures. Even though the trek down went much faster. Going up we still had fairly good light, but on the way down, at nearly 11 p.m., the sun was making its final descent below the horizon. Luckily we are in the land of the midnight sun, so it doesn’t go far. The sun lingers behind the mountains, takes a few moments rest, then begins its ascent back into the sky.

 

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Possibly our climb up taking much longer than the one back down was not so much due to my loss of equilibrium, or clinging to the mountain and railings, but more due to my camera getting pointed in every which direction. Every five seconds. Haha But that is the thing with fear–I find something else to hold on to, something else to think of, to take my mind off that which threatens to swallow me whole. This trek was definitely a glorious moment of being louder than my fears. I threw them down the mountain and grabbed my camera instead.

Before continuing up the top we took a little detour half way, to finally visit the Bandit Cave (Rövargrottan in Swedish). Every time we went to visit our grandfather as kids, we would drive past on route E4 and peer up at the dark spot in Skule Mountain towering over the road. The name comes from stories of alleged bandits roaming these mountains–a long, long time ago. In reality the cave was probably hollowed out and carved by the ocean current and waves grinding rocks against the cliff side when the shoreline was above this level. It’s just so fascinating. Incredible.

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When we left the cave I aimed my camera one last time before securing it for the final climb up the top. I needed both hands and full focus. Otherwise, who knows, we might have still been there–my brother waiting while I ohh and ahh at every drop and angle catching my eye.

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Scaling that wall, even though it is perfectly accessible and safe without climbing gear, took the breath out of me. So when we finally reached the top I planted myself on some rocks and we didn’t move for at least twenty to thirty minutes. And the view–my soul ached. I just marvelled. We had some cheese rings with us, which I was very glad I decided to as a last minute thing shove into the backpack before departure. As we sat there, I took out my phone and recorded a little clip for you all. (Best viewed in HD. And, yes, that crunching in the background is the sound of cheese rings. I wanted to add a nice instrumental piece instead but gave up. If you happen to have it, you can always turn the sound down and listen to Paul de Senneville’s Mariage d’Amour. I adore it, and it fits beautifully. Not Richard Clayderman’s version, though.)

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Done with munching and drinking, conveniently we found toilets. The toilet itself was a non-flush version, with a large hole into whatever container collects human waste, but there was a sink, a tap with warm water, and soap. And the actual restroom itself was heated, which came in handy later. Additionally, if you see the roof there in the photo–that’s a Raststuga. A hiker’s resting cabin, which was also quite warm. It had a fireplace and wood for starting a fire. Behind me sits the Top Cabin, which is open during the day. They serve some light food, drinks, and (my favourite) waffles. With cream and strawberries. Yum. Next time I will be here before they close.

Our time here had only just begun. For the next few hours we trekked all over this mountain top while I took photos of every view I found. And considering you have a 360 degree view from up here, that is a lot. You just follow the top trail that takes you all the way around.

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My original plan was to stay up on Skule Mountain past sundown and wait for sunrise. As the sun sank lower, though, the cold crept in. By the time both my brother and I agreed we should start our climb back down my fingers and toes were completely numb. I was having trouble handling my camera, and when we took a moment in that hiker’s resting cabin, it felt like my fingertips caught fire.

But the views. That sun wandering lower and lower, so skillfully, so artfully painting the sky and clouds in pinks and lilacs. And the magical haze–like a glowing veil draping the breathtaking vistas in warmth. My heart was so full of emotion I felt I might burst.

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Out of all the photos I took that day, these are my absolute favourites. I want them on our wall so I can look at them always.

We continued our journey around the top, and suddenly my brother started shouting from up ahead. You MUST come look at this! And he was right. There, on top of this mountain in a little dip nestled close to the edge was a tiny pond full of moss and water. And in it a rock stuck up. I rushed forward to set up my camera and asked my brother to pose so I could get the settings and the focus right. He also had to help me get onto the rock. When I finally sat there, though, and looked out over our gorgeous forest-dressed mountains and valleys I didn’t want to move. I could easily have stayed there and let that moss cover me, as well. At least, that was the feeling in that moment.

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It was with great reluctance I left this magical and mystical place, but the sun dipped lower and I wanted to capture the ocean view again in this light. We returned a little later, but not quite this far, so I could take some more photos just before the sun went into hiding.

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Thus, our time on Skuleberget came to an end and it was time to brave the mountain path, descend back to reality. Speaking of which, when I return with my daughter later this summer, we will come up with the lift and walk down another path that opens up officially this summer. Much more suitable for families.

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I deliberately decided to share the entire trip in one post, even if I knew it would be very long. I simply couldn’t split it–I didn’t want to. So if you have read this far, I want to say how grateful I am to have gotten to share this magical evening with you, too. My brother fell asleep on the sofa after a cup of coffee (which we requested on our drive home–our mother had fresh coffee waiting for us when we arrived at the house). I stayed up and gazed at the photos, already dreaming of the next visit. The High Coast truly holds a piece of my heart, and I hope to one day be able to get a little summer cottage to which we can go from time to time, the whole family.

I wish you all a wonderful evening. Thank you so, so very much for reading. ❤ See you soon!