So, guys! Believe it or not, Kenny and I have friends! Kenny’s teammate, Nico, and his fiancee, Dominique, joined us on our Lapland adventure. Said adventure started off a bit rocky. Ironically, the most annoying part was the fact that Kenny and I were so prepared. I mean, ordinarily, when things go awry its largely due to our, “flying by the seat of our pants” way of life… but not this time! To keep a short story short: they lost Kenny’s bag. As many of you know, Kenny is a giant. You can’t just go to a store and buy clothes for him. Naturally, we were concerned about the tour company’s amount of polar-tested, giant clothing for rent. Thus, we purchased many necessities in advance.
Anyway, when we got off the plane, I happened to make a comment that Kenny claims went something like this, “THIS WOULD BE THE WORST PLACE IN THE HISTORY OF PLACES TO LOSE A BAG, I MEAN, I WOULD JUST DIE, MUAH HA HA.” So, obviously, when his bag turned up lost, it was my fault. After a bit of panic and screaming into telephones we resolved there was nothing to be done. However, there was one random stroke of good fortune. My husband, who typically loathes feeling warm, decided to wear the following on the plane: compression pants, two pairs of sweat pants over that, three pairs of socks, four sweaters, his fur-lined hat, boots, and a winter coat. Literally, he was sweating buckets on the airplane, but it friggin’ paid off. Kiruna, Sweden got down to -67°F when we were there. Coldest day in 16 years. I was very impressed with Kenneth, you wouldn’t even have known.
And let me tell you something, you can feel it, guys. Right when you step outside, your breath catches in your throat from the cold. You can feel your eyelashes freezing so fast that if you blink too long they get stuck together. Plus, it’s been over a month and I still can’t feel one of my big toes properly. I realize that all of this sounds terrible but it was worth it. There are not words worthy of a description for the phenomena that is the Northern Lights. Unfortunately, my pictures are terrible. Again, not for lack of preparedness. I researched and practiced for a week before we were to leave… I knew the exact settings to use. We even bought a miniature tripod. Except that my camera could not handle this sort of cold (duh, Emily). It’s battery drained and the functions were not working properly. Luckily, our tour guide was a professional photographer and did what he could. I’m pleased we got anything, really.
Honestly, the way the green lights danced across the entire skyline is nothing short of celestial. It’s not like I can capture a feeling on camera. We were quite fortunate that we got to see the them. Apparently, people can visit five or six separate times and not have the pleasure. It was extremely cold and very dark, both harbingers for the lights.
Anyway, dressing for -67°F was a bit of an issue for my poor, gigantic husband…
The only suit that fit had a broken zipper (classic), thus, they ended up duct-taping him in… No foolin’.
We took snow mobiles to get out there. It was pretty incredible. Kenny and I took turns behind the wheel. I was holding onto the handlebar so tightly my forearms were sore for days afterwards, but it was a thrill! We were speeding (some faster than others) through a rather dense forest; the only lights being the headlights of our vehicles.
We took a break at a Sami hut for a few of their delicacies: smoked elk heart, reindeer jerky, and some weird coffee cheese. We also had warm coffee and some delicious lingonberry juice. The hut was pretty cool; it was small and round, consisting only of a cast iron fireplace in the center with benches encircling it. However, it did not warm us like you’d think it would. My toes started freaking me out. I thought they were done for: dead. Dead toes.
My lack of experience in sub freezing temperatures struck again… I managed a few photos before my camera pooped out on me…
After the lights, we were bound for home. Speed Demon Ken took back the wheel. I was pretty busy imagining life without toes. We made it, though. Thinking back on that night, I still cannot believe we did that. What an adventure!
Now, for the puppies:) Dog sledding is quite easily the coolest thing I have ever done. We arrived at the puppies’ house and were given jumpsuits, boots, and all that again. This tour group seemed a bit more prepared. Not only did they have a functioning suit big enough for Ken, they also gave us useful tips on how to keep warm. (Run around like a mad person being one of them.) Also, they handed out feet warmers, and they showed me how to keep my camera working. Hence, me taking infinity +1 photos.
Here is a photo of our crew; we had the best dogs in the bunch!
Their names (in descending order) are Stewie, Wasabi, Schiller, Zlatan, Bart, and Tsunami. These pups were incredible. They love running so much. The trainers let them out of their cages and they are basically peeing themselves to get hooked up in the reins. Then its all howls and jumping until the sled leader man gets on his sled.
It took a good while to get all the pups in their places, so naturally, I took the opportunity to take a thousand photos.
Here is a photo of one of the “pups-in-training.” His name is Ruffy and he is adorable.
Ruffy really wanted to come with us and all his sled dog hero-buddies…
Here’s a photograph of Ken being an expert dog-musher.
I was pretty obsessed with the dogs… I couldn’t stop snuggling them.
Once all the teams were hooked up, the trainer got onto his sled. All the sudden, the dogs went into fancy business baby mode; it was pretty wild. They went quiet and started squirming with excitement. They all looked to him to start. He gave the word and we were off!
We rode through wide open plains and tree hewn paths with nothing but snow and pink horizon for miles.
It was simply stunning.
Here’s a photo of the fearless sled master…
Winding our way across the winter wonderland…
After a while in the wilderness we stopped at a cute little teepee for our midday break. This teepee, unlike yesterday’s Sami hut, was very warm inside once the fire got going. While we waited for the tour leader to make it happen, we ran around like mad to warm ourselves up. Also, we took fun photos…
Next I begged Ken for a classic couple photo. He yielded….
Look how friggin’ cute these snuggly dogs are.
After a lot of mad sprinting and dog photography the troupe leader called us into the warmth. We sat around the fire roasting marshmallows with coffee, smoked reindeer and cheese toasties. It was fabulous.
After we warmed up and the fire turned to cinders, we took off again. Our path took us towards a spectacular, hilly horizon.
Somehow the frozen tundra didn’t feel as ruthless and unrelenting today. Though it was just as cold, I didn’t feel like a white walker. (G.O.T. ref, try and keep up.) Maybe last night’s arctic stab in the face (toe?) made me super rugged and I was weathering it, or… the teepee’s warmth saved me. Can’t be certain, but I resolved that it was just my love of puppies:)
We arrived back at the start; the dogs waited patiently to be unhooked and then beelined for the food bowls. When it is this cold, so much energy is expended on keeping warm they each consume about a kilogram of food a day.
Before heading into the warmth, I took one last look at the ethereal skyline.
Baby Ruffy was pleased to see us back at the property.
Yet another incredible adventure. I am still in disbelief that it actually happened. Before I sign off, I wanted to share a few (or more) photos that Dominique and I took of the Icehotel in Jukkasjärvi, Sweden. About 10 miles outside of Kiruna.
This hotel was unbelievable. Fun fact: the Icehotel is home to the original Icebar. I’m not sure if you guys have ever heard of the “Icebar” before, but they have several in the States and around the world. It’s basically a bar made fully out of snow and blocks of ice; naturally, it’s quite cold: jackets and boots are provided. The hotel is much of the same: made entirely out of snow and ice. Crazy thing is, is that it is torn down and then rebuilt every year; it’s only in existence from December to April. It is listed as one of the “Seven Wonders of Sweden.”
The hotel rooms were just incredible. Each one a different work of art. I posted a few of my favorites so you guys can get the gist of it.
First off, though, we were welcomed by a rather beautiful entrance hall.
It was really rather incredible what they were able to do with snow and ice: beds, light fixtures, and sofas.
The sculptures though, those were the money-makers. I mean, look at this friggin’ peacock…
This elephant room was also prrretty sweet…
Each room had a bed, with a headboard of ice.
Some were inexplicably gigantic… However this photo failed. This is five beds put together and I realized during a read-through that it just looks like a long twin. Not as remarkable. C’est la vie.
The coolest room was called, “Counting Sheep.” It went pretty much as you’d expect: icesheep jumping around the room waiting to be counted.
As you may have gathered, each room had a unique theme. The detail that went into them was insane.
Iceturtle room had rows and rows of heads… I can’t speak as to why…
Here’s me icefunnin’ around in some narrow icenooks and icecrannies…
They even had an Icechapel. They perform over 100 weddings here each season.
The hotel was really spectacular. Personally, I would never choose to sleep in below freezing temperatures, but after seeing these works of art I can understand the appeal. The bathrooms are separate from the Icehotel (so you can potty and bathe in warmth) and the property has a “warm room” option (aka normal).
Phew, that was a long one. I hope you guys made it all the way through. Thanks for reading another chapter in The Adventures of Emily and Kenny. :))
Here’s a Kiruna sunset to send you off with…