IN THE WINTER WITH THE VAN TO THE NORTH CAPE
OLD FIN, THIS IS 19°C BELOW ZERO ON OUR TRIP IN THE VAN TO THE NORTH CAPE
While this part of the article was being written and Kathy was at the helm, we realized that we really had to make an effort to reproduce all the impressions in an orderly fashion. Some events had to be gone through again together in order not to forget anything, or to remember at all. Actually that was totally crazy, because 70-80% of this trip consisted of driving and the morning procedure in the van. And yet, up to this point, there were so many small and big experiences that you took for granted at the first moment.
We were already becoming extremely professional in our morning rituals and had quite quickly developed our fixed routines after getting up. What is easy to do in normal temperatures, needs much more coordination in cold and snow, otherwise not only your nose will fall off in front of the van.
Every morning went through a specific plan. First the bed in the van was put back, then the bath mats were collected from the windows of the cab and the van was started. The warm air from the fan de-iced the windows while the kettle got enough power to brew the water for coffee. We began in the meantime to stow the things from the previous evening and night.
There was always one standing in front of the van, because it was simply too cramped for two people. Since Kathy is quite small, she took over the hustle and bustle in our small living/bedroom/dining room. We had also gotten into the habit of parking near a restroom whenever possible. It just felt better to have the opportunity to briefly go to the “bathroom” and freshen up after getting up. Fortunately, many of the public toilets on our route were heated and mostly quite clean, which is why we were able to start the morning quite relaxed.
“WHAT’S THE PLAN FOR TODAY?”
We had planned neither route points nor stages in advance. The only thing that was certain was that we wanted to go to the North Cape by van. Since we drove off absolutely haphazardly and perhaps also somewhat naively, we never knew in which city or even in which of the Nordic countries we would wake up the next morning. Our destination for this day was therefore spontaneously Finland.
After we had already driven 500km across Sweden from our last overnight stop in Killingsnäs, we drove quite a distance along the Swedish side of the Saaripuda. Unfortunately, we didn’t see much of the surroundings, because the closer we got to the Arctic Circle, the shorter the days became. In the meantime it was already dark at half past two and our sense of time made us think we were tired. Strictly speaking, we felt as if it was already 9:00 pm.
The weather had also changed during the last 200km. We had looked at the temperature display all the time and could watch the outside temperatures drop with the kilometers we covered. So we had gone from an initial -3°C to -17°C in the meantime. If you touched the windows, you noticed what cold was transferred here to the inside of the vehicle.
While the snow was getting higher and the outside temperature was getting lower, the friendly voice from the navi told us to turn right. We drove towards a small bridge, at the end of which there was a snow-covered sign. In fact, it was only a few meters before that we could see that it was the border sign to Finland.
Somewhat sobered had to think back to the bombastic reception at the entry from Germany to Denmark. A spectacular light show and a lineup what was worthy of a border crossing, on our trip by van to the North Cape. Also when crossing the border from Denmark to Sweden, they had made the effort to put people out in the cold. But here in Finland, there was not one person waiting for a couple of crazy Germans on their way to the North Cape by van. So we just drove on unimpressed, waving friendly into the camera at the border sign, and we were officially in Finland.
A SUITABLE PLACE TO SLEEP AT 19°C BELOW ZERO
While the trees on the left and right were seen covered with tons of snow, Kathy is looking for a suitable place to sleep on our route via Park4Night. This is where a key disadvantage to freestanding in winter becomes apparent. Many of the sites in the northern countries are accessible on dirt roads or side roads. Unfortunately, these are usually not cleared and the danger of getting stuck somewhere in the snow with the van is great. In addition, you can find only a few places in Finland that are listed in the app. No wonder, you can actually camp in any public place in the summer.
As an alternative for a secluded spot in the forest, we decided on a small town on our way. We needed a supermarket open anyway to buy some food and water. So we drove through the snowy streets in Kolari and looked for a suitable place to spend the night. Personally, I prefer it a bit more hidden until today, while Kathy also likes to stay in cities on quite normal parking lots.
We drove from one end to the other and finally decided on a large parking lot in front of a former supermarket. As we drove into the lot, the tires of the van spun and the snow crunched so loudly under the tires that we could hear it clearly despite the closed windows. Obviously, there had been no winter service on the square for a long time.
We looked for a somewhat darker corner and maneuvered so that the sliding door points to a small snow hill. Some privacy must finally be and made the whole already much cozier. Actually, it was also completely unnecessary, because directly in front of our sleeping place the main road of the village ran and one had to make an effort to overlook us.
QUICKLY CONVERT THE VAN, READY IS OUR HOME
Since we had lived the last few days more on cold and fast food, we thought it was time to cook again something more elaborate in the van. We turned on the parking heater and turned the heat control to stop. The -19 ° C felt not quite as cold as expected, but still cold enough to let the van cool down very quickly without heating.
Kathy was in the mood for stew. In fact, we didn’t have much more than a pot and a gas stove either. So we got everything we needed to cook out of the storage compartments under the seat. The gas stove went on the table and we were ready to go.
I don’t know what all Kathy threw into the pot, but she said it was an Italian stew. With Kathy, that means nothing other than that everything that is there is processed. While the pot was simmering away, I mounted the phone on a tripod and turned on Iceroad truckers on Youtube. For some reason I felt the need to watch this documentary all day while driving.
After we had eaten the delicious stew, we watched another movie and then got ready for bed. We quickly cleaned up everything, rebuilt the seating area and off we went to the Finnish land of dreams.
SNOW, SNOW EVERYWHERE!
When I got out of the van the next morning, I stood knee-deep in snow and was happy like a little kid. It just looked great when everything was covered in snow and you experienced it in daylight. While I was still completely spellbound by the winter wonderland, we realized that our sleeping place was not only directly on the main street but opposite a pharmacy, which obviously attracted all the inhabitants of the city on this day.
We quickly made coffee while the pharmacy visitors kindly ignored us and went through our usual morning routine. We wanted to take advantage of the short day on our van trip to the North Cape and see something of the Pallas-Yllästunturi National Park. Here we should encounter the wild nature of Finland.
Have you ever spent the night in the car in extreme cold and can you imagine to start absolutely haphazardly to the North Cape? Share your opinion and experience with us and write it in the comments.