Friday, December 21, 2012

Ready for Christmas and holidays

It is finally here, as Piia has been wishing and Julien has been fearing: Christmas! Which means we get a whole 2 weeks of cold, snowy winter wonderland holiday which we are starting in -42 degrees. 

We are intending to fill our holiday with eating, dog mushing, eating, skiing, eating, photographing, eating, resting and eating. If nothing special happens, we will be pretty much off the grid until the second week of January, so... 

With these pictures we wanted to wish our families, friends and all the people that have been reading our blog...

Chilly moments...

Great outdoor activities...

First we open the trails after a snow storm... And then we fix the snow machines.

Ready for mushing 

And delicious and peaceful Christmas!

Our year has been full of amazing adventures, new experiences and great moments, and we hope we all have as awesome new year 2013!

Stay tuned for more stories!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Coping with and enjoying the cold weather

There's only one way to describe last week: cold! We could use the word "freezing" but knowing it can and probably will get colder at some point, we save that term for later.

Our thermometer didn't rise much above -35 last week, and during the weekend we hit the record, -43 C degrees. It sounds a lot worse than it is, and with good equipment we were able to enjoy the whole weekend, specially outside! 

We started the first day of December with old buddies, suklaahippukakku (chocolatechipcake) and dog team notes. It reminded us of Nellim in Finland, so greetings to Christophe, Marie and Julia. And thank Piia's folks for the cake!

We went mushing, you can take a look at our post about our Escape dog team here. We also made a snowmachine trip to the nearest creek, Flat creek and enjoyed the beautiful winter ambiance.

On Sunday we went skiing through forest next to the property and along the Flat creek again. Piia was singing Christmas songs and the spruces around us looked like shiny Christmas trees with sun reflecting from the frosty branches with million colors. What a way to start December and Christmas season!

We both also have a Christmas calendar, Piia made Julien one with small secrets inside, and Piia was surprised to reveice a great one homemade by her friends from Finland. So we now know what we do the first thing in the morning!

Near -40 degrees causes some adjustment in the cabin and with the car. The propaine stove stops working at these temperatures, so the only way to cook is to use the wood stove. Which is fine since we have to burn it hot to keep the cabin warm anyway. Since we don't have electricity to warm the car at home, we run it at night before going to bed, then Julien covers it for the night, with blankets. That way we only have to run it for 20 minutes in the morning before going to work. Monday morning was challenging, since the car was totally frozen after the cold weekend. So housewarm generator was running three hours before Subaru decided she's warm enough to start. Luckily people here know what it is to life with the extreme cold, so being late from work because of car problems is a natural thing!

The equipment for starting a car in cold weather without electricity

 The equipment for keeping your cabin warm and yourself and the dogs fed

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Introducing the Escape Team and first mushing moments

Last week was very exciting since we got 6 new friends to live with us.

On Wednesday we started our couple of months as mushers and got our own team, that we proudly call the Escape Team. Not because they escaped (didn't even try) but because this is our escape to Alaska and mushing is very exciting part of our life here, and it also gives us chance to escape to the wilderness.

We owe a big thank you to our friend Sarka for borrowing us the dogs for the winter.

So here's the team:

Honza is our main leader and always wagging tale. He's very smart and knows when you are taking pictures of him. And what a handsome guy with bright blue eyes!

I asked Hector to smile and I think he did a great job! Hector usually runs in wheel, is very playful and first one to howl.

Stella is waiting for the dinner already. She's a beautiful girl and not at all as old as her birth certificate might say!

Nella was the last one to join our team and doing great in swing. She's the first one to greet you when you go to the dog yard and she's a beautiful sight!

Kacie is the blue-eyed princess of the yard, always around you willing for attention, some scratching and hugs. She's great in swing showing the leaders where to go, and even though small, really strong worker!

Terapin is the funniest looking dog, but also very sweet, if you are not a female dog. Usually Terrapin runs in lead with Honza and is not slow as the name might predict. She also gets the biggest amount of food every meal, which she likes a lot.

Even though the weekend was cold we went for mushing a couple of times. The dogs were doing great, considering they were running with rookie mushers who were struggling to stay on the sled, took turns like driving a tractor through trees, and weren't sure where to stop or turn. But we know eventually we learn the job and the dogs will trust us enough to take the turns and understand what we want from them. No matter what, we all, us and the dogs, enjoyed the short runs and the dogs were very excited to go, and go, and go again. Amazing furry machines!

Yummy, the dinner looks good! Kibbles and chicken with water, and they eat every single bit you give them!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012


Last week was a Thanksgiving week which meant we had a chance again to be part of an American traditional holiday and also had some time off from work.

Thursday was the actual Thanksgiving Day which has a mixture of historical and modern meanings, starting from the early pilgrims being helped by Indians, to different religious purposes, to celebrate the harvest, and all the way to modern "let's-just-eat-A-LOT-and-be-together-with-family-and-friends" sort of thing. Thanksgiving is the biggest travelling holiday for American people, since families and friends gather together to celebrate this day and enjoy the holiday. We traveled just a few dozens of miles and spent the Thanksgiving with our American family and friends.

We were invited to our coworker Mimi’s and her family’s house to spend this evening with plenty of other people we knew, and enjoy great food. Mimi had created a huge amount of delicious Thanksgiving dishes and we all brought some additional food as well. 

For appetizers we had cheese and crackers, some fruits and vegetables. Then the plates were filled with strawberry green salad, mushed potatoes, green bean puff pastry, potato-carrot-beet-gratin, and of course, the turkey with its stuffing with gravy and cranberry sauce. Piia made some Karelian pies with egg butter and blueberry cake for dessert to introduce some Finnish holiday dishes also. We also had traditional pumpkin pie for dessert with pumpkin butter cheesecake bits. Everything tasted amazing and after seconds we were all full and happy, and very thankful! It was very nice to part of that holiday and part of that group of great people!

 Piia and baking morning

Kerry, Mimi, Sarka, Sandra and Julien waiting for food

Sandra and Kerry

 Lots of good food

Mimi, the hostess, and Sandra

 Scott and the king of the Thanksgiving dining table: The Turkey, and the stuffing

 Kids' meal

 Kids' table: Sierra, Evie, Juliana, Keats, Lucy and Cassidy

 Adults' turn: Todd and Sandra, the host Jason and his brother Jeff

Sarka, Julien and Scott

Adults' meal

 Hanging around

When we were driving home that night we found out we can be very thankful for our old Subaru still breaking like a charm. After one curve we faced with what seemed to be a wall moving calmly across the road. It ended up being a moose cow, which by the way are significantly bigger here comparing to their Scandinavian cousins. Julien was breaking and doing what he could and finally the car stopped. This didn't disturb the moose one bit, but the calf following her was moving a bit faster. We witnessed the wonders of nature once again, and wonders of good reflexes and breaks.
Friday following Thanksgiving is called Black Friday that starts the consumption madness towards Christmas and means the stores are full of sales and crazy people. We didn’t think we would need anything but still wanted to witness all that craziness so we headed town on Friday. The sales were actually pretty good, and the stores we visited weren’t too full so we ended up finding plenty of usefull stuff: a tripod for our camera, Carhart working bib for Piia, Bunny boots and warm underwear for Julien, and candy. We avoided going to the craziest places so Black Friday wasn’t so bad for us. Of course our bank account took a hit, so we will spend December eating just pasta...