A pod of Reindeer almost caused me to go over my handlebars

Quest blog – written by Sophie Thomson, Durban, South Africa. She visited our farm in August, 2011. Our small group spent some wonderful time together by hiking, biking and enjoying of local history.

Sleep was a distant memory; I was bunked up with Helena so the quiet red head Petra treaded extra carefully around the top floor. She headed downstairs at 6 to start her day, a bright and early start. We got up shortly after that with breakfast at 7.15. A serving of porridge, fresh berries and some yoghurt glided onto our plates.

After breakfast we went and collected our gear and headed down to the bikes so that we were on the road by just after 8. I surprised myself with being able to actually pedal, not being too stiff. We attacked the gravel with vigour, passing the trail parking lot, the turn off where we had come from the previous day and glided up and down hills only walking one.

Our scenery was surprisingly mainly lush forests with our destination, a World War II memorial site known as Raate Road. Ari was a war historian so took great delight in the day that lay ahead. Kati kept turning back giving us a guideline as to how much farther we still had to pedal till our half way stop. Plans were decided that Ari would pick us up from there and then drop us back so we could cycle the 30km or so back.

The half way stop was a blast from the past, the feel of 1970 Shell petrol station. We entered and went through a grocery section first then a counter that served cold meats and then a whole modern sound system, car sound and TV section before finding a few plastic chairs. Our views were plastic plants and mirrors of the TV section, Russians come across the border to buy to take as well as all the hi-fi equipment which was much cheaper and the store was closer to get too here than other Russian towns.

While munching an ice-cream and drinking coffee we decided we wanted to continue cycling onwards to the war memorial.

After taking a few pix, we then mounted our saddles and kept pedalling towards the museum. The hills were continuous and I plugged my iPod in to distract me from the unforgiving steepness. It was fantastic, Crowded House, Naked Raven, Watershed and the likes all serenaded me up the mounting climbs. Having just conquered yet another hill and was concentrating on breathing alone, I didn’t notice Kati come to a frantic stop ahead. I managed to halt as I noticed three Reindeer emerge out of the woods walking boldly next to the road. I was off my bike, grabbing my camera and snapping within a minute. Helena joined us, moved my bike more to the side than it was all ready and then joined me as I got as many shots. I dashed back to a petrified Pooh Bear hanging onto my bag and grabbed my bigger lens. When I got across the road a bigger chap emerged so I got some shots of him as he walked back into the forest and carried on with his day.

After a while they moved off and so did we. We still had half our trip remaining but I now had a spring in my step or more push down in my pedal having seen Santa’s friends.

The last part of the trip flew and before I knew it we were parking our bikes and heading into the museum for our 1pm lunch reservation. Walking past war memorabilia we entered the Talvisodan Monumentti for a walk down memory lane into the Winter War from the World War II. We had a pea and ham soup with some raspberry juice, some bread and then coffee. We then went into the small but loving laid out museum to have a look.

On the outside we saw bits of a war plane, a tank that was never moved after the war as it was stuck good and proper. We marched towards a field that had thousands of rocks signifying the soldiers lost with a monument in the middle that had 105 bells to resemble the number of days the war took place in -40 degree temperatures in one and a half meters of snow.

Once our cultural tour was satisfied we stacked the bikes on the trailer and headed off back to Domna Cottage as we had made an appointment to see the Orthodox Church. We drove back, flying up and down the hills that we had worked so hard to mount and in no time we were back at Domna. We strolled across stopping to throw sticks in the river and dashing across to see if they had come under the bridge.

On aarriving at this cute little church, we waited for a dear little man who didn’t speak a word of English but had the Finnish folk entranced in his tales. Some of the icons came from Russia with one special one on the lectern dating back to 1860. After an hour with him, the fascinating church got closed up and we came across for dinner.

Yet another spread by the talented Anni was laid out with fresh Salmon, a potatoe and veg pie all gracing our plates, followed by a local favourite, sour milk that was topped with Blueberries picked from the forest by Anni. Delicious. I know sit with a light beer after a hard day pedalling, with the rest of the gang doing their own thing. Kati came and did some stretches on the floor then bought a book the disappeared. I sit alone, loving my surroundings being in bliss to be nestled in by hundred year old logs.

The weather report for tomorrow looks terrible as the weather has turned so we have a late breakfast then walk to the end of the town and the Border post and then return. Have lunch and then start cycling the short 40km road to Kuumo. Hold thumbs it is not raining…

Off to bed now 🙂 will go and find my Reindeer pix and remember the tranquil beasts 🙂

Hugs to all from an almost fit elf and an incredibly happy Pooh Bear who realised how lucky he was 🙂

Our webpage: http://www.kuumussavirtaa.fi

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