9 Aug 2010

Home sweet home :)

I left Atlanta on the 21st and got home the next evening. Of course, the smart person that I am, I had stayed up again the night before.. Our plane left Atlanta two hours late, wherefore I missed my connection in Paris. Their next flight to Helsinki was full, so I waited about four hours for a flight. But the Air France people were nice to me and gave me a meal voucher so I could have lunch while I waited. By the time I got on my flight, I was tired :) I slept from the moment I sat in my seat until we landed in Helsinki.
Mom and Ludi met me at the airport and we talked all the way home. It was such a nice evening that we still went swimming once we got home, around 11 pm.
I was home for two days before we took off for the pathfinder camporee in Keuruu. We swam a lot during those two days :)

In the sauna with Morten and my sisters

Laura, Alina, Ludi

8 Aug 2010

Last Greyhound trip for a while

After three days in Traverse City it was time for me to head back home. This time Greyhound took 27 hours, through Grand Rapids (where I made my connection by 5 minutes), Detroit and Nashville. The trip wasn't as eventful as the one coming up :) I did see my first Amish people (below), which I thought was interesting. 
I tried sleeping most of the way. A guy got on in Dayton around midnight and sat next to me. I just kept dozing. After about 10 minutes, he taps me on the leg and asks: "Do you want to hold my hand?" ??!?
I told him no thanks.. :D I was amused by it though :) It's not that often that anyone asks to hold my hand, let alone strange guys.
By the time I got to Chattanooga I was so ready to be done with buses! It was great to be met by a good friend and be able to forget traveling, at least for a day...

Sleeping Bear Dunes

This is at the top of the dunes
About 130m of sand going right down to Lake Michigan

My good-looking and fit Uncle Eric who ran down and climbed back up with me once again

Looking up from the beach
There we are, climbing up. It took us 21 minutes to climb up and we were passing people barely crawling (literally), or sitting down and looking beat.

me with my uncle :)

Mishe Mokwa

Tradition tells how long ago a forest fire raged in what now is Wisconsin, making food scarce for a mother bear and her two cubs. Fearing for their safety, she led them on a long swim across Michi Gama to escape the flames and search for a sustenance. They swam more than fifty miles, leaving from the western shore and heading east. 
The mother bear, whom we call Mishe Mokwa, reached the eastern shore and collapsed on the beach, exhausted from her ordeal. She had just enough strength left to raise her head and look across the water for her cubs. The youngsters had lagged far behind, however, and could not be seen. Soon Mishe Mokwa fell asleep. Her cubs continued to struggle as they approached shore. Finally, too young and too weak to endure, they drowned a few miles offshore, under the light of the moon.
Mishe Mokwa eventually woke and continued to wait for them, refusing to move until they arrived safely. Sadly, they never did. To this day Mishe Mokwa still watches and waits for her cubs. A mountain of sand covers her now, which is called Sleeping Bear Dune. It was believed that Manitou was so impressed by her loyalty that he created two islands where the cubs perished, called the Manitou Islands.

South Manitou Island seen from Sleeping Bear Dunes


At least in Northern Michigan the lake is flanked by sand dunes everywhere. They're really pretty and fun to climb.

Platte River

Canoeing the Platte River is something we've done nearly every time we're in Michigan.

stones...! :) Both Barb and I love gathering stones, so we were in heaven. We even found some Petoskey's. I found the best one the next day though while climbing up the sand dunes. It had the pattern on both sides and was pretty clear.
Where the Platte meets Lake Michigan

Traverse City

This is my Uncle Eric and Aunt Barb. Eric and my mom are twins. Eric and Barb live in Traverse City and I visited them for 3 days in July.
Barb is big into crafts and has a whole room devoted to supplies :)

This is Boo Boo, their spoiled child


I really wanted to go visit my uncle and aunt in Michigan while I was in the States, so I bought tickets on the Greyhound and figured it would be a good experience. Well.. it ended up being such a good experience that I'll probably not do it again. At least alone. It's a long trip to do alone!

My trip up was scheduled to take over 22 hours. I was to leave Chattanooga at 21.30 and get to Traverse City around 20.00 the next evening. Even before we start I'd like to say a word to the wise.. make sure you're rested BEFORE your trip. The night before I left I had stayed up all night (smart, right?) and the two nights before that I'd gone to bed around 3 am or later.. haha
So I got to the Greyhound station after meeting a friend for tea. The guy at the ticket counter tells me my bus is overbooked and I'll probably have to wait for one coming at 11pm, but that one only has a few seats left too. Ok. Well.. we waited. Casey was with me. My bus came and took on a few people from the front of the line and they were full. I figured I was going to wait until the next one then. But the driver came back in and got about 10 people more! He had them and their stuff sitting in the aisle and the front steps. I was the last person to get on. He even skipped over a few others. I think I got picked because I was smaller and younger and could handle the floor easier than the others. So I rode the 3 hours to Nashville on the top step of the bus, with my back against the drivers cubicle, with my hips smushed against another woman's hips. A third lady was down by our feet, on the bottom step. I must say I have had more comfortable rides. But none necessarily as interesting :D or at least not many..
A girl sitting in the aisle behind me was singing out songs she was listening to on her headphones. Not quietly either. All around people were talking and swearing. The bus driver took me under his wing and called me Lil' Mama. 

Finally around 1 or 2 am we reached Nashville and most of the people got off. It actually took our driver a few attempts to find the station, since this was a temporary one. That made us a bit late. Our food stop in Chattanooga also went longer than intended.
We waited inside the station until we could board again. This time I got a seat and was able to doze a bit. Of course the person sitting next to me was a rather large guy who fell asleep and started leaning on me and snored in my ear for half the trip...
Louisville we hit at about 5 am and continued our journey at dawn. At the stops most people get out and have a smoke. I didn't see very many people not smoking. There was one guy I noticed, who was dressed neatly and didn't smoke. I thought he looked out of place.
In Indianapolis I was supposed to have 30 min transfer time for my bus to Kalamazoo. We got there 45 minutes behind schedule. Of all the greyhound buses that are always late, this one had left on time. I had missed my bus.

The lady at the counter tried to reroute me, but could only get me as far as Grand Rapids that day. Traverse City is another few hours north of there, but it's a small enough place that buses don't run there that often. There were actually four of us trying to get to Traverse City from Atlanta and Chattanooga. That was quite random. TC isn't a common destination. The neat guy I had noticed earlier was one of them.
We sat around the station for a few hours waiting for a bus to Dayton. I sat next to the door with my things, reading a book and charging my phone. Chris, the neat guy, was looking for a plug for his phone charger, so I called over to him that he could use mine. He ended up almost forgetting his phone there. twice :D

I slept the whole way to Dayton. By that time it was afternoon and I was getting hungry. Chris and I asked around and found a place to eat. and we talked. He said his brother was coming to pick him up in Grand Rapids and offered me a ride up to TC with them.
We shared our stories and our reasons for going to Traverse City etc. He said he had lived in the Chattanooga area earlier. I told him I had been to a friend's wedding there.
On the bus to Detroit we decided to sit together so we wouldn't end up next to any weird people.. so we continued talking. He had an iPad and we looked up Finland on Google Maps. At some point in our discussion he asked where in Chattanooga the wedding had been, and I told him Collegedale. He said he had lived in the Collegedale/Ooltewah area. (!) Then he was quiet for a moment, thinking. and asked me if I was affiliated with the SDA church? haha. I said yes, and he said he was too! It's a small world, really. What are the odds of me riding the same bus with another Adventist all the way to Traverse City, and even talking to him and sitting next to him?!? All I can say is God is good :)

Our bus from Detroit to Grand Rapids was about an hour late, but it finally came and we each got our own seats with room to spare. I rode up to Traverse City with Chris and his sister-in-law and got to my uncle's place around 1 am. 

With all the difficulties and inconveniences it still was a great experience. If for nothing else, at least as a reminder that God does see our lives and cares about even the little details. He's the best travel agent I know of!


New friends

I spent an afternoon and evening with Daniel and Anna Romanov. Their mother's family is friends with my aunt Rosie and we met at the GC meetings in Atlanta.
We took a drive up to Lookout Mountain in Chattanooga and walked around Covenant College for a while. Afterwards we went out for some really good fish and finished the evening with a game of Phase 10. It was fun :)

The church at Covenant College
The main hall
Lobby. I had been here once, about 8 years ago. This is the college my dad got his degree from and our whole family came up for a dinner one evening. I remember it had a mystical feeling to it with the big structures and dark beams and decorations. The day was quite foggy and we were up at the top of the mountain. I thought it felt like we were in a Scottish castle a few centuries ago.. :)

Holes in the ground

A seemingly random hole in the ground. 

...going down there...
Some people don't have enough excitement in their lives, so they decide to create some :D
Hanging off ropes and little metal slides at least got my adrenaline going.

falling up

down under

ghosts and the darkness

Sunny coming up. For the second time ;)
After the first pit we stopped at Taco Bell for supper on our way to the next one. 
Apparently the little Taco Bell hot sauce packets are numbered from 1-12. You'll see it if you look closely at the bottom edge (not necessarily in this picture though.. go find yourself a Taco Bell hot sauce thing and check for yourself). And the number is supposed to tell you how 'hot' the sauce is. So a 1 is the mildest and the 12 is the hottest. I never knew...
So, for kicks, we dug through the hot sauce bowl until we found all the numbers from 1 to 12 :D

From there we continued to a bigger hole in the ground near the Alabama border. A thunder storm seemed to be headed the same way as we were and foiled our plans of summitting, or rather, pitting (??)... umm.. getting to the bottom :D But we sat around the edge in the darkness, watching the lightning and enjoying the nature and 'peace' around us. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

It was a big hole. The blackness is where it drops off.

Casey, Stephanie, Sunny, Shannon and me