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  • 40.

    We have done it! 9 months of nomadic lifestyle is over! Not only have we done it, we have enjoyed every second of it. It was a bit of a bumby road, but here we are, three seasons later, ready to move into a house again (I have missed a sofa so much. And an oven! Baked food, here I come!). We said at the start that we would go on until we got tired of living in the van, be that 1 month, 3 months or 12 months. I do not think neither of us are tired of it yet, but it feels right to stay in one place, at least for now.
    We had an actual reason for rushing down south (my longing for an oven is not that great), otherwise we probably would have meandered on the forestry tracks of central Sweden a little bit more. Meet Thor, the newest addition to the Cederlund-Hutcheon family. Thor has so far, in the short 48 hours he has been a part of the clan, managed to vomit five time (off which one was on me), run straight into a barbwire fence and gotten stung by nettles. He fits right in.

    • Number of gas bottles used:  13
    • Number of kilometres driven: Many!
    • Number of nights in campervan: 83
    • Number of days skiing: 6
    • Number of times getting stuck: 1
    • Meter above sea level driving record: 692 metres
    • Longest period without a shower: 10 days
    • Number of serious arguments: 0
    • Number of times having to get jumpstarted: 4
    • Coldest temperature: -18°

    The plan is to stay down south for the near foreseeable future (all visitors welcome). At least until the snow comes again and the mountains (or cross-country ski tracks…Hej hej Vasaoppet) are calling. Thank you all for following along on our journey, I hope you have had as much fun reading about it as I have had recording it! For further Thor related updates I suggest you follow our Instagram page!

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  • 39.

    Things we have learnt from our camper van experience

    • Only one person can be grumpy at any given time.
    • A camper van needs to be cleaned as often as a house.
    • You use a lot more electricity than you think.
    • But you use a lot less water than you think.
    • Showering really is rather overrated.
    • Emptying a cassette toilet sucks.
    • a 12V to 240V converter is an essential if you are trying to work while vanlifeing.

    • People like to stare.
    • The weather affects you way more than you think.
    • You only really need three sets of clothes.
    • Most things can be mended with duct tape and cable ties.
    • Having a flat battery is not fun at all.
    • Sweden is covered in trees.
    • Norway is covered in mountains.
    • Our countries’ 3G net is far spread and very good.

    • Always drive on. There will be a better place to stop along the way.
    • Even in the coldest weather it is really not that bad.
    • Sometimes you have to turn back.
    • We really do no need more than 6 m2 to live.
    • If a meal can be cooked with one pan it should be.
    • Driving slower (i.e. looking at the view)  is way more acceptable in a camper van.

    • It is way easier to drive than you would imagine.
    • People with nicer camper vans might not wave at you.
    • The single best thing we did was to put gym matting on the floor. Yay for warm floors.
    • Only take half what you think you need. And divide that by half again.
    • It is a lot easier to do than you would imagine. If you have any desire to do it. DO IT!

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  • 38.

    Our main reason for getting a move on down was to have some time to explore the Åre region a bit more. We arrived here Monday afternoon. It is almost like we have come full circle, as this was the last place we were before the accident. It felt a little sad coming back as this was the last place we were before we lost Benny and Zack. We spent a few nights in different locations here, having a little look at most of the villages in the valley.

     The weather has been spectacular. Spring has really arrived (as I type this I am sure there will be some snow tomorrow just to prove me wrong). The snow has properly melted and little yellow flowers (tussilago!) are lining the roads. The sun is actually warm.  We have been able to go for a few runs, which has further proved the point of how unfit we have become. #vanlife downfalls. Not having much snow means that we were able to find little forest trails to enjoy. I did not  care much for the massive uphill section we also found… 

    Leaving the Åre valley it feels a little unreal that in less than one week’s time the adventure will be over. Looking at a map we have come so far south. It is only really two days drive to get to my parents from where we are, and then another two to get to the south. We are doing our best to enjoy this last drop of nomadic adventure, but it starting to sink it that it is ending.

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  • 37.

    The kilometres are swoshing away. We left Norway after only one day of driving. Despite our fondness of Norway getting back into Sweden felt nice. Hello supermarkets with more than one kind of cheese, tasty breads and just overall cheaper prices. We have gone from the mountain regions (692 metres above sea level! An absolutely gorgeous drive) back down to the forest tracks again. I know I have said it before, but Sweden really is just covered in trees. No wonder every house is made from wood.

    The journey down has so far been fairly action packed when it comes to animal sightings. It seems to be prime reindeer herding time and the flocks (?) are everywhere. Sometimes with their Sapmi carers, sometimes without. We have also spotted one little fox and four herrings (the bird that is, not the fish). Keith is determined that he will see another elk before the end of the week so he is on active elk spotting duty while I drive. So far no luck though.

    The lack of snow means that the little forest side tracks are possible to drive on again as well. We tempted fate the other night and drove down one, with an excellent outcome. Quiet and peaceful. Parked right by the water. We could even go for a short dip in the water. Very very short, as our feet got numb after only 30 seconds, but it was very refreshing and we did feel pretty clean afterwards!

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  • 36.

    We are back in the van again and it is time for the final stretch. We are heading home. Not that we actually have a home at the moment other than our home on wheels. (Which incidentally will soon be sold. Anyone in need of an amazing trust worthy campervan? With a fresh battery at that? Comfortably worn in? (The van that is, not the battery)
    Keith looking home

    The last time we left Norway we came back to spring, only for it to quickly go back to winter again. This time I am hoping spring will stay a little longer. In any case the plan is to make fairly fast progress south, so if nothing else we will meet spring along the way. As life gets full of work travel for Keith starting mid May onto June we have decided that being stationary is the best option for that period.
    Reindeers!

    We would not be us if we did not try to make things a little trickier though. We have decided to spend the summer in the south. Warm weather, nice cabin, sunny skies (hopefully. One never really knows with Swedish summer). Here’s to driving through all (literally all!) of Sweden in 10 days! And have time to change tires and say hej-hej to the parents as well!

    Valborg

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  • 35.

    We have been beaten by the weather! Most upsetting as it led to us breaking the only hard-fast rule we have been following this entire trip: Never turning back! We were meandering our way down Lofoten, accidentally driving too far almost every single day because the road was so nice and the views so scenic (the views really are amazing. If you are wondering where to go for holidays this summer; Lofoten is the answer!)
    Winds, winds, winds The weather over the Easter holidays was amazing. We had coffee in the sun, went for long walks, etc etc. Unfortunately this was not to last. A look at the weather forecast in the beginning of the week told us a storm was coming. We were not too concerned though as we had not booked our ferry until the Saturday. Our parking spot for the storm

    The plan, as mentioned previously, was to get on the ferry in Moskenes and get off it in Bodö. Keith had some meetings in the UK he needed to get to we had flights booked for the Sunday. We therefore really needed to be in Bodö by Saturday night. The plan seemed fool proof. The storm was to have blown over by the end of Friday. Weather sucks!

    We found a good spot, anchored down the van and decided to wait it out. Being in a campervan with 18 m/s winds and gusts is definitely an interesting experience. On Friday morning we realised that the storm had not moved as fast as we had hoped. There was a relatively large chance that the ferry would not actually leave on Saturday morning. After a bit of a discussion we decided that the safest option was to turn back. An extra 8 hours added to our journey, but at least we were 100% certain of catching that flight! It did feel a little sad to be leaving Lofoten in such a hurry…

     

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  • 34.

    To wave or not to wave. We realised early on in our campervan adventure that campervaners like to wave to each other. Every time we met a camper van we would cringe a little; had we turned into those people who wave just because they are driving a camper van?! We soon discovered that we were mainly waved at by campervaners driving vans of a similar price levels to ours. If they drove fancier, expensive vans they tended to pretend we were not there. Strangely enough the people driving the most expensive luxurious vans would happily give us a wave though.

    camper van with view

    The further we headed into the winter, and the further north we got the smaller the problem became. The number of vans on the road was very low. Not many people crazy enough to holiday in the middle of winter. Now however, with the return of spring and the holidays, we are seeing nothing but camper vans.

    We just had to give in to the wave. It felt rude not to, right?! After one particular day of driving my arm was almost sore from all the waving. It was also rather amusing to guess who would wave and who would not. This was played until we realised the best game of them all. If we thought it felt rude not to wave back, would not the drivers of the fancier bigger vans also feel the same way? What would happen if we put on our biggest smiles and waved to them as well?!

    more views from nightly spot.

    They waved back! But you could tell they were not happy with it. Some waited for as long as possible before they raised their hands. Some only gave a brief hand movement while still holding on to the steering wheel. This is the best game ever! We have now turned into the most smiling, waving campervan drivers out there. I am perfecting not only the raised hand, but thinking about venturing into an actual wave motion of the hand. And if I one day feel courageous, maybe a captain’s salute?!

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  • 33.

    Arriving as we did on Easter Friday did however pose a few problems. Easter Friday is a “red” day in the Norwegian calendar and therefore treated like a Sunday. This means that the majority of the food stores are closed. We had cleared our cupboards of food that could go bad when we were away and now found ourselves with some carrots, a little bit of cheese and two eggs. 

    We had resigned ourselves to surviving on petrol station fast food for the day when almost out of nowhere a teeny tiny supermarket kiosk appeared. Dinner was saved! Luckily for us the opening times were less strict on Easter Saturday and we managed to stock up with food for the rest of the week.

    This also meant that we did not have to spend the night in the car-park of a petrol station, but could explore the area a little. This area of Norway have a large selection of rest-stop, and they are all extremely scenic. Some come with nice toilets, some with not so nice toilets. Some even come with automatic campervan-toilet emptying machines. We used it with great excitement!

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  • 32.

    It is time to turn south! We have reached our goal and are now heading home. Ish. With a slight detour on to Lofoten. It is funny but neither Keith nor I feel like we are done with our camper-van life. It passed way too quickly. We could have done with two more month. Possibly the two month we were out of the camper recovering.   

    We are now heading on to Lofoten. At the tip of the islands we will take a ferry back to the main land. Hopefully we will get a few more days of skiing in, so we at least make it to double digits this year. So much for our goal of 50 ski-days and 150 km cross country… 

    Last week was spent working and visiting in the UK. It was winter when we left, but we returned to spring. Not such a bad trade off I think! The spring weather has made driving absolutely enjoyable. The roads are clear, they are wide, but not so full of people. We got into the car at Tromsö airport, took off and all of a sudden we had driven as much as we did in two days going north. Plus, we were enjoying it! The scenery, which had been hidden with heavy snowfall going there was spectacular. That first day of driving we ended up almost at the start of Lofoten Island, our goal for this week.

     

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  • 31

    We made it into Tromsö two days before our estimated arrival time. Perfect! Enough time to wash all our clothes (desperately needed after three weeks on the road) and give the camper a proper tidy. It was rather dusty. We also checked for moisture and dried everything out. 

    Being three in the camper-van was surprisingly easy. It did help that Keith’s nephew had his own ‘bed-room’ to go into and hide when we were faffing about in the living area. We had decided that camp-siteing it would be appropriate when we were three to help with showers/toilets/washing up.

    The weekend was spent in glorious “spring-winter” weather. Yes, it is a thing in Scandinavia, the fifth season. Still snowy, but with warming sun in your face. It is defined by when you can have “fika” outside for the first time! I may have fallen in love with Tromsö in the sun, and possibly told Keith we should move there. It is a beautiful town, situated on an island bordered by mountains.

    We went skiing, cross-country skiing (the poor boy had to make to with my gear, which were far too big for him. Not the best way to start your XC-ski career). We had dinner outside, went snow-shoeing, took the gondola up one of the mountains to look at the northern light (a failed attempt as it did not get dark enough before we had to take the last cable-car down).

    Unfortunately we were less lucky with the weather the rest of the week. Tromsö is on an island which means it is right by the sea. This means rain. Lots and lots of rain. Our little ski-holiday rained away completely with 36 consecutive hours of rain. All the lovely snow disappeared. My idea of moving to Tromsö seemed less agreeable…