I spent a full 48 hours in Finland earlier than I really noticed the solar. The sky fluctuated between darkish and very overcast—the form of climate most individuals need to run from in winter. However it was precisely what I had in thoughts after I booked my solo journey to Lapland in November of final yr. As a substitute of seashores and sunshine, a chilly, snowy, completely off-the-grid journey was precisely what I wanted. Plus, I hate sporting bathing suits and Frozen had simply change into well-liked once more. It made sense.
I additionally had but to take a vacation in 2019. Your entire yr had been a blended bag of feelings: a mix of household triumphs, private heartbreak, and world tragedy. The considered touring for pleasure simply hadn’t occurred to me. However when my winter blues kicked in round late September, I grew to become unusually motivated to shock my system earlier than I rang in 2020. I did some analysis, settled on Northern Finland, requested my physician to regulate my antidepressants, and seemed ahead to my upcoming solo journey. I had expectations of total isolation and freezing temperatures, soul looking out, and plenty of writing. It was to be my very own private model of The Shining, solely with more reindeer and fewer axes.
Boy, was I improper.
My first cease in Finland was Ivalo, a tiny city of about 3,000 folks positioned 100 miles above the Arctic Circle. It took me 4 flights to achieve it from my residence in Kansas Metropolis—the final being a shaky, one-hour trip north from Helsinki—however my crippling jet lag disappeared when the air hit my face on the ultimate tarmac. It wasn’t as chilly as I had anticipated, however the air was crisp and recent, like leaping right into a pool on the primary day of summer time.
These first two sunless days in Ivalo have been stuffed typical Arctic actions: feeding lichen to reindeer, visiting a husky farm to strive my hand at…