Day 9: August 5

Well, I forgot to write all this down the day of. Let's test my memory a little.

The drive to Umeå was very rainy with a healthy dose of road construction mixed in. The rain was particularly irritating because the pavement tends to get rutted on the typically narrow lanes—everyone drives in much more the same position in the lane than in the US, where highway lanes are normally wider. The end result of that is easy hydroplaning. One stretch of the road was very hilly and winding, so everyone was going super-slow, even quite a bit slower than what seemed safe to me.

There seemed to be an effort underway to eliminate some of the rutted road, as we hit a several-kilometer stretch of Highway 92 where there was no pavement while the bed was being rebuilt. The last kilometer or so of it wasn't even dirt, just very coarsely crushed rock, and steering on it was a bit like like riding a road bicycle on loose sand.

But we still somehow got to Umeå right about on time, and we met up with Mom's cousin Erik and his wife Carina at a roadside parking turn-out a few kilometers outside of the city.

At that point, Mom got in Erik's car and Carina rode with me while we did a little sight-seeing. We went past the church where Erik's parents were married and where Mom and Erik's aunt Karin's funeral was held; the building where Karin had worked, a psychiatric hospital back then; the apartment building where Karin had lived; and the apartment house where Mom's dad's parents had lived. At the apartment house, a woman inside got a little suspicious about the people walking around in the yard (and why wouldn't she?), so she came out to see what we were up to. For some reason, I was away from the others and was the first person she found to talk to (in Swedish, of course, adding a little confusion to my slight surprise, as I hadn't seen her coming). But just as I started to explain, Erik came around the corner with Mom and Carina and bailed me out/smoothed things over.

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Then it was time to get some lunch and return the car before a little more sight-seeing. We stopped at the cemetery where my great-grandparents, Karin, and Mom and Erik's uncle Olof (Olle) are buried. After that, Erik drove us up to Morjärv, where he and Carina spend their summers. Morjärv is in Norrbotten (North Bothnia) County and might as well be in Lapland—all but the eastern part of Norbotten County is the old Swedish province of Lappland, and to the east is the Finnish region of Lappi ("Lapland", as you might guess).

Dinner was nearly ready for us when we got in—Erik and Carina's daughter Malin and her fiancé Markus had made some excellent baked salmon and other goodies. After dinner and a short break, we all (except Markus, who'd had to leave) went across the "street" to a gathering of Erik's relatives.

Previous: August 4
Next: August 6

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Jeff Blank <jfb@mr-happy.com>