Day 10: August 6

This was Arctic Circle Day. On the way there, we stopped outside of Överkalix at an outdoor entertainment venue of some sort that was up on a good-sized hill. From on top of one of the buildings, we had a nice view of the area, including the Kalix river winding through the town.

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Erik drove us up to the official Arctic Circle sign just south of Juoksengi, right across the Torne River from Finland. Erik believes the sign to be a little south of the actual Circle, and a quick check of Google and Wikipedia (yeah, I know) seems to confirm his suspicion. We took pictures and had a snack at the cafe near the sign, and I perused their modest selection of gift-shop-type items. Most interesting to me were the mousepads made of reindeer hide. I bought a couple of those and a couple t-shirts as gifts but didn't bother with anything for myself. Maybe I should have, but meh. Then Erik drove us a little ways into Juoksengi to make sure we'd really been north of the Circle. I took a GPS reading with my phone at the northernost point of the drive: 66.56310° N, 23.84483° E, ± 6 meters.

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That mission having been accomplished, we headed back south along the border river and stopped near Kukkola for lunch. Really good stuff at the lunch buffet, including some small pieces of herring (not pickled, so a change of pace for me) with caviar. Also lingonberry bread. There's a historical site there as well, with a sawmill, grain mill, old hydroelectric generator, exhibits on traditional fishing practices, and so on. We actually saw some traditional fishing during and after eating. A pier extended out into the river just below some rapids, a long, canoe-like boat was tied to the end of it, and a person was standing in the boat, fishing with a net on a very long pole (15-20 feet? hard to tell) by just running the net through the water against the current. Someone was doing essentially the same thing on the Finnish side, too, though not from the middle of the water like on the Swedish side. Neither one caught anything that we saw. A raft with several people on/in it came through the rapids at one point, too.

Next we went down to Haparanda and the border crossing into Tornio, Finland—no real point to it other than to briefly cross over just so we could say we'd been to Finland (which, really, was more than enough of a reason for me). As it's a minor crossing of an EU-internal border, it was unmanned, no one there to stop us and stamp our passports or anything. We didn't stop to get out or take any pictures from the car, either, so my only proof lies in the track I recorded with a GPS app on my phone, but that's OK. Then we took a walk through the Haparanda Ikea, whose shoppers were mostly from Finland, judging by the license plates in the parking lot.

We went down to Kalix, where Erik and Carina live most of the year, after that. I think I dozed off for most of that drive. Erik showed us around the building where he runs his business, and we stopped by their apartment to pick up a DVD of Erik, Carina, Nils, and Yvonne's trip to the US in 2004 for a family reunion and my grandfather's funeral. Then it was back up to Morjärv to eat dinner and watch the DVD.

Previous: August 5
Next: August 7

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Jeff Blank <jfb@mr-happy.com>