Thursday, December 29, 2011

Christmas sledding

Finally it was Christmas Day!! The big day for children across the world... well those that celebrate Christmas.... and those that don't celebrate it on Christmas Eve...ehem. Any ways it was a big day for us. I was certainly looking forward to activities for the day, almost as much as I had been looking forward to seeing the Northern Lights. Because on Christmas we were going dog sledding!! Surprsingly enough I've heard some bizarre comments about how people are surprised that I would want to go and they can't imagine me doing it... well to that I say "Pbbbbbbbttttt"! <- insert preferred Raspberry sound here.

The day started like every other day in Sweden, early and with food! Shortly after breakfast those of us off to adventure got bundled up and headed off. A short bus ride later our group arrived at the dog sledding location. The leader of our excursion took us in and gave us proper sledding attire, even the hats with the fuzzy ear flaps. Clothes: Check!

Our Sled
Next we needed the sleds, so we all picked our line-up... and when the leader asked for someone brave to be at the rear of the group, Mariko and I volunteered. So now we had our sled... next came the fun things: the Dogs! We were both rather surprised that most of the dogs looked more like mixed breeds than huskies... but they were all still rather cute..... and noisy! You could tell that they were all ready to get going!

We were lucky enough to have 3 of our dogs out and before they were attached to the sled. And since they were within arm's reach that means Mariko had to pet them! Just like a little kid sometimes. The dogs were very affectionate and really wanted to be petted. Since we were the last sled, we had plenty of time to get to know our lead dogs.

So now that we had our dogs, things started to move quicker. After a quick information session on what to do (and what not to do), Mariko sat on the front and I stood in the back and "steered". And whooosh we were off! Now when I say steer, I pretty much mean held on and let the dogs go where they needed to. I could go angle the sled slightly to one side or the other, but that was about it. Our dogs took good care of us.

We moved quickly, and I barely ever tapped the brakes... mainly when the people in front of us slowed down. And faster than I would have liked we were at the half-way point! A little cabin on the hill for us to warm up in. They had a roaring fire going rather soon. We all rested and drank tea/coffee and just generally relaxed. For those of us that needed to use the restroom they conveniently had one outside.... it was a nice building. But once inside you had a wooden cover over a hole. Basic, but efficient.

Looking over the frozen lake
Break soon over we headed back to "base" for the last leg of our trip. This time I took the seat and let Mariko "steer".... that alone tells you how much I love her. Though we weren't able to go very fast on the way back, I'm fairly sure Mariko had the slow brake on the entire time..... the teams in front of us weren't going very fast and we were not aloud to pass each other (then the dogs would fight.) But I was able to get some beautiful pictures while we were traveling.  And even some video of our sledding:

We made it back safely and gave our dogs one last pet before getting on the bus. A bus ride back and Christmas started for Mariko and I. We were able to Skype with my little sister Alisha (who woke up at 6am to talk to us) and Mariko's parents. Though the internet connection wasn't very good, it was still nice to see everyone for Christmas. The day was wearing on and soon Mariko and I knew that we would be spending our last evening here in Sweden. We took one last kick-sled tour of the town with some of our UK friends and called it a night.

We had a beautiful time during our stay and were able to experience so many wonderful things! I hope that one day Mariko and I will be able to come back, and perhaps share this with our children.

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