As we get off the plane there is a gaggle of people waiting - most holding signs with names on them. We look around for our ride, scanning past professionally printed laminated signs until we spot him: there is a big burly man with spiky blonde hair, a Bluetooth in one ear and a gold hoop in the other, and a Harley Davidson jacket, holding a handwritten sign that says "Alexander - Aurora Retreat". I miss his name but decide to call him Sven.
Sven escorts us to a practical-looking silver hatchback. Not the sort of car I was expecting but I begin to feel better. Dave and I slide in the back and Sven pulls out. Almost immediately we are on a narrow, snow-packed forest road, which the silver hatchback speeds down at a cool 120kph (that's about 75mph) - easily twice the speed I would have chosen in my little Suburu hatchback, and I'm a freaking Coloradoan. He noses toward the center of the road as it winds through the forest. Must be a one-way highway... I reassure myself. Then a pair of headlights appear in the snow. They are headed this way, and fast.
|It was a dark and snowy night...|
As the car approaches, Sven flips off the brights and noses to the right - now inches away from the embankment down into the forest below. Still, I'm sure there is nowhere near enough room for two cars to pass each other, particularly at upwards of 100kph. Katy Perry comes on the radio as the car approaches, and Dave and I reach for one another's hands. The headlights flash in my face and I shut my eyes...
Then there is the click of Sven flicking the brights back on, and the car is somehow behind us. It's snowing harder now, and the brights reflect off the flakes like thousands of tiny mirrors. I can't see a thing, but the little hatchback hasn't so much as faltered so far. Before I can recall the drivers' ed warnings about the dangers of bridges in the snow we are over one, the tires somehow sticking to the road like glue.
Unable to think about the numerous ways we could die going 120kph in a snowstorm in the middle of nowhere any longer, I decide to pretend that we are on a high-speed train instead. The snow-covered forest sparkles as it whizzes by, as if we are driving past a neverending Christmas card.
Aside from the occasional small house the view is unbroken and silent. I fall asleep. We pass a tiny town whose name I cannot pronounce; it consists of three houses, a gas station called "abc!" and a small store simply named "Sale!". Then there is a very well-lit section of road, many signs that I can't read, and a cabin, and Sven says, "Now we are in Sweden." I can tell he's right only because there are fewer vowels in the names of towns.
After another half an hour of snow, winding roads, and close encounters with other vehicles, we arrive at our destination, and Sven wishes us a Merry Christmas before taking off into the night again.