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Journal for 19-06-2007 : Vuolijoki+16

Slept in.

Hard day today. They all have been so far in Finland. At least 80km (probably 90) on dirt.

I either had headwinds, nastly little hills, dirt roads, or various combinations there of.

The dirt roads have been surprisingly good, for dirt roads. (The only good dirt road is a paved one.) I hit today's maximum on a stretch of dirt. I could have reached 60 but sensibly hit the brakes at 50. It was one of the few downhills long enough and straight enough (turning can be tricky on dirt - especially at pace) to build up that sort of speed.

Also getting pretty homesick, with no pay phones.

Quite cloudy today. Warm when, and only when, the sun comes out. 17C according to the bank's signs.

Spent ages in Kiuruvesi trying to find camping fuel and the way out.

A bit of afternoon rain, not enough to put my raincoat on in time for, but enough to make the dirt roads (more) treacherous.

Enjoyed some flat (and paved) road after Vuoiijoki, and found an ordinary spot to camp in a logging work area.

Finland seems to be entirely privately owned. You are allowed to camp anywhere for 1 night, so long as it's not too close to someone 's house, or on someone's crop, or have a camp fire. And so far, the entire country has looked like a forest. Towns have a small, usually tree lined centre with shops. These are surrounded by well recessed commercial buildings, also surrounded by trees. Very occasionally there might be an apartment block, but I hardly ever see any houses. Almost all residential housing is set on large forested blocks with the house nestled somewhere up a dirt track. Even Tampere, the home of Nokia and half a million people, was largely like this.

Occasionally, usually on very flat arable land, the trees have been cleared for cropping, usually animal feed. I think I've seen 2 or dairy farms with cows in paddocks, and have smelt a few piggeries, but seen no grazing land use. Clearly raising animals in Finland is an indoor affair.

Logging is everywhere. Tree growing is clearly the main industry and primary form of agriculture. When your patch of forest is mature (or you just need the money) you call in the loggers, they cut it down for you and the wood is hauled away. So almost all of Finland that I have seen - including the residential areas - has been forest in various stages of re-growth.

Perhaps the fairest way to describe Finland so far: it's like cycling on the forest moon Endor.

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