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Journal for 4-Sep : Prince Rupert

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.

Camped by the boat ramp. Woke at 5am feeling a bit uncomfortable (read as unwashed). So packed up and went cycling.

What a fantastic morning!

The road hugged the river banks, the mountains towered around me as I sped along . The mist formed on several levels around the hills, and as the sun came through it looked just magnificent. Even saw a fog bow.

Another flat tyre - this time it was possible to find the source: tube scrubbing on the road from my first genuine penetrating puncture. Patch applied to the tyre (at last).

Chatted to Harris W, an oil driller (supposedly retired) for an hour while eating breakfast and fixing the flat.

More ridiculously great cycling till the road finally presented a challenge with a small hill.

Obstructed by nit-brained tourist from Alberta who thought the middle of a narrow bridge would be a good spot to stop for some happy snaps.

Checked out tourist info, then went to supermarket for a lunch of fresh fruit and yesterday's pastry, washed down with Canadian iced tea.

Started raining - this is a fine day by Rupert standards. Rupert gets 2500mm of rain a year (no exaggeration!). Treated myself to a hotel room - pretty cheap - since the main Vancouver Is ferry sank earlier this year (blame the software guy - as usual) tourism is down here. Great to have a long hot bath!

Checked out railway museum. PR was intended as the western gateway to the far east of the British Empire, with steamships forwarding the king's bounty on to Hong Kong and beyond. The artists impression of the and terminal building and beautiful Victorian hotels is indeed impressive. In the place where this piece of architectural magnificance was to stand is a very large plain box inscribed with the words "shopping mall". Not all of PR is that bad. The courthouse is a large Edwardian style building (actually cross between Edwardian and an American school house) set amidst a beautiful Japanese style garden.

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