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Älvdalen supply run (Antti)

Dragonbane diary
April 23rd, 2006
Turku, Finland - Älvdalen, Sweden - Sodankylä, Finland

Our supply trip to Älvdalen began on Wednesday, April 19th. when we took our new truck to the registration inspection in Turku. At first they told us to get a certificate that our cargo compartment was securely attached. After producing required papers (the guy at the place took a good look, said OK and wrote us a paper) we added some reflectors to the rear and fixed the rear license plate lights (remember kids, don't put 12 volt bulbs to a 24 volt socket). Otherwise the truck was in supricingly good condition. The only real problem was that occasionally the pneumatic system sounded like Darth Vader making a sexual harassment phone call.

Anyway, we got the licenceplate that said OUI, almost like 'yes' in French, which seemed like a good sign. We picked up Johannes, who was going to be the driver for the trip and then started packing our stuff. Three tons of plywood and 50 wooden barrels from shops in Turku found their place in the cargo hold. Then we went to the dragon workshop in Loimaa to load some props, cloth and industrial washing machine (kitchen duty by the next building camp will be so much nicer thanks to that).

At 22:00 we had managed something amazing, we were in port on schedule and got on the ferry without incident.

The Finnlink ferry was quite nice, it had plenty of good food and because it didn't have tax-free alcohol the usual horde of drunks was thankfully absent.

After a short night's sleep we arrived in Sweden. It was an early morning so the roads were empty, only a lonely swan gazed at us from the sea while we rumbled over the bridge.

The first breakdown of the trip occurred at 9:20 between Gävle and Falun. We stopped for a break and the car never started again.

After spending three hours in the cold rain trying to start the car we decided that we can't fix it, so we called some help. After a while a friendly repairman came with a towing tuck, gave us some electricity for our battery and took all of our money with him. But at least we could continue our voyage.

Arrival in Älvdalen happened at 17:00. I then realized that I didn't have a key to the old village school in Åsen, which was our secret base, with me. But after a few frantic phone calls we managed to get the caretaker of the old school to let us in so we could unload our stuff.

Naturally, it rained all the time.

By midnight we had unloaded the car and were cold, tired, miserable and wet, not necessarily in that order. The electric heater we had with us was totally inadequate to warm the room we were staying in, so we just tucked into our sleeping bags and hoped that we wouldn't die of pneumonia.

The morning came and somehow we managed to get ourselves up and running. The truck failed to start again until Johannes 'McGyvered' the car battery with the cable from our inverter and we were ready to go on.

First stop was at the Wedde’s sawmill. We left the plywood there and prepared the truck for our wood load. We couldn't’t get the rear loading ramp to function so there was quite a lot more stuff in the rear of the truck than was intended.

Unloading the plywood was quite tricky since our trucks sides were solid, so that all had to be loaded from the back. Finally we managed to tie some lines to our plywood load and drag it off from the truck.

The loading of the wood was much harder. The wood came in five meter long piles one meter wide and high. The forklift trucks the sawmill had had only about one meter long fork, easy to use if you load truck from the side but almost impossible from the rear.

Finally we managed to load the wood to our truck using two forklifts to hold the woodpiles and caterpillar to shove it all in. All in all the loading took about four hours.

We continued our journey, I had checked our route from the map but when we got to our road we noticed that it had several hills. Our truck was fully loaded and we managed to do something like 30 kilometers per hour when going uphill.

Several hours later we managed to clear the hills and got to the E4 road that runs along the Swedish coast. Then we discovered that the jurry rigging in our battery was failing and the truck wouldn’t probably start again if we stopped the engine. At that point we had about one thousand kilometers to go.

The road was open and long, luckily I didn’t have to drive since I didn’t have a driver's license. We were tired and tried to keep awake by talking. We surely hope that no-one had hidden a microphone in our truck, the things we talked about were as disturbed as could be expected in such a situation.

I passed out sometime after two in the morning and woke up at five making the legendary question “What country, what currency?”. Johannes replied that we were still in Sweden.

A few hours later we arrived at the Finnish border. It had a large sign that said that we had arrived to the city of Kemi and the province of Lapland, under those there was a smaller sign that told us, almost like an afterthought, that this was also Finland.

After stopping at the stop sign on the border (which was pretty much the only thing that had to be done at the border), we “only” had 230 kilometers to go.

Another screw up happened at nine the next morning. We were running low on fuel so we drove to the gas station and Johannes lifted his foot from the clutch and stalled the engine. There we were then, in the middle of Lapland with a truck that couldn’t start. Luckily we managed to get hold of local repair shop and a friendly farmer pulled our truck so that we could start the engine.

It seemed that up north people were much more ready to help us. But then again if the gas stations have approximately one hundred kilometers between them, it is quite natural to help other drivers on the road.

The fixing of the battery cost us about 10 euros, quite a cheap price when compared to how much pain and suffering it had caused us.

Three hours later we arrived to Timo’s place where we were taking our wood load. The forest road was quite tricky to navigate, especially after staying up for 32 hours. But we got safely to our destination, had something to eat and a sauna. After a short nap we left again towards Rovaniemi where we got on the train southbound to Turku.

All in all the trip was quite an success, some things were left undelivered and some things went to the wrong place since we couldn’t unload them at Åsen but in the end we could use the old Finnish saying: “bad trip, but at least we made it.”

Some statistics from our trip:
Total traveled - 1840 km
Time taken - 36 hours
Load: 4 tons in, 6 tons out

Consumables used:
Diesel fuel- 480 liters
Cola - 7 liters
Duct tape - 20 meters
Wire - 2 meters

Personal property lost or damaged:
One left hand work glove
One Nokia 9210 communicator

Antti Oksanen