Vacation of a Lifetime

My friends thought I was crazy to go to Finland in winter, but I must disagree. Finland (and OH73ELK) in winter is amazing and beautiful! As you see in their photos, OH73ELK is a beautifully constructed cabin on a small island. The cabin is warm and cozy and the workmanship is exemplary. What you don't see in the photos is

how you will feel being there. The air is clean and you can see all the stars in the sky at night. I felt very welcome and energized.

Thanks to Raisa and Alex for a spectacular vacation and experiences of a lifetime. I was fortunate to meet them and they are wonderful! I had to poke Raisa to be sure I wasn't dreaming! I stayed in Helsinki one night after arriving in Finland and picked up the rental car the next morning. The drive from Helsinki during a snow storm took me a little longer than expected, but the roads are cleared well and I had no problems getting to OH73ELK. If (when) you go, be sure and use Google Maps for directions. The navigation system in the rental car was horrible and often gave wrong directions. On the return trip home, I stayed two nights in Helsinki to do a little sight-seeing in the city. Next time, I may stay longer.

The ELK shack is the perfect place to work the radio. Back in Texas (USA), I have a modest setup with no amplifier or choice of antennas. The selection of antennas is outstanding, though the Yagi is what I used the most since I could aim it to pick up even the weakest signals. The noise level is zero (yes, zero!) and working weaker stations was so much easier than back at home. Be prepared for pile-ups every day! Working pile-ups was new for me. It took me a while to get better at it. I'm still learning, and watching amazing Raisa work a pile-up is a great way to learn, too.
Taking a break from radio, I really enjoyed singing karaoke songs with Alex and Raisa.

When I wasn't on the radio learning how to work a pile-up, I was enjoying the outdoors. Yes. I enjoyed the cold weather. And the Finnish sauna after a cold day was so relaxing. Visiting nearby Savonlinna and the Olavinlinna Castle gave me a glimpse into the past. A nearby museum had several exhibits, including an interesting display of paintings and the artist was there to talk with us. Kick-sledding and cross-country skiing added to the excitement of the trip - especially when propagation was down and the ham bands weren't so active. Exploring Helsinki during the trip back was also great.

If you're still trying to decide to go, don't wait any longer. Plan your trip now and GO. There is so much to do and enjoy. You will absolutely love the trip! But be careful... I didn't want to return home.

Many thanks to Raisa and Alex for the opportunity to meet them and stay at OH73ELK. It was a vacation that I will remember (and repeat!) for the rest of my life.