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Sunday, December 2, 2012

STOCKHOLM to NORDKAPP Pt IV.



"STILL IN STROMSUND"










My first night in Stromsund was spent in a shower.
Well, not all night in the shower, but it was my first hot shower in 4 or 5 days, so I relished every last hot water droplet that came out of that shower head and probably stayed under the water for a full hour. I loved every single one of those steamy little water molecules, and told them so too. I have an abundance of love for all you hot water droplets out there.
After packing up the next morning and heading down to the STROMSUND TOURISM INFO and getting the cabin practically given to me for free by Hakan who works there, my next order of business was to try to find some internet. 
The day I arrived in Stromsund and after getting my tires spiked by Niklas at Ollanders Tires, he mentioned that the supermarket down the street, ICA, had internet in the cafe that was on the ground floor level adjacent to the supermarket. Well, it had internet, but not anymore. 
But apparently, Mother Karma wasn't done with me yet.
I had a couple of food items to get at the supermarket, so when I got to the register I asked the girl about the internet situation in the supermarket. "There is none anymore" she said. "There used to be, but we have a new owner and it hasn't been connected up again". 
So I said "Do you know of anywhere in town that I could get some internet".
My register girl Mel got on the phone to her boss in the office downstairs to find out. 
It must have been the Luck 'O the Irish or maybe something much more mystical that seems to be guiding the Karma cloud in my direction these days, but what are the odds of meeting a girl at a cash register all the way up in the middle of Sweden that had lived in Ireland for 8 years?. However Mel explained my situation to her boss downstairs it must have struck a chord somewhere. He told Mel to tell me that if it was an emergency that I could come down and use the internet in his office.
Well, for me it was. I had to Skype call my Mum in Boulder CO since I hadn't spoken with her in nearly a week. Since I'm an only child and the apple of me Mothers eye (she told me I was) I know she worries about me, so a Skype phone call to her as often as I can doesn't cost me much but I know means the world to her.


Down in the office of ICA Supermarket Thomas, the owner of this and one other ICA Supermarket in town, was helping me log on to the his internet. I got logged on and while I was getting connected to me Mum on Skype I tried to explain to Thomas who I was and what I am doing, so I pointed to the Wherethehellismurph.com sticker on the back cover of the laptop and said "That's my website if you want to jump on and take a look at some of my pictures". So while I was chatting with Mum he did. I guess he liked what he read and saw on my blog because after I hung up with Mum I thanked him for being so hospitable to me and he then said that if I needed to use the internet the next day that I could come down to his office and work there.
Well, that was unexpected. I did have an article to get ready for the blog and probably 5 or 600 pictures to go through and edit so having the ability to have a desk in a warm office with a bathroom right by was complete luxury for me. 
Yes thanks Thomas, I will gladly accept your offer.
Even the staff lunchroom was right next door where there was a coffee machine with an endless supply of java.

And, the two guys I had met at the campground the night before showed up just as I was leaving the cabin that morning and said that if I was going to stay in Stromsund for a few more days I could use their cabin for the weekend while they were gone. Could it get any better?.
Apparently it could, but I'm jumping the gun again.

I ended up getting a ton of work done down in Thomas's office in the ICA Supermarket. I went there for three days straight.
I cleared out a backlog of pictures and it allowed me to get a post up on the blog. I made quite a few friends there in the interim, a lot of the staff came down just to say hi to the guy with the sidecar parked outside in -10° weather.
So with the weekend over, the guys in the cabin were back and I was conteplating what to do. Do I move on further north or stay a few more days here in Stromsund?.
I was thinking that I really should stay as I had some repair work that had crept up on the bike that needed attention, mainly wiring. The On/Off switch on the WARN SDB160 Spot Lights that I use on the bike had, through 3 years of road abuse and many many rainstorms, shorted out inside rendering the lights unusable.
Up until now and before coming to Sweden I never really had a situation that I needed all the candlepower that my WARN Spotlights afforded. But once you get up toward the middle of Sweden and further north, it gets dark, really dark. And most if not all of the cars I saw on the road had so many lights on the front of them they looked like a Group B Rally CarThat's a little overkill I thought to myself.



Well no, turns out it's not overkill at all. On the contrary it's a necessity to have really powerful aftermarket lights on your vehicle up here in this part of the world.
Once I started driving up here in Sweden I realized exactly why they have all those lights on the front of their cars. You really do need them up here, it's the only way you're going to be able to see whats ahead of you on the long dark roadsespecially if it's a 1400lb Moose. At this time of the year it's dark for most of the day, the sun goes down at 2 or so, by 3:15 it's dark. And I'm still only in the middle of Sweden. Once I get up north there's maybe one or two hours of daylight.



And even if you do have your Rally Lights on high beam it doesn't always mean that you'll see the Moose before it's too late, as this driver found out the hard way. I just happened to be in a car with Cathrine Ericson, the owner and reporter of Affarsnytt Norr here in Stromsund when we noticed a few fire trucks go by, so both of us being the intrepid reporters that we are decided to follow them and see if there was a story there.






Moose on the loose is what happened. All occupants were fine, a few minor cuts, a busted up car and one dead 1200lb moose was the tally for the night.

I've stayed here in Stromsund longer than I originally intended to, a number of reasons for that really, one of them being a triple header birthday party for three of the members of the Stromsunds MC club who were between them celebrating 150 years of birthday.


 Another reason was that I had an opportunity to be able to ride the bike up the ramp at the side and into the Stromsunds MC clubhouse and do a little work on it, so I took full advantage of that.




The wiring for the WARN SDB 160's was now a priority. 
There was absolutely no point in having such a great set of Dual Beam Spotlights on the bike of they didn't work, so I sent an email to Ray Hyland, the Chief Operations Officer at the OVERLAND JOURNAL and asked if he had a contact in WARN that may be able to help me with my issue. 
Before I left the U.S. I stopped by the OVERLAND JOURNAL offices in Prescott, Arizona and spent a little time talking with both Scott Brady, the Publisher and Chairman of the OVERLAND JOURNAL and Ray Hyland, the Chief Operating Officer of the Journal, and after my visit as I was leaving they very graciously said that if there was anything I needed, if I get stuck somewhere and needed help or a little cash to let them know and they would do their best to help me out if they can.
Well, Ray Hyland and the OVERLAND JOURNAL  came through on this one for me. Ray put me in contact with Andy Lilienthal, the online Marketing Manager for WARN and within the week Andy had 2 new wiring harnesses complete with 2 new switches shipped to me here in Sweden. I have also sent Andy another request for a few other WARN items I needed and Andy and WARN have sent another package to me here before I leave out for Jokkmokk and the Arctic Circle and then on to Nordkapp








My thanks to both Ray Hyland from the OVERLAND JOURNAL and 
Andy Lilienthal from WARN for all their help.

And while I was in "Repair Mode" the rear OHLIN'S shock had to come out just for a final adjustment. It's holding up really well now that they took out the height adjuster, no problems with it. 

But I'm still having a problem with the oil leaking out of the bolt holes through the final drive. I have to stop every 400 miles or so, take off the wheel and adaptor and clean out the oil with some brake cleaning fluid and a rag before it starts to get all over the brake rotor. Oh well, could be worse, gives me something to do on the road and keeps me out of trouble, right?. 

E45 from Ostersund to Stromsund, Sweden.


Sunset, Faxsalven Dam, Sweden.


Sunset at Stromsund Bridge, Stromsund, Sweden.


Sunset on the lake, Stromsund, Sweden.



SUNDAY, Dec 2nd, 2012.
It's starting to get cold here now, -12 is the new norm for me, which means a wind chill of down to -30. Thats what it seemed like yesterday anyway. Camping is starting to get challenging, so I've been forced to make a few changes to my gear to accommodate that. Riding in -10 and below is a whole new world to me and a whole new wardrobe too, unless you want to get frostbite or freeze to death.

The colder it gets here the less my Thermarest Air Mattress is able to keep my body insulated against the negative temps, and it's causing me really cold nights of sleep. I get a chill that reaches up through the sleeping bag an into my kidneys, so I gotta get up to pee every hour or so. This cold is just going right through me.
So when I got to Stromsund and was chatting with Cathrine Ericson of Affarsnyttnorr I asked her does she know of anywhere around here that I could pick up a Moose skin to lay down on the ground to help with the insulation. Not knowing my skins I though that Moose would be a good choice, but I was told that Reindeer was much warmer than Moose. So Cathrine made some inquires and got a guy called JonHenric to call me. JonHenric's Dad has a Reindeer farm 8 km outside of town and he just happened to have 2 skins for sale. Good ones too he said, from a younger Reindeer, so it was softer and warmer than an older adult.
So I made arrangements to meet him the next day and go there to pick one up.
Well, JonHenric never called that day so I let it go. 
The next evening two members of the Stromsunds MC, Roban and Eleonor came by the clubhouse to see me.
And they came bearing gifts.

And one of those gifts was one of the Reindeer skins that I was supposed to go and see the day before. Thats why JonHenric hadn't called, because he knew that Roban and Eleonor had bought the skin for me so he figured I was all set.


Eleonor and Roban, Stromsunds MC, Nov 2012.


That Reindeer skin is a life saver for me, or in my case a kidney saver. It's amazing just how warm it as soon as you lie down on it or even just put your bare hand on it. No wonder Reindeer can stay out in -50 and still be warm.

Roban and Eleonor also brought me a one piece Layer 1 insulation overall.
Thank you so much Roban and Eleonor. You may have just single handedly saved my kidneys from total failure in the cold. At least I won't have to get up to pee 10 times a night now.


Another item I was forced to upgrade by riding in -10 and below was my helmet.
I've always loved my Shark helmet. I personally feel it's the best modular on the market. But it is no match for extreme winter riding. The visor just kept fogging up no matter how much Rain-X I put on it. And it was NOT a warm helmet by any stretch of the imagination, especially around the neck area.
So while at Ollanders Tires here in Stromsuund one day and speaking with Niklas about this he mentioned about the Snowmobile helmets they have, as Ollanders also sell Snowmobiles in the winter, plus a lot of snowmobiling gear. So I took a look at the helmets and noticed that Snowmobile helmets are made for extreme winter riding. A double glazed visor, a mouthpiece that covers your nose and mouth and re-directs the warm air you breath out back into the helmet and keep it warm and a medium or extra long neck and chest wind stopper is built into the chin guard of the helmet. Sweet.





When the chin guard comes down over these vent holes, the warm air that you exhale gets re-directed back into your helmet, helping to keep it nice and cosy inside while outside it's -30°. 

 The mouthpiece vent tubes that re-direct warm air from your breath and keep it inside the helmet.

 A double glazed visor is practically fog proof. 

 The BRP Modular 2 helmet visor is actually advertised as a Fog Proof visor,
but it's not. It will fog up a little at the lower part of the visor right by your nose. But it IS completely fog proof if worn with the supplied nose and mouthpiece.
After a chat with Patrick, one of the owners of Ollanders and I got a deal not to be passed up so I bought it. Even if Patrick hadn't given me a deal, I still would of had to buy the helmet. The Shark just would not have lasted, or rather I would have not lasted too long while my neck got frostbite and my visor kept fogging up. No way I would have made it to Nordkapp in -30° with the Shark helmet.


The amount of hospitality and goodwill that I have been shown in this little town of Stromsund and by the members of the Stromsunds MC is nothing short of amazing. Starting with Niklas in Ollanders Tires, this town has been a series of one good thing happening after another. A little overwhelming at times.
And it still continues. 

Next week RIDE AWAY CANCER meets two special kids here in Stromsund. 
Ante, a 5 year old boy with Leukemia and Isac whose Dad Tommy passed away a year ago and left Isac with a big hole inside him, so we tried to make both of their days a little better by giving them a ride in the RIDE AWAY CANCER sidecar.
And we also see more of the new friend we met, Zacco.




Murph.




















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