Friday, December 14, 2012



Cathrine Ericson, the owner, journalist and photographer for her newspaper Affarsnyttnorr here in Stromsund has been a great help to me since I arrived here. And through Cathrine Ericson RideAwayCancer got to bring a little joy to some special people here in Stromsund affected by Cancer.

Murph, Ante and AnnCathrin.

The first was little Ante, Cathrine Ericson's brothers boy who has Leukemia. Well, the first and second. In a cruel twist of fate Ante's chaperone that morning was AnnCathrin, her brothers girlfriend, who has skin cancer. We talked a little about her treatment and how it's coming and AnnCathrin is very upset and worried about it. I know it was only a sidecar ride AnnCathrin, but I hope that in coming along and signing the sidecar that it's gave you a little happiness that day. I, and all associated with DriveAwayCancer and RideAwayCancer wish you and Ante the very best in your upcoming treatments.

It was a real cold morning, probably -10 or -12 with a wind chill of -17, but little Ante and AnnCathrine braved the elements and came out for a ride in the  RideAwayCancer sidecar nontheless.

TV4 from Ostersund came out to interview us for this ride and the 2nd one we had lined up for the afternoon.

Video by C.Ericson.

Ante and Ann Cathrin.

It's a real great treat for me to be able to do this, spread a little happiness as pass through towns and peoples lives. Who would have thought that you'd be able to give a little happiness to people by giving them a sidecar ride in -12° weather?.

After the ride AnnCathrin and Ante both signed the sidecar and left us with a permanent memory of their presence with us that day. 
We love you both and will always remember you. 
Thank you Ante and AnnCathrin for coming along.

 Cecelia Blom and her son Isac.

A little over a year ago Cecilia Blom's husband Tommy died of cancer. 
He died at home, and left a big hole in their son Isac.
After meeting Ante and AnnCathrin and giving them their sidecar ride that morning we headed over to Isac's school with TV4 and to pick him up and take him for his ride. Another cold ride, but Isac was thrilled. I made sure to drive around the school so as all his school friends could see him in the sidecar. He's been having a hard time at school, it's difficult when you lose your Dad like that. Other kids just don't understand sometimes.

 That evening both Cathrine Ericson and I went over to Cecilia and Isac's apartment and spent a little time there with them. Both Cecilia and Isac gave me some gifts in appreciation of my time there with them.

 Cecilia showed me pictures of Tommy, her husband, when he was alive and then when he got Cancer. Tommy had told Cecelia that he didn't want to die in a hospital, he wanted to die at home, so Cecilia brought him home and set up a room in their house for Tommy. 
She brought out a little compact point and shoot camera that she keeps with all the pictures of Tommy. She showed them all to me, pictures of Tommy at home in bed as he was wasting away from the disease. Isac was there all the time with his Dad and slept with him on the bed at night. From looking at all the pictures of Tommy that Cecilia showed me, Tommy seemed to be a good person. A gentle, caring man, he had a benevolent look to his face. The night or morning that Tommy died, Isac was sleeping with him on the bed, and Cecilia told me that something, a letter I think she said, fell or dropped and woke Isac up and when he woke Tommy had passed. It was, I'm sure, a defining moment in Isacs life, one that not many 11yr olds have to experience or go through.

John Nikas of DriveAwayCancer gave me 3 rules to follow as I travel around the world with RideAwayCancer and one of them was that you never cry in front of the kids.
Well John, I stuck to that rule, but it wasn't easy. Having Cecilia share all those memories of her Tommy with me was a very special moment, one that I feel very honored to have seen. 
Cecilia, thank you for inviting me into your home and sharing he memories of Tommy with me.
Isac, it was a pleasure taking you out in the sidecar even though it was freezing out, but you braved it and I hope it was a happy moment for you.

Stromsund Bridge, Nov 23rd, 2012.

 Stromsund Bridge, Dec 1st, 2012.

Meanwhile in Stromsund things were changing. November is a transitional month in Sweden, not fully Winter yet. It's a messy month, the snow has yet to arrive and brighten up the ground to offset the gradually diminishing daylight hours. The sun goes below the Horizon around the third week of November and doesn't come back up until the end of January, resulting in very long dark and cold days. When the snow comes it brightens up everything, covering the ground with a nice thick coating of fluffy white pillowy soft snow. The temperature picks up a bit when it snows, at least it picked up from the -15 in Stromsund up to -6 which made it seem quite pleasant and bearable to me for a change.

100 kms south of Stromsund on the E45 is a town called Ostersund, and in Ostersund is where a tent maker called Hilleberg is.
I have been using 2 tents over the last 3 years on this trip, 
one is a Mountain Hardware EV2, a great, easy and quick to set up tent that I use for 1 or 2 night stays where I break it down each day.
It's a great tent, but because it's a single skin high altitude tent, condenses easily on the inside. And in cold weather you wake up to a layer of ice crystals on the inside in the morning. But I still carry it and use it today, despite it's shortcomings. With a weight of less than 6lbs, I hardly know it's in the sidecar.

Mountain Hardware EV2, a 2 person 4 season bomb-proof lightweight expedition tent.

The other tent I have is the The North Face HIM35, a 3 person, 4 season bomb-proof shelter. I use this tent if I know I'm going to be in the same spot for more than 3 days and won't have to breakdown the tent each day. I use this one as a base camp tent. In comparison to the EV2, the North Face HIM 35 is a double wall tent, so condensation is not an issue.
However, what both of these tents do not have, and what I have discovered that I need in the course of over two and a half years on the road and living in a tent for approximately 60% of that time is that neither of them have a useable porch. The HIM 35 has a vestibule, but it's not big enough to use as a space for anything other than gear storage. So when I found out that Hilleberg were so close to Stromsund and had some tents with porches, I dropped them an email to see if they would be interested in meeting.

Well, they were. I had a nice couple of days there and even met Bo Hilleberg and his son Rolf. In the beginning, when Bo founded Hilleberg AB in 1971, Bo's wife Renate was the one who sewed Bo's tent designs together while Bo handled the sales end of things. Today they are a world wide brand and arguably one of if not the best expedition tent on the market. So in talking with Daniel Wilhelmsson about my needs, specifically a tent with a usable porch and not just a gear storage space, he recommended their flagship tent the Hilleberg Keron 3 GT. A large tent for sure, but Daniel had already researched my blog and the type of travel i do, so that's how he ended up recommending the Keron for me.
I haven't had a chance to try it out yet as I've been staying in MC's all the way up into Norway where I am as of the writing of this post, but as soon as I set it up and get a few nights in it I will do a report on it.
My thanks to Daniel, Bo and Rolf for their hospitality at Hilleberg.

Meanwhile Ice Speedway Season is starting up soon here in the cold and frigid Northern parts of Europe. The Stromsund MC is playing host to some of the Ice Speedway guys who come here in the winter to practice on Klovsjon, a frozen lake 8 km outside of Stromsund, before the season starts.

View Larger Map

 I will have more on the Ice Speedway trials and also some video,
 as well as an update on my journey from Stromsund up to Alta here in Norway in my next post.

Thank you all so much for your support so far, it's very heartwarming to read your comments and see you over on my FaceBook page.



Irishrover63 said...

Hi Murph, loving those pics and the charity work you are doing. You are making a difference to the lives of others. What software are you using to edit your images, are they HDR?
How do I donate to "Ride Away Cancer" as it takes me to a Facebook webpage and I don't have an account?

IRISH Murph said...

IrishRover, some images are HDR and run through Photomatix and some are single shot run through Photomatix. I find that if I mess up on exposure or settings Photomatix can bring a single shot to life just as well as a 5 or 7 shot HDR set.

Regarding donating you can use the donate button on my site here for now. RideAwayCancer will be sharing the same donation page
as DriveAwayCancer starting early next year, but for now you can use my button.

Thanks for the comments and following along,