Friday, May 12, 2017

Homecoming


Sisu’s home is in Minnesota, the Land of 10,000 Lakes. Well, Finland has 186,000+ lakes. Or: 5.5 million people, 2 million cars, 3 million saunas.

One of the lakes, Lake Saimaa, hosts one of the rarest of species of seals in the world, saimaannorppa. This species was cut off from access to the seas at the end of the latest ice age, and has a population of less than 400 today. In an effort to help protect the species, WWF sets up a webcam every spring, providing an opportunity to watch these lively fellows enjoy life.

Sisu wants to go to Finland!

Next stop on the tour: Bozeman, Montana. Mountain Hot Tub, a Finnleo dealer, had invited Sisu for a visit. On the agenda was plenty of sauna, food off a wood fired pizza oven, barbecue sandwiches, etc. All in good company at the Mountain Hot Tub Open House on this fine Tuesday afternoon.

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A remarkably good number of people came to say hello to Sisu, and to check out Finnleo saunas on display at Mountain Hot Tub. Bozeman must be sauna country! A large pool was made available inside in the showroom for people to dip in in between and after their sauna sessions. Hey, where’s the staff? On the sauna bench, of course! Check out the video clips also on Traveling Sauna Facebook page.

Sisu wishes to thank Kelly King and his staff for the wonderful afternoon in Bozeman! If you live in the Bozeman area, and are looking for a sauna or a tub, you will want to check out Mountain Hot Tub. Their selection of saunas covers the whole range from wood and electric heaters to infra red and electric/infra red combos.

After Bozeman, Sisu continued east, destination: Moorhead, Minnesota, mere 750 miles away. While mountains are exciting and provide wonderful views, Sisu welcomed the easier travel ahead.

Wednesday was a travel day. Sisu planned to cover as much of the distance as possible as a group of Finns in Bismarck, ND had invited Sisu for a lunch. Unfortunately, a flat tire near Miles City, MT scuttled those plans. Thank you, Bismarck Finns, for the invitation! Sorry we weren't able to make it.

If you are looking for a place to visit in the summer, Sisu recommends Theodore Roosevelt National Park. Sisu wasn’t able to tour the park but the scenery looked fantastic! We even saw bison from the freeway! Medora, ND is a gateway to the park and, in the summer, looks to be a hopping place, providing lodging and your western themed relaxation.


Thursday was spent on the road as well, through the rolling hills and farm landscape of North Dakota. Traffic was light but North Dakota offers its own surprises. Does anyone know what's in the picture below? A giant cow on a hill in North Dakota? No way!


The Red River Finns, along with the Historical and Cultural Society of Clay County and the Nordic Culture Clubs-Scandinavian Festival had teamed up to arrange a sauna party at the Hjemkomst Center in Moorhead, MN for Friday and Saturday, April 28-29. And, what a party it was!

We were treated with clear skies and 60 F temperatures. Note: It had snowed a couple of inches the day before. Spring weather in North Dakota/northern MN is unpredictable, to say the least.


Log the Sauna, a project by the Folkways, also arrived on site. Their setup is impressive with a changing tent, lawn chairs and tables, the whole nice yards! Connect with Joe and Simone if you are looking for some good steam and camaraderie in your back yard!

Friday was sauna and lawn games, with the Red River Finns on site with coffee, cookies and information about their organization and activities. Boot tossing appeared to be the game of the day. Probably, because Sisu brought along a native instructor and a "tosser extraordinaire", Timo "Prinssi" Kovanen, to teach the secrets for record breaking throws.

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Saturday morning opened with a local band, Suomi Rosvot, playing tunes, and a proclamation from the Mayor of Moorhead declaring April 29 as “Finland 100 Day in Moorhead, MN”. Way to go, Moorhead and Red River Finns!


More sauna, lawn games, coffee & cookies, and just "a good time"! Governor of North Dakota, Mr. Doug Burgum stops by. If Sisu understood correctly, Mr. Burgum made a promise to declare December 6, 2017 as “Finland 100 Day in North Dakota”. Ellen Liddle, Sisu trusts you will be following up on the promise!

From left: Joe "Log the Sauna" (nice shirt!), Mrs. Burgum, Risto, Governor Burgum, Ellen Liddle.
The Hejmkomst Center has some pretty cool stuff to check out if you are in the area. As an example, they have a viking ship that was hand built, and then sailed from the New World to Norway. No sauna on board so imagine taking the trip!

It was hard to pack up after the two days. Sisu had such a good time in Moorhead! Thank you, Ellen Liddle, Markus Krueger, Simone and Joe, and everyone else who hosted Sisu in Moorhead.

From Moorhead, Sisu headed back home to the Twin Cities. Sisu will be staying in the Upper Midwest for May, June, July and August, visiting events and places in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, and Michigan. Stay tuned!

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Background music courtesy of Martti Servo & Napander.

Sisu’s full schedule and up-to-date calendar, please click here.

Finland Centennial Calendar in the US, please click here.

Like reading about Sisu’s travels? Please help us bring Sisu to a location near you. Get a souvenir from our web store, or feel free to make a donation.




Friday, May 5, 2017

The Northwest Passage

Heading east from Seattle on I-90, you will first climb over the Cascades through the Snoqualmie Pass. Good practice for getting over the Rockies a couple of hundred miles later, one might say. No sweat, says Sisu. Let’s just enjoy the scenery and occasional banks of snow on the road side.

Sisu’s travels continued April 21. Destination Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, as a guest of the Inland Northwest Chapter of Finlandia Foundation.

In Coeur d’Alene, Sisu is greeted by Donald Heikkila and Tuula Ezzell. We setup at the local library to take part in Earth Day celebration under sunny skies and in good company.


Next to Sisu is a tiny log home on wheels. Let’s go say hello to Mr. Frank W. Eld and learn more about his craft.


Frank is the premier log house builder/expert in the United States, we learn. We also learn that the log home style of building was introduced to the New World by Finns and Swedes. Let’s think about that for a moment, shall we? How common is a log house nowadays? Or was already when the west was being settled. The log house may be the innovation Finns (and Swedes) have introduced to America. Someone might argue, though, the one after sauna…

Let’s talk more about innovation. We’d like to hear from you! What is the #1 innovation Finland has provided to the world? Please comment in this blog, or go to Traveling Sauna Facebook page to cast your vote.

From Coeur d’Alene Sisu continues south along the Harrison Slough to Harrison, Idaho. Trip there includes the ever-exciting Fourth of July Pass. What an excellent opportunity to practice engine braking again. Going down hills temporarily improves fuel economy, too, notes Sisu. Good deal!


In Harrison, the Inland Northwest Chapter of Finlandia Foundation caters a buffet at the Harrison Grange building to members and guests. Sisu thanks by getting the sauna room hot and providing everyone an opportunity to take a sauna.


Sisu can only add a big THANK YOU to everyone involved in the stops in Idaho. Tuula, Don and Frank in particular. The Inland Northwest Chapter of Finlandia Foundation is a great group and has a long and rich history. If we only had had more time to hear the stories about the region, and Finns in the area.

Let's not forget the sunsets in Harrison! Spectacular is an understatement!


Next on agenda, Missoula, Montana. To get there, there’s only one if. It is called the Lookout Pass. Another moment (or two) of excitement for our 15,000 lbs combo but, once the Pass is cleared, it is smooth sailing for Sisu. The day is sunny, temps are in the low 40’s, the mountain scenery is fantastic! Sisu makes it to destination on schedule.

In Missoula Sisu has a date with the Finlandia Foundation of Montana, a.k.a. Montana Nordic Group. Finns in Montana are spread out so the the group operating from Missoula is looking to connect all Finns in the region, and also partners with other Nordic nations to arrange events and activities. We park downtown at a restaurant called Five on Black and get a nice number of visitors in the lunch hour traffic.


Unfortunately, Sisu can not be heated because burning (of wood) in the city of Missoula is prohibited. No fireplaces in Missoula. Sisu forgot to ask about grills. No grilling, either?


What do you do when there’s a sauna in town but you can’t heat it? Well, there's a solution to every problem when Finns are involved. Let’s go to Stevensville, some 30 miles south and park there! Problem solved.

The Montana Nordic Group members coming to the sauna party are mostly younger families and, before you can say "Holy smokejumpers!", Sisu is filled with kids enjoying a sauna. Moms and dads will have to wait. Check out Jenni’s comments on Traveling Sauna Facebook page.

Thanks to Jenni Rohrbach and Jenna McVey for hosting Sisu in Missoula. Jenni gets a special mention for packing the travelers a tasty lunch for the next day! Timo says hello, too!

Part 2 of the Northwest Passage, “Homecoming”, coming soon!

Sisu’s full schedule and up-to-date calendar, please click here.

Finland Centennial Calendar in the US, please click here.

Like reading about Sisu’s travels? Please help us bring Sisu to a location near you. Get a souvenir from our web store, or feel free to make a donation.





Thursday, April 20, 2017

The Northern Half of the West Coast

Once more over the Golden Gate Bridge. So long, San Francisco. Cruise control to 55 mph (top speed in CA for truck&trailer), GPS heading: Portland, OR. Fluff the pillow. Only 650 miles to go…

Th drive is very scenic. Well, you enjoy what you can. Lots of green and it gets even greener the further north you go. After Redding, CA there is a small mountain range to get over. After that, in Oregon, the highway is flanked with olive groves, fruit trees, raspberry and marionberry farms.

Only negative is that Sisu really doesn’t enjoy getting over hills and mountain passes. Going up is fine, mountain scenery, fantastic! But, heading down the 6 to 7 degree grades is not the most exciting experience with a 15,000 lbs combo. When other traffic speeds up, Sisu likes to slow down.


In Portland, the spring is in full bloom. A few miles north of the mighty Columbia River is Sisu’s next stop, Battle Ground, WA. United Finnish Kaleva Brothers and Sisters Lodge #24 invited Sisu over to learn about the history of the Finns in the area of Hockinson and Battle Ground.


When driving up to Gerry Adolfson’s, we noticed that people in the southern WA really know how to properly name their roads. Only the best!


Upon arrival, we are warmly welcomed by Gerry (Kari) and Alina (Bunny). A quick set up and Sisu is ready. Soon after, visitors start to arrive. A group from Suomi-koulu in Portland, lodge members, neighbors. All with steaming crock pots and other food to share. Food-a-plenty, sauna, good company. What else can one ask for? Read all about it!

Next, Tiny Digs Hotel in Portland proper. The hotel is a collection of tiny houses sporting different styles, like a Japanese house, a beach house, a barn, even a very futuristic, industrial looking building. If you are traveling in the Portland area and are looking for a place to stay, Sisu recommends checking out Tiny Digs Hotel.


Tiny Digs held a Finland themed open house April 6. Among the guests were the Finlandia Foundation Columbia-Pacific chapter, Finnish violinist Elisa Boynton, Alexis and Christian from the Tiny House Expedition, foods trucks, etc. What a nice and an enjoyable day. Hot dogs, Arctic Accident! Ever grateful to Team Tiny Digs Hotel!


For full disclosure: Check out this very special guest appearance. This dude works even on his days off! Tip: This jolly, old fellow resides in Korvatunturi.

Full disclosure #2: Paparazzi in Portland was relentless! Two newspapers and one TV channel were hot on Sisu’s heels for the entire visit! Check out links to media coverage at the new Traveling Sauna in the Media page.

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After Portland, Sisu’s next appointment was at the Nordic Heritage Museum in Seattle, in the cozy Ballard neighborhood.

Nordic Heritage Museum will be moving to a brand new building later this year so go check out the museum, if you can, before they close in July.


In an true Nordic fashion, the program at the museum was very elegant. Let’s have sauna, and lots of it! From Friday 12 noon to Sunday 5pm, almost uninterrupted. The 1-hour slots were sold out weeks ahead of time.

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On Friday night, the museum hosted a reception which was attended by an estimated 100+ people. Eric Runquist from Finnleo gave a presentation on saunas and sauna culture. Sisu staff fielded questions about the trip and all things between sauna rocks and hard cherry wood.


Mallory Araujo and Ashley Auddino from MetsaGroup tabled samples of MetsaGroup paper board products. We need more of the wooden pens, Mallory!


A warm and big thank you to Bunny, Margie Lehto and Kari in Battle Ground, Pam Westra and team at the Tiny Digs Hotel, the Kesala family, Eric Johnson and Eric Pihl at the Nordic Heritage Museum, Eric Runquist at Finnleo, Mallory and Ashley at MetsaGroup, the Lamberg family.

A very special thank you to Donna Antonucci at the Nordic Heritage Museum. Share the Nordic Spirit!

Next on agenda, Seattle to Minnesota through Idaho, Montana, and North Dakota. “Don’t care for them mountain passes. Will love North Dakota”, says Sisu. Stay tuned!

Sisu’s full schedule and up-to-date calendar, please click here.

Finland Centennial Calendar in the US, please click here.

Like reading about Sisu’s travels? Please help us bring Sisu to a location near you. Get a souvenir from our web store, or feel free to make a donation.




Wednesday, April 12, 2017

“The Southern Half of the West Coast”

So, a bunch of stuff has happened since we last wrote.

Let’s start from out meeting with Jukka Dudeson. Like your sauna at 270 degrees F, and above? If you said yes, we have the right host for you! Check out this awesome video from our "session" with Jukka, which has received over 690,000 views to-date. That is quite a few sauna lovers!

In Sauna Marshall Jouko’s words: “Take off 100 degrees F and about 690,000 viewers, and I’m in…”

From Hollywood we headed to San Francisco. It was a rainy and blustery day but the California  coast is very scenic regardless, as we found out. We had an appointment with Albany Sauna and Hot Tubs. Frederica Adam had invited us over to visit and enjoy sauna baths both in Sisu and in the Albany Sauna hot rooms.

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The visit and entire week end with Freddy and her staff was so delightful! Regular and new visitors to Albany Sauna were all excited to check Sisu out. If you live in the Bay Area, Sisu wholeheartedly recommends a stop in the hip neighborhood of Albany and at Albany Sauna, originally built by a Finn, Henry Walter Lundgren in 1934.

After Albany, Sisu had to hustle over to the Nordic Innovation House in Palo Alto, in the heart of the Silicon Valley. Tekes, the Finnish Funding Agency for Innovation, held a reception and, of course, Sisu had to be there. Parking was a little tight but, after some negotiation, Sisu was positioned right at the entrance to the House.

At the reception, Sisu was happy to meet again with Ambassador Kirsti Kauppi. This time, no sauna sessions for the Ambassador, though. Instead, about a third of the guests arrived with towels and swim suits in their back packs, ready for some serious heat!

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Yo! The Silicon Valley Sauna Bus also shows up and soon there’s a constant line between the two saunas. One can only wonder if there’s ever been (or ever will be again!) a similar sight in the front of the Nordic Innovation House: Half naked people running from one sauna to another, and back…


A big hand to Tonxu from Tekes for organizing!


From the Silicon Valley, Sisu headed to Sonoma to visit FAHA, the Finnish American Home Association.

FAHA is a non-profit that operates a retirement community in the beautiful town of Sonoma, in the heart of the Sonoma wine country. We had a delightful afternoon coffee with the residents, after which the sauna at FAHA was hot for residents and guests.

Jari Suomalainen provided nice violin music for us during the coffee, accompanied by Charlie, the sauna dog. Anyone ever played "Finlandia" in a sauna?

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To complete the afternoon, Riikka Tuomivaara, a freelance journalist living in CA stopped by to do a story for the Finnish Broadcasting Company, YLE.

When in the midst of one of the world’s foremost wine regions, one can not ignore the importance of Finns in the history of wine making. No, we don’t mean St Urho, although the character was recognized by the sommelier who hosted our visit. We, of course, are talking about Gustave Niebaum, the founder of Inglenook Winery in Napa, CA.


What a treat to be able to visit the magnificent winery and to learn about the respect the current owners are showing to the gentleman who arrived from the small Nordic country via Alaska to perfect the wine making in the New World. May we present, the first 100 point American made wine, Inglenook Cabernet Sauvignon 1941, and the current proprietors, the Coppola family.

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From Napa, back to San Francisco over the Golden Gate Bridge to a Neste Renewable Diesel Seminar at the Fort Mason Center for Culture and Arts. Gorgeous views to the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, and the bay flanked the views from the venue. Guests included Ambassador Kirsti Kauppi, city and state decision makers, renewable fuel producers, and representatives from industry organizations and non-profits.

As part of the Seminar, neste introduced EduCycle, a new gaming platform that uses augmented reality (AR), and teaches children ages 12 and up about the impact their decisions have on the environment. Check out EduCycle! Thank you, Neste!

Stay tuned. Part “The Northern Half of the West Coast” coming soon!

Sisu’s full schedule and up-to-date calendar, please click here.

Finland Centennial Calendar in the US, please click here.

Like reading about Sisu’s travels? Please help us bring Sisu to a location near you. Get a souvenir from our web store, or feel free to make a donation.


Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Sisu travels, Part “The Beginning”.

We are about a quarter into the Finland 100 Centennial Year. Sisu has had the pleasure of traveling from Minnesota through Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona to California, meeting wonderful people and attending fabulous events on the way.


But wait, there’s more! The journey continues. There’s so much more to see and do. Next stops are San Francisco, CA, Portland, OR and Seattle, WA before Sisu heads back to the Upper Midwest for the glorious summer months. Check out the full calendar on Traveling Sauna website, and come see Sisu and celebrate Finland 100 with us.

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As in all story telling, you want to keep the audience in suspense. To quote Jean-Luc Godard, a French-Swiss movie director: “All stories have a beginning, middle part, and end. But, they don’t necessarily have to be in this order”. So, when we started the blog we kind of just jumped in, and promised to circle back at some point to let you know how this all began and why the Traveling Sauna. How about today?


Hold on! A HOT new video has just been released. DUDESONS CHECKING OUT THE TRAVELING SAUNA!



Sorry, we had to put this in ALL CAPS because this video is so hot that even the thermometer in Sisu stopped registering at 260 F. This is not how to take a sauna, folks! On the other hand, Jukka Dudeson seemed to be very nostalgic and true about how to sauna. Just watch!

Now, let's get back to the original story.

When we all started to discuss 2017, and plan for our activities and celebrations, a common theme of sharing information about all the events across the US and through out the year soon emerged. How could we best promote our events? How could we best show that we Finns, Finnish Americans and Friends of Finland are celebrating from January 1 to December 31?

“Sauna” is the only Finnish word in the English lexicon. We had it! Embassy is quickly on-board, pledging their support.

Fast forward to 2016 when project “Traveling Sauna” is kicked off and put on the drawing board at Finnleo in Cokato, MN.

It was amazing to participate in the build process. Design and specifications, selection of materials, start of construction, finish of construction. Sounds very simple but, trust the Sauna Ambassadors, a lot of hard work and hours were put into the design and build to make sure Sisu will make it through the 12,000 miles and four seasons. Thank you, Team Finnleo!


Hey! One final detail. What color? Blue and white? Black? Wood tones? We even organized a Facebook vote on the color. So difficult! In the end, we knew we had it. The sauna had to be red with white trim. The traditional color of the grandma's house, and almost every house in the old country way back when. Whew!


On a crisp winter’s day in January, Sisu emerges from the cozy contains of the Finnleo factory. The entire Finnleo staff is out to cheer with residents from Cokato.


We take Sisu for a quick spin. First stop: The oldest sauna in the United States, at the Temperance Corner in Cokato. America’s oldest and youngest sauna, together!


After visiting the Barberg-Selvälä-Salmonson Sauna, what else will we discover once we start touring the country?


In the tradition of fine Finnish carpentry, couple of final details are added to Finnish things off: First, a Sauna sign, donated by Will Ojanen.

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Then, a plaque from the North American Sauna Society.

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The kick-off of the Centennial Activities in the U.S. was in Minneapolis, Minnesota on January 12-14. The day was, if possible, even crispier than the day when we drove Sisu out from the factory.

Ambassador Kirsti Kauppi announced the name for the Traveling Sauna - "Sisu”. She also lit the first fire in the sauna stove, and poured the first water on the rocks. All us Minnesotans could feel the warmth of the “löyly”.


During the week end, there were several other activities, such as a business breakfast organized by the Finnish American Chamber of Commerce Minnesota, cultural activities organized by FinnSource, and a luncheon where Ambassador Kauppi spoke, organized by Global Minnesota. To top things off, the Minnesota Orchestra had arranged an entire week end of Finnish music, conducted by Osmo Vänskä.

Please click here to watch a video of an interview with Ambassador Kauppi, Osmo Vänskä and Finnleo CEO Keith Raisanen.

Sisu’s full schedule and up-to-date calendar, please click here.

Finland Centennial Calendar in the US, please click here.

Like reading about Sisu’s travels? Please help us bring Sisu to a location near you. Get a souvenir from our web store, or feel free to make a donation.



Friday, March 17, 2017

Sisu travels, Part 5.

After Phoenix, next stop: Los Angeles!

Sisu heads west at dawn. After a comfortable hour and a half on the road, the pilots hear a pop and feel a little jolt. Wonder what that was? Hold on, we see a wisp of smoke in the passenger side rear view mirror?!? Full stop!

The pop and jolt turns out to be a blown tire. Luckily it is on the passenger side as the freeway, even in the middle of this no-where, remains busy and there are semis whizzing by at steady pace.


The tire change operation takes, remarkably, less than 1/2 hour but requires a little bit of imagination to get the lug nuts off. The tire has totally disintegrated and there is not much left of the tire on the rim. Without anything touching the surface the wheel wants to spin freely when co-pilot Jouko applies pressure to the tire iron.

Amazing what a 60 mph speed does to a tire in distress! Please drive carefully!

We soon pass the California border and arrive to Blythe, CA where we decide to get a new tire, some well deserved lunch, and finally get an opportunity to fuel with Neste MY Renewable diesel.

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So, AZ wanted a little over $100 for us to use their well managed roads. We didn’t even want to guess how much CA would want for the same. Zip. Yes, you read right. Nothing. Just observe the top speed fo 55 mph for vehicle combinations, and welcome to California!

About an hour later, even though we just refueled both Sisu and ourselves, we feel like we have to make another stop.

At exit 173, lies a small unincorporated community of Chiriaco Summit (pop.: not listed) and a travel stop. Plus, signs inviting to visit the General Patton Museum. What? Was he from here? We really have to go find out!

So can you. The museum is right on Fwy 10, 200 miles from Phoenix and 150 miles from L.A.!


Rest of the trip to L.A. goes without any further disruption, except that we are more than pleased to be heading into the city, rather than heading out of it. The last 35-40 miles, there’s pretty much a stop-and-go heading the other way.


What happened in Los Angeles is very well documented in the latest video blog on Youtube, go check it out: Sisu goes to Hollywood, Sisu visits 626Golden Streets, Sisu hears another “Happy Birthday” song.

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A big thank you to Suvi Aherto from the Consulate General of Finland in L.A. for coordinating our visit to L.A.


Greetings to Aki Luukkainen and family from the Consulate, Tero Frestadius with family & friends, Anssi & Chelsea Viljanen & family.


A very special “Vuosipäiväonnittelut” to Ridgecrest, CA.




Sisu’s full schedule and up-to-date calendar: please click here

Finland Centennial Calendar in the US: please click here

Like reading about Sisu’s travels? Please help us bring Sisu to a location near you.
Get a souvenir from our web store, or feel free to make a donation.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Sisu travels, Part 4.

Wednesday morning, March 1. Time to continue the journey and say goodbye to our hosts in Albuquerque, Valpuri and Sasha Remling.

But wait, there’s more!

The 2 Dudes who we met at the Bow and Arrow the day before were none other than Huli and… sorry, Timo and Wili, the two jovial guys from Arctic Accident who have been looking for Sisu, the Traveling Sauna, high and low for the past several months: streets in Helsinki, frozen lakes and forest in Finland, Super Bowl in Houston, Bogota, Colombia, even went to check with Santa Claus (“Joulupukki” in Finnish or, as spell checker just suggested: “Sauna Claus”!).

The Dudes turn out to be experienced truckers so, after a quick meeting between the Paperisotamies and Chief Sauna Ambassador, we decide to offer the brethren (lajitoveri) a ride to Phoenix, AZ, our common destination.

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After our experience upon arrival to New Mexico, Paperisotamies Jouko had diligently filled out the DOT paperwork for the Arizona State on-line, and paid the fee of $15 to use AZ roadways for our rig. Seatbelts fastened, we head out to I-40 and west towards Phoenix, AZ.

I-40 doesn’t provide a lot of excitement, except that when we arrive to AZ we need to stop at the weight station. The friendly staff at the station immediately guide us to park our ensemble with an invitation to visit the office with the paperwork in hand. After some 30 minutes, Tour Guide Jouko emerges from the structure with a officer of the AZ Highway Dept. The officer measures Sisu with a tape measure, notes the dimension in the paperwork and gives a thumbs up. Jouko signals to hop in. "OK", we signal back, and Sisu is on the road again

Once back on I-40, Jouko explains that the delay was because there was a line to the desk, not that there was an issue with our paperwork. We decide it was the first day on the job for the officer. Oh yes, we were assessed an extra $84 because the 1/2 hour Jouko had spent on-line to register was only for the trailer. Live and learn.

In Holbrook, AZ we decide to head straight southwest to Phoenix on highway 87 via Payson, instead of staying on the freeway through Flagstaff.

One of the more experienced travelers in the group, Chief Sauna Ambassador Risto, had recommended this route. The recommendation is first met with some suspicion as the road quickly narrows to a 2-lane highway. Nothing unusual, if you are used to traveling in Finland. But, with Sisu in tow, we prefer the 4-lane ones.


To everyone’s pleasure, the suspicion soon turns to ooohs… and aaahs… 10 to 15 inches of snow had fallen in the higher elevations the previous night and the scenery soon looks like, well, could this be Finland? Pine trees, snow, even a couple of snowmobiles. No reindeer, though.


Arizona is an amazing state to visit. Desert, resorts with lakes, snow and skiing. Grand Canyon, caves, Petrified Forest, Native American reservations to introduce you to the history of the Continent.

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Descent to Phoenix is quick and tests the brakes of Sisu. No problems, though and soon we find ourselves at our destination.


Leena and Olli Tuomi from the Finns and Friends in Phoenix greet us at our arrival and brief us on the arrangements for Thursday.

Thursday morning, we head to downtown Mesa, AZ. First customers will be arriving at 11 a.m.

Sisu is setup to receive customers, and, do they come! From 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., steady stream of sauna lovers, Finns living in the Phoenix area, and friends of Finland.

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Even Batman pays us a brief visit! We don’t have time to take a picture as he is quick on his feet but, according to the waiter at Mango, a nearby Mexican restaurant, Batman is a 20-year old who strolls the streets of downtown Mesa daily. What a blast!

We all know kaalikääryle, cabbage roll, right? Serve it with mashed potatoes and lingonberry. Well, fancy having a meeting of two reps from the Kaalikääryle Capital of the World in AZ! Vaissi Oy in Keuruu, a town of around 10,000 in Central Finland, produces the majority of the cabbage rolls sold in Finland. What an excitement for the Chief Sauna Ambassador Risto to meet Gary Waissi of the Vaissi family in Mesa!


If having a good time and the visit of Batman wasn’t good enough, the one and only Mr. Ralph Tuttila, shows up with his lovely wife, Jaana! They soon unpack their gear and set up to entertain us with their tunes. Ladies and gentlemen, Finn Hall!


At the end of the day, we pack up and get ready for the next leg of the trip. Los Angeles. “Stay tuned”, as they say in the music world.


Before we go, a BIG thank you to Leena and Olli Tuomi, and everyone at the Finns and Friends in Phoenix! The day was very special, and we wish you all the best in your continued celebration of Finland 100 in the US.

A very special thank you to Judith Hunter, who drove all the way from Tucson! Sorry, Judith, that we weren’t able to make it to Tucson this time. Do we have to say that your "Sisu" ear rings rock!



Sisu’s full schedule can be found at http://www.travelingsauna.com/map.html
Finland Centennial Calendar in the US, go to http://www.finland100usa.com

Like reading about Sisu’s travels? You don't need to be a corporate sponsor to help us bring Sisu to a location near you. Get a souvenir (do we need to remind you this is a once-in-a-100-year opportunity?) from our web store, or if you don't need all the stuff, feel free to make a donation.

Like to read more? Check the papers in Finland, courtesy of Kirsi-Marja Hayrinen-Beschloss.