February 23. It was time to continue the journey. Sisu was picked up from the care of the friendly dallasians, to continue the journey to Houston, TX. Helena Tiainen and Leila Jäämuru were at the Gammill’s to hand off the keys and to say a long farewell. We’ll miss you, Dallas! (We know, you miss Sisu, too!)
Trip to Houston was somewhat uneventful, except the fairly strong winds. Saunas, at least Sisu, unfortunately aren’t the most aerodynamic vehicles on the road. Wind, passing and on-coming vehicles, especially the big semis, sometimes make their presence known. No worries, however. Sisu arrived in Houston safe and sound.
Friday, February 24 was scheduled to be a day for some photo shoots and, later, a Neste sponsored event for Neste customers and staff. Yes, Sisu finally meets the team in front of the cameras and behind those videos on Youtube! Ladies and gentlemen, please meet Heini and Teemu.
Original plans for the photo shoots had to be scrapped. We quickly realized that a metro area is not a very good location to be flying drones. Yes, Teemu likes drones… Instead, we found some nice, green grass and enjoyed the warm, sunny morning.
Next, it was time to go visit Neste.The event was held at Chef Sorensen. Alley, Sydney and Tuija, thank you for inviting Sisu. We met a number of Neste customers and staff but there was also a person who Sisu knows well. The Ambassador of Finland to the United States, Ms. Kirsti Kauppi was in attendance and greeted Sisu right after stepping out from the Mayor of Houston’s official vehicle.
Sisu was heated to a comfortable 150 F temperature for the audience to get a feel of a sauna, and did we have a lot of curious people checking the sauna room out! We saw some picture taking, too.
On the following day, Saturday, February 25, the Finnish American Chamber of Commerce Houston hosted an event for the area Finns. We had the pleasure of meeting Ambassador Kauppi there again.
Chef Sorensen had prepared a delicious buffet in Finnish style: fish soup made in milk base, cabbage rolls, beef stew and pyttipannu. For dessert, we were treated with blueberry pie! At times, it almost felt like a good old Finnish Vappu with people mingling outside and checking out Sisu and the cool Sisu souvenirs.
Did we mention that one of the guests at the luncheon was also Sisu? Hello, Sisu!
The visit to Houston was definitely too short and there were so many things and places we wanted to check out and visit but just didn’t have the time. Well, maybe next time? Thank you again, Houston: Tuija Kalpala, Mari Emaus, Chris, Antti Ekqvist, and others. We know that pictures were taken and memories were made. Let us see your photos and share your memories!
Sunday and Monday were travel days from Houston to Albuquerque, NM. We can only say that while there trip was long, it is amazing to follow how the landscape changes several times on the route. First, a few hours from Houston it was definitely dairy country. Then, cattle country (they call them whoppers in west-Texas), then it all of a sudden gets a little drier with juniper type shrubs, then even drier and the shrubs are no longer. Just some rough looking grass growing in patches here and there.
Main industry on the route appears to be farming but it is also a place where old and new economy meet. Along with small oil wells, there are several, huge wind farms. Huge, long trains criss cross the area carrying containers to places like Houston and Dallas.
It was late Sunday night when we entered the State of New Mexico. Right after the border there is a weigh station for commercial vehicles. Sisu needs to stop at all weigh stations. As it happens, we are on the scale, and after a couple of questions by the attendant, are invited to park the vehicle and step in to the booth with all the paperwork neatly organized. The entire combination, Sisu and the truck, weighs about 15,000 lbs. DOT regulation requires commercial plates for vehicles over 26,000 lbs. What is the problem? Well, in New Mexico, a vehicle is classified “over weight” if it is over 12,000 lbs. After paying a fee of $29, we are allowed to continue.
Next stop was Clovis, NM where we decided to park Sisu and continue the trip next day. Why Clovis? Check you history books, people.
But before we go, quite a few of you have asked: "How much wood does it take to heat Sisu"? In our answer, we have used the bundles of wood they sell at the gas stations and hardware stores as a measuring stick.
It'll take about a good bundle to get Sisu to 170 - 180 F. Then, add a log every 15- 20 minutes. Hope this helps.
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