Friday, September 1, 2017

East Coast, here I come!

It is now less than 100 days to the big Birthday Party. Syntymäpäiväjuhla in Finnish. Say that fast 10 times! You folks on the East Coast are in luck. Sisu is finally coming your way!

After visiting people and places around the western half of the United States, Wixom FinnCamp Annual Softball Tournament kicked off the 2nd half of the journey for Sisu. Sisu was invited to visit FinnCamp August 11-13.

Detroit Finnish Cooperative Summer Camp Association was founded in 1925 when a group of Finns working in the car factories in Detroit purchased 100 acres on Loon Lake in Wixom, to have a place for their families to spend time in the summer.

What a smart move! Almost 100 years later the association still owns about 2/3 of the original acreage. They have 92 camps (Michigan talk for “cabin”) on the property, a main building, a sauna and a baseball field. The Camp is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

The Softball Tournament week end proved out to be exactly what it sounds like. 22 teams competing for the trophy, hundreds of campers and visitors enjoying a week end together. The event was magnificently organized with breakfast, lunch and dinner served from the kitchen, refreshments available from multiple locations on the property, and games and activities for kids and families. Sisu was very excited to hang out with the crowd and offer sauna to a number of guests.

Sisu definitely recommends a visit to the FinnCamp and their Annual Softball Tournament. FinnCamp offers a number of guest camps for visitors. Please check availability with FinnCamp.

Thank you, Carol Melancon & crew for inviting Sisu to take part in your wonderful week end!

Monday, August 14 took Sisu to Oberlin College in Oberlin, OH. Oberlin is a liberal arts college, known for its music program, and for being the first college in the US to admit both students of all races, and female students.

The college football team was hard at practice but, as the fall semester hadn't started yet, it was a quiet day on the campus otherwise. Which was just perfect as Sisu had people and friends arriving from as far away as Cleveland, OH.

Greggor Mattson and Tim Scholl, our hosts, provided a supply of sausages, snacks and refreshments. What a splendid early afternoon and evening around the grill and in the sauna. Thank you Greggor, Tim and The Nord Family Foundation.

Next on the agenda, a visit to Buffalo, NY. The drive from Oberlin to Buffalo follows the south shore of Lake Erie. A short stretch is spent traveling through Pennsylvania, before entering New York state. In NY, the freeway is all of a sudden flanked by vineyards. Concord grape for juice, jams and jellies.

In Buffalo, Sisu is hosted by Christina and Lasse Saarinen. Both avid rowers, the West Side Rowing Club facility offered a spectacular setting for an evening of sauna, right on the Niagara River, with the Peace Bridge to Canada less than a mile away.

The Niagara River is a pretty fast flowing river. There is a narrow canal on the US side at the Rowing Club, protected by a pier. This must be where the rowers practice, wondered Sisu. Or, maybe, out on the lake? Anyway, another fun evening with friends and family. In addition to the view, both Sisu and the plentiful potluck table received rave reviews!

After Buffalo, Sisu had two days to get to the Boston area for the August 18-20 weekend events. Good to have some extra time once in a while, as it appeared that every bridge and underpass on I-90 was restricted to one lane. Some kind of an inspection program, suspected Sisu. But, on every bridge in the entire state of NY at the same time? Oh well, having been raised in Minnesota, Sisu knows that, for certain things, summer is short.

It was time to switch drivers. Jouko flew in, and Risto back home.

It was a very peaceful hour-plus drive for Jouko to get to Westminster, Massachusetts. We had been invited to Camp Pineshore (or Camp Mantyranta) for an evening of saunas as the camp did not have one of its own. We had a wonderful evening of saunas and swimming, combined with hot dogs and brats in a beautiful setting and weather.

From there on Friday, Sisu drove to Leominster / Fitchburg, MA area for the Finnfunn weekend at the Leominster Doubletree Hilton hotel. The festival had about 200 attendees, with approximately 40 ending up taking a sauna, including Deputy Ambassador Antti Vänskä from the DC.

But, the highlight of the weekend was the group led by Mika Lassila. After touring the country for 8 months and 16,000 miles, we had thought we had seen everything, but no. Mika and friends brought a large tub on the back of a pickup and parked it next to Sisu and filled it with ice and cold water – Traveling Sauna meets Traveling Ice Bath. A group of about 10 bathers took turns going from the sauna to the ice bath and back. Many times.

Thank you to Joe and Linda Byrne for providing a bedroom in their gorgeous home and Stan Karro for making all the arrangements for the weekend. We felt really welcomed in this famous Finnish immigrant town.

On Sunday, Sisu traveled to Cape Ann to Lanesville (Gloucester, MA) for an afternoon of sauna and lectures at the Lanesville Community Center. The really great thing about the tour is finding all these pockets of Finnish neighborhoods where Finnish heritage and saunas are truly appreciated. We had a full schedule of saunas from the 120 people who attended the event. Thank you very much to Mark Babson for setting everything up.

On Monday Sisu traveled to New England Spas for a two week show and tell by their showroom. It has been a hit already there. Thanks to Norm Coburn for inviting us.

The tour continues on September 9th in New York City and 10th in Brooklyn. Come say hello!

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? You can help us bring Sisu to a location near you. Get a souvenir from our web store, or feel free to make a donation.

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