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midnight sun

The Truth About Midnight Sun


The Truth About Midnight Sun

I’ve probably mentioned the midnight sun more than a few times by now. You might naturally assume it’s because I like it so much. Actually, that’s not entirely true. It has its benefits for sure, but it’s a double-edged sword.

First, the negative: For photography, the midnight sun is devastating. The best light occurs when the sun is at or below the horizon - that’s when you get the beautiful sunsets and sunrises with orange, red, and purple skies. When the sun just sits there well above the horizon, the light is decent, but certainly not ideal.

The beach in Bleik with Bleiksøy island, home to tens of thousands of puffins, in the background.

Surely it’s still an amazing phenomenon to take pictures of, you may ask? Honestly, not really. It’s a great *experience*. You’re out at night and the sun is there and it feels exciting in its strangeness. But when you show a photograph of it later, you need to explain why the photo is special. “This may look like a regular sun but it’s actually the midnight sun!” And it’s never a great photo if you need to explain what’s great about it.

Not to mention that for someone like me who enjoys night and star photography, the total lack of darkness is somewhat of a letdown.

Luckily there are still plenty of other phenomena to shoot.

On the positive side however, the ability to camp whenever I want is wonderful. There’s never a need to stop early because it’s getting dark. I can ride all night on empty roads if I like. This adds yet another level of freedom to the many others bicycle touring offers already.

Ever since I was a teenager, I’ve had quite an elastic sleeping pattern. Originally due to the white nights of Finnish summer, or my tendency to get stuck reading interesting books far into the early hours. Going to sleep early and waking up early has never really been suitable for me. Which made school a bit of a challenge, and has later made me pursue atypical career and life choices. Meaning this kind of schedule of constant daylight without any restraints suits me perfectly.

So as my path has turned south and towards autumn, the sunsets and stars will soon be visible again. I will both miss the midnight sun and be glad that it’s gone. In any case, it should result in better photos for you readers to look at.


The Importance of Food


The Importance of Food

While visiting Kautokeino Camping for a shower (and pleasantly surprised about their exceptionally good facilities), I met two other cyclists. Running into fellow bicycle adventurers is always a happy occasion, and they were the first I’d seen, so I was eager to strike up a conversation.

Frank and Martin from Germany were cycling north from Stockholm to Nordkapp. By afternoon they had already cycled their share for the day and were setting up camp, while I had barely eaten breakfast and rolled into town from my nearby campsite to look for food and hot water. How impossible would it be to travel with such early birds, I wondered.

Oh, is it sunrise? Time to go to bed.

One of them had baby almost due back home. Getting to spend a holiday of freedom on a bike before such a life changing event is quite a nice chance to have. And for a wife to let her husband go on a bike trip for a few weeks at the late stages of a pregnancy seems like a sign of a healthy relationship.

We chatted about touring life for an hour, maybe two. Then Martin (the designated chef) started cooking - real food with actual vegetables - and I knew I had to leave to do the same. The most preparation I’d done thus far was adding crushed tomatoes and tuna onto my spaghetti, so I was due a proper meal. I wished the guys well, went to the store, had a quick snack, and cycled onwards to find a place to cook.

This'll do. A rest stop table with a view, and a convenient trash can.

Food is important on tour. And not just because of the much-needed calories. I mean sure, it’s important under any conditions, but there’s something about the simplicity of touring life that really makes you appreciate the basics of life so much more. Just the simple act of cooking and eating something even a little special can make your whole day. Especially if it’s made of fresh real ingredients.

So I chopped up some onions, zucchini and bell peppers and fried them in olive oil on my stove. Really taking my time with everything. Then I boiled some water, used the extra to make a cup of tea while waiting, and added my spaghetti to the rest. When that was done I put in some tomato and my fried veggies to the pot, plus some pre-fried chicken and seasonings.

If only I had put any effort into the photographs.

That was the best meal I’ve had in ages. Not that the food was that special, but in that moment, it was perfect. It made me so happy my eyes watered. A few passing drivers gave me waves or thumbs up at the sight of my travel kitchen. I waved back while finishing the entire huge pot of my gourmet chicken pasta.

After cleaning up it was already late at night. It wasn’t freezing cold this time, so I continued on for a few more hours, taking photographs with the midnight sun lighting the wide open landscapes of North Norway, and smiling at the beauty of everything.

I can’t believe how lucky I am to live this kind of life.