Our tent turns into a sauna in the mornings, the morning sun warming us starting at four in the morning, until eventually it evicts us into the much cooler air outside. It took us abnormally long to clean up our wild camp, Ben declaring that we can no longer sleep with our sleeping bags zipped together because it is once again too warm at night. I teased him about our bedding divorce, but he’s right: I’ll spend every night shivering if I have to sleep with the bag as far unzipped as he likes it. Soon, we were packed up and turning off onto a nearly unmarked road toward Sweden.
The road was a sampling of all sorts of road quality, some pavement, some impressive potholes, some gravel, some dirt. Frankly, it looked like it belonged in Romania and not in tidy Scandinavia. The sides of the road were littered with random stuff: an old car, a sad looking typewriter. Within a few minutes, we reached the border and unceremoniously crossed into Sweden but the road did not improve a bit. The ride jiggled us until my arms and legs itched uncomfortably. It wasn’t until we turned onto a highway 12 kilometers later that we found solid tarmac once again.
Our first day in Sweden was another long series of forest and lakes, much of the water obscured by trees. Thankfully, most of our ride was done in the shade because though the temperatures are fairly mild, the sun is relentless.
The road pitched us up and down, up and down, the swells growing ever larger and my speed getting slower and slower as my legs wore out. Of course, Ben is never phased by this kind of terrain, and he kindly waited for me at the top of every hill while I panted and sweated my way up so we could speed down together.
Growing tired of the sun and endless climbs, I was relieved when we reached the town where we planned to camp. We quickly found an ATM to get some Swedish currency and then headed over to the grocery store. Happily, we found many of our favorite bike touring treats that were prohibitively expensive or just impossible to find in Norway. With much less inflated prices on tap, we indulged ourselves with a variety of cold drinks and snacks. Unfortunately, what I thought was a yogurt drink turned out to be normal yogurt in a carton which made for a really awkward drink in the parking lot.
We rolled the last five kilometers to our campground where we headed down to the beach and tentatively paddled around the lake, still in our cycling clothes. Sweden feels like a giant summer camp to me, everyone out camping, barbecuing, canoeing, and swimming on the shores of every wooded lake. Our campground is crammed full of kayaks and canoes next to nearly every tent. For a couple of desert dwellers, this kind of landscape is pure heaven. All day long, we just keep asking ourselves why we don’t live somewhere with more water and trees!