Hey all you cool cats and kittens! Long time no hear from. Ya, sorry about that, it was quite the year, right? Ya. About that.
Sorry for the massive delay in posting a new update. I just felt like there was not a whole lot to say. Plus, we were all on standby, waiting to see what was going to shake out from this Global Pandemic, and things only seemed to get worse. Before they got better. At least in Finland where Ville and I were. But then we flew back to the good old United States and immediately they were worse again. Like, WAY worse. And then there was the mess of it being an election year. Glad that is over.
So what happened to us? Well, Ville's Dad died suddenly last time I checked in, (last post). Ville and I flew to Helsinki, where he moved in with his Mom an hour north of the capitol on a lake (where they lived) and I moved into an apartment in downtown Helsinki so I could keep working ( I work as a real estate agent in Bend, Oregon and am also writing a book about our long bike tour). While there, the Finnish government locked down the capitol in an effort to quarantine the virus. And because Finland is small, people follow directions and everyone gets 5 weeks paid vacation time a year (that they used some of during the quarantine), IT WORKED!! And things re-opened. And no one had to wear masks. And borders were closed so no more virus coming in. Life was good.
Although, life wasn't really that great. To be completely honest, it was probably the most depressed I have ever been in my life. Why? Because my husband's father died, he and his Mom were seriously grieving and I was isolated and alone, far from friends or family for support, and felt like I lost my partner too. But, what was hard for me, was a hundred times worse for Ville, his brother and their Mom. We tried to focus on the positive, because life can always be worse we reminded ourselves every day. And I know that many of my closest friends had it far worse than I did. But, it didn't make it less hard. I am whole-heartedly grateful to my Finnish friends that made an effort to visit me, go for walks, bike rides, etc. to get me out of the apartment. Huge thanks to Johanna and Julia in particular.
We did get to spend a lot of time with our friends in Finland, I was able to play football/ soccer for a women's team in Helsinki every week, we spent Ville's 40th Birthday in Tallin, Estonia and then made a short trip to see our friend JBro and Linda in Germany when borders opened for a minute. After five months, we were able to get Ville's Mom moved to a new apartment where she is now living on a bus line, near town, in a neighborhood with new friends and is thriving. Ville's brother and his wife flew from Norway, where they live, to Finland during their vacation time to help with her move. On top of grieving, COVID posed many challenges along the way, closing down all meetings, in-person counseling, stores and any way to get out and focus on anything but grief.
Ville and his Mom championed through it and have come a long way in a year. Although, as anyone out there knows better than I, grief goes in stages and does not just end one day, it lingers, it flows just under the surface, it comes to you at night when you lie quietly waiting for sleep, it appears during holidays or moments when the loved one would normally be there. It just plain sucks. But, both of them are doing really well and continue to be the positive people they are and move forwards while holding onto the happy memories of Veikko.
Ville and I flew back to Portland, Oregon mid-August of 2020 and spent quite a bit of time catching up with my family. My sister, her husband and kids, brother and his girlfriend all live in Portland, while my parents live in Bend. We sold our house in Bend in 2019 and when we came back in August, COVID had turned it into a haven for those fleeing the pandemic. Although, Bend is a small town with not enough room for all those trying to flee and it has become a bit of a housing nightmare. I am back working as a real estate broker (actually never stopped, I continued to work the entire time from Helsinki with the help from colleagues and my Principal Broker), but trying to help people buy in this market has been rough. Great time to be selling your house, a horrible time to be trying to buy. Inventory is at an all-time low, still have a crazy amount of buyers on the market (OK all you economists out there, what can you tell us about supply and demand?), it has made for some ridiculous bidding wars and high prices.
Although Bend has been a bit messy, Portland is where we have been spending a lot of time enjoying my siblings and our niece and nephew. One of the fall-outs of COVID and school closures, is that kids have been stuck trying to learn from online school at home, on a laptop, for the last year. My nephew is 5 and in preschool. Anyone out there know what it is like trying to keep the focus and attention of a hyper-active 5-year-old in the classroom setting? Now, try doing it on a laptop with mute buttons, a virtual classroom full of kids and Mom (my sister) still trying to keep her own job on track as a manager of an accounting department. We felt like we could be of some help in Portland. Not a ton, but every little bit helps. And luckily, Braydon and Skylar are really dang cute and we love spending time with them.
We have been to the beach, parks, back to the beach and then a few other parks. Because, after all, it is a global pandemic, most places have been closed all year and there are limitations with all the rain that falls in Portland. I wouldn't trade all the time with the kids for anything. We have caught a lot of bugs, worms, beetles, salamanders, spiders and, yes, a few squirrels. He is 5 and she is 2. Hunting outside never gets old.
I am still writing the Book and Ville is still working on the Documentary. It is slow going, but we are both making a lot of progress. I am hoping to get to a point of Final Edit for my Book in a few months time, after that it will be ready to publish! And I am really happy with it so far, it has been a massive undertaking, far greater than I ever realized. Who knew writing a book about a two-year bicycle adventure would be so much harder than the physical part of riding it for two years. But I am grateful to my editor, Ali, for sticking with me and working so hard to get where we are. Thanks Ali! And Ville will be right behind me with the Documentary to release.
If you want to be informed about when either the Book or Documentary will be released, for pre-sale or purchase, please sign up for the Newsletter (this is only managed by me, personally, and WILL NOT be sold! Plus, I couldn't figure out how to do that anyways). Thanks so much everyone for sticking with us, we are all in this crazy, wild ride together and hope to be soon out there hugging, eating, beer drinking and traveling with all of you SOON!!! Until next time, keep on, keepin' on...
K.G. & Ville
In Spain, riding our bikes again.
“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming "Wow! What a Ride!” - Hunter S. Thompson