2022 – a year in review

We had a lot of plans for this past year, but this little thing called life happened. After January at home enjoying winter weather we started the travel year with a winter trip to Pyhä (a ski resort and national park in Lapland) for some snowboarding and relaxing winter treks in nature. It was a wonderful trip and the few times I managed to go off-piste it just strengthened my conviction to learn to be a good enough snowboarder to be able to freeride more.

Originally our plan was to drive south to Spain in our van after leaving Pyhä. However the increasingly poor COVID-19 situation in various parts of Europe caused us to cancel our plans and we returned home. Which was good since the day we were supposed to arrive in Spain Russia attacked Ukraine.

Very quickly after that the fact that I’m now qualified to be deployed as a part of the Finn Rescue Team technical assistance and support team meant that I and everyone else on the roster got asked for our availability to help in the European Union’s response to Russia’s attack as a part of the Union Civil Protection Mechanism. In my case it meant responding yes when resources were requested to go to Moldova to support the local government in the refugee crisis caused by the war.

I was deployed in the second rotation so I had a bit more time to prepare for deployment, but I really have to thank my employer, Solita, and clients that I was working with for allowing me to put everything on hold at work for three weeks while I was deployed.

It was an experience I would not change and strengthened my resolve to keep training to further my skills and usability in responding to crises around the world. But at the same time I can see that from the start of the current escalation of the war I have been too tied to following the news from the area and paying more attention to Moldova – a part of Europe that I honestly had no knowledge about before being deployed there.

In addition to my deployment, I also had a week long exercise in Sweden for FRT in May and a week long course in Romania in July where COVID-19 finally caught up with me and I tested positive on the way home which pretty much took care of our plans for July.

All this meant that by July we’d done only one short vacation in our campervan in which we drove down to Helsinki for one of my business trips and then took some vacation time to slowly make our way back home. And then there was the surprise trip just before me leaving for Romania from home to Stockholm to pick up a puppy that we hadn’t planned on getting quite yet.

Finally in August we had a chance to take some time off and go on a small road trip in Finland and just enjoy summer. We had a chance to help my parents empty their house in preparation for a move, see some friends around Finland and just relax by various lakes and enjoy the summer heat. And get to know our new family member, Kulo.

Getting Kulo also meant that our initial plan of taking a longer road trip in August-September had to be postponed since he couldn’t be taken out of Finland until he was 19 weeks old (i.e. had his 12 and 16 week vaccinations and a 3 week time for the vaccinations to take hold). So once we were done with previous engagements in Finland mid-September we took a ferry across the Gulf of Finland and headed South.

Our road trip consisted of hitting dog shows in Riga, Latvia and Wroclaw, Poland on the outgoing leg and once my client meeting in Amsterdam was completed we had two weeks of vacation to head towards home. On the way back we managed to head a bit further west to visit Belgium and the battlefields of Verdun in France before hitting some castles in Germany, the cities of Vienna and Bratislava and the mountains between Slovakia and Poland.

Since we were in southern Poland we also finally went to Auschwitz. I’ll only echo what so many other have said. It is definitely worth a visit. And in addition to visiting it it is important to remember that silence in the face of fascism or any other form of authoritarian rule only enables it.

From Auschwitz we made our way to Krakow to recreate some of the photographs we took with Kamu five years ago when we picked him up. And since we were in the neighborhood we had to go see his breeder and spend the afternoon there. Finally on the way back we hit a couple of shows in Estonia as well.

Kamu’s success in the shows – he completed his Polish championship, and got Estonian and Latvian Champion titles as well – meant that we ended up going down to Vilnius in Lithuania the weekend before Christmas to try for the title of Lithuanian Champion which he got and thus also got the title of Baltic Champion. Two of the shows this autumn were also Crufts qualifiers and he got the qualification in both. So our plans for next year now are in a state of flux as we try to decide if Crufts is happening or not…

All in all, despite changes in plans regarding travel, I ended up being away from home for about 122 days – a third of the year – in 14 foreign countries. Luckily 80 of those days were spent traveling with the whole family mostly in our campervan.

And for 2023? We shall see what it brings. What this decade has taught us is to seize the opportunities that come across since you can really never know if the opportunities will exist sometime in the future.

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