For those who are curious as to where I've been and what I've been doing, I'll do my best to quickly catch you up with a series of maps.
After returning from Iceland, I decided it was about time I buy my first car. (I did have a supercharged 1989 Toyota MR2 for a year or so but that doesn't count because I never got it on the road.) After a bit of a snafu regarding my dream car (Scion FR–S; I was planning on financing but my employment by an American company caused them to cancel that), I ended up with a 2009 VW GTI (four–door, black on black leather). This ended up being a blessing, making it possible for me to cram up to five people and their luggage into my car at various points throughout the summer. (I did have seven people riding with me at one point, and the two Norwegians I travelled with for a while had enough luggage for a dozen, but those are stories for another day.)
Car secured, it was time to travel. The first trip was to Montreal (6/7–9) for the 2013 Canadian Grand Prix. Tyler Miller, Kory Chisholm, and Mitch Avis rode with me from Barrie, we picked up Ben McKague in Kingston, and met up with Karl Hakkarainen in Montreal. Two weeks later, I headed down to Maryland for Nicholas Hiivala and Marissa Dalecki's wedding (6/22) with my brothers Travis, Aaron, and Landon, and cousin Eerik Marttinen from Finland.
Reliability of the GTI established, my nomadic summer began. I packed up all my possessions into my trunk (two duffle bags of clothes and a shoebox of papers and memorabilia) and headed up to the Sault with my brother Aaron for Liisa Hakkarainen and Owen Hendrickson's wedding (6/29). Wedding over, I did a marathon trek out to Battle Ground, WA, stopping to sleep in Duluth, MN and near Billings, MT.
Most of you probably know that I'm a member of the Old Apostolic Lutheran Church. The OALC mother congregation is located in Northern Sweden, and (usually) every four years, they send their Elder preachers to the North American localities for a (sort–of) tour of church meetings. These start on the West coast and make their way to the East coast. These Elder's Meetings are an important event for my church, with enough people attending that we have to rent stadiums and event centres in some cities. I conveniently had a car, money in the bank, and several months off, so I decided to travel with the Elders.
After spending Independence Day at Long Beach, WA, meetings started in Battle Ground (7/5–8). From there, I picked up a few Alaskans (Paul, Otavia, and M'Kenna) and headed out to Kalispell, MT (7/12–14). A Norwegian—Jens Haug—jumped in with me from there and we travelled through Sheridan, WY (7/17); Moorcroft, WY (7/18); and Spearfish, SD (7/19–21). A few more Norwegians jumped in with me from there—John and William Amundsen—and we continued on to Lake Norden, SD (7/22–24); Minneapolis, MN (7/26–28); and Duluth, MN (7/31). Matt Raisanen rode with me from Minneapolis to Hancock, MI (8/3–5), and I continued on to the Sault (8/7) a few days later. Alicia Sarkinen and Katrina Kemppainen rode with me down to visit out Barrie and Toronto, and we continued on to Detroit, MI (8/9–11). Matt Taylor and Karl Hakkarainen jumped in with me for the last leg, and we drove down to Wilmington, NC (8/13); continued up to Nick and Marissa's place in Baltimore, MD; and finally ended up in Newark, DE (8/16–18) for the close of the meetings. Newark was especially memorable; thousands of people flooded to the city, where we held the meetings in the Bob Carpenter Centre at the University of Delaware. After meetings were over, we joined up with hundreds of other kids our age and swarmed NYC and took over the beach in Ocean City, MD.
With my start date at Microsoft approaching quickly, I began my trek back out to the West Coast. Talon Tanninen bought a one–way ticket to Delaware so I didn't have to make the drive home alone, and we started on our way: first Karl got dropped off in Barrie, Matt got dropped off in the Sault, we stayed nights in Duluth and Kalispell, and ended up in Battle Ground on 8/23. I pretty much slept my last few days of summer away, trying to recuperate from months on the road. I then found myself a couch to sleep on in Seattle for my first week of work, headed in for my first day at Microsoft on 8/26, and after >20000 miles on the road, the summer of 2013 drew to a close.
I intentionally avoided trying to memorialize the summer with photos and blog posts. Instead of forcing myself to capture the moment and take time away with writing, I instead tried to live every moment to the fullest. And although the countless bonfires, hundreds of new faces, dozens of new cities explored, and innumerable stories all blur together in my mind, I wouldn't have it any other way. This summer was special; I'll never forget it.…