If you missed Part 1, you can read it here How Finland Reduced Our Gas Consumption Part 1.
We limped on through Finland very mindful by now of our dwindling gas levels. Anything and everything possible is being considered to make this last bottle see out the distance. We just hope we don’t run out of gas before we run out of country. Then there’s the looming thought of it’s getting colder and before long we may need heating (another gas guzzler).
One thing that helped to extend our gas consumption was a pre-planned, albeit quick, trip to St Petersburg, Russia for three days. Betsy, however, still has to use gas to keep the freezer cold (we can’t bring ourselves to spend another €8 per night to be plugged into electricity while we’re away). This does take some pressure off the gas consumption somewhat and as you will see below, every bit helps.
We leave Helsinki and head north. The first stop about an hours drive is a place called Hyvinkaa where we located a business called Best Caravans. Not only do they have caravans, but they also have the best, and I mean the best, free camping spot that we have ever come across, bar none. Yes they have electricity (phew) and they also provide a washing machine, a dryer (rare to find this), a double shower (nice) and then, wait for it… they offer a sauna! All this for free (provided you buy something in their shop and/or secure their loyalty card). So after buying some toilet tabs, which are always needed, we take advantage of these facilities while plugging in to give our fridge a much needed break from sucking on the gas.
Whenever we are plugged in the kettle goes away and the electric jug comes out. I prefer this as electric is much quicker (especially when in urgent need of a quick cuppa).
We venture further north and planned our route around two more Best Caravan franchises. Neither, however, as fruitful as the first, but that’s okay because it’s electricity we’re mainly looking for and were incredibly thankful for.
We found a LPG supplier reasonably close to the Finland border in Sweden. Alan phoned to ensure our information was accurate and that they did, in fact, have LPG. They did.
So the original plan was to drive from Oulu to Sweden, get the gas, then back into Finland and up to Rovaniemi to see Santa. That plan changed to driving to Rovaniemi first, then across into Sweden, back into Finland and head north.
In the end we drove to Rovaniemi from Oulu, thankful as we saw the Aurora Borealis for the first time ever (so exciting!), then decided that we could possibly make a run for Norway and drive all the way over to Tromso for LPG.
By now the second tank is oh so low and I’m sure we’re sucking fumes. We have reduced the number of hot drinks we consume and look for meze type food for dinner. So cheese on crackers with salami and relish, anything that doesn’t need gas becomes our dinner. If we do choose to a warm dinner we make sure it’s using one pot that is watched carefully.
We never skip a nightly shower that is until now. With gas levels at a critically low level, we opt to skip a night due to prioritisation, a cuppa is more important than smelling good. We reduced our timed water heating to 15 minutes which was ample providing it wasn’t a hair washing night.
The temperature is due to drop like a lead balloon to just two degrees tomorrow night. I’m keen to drive through to Tromsø in one go, but it’s over six hours. When we are used to one or two hours at a stretch, a six-hour drive is a far cry for us to consider. I reluctantly resign to one further night in Finland and think about all the clothes I can wear in bed to stay warm tonight. Thankfully the heater in Betsy is very good, so it gets turned on in short bursts just to take the chill out of the air and assist with sleeping.
We park tonight at a layby and notice, surprisingly, there are several other motorhomes and some caravans parked here too. All through northern Finland we seem to have been on our own at overnight stops, but not tonight. I brave the bone-biting cold wind and knock on the doors of other travelers inviting them to come over later for a drink and chat. I’m hoping the distraction will get my mind off the lack of gas and more bodies inside Betsy will help to keep the warmth in.
The other motorhomers must have wondered who this was knocking on their door on dusk. Dressed in all the warm clothes I could find, hat covering the blonde hair, and a scarf wrapped around my neck to fight off that bitter cold, I brave my fear of shyness and knock away. Most occupants open their doors, and some speak English. I get some polite no thank you declines, some who don’t speak English soon shut their doors to Mrs Blobby, and those who do engage in conversation are delighted at the invitation and agree to valiantly brave the cold and come across after dinner.
My plan worked, we have a lovely evening meeting new and interesting people and listen to their travel tales. The night passes quickly and the temperature inside Betsy is cozy (without the need for any gas, whoops, I mean heating).
Once the evening congregation is finished, we say goodbye to our new friends and jump into bed to stay warm. The heater goes on briefly and we hope we are well insulated from the jaw-dropping thermometer-dropping temperatures outside. It works.
The next day we make a run to Tromsø and oh boy are we blessed with the most glorious day. That’s a post for another time, needless to say we arrived safe and sound, filled up with that beautiful and most precious juice, LPG, and were on our way to great food and warmth inside Betsy.
So how long did we stretch bottle number two? Well, that’s a good question.
Let me step back to the beginning of having two fill tanks of LPG, sourced from Sweden on 7th August. We crossed into Finland later that day and didn’t fill up again until we were in Norway on 17th September. So that gives us a staggering 41 days of gas consumption.
The first bottle was empty by the time we left the Awesome Åland Islands on 19th August (so that bottle lasted 12 days). Therefore we stretched, and I mean stretched thin, the second bottle to a staggering 29 days. HOW COOL IS THAT??? Just don’t ask me to do that again, especially when the weather starts to turn cold and we are in the north of Scandinavia.
Looking back now I would not, for the life of me, have skipped Finland just due to their lack of LPG. (I do have to ask, however, Finland why don’t you have LPG?). Finland offers so much to see and do and it even gave us challenges that looking back now, were fun.
So if you have LPG and have discounted traveling to this part of the world because of a lack of LPG then take a leaf out of our book, put on your big boy/girl pants and grunt up. Making our gas last for 41 days is epic and if we can do it, then so can you. I’m throwing down the gauntlet and want you to beat our record. I dare you….