Sunday, July 30, 2017

Arizona Sauna

I'm on vacation with Janne, a road trip through western US. Our hotel in Flagstaff turned out to have a sauna. Great!

The sauna was small, but OK. It came with a water bucket for pouring water on the heater. You could turn up the heat high enough.

It was placed in the gym area, which for some reason had no showers or changing places, however. And as usual, ventilation in the sauna was suboptimal. There was also a pool and a jacuzzi.

Not overall bad, one more state and one more sauna :-) For the sauna itself though I'd give a grade of 6/10, due to lack of shower/changing rooms.

Nevertheless, the Hilton Garden Inn excelled in comparison to almost all other hotels (most Hiltons included) by having the sauna. Our experience at the Flagstaff Hilton Garden Inn was in general exceptionally good. The sauna; free and good breakfast; very nice staff; parking not far. Recommended for other people's Flagstaff visits, too.

Photos (c) 2017 by Jari Arkko

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Road trip!

Had plenty of meetings, but now I'm on vacation for a bit. Janne and I are headed to California for an epic road trip. With skis!

Photos (c) 2017 by Jari Arkko

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Skis Present

When I finished my term as a chair, my friends at the IETF gave me a truly wonderful gift: skis tagged with stickers from our meetings and little notes and signatures from everyone.

The skis finally arrived yesterday, after Alexa applied some varnish and shipped them safely packed to Finland. They look great, and will be displayed prominently somewhere soon. And unlike all my other skis, they won't be screeching on snowless rock slopes.

Thank you Alexa and everybody else!

Photos (c) 2017 by Jari Arkko

Friday, July 21, 2017


Cool. Got a certificate in the mail from the caving course earlier in the summer :-) and clearly they were focused on things that needed improvement on my side, like responsibility and safety.

But I also would have appreciated a diploma just crawling. It was a central topic on the course and would also be more generally applicable, e.g., could show it on the way out of the bar

Well I suppose this is a good certificate to have. Hopefully I'm worthy of that statement :-) Thank you Finnish Caving Society!

Photo (c) 2017 by Jari Arkko

Meeting a Friend at Killington

Patrick and I share the same hobby: skiing in as many different places around the world as we can. We had run into each other in the Internet and chatted often. But I had never met him. In spring 2016 I finally got an opportunity to do that *and* go skiing in Killington for the first time.

Patrick's stories about his skiing can be found from his blog, "Mad Pat Ski".

But boy, Killington in May is a hard place to ski at. An amazing slope, but just one slope, one steep slope, and slope covered *only* with bumps. Large, icy bumps. Uh... my knees and leg muscles.

This was a weekend before my second visit to Killington and the opportunity go skiing with a friend who I had seen in person very often, but had never had an opportunity to ski with him. It was a good May. And on the next weekend I got to meet some more Canadian skiers and Patrick's friends.

I stayed at the Killington Grand Resort Hotel, with nice pools and a sauna.

Here are pictures from the hike to Killington Peak:

Here are pictures from the hotel sauna and pool:

Photos and videos (c) 2016 by Jari Arkko and Patrick Corcoran. The video editing and music is from Apple iMovie. For copyright of the music, see

This blog is also available at TGR. Tämä blogi löytyy myös suomeksi Relaasta. Remember that pointers to all my stories about skiing can be found at the ​Planetskier.Net and web sites.

Askola Potholes

Most people visit the Askola potholes or devil's churns (hiidenkirnut in Finnish) as a part of a school trip. Me too, but it's been a long time since then. I remembered almost nothing.

This was a nice trip, with Jarmo and his kids. We also went to the bottom of the biggest churn, on very shaky metal ladders.

For those willing to learn more, check out the Askola Hiidenkirnut page on Facebook, on the web, or in Wikipedia.

Photos and videos (c) 2017 by Jari Arkko and Jarmo Ruuth.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Basic Caving Course in Turku

The Finnish Speleological Association arranged a basic caving course in Turku in June. The course started from the basics, like crawling. A slide to teach crawling! And walking, for that we had another slide. 

The course covered basic techniques, safety, geological formation of caves. We also practised in the nearby Luolavuori cave in Turku. This cave is relatively large by Finnish standards, 45 meters long, dark, and progressively difficult cave. Perfect for training! It is easy to reach the cave (coordinates: N 60.429993 E 22.277781) as it is just a few kilometres from the city centre and 100 meters from a parking lot, bus stops, etc.

All the participants were eager to crawl even the tightest passages in the cave. In the right hand side of the cave there's a drop to a small lower room that I had not dare to go in on my earlier visits with just my son. But with this group we knew what we would find there.

It was an easy drop, but what came next was much harder: a very tight, triangle-shaped pass to the next room. I would not have done this if it weren't for Tor's knowledge that there's another path back to the rest of the cave behind this tight stop. On my first try I bailed out and didn't go through. Too scary to feel the rock squeezing me. I knew it was going to be ok, I felt I was able to move, but it was just scary. But with others going through, I made a second attempt and pushed through. This was my first experience of a tight spot where one has to breath out to make my body smaller. And hold one hand up and one down. But I made it through, and afterwards, it felt easy!

After the cave we went to look above the cave to possibly find the small light holes that we could see in the cave's roof, but this proved quite difficult. But we did find a place to try out chimney techniques in a crack above the cave. This was easy... but once again quite scary, even if we weren't that high or in a difficult place. Going up was easy, coming back ... I struggled. It was all in my head, but in the end I made it back :-) 

The 12-hour course day ended with a refreshing dip to the sea at the nearby Ispoinen sea beach. After caving and walking on a hot day, this much was much needed.

The instructors on the course are Ralf Strandell and To Paulin.

Photos (c) 2017 by Jari Arkko and Ralf Strandell.

Remember that pointers to all my stories about caving and skiing can be found at the ​ and ​ web sites.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Sauna at the Hilton... again

Long meeting... but for once, I had a free Sunday morning, so I went to the sauna and pool at the Prague Hilton. Hot... spacious and well-maintained sauna.

Mixed setup between the ladies and men's sides, next to the pools.

There's a jacuzzi and a medium-sized swimming pool.

Photos (c) 2017 by Jari Arkko

Bozkovské Dolomitové Jeskynĕ

I had an opportunity for a brief visit to the Bozkovské Dolomitové Jeskynĕ or the Bozkov Dolomite caves. The cave system is 1060 meters long and hosts the largest underground lake in Czech Republic.

This was just a show cave tour, so unfortunately no crawling in mud like in Gotland!

More information about this cave can be found from the wikipedia page. A good list of show caves in Czech Republic can be found from the expat page.

Interesting forms and colours:

The corridor leading from one part of the cave to another:

The lake:

More interesting forms in the cave:

Sign leading to the road to the caves:

Railway to the cave's upper parts was used during the construction of the walking paths and support walls in the cave:

The ticket:

Photos and videos (c) 2017 by Jari Arkko. This blog article is also available at the TGR site. The video editing and music is from Apple iMovie. For copyright of the music, see

Remember that pointers to all my stories about caving and skiing can be found at the and ​ web sites.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Four saunas in Dresden

Late arrival... quick dinner... and then onto testing the wellness area at Dresden's Hilton hotel. Usually, hotel saunas are simple, but not this one!

The usual hotel saunas have one hot room, sometimes separated sometimes mixed between men's and women's sides. But here, there was a total of four saunas. I found three of them:

  • The Finnische sauna. The best, obviously!
  • The Dampfbad steam room, with colourful lights. Nice!
  • The Traditional sauna, similar to the Finnische one but smaller and not as decorated.

There was also an advertisement for the Mental Sauna, but I did not find it :-) The note said that it had the lowest temperature of all, and maybe that's a sign that it something I would have had to imagine on my head instead. I'll try harder next time :-)

There was also a pool and a jacuzzi. Overall, a very nice setup for a hotel! I've been here before for the same event, and maybe with this experience, I will be again!

Overall sauna grade: 9/10. Very good for a hotel sauna!

Photos (c) 2017 by Jari Arkko. Remember that pointers to all my stories about sauna-going and skiing can be found at the ​Planetskier.Net and ​SaunaBlogger.Cool web sites.