Everyone should have a bucket list over things they want to accomplish before its “Game Over”. My bucket list helps me keeping focus on why I’m trying to get in shape. My bucket list contains places I’d like to visit with my son and, this is the important part, document the trip to that place with photos, text and other souvenirs that can be made into some sort of scrapbook. My plan is to have the scrapbooks as a way to revisit those memories once we get older and can’t go on adventures like we can today. I’ve chosen geocaches as the representation of the area or place and only in my home country at the moment but I plan on expanding the list to contain places I’d like to visit from the whole world. If you know of a truly breathtaking spot, interesting geography or history, magnificent nature or just a #havetovisitoneceinalifetime place let me know. Now on to the list:
- Viking Cache. This is a historically important place in Sweden where Christianity came into contact with Vikings at the trading post named Birka. From the excavations we have learnt a lot about the complex trading networks that the Vikings used. The place is classed as a world heritage by UNESCO and it’s just one of those places you need to visit if you live in Sweden and are interested in history.
- Kebnekaise Base Camp. Kebnekaise is the highest mountain in Sweden and I’m not sure we would be able to climb it if we tried but I’m quite confident that we would manage the hike to the base camp and back. Breathtaking nature, considered a “must do” by many in Sweden. The area is representative for the world heritage “Laponia Area”.
- Njupeskär Vattenfall. Swedens highest waterfall located in the Fulufjället National Park. Another place with magnificent nature. Quite easily accessible and not too far from home.
- Gotska Sandön. A small island located north of Gotland. The island is mostly composed of sand and partly covered with pine forest. Another of nature’s gems.
- Kartografens mur. A strange wall standing on Stora Alvaret on Öland. Alvaret is a biological environment based on a limestone plain with thin or no soil and, as a result, sparse grassland vegetation. In other words another special biotope worth visiting. Stora Alvaret on Öland is also classed as a world heritage by UNESCO.
- Store Mosse Earth cache. A marshland close by where I was born many years ago. Store Mosse is a paradise for birds and offers plenty of hiking on footbridges through the wetlands with small and crooked pine trees.
- The Spear God. Another world heritage. This time it’s a historical heritage made up by rock carvings in Tanum. There is thousands of carvings from the Scandinavian bronze age in the area.
- Världsarv 14. Located far north in Sweden is one of the points on Struves Geodetic Arc. The Struve Geodetic Arc is a chain of survey triangulations stretching from Hammerfest in Norway to the Black Sea, through ten countries and over 2,820 km, which yielded the first accurate measurement of a meridian. Världsarv is the Swedish word for world heritage so you guessed right if you thought this was one of UNESCO’s world heritages.
- High Coast – Sweden Earthcache. Since the last ice age the land of the High Coast has risen 800 m, which accounts for the unusual landscape with tall cliff formations. Classed as a world heritage by UNESCO.
This list will probably change and mutate in different ways but one thing is sure, there will always be a list.
Monday evening my son came home again and straight away we went out geocaching. After the powercaching during Saturday I decided to take it a bit slow. To be honest I’m so bad condition that some extra exercise makes my muscles ache. I began by picking out a couple simple mysteries, a multi and a regular that would give us a 2-3 km (1½-2 miles) hike and off we went.
What I thought would be an easy stroll quickly became an agonizing climb up and down the Uppsala esker because I did some stupid mistakes with the calculation of the coordinates for 2 of the geocaches. My son thought it was a good evening, it’s always fun to see him in a good mood, and I think that a little ache in the body now will give me a lot more time with my son later on.
Up on the esker we found a merestone, probably erected 1870s. This merestone is placed 4030 meters north of the old observatory in Uppsala and was used to calibrate instruments at the observatory. We also checked out the water purification plant which works by pumping up water on top of the esker and letting it seep through the esker to the water stores that are located under the esker. From the base of the esker we had a marvelous view over Gamla Uppsala (Old Uppsala). Gamla Uppsala was an important religious, economic and political centre from 3rd century and onwards. While it’s nice to walk around in Gamla Uppsala among the royal mounds I think you get a better feeling of the historical importance by looking at it from a distance like we did.
One of the water purification pools where water is pumped up onto a
bed of sand from where it seeps through the esker in a natural purification process
The rowan is in bloom. In fact I think most of the different trees are in bloom
as everything is covered in pollen
The merestone, looking towards Uppsala, with the towers of Uppsala Cathedral
visible through the left opening.
Old Uppsala and the royal mounds.
Last Saturday I did two things that I normally never do.
- I went geocaching without my son. He spent the weekend away from home.
- I went for a powertrail and logged 120 geocaches in 8 hours by bicycle. I’m much more attracted by geocaches with a view, history or something else that is interesting and this powertrail was all about a rock or a fir in the woods.
The explanation is exercise; I saw it as a way to squeeze in a bit of extra exercise in between the C25K sessions. In fact I think I got more exercise that my worn down body could take, I ended up having a slight fever that evening and I still have sore thighs. And in 8 hours I’m supposed to run and walk in 30 minutes again.
But it’s all OK as I know my son subconsciously will appreciate me getting more fit even if he can’t say it.
There’s a special providence in the fall of a sparrow. If it be now, ’tis not to come. If it be not to come, it will be now. If it be not now, yet it will come—the readiness is all.
– William Shakespeare, Hamlet
What Hamlet means is that what is going to happen will happen and all you can do is prepare for it. As parents of 2 autistic children men and my wife have learnt that being prepared can make the difference between near disaster and working well. One could say that our travels and adventures with our autistic children require certain amounts of Crisis Management in order to add some resilience in our group against situations that is new for our children.
We put a lot of time into preparing for longer trips by talking about the trip to our children. We are quite picky about hotel and destination so that we get accommodation that works with the needs of our children. We arrange the traveling in advance so that no decisions need to be taken between home and hotel. Food is an important thing to figure out, often we have a backup plan by checking out McDonalds in advance or by keeping a stash of snacks at the hotel room and we prepare small signs in the language of the destination that tells about our children’s autism and show these signs in restaurants and hotels just to explain in advance if one of those chaotic situations occur.
These preparations primarily serves to give us, the parents, the feeling that we have the situation under control and when we are calm the chance for the trip to become a success instead of a chaotic trip increases drastically. But in the end I think it’s our knowledge about our children and our own strengths and weaknesses that allows us to act rapidly and with determination when unplanned situations surprise us.
So, in short, our success when traveling with our autistic children is built on trust in ourselves, a strategy for potentially chaotic situations that you have identified and a focus on the need and abilities of the children during the planning of the trip.
Here is a tip for all geocachers out there that like me tend to get stuck when trying to solve mystery-caches. I quite often understand the mystery and how to solve it but I don’t know where to find the tools to complete the task. I have now found a tool to create my own tools in the class “An Introduction to Interactive Programming in Python” hosted by Coursera.org. It’s not any fancy programming but it’s enough to create your own decrypters, bearing calculators and small tools like those. Go and check it out, it’s almost halfway through the course but all the material is there for anyone to take for free.
This tales from the trail is a compilation of a few excursions me and my son has done over the weekend. Nothing really special but still interesting places to visit.
Kalmarnäs, a wildlife preserve about 45 km (28 miles) south, as the crow flies, from our home. Characteristics of the preserve are steep cliffs towards Lake Mälaren and an old pine forest with a lot of oak in it. This was a somewhat though hike as the terrain was quite hilly.
Cliffs overlooking Lake Mälaren.
Vendelsjön, a popular place for nesting birds, around 250 species of birds has been sighted here making this one of the favorite places among birdwatchers around here. The day we visited, the birds where so noisy, my son had to keep his hands over his ears. At the place for the birdtower there is also some remnants of an old trapping pit that once was used to trap wolves.
Platform and trapping pit.
Wetlands full of nesting birds.
Vendel, a village 22 km /14 miles) north from where we live. Vendel is known for its 6th century grave mounds, and for playing a central part in the Swedish history during the Vendel era. We have earlier visited all the Vinking related caches around here so this time we looked at the old windmill, which is one of the most northerly windmills in Sweden, and the church.
Windmill, one of the most northerly ones in Sweden
Today I started an Instagram account as Shadowcacher to share some of the pictures I snap when out geocaching. First picture out is one from our geocaching adventure to Thailand last winter.
Normally I don’t take part in sweepstakes or gamble but those of you who have ready my first posts about autism know how I want to be able to show my son as much of the world as possible before I’m too old to take care of him. Once I’m old and he moves to a group living he will probably not have many opportunities to experience new things and therefore, if you like the picture and wouldn’t mind helping me trying to win a geocaching trip to Tobago with my son, perhaps you could vote for the picture by pressing the heart over here:
I’m looking forward to more “on the fly” updates when out geocaching.
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