Through the land of lakes to Hällefors

(written by Nancy)

Dave and I survived the night in the quaintly named ‘sleeping loft’ of the cabin last night.  It was basically a little attic alcove with two twin mattresses.  The size of the space was such that the mattresses were pushed up against the edges so you couldn’t really raise your head without bumping against the ceiling.  There were occasional bumps in the night when Dave rolled over and I finally gave up and dragged my mattress into the little space in the middle to avoid the same fate.

We woke up to clear blue skies and sunshine this morning, a nice surprise after yesterday’s clouds and rain.  Despite the sunny skies Gretchen and Kathie were struggling with the coffee – lots of stirring and grumbling about the taste.  After a bit of investigation we discovered that Dave had inadvertently bought buttermilk instead of regular milk, which not surprisingly changed the taste of the coffee when it was added.  Order was returned to the world after we figured that out and thankfully I had brought along our powdered milk so we eventually got a drinkable cup of coffee.

Today the plan was to explore the Ölme area, where our Grandpa Peterson and his family originated from.  First off though was a trip to see a Picasso sculpture located on the lakeside only a few kilometres from our cabin.  The sculpture was built in 1965 out of a concrete-based material and was one of his series called “Les Dames de Mougins”, using his wife Jacqueline as the main subject.  The sculpture was actually built by someone else based photos sent by Picasso and while he followed the construction progress by receiving photographs and films he never actually saw the sculpture himself.  While all of us thought the sculpture was interesting it was really the setting that was more extraordinary, especially on a sunny summer morning.

After stopping off for a coffee and cake we went back into Kristinehamn to see the Ölme Diversehandel store, a replica of an old Swedish general store, where Kathie and Gretchen were very taken with the Klässbols Linen products.  This is a family run linen company that makes some very beautiful products that are sold worldwide (see  After we pulled ourselves out of the store we drove to the small village of Ölme, a mostly residential area near the old Ölme railway station.  Dave insisted on stopping at all of the mailboxes to see if we could spot a Peterson on one.  At one point a lady came out of a house to collect her mail and Dave was trying to get out of the car to see if she might recognise us as relatives.  Thankfully I was able to hold him back long enough for her to get her mail and return to her house.

We then headed up to the Ölme church, where we understood from family information that our Grandpa Peterson was baptised and where some of the Peterson relatives are purportedly buried.  The church is very beautiful and the graveyard that surrounds it is extremely well-kept.  We wandered about the graveyard looking for any Peterson gravestones but were unable to locate any that matched the information we had.  A very friendly fellow who was mowing the yard asked if he could help us and even called the church office to see if they could provide more info on where the gravesites might be.  Unfortunately they couldn’t provide much more insight.  We even made a quick call to my mom (sorry for waking you up at 6:30AM Mom!) to see if we could verify some information but no luck so we decided that as long as we were in the right area our ancestors would surely be satisfied by our efforts.  After a nice picnic lunch on the church yard (far enough away from the gravesites to comply with protocol) we headed back out on the road to make our way north.

We didn’t have a destination picked for tonight but when we got to the town of Hällefors we saw a tourist information sign and pulled over to see what we could find.  We got some information about a camping ground with cabins not too far up the road, and as it was already 5pm we decided we would aim for that.  We stopped for groceries and Kathie and Gretchen even managed to buy a bottle of red wine in the liquor store.  We found the campground without too much trouble and have nabbed a great cabin – actually, the campground host said we had the best cabin in the region!  It might be a bit of a sales pitch by the owner but it is really a very nice cabin.  It is apparently usually booked for a minimum of a week but we happened to arrive when it was available for three nights so she was happy to let us have it for a night.  It sits right on a lake though we can’t figure out the name of it – there are so many lakes on our map that we can’t read the names (or perhaps that is just the advancing age of the trip participants (other than me, of course…)).

We have had a nice dinner of couscous and chorizo with a nice bottle of red wine so everyone is relaxed and I for one am ready for a good night’s sleep.  Tomorrow we head to Lake Siljan, apparently one of the favourite places of the Swedes to holiday.  It is also the area where the Dala horse comes from – this is the carved horse usually painted red with flowers and garlands of bright colours.  Lots of other arts and crafts in the area too so it should be a good day or two for window shopping.  And despite Dave’s “I hate shopping” comments in previous blogs he has fun looking at the woodworking and other crafts too.  (junior editors note:  I do, but I normally finish this task well before the girls make it 1/4 of the way around any given shop – Today I did some exercises in the public park near the car while I waited – No locals complained and I had more than ample time to stretch and warm up first!)

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