Blog page 12

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Adios Bayan Olgii, and hello RussiaWhat can I say, other than Olgii is one of those dusty little frontier towns, akin to say New Mexico maybe 1930’s. The streets are paved, but mostly badly damaged from winter frosts and very overloaded trucks.quite few of the buildings have that Soviet mid sixties type archetecture. Not exactly say, Green & Green, nor Frank Lloyd Wright’esq……….just big drap cement blocks. I know the world trys to give Pablo Picasso credit for cubism, but really I think the Soviets should get the credit.

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We stayed at an intown Ger Hotel, that was just fine for $10.00 per night. The showers, hot water and internet, all worked sporadically. What would you expect for that price. We walked the town, checked out all the Camel and Kashmere shops. Dang they beat us white guys up on that stuff. My own thoughts are that you need to hire a local buyer for yuo to do the buying. So, nothing comes home for me from Mongolia. I did buy a good friend something, but still need to find a PO so I can send it home.We got of Olgii by 7am, good start for the day. Big sunny sky, and huge clouds to diffuse the abundant sunshine. All incline as you leave, just steady 3-5%, so we just pedal and talk business, politics, and soccer. Actually, we never said a word about politics.

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Stopped at 25 mile mark to visit with Herve Nobel, a motorcyclist from Paris. Compared notes on roads, places to go see, and places to just get thru and overwith as best you can. All the while our puffy clouds had turned black and ominous. We take our leave, put on our rain gear. While we are pedaling uphill into hail once again, we look back to see the frenchman riding in sunshine. Darned near froze going up over the pass, thermometer is saying 38 degrees at the summit. The last piece is plus 15% and dirt. Poochy Maggie the ol hips,knees and what not are sure getting sore. Zip up, and coast down the other side on dirt. Finally hit blacktop and ride the last 15 miles into Tsagaanuur. What a dismal little hell hole it turned out to be, even though it rests on the shores of a lake. We talked to some little kids for a while, then pulled out, riding due north towards Russia.

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Lunch on the menu the morning we left Tashanta was Marmot cooked with a blowtorch.

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Only 15 or so miles tomorrow and we pray we can get in earlier than our visa date.Okay, never mind Praying, the darned Russians just flat refused, and we rode thier 5 mile damn hill just to get told Nyet, back to Mongolia, and they closed the gate right behind us. My knees are both sore, but today my left knee with a brace went downhill severely. The pain is minor along the side of the knee when the brace strap is on. But today, the pain moved dire tly under the knee cap and any side load feels like I am going to nust have the leg go out. Both hips are sore as heck. Funny thing is, Pine and I both have sore Achilles tendons. So as it stands, I am at sort of a medical rubicon of sorts, and struggling with what is the best/smartest decision to make for my son/this trip/and my walking future. I do plan on having grandkids to go hiking with, and a beautiful wife to do the same and more with.I will go back a day and set the mood since I am feeling a little”whiskeytangofoxtrot” about the visa thing happening  right now.

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Pretty typical grocery store in the parts, this is the selection. On the floor there are sometimes a box with a few potatoes and onions, not always.

We are leaving Tsangaanuur, and have to ride over a swath of very sharp rocks to get back out on the main road. Several miles into our late afternoon ride I can feel myback tire is getti g soft. The sun is shining, but we have mountain to both our left and right, and each has a huge black cloud they wear as a mantle. I tell Pine to spot a camp sight that offers some wind  protection, and he turns off to setup behind a gravel pile. Not so bad, camp is up, sun is out………then the wind turns 180 degrees and just sand blasts us for an hour. OMG, the entire tent is a sand dune…….how the heck did a camel get in there? The wind brought the storm to a head and the rain came just as I got my last guide line tied into place. Strong winds thats for sure, like maybe 40,ish. Had to put in the pegs twice as they kept getting pulled out. About an hour goes by, and we get a break so we cook our supper and get back in our tents for the night. I am right at the point where Lisbeth Salander gets shot in the second book of “Dragon with a girl tattooed on it”…….so I dont mind turning in.

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I read my Bible on my phone for a bit- thanks sweaty for doing that for me. God must have a different plan for me/us, since the border was for sure NO, NYET, GET OUT.Well, back track or not things have really changed thruout working on this post. We got turned back at the border as I have earlier eluded to, rode back down that darned hill in the rain and now wind building. Got thru Mongolian side with little problem and rode out into mainstreet Tashanta……wait a cotton picking minute…..its the only street in Tashannta.

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We are mostly looking for a place to set our tent where we can get some wind protection, we are not as worried about the rain as we are the wind. A lady with a silk like robe and wearing a sky blue hairnet catches our eye and waves us in…..hotel,hotel she points to her log cabin. Just like that we take her up. The hotel has one sleeping room, with 8 beds, and tonight only 6 men sleeping……oh goody……it will be the “Little house of Snores”. One room contains a long table, where we set our selves down to ask,ponder,consider and regurgitate our collective thoughts on how to deal with the border issues.A huge rucus outside as about a dozen Russians roll up in souped up 4 wheelers. They join us, we join them for a supper of Booz. In this case we had goat, wrapped in a farily thick  chewey dough. These are then steamed and eaten like that, put the whole thing in at one time just like you would do if your wife wasn’t home. We have had them before and they have been sheep and also of Yak, I like the Yak best as it is not as greasy. The mutton are the greasiest for sure. Good thing here, the Russians had a hot chili sauce with them that really added a lot more flavor. They actually went down good, but didnt sit as well…..even harder to hold onto is also what we foundout.

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Not much else, we sat staring at 4 walls, hacked some free internet as aguest brought a mobile hotspot with him. Next morning we walked down to check the border crossing opening time…….no border crossing till Monday at 2pm.OMG, what will we do here till then. We have now back tracked 100 miles south, back to Bayan Olgii, where action can be taken if we have anything Visa wise that we can,should do. Sitting in our yurt, rained like heck since we left here. Our bed is two mattresses stacked on top one another……bottom ones have water leaking out…..small odor problem……sleeping with our life jackets on…….gosh I wish I hadnt pulled that cord yet.WE NEVER DID GET MORE THAN 10 FEET INTO RUSSIA ON THIS TRIP, WE HAVE 12 DAYS TO KILL BEFORE WE GET ANOTHER CHANCE AT THE BORDER.

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About Jeremiah Watt-saddlemaker

Jeremiah is a saddle maker, a silversmith. He runs a small company manufacturing bits and spurs as well as the manufacture of saddle hardware. An avid cyclist, especially the loaded solo tour type cycling.
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5 Responses to Blog page 12

  1. Mike Markley says:

    I know God’s plans for you. And what a wild ride he can take us on. Love the pic’s and praying for paths to be widened.Sea’s to be parted and all be used together for good. Go Cowboy’s.

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  2. Morning Bill, your thoughts on bbq are/where the same as ours. And we came to the same realization, that the fuel type limits everything to boiling. The caloric heat value of dry dung is at the bottom end of the burnable scale. It smolders more so than plames. In certain areas of Mongolia, there are an abundance of trees, mostly Larch. The Buddiats take a completely different view on the cut/harvest of trees. So, in places with wood, you think grilling would be more prevLent, but not from what we seen.. there are some wierd tendancies here with the use of wood. We see them build log houses, and yet the very worst construction methods you can imagine. We see bunches of adobe, and yet non of it is done well, its just cobble and hack. In the SW of usa, we have many very old adobe structures still very functional……built by people who knew little and had no access to engineers and modern contrivance? I was telling Stacy Westfall yesterday, that this may be the oldest existing horse culture in the world, but thier horsemanship remains at the starting line , its really pathetic to see. Anyways, we are fine, loking forward to some beautiful country in southern Russia. And I think God gave me these days to heal up. Thanks for being here.

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  3. Bill Snure says:

    That IS heck of a grade you’re pushing up, and it looks like it’s soft too. No way to do that on those skinny tires and loaded down as your bikes are. It might not/probably wouldn’t be possible on an unloaded mountain bike with fat tires either? That’s steep!
    Dang I laughed at your tale about your early morning duties, I was sitting here alone laughing out loud. Through it all you have definitely not lost your sense of humor, might as well laugh as cry!
    As you were describing the……toilet facilities I recalled another bit more PC name I’ve heard those wretched things called…the squatty potty! Somehow though, that name doesn’t do justice to how truly awful they are!
    I’ve been thinking about all that boiled mutton you been having to eat and I got to wondering why they don’t grill/roast/barbeque some of it over coals. I thought that might possibly make it a bit more palatable. Then I came to my senses and realized that all their fires are cow pies and quickly realized grilling mutton over dung smoke would just make a bad situation even worse! In most of your photos around the settlements there isn’t a tree, bush, shrub, tumble weed or anything to be seen. Guess they’ve burned to all up over the millinea? I know there were some trees along the river and in the mtns in some of your pix but I guess they’ve just adapted to burning do do for everything?
    Like others have said maybe you can get healed up some during this down time.

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  4. Colleen Watt says:

    Well Dear, Nevada just headed out to Uncle Little Bill’s to work with him a few days. I get to see her on Wednesday one more time before she heads back north and then just me and the dogs!! Have lots of work to do so will keep me busy.
    Wow Pine that photo of you with a full head of hair and quite the beard makes you look a lot different and slightly older!! Some people may not even be able to recognize you!!!
    Great photos Jeremiah and stories too! One thing good about your stay and waiting is that we here get to hear more stories!!. Check out Ephesians 1:11-12 and 2Corinthians 5:20 for someone may come into your path. Be attentive to the Lord’s plan!! Love you always MOM

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  5. Candy Diaz says:

    Oh No! I can’t believe you can’t get into Russia (well yes I guess I can) at my age we grew up knowing the Russian were the bad guys, guess they still are. I sure hope you can get in sooner, or if not, find a way to fly somewhere else to continue. Prayers for you and Pine, by the way I like his longer hair and beard! Hope your hips and knees get better during your rest, if it is indeed a rest.

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