I have officially fell in love with the Russian countryside.
We are sitting here in our camp this evening and got to watch a Russian Vaquero bring in about 30-35 head of horses, they came trotting in right above our camp site by the creek. Missed us by maybe 10 feet at the most. All belled, and sounding just marvelous, but 2 of the horses where wearing front foot hobbles, and nobody even bothered to remove them, just brought them in and trained those two a good lesson on how to travel with hobbles.
We are nearing the bottom of a canyon right where we are camped, but just 5mile back up the canyon, we both came to a halt as we decended thi gravel road. The bells Pine said…..and not sure what he had said, I asked him if he was hearing bells…….why yes he said, but from where. We mounted up and pedalled on somemore, and around the next bend, there were about 150 head of Simmental cross cows all belled with different sized bells……….my God what a magical sound all those cows and bells made.We made a choice back at the main road to take a turn and try a few secondary roads.
We headed strait out into 1940, I mean folks. The road turns to mostly non maintained gravel, which changes our riding pace considerably. The biggest change is in regards to what a small village looks like along a main road, as compared to just going a few dozen miles to iether side of it. Almost all houses are log, beautiful rustic aged wood color with gaily painted trim boards around all windows and doors. All windows are vertical 4 pane style, and EVERY window is adorned by those iconic Russian pattern lace curtains in stark white. Looks great. These folks garden, OMG, but do they ever garden. The gardens are the yard…….all of it. Out buildings are wood, no paint, and usually the doors are falling off if there ever were any. The typical family car is a Lada sedan, and if you owned one I gaurantee you would sooner have a toothache than that car. A village, can be a scattering of 3-4 houses, most usually along a creek. Or a village can comprise 30-40 houses along a creek. Fruit trees in every yard, loose pigs, cattle and goats roam the yards at will.
There is clearly poverty out here when you leave the main roads, not so very much different than back home I guess.Its hard to desribe how quaint and beautiful these back roads and villages are. One of those……you have to be here to really appreciate it. Huge valleys with an abundance of green grass and wild running rivers is pretty hard to beat at the best of times. But dot that lanscape beat with rustic log houses, feeply tilled gardens and a sow and her piglets laying in the shade of a front porch or wall of the house, makes for an interesting ride. Kids sitting in innertubes, playing in the creek, tail swishing cows are thier audience. Herds of horses, mares and colts are everywhere, even rode by groups xtanding on the gravel roads thier colts are sound asleep stretched out on the road. The same scene was repeated often with small bands of sheep all sleeping on the road. Old men walking thru towns to visit friends in other log homes. Old women, repleat with a paisley (Pinny or Apron) and the ever present babooshka over thier heads, are out working the garden or picking what the gardenhas brought forth. Late after noons finds good friends sitting under the shade of a tree, or sitting on a creek bank fishing or just visting. Its a quiet almost idyllic life, if it werent for poverty and the lack of opportunity that comes with it.
There is one real difference for Pine and I as it regards travel and suggestions. We would both return to Russia, no doubt about it the Alta Krai region is outstanding…….its beautiful , cleaner by far, and we find that the people are very helpful and friendly. For both of us, if we won the Powerball jackpot for millions……….but had to pick up the prize money in Mongolia………ah…,thanks but we will pass and try winning another time. Bout sums it up, we have an agreement so that we quit badmouthing Mongolia. Whoever mentions Mongolia has to buy the other guy an ice-cream bar………dang, I lost 13 times one day.
Mat’ers ugly brother
We made a stop in a small town and hey wouldn,t you know it, but 2 other cyclists came along. 2 guys, friends, from Spain. They have been on the road now over 2 years, logged 48,000 kilometers to date, and have 2 continents left on thier journey to round the world on every continent. Real nice guys……but dumb as a post I suspect. Both worked as professionals, saving towards this dream, and they made it and have enjoyed every mile so far. Not long after we met a cycling couple from Switzerland. Also proffessionals who wanted to take a break from the race of rats. They had been on the road since March 1st, and plan on being gone approx. 10 months and want to end in New Zealand. We find that we are just 2 more souls, with an intention of cycling around the beautiful world that God created for us. We know both our purpose and our place on this earth, because we have a singular relationship with its Creator.The further north we head, the wilder the driving gets, and the busier the roads. Some roads just flat dont feel good nor safe. We often ride the gravel shoulders just for pure safety of it all. Driving here leaves alot to be desired, which we had been warned about, and our 4 most recent cyclist friends made a point of reiterating as well. The countryside flattens out a lot, rolling like central Kansas, and grain as far as the eyes can see.
Its also a lot hotternow, we have had 2 days over 113, and high humidity. So for me the cycling is tougher. Got a little heat stroked or food poisoning ???????not sure which, had to sit out a day to try and recover. Got one hand covering each orifice……would love to have a third to scratch mosquito bites. We are sitting in Novisibirsk as of 4.15 pm today. Taking suggestions from fellow travellers about our route after this. We are sitting on what has been called Mosquito Ridge or Road, depends on where you are from.
Dasvedania Vladimir, we are headed your way.