Saturday, July 23, 2011

Lake Trip

So, in our last post we promised you pictures of our trip to the northeast corner of our republic, where we visited a beautiful remote lake with some T friends of ours. We promised pictures, so I hope you're in a picture-viewing mood, because we took a million of them.

The first thing we did was pile in the 4-wheel drive van, known as an Uazik, for the 8-hour trip from our city to the small town that is the capital of the "county" where the lake is.

The scenery didn't take long to change, leading to funny reactions from the boys. What are these pretty flower-things?

I like the pretty flower-things! And all the green!

After a few hours we stopped for a meal at a little cafe, and I was intrigued by the construction style, illustrated here. It's sort of finished log cabin with the gaps chinked by grass:

Then back into our friend the Uazik, for many miles of this. Well, not so much many miles as many hours, because the roads are not that great, so we were traveling quite slowly.

We did stop at the passes so the passengers could add rocks to the cairns:

It definitely wasn't all bad - the boys were a bit fussy, but some parts of the trip were fun.

When we finally neared the "county seat," we had to cross the Yenisei one last time. Since there aren't any bridges of the river anywhere within 100 miles, they've arranged an ingenious ferry system. The ferry functions with no motor of any kind, but is instead tethered to this cable. The operator loads the cars and people on (2 cars max), then moves the rudder so that the craft is propelled across. It doesn't drift downstream due to tension on this wire, so the effect is that it just crosses with pure river power. Brilliant!

We eventually offloaded and continued our way to the town, along with a few T ladies who had crossed the river earlier in the day to pick berries in the woods.

We spent the night with our friends' relatives, who have a lovely home there in the village. The next morning we got up and arranged all our stuff for the trip out to the lake:

Steven needed to make one quick last dash to the outhouse before we left (located through all the potato plants):

And then, after another hour of slogging along some terrible roads, there we were!

The lake itself reminded me a lot of Tahoe, in Nevada. Beautiful, blue as can be, and surrounded by wooded mountains for a really spectacular setting.

We were there for a few days, one of which we decided to go over to Green Lake (that would be the English translation), so known for obvious reasons:

There is a spring here with a reputation for healing lots of injuries and ailments, including joint problems and allergies, so if you fancy a trip to the absolute end of the world, you can solve all those problems by just coming over to visit and we'll take you out to get a bottle of the water.

People also like to swim in the lake, which really was an interesting place. There is a kind of white clay under the water that they would get out and smear on their bodies. I tried it but it didn't seem to have any appreciable cosmetic effects (of course, in me it wasn't getting a lot of raw material to work with). I was just mostly surprised to see that several dozen people had made the effort to get all the way out here - it really is a tough place to get to.

In fact, I'll throw a little video of the road on here so you can appreciate just how hard it is:

Mostly, though, we stayed at the main lake, where we had a great time. We tried fishing, but you need a boat to really have success. Some of the other guys going out were coming in with some huge ones, so they really are out there!

We just enjoyed spending time with our T friends, who had brought their kids along as well. Oh, and of course our boys enjoyed the time in the water.

Though we didn't catch any ourselves, our friends bought some of the smaller fish from those who did, so we had "fish on a stick" to roast over the fire. Yum!

Cooking with a T family can be tricky, since our tastes are pretty divergent usually, but Matthew is starting to get the hang of their food. Actually, Matthew gets the hang of most any food pretty quickly.

After a few days of enjoying ourselves (and a bit of a harrowing experience getting out!) we came back to our friend's hometown. She gave us the walking tour one evening.

Comrade V.I. Lenin approves of this sunset!

Eventually it was time for us to come home. Oddly, it was on our way home that we finally encountered reindeer. This part of T-land is known as the part where they herd reindeer (in the southwest they herd yaks, in the southeast it's camels, here it's reindeer, and everywhere else sheep and goats). However, there aren't many left who actually do herd them fulltime, and we didn't see any until we were driving home and a farmer was herding these across the road.

What we did see a lot of was wildflowers! I have traveled a lot in North America, and even in the Yukon and Alaska I have never seen them like this. Every little meadow is just bursting with color - it really was entrancing. I wanted to stop the car every 10 minutes to take more pictures, but we were going along with others so we couldn't. This is a tiny meadow where we stopped for a potty break, and some of the flowers I found in it:

It was really something to see huge fields just full of them with the mountains as a backdrop - made me thankful to know the Author of beauty.

And that should do it, I suppose. Here are the boys just so you can see how big they're getting:

So, as always, thanks for stopping by, and I'm going to just end with another whole post full of scenery pictures. Talk to you again soon.

Friday, July 15, 2011

A Quick Post

So, we're about to head out here:

Life is so tough, sometimes, isn't it?

Anyway, before we go we thought we'd throw in a quick post. Life has been going on as usual these last couple of weeks, and there's little to report outside of culture and language study. Much as I'm sure you're all dying to read about the weird way T handles the passive, or something equally as intriguing, I need to go to bed soon. Tomorrow we leave for the beautiful lake you see above, to camp there for a week with a T family. Pictures will follow in our next post, but for now you'll have to be content with the meager pickings on our camera since last week.

Aaaand, hmmm, wow, these really are meager pickings. The lovely Bobbie managed to contrive a way to make North Carolina barbecue here in T-land last week, which is quite a feat. Here it is, combined with some baked beans to make your tongue water a bit.

What else do we have? Here's a picture of the temple in all its summer glory. Really is quite pretty when all the flowers are in bloom.

I'm afraid that's pretty much it. The rest of this post is just pictures of the boys looking cute, so if you're not a grandparent you might want to just skip it. Check back next week for pictures of us at the lake.

Steven is doing pretty well with his schoolwork; here's a recent page of "A's" he managed:

I guess we'll let Godzilla have the last laugh. And thanks to the boys' babushka for giving us that homemade playmat; though the boys tend to destroy the city more often than anything else, they still enjoy playing with it.

Thursday, July 7, 2011


Since they don't really celebrate American Independence here, we decided that we would give the T people a taste of what we do on July 4th. So, we had the people from our friends' English club and a few other people who wanted to come over for a party. We made cheeseburgers, had coke, decorations, and even an American Flag cake (which I must admit, I'm pretty proud of). After eating we discussed a little about why we celebrated that day. We had a good time hanging out and getting to know our friends a little better. Thank you, Erin, so much for all your help.

The boys always like to "help" when I make dessert. Here is Matthew "helping". Notice the batter in his hair. Guess how that happened?

On another subject, most of you may have forgotten that my sister gave my twin and I the best birthday memory ever by taking us to Sea World. It was 4 days of ultimate fun and relaxation. So, what did I do for her birthday this year? I forgot it. Not only did I forget it, it was a week before I remembered. I feel SO bad. So, this is my attempt at making up for it. I love you, Andrea.

Note from Jesse: Your birthday cake was delicious, Andrea. Sorry you didn't get to eat any of it. :-)