here A rather subdued day. This is the 2nd day of the Victory Day celebrations, celebrating the World War II victory over the Germans, so lots of stuff is closed.

Igor and Julia took me to a pizzeria for lunch and then we met Andrey for Bowling. I did the USA proud by defeating the Russians with my score of 100.

link Andrey was then patient enough to let me wander around the supermarket, since none of the markets I can walk to were open. Sitting at home right now, I'm just realizing that I probably bought too much stuff, as I only have a few more days here.

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Today was Gosha's turn to babysit me. Since he is the last, I wonder who will get the job tomorrow? Today, Gosha's backup was his wife Eva, his mother and Eva's sister, who is studying to be a translator.

source url Either way, it was a good day, despite the weather's turn back to rainy and cold. I forgot my camera back at the hotel, so I got no picture, but Eva took some, so hopefully I can get a link to those and update. We had a nice lunch at a place that had a lot of Asian type dishes in addition to some Russian ones. I had some Уха, fish soup, and some kind of chicken stir-fry dish. It was tasty. Eva insisted that I have some Blini as well.

go here After we picked up Eva's sister, we went to the Fine Arts Museum. There were 4 exhibits. One was a very famous Russian painter who painted these in the last 15 years. I failed to write his name down. Even if his paintings were a little dark, he still had a good eye for light. Another exhibit was a photographer who had a set of photos of Lake Baikal taken at the frozen surface, and deep below. The third was another group of paintings, a little older than the others. The fourth was a large set of 400 year old Icons painted on some sort of wood surfaces. They tried to explain to me what the wooden surfaces were, but it never sank in.

Next on the trip, we drove out to Gosha's mother's dacha. A dacha is a little farm house that a lot of the apartment dwelling city folk keep, so that they can drive out and have a small plot to grow flowers and vegetables. The farm house was small, but functional, and it had a couple of acres of rich looking soil with already the beginnings of some things growing.

Driving back to town, they were shocked that I did not know what a 5D movie was, so we went to go see one. Basically, it's like a stationary Disney ride, that has a bank of 4 seats that hydraulically can get moved around and shaken, a large 3D movie screen (with glasses), and some extra sensory input, like fogs, and sprays of water, and some little brushes behind your legs. The movie itself was like something out of Quake. A simulated theme park roller coaster with Monsters jumping at you and other obstacles.

Today is our big mountain hiking/camping trip to Поднебесные Зубья (Teeth Beneath the Sky). We start our journey at 2AM. Andrey drives myself, and his cousin Alec on the initial 4 hour car ride. Sergey drive in a second car with Gosha and Dmitry. The place we are going has no roads, so the goal is to get to Междуреченск (Mezhdurechensk - City between the rivers), where we will pick up a train for a 2 hour ride. Our stop doesn't even have a station. It's just a blank spot in the trees and a trail down to the river(Tom River). Waiting at the river is a couple of guys with a boat that is really more of a large canoe. We don't have more than 20-30minutes down the river to get to the place where we disembark to hike up to the cabin. Now is a good time for a nap.

Next was our hike up into the mountains. The trip was 10km up the mountain, so I assumed it would be a slow winding path up. I was a little unprepared by our starting immediately climbing straight up the ridge line. Very steep, maybe 55-70 degrees. It was a very hard climb. We kind of walked/climbed along the ridge line across the tops of the mountains. I'm glad I've spent the last year getting myself into shape, or there is no way I would have made this climb. The views are pretty spectacular.

This was an exhausting hike, so we all opted for another nap. We didn't stay down for too long, though. We took another walk up into the mountains, this time without a guide. I couldn't keep up with the these guys, most of them just out of university. By the time we got back, not too long before sunset, my legs were jello.

To end the evening, Andrey grilled some pork chops, while everyone else argued about how to best get he fire going to cook. It took a long time, but they were pretty good. Well worth the wait.

It started raining sometime in the night and continued trough the morning. It had been so sunny and warm the day before. All we really could do was sleep and eat. The sun did finally come back out by early afternoon so we could walk around a bit for one last time.

We left to catch the train at 3PM and we arrived back at about 9:30 or so. This time I rode with Sergey and Gosha in the car leg of the journey. I could hardly keep my eyes open until we go to my hotel. I just took a shower and hit the hay. Was teh best sleep I had since I got into the country.

Andrey's photos.
Dmitry's Photos

Sergey took me to lunch at the same place where we had the guys birthday celebration. They have a buffet at lunch. Good stuff.

Kuzvass sign.
We went to the (Красная Горка) Red Mountain Coal Mine Museum. The city of Kemerovo was created because of the rich coal and iron deposits here. There were apparently a bunch of mining experts hired to come settle here from the U.S. back in the 1920s back before the cold war. We also walked around to several monuments to miners in the area, and to the top of the mountain. The giant КУЗБАСС sign pictured above is "Kuzbass", the name of the region where Kemerovo is located. THis si kind of liek the Hollywood sign in LA.

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