|the Dacha Community|
|Examples of the great woodwork|
in the log architecture. this from
|The Old Quarry|
We did some wild berry harvesting, a Russian-only berry that grows on a bush but tastes like a cranberry; indeed later on the next train segment we saw plenty of people selling buckets of these berries on the platforms. We investigated the old soapstone and talc quarry now filled with groundwater, lunched late at a great spot filled with locals
simply enjoying themselves, the last warmth (54F) of summer with their
families and their dogs. Lots of women
line dancing, men and boys with soccer balls, picnics, laughing, a few dogs
playing and camaraderie under the tall pines and the aspens with family and
friends. The park ranger came up as he
does with some guests and groups, was smiling and gracious in Russian, bid us
“Dosvydania” and went to the next group (who shared their napkins with us). We needed this – although packed with people
– it was a great hike, got the heart pumping with some modest climbs, but most importantly
filled me with warmth about the Russians that I thought was not there. Nowhere to be seen were the “Icy Ivans” that
are so generalized everywhere. Just
warm, happy, engaging people who love their families. No pictures of this - these families were not a tourist attraction.
|Reflecting the Aspens, Birch and Siberian Pine|
A beeline back after extending a hand to a very nervous mother who lost two young teenage boys by giving her a ride to local authorities (the boys were found while we were enroute. The mother was left on the roadside crying happily as her party came to pick her up. We’ve seem mothers like this behave everywhere).
Back in the city we asked Konstantin to drop us at a local market so we could buy some train fare beyond just the noodles and dehydrated potatoes that were a staple on our last train leg. He took us to a massive new retail center with a huge supermarket. We bought pickled salads, vegetable dishes, cheese, crackers, Swiss chocolate and …. Russian Standard Vodka. Quite a haul.
We paid for a full night at the Hyatt even though we were not staying there just to have access to a shower, the internet, packing area, laundry, the Hyatt Regency club… pricey, but worth it. We enjoyed a light snack and dessert for a temporary anniversary dinner with a few glasses of Prosecca, checked out, Jaguared back to the train station, lumbered to our platform, role-reversed, and settled into our best berth yet for the 36-hour train journey to St. Petersburg.