Summer vacation, now on to Russia

Even Rough and Ready Tourists need a vacation.

In fact, we had had enough of being cooped up together in a tent and we were happy to get back to North America. We spent ten days visiting friends and family in San Francisco, Portland, Spokane, Indianapolis, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, which left us happy but still tired and coming down with colds.

So it was good that we had planned to take a month off at our family’s summer house on a lake two hours north of Toronto. Our family has owned this house for over 100 years and I’ve been going up every year since I was one. Although the lake has now become a fashionable retreat for the rich and famous, we’ve left our house the way it is. So it’s still a kind of rough and ready vacation.

It was also a special time to spend with our family. My father turned 90 just as we were finishing our trek in Ladakh, and my mother, brothers and family members all came up to have a belated birthday party. Some of our Canadian relatives were also able to attend. So it was a really special time.

One problem arose as we were closing up the house on our last day. Marcia pinched a nerve in her hip, and an hour later I took a spill and sprained my ankle. Either could have been a showstopper for our trek in Kyrgyzstan, which starts in only one week. But both injuries are now healing well and we don’t expect them to be a problem.

At the end of our time, we drove my parents back to their home in State College, Pennsylvania, then rushed immediately to JFK airport in New York, where we caught our next flight on Aeroflot to Moscow.

When dealing with New York traffic, no matter how much time you allow, it’s never enough. We got delayed by an accident at the George Washington Bridge, and we would have missed our flight if I hadn’t broken several traffic laws. When in New York, drive like a New Yorker.

Aeroflot took good care of us. Through no fault of theirs, thunderstorms and fog shut down JFK airport, and our 7pm flight wasn’t able to get in the air until 1am. They served dinner before takeoff, allowing us to get a good night’s sleep once we finally got in the air. And on arrival in Moscow, they quickly rebooked our connecting flight to St. Petersburg. The airplane was an almost-new Airbus. It almost makes one nostalgic for the soviet-era Tupolevs.

So now that we’re safely in St. Petersburg, our plan is to spend three days around town and two more in Moscow. We will then fly to Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan for the real start of our Central Asian adventure.

One note on the blog for this fall. Although I will do my best to post pictures, it is time-consuming and probably impossible in a part of the world that has slow internet service, if any at all. So rather than hold everything up until we get back to civilization, we will make it our priority to post text stories in real time with only occasional pictures. We have invested in a satellite phone, and we might even be able to use it to send quick updates from the mountains. We will post more pictures later on when we have the chance.

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