Notes from the Field

Day of Rest

August 27th, 2010 by Joanne Howl

Karsnoyarsk       56.2° N 92.5°E  

9:10 p.m. Local Siberia; 9:10 a.m. next day EST

High 69F   Low 42F    Rain

We are back to where we started – in comfortable rooms at the Hotel for Scientists in Krasnoyarsk.   We drove through the night and arrived here about 6:15 this morning.  Even at that early hour, we were graciously greeted us and received keys to our rooms right away.  After twenty two hours in the car, everyone was ready for a rest.  So that’s what the day has been – a day of rest.

The ride home from camp went a lot smoother than the ride out.  There was no car trouble at all.  The Gorilla Glue on the windshield held up nicely, even at highway speed.  All we had to do was gas up and drive.  I think that the UAZ was kind of like an old horse ready to get back to the barn – it was a real quick ride.

All the Americans hung out at the hotel today.  I slept until about 11 am, and then got a bite to eat.  I feel pretty good, for only have slept about four hours in the last 48.  There’s television here and I watched some of that. I don’t understand the language, but that’s okay – television is still entertaining.

After television, I thought I’d get on the internet and check in, to see what’s been going on in the world and catch up with work a bit.  That was a struggle.  I spent two hours trying to get a signal.  I have it now, but it’s not that great, so I’m not well connected with the world.

Ross and Bruce and I also got together to talk about the trip, how things went, and discuss what could go better in the future.  I guess you could call it a “hot wash”, but we just called it hanging out and talking.  It’s a useful thing to do on a quiet day.

When I got in last night, I wanted to wash my face.  I turned on the hot water faucet, wondering if the repairs to the system would be done, and if there would be any heat, or if it would be ice cold.  It was not really either.  The water was very slightly warm – slightly less than tepid, really.  I was too tired for a cold shower, so I just toweled off quickly and went to bed, with the hope that the slight touch of warmth meant that repairs had been finished and that things would be better soon.  

Sure enough, by this afternoon the hot water had been restored.  What a treat!  It’s always so nice to have a long, hot shower after expedition.  On the other hand, a cold shower can feel really brutal when you’re so weary.  I guess we are spoiled in America.  We expect warm water all the time, on demand, at the turn of a faucet. But I can tell you from experience, that’s just not the case in many places.  Warm water is a wonderful luxury. 

I think I’ve always been in Krasnoyarsk when the hot water has been turned off.  It seems that every expedition has been like this – no hot water either at the beginning or the end.  We’ve never had to have cold water on both ends, however.  Just the start or the end.  It must take the government a week or so to make the repairs and perform maintenance, then they turn the water back on.  I don’t know if the dates are scheduled in advance, so the locals know when they are going to get cold.  But we never know before we get here.  We just take whatever comes.

This is a pretty decent hotel, and it caters to foreigners with money.  When the hot water is turned off, someone with money can still get a warm shower. The hotel has a private shower downstairs, with an on-demand electrically heated private hot water system.  So it’s possible to get warm water, but you do have to pay extra for it.  I’ve tried it before, and it’s not that wonderful.  It’s just a trickle of water coming out of a wand-like thing so that you can run the water all over your body.  For an American, it’s really a pretty sad shower.  But, here, hot water is truly prized, and I’m sure it’s worth every ruble.

The plan from here is to get up tomorrow and go meet our Russian colleagues at the Sukachev Institute of Forest.  We’ll talk about the trip, make sure everyone had the data they need, and wrap up the expedition.  We’ll try to go out for a dinner together, to say good bye for this year.  Then, the next morning, we’ll catch a flight from Krasnoyarsk to Moscow, then one to home.  The Wild West Expedition of 2010 is just about complete.

It is early here, but the sun is down and a full moon has come up.  I guess the Northern pike will be biting, for anyone willing to go to the river, since their new teeth should be in by this full moon.  For me, it’s too far to go for fish soup. The pike can safely enjoy the moonlight and try their teeth on natural things, not lures.  I’m still tired from the long ride, and ready to turn in for the night.   Maybe another trip, in another year, we’ll meet the big pike with the fresh teeth.

2 Responses to “Day of Rest”

  1. Martha Jimenez Martinez says:

    He recibido los boletines de la NASA, me encantan, por que las imagenes son maravillosas, poder mirar la naturaleza, su fuerza y toda la belleza que le ofrece al ser humano, apesar del enorme daño que se le ocasiona.

    Yo les agradezco que ahora nos den la oportunidad de poder ver esas imagenes desde el espacio y el interior de nuestro planeta.

  2. Brian Latimer says:

    Hello all, B. T. Latimer here from Falmouth, MA. I’ve always been an admirer of those who go on expedition for NGS. In fact, so much so that in school I’m studying Physical Geography. The one reason this article in particular touched me and inspired my hasty comment is the expedition itself. My girlfriend since five years ago is Russian. Her Mom, a scientist at the Woods Hole Research group travels to Siberia multiple times per year to study Carbon in local flaura and fauna. She also studies sediments and water systems drawing together a picture of Carbon’s impact on life in the region. Everywhere I look, people close to me are discovering whole hearted endeavors which all coincide with bettering our knowledge of how to keep our planet healthy; a task which is achievable with the help of 6.7 billion of our closest friends. An expeditionist is what I want to be. Someone protecting and guiding those people willing to go to the ends of the earth to discover the fundamentle, but astounding, truths of Nature. Good luck to you in Siberia and I hope to see you there someday soon.