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Camped on the Volga

by Tyler

We slept in this morning, awakening when Russia's heat wave gathered enough steam to smother us inside our tent. After yesterday's accidental twelve hour marathon of sight-seeing, we wanted to take it easy. The plan was to drive to Kostroma, our next Golden Ring town. There, we'd skip the churches and find a nice air-conditioned place to settle into for the day instead.

Tara Brushing Her Teeth

On our way, we passed several of these cop-car decoys. Tara liked to imagine that they had been constructed by local school children. Her working theory is that the kids built the these in the hopes that their presence would save them from being plowed over by speeding traffic as they walked to the bus stop.

Smoky Road & Decoy Cop Car Russian Decoy Cop Car

The fake police weren't the only ones out in full force today, but they were about equal in their usefulness! We were pulled over again this afternoon. When the officer who had waved us down walked up to the car, he unceremoniously shoved his radar gun through the driver's window, and into my face. Then, he pointed at the readout which displayed that I was doing 89kph.

Russian Decoy Cop Car

After he was done gesturing importantly at his plastic gun, I looked at him blankly and handed over my passport. The limit was 80kph! This is roughly equivalent to speeding by 5mph. The whole encounter was pretty silly. There were cars blasting by us in the left lane all morning. In fact, we were being passed even as we were flagged down.

Passport in hand, the officer flipped through it, not really looking (or was he searching for a bribe?). When he found nothing which pleased him, he began pointing at it and asking questions. Next, I handed him our vehicle registration and offered, "I'm very sorry, but I don't speak Russian." When he heard this, he promptly shoved everything back into the car and walked away without another word.

Then, we sat there for a minute or two, confused. When I finally looked behind us, I saw that he'd already resumed clocking people with his radar gun. Apparently we were free to go. So, I tentatively drove away, and that was that. Is this really the extent of the evil, corrupt police force which we were led to believe we should be very worried about?

Obviously the corruption runs deep and affects areas other than simple moving violations, but I won't be doing anything subversive or protesting against Putin any time soon, so it seems like these concerns are moot. For us, anyway.

Though we didn't set out to see any churches today, we passed many:

Russian Church

They are everywhere in this part of Russia.

Russian Church Domes

Arriving in Kostroma, we rolled over a bridge spanning the Volga, into the city. There, we quickly found a nice coffeeshop with free wireless internet. It was called Hundertwasser: Coffee & Blah Blah Blah Odd! Inside, we sat down and got to work over a pair of cappuccinos.

Around 8PM, we left the city using our GPS to follow roads along the river Volga. We didn't find any secluded free-camps this time around, but we felt perfectly safe staking out our public turf along the bank. Not too far from us, plenty of others were doing the same. On one side of us, a group drank beer around a bonfire, on the other, a family dipped in and out of the river.

Along the Volga at Dusk

Tara's Note: Over the course of the past year and a bit, I've gotten used to swimming in lakes and rivers and streams and I love it. But for some reason, tonight of all nights, my fears came back to me, and I was very squeamish about the Volga. Everyone else was clearly enjoying it, but I was petrified as my feet sunk into the murky bank.

The resulting conversation as we swam went a little something like this:

Tyler *smiling and shaking his head* No it's a stick.
Tyler You're fine!
Me I think it was an EEL!
Tyler *laughing* No it wasn't, relax!

The Volga at Dusk

After our swim, we scaled the steep bank, getting our hands and feet dirty once more. After toweling ourselves dry, and wiping off the remaining mud stains, we sat down to cook spaghetti. I prepared the noodles, Tara made the sauce. As we ate together, overlooking the Volga, we both declared it had been a good day.



    Oh Tara! I can just see the river exchange between you and Tyler. Loved it. Made me laugh and love you two even more.
    Posted by Karina on August 12th, 2010 at 9:18 PM
    I'm shuffling around this morning and I end up on this journal entry. I've the same fear of bathing in river as you do Tara. Anaïs always laugh when I dip my foot into a stream and ask her while she's far in "Is there any crayfish? I don't want my toes to be cut off". The Shaftsbury lake near your house (yes, still the coldest most iciest memory of mine) is thriving with life. There's a ton of Yellow Perch and even water snake. So much diversity for me to scare away with growling and my arms in the air as they get closer.
    On another note, you folks take incredible picture! The one called Russian church is splendid. Remember the setup used to capture it? It is looking like you took it with a wide angle, am I right? We are currently looking for a new camera and i'm looking to add a lens type called Tilt-Shift. I don't know if you ever heard of this one but the process seems interesting, as it straighten up the curvy lines in wide view.

    I hope you're cosy inside your home right now!

    Posted by Carl on November 20th, 2014 at 8:27 AM