China: Yunnan: #10 More Exploring in Jianshui

So what else did we find as we explored the old part of Jianshui a little more? Let’s see.

 

DSC01007 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC01007 © DY of jtdytravels

This was the street scape opposite the gate to the Zhu Gardens.

DSC01006 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC01006 © DY of jtdytravels

The pomegranate seller made a wonderful still life photo. I wonder how many hours she just stood their hoping for someone to buy her fruit as they emerged from the gardens. It was getting late in the day and at least one basket was empty so maybe it had been worth her while.

DSC01011 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC01011 © DY of jtdytravels

There were still a few people out and about along the shopping street.

DSC01009 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC01009 © DY of jtdytravels

A china shop in China!

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DSC01012 © DY of jtdytravels

Glazed and unglazed storage jars.

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DSC01013 © DY of jtdytravels

The entrance to a ‘Foreign Nationals Hotel’.

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DSC01032 © DY of jtdytravels

A lot of thought goes into these manholes that incorporate a story.

DSC01035 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC01035 © DY of jtdytravels

Another decorated man hole.

DSC01042 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC01042 © DY of jtdytravels

A different sort of decoration… a web woven of electric cables!

DSC01030 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC01030 © DY of jtdytravels

A shop selling woks, steamers, brooms, hats and hardware items.

More electric cables decorate the roof… and they aren’t Christmas lights!

DSC01033 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC01033 © DY of jtdytravels

A REAL hardware shop

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DSC01034 © DY of jtdytravels

A larger house with a courtyard.

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DSC01044 © DY of jtdytravels

The old and the new, side by side.

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DSC01046 © DY of jtdytravels

Different strengths of rice wine are sold from these jars.

DSC01048 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC01048 © DY of jtdytravels

Street fruit market

DSC01052 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC01052 © DY of jtdytravels

Vegetable market…. bring your own shop on the back of a bike!

DSC01053 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC01053 © DY of jtdytravels

 

 

 

Delicious looking mushrooms

DSC01054 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC01054 © DY of jtdytravels

A wider variety of mushrooms… all look delicious… pity we can’t do any cooking.

DSC01049 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC01049 © DY of jtdytravels

Those mushrooms would taste really good with these cooked ‘chooks’.

DSC01061 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC01061 © DY of jtdytravels

Or maybe these succulent crispy ducks. Yum!

DSC01050 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC01050 © DY of jtdytravels

Could add some tofu as well.

DSC01051 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC01051 © DY of jtdytravels

Might rethink the tofu… not sure about smokers blowing smoke over the food

DSC01057 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC01057 © DY of jtdytravels

Thoughtful market seller

DSC01059 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC01059 © DY of jtdytravels

These dried chrysanthemum flowers are used to make chrysanthemum tea (pinyin).  The flowers are steeped in hot water 90-950C, (194-2030F).  Chrysanthemum tea is said to have many beneficial health properties.  In China it is used to recover from a sore throat, influenza and acne.  The flowers are also used as a compress to alleviate circulatory disorders such as varicose veins.

DSC01060 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC01060 © DY of jtdytravels

A potential buyer of the tea.

Then after our interesting exploration around the streets it was time for dinner. We found a cafe with a balcony and watched the city quieten down while we ate a delicious dinner.

DSC01070 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC01070 © DY of jtdytravels

The East Gate illuminated at night.

A wonderful sight at the end of a very special day in Jianshui.

David

All photographs copyright © DY  of  jtdytravels

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more of our travel stories and photos can be found on

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Russia : Kamchatka : #20 Kozyrevsk to Petropavlovsk

We had a long nine hour drive ahead of us today from Kozyrevsk back to Petropavlovsk. But as there were no tents to pack up, some of us decided to get up early and go for a walk around the town before breakfast.  It seemed a good idea to stretch the legs before such a long drive.  And we hadn’t really had a chance to explore one of these small frontier villages before.

The area around Kozyrevsk is in decline, as, indeed, are many of the places we’ve stayed in or passed through on the Kamchatkan Peninsula.  There was once a collective farm here growing vegetables on the rich volcanic soil, but that has gone.  There was also a small airport on the outskirts but it was closed in 1995 because of  low flight volumes and growing maintenance costs.  All that remains for the economy seems to be a helicopter base and the surrounding volcanoes that bring groups such as ours to the area.

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P1120537  © Dy  of  jtdytravels

P1120537 © Dy of jtdytravels

It was another clear day and we had a good view of the volcano that we had seen spurting out molten lava the evening before.  Now, in the daylight, all we could see  was the steam belching forth from the top.

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P1120530  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1120530 © DY of jtdytravels

It was obvious from the state of many of the houses, that people are leaving this small town to try their luck elsewhere.  There is certainly not much to keep them here.  I know, I wouldn’t like to live here . This house was having some work carried out on it – and not before time.  Perhaps these owners do have a job.

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P1120532  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1120532 © DY of jtdytravels

This is the traditional log method of construction – there’s a plentiful supply of logs in the forests.  Some of the caulking used between the logs to keep the place weather proof is coming loose on this building.

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P1120541  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1120541 © DY of jtdytravels

Maybe this house is beyond repair, but it gives an idea of layering construction.

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P1120531 © DY of jtdytravels

Doors are often made a feature of a building.

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P1120540 © Dy of jtdytravels

A general view down the street.

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P1120539 © DY of jtdytravels

Not all houses were derelict.  Some were obviously the pride and joy of their owners.

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P1120542 © DY of jtdytravels

On the better maintained houses, intricate carved wooden decorations have been used.

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P1120546 © DY of jtdytravels

This one added a trophy of antlers.

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P1120555 © DY of jtdytravels

With a long, very cold winter ahead, many houses had stockpiles of firewood.

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P1120549  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1120549 © DY of jtdytravels

As usual, I found a plant to photograph; this one a delicate clematis sp.

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P1120552  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1120552 © DY of jtdytravels

The glorious colours of this clematis stood out against a brilliant blue sky.

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P1120553  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1120553 © DY of jtdytravels

And I couldn’t help myself… there was yet another mushroom photo for my collection!

But this was to be the last one…

Our adventure in Kamchatka was coming to an end.

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P1120561  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1120561 © DY of jtdytravels

Back at the resort, I noticed their well stocked vegie garden.

The good volcanic soil here helps people to be at least somewhat self sufficient.

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After breakfast, we hit the road… with a final salute from the volcano!

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P1120563  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1120563 © DY of jtdytravels

Within an hour of being on the road, we stopped.  The driver’s side of the split windscreen had been shattered by a stone.  To our amazement, Toly climbed onto the roof and took out a spare one!

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P1120564  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1120564 © DY of jtdytravels

Windscreen in hand, the job was all but done.  The whole operation took just forty-five minutes and we were under way again.

It stands to reason that a spare should be carried since there is no possibility of getting one repaired on the road.  I can’t begin to imagine what it would be like to drive in the wintertime when temperatures drop to below -30°C – definitely brass monkey weather!

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P1120565  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1120565 © DY of jtdytravels

Although not a lot of vehicles travel these roads, each one poses a stone-throwing threat.

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P1120568 © DY of jtdytravels

With clearer weather, this time we did see some of the volcanoes that lined our route.

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P1120571  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1120571 © DY of jtdytravels

There doesn’t seem to be anywhere too far from a volcano on this peninsula.

Here, we were just coming back towards civilisation and Petropavlovsk.

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P1120579  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1120579 © DY of jtdytravels

An orthodox church amongst a group of small houses.

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P1120572 © DY of jtdytravels

Finally, at 18h30, we arrived back at the Geyser Hotel and that view of PK Harbour.

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P1120575  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1120575 © DY of jtdytravels

The fishing fleet was in. I looked forward to enjoying some of their catch for our dinner.

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P1120577  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1120577 © DY of jtdytravels

After a much needed shower, we walked up the street on our way to dinner.

The sky over the bay was particularly attractive.

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P1120582  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1120582 © DY of jtdytravels

And there, in view as always, were volcanoes!

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P1120583  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1120583 © DY of jtdytravels

This most certainly is the land of fire and ice.

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P1120584  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1120584 © DY of jtdytravels

Our walk took us to rather nice restaurant which did indeed serve lots of seafood dishes. We enjoyed our meal, which apart from breakfast the next morning, was our last meal together as a group.

Dessert was a rather fitting, local concoction – ice-cream with ‘bear berries’, a blend of lingonberries and crowberries.  This dish encapsulated the tour for me; the red of molton lava, the ice capped volcanoes and, of course, bears and berries.  And I’m sure there was a mushroom or two in our main meal as well.

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David

All Photography Copyright ©  David Young of jtdytravels

Some of our other travel stories and photos can be found on:

www.jtdytravels.com

and

www.jtlifesgood.wordpress.com

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Russia : Kamchatka : # 19 Tolbachik to Kozyrevsk

The was the last day of our Tolbachik Volcano Region excursion.  We were up early for breakfast at 08h00 as it had been decided to break camp a day early.  The weather had been so inclement and, with almost everyone still suffering from the effects of the head cold, we would drive back down off the high country onto the plain below to the small village of Kozyrevsk.  There we could at least sleep the night in a bed rather than a tent.  And, hopefully, there would be some warm water for a good wash which, by now, was desperately needed.

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P1120408  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1120408 © DY of jtdytravels

Much to our pleasure and surprise, the day had dawned very crisp and frosty with an absolutely clear sky.  And what a sight met our eyes!  There, beyond the hill that sheltered our camp, was the dormant Ostry Tolbachik Volcano in all her magnificent glory.  For the previous two days, she had been obscured by fog, mist and cloud.  She did exist after all.

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P1120418  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1120418 © DY of jtdytravels

 After breakfast, we decided to climb the hill behind the campsite.

That would give time for our tents to thaw and dry out before packing.

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P1120411  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1120411 © DY of jtdytravels

As I walked I noticed a footprint in the frosty cinders.  This reminded me that the way to help this place stay so special is for visitors to take only photos and leave only footprints. We also need to be careful not to walk on vulnerable colonising plants.

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P1120414  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1120414 © DY of jtdytravels

Although it was a very enjoyable walk in the sunshine, we couldn’t stay there all day, so headed back to the camp to pack up ready to move off for the last time.

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P1120421  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1120421 © DY of jtdytravels

We left camp at 10h40 and headed back to the two cinder cones where we had stopped a couple of days earlier on our way up to the Tolbachik camp site.  For those who had decided not to climb one of them before, now was their opportunity.  I think that the cauldron experience of the previous day was enough to spur them on, although the rewards here would be nothing compared with that. However, the views would be better than on the first day now that the weather was quite clear.  I’d been up the cinder cone before, so I decided not to climb up there for a second time.  Instead, I walked back along the track we had come on to photograph the Tolbachik volcanoes from a different point of view.  And that was well worth the walk!

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P1120422  ©  Dy  of  jtdytravels

P1120422 © Dy of jtdytravels

I zoomed in for a closer look.  She was picture postcard perfect!

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P1120434  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1120434 © DY of jtdytravels

How fickle is the weather!  What a difference a day makes.  This was just Magic.

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P1120437  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1120437 © DY of jtdytravels

It was hard to leave Tolbachik now that the weather was so superb.  But the decision had been made and we had broken camp.  The drive back down along that very rough bush track on our way to the main north/south road would be my last chance to find any new specimens for my collections of flowers and fungi.  And I was not disappointed from a mushroom and toadstool point of view.  There were hundreds and hundreds of them, more than I’ve ever seen before.  Thankfully, the crew stopped to collect some varieties of mushrooms for our meals.  That gave me the chance to find and photograph some different specimens.  Again, I don’t know their names (yet) but I’ll add the photos here for you to enjoy them, too.

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P1120435 © DY of jtdytravels

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P1120436 © DY of jtdytravels

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P1120438 © DY of jtdytravels

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P1120439 © DY of jtdytravels

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P1120442 © DY of jtdytravels

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P1120444 © DY of jtdytravels

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P1120445 © DY of jtdytravels

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P1120451 © DY of jtdytravels

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P1120460 © DY of jtdytravels

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P1120457 © DY of jtdytravels

Looking up, it was obvious that this tree had its fair share of caterpillars!

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P1120481  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1120481 © DY of jtdytravels

We moved on and stopped once more at the braided river for a rest and a cuppa.

Vika again helped in the preparation and clean-up.

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P1120467  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1120467 © DY of jtdytravels

This time, we could actually see the surrounding ice capped volcanoes

This was our lucky last chance to see them!

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P1120466  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1120466 © DY of jtdy travels

The volcano on the left was belching smoke, just one of those 29 active volcanoes on the peninsula.  It’s views like this that makes Kamchatka a very special place for an adventure holiday.  It’s a long way from anywhere, but well worth the journey.

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P1120476  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1120476 © DY of jtdytravels

Perfection plus!

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P1120488  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1120488 © DY of jtdytravels

The cloud descended further, becoming saucer shaped and obscuring the top of the volcano.  We had stopped here at just the right time to enjoy the full, glorious scene. Too soon, it was time to tear ourselves away from the beauty of this area and move on.

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P1120490  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1120490 © DY of jtdytravels

When we hit the North/South road we turned north for a few kilometres until we came to the settlement of Kozyrevsk where we would spend the night.  A stop at the mini market for a bottle or two of beer was, of course, a necessity.

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P1120494  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1120494 © DY of jtdytravels

The small ‘resort’ we stayed in here consisted of 5 A-framed buildings each of which slept two people.  There was some other accommodation but that had all been booked.  I suppose we would have had to pitch our tents if this place had been full.

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P1120493  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1120493 © DY of jtdytravels

No single rooms here either, so once again I shared, this time with Rosemary.

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P1120491 © DY of jtdytravels

The resort belonged to this house which had a banya – the Russian version of a sauna.  This was fired up for us and it was absolutely delightful after the lack of warm water over the last 4-5 days.  In fact it was a bit too hot.  I began to realise that all this changing from hot to cold, whether it be from walking up volcanoes and getting sweaty, to standing by a fire, to warm sleeping bags, to the banya; none of this was helping us to shed the dreaded lurgy which all but one of the group, including the crew, had eventually caught.

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P1120495  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1120495 © DY of jtdytravels

Now that we were cleaner and warmer, dinner was a time of good cheer after the enjoyment of our first sunny day for quite awhile.  And there was another plus.  By coming down to this town, the drive back to PK had been cut by four hours.  Even so, the next day’s drive of some 500 kms from Kozyrevsk to PK would still take about nine hours.  Not the most pleasant of thoughts.  But then, it was worth it to have had the experience of being in this wild, wilderness area.

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P1120527  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1120527 © DY of jtdytravels

Then, as the light faded from the sky and we began to think about bed and a good night’s sleep, we were treated to the sight of a spectacular ribbon of molten lava streaming down a distant volcano.  Apparently the volcano had only begun erupting four days earlier.  This spectacle was a bit far away for a good photograph but it was nonetheless impressive.  It was a fitting end to a good day of sightseeing in the land of ice and fire.

David

All Photography Copyright ©  David Young of jtdytravels

More of our travels diaries and photos can be found on

www.jtdytravels.com

and

www.jtlifesgood.wordpress.com

.

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Russia : Kamchatka : #16 Esso to Tolbachik Volcanic Region

Our destination today was a volcano in the Tolbachik Volcano Region which last erupted in 2012 – only last year!  To see where that is on the Kamchatkan Peninsula, let’s have another look at that map provided by our tour company, Silk Road Adventures. (www.silkroad.co.nz)

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P1120637  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

Map Courtesy of Silk Road Adventures

Leaving  Esso, we headed back out to the main North/South Kamchatkan road.  We then drove north on that road before turning off to the east onto another of those all too familiar rough bush tracks.  This one was really only wide enough for a conventional 4WD, not our monster of a 6WD truck.  With the combination of bushes and trees banging against the side of the vehicle and the continual lurching due to the very rough track, it was hard to stay seated in any comfort at all.  Holding on tight, we knew that we were in for another adventure.

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P1120225  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1120225 © DY of jtdytravels

When we came, thankfully, to a stop, it was in the middle of a braided river.  Why here?  Usually, there is a superb view of volcanoes from here.  But today, clouds, unfortunately, blocked out any long distance view from this site.

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P1120229 © DY of jtdytravels

We were back into icy cold, melt water territory.

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P1120231 © DY of jtdytravels

This rather unlikely place was where we had our lunch!

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P1120268 © DY of jtdytravels

Our next stop was to collect some firewood for the evening fire.  From here, we were told, we would turn onto the beginning of the bad road.  So the other road was a good road, was it?  We had arrived at the area of the 2012 Tolbachik Volcano eruption.  The red blotch on the map represents the lava flow. The finger of lava to the left had completely cut off the road to our destination.  Our track had been bulldozed through the bush below the lava.  We were heading to make our camp site at the blue square marker to the left of the large deep pink blob.

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P1120241  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1120241 © DY of jtdytravels

The new ‘track’ through the forest was nothing better than a goat track through the bush, something you could expect of a logging track back home.

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P1120243 © DY of jtdytravels

And there, right beside the track, was the end of the lava flow.

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P1120242 © DY of jtdytravels

Another photo of the end of the lava flow as seen through these multi-stemmed birch.

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P1120257  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1120257 © DY of jtdytravels

I walked to the end of the lava flow to find it was actually a collection of small to large rocks – definitely not solid.  I was scrambling onto the very loose pile for a better position to take a photo, when I noticed, above me, a very large rock which, had it started to roll, would have taken me to oblivion!  I beat a hasty, but very careful, retreat.

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P1120253  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1120253 © DY of jtdytravels

This was a perfect area to search for mushrooms and fungi to add to my collection of photos.  And I was right.  There were lots of new varieties we hadn’t seen before.  Some of these were collected by our crew for inclusion in our meals.  I sincerely hoped they knew what they were doing because they all looked poisonous to me.  I don’t know their names; maybe some day I’ll find someone who can help me to identify them.  Until then, let’s just enjoy the variety created by nature.

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P1120233 © DY of jtdytravels

A delightful little parasol.

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P1120234 © DY of jtdytravels

This one with a lovely frilly skirt seemed to dance like a ballerina!

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P1120240 © DY of jtdytravels

There were several fungi growing on the tree trunks, too.

Another case of looking up as well as looking down when plant hunting.

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P1120245 © DY of jtdytravels

Bracket fungus like these usually indicate the demise of the host.

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P1120244 © DY of jtdytravels

This one was definitely a little showpiece!

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P1120248 © DY of jtdytravels

All these mushrooms and fungi thrived on the decaying litter in the forest.

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P1120250 © DY of jtdytravels

I was certainly gathering more specimen photos for my Fungi of Kamchatka collection.

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P1120252 © DY of jtdytravels

This specimen was quite gelatinous.

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P1120254 © DY of jtdytravels

A delightful mushroom study in nature’s forest garden.

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P1120256 © DY of jtdytravels

Blow flies seemed to like the moist top of these mushrooms!

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P1120263 © DY of jtdytravels

More lurching from left and right and back to front saw us arrive at this flat ash area.

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P1120265 © DY of jtdytravels

Another good spot for a leg-stretch and a bit of an explore.

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P1120266 © DY of jtdytravels

All that yellow colour was, in fact, a carpet of moss.  It seems to really like this area which is completely covered in a very deep layer of dark grey volcanic ash

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P1120260 © DY of jtdytravels

Right in the middle of the track,  I found yet another mushroom!  You know that song about ‘a lonely little petunia in the onion patch’, well this mushroom was much lonelier than that.  Although there was a little bit of moss for company.

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P1120270 © DY of jtdytravels

Late in the day, we stopped at a site which just emerged out of the fog from seemingly nowhere.  I’m glad Toly knew where he was going.  Now, this was not just another comfort and stretch your legs stop.  This was where we were to set up our tents for the night!  Here, on this ash?  OK. The ash and scoria looked dirty but in fact it brushed off your hands just like sand.

The trouble was that when we erected our tents, the flimsy pegs had to be anchored down with rocks –  the pegs wouldn’t hold on their own in the loose scoria particularly if the wind came up.  Note the beer filled water bottle in front of my tent!  It would stay nice and cold out there by the tent flap.  It was obviously going to be pretty cold here over-night.

Add to the fog – it started raining in earnest.  Since we were camped at over 1300m, the temperature was expected to drop to well below zero.  Our pre-tour notes said the temperatures we could expect on the whole tour would range between +10 to 30°C, so I brought an appropriate sleeping bag for those conditions.  I managed at the Ichinsky camp, as I’ve already explained, but I was somewhat afraid I did not have a sufficiently warm sleeping bag for the conditions in the mountains.  I had said that I wanted to buy a blanket when we were in Esso.  That would solve the problem I knew was coming when we headed higher into the mountains.  However, I was told that extra sleeping bags would be sent to us.  At 18h00, with the rain and fog outside, the promised sleeping bags still hadn’t arrived from Petropavlovsk, a journey of some thirteen hours.  I had decided to put on most of the clothes I brought with me in order to be warm.  Mind you, I would look like the Michelin man and not able to move.  But hopefully I’d be warm enough.

As bed time came closer and still no sleeping bags in sight, the crew decided to give us their sleeping bags and they would all sleep in the truck.  It had kerosene heating.  The driver slept in there all the time on one of the four bunk beds.  Now all the bunks were going to be used and we were all going to be warm – it was not only me who admitted they were not feeling very warm.

The whole camp slept warmly.  I certainly did.  BUT, all trussed up in extra clothing, sheet-sleeping bag and zipped up sleeping bag it took around 15 minutes to go to the loo in the middle of the night!  I wish somebody would invent a zipper for a sleeping bag that worked with ease – every time.  It always seems to be a struggle to get the damn thing to move either way and not get caught up in the lining.  Achieving an opening or closing with cold fingers just makes the task even harder.  Then it’s a real wriggle to get out of the sleeping bag sheet and sleeping bag, find something to put on your feet, crawl to the zipper on the tent fly, unzip that, and all this is just to get out of the tent!  A fumble around in the dark, the job done, and the whole cumbersome task has to be completed in reverse before trying to go back to sleep.  Fun?  Not!  And added to that, it rained most of the night with only slight pauses here and there.  We were well and truly back in outdoor wilderness camp mode.  But that’s all part of an adventure such as this.  I went to sleep hoping that the rain would ease for our walk to the volcano later that morning.

David

Russia : Kamchatka : #15 Forays into the Forest

29th August and our last day in the Esso area.  ‘Twas a very foggy morning that didn’t promise good things.  But the plan for the day looked interesting.  A morning drive out of town to forage in the forest;  then, after lunch, a drive to an ethnic village to experience a cultural dance and music show put on by some of the local young people.

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P1120134  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1120134 © DY of jtdytravels

I mentioned the rough roads!

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P1120125  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1120125 © DY of jtdytravels

We made our way slowly to a hill on the other side of yesterday’s small lake.

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P1120126  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1120126 © DY of jtdytravels

The fog/mist was lifting as we reached this summit.  The forest stretched to the horizon and further.  The dead trees were a result of a wild fire that went through the area about a decade ago.  They were probably dead Pinus pumila.

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P1120127  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1120127 © DY of jtdytravels

Further around and we could actually see the river snaking its way through the forest.  By now, though, the weather had definitely changed for the worse.  It was 100% overcast and it felt as though the wind was blowing straight from Siberia, having originated somewhere above the Arctic Circle.  This was not very good at all for our rumbly chests.

And, by the way, those  ‘alcoholic medicines’ hadn’t worked.   I was still feeling anything but 100%.  Maybe I needed more? Alcohol, that is!

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P1120124  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1120124 © DY of jtdytravels

There were signs of bears, the most tangible evidence were footprints in the mud.  Again, we knew they were around but we didn’t see them.  Thankfully, and hopefully, they were already full of salmon for their winter hibernation and were generally only interested in the berries that were ripening everywhere.  We liked the berries too, so we were doing the bears out of some of their vitamin C.  We just hoped that our foraging for berries didn’t make them angry!  But in reality, there were plenty of berries to share.

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P1120128  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1120128 © DY of jtdytravels

Even though most plants here had finished flowering for the short summer season, I did find some more plants and fungi to add to my growing collection of photos of the Flora of Kamchatka.  This little beauty is Ledum palustre  also known as Marsh Labrador Tea.

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P1120129  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1120129 © DY of jtdytravels

In this part of the forest there were several types of fungi growing on the tree trunks.

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P1120131  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1120131 © DY of jtdytravels

Again, there seemed to be mushrooms and toadstools everywhere; a sure sign of autumn.  Most of the ground mushrooms had almost finished their task and were beginning to wrinkle and wither.  Spring, summer and autumn are all short seasons here.  All plants have to make the most of the brief time to grow and reproduce.  Winter is long and hard.

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P1120132  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1120132 © DY of jtdytravels

Leathery and wrinkled.  All part of the ageing process, isn’t it?

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P1120141  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1120141 © DY of jtdytravels

All around us was evidence of past volcanic activity.

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P1120152  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1120152 © DY of jtdytravels

A climbing Aconitum species;  possibly Aconitum fischeri var.arcuatum or Aconitum alboviolaceum.  I’d never seen a climbing, twining Aconitum species before.  Intriguing.

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P1120151  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1120151 © DY of jtdytravels

The plant contains poisonous aconite, but according to ancient Chinese medical lore, it can be used in the treatment of colds, coughs, and fevers.  Perhaps that’s what we all needed a dose of.   However, if the dosage is not carefully measured, prepared, and used – if the measure used is even in the slightest degree inaccurate – aconite is pure poison.  Best left alone!  Just put up with the cold and chestiness.

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P1120140  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1120140 © DY of jtdytravels

Poisonous this plant maybe, but the flower is a delight.

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P1120143  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1120143 © DY of jtdytravels

And what about these beauties growing in the undergrowth.  A species of Amanita.

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P1120150  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1120150 © DY of jtdytravels

And this is one of the most recognisable toadstools, the quintessential fairy home, an Amanita sp.  I looked, but I didn’t see any fairies sheltering under this umbrella. Maybe they were just shy!

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P1120148  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1120148 © DY of jtdytravels

Interesting bark of Betula platyphylla ; Flat-leaved Birch

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It had been a good morning in the forest despite the rough tracks.  We called back to the hotel for a quick lunch.  While there, I checked on the flashing EXIT sign in our room.  And, yes.  It was still flashing!

During dinner the previous evening,  the babushka who runs the hotel came into the eating area with a young man at heel who proceeded to check the fire detection units attached to the ceiling.   We’d noticed earlier that the ‘EXIT’ sign in our room was flashing continuously, but of course, took no notice.  There were no flashing lights or sirens and definitely no smoke or flames!  Thirty something hours later the ‘EXIT’ sign was still flashing and still there was no sign of smoke or fire.  We would no doubt sleep peacefully again for another night under the flashing light.  I have no idea what the matter was, nor do I expect to find out.  Where were we?

P1120159  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1120159 © DY of jtdytravels

After lunch we drove for about 25 kms to another part of the forest to visit an ethnic village.  Near the entrance track to the village we saw this colourful sight.  Whatever the faith of these local people, they believed in using prayer flags made of strips of material to send their thanks and entreaties to their god/gods.

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P1120158  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1120158 © DY of jtdytravels

Here, we were greeted by a lady of the village who turned out to be the ‘mother-figure’ of the group of young people we had come to see perform.

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P1120160  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1120160 © DY of jtdytravels

After her welcome, we followed a track to the village passing totem poles which stood proudly at the entrance of the village site.  Tents could just be seen through the trees.

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P1120163  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1120163 © DY of jtdytravels

In the village area, we saw some interesting carvings placed here and there on the grass.

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P1120162  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1120162 © DY of jtdytravels

I quite liked this otter sculpture.

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P1120198  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1120198 © DY of jtdytravels

The dances were to be performed on a slightly raised platform.  The dance group consisted of 9 dancers who ranged in age from 12 to 30.   Dressed in traditional ethnic costumes, they performed some lovely dances.  They were introduced by the lady we had met earlier and she did a great job of involving us in her stories.

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P1120190  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1120190 © DY of jtdytravels

They were an enthusiastic group and seemed to have a lot of fun while dancing.   And while they danced, I took photos of some of the young people showing more closeups of their costumes and bead decorations.

P1120168  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1120168 © DY of jtdytravels

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P1120180 © DY of jtdytravels

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P1120192 © DY of jtdytravels

It had been a very interesting visit in this lovely setting in the forest.  After that pleasant interlude, it was back to the hotel for a hot tub, dinner and bed.  But before got to sleep, the four of us in my room were disturbed by the arrival of two of our other lady travellers!   Their room, they said, was unbearably hot, just like ours was on arrival night.  OK.  Their mattresses were soon wedged into our room, on the floor.  So now I had five women in my boudoir!  Oh the joys of adventure travel!

I thought I might have been able to send an email to Jennie from here to let her know that we were all OK.  Not so.  This is the longest time I’ve ever been in any country that I’ve visited, even off the beaten track ones,  where there has been absolutely no internet access possible.  This area of Russia is really so remote.  It is just over 7000km to Moscow – and that’s as the crow flies.  There is no linking road from Kamchatka to Moscow and all travel in that direction is by boat and/or plane.

Do they have TV?  Well, yes, but not here in this guesthouse.  We did have a TV in our hotel room in PK but all programmes were of Russian origin so it was a futile attempt to turn it on because all the titles are in Cyrillic script, which of course I don’t understand.

No. The world, with all its modern technology, could have completely disappeared for all I knew, or in fact cared.  For me all that existed at the moment was our little bit of paradise in the wilderness of Kamchatka.

David

All Photography Copyright ©  David Young of  jtdytravels

Our other travel stories and photos can be found on:

www.jtdytavels com

and

www.jtlifesgood.wordpress.com

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Russia : Kamchatka : #11 Bystrinsky Nature Park (b)

Our exploration of the Bystrinsky Nature Park continued with the backdrop of some of the mountains and volcanoes that we hoped to explore in the next few days.  But for now, it was all about finding plants and small ‘critters’ in the forest and in the wild meadows.

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P1110896  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1110896 © DY of jtdytravels

I wandered away from the road and began to explore these wild ‘meadows’.

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P1110882 © DY of jtdytravels

We were each engrossed in our own wanderings and findings…

… all thoroughly enjoying the day.

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P1110885  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1110885 © DY of jtdytravels

New growth buds of Rhododendron aureum ; Goldish Rhododendron

  Their golden yellow flowers had all finished weeks before.

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P1110890  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1110890 © DY of jtdytravels

Seed capsules of  Rhododendron aureum ; Goldish Rhododendron

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P1110889  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1110889 © DY of jtdytravels

Skeletal patterns of a decaying leaf.

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P1110893  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1110893 © DY of jtdytravels

Seed of one of the Willow Herb family.

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P1110892  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1110892 © DY of jtdytravels

 A beautiful, golden scalloped mushroom.

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P1110891_2  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1110891_2 © DY of jtdytravels

A closer look at that delicate cap.

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P1110894  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1110894 © DY of jtdytravels

What’s the collective term for these Inkcap Mushrooms…. a huddle of mushrooms?

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P1110895  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1110895 © DY of jtdytravels

The Coprinoid family of mushrooms, or “Inky caps”, are fascinating mushrooms.  They are saprobes, that is, they assist in the decomposition of wood, dung, grassy debris, forest litter, and so on.  Most of the species have black spore prints and gills that liquefy, at least partially, as the mushroom matures.  The resulting “ink” provides the common name for the inky caps, and can actually be used as writing ink.

But the mushrooms, of course, do not have the production of ink for writing in mind!  Rather, liquefying the gills is a clever strategy for dispersing spores more efficiently.  The gills liquefy from the bottom up as the spores mature.  Thus the cap peels up and away, and the maturing spores are always kept in the best position for catching wind currents.  As this happens, the shape of the cap progresses from more or less oval (when seen from the side) to broadly bell-shaped and, eventually, more or less flat as the spores nearest to the stem are exposed to the air currents.”

{Notes from www.mushroomExpert.com}

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P1110900  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1110900 © DY of jtdytravels

There was lots more to explore but the time had come to rejoin the truck.

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P1110903  ©  DY   of  jtdytravels

P1110903 © DY of jtdytravels

We were to meet by a bridge over a stream.  There, on the stoney bank, I found

this purple daisy, Lagedium sibiricum ; Siberian Lettuce with attendant aphids.

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P1110905  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1110905 © DY of jtdytravels

Our driver, Toly, had filled in his waiting time by fishing from the bank of the cold mountain stream below the bridge.  But his fishing produced only one loach.   One loach between 16 wouldn’t go far, so it was suggested it might go into a soup.  We climbed on board the truck and headed back towards the camp and lunch.

Along the way, one of the group spotted a bear bounding off into the distance which enlivened us all.  But that was to be the end of bear sightings on that outing.  Better luck later we hoped.

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P1110908  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1110908 © DY of jtdytravels

The stream bubbled its way through the forest.

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P1110914  ©  DY   of jtdytravels

P1110914 © DY of jtdytravels

Toly stopped again as we crossed the river just a few hundred metres from our camp site.  If we needed more fish, he said, he would fix the problem.  And he did just that, well and truly.  He dragged in fish after fish with a little help from our guide.  In around 20 minutes there were 10 fish lying on the bank.  I’ve never seen so many fish being caught from a river in such numbers in such a short time.  The fish were gutted and cleaned on the spot to be presented to our cooks on our arrival back in camp.

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P1110910  ©  DY  f  jtdytravels

P1110910 © DY f jtdytravels

While they fished, I found these elegant mushrooms by the side of the stream.

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P1110913  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1110913 © DY of jtdytravels

A peep under that ‘skirt’.

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P1110798  ©  DY  of jtdytravels

P1110798 © DY of jtdytravels

Empetrum nigrum ; Crowberry, a valuable medicinal and food plant.

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Lunch was served shortly afterwards.  Today it consisted of soup, bread and fresh salad.  Some fresh jam had been made from berries collected around the campsite while we were away.  This jam added some life to the bread.  The driver produced some local beer which he had bought at the last stop.  Beer like this is dispensed into soft drink bottles for transport.  It was good.  More sweet biscuits, chocolates and wafers finished off the meal along with tea or coffee.

After a rest, we headed off again for a walk, this time from the camp site itself.  We found some more interesting plants, some in flower.  And, we did see some bear pooh!  So they were obviously around!  But we didn’t see any actual bears.  That was probably a good thing since our tents were rather flimsy things.  I’m sure that if a bear had wanted to enter, it would not prove to be a problem.

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P1110920  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1110920 © DY of jtdytravels

Ptarmica camtschatica; Kamchatka Sneezewort

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P1110926  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1110926 © DY of jtdytravels

Parnassia palustris, commonly called Marsh Grass-of-Parnassus, Northern Grass-of-Parnassus, and Bog-star.

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P1110935  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1110935 © DY of jtdytravels

Seed head of Dryas punctata;  White Mountain-Avens, a member of the rose family

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P1110930  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1110930 © DY of jtdytravels

A caterpillar well camouflaged with its host plant.

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P1110931  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1110931 © DY of jtdytravels

A brightly coloured caterpillar blending in with the greens and shade.

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P1110929  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1110929 © DY of jtdytravels

Our crew knew which mushrooms were edible and we often found them in our meals, especially in soup.   After wandering about for about an hour and a half, we headed back to camp to relax a little before just such a meal.

I broke out the two bottles of beer I’d bought the day before and shared them with Heather.  Very pleasant it was too, sitting at the entrance to my tent as the sun slowly sank in the west and as the cloud that hung around the top of the nearby volcano slowly dissipated.

Dinner consisted of a clear fish soup with large chunks of potato.  This was followed by our recently caught fish.  Flour dusted, shallow fried, no more than a couple of hours from swimming in that stream; you can’t get fish much fresher than that.  We’d been told by the crew that the loach was regarded by the locals as only good for soup.  But I guess when there are six different kinds of salmon available, all equally fresh, a secondary fish like loach is thought to be somewhat inferior; only good for soup.  Not so, we thought.  It tasted fantastic to us.  With more chocolates and sliced fresh apples and orange along with tea and coffee to follow, we again left the table more than adequately fed.

Not-withstanding this great day and good feed, I was a little out of sorts that night as I prepared for bed.  Why so?  At one of our stops earlier during the day a mozzie had bitten me on my upper lip.  The blighter packed quite a punch I can tell you.  My lip became quite swollen and felt as though I’d just been to the dentist.  Not pleasant.  It took some hours to subside, but I’m pleased to say there were no lasting side effects, although – I did develop a funny twitch, and a droopy eyelid, and my mouth twisted to one side, and I kept falling over….

David

All Photography Copyright ©  David Young of jtdytravels

More of our travel stories and photos are on :

www.jtdytravels.com

Russia : Kamchatka : #10 Bystrinsky Nature Park (a)

After the long, 400km drive from Petropavlovsk, it was a relief to know that we would be walking for much of the day, exploring Bystrinsky Nature Park.  This was a more forested area, so we hoped to find some different types of plants.

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P1110788   ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1110788 © DY of jtdytravels

I had thought that it might be a cold night at Ichinsky Camp when I saw how much snow was on the mountain behind the campsite, and I was right.  It was cold.  When I got up at 06h30, I noticed that the small bottle of water for hand washing at the entrance to the mess tent had a frozen surface.

I’m not one to usually feel the cold, but when I’d gone to bed at around 22h30, I’d put on a tee shirt under my polo shirt.  This was topped with my woollen jumper and then my fleecy top.  I wriggled into my sheet sleeping bag, then into my sleeping bag proper and then covered the lot up with my towel and wind/waterproof jacket.  I was as snug as a bug in a rug even though I could barely move, all trussed up like the Michelin man.  I made only one foray into the cold at 01h30 – the cold was obviously having its effect!  I slept well though.

And another thing that concerned me.  The first sign of that head cold, the one that I’d been trying to avoid, had reared its ugly head and I had a sore throat.  Would it develop, I wondered?  Probably.

A bit after eight, which was nearly an hour earlier than the programmed time, our crew appeared.  They would have heard us up and about, and ready to go!  They had probably wanted to sleep-in and I can perhaps understand why when it’s that cold in the middle of their summer.  I don’t even want to think about their winters!  Some hot porridge warmed us and there were the usual two types of bread, cheese, jam, cold meat, tea and coffee.

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P1110802  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1110802 © DY of jtdytravels

We set off about nine and drove for awhile.  Was this what we’d come all that way to see?

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P1110834 © DY of jtdytravels

The truck pulled up in a scrubby, treed area.  Now it was time to walk, each at our own pace, although we did have a time and a place to meet again further down the road.  The same willow and poplars predominated.  What had seemed rather boring from the truck as we drove by, proved to be anything but boring.  Although I didn’t find many flowering plants that I hadn’t previously photographed,exploring this area at walking pace produced some interesting finds including a half a dozen different caterpillars with as many different toadstools and mushrooms.   I don’t know their names but I can share them with you and hope you feel as though you are out there exploring with me.

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P1110805  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1110805 © DY of jtdytravels

My first mushroom find.

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P1110808  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1110808 © DY of jtdytravels

What a fascinating mushroom cap!

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P1110810  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1110810 © DY of jtdytravels

A delightful natural garden of fungi and moss.

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P1110811  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1110811 © DY of jtdytravels

These looked edible but one is never sure…. so best leave them alone.

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P1110813  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1110813 © DY of jtdytravels

This intriguing flower, Aconitum sp., is one species of a large group of Aconitum plants which are aptly named Monkshood or, sometimes, Devilshood.  Also known as ‘Queen of Poisons’, the botanic name Aconitum comes from the Greek, meaning ‘without struggle’.  Toxins, extracted from the plant, were used as a poison to kill wolves and leopards in times passed and for that reason it was also given the common names of Wolf’s bane and Leopard’s bane.

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P1110814  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1110814 © DY of jtdytravels

This was bear country so we had to keep eyes and ears open …

just in case we disturbed a bear enjoying the berries;  be we so lucky!

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P1110812  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1110812 © DY of jtdytravels

Demar, our crew’s gofer, followed along at the rear of the group with a flare in case we were bothered by a bear.  He also had a shrill sounding whistle and some fire-cracker bungers.  But, unfortunately or otherwise, they were not needed.

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P1110820  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1110820 © DY of jtdytravels

There were a variety of berries in the scrub to entice bears to forage, however, if humans eat these berries, Lonicera chamissoi (Chamisso’s Honeysuckle) they will be violently ill.  There were signs that they gave bears an upset tummy, too!

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P1110933  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1110933 © DY of jtdytravels

Juniperus sibirica, is widely distributed in Kamchatka.

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P1110819  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1110819 © DY of jtdytravels

There were other things to avoid besides bears.  This hairy caterpillar for instance.

Hairs on caterpillars usually equate to pain when touched!

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P1110826  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1110826 © DY of jtdytravels

This one didn’t look in the least offensive and seemed to pose for its photo.

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P1110841  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1110841 © DY of jtdytravels

What a handsome specimen of caterpillar.

However, I guess that red ‘tail’ may be a something of a warning.  Best left alone.

P1110830  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1110830 © DY of jtdytravels

And this one was almost architectural in its design and well camouflaged as a dead leaf.  Its head is at the bottom of the photograph which could confuse any predator.

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P1110822  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1110822 © DY of jtdytravels

Talking of architecture, what about this magnificent mushroom!

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P1110842  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1110842 © DY of jtdytravels

This one more like the ones in the parks at home in the autumn.

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P1110880  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1110880 © DY of jtdytravels

Occasionally, it was good to stand up, stretch the back and legs and enjoy the scenery.

A protruding volcanic plug stands out against the skyline.

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P1110847  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1110847 © DY of jtdytravels

The prickles of roses were another hazard to watch for in the scrub.

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P1110854  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1110854 © DY of jtdytravels

Bumblebees at work on a Kamchatka Thistle,  Cirsium kamtschaticum.

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P1110865  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1110865 © DY of jtdytravels

Equisetum hyemale, or Scouringrush horsetail,  is a rather fascinating plant.  It’s quite common in Kamchatka where it sometimes forms thickets which were used in days past to pasture horses and cattle.

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P1110863  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1110863 © DY of jtdytravels

The intricate structure of the horsetail rewarded a much closer inspection.

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P1110867  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1110867 © DY of jtdytravels

Yet another elegant mushroom in a damp, mossy spot.

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P1110874  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1110874 © DY of jtdytravels

You need to get down low to enjoy the beauty of these tiny mosses.

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P1110870  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1110870 © DY of jtdytravels

A tiny forest of moss sporangia.

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P1110873  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1110873 © DY of jtdytravels

A young Mountain Pine,  Pinus pumila, growing amongst the rough scoria rocks.

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P1110881  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1110881 © DY of jtdytravels

The weather looked to be closing in but it was not too threatening.  We had not yet reached our meeting point and there was still time for some more exploring.  So off we went again to see what we could find.

More of that anon

David

All Photography Copyright  ©  David Young of  jtdytravels

More of our travel stories and photos can be found on:

www.jtdytravels.com

and on

www.jtlifesgood.wordpress.com

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Northern Ireland, Castle Ward

By the time we had finished wandering in and photographing Rowallane’s gardens we were in much need of a hot ‘cuppa’ but… the garden cafe was closed. It was about to be moved from the stables to the newly renovated house.  So we headed south to find the nearby Butterfly Sanctuary and its cafe.

Male Peacock on a mission!

We were greeted by a couple of peacocks. “Get out of my way”, he seemed to say.  He was a bird on a mission.

Pea hen

And yes, he was in pursuit of this beautiful lady – a pea hen.

Peacock feathers

The peacock’s feathers made for a lovely piece of natural abstract art.  Who said blue with green should never be seen?   My art lecturer when I was at Teachers College, that’s who!  Maybe she’d never seen a peacock.

Hot Chocolate – Irish Style

Tearing ourselves away from our fascination with the peacocks, we found the small cafe.  It was run by a very friendly young lady who enjoys the ‘craic’, the Irish version of enjoying a conversation. We ordered tea and scones… cherry scones were the offering of the day. They were awful! Made with glace cherries. Do not try.

I had changed my tea order to a small hot chocolate. Imagine my surprise when this work of art was delivered! As I sat stunned, staring at this vision of sugar gone crazy, she said, “This is how we like our hot chocolate in Ireland. You can either drink it or climb it.”  Lesson learned re hot chocolate!

It had begun to rain again by the time we extricated ourselves from the lady and her cafe. The butterflies would have gone into hiding and we didn’t particularly like the thought of wandering in gardens in the rain again.  So we drove on through DownPatrick.  All roads in County Down lead to DownPatrick, the main centre. We could have stopped to see St Patrick’s grave, or the Cathedral, or a steam railway museum. But none of those were on our list of things we most wanted to do after our wonderful morning at Rowallane.  So we drove on back towards Strangford Lough.

A road sign caught our attention just as the sun emerged from behind a curtain of clouds.  It pointed the way to Castle Ward, another National Trust property. A visit to a castle could be just the thing to do on a wet day.  So we turned down a long drive through this 332 hectare (820 acre) property with its promise of walks and views over Strangford Lough, and its eccentric Manor House which is open to the public much of the time, but, as we were to learn, not all of the time.

View over Strangford Lough from Castle Ward

Yes – the sun came out as we began to walk up towards the house. What a lovely view looking down over the waters with blue sky above.

Front view of Castle Ward – the Classic Palladian style side.

Castle Ward was built in the 1760s by the first Lord Bangor, Bernhard Ward, and his wife Anne. It was built of Bath stone brought to Ireland in one of Lord Bangor’s own ships. The big problem for their architect was that this Lord and Lady couldn’t agree on the style for this building.  Lord Bangor wanted classical Palladian style. Lady Bangor wanted the newly fashionable style, neo-Gothick. There was no compromise so, with semi-octagonal bays at each end joining the two ‘faces of the house’, this most eccentric house was a built.

The side that faces the driveway (above) was built in the classic Palladian style with columns supporting a triangular pediment… his half.

The Georgian Gothick side of the house   (Photo courtesy Wikepedia)

The side that faces Strangford Lough, and that view, was built in Georgian Gothick style with pointed windows, battlements and finials…. her half.

The difference in style continues throughout the interior of the house with the divide down the centre. Although the house has stood the test of time, the marriage of Lord and Lady Bangor did not. The couple separated, not surprisingly perhaps!  By 1827 all the furnishings had been dispersed. In 1950, the house was presented to the National Trust, in lieu of death duties after the death of the 6th Viscount Bangor. It has been restored and refurnished in both styles. Unfortunately for us, on the day of our visit, the house was closed and so we did not experience the inside of this eccentric mansion.

A footnote to the Castle Ward story: On 10 February 1973 – Leonard O’Hanlon (23) and Vivienne Fitzsimmons (17), both members of theProvisional IRA,  were killed in a premature bomb explosion in the grounds of Castle Ward estate. Thankfully those times appear to be over and Northern Ireland is enjoying a time of relative peace from ‘the troubles.’

The sunken garden at Castle Ward

The sun shone, briefly, so although we missed out on seeing inside the house, we were able to walk in the garden, at least until the rain returned.  We read that back in 1902, this Sunken Garden had been a formal ‘parterre’, an elaborate design of 61 garden beds filled with flowers – colourful floral artistry. There was little or no grass at all then. Now it’s  a simple design, mainly lawn, in the centre of which is a circular ‘lily pond’ with a statue of Neptune brandishing his trident.

Alstroemeria

Castle Ward has nothing like the walled gardens at Rowallane, but there were a few interesting plants such as this Alstromeria to brighten an otherwise ‘green garden’.  Known as the Princess Lily or the Peruvian Lily, these flowers are delightful with their streaked petals and compact growth. They can grow to 2 feet tall and there are dwarf cultivars as well. We have a dwarf  Alstroemeria in this colour in our garden in Canberra. I made a mental note to add some more varieties this summer… there are so many colours available now.

Alstroemeria

These cheerful yellow Alstroemeria would bring a splash of sunshine to any garden, no matter what the weather. I do know that these larger forms can ‘get away’ in the garden and become rather weed like. But we’ve had no problem with the dwarf variety and they grow well in pots.

Blue flower

And if the  yellow Alstroemeria brought the feeling of sunshine, theses lovely blue flowers brought the blue of a clear summer’s sky. I don’t know the name of this flower. Any suggestions?

Fuchsia

Fuchsias are a familiar sight in Irish gardens and along country roadsides. In this garden, fuchsia is grown as a hedge along the path from the house down to some out-buildings. They hide the buildings and provide colour at the same time.  They are such beautiful ‘ballerinas’.

Herb Robert

The tiny flowers of the common, weedy wildflower, Herb Robert, can be found almost anywhere there is a stone wall in Ireland.  It always fascinates me to take a close-up look into flowers and these flowers, not much bigger than my little fingernail, deserved a closer look – exquisite in their simplicity of form!

Beautifully ‘sculptured’ mushroom caps

Mushrooms and fungi usually reward a closer look, also.  I had to splash through very soggy grass to photograph these beauties.

Portaferry seen across the Lough from Castle Ward

Portaferry is the village on the other side of Strangford Lough. We would get a closer look at that on our way to our next garden, Mount Stewart. But before that , with rain falling once more, we made our way back to the village of Strangford.  There, at The Cuan Inn (our home away from home) we had a much needed hot shower and a rest before enjoying a wonderful birthday lobster dinner in the company of new found friends.

On the ferry

Next morning, again in drizzle, we took the ferry across Strangford Lough from Strangford to Portaferry… our hire car the middle one.

The house on the point at Strangford

You really have to be out on the water to see homes like this one.

Looking back at Strangford village

It was pleasant looking back at Strangford from the water – a very different view of this lovely village.

Portaferry – from the ferry.

Portaferry has a mixture of architecture.  It would be a good place to explore more. Perhaps next time I’m in Northern Ireland!

(There are more notes on Strangford and Portaferry in an earlier journal entry.)

Portaferry with the old look-out tower on the hill behind

Safely across the turbulent waters of the mouth of Strangford Lough, we disembarked at Portaferry for the drive to our next destination, another National Trust property, Mount Stewart House and Gardens… and that will be the subject of my next journal entry.   J

Photography  © JT of jtdytravels