Greetings Of Gratitude To My Fellow Human Beings!

Two months ago, I entered Russia from Azerbaijan, arriving in the southern tip of Russia in the Republic of Dagestan. Here’s a link to photos of some of what I experienced in Dagestan:

My travels within Russia during these past two months has been varied and interesting. After exploring the north Caucasus region, I was then drawn eastward towards Siberia once again, in the depths of its winter. After arriving in the Altai Mountains, I successfully crossed the steppes of Mongolia, then went back into Russia, to the city of Ulan-Ude for a few days, then eventually arriving at Lake Baikal to marvel at the amazing ice there for the second year in a row. This time, I went to the east side of the lake and spent a week in the small town of Ust-Barguzin.

Highlights while in Ust-Barguzin included venturing out onto the ice of Lake Baikal every day, taking part in the first crossing of the lake this year (with a big group of locals, who marked the way with Christmas trees), hitch-hiking to Kurumkan, a town three hours to the north in -30°F temperatures (!) and balancing the always below zero temps with nightly sizzling hot banyas. To say that life has been interesting is an understatement.

I’m glad I went back for another look at some places I had already been, while also visiting a host of new locations. Old or new, everything was seen through new eyes.

This past Saturday, I was skiing at Sable Mountain Ski Area, which is just outside the town of Baikalsk. If you look for Baikalsk on a map, you’ll find that it sits right on the edge of the southern tip of Lake Baikal. Skiing there is cool -literally- as the expanse of the snow-covered frozen lake stretches out of sight to the north.

While skiing, I wondered whether or not to stay longer in Siberia, when I realized I was finished with that area for now. The obvious next step was to go to Moscow (no, don’t ask why). So, when I got back to the hotel after skiing, I bought train and plane tickets, traveled all the next day and arrived in Moscow on Sunday night.

It’s nothing short of amazing to now be back in Moscow, for a number of reasons, including current history in the making. Yet, as exciting as it is to be in Moscow, I have made plans to leave on Friday and go by high-speed train to St. Petersburg. The journey continues.

Here’s what my route in Russia looks like so far:

While traveling anywhere in the world, I am often asked if I’m a tourist. Well, yeah! While on the train from Ulan-Ude to Baikalsk, a Russian guy sharing the compartment asked me this question. Using Google Translate, in addition to saying, “Yes, of course, I’m a tourist”, I added that we’re all tourists on this planet, which is hurtling through time & space, that none of us knows what we’ll experience next, or whether we’ll even be alive in the next moment of this human experience. I said that it’s a journey of discovery for all of us, so we are clearly all tourists. The Russian guy absorbed this, agreed with me, sort of, but was still scratching his head, wondering about this idea, as I got off the train.

I absolutely love being a tourist, at home or away, 24/7/365  😉

It’s not only for all that I’m treated to as a tourist in life that I have gratitude for, but for all the unknown as well, for everything that allows for this experience. This is something I’m frequently reminded of, through daily events and incidents. One such glaring reminder took place upon my arrival at Sheremetyevo Airport in Moscow on Sunday night. I went from the airport terminal to the train platform, to go to the city center. The only person on the long platform was a lower-level train employee. I asked if he spoke English and he said a little. His name was Ruslan. I asked him which car I should get into. After looking at my ticket, he showed me the car. He was an outwardly happy man and he recognized the same in me, prompting the sharing of more than just the technical information I requested.

A few minutes later, after I found my seat in the train car, Ruslan came to where I was sitting and struck up a conversation of a type I am used to, but of a type that I wonder if others experience so regularly as I do. He spoke easily of many interesting things, including the energetic connection he had instantly felt with me and that ‘we are all one’, all from the same origin. He spoke to me as if we had always been close friends, explaining to me, in English, in a car filled with other passengers, that he was always filled with gratitude, because he chose to be. He said that every night as he lay down in bed, he consciously gave thanks for all, then he woke up each morning with the very same gratitude he went to seep with. I told Ruslan that’s exactly what I do, that it was no wonder we connected.

What an incredibly wonderful reminder Ruslan was to me, reminding me that it’s up to me to consciously chose to fill myself with gratitude for all that is.

With wild wishes for happy travels and gobs of gratitude,



free bird: