The White Grave


Our departure from the “Cosmonaut House” was delayed by a flat rear tire on Larry’s bike.  Jeff efficiently installed an inner tube and off we rode.


A large herd of beautiful horses crossing the highway warranted a photo stop.  Erwin & Barbel were both shooting from the saddle.  It’s good that memory for digital cameras is cheap since we’ve all been taking many megabytes of photos.



The farther north we’ve gone on the Kazakhstan steppe, the more the land is dotted with small lakes.  I wonder if glacial action impacted this terrain.  Judging by the miles of snow fences, we do know that this area gets a lot of snow.  That may have something to do with Astana formerly being known as “The White Grave.”  As open as it is, the wind must sculpt snowdrifts thirty feet high.


We share tonight’s hotel parking lot space with a vegetable garden.  The tomatoes, squash, carrots and other plants are about as advanced as they would be in northern Minnesota in early July.  Considering that we’re at similar latitude and altitude, that makes sense.



Astana was originally settled by Russians who were headed toward central and eastern Siberia. There’s not too many rivers on the steppe so their selection of this location seems logical.  Five bridges now serve Astana.  A total of seventeen more are planned for 2030.  It’s hard to imagine that twenty-two will ever be justifiable even it the city continues its rapid expansion.


A temp of 70F with clear skies and abundant sunshine made for perfect walking through the park and along the river.  It seemed strange to be eating Middle Eastern food here but we are in a country that ends in “stan.”



Striking is the cleanliness of Astana. In our short time here, we’ve seen a street washer/sweeper and this one scrubbing the pedestrian walkway in the park.


Tunnels allow pedestrian movement under busy streets.  An older man strummed his instrument and sang for our entertainment and coins.



It is ironic that on the day we reached “The White Grave,” we bade farewell to our good friend and Discover Our Earth Expedition travel companion, Reinhard.  Today was his funeral in Germany.  Tonight we shared “Reinhard stories.” Good bye, Reinhard.  We know you are in heaven today, probably riding or helping someone.


7 Jul   Karagandy to Astana KZ   135 miles

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