Curious cops flagged us down as we exited Astana. All they were interested in was our trip. That got the day off to a good start, for that we were grateful, since we had many miles to cover.
The low brush and grass of the Steppes has been replaced with fields of canola, stands of brilliantly white birch, and evergreen trees. Goats and sheep enjoyed grazing near the frequent lakes and streams.
In an intermediate city we saw a large collection of satellite dishes decorating an old Soviet style building.
Mushroom season is in full swing in this part of the world. Pickers scattered throughout the woods filling buckets with the bounty. A lady and her family sat along the highway. They were selling freshly dug potatoes and the largest mushrooms I have ever seen.
Kevin referred to our final hotel in Kazakhstan as an “Old Soviet Relic.” We were delighted to find that the hotel had been renovated, inside and out, since Kevin & Julia’s route planning trip. The plain hallways had been decorated with the texture of stones in beautiful patterns. Our bathroom had exquisite tile work reminiscent of a Southwest US style.
Decent roads and efficient riding allowed us to enjoy local flavor in the late afternoon. We saw three bridal couples. Although they were very differently dressed, all shared the apparently common practice of strolling through the lively town square after their wedding ceremonies.
Larry & I nibbled on kebobs cooked over a coal fire under a tent. At the table next to us, a couple who had probably done their wedding stroll through the square maybe 8 or 9 years ago, were sharing a similar supper with their two sons. The young mother looked so content just being with her family. This would likely be the last family outing for a while as the woman appeared to be ready to deliver child #3 any day.
9 Jul Astana to Petropavl KZ 315 miles
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