The grain harvest is in full swing. We passed many tractors during our run to the border. A obscure named motorcycle with a primitive side car caught our eye at a rest stop.
By border crossing time, the temp was 100 degrees +. Larry took the opportunity to rest at the “Iron Butt Motel.” Trucks headed into Russia bottomed out in a monster pothole. This provided entertainment for those of us who were awake. No, Juergen and Kevin are not doing what you might think – they had found a breezy spot and made the most of it. Many of us lowered our riding pants, unzipped boots, and lifted T-shirts in an attempt to minimize the heat. Most of the pictures are NOT pretty enough to post.
When we had entered Russia, we were told that they had simplified Customs procedures to save time. I can only imagine how bad it once was since it took us 2 ½ hours just to exit!
In Ukraine, we’re still in a Cyrillic alphabet country, as was Russia. At least these letters make a bit more sense and are more recognizable to us than the Chinese characters or Arabic writing. For Larry & me, Ukraine represents our final country new to us during the Discover Our Earth Expedition.
A Gold Wing and rider had just crossed the border. I can’t imagine subjecting a luxury machine such as a Gold Wing to the awful, rough roads in Russia. Maybe that’s why he’s not smiling!
Our suite in Mariupol had a sitting room so lovely that it would have been easy to call for room service and stay right there. Luckily, we opted for an early dinner in the hotel’s air conditioned dining room. There we met a local reporter who was looking to meet the “old couple from the United States” riding through Mariupol. We guessed that she meant us since we’re the only couple from the USA participating. This is a new, not high, plateau for us – being referred to as “the old couple.” Actually, we represent nearly the median age of trip participants. Our 24 year-old reporter probably thought that the entire team had escaped from nursing homes!
After the interview, Larry led her through our route using the map mounted on his top box. The heat had subsided enough to walk to check out the Black Sea and buy some drinking water. Most hotel mini-bar prices are so high that we use saving money as a good excuse to get out for some exercise.
I think that the young lady’s comment had as much impact on Larry as did the heat. When I came out of a shop after looking for Ukraine stickers, he was horizontal! A high railroad track separated us from the Black Sea. Between that and the warning that a cholera outbreak in Mariupol had been linked to the Sea so no swimming was advised, we headed directly back to the air conditioned room.
Earlier in the afternoon, we had gotten lost, or should I say “were taking an alternate route,” on our way to the hotel. While Larry accessed an ATM for some Ukraine currency, a friendly guy in a van pulled up beside me. Hot, tired, and lost, I was in no mood to visit. Since I attempt to be friendly and he spoke such good English, I accepted his offer to lead us to the Hotel European. He is a member of the Black Corsairs, a motorcycle club in Mariupol.
Word of our stopover in their town spread like wild fire. Their leader, on the beautiful maroon cruiser, and a few others came to our 7 pm meeting and offered to lead us out of town in the morning.
Being a new country for the expedition, tonight was “highlight the route on the map night.” Erwin & Barbel with Peter H in the background intently colored the exciting route which Kevin had planned.
18 Jul Rostov on Don Russia to Mariupol Ukraine 115 miles