After another series of phone calls this morning in the rain there is a plan. Planning is essential however plans here are almost never what actually happen. As I type this, there is a vesdehod traveling over land. That vesdehod arrived by barge across a huge lake. I have to believe all of this happened today. But I actually won't know if any of it happened until tomorrow when the vesdehod pulls up to our camp. But like Santa and the Tooth Fairy – I believe.
When the tank grinds into our neck of the woods, I will pack my tent, sleeping bag, final set of essential items and climb aboard. It is a tough departure because as much as I want to see my family – and I really, really want to see people who love me no matter how I smell. I will miss waking up to fish leaping in the river, bears walking on the ridgeline and eating breakfast with the exceptional group of people I have shared my every moment private and otherwise with for the past few weeks. The good news is that I will see them again and so it's more like so long,rather than good-bye.
Today, in the rain, after all the plans were finalized I headed out for another afternoon of science fieldwork. I just couldn't spend any more time thinking about leaving and sitting in the work tent; I'm not good with sitting still. SeanPaul is working on some things that he could base his work toward his Master's degree on and so I was happy to help him. I essentially spent a few hours walking through tall wet grass holding a metal pole. It is more than a pole of course, it is a survey rod and it is used to calculate the elevation and distance objects are from one another. It's like holding the end of a measuring tape that always says zero. It is not the most cranial of tasks but it kept me from going stir crazy and helped SeanPaul get something done. We were champions of science braving the weather with essentially a lightning rod in my hands. I don't think the average person truly understands what scientists do in order to seek answers to the big questions. Even though they come up with valuable new ideas it is the countless hours of tedious, repetitive data collection that allows them to change how we understand the world.
The return to camp found everyone in a rather subdued mood, probably due to the gloomy day or drizzle and fog. It was time to bust out the peanut butter and a bag of half broken crackers from the cooking tent. The Americans went at it; Russians view the brown goo with a bit of caution and distaste. That's fine – I feel the same about the canned fish and tushonka (canned beef). I think it is the finest communal peanut butter experience I have ever had – in fact, I'm sure of it.
With the darkness of the clouds and late day filling the work tent, I hope this is my last entry posted from Camp Stolbevayagrad. You should stay tuned though, because things here can change at anytime. Signing off from my end of the world to yours – Da Svidanya and until we meet again.