This is it. The last day of this adventure. First the day as it unfolded and then my wrap up.
Woke up at 7 and then went through the dining room for my normal ritual of starring into nothing and drinking lots of coffee.
We all met at 8:45 to go to the Petropavlovsk Harbor to take a Catamaran ride and have lunch on the Catamaran. The Catamaran was very roomy and off we went. Most of the wildlife we saw were various kinds of birds. There were lots of Puffins. The puffins I had previously seen in Iceland had black bodies. These puffins had brown bodies. It is hard taking pictures from a rocking boat. Just imagine trying to focus as the boat is rocking. We finally stopped for lunch. We were served hot soup with a boiled potato and piece of salmon in it. Quite tasty. They also served cured salmon. How I love it. Could not eat enough. After lunch we went back to the harbor and disembarked.
Dmitry then took us to the local fish market and to buy souvenirs. I bought five Russian dolls for my five granddaughters and two other gifts for two of my grandsons. Poor Eli was left out. He is only one.
We then drove to downtown Petropavlovsk. A large statue of Lenin was overseeing the public square. We walked o a rocky beach while people were fishing and enjoying themselves. Got some great people photography.
It was then off to visit the largest Russian church in Petropavlovsk. Very impressive and beautiful. We went inside to witness Mass. The inside of the church was so impressive. Mass was given in Russian. A beautiful way to end this great adventure.
We then went to a great steakhouse for our farewell dinner. I sat next to Sonya. She told me I should feel proud of myself for enduring many of the difficult conditions that we faced.
I leave Petropavlovsk at 1 PM and land in Moscow at 12:30 PM. That’s impossible. Not really. The flight is nine hours and there is a nine hour time difference. At 2:30 I board Aeroflot for a nonstop flight to JFK and land at 5 PM. Jet lag here we come. Pray for me to endure.
Now to summarize my trip. This trip created so many memories that will stay with me for the rest of my life. Camping out for ten of the fifteen days. Crawling into a one person tent. Going to the bathroom wherever. Doing both one and two on the side of an active volcano. How many people can brag about that? Seeing the dead forest. Absorbing the mood and aura of the dead forest. Raising the level of my ability to see by observing Vladimir. This ability is the trademark of a great photographer. I am constantly working on that ability. Looking at a location and creating an image before the shot is taken. The bears. I could not describe the connection I developed after observing these beautiful creatures at such a close range. How beautiful they are. It seems like two days was not enough. I am so happy that they are protected and cherished in their natural environment. These creatures do not belong in a zoo. This is were they belong. I hope my grandchildren get to see them one day here. Climbing up an active volcano to get to the crater. Being dragged by Dmitry as I reached total exhaustion. Seeing what I saw. The pulse of the earth. Beating and alive. Smoke coming out of it as I watched this amazing spectacle. All trips are eventually about the people. The Russian people who took care of us were incredible. They got such joy of seeing my photography. Photography is truly the international language. Dmitry dragging me up and down the volcano. He wanted me to see this incredible sight. Sonya watching after me and making me coffee. Natalia and her amazing cooking. The other staff members creating our tent camps and then breaking them down. The drivers of our Kamaz. How great they were. Vladimir, such a great photographer. How much I have learned from him. This trip is not for most people. At seventy, I was by far the oldest one of the group. I endured and as Sonya said “I should be proud of myself”. I am sad to leave the country of my grandparents but I will always have my memories and pictures.
The next adventure starts in early November. We are off to Tanzania and the Serengeti.