Friday, March 21, 2008

The Story of Kamchatka

Pine Mountain

Hello again from Pine Mountain. This weeks picture is from the camera on top of mount Pinos. It is courtesy of Pine Mountain Club. It is the fourth week in March already. The days are getting longer than the nights once more. We have had several cool cloudy days this week and several warm sunny days. The winter snows seem to be behind us now. I have spent the week mending fence lines. All the flowers and trees are springing forth with new growth and making a patchwork of color on the mountain.
This week our roving travel writer Roxana has an interesting story about the volcanoes and hot springs of the Kamchatka peninsula. We also have sections on Alternative energy and health and nutrition.

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And now here is Roxana with her Kamchatka Travel Adventure

The Story of Kamchatka

We arrived in Petropavlovsk the capital and largest city of Kamchatka. It was cloudy and cool and our guide Elena was there to greet us. Kamchatka is the land of volcanoes and hot springs. There are 160 volcanoes with 29 of them active. 400,000 people live in the 470,000 square kilometer Kamchatka region. 240,000 people or over half of the people live in Petropavlovsk.

The city of Petropavlovsk is a city of monuments and memorials. There are 82 different memorials with the most famous being the memorial to the defenders of Petropavlovsk. In August 1854 during the Crimea war a British and French fleet tried to take Petropavlovsk. The British and French had 2600 men and 218 cannons The Russians had only 920 men and 67 cannons deployed in a horseshoe pattern around Avacha bay. After a month of many battles the Russians finally chased the British and French from the bay despite being out numbered 3 to 1.

How did Kamchatka come to be? There is a legend. Long ago the Raven God Kutkh was flying above the earth and became tired and decided to create a land to rest. He lifted a mountain and a slice of land from the bottom of the sea. He rested and then he decided to put plants and animals on the land. He sat on top of the mountain and watched the plants and animals multiply on the land. Kutkh then wanted to create people to talk to so he put people on the land. Then the mountain that Kutkh sat on started spitting fire and ash and became a volcano. The people were frightened and would not come near the volcano. Every time there was an eruption the people thought their God Kutkh was angry with them and they would offer sacrifices to him. Finally a great shaman named Paratun spoke to the spirit of the volcano. He went to the volcano and a great miracle no eruption. He put his hand in the water and still no eruption only the water was warm. He named the area Paratunskimi and declared it open to the people as well as the river nearby.

Our tour has left the city and proceeded down the coast to the place where the river Paratunka meets the sea. As we approached the river the breathtaking view of the snowcapped volcano Viluchinskiy greeted us.

In the river king salmon fish were spawning. The salmon use all their energy to swim upstream and spawn then they die. The brown bears and other animals then have a feast on the dying fish.

We headed inland toward the volcano. Our tour bus climbed uphill. Soon we reached the parking lot at the end of the road and have to proceed on foot. We reach the viewing platform of the volcano and took many pictures. We left the viewing platform and headed toward the hot springs where we will have dinner. We had our bathing accessories with us so that we can enjoy the hot springs. We walk up the first hill and an amazing panorama opens before us. There is a green plateau with bright violet irises, crimson rhododendrons, and many other colorful flowers and plants. Surrounding the valley are the snow capped volcanoes. We travel across the plateau admiring the views and then begin to descend into the next valley. The trail becomes steeper and steeper finally we are jumping from boulder to boulder. We look to the left and green vegetation spreads out into the valley. At the head of the valley is a tall thundering waterfall.

picture courtesy of Zemla Sannikova Travel Company

Where the water hits the pool at the bottom it splashes up and forms a rainbow of many colors. Everyone takes pictures and exclaims, “ wow !!” in amazement. Finally we head through a dense woods then across a small bridge and we are at the natural thermal pools.

picture courtesy of Zemla Sannikova Travel Company

The women go into the changing room hut to put on their bathing suits. The men just strip down to their bathing trunks and jump in. The women come out and all they see of the men are their heads as they enjoy the warm water of the hot springs. After the first pool there is a warm ozzy mud bottom then a hotter pool. The second pool is too hot to stay in so everyone jumps into the ice cold snow melt river and lets the current take them to the bridge then they climb out and then back to the hot spring and then back in the river again. We change clothes and have dinner. Finally it is time to go so we climbed the trail back to the parking lot where our tour bus is waiting to take us back to Petropavlovsk. Too soon our vacation is over and we board our airplane to head home leaving behind the land of volcanoes and hot springs.

Well that is the story of Kamchatka. I hope everyone enjoyed it.

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Evening on Pine Mountain

It is evening again on Pine Mountain. It is time to relax by the fire with this weeks sample coffee from Tonight we are trying English Toffee. It has a buttery chocolate taste just like a liquid English Toffee candy bar. It is definitely a unique taste.
Squeekers our African grey parrot is sitting on his perch munching on peanuts. Tonight we were watching a special on bird island or Aves island. It is a bird sanctuary claimed by Venezuela. Venezuela built a coast guard station there in 1979. Squeekers enjoyed seeing all the birds even calling out to some of them. Well it is getting late and I am ready to go to bed. I put Squeekers in his cage, turn off the gas fireplace and head off to bed. Good night everyone see you next week.