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The Trans-Siberian Express covers half of what we think we know about Russian history. The other half is Catherine the Great and Imperial Russia and Dr. Zhivago, followed by Stalin and friends’ scary Communist Russia. And last, but never tell him least, there’s Putin and of course Pussy Riot and, oh yeah, that little scuffle in the Crimea/Ukraine. Russian history in a typical American nutshell. I’ll come back to all of that… Read More

The planning for B15T(Big2015Trip) is moving right along. Bit like being on a train in fact when it is doing the switching tracks stuff. Jerks forward, halts abruptly, creeps ahead with shrieks and rattles, grinds to another stop…finally it moves slowly and then a little faster and then a little faster…onward…to the next pause. I love trains but much of the journey is as described. Of course the only trains I’ve ridden… Read More

Travel out among the glaciers and to the outlines of those original Viking farms, hiking among mountains, sheer walls of ice, not a Starbucks in sight. AND. Out onto to the steppes, ride a camel, spend a night in a ger, walkabout among the mountains and Mongolian ponies and a sheep or thousand. No Starbucks here either. AND. Norway. AND. Lapland. AND. Beijing. AND. South Korea. AND. A stopover in Latvia for… Read More

Little souvenir I picked up in Estonia. Seems right as I plan a Siberian train trip. In Minnesota, on VERY cold days, we always said, ‘my god, it’s just like Siberia out there today.’ The only other thing we knew about Russia was that it was a VERY big and VERY scary place. Now it’s 2014 and Russia is still very cold, big and could be considered just a little bit scary…. Read More

I am writing a book called “Up North.” Really. But more about that later. Today’s Up North is about next summer. Minnesota, Greenland, Lapland, Norway, Siberia. When I feel even a little disgruntled or worried or bored during the course of the day—I sneak a few minutes on a web site named “The Man in Seat Sixty-One,” the Trans-Siberian Railway section. It is brilliant site. It is inspirational. It is the stuff… Read More