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August 1, 1998

Nizhneudinsk to Kirensk.  When we fueled up, they used fuel that was supposed to go into a commercial flight.  They said our flight was more important.  Valery and Khalide have set these legs up to be no more than 5 to 6 hours a day.  Which is a lot when you consider, they want to stay up until 2 AM with this "Russian Hospitality".  Now, I must say, they are very hospitable, courteous, generous, and just plain sweet.  Nikki is in the AN-2 with most everyone and they are having a blast with her.  She's had some communication problems too.   Like airspeed!  Their indicator is different.  Nikki did slow flight for 2 days across Siberia with a full load until she figured out that when Natasha was say "Nikki, keep it below 15", she actually meant below the 15 on the gauge, not 15, 14, 13, 12.  You know the bottom of the gauge.  I was so glad she figured it out.  Makes my flying a lot easier.  We landed at Kirensk and were taken directly to a sauna.   I think this was the Nik's request.  She loves the sauna.  Personally, I think it's the branches and cold water.  Wrapped in our sheets, we sat outside at a table and had tea and jam.  Nikki's posture went right back to correct when the military pilots came over.  I've never seen a sheet wraped tight like a straight jacket.  But, you know, when in Rome - - - !  Actually our hotel (and I use that word loosely) had a sink and bucket for a bath and an out-house "in" the house.   So the sauna was the cleanest we felt.  The women kept our flight suits so they could wash them.  (I know Doug, you're glad).  We went to our rooms and our one bath with only cold water trickling out.  Really though, this country is wonderful.  We have had the time of our lives.  Parts are pretty primitive compared to our living but I see things that they do daily that would be good for us.   After dinner, we all headed for the river.  Skinny dipping with the Military pilots.  (Just kidding, but made you think)  Nope, Riverboat ride.   Beautiful--- Siberian sunsets.  We stopped on the river bank and got off.   Stod (4 gold front teeth, remember?) picked flowers for me.  Now, you see, when they think they don't have a chance with Nikki, I get the flowers.  I am sending pictures ASAP so you can see our friends. (Military Pilot is cute, though).  On our way back up the river, we missed Jeremy.  Constantine, Mikey, and Anatoly, Rafail and everyone was searching for him.  up top, sides, below, everywhere.  The boat was already turned around to go look at the river bank when Anatoly found him sick in the toilet.  Had to have been the tongue and caviar.

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