Driving in Norway

From time to time I post videos of places I’ve driven. While in Norway, Yura made some pretty long videos of our drive. I’ve trimmed a few down so you can see what it’s like up there. These were all made as we drove from Lakselv to Vadsø, across Finnmark.

Driving Across the Tundra —

 On a fjord (the fjord appears at 1:07) —


 A rainbow appeared —

Pic Dump

Here are a few pictures that didn’t find their way into other posts —

Here is a screen grab from a Skype call we made a while ago. Valerie likes to send me messages while we talk. When I’m traveling, at least we have Skype —

I took this as we crossed from Finland (left bank) into Norway (right bank). This is the Anarjohka River, the border also between Lapland and Finnmark.

I saw this truck as I was driving from Murmansk to St. Petersburg — it’s for a building supply company named Obama.

Here are a couple of pictures from Valerie’s birthday(s) in July — (she celebrated in Estonia and then in Russia) —

Pictures from Norway

I recently attended a men’s conference in Rovaniemi, Finland. After that, Yura Belonozhkin and I drove up into Finnmark, Norway to visit some ministry partners. Yura is expanding his mens’ ministry into northern Norway, and he wanted to meet with some pastors to arrange future conferences and camps. (There will be a great camp in late May, if any men are interested. . . .)

We took quite a few pictures and some video as we were driving around the fjords and across the tundra. Most of these pictures were taken on Laksefjord and in that region — on the Arctic Sea, far above the Arctic Circle. (And a day later I drove through snow.) Continue reading

Antique Maps

I ran across a very interesting website. The David Rumsey Historical Map Collection has overlaid several historical maps over Google Earth.

St. Petersburg is one of the cities covered, the map being from 1753.

Click HERE to see the maps.

Ice and Fun

Here are a few quick pictures from our life —

First, this is the view out my window today. The weather has been hovering around freezing, so HUGE icicles are forming from the roofs. These are well over 6 feet long (2 meters).

One has to be very careful when walking on sidewalks. These icicles will kill you when they fall, and many people are injured by falling ice at this time of year and in the Spring.

Here are some pictures of me and Valerie playing around with the webcam. (Val grabbed a couple of hammers from my dulcimer, so that what she has in her hands.)


Pastor Andrei Furmanov wrote this great article about Russian Dachas —

In the days when the USSR was still a country collective farms, which were the backbone of Russian agriculture, were unable to produce enough, and the money for importing food was sufficient to only buy grain. The result was an official policy was that citizens of then USSR were supposed to grow a lot themselves.

Dachas were formed as cooperatives supervised by trade unions and the by-laws of these cooperatives were strict enough. First of all, the land technically of course did not belong to the members of those cooperatives, all land was state federal property at those times. It was leased to trade unions and could not be sold. Another serious restriction was that the usage of this land had to be limited to growing things.

One simply could not make a lawn on his or her land and enjoy the grass. That would be illegal and immediately would result in kicking the person out from the dacha cooperative and replacing him with a more devoted “weekend farmer”. Not more than one dacha per family was allowed.

The typical size of land given by the state to a family varied from 4 to 12 “sotok”, 6 and 8 being the most common (not surprising, now a popular newspaper for dacha owners is titled “6 Sotok” and everyone perfectly understands what they mean by that). One “sotka” = 100 square meters, so typical dacha land area of 6 sotok is equal to 0.16 acres.

Statistic says that now more than 30% of Russian families have dachas. And traditionally most of the dachas were distributed by the trade union organizations at the major industrial enterprises. Therefore in many cities the figures are even higher. Majority of dacha owners were workers, according to the party policy.

We are not saying that other social groups were not allowed to have dachas. It’s just important to realize that having a dacha was not a sign of belonging to elite class, and almost every family could easily get it if at least one family member had been working for 5 or 10 years at the same factory or plant.

But we have given you enough dry facts… Let us add some emotions to that long technical introduction to the concept of dacha – one of the key concepts of Russian life in both Soviet and post-Soviet times. Continue reading