are marketed to the skiing industry but are hands down the best motorcycle strap you'll ever have. A crucial peace of equipment for the minimalist dirt biker.
The morning routine was set at this point; boil water, make instant coffee (w/splash of vodka), ramen style noodles (with cabbage if we were lucky) and a hard boiled egg.
This worked well for us and we always enjoyed a leisurely morning.
Horse skulls near the camp.
And we're off!
We were traveling on one of the more main routes at this point. We found that the main routes were beat up a lot more due to more traffic and no road maintenance. The yurt in the background is very widely used by the nomads. It is the traditional Mongolian nomadic family dwelling called a "ger". It's amazing that this is what is used during the winter with temperatures to -40 degrees!
In a short distance, we turn off the main route and start getting into the more obscure parts of the country. We passed through this small town and got supplies. I swear it's like the wild west!!
Even the stores reminded me of the old style from way back with the shop keeper tending the counter which sits in front of all the goods. There would typically be a bunch of different vodkas, most places had some beer, lots of sweets, a small selection of vegetables if you're lucky, a cooler with some miscellaneous items like sausage, and a chest freezer with frozen goat yogurt and large chunks of meat - sometimes a whole head!
We were getting used to the crowd we would draw in every town. One guy here spoke some broken english and he would translate to all the other geezers who were quite curious to what our story was. Pointing to his buddy he'd say to us "he is asking, where did you get the motorcycles?"
I liked this garbage can, a gas tank from an old Russian bike. From what I've heard, this is a better use for it. I guess the Russian bikes are a cousin to the Royal Enfields - not much account.
We're heading into the sticks now. These drainages are awesome.
The nomads don't seem to raise pigs. We only saw a couple and I suspect this one was wild. I'm not sure why they don't use pigs. Perhaps because their fur and hide are not good for anything? I was told that they are hard to herd also.
The two tracks in the less used routes were heavenly! Smooth and buttery! Note the "salt and pepper" on the hillside - a herd of goats and sheep. This is what the nomads thrive off of and you see them everywhere.
During lunch we realized that we'd missed a turn about 5km back. We studied the map a bit and decided we'd try an alternate route. Now we were really getting out into the backcountry. These guys stopped passing the other direction. We couldn't say anything to each other. They seemed friendly. Note the Chinese bike. It was becoming obvious to us at this point that these are what everyone rides.
We keep going deeper passing herds of yaks and ger homes scattered about.
The drainages were really beautiful! Talk about isolated.
After dead ending in a small drainage we had to back track a little and try another route to get back on track. This one panned out and dropped us back to our intended route. This little detour was a great peak into the really desolate areas the nomads live.
Late in the day we passed through another town. Some of these small towns had what seemed like a municipal pool table set up.
We picked a ridge to camp on hoping we get a good view of the full moon that night. Next thing you know we had a new friend running up the hill to visit.
We dubbed her Cheke-chow (pronounced with a heavy Mongolian dialect). She hung around for most of the evening then disappeared.
There it was! The "Blue Moon". This happens when there are two full moons that land within the same month. The blue moon is the second one.
Check out the horse head wired into the tree. Not sure what that's about.
This move is called "the Steppe". Dribble a little Mongolian vodka over your beer as you take a swig. Party night! Buuuuurrrt had a few of these and the next thing you know he loses balance, gets caught in a donut running sideways in a huge arc trying to regain and crashes to the ground rolling and almost destroying his own tent!
After celebrating the blue moon it was time for bed. I guess our friend didn't leave after all!
160km for the day.