Editor’s note: Read Part 1 of John’s epic ride from Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia to his home in California, USA here. Part 13 can be read here.

So, it’s been a while since I put pen to paper. The machine is strong, maintained and rolling smooth. The ride was Tyumen to Yekaterinburg.  Short, easy ride.

Tyuman to Yekaterinburg, An Easy Ride

I keep a copy of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance in my reading room at home. It’s impossible to read that thing cover to cover, rather I find picking it up and opening to a random page more gratifying.

The book was critically acclaimed on release in the early seventies. There were 2 stories: one on the surface, appealed to gear-heads like me – Robert Pirsig gave eloquent descriptions of just how to treat a machine. The deeper thread was of Phaedrus (Pirsig’s earlier brilliant self) critical analysis of quality and his slide into madness.

First Oil Change in Russia, Very Zen. A Guy Who’d Been to Toronto

Service Manager – A Complete Boss

My Technician – Keeping it Zen

Oil goes in clean, and comes out clean, good karma

You know what really moved me was in real life Chirs (Pirsig’s son who rode on the back of the bike across America) lost his life in San Francisco to violence. How do you go on after that? Somewhat rhetorical but Pirsig address’s it in a postscript to the book released in the 90’s I thought about that a lot today.

Tyuman to Yekaterinburg Day Map

The ride had easy runs today – actually 4 lane divided highway so I could lock the throttle, sit back and enjoy.

I have 2 sons. Andrew you know because he’s done this ride, nerve and all that. Spencer is my other son (Marnie is my daughter but she comes later). Spencer’s nerve is different and I’ll tell you why. Spencer’s passion is wrestling. Through school he wrestled every year. In junior collage he went to JC state twice. Spence was a grinder, he wasn’t a natural, he was and is a grinder.

But let me explain a bit about this sport because I’d never been a part of it growing up. It’s a team sport, except when the combatants face each other they are completely alone. They best each other and they follow rules. Stand outside any one of these venues and 50% of these combatants end up outside after a match, smashing fists and feet against nothing at all wanting just one do over – with a parent typically off to the side .

California hosts thousands of schools and they all have established athletic programs. To be sure, Wrestling is the red headed step child. Wrestlers don’t become million-dollar athletes. But they do become right thinking people. Throughout California on any given Saturday morning you’ll find school age wrestlers (and their bleary-eyed parents) in towns like Escalon, Clovis, Ripon, and many more, attending weigh ins at 5:30 am. You know who else is there – Marine Recruiters – They know what these kids are inside. These kids come men have backbone. They try and do the right thing.

Now, I trust you get it. Back to Spence. Well, with all this wrestling comes the real prize – people. It’s a community – these guys. Teachers, law enforcement, realtors, they are your neighbors and these are Spence’s people. These bonds are strong and right. Spence coaches now. At the annual dinner, Vicki and I go, and when parents of current wrestlers find out we are Coach Phillips parents, well then, we hear, “your son wrote the sincerest letter of reference for our son”. Makes us pretty proud.

And just like that I’m in Yekaterinburg Russia. My small room complete with a nice oil painting of boats on the wall, quality fixtures throughout. The owner of this hotel clearly takes pride. As Red Green says, “We’re all in this together, I’m rooting for you” I hope you enjoy today’s pictures.

PostScript, Tuesday June 4. I went to the fine arts museum today and while the iPhoneX camera is world class it does not do these works justice – however as Burt the sweep in Mary Poppins would confide – “it’s better than a finger in your eye”, and clearly better than my thousand word description of each!

Yekaterinburg Museum of Fine Arts

Yekaterinburg Museum of Fine Arts John

Yekaterinburg Museum of Fine Arts Oil1

Yekaterinburg Museum of Fine Arts Oil2

Yekaterinburg Museum of Fine Arts Oil3

Yekaterinburg Museum of Fine Arts Oil4

Yekaterinburg Museum of Fine Arts Iron1

Yekaterinburg Museum of Fine Arts Stone 1

Yekaterinburg Museum of Fine Arts Stone Key

Yekaterinburg Museum of Fine Arts Sculpture

Yekaterinburg Museum of Fine Arts Sculpture 2

Yekaterinburg Museum of Fine Arts Sculpture 3

Yekaterinburg Museum of Fine Arts Sculpture 4

Yekaterinburg Museum of Fine Arts Oil5

Yekaterinburg Museum of Fine Arts Oil6

Yekaterinburg Museum of Fine Arts Oil7

Yekaterinburg Museum of Fine Arts Oil8

Yekaterinburg Museum of Fine Arts Oil9

Yekaterinburg Museum of Fine Arts Oil10

Yekaterinburg Museum of Fine Arts Oil11

Yekaterinburg Museum of Fine Arts Sculpture 5

Yekaterinburg Museum of Fine Arts Sculpture 6

Yekaterinburg Museum of Fine Arts Print Initial

Yekaterinburg Museum of Fine Arts Knife Description

Yekaterinburg Museum of Fine Arts Knife

Yekaterinburg Museum of Fine Arts Sword

Yekaterinburg Museum of Fine Arts Iron Table

Yekaterinburg Museum of Fine Arts Iron Bull

Yekaterinburg Museum of Fine Arts Iron Bust

Yekaterinburg Museum of Fine Arts Iron Room Guard

Yekaterinburg, Even my hotel featured art

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