NEAR KHAMONTOVO, LENINGRAD REGION, RUSSIA–It is not your typical Russian dacha, this field house. It was purchased partially-finished by Andrey because it is ideally located (N60.01114°, E32.56416°) very near important Paleozoic outcrops. The setting is beautiful — on the top of a steep bank overlooking the Lynna River as it meets the larger Syas River.
There is no running water, but there is electricity (most of the time). Heat was originally supplied by a large wood-burning stove, but alas (!) someone broke in and stole it before we arrived. It is a very cold place right now, so I wear my down jacket all the time, even to bed. The outhouse is … well … as basic as it can get in the hole-in-the-floor Russian fashion. Our water comes either directly from the river or from a nearby well. “Completely pure and safe to drink”, I’m told. I’ve seen the outhouse, though, and I’m imagining a few hundred others like it upstream.
Nevertheless, this is an excellent base for just what we want to do. One of the prime outcrops is just a few meters away from the front door, and the others we need on this expedition are mostly within 10 kilometers. I can rough it here for two weeks, especially since there isn’t a mirror in the house. Another benefit is that I’m a guest of the Russian Academy of Sciences — the lodging, food and transport here doesn’t cost a kopeck.
We are joined in this house and in the field by another member of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Nikolai Kuznetsov, and two geologist-technicians, Andrei Schatsilov and Sergei Orlov. They are interested in tectonic and paleogeographic issues with the Lower Paleozoic of this area.