Some time during our way back from seeing the ship in Jalangash, we broke the right front shock mount. During an early morning inspection, John found that the lower end of the right front shock absorber was completely broken free.
It’s not a disaster and certainly better than a lot of other things that could have broken. We have to find a replacement or a shop than can fab a replacement mount for us, probably in Chelyabinsk, Russia, our next stop. Meanwhile, we had to remove the broken one so that it would get damaged beyond repair. Of course the top shock mount is difficult to get to and John struggled with it for a while but got it off.
Last night, it was dark when we pulled in to the picnic area to set up camp. The area was empty and a bit off the road. And the sky was crystal clear, displaying the Milky Way in all its celestial glory. They don’t have much in Kazakhstan but the do have the night time sky.
I got out of the tent started water for coffee. I have brought a french press and assorted ground coffees for just this occasion. I’ve also brought a new stove for the trip but I haven’t been able to find butane canisters for it and wasn’t able to take any on the plane flight over. John had an older butane stove for which he had found canisters and that worked just fine, thank you. In about five minutes we were drinking very good fresh coffee.
Pack the tent, sleeping bag and mat and on the road again north. At Shubarqudiq, we stopped for fuel and asked about the road conditions farther north: “Good and bad.” We hope that means more good than bad.
Which it did. We’re headed for Rudnyy or Kostanay in Kazakhstan. We plan to cross the border back into Russia in the morning. But there’s still 300 miles. The road was fine for miles but every so slowly as the miles clicked off the road surface got w
orse and after about 200 miles, we hit road construction with the infamous dirt side roads. We lowered the tire air pressure again to help out the car and make the ride bearable. We slowed to about 25 mph and just ground it out. After about 25 miles, we were back on the road again and as we neared Rudnyy, the roads started to improve again. We slowly ramped the speed back up about 45 mph.
We’re kind of using the broken shock as a reality check. We can drive indefinitely without the shock. The car’s ride is somewhat bumpier and you have to give more respect to the car when the road conditions go south but it’s now really a very bad problem to have. But we have a long way to go (about 7,500 miles at this point) and we should be nursing the car. So, slower is better.
We decide to spend the night in Rudnyy and stop at a police checkpoint to ask for the directions to a hotel. Every stop in Kazakhstan has gone the same way: a document check where the police don’t even ask for documents but do chat us up about America. Shake hands, chat ask for directions, try to figure them out from the hand signals (the directions are always in Russian), smile, “Spaceba”, shake hands again and leave smiling and waving. This should work so well in the Ukraine.
Sure enough, straight down the boulevard is the “Hotel”, apparently the only one in town. After some confusion: yes, they have rooms. No, they don’t have rooms with 2 beds. “You, don’t have any beds with 2 rooms?” (again, all in Russian). They are trying to give us each a room with a single bed and they can’t understand why we want a room with 2 bads instead of 2 single rooms. Frustrated, one of the women at the desk grabs a couple of keys and motions for us to follow so that we can see the rooms.
She rockets up the stairs with us trying to keep up. First, the single room. No, that won’t do. Then a very large room with 2 twin beds(?). Perfect. We’ll take it. It’s expensive (18000 tenga) but the single rooms are 9,000 each (the older hotels we’ve stayed in charge by the person) so it really doesn’t matter what we do.
We stomp back down stairs (why is this woman racing to the lobby?) and tell the other woman at the desk that we’ll take the second room. Sorry, not available. What? Not available. Only single rooms are available. Okay, we surrender, give us 2 single rooms. Have internet? Yes. Restaurant? Yes.
Up to the rooms. Change. Shashlik dinner with some lousy Medoc and weird but tasty “strudel”. And off to bed.