30 September 2018

Mongolia, Julia's #1 Bucketlist Trip

21-30 September 

When I was in the third grade at C.C. Duff Elementary, Miss Winkles' lesson on countries allowed us to select a country other than the USA about which we would learn.  I chose Mongolia.  I have no idea why, but I knew I wanted Mongolia.  I was the nerdy little kid that when the National Geographic magazines arrived, the adults handed me the maps, and off I would go to my room, pouring endless hours into studying that edition's map.  So when we were given the opportunity, I did not need to study a map or a globe, I just raised my hand and asked for Mongolia.  Fast-forward to my college days where I studied for a Bachelor of Arts in History, specializing in Military History.  In 1988, I took a Russian history class where I had to write a paper about the Russian Communism 1930s purge years, and in that paper, I discussed the decimation of the Dayan Derkh Buddhist Monastery, which was located in northern Mongolia.  Fast-forward again to September 2018, when Cody booked us a trip to fly fish the Eg-Uur River Watershed and attend the Golden Eagle festival in Mongolia.  I can't say when, but for decades I have wanted to catch a Lenok, being that this salmonoid has been around since the Glacial Epoch period, and a Taimen, the largest salmonid species on the planet, both of whose populations only seem healthy in Mongolia and Russia's Lake Baikal region, which once belonged to Mongolia.  We chose to book with Sweetwater Travel due to its conservation efforts along the Eg-Uur fishery protecting 110 river miles.  What I learned while there:  Mongolia is both rugged and beautiful.  Its people love color and are hospitable, kind, and resourceful.  There are nine animals for every one person in the entire country.  Mongolia has the second largest coal reserves and a significantly large plutonium reserve had just been newly discovered earlier that summer in Mongolia and thought to be a part of the Kazakhstan mine; the people were very nervous about both Russia's and China's reactions to the discovery. The biggest surprise for me, I learned Sweetwater also rebuilt the Dayan Derkh Monastery, which we were allowed to visit.  It was an epic trip for us.  Cody caught his 100th species on the fly, a Lenok, photographed the Golden Eagle festival in Bayan-Olgii aimag, learned about the What 3 Words app as we drove across Mongolia where there were no roads, and ate new-to-him meats.  I also added to my species list, saw ancient Deerstones, petted a yak, enjoyed a camel, saw so many amazing birds, and celebrated our 8th anniversary there.  There are still more places to tick on our Bucket Lists, but to have visited the #1 choice?  Satisfaction, glorious reverie and satisfaction, indeed.

A person was paid to come add coal and stoke our fire; we were not supposed 
to handle any of the coal or keep the fire going.  By 4 am, it was cold.

Wool rugs kept everything warm and were hand woven

Camp Kitchen and Entertaining Area

Camp Bathhouse and Toilets

September Full Moon

Cody's 1st Taimen, Day 1

Cody's 2nd Taimen, Day 2

Day 4's Taimen

Taimen Release

Telltale white mouth

Julia's 1st Taimen, Day 4

Final Taimen, Day 6

Last day:  Julia's IGFA World Record, 6kg/12lb Tippet class, Taimen weighed 7 lb, 12 oz.

Celebrating successes

Last day:  Cody's 1st Lenok and 100th species on the fly

Last Day:  Julia's 1st Lenok

Dayan Derkh Monastery

Last night's entertainment was a musical performance from nearby villagers (2 hours away)

I was taught Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star and the opening to We Wish You a Merry Christmas

Sunrise over the Eg-Uur Watershed

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