Monday, March 15, 2010

Raving About Russia

A couple of things I find fascinating about Russia: One, it’s immense size. Two, according to a map, you could almost get there from any point in the U.S. by driving to the western most tip of Alaska and swimming across the Bering Strait. Yes, I know this is not realistic – it just looks that way. But even if there were roads through all that Canadian and Alaskan wilderness, and the swimmer in question was Michael Phelps, my guess is the Bering Strait would be cold enough to instantly ice-cube someone within minutes. (It connects the Bering Sea and Arctic Ocean.)

Russia has many interesting features and places to visit, but the one I’ve always wanted to see is Lake Baikal. Like Russia, it is huge. Located in Southern Siberia, Lake Baikal is the largest and deepest freshwater lake in the world. It is also one of the most ancient lakes on our planet, estimated at 25-30 million years old. It lies in a gorge where the earth’s crust is pulling apart. What does that mean, exactly? I don’t know – sounds a little scary. It’s age, depth and other unique features mean that two-thirds of this lake’s 2,000 species of plants and animals don’t exist anywhere else in the world! Now that is amazing!

One of the lake’s popular critters is the Nerpa Seal, which is fat and earless. No one knows how these seals came to live there, since it is a great distance from any ocean. I love it that our world still has mysteries!

Completely surrounded by mountains, the sheer beauty of this lake draws people from all over the world. Coming soon…the food of Russia, along with a recipe!

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