Out & About Part 2 – Thunder Dog

OK, so last time I told you all about my very first ice skating experience, as well as our lamb dinner at someone’s flat.  That was a week ago this past Saturday.

The Monday immediately following (so that makes it just over a week ago), a small group of us went to the movies.  This was my first time going out to see a film since I got here.  Being a huge – huge, huge, HUGE! – fan of Agatha Christie, I’ve been waiting for Murder On the Orient Express to come out.  But while we were still waiting, another genre that I loved released a new movie.  A superhero movie.  Thor: RagnarokA bunch of us nerds banded together, caught a cab and went to the nearby Lena Theatre where they were having the last night of the movie’s showing in English, with Russian subtitles.

Our tickets had been purchased earlier in the day so when we arrived, we went to the concession stand and bought food (I had samsa for the first time – delicious!), then directly into the theatre where we settled into our very comfortable seats.  We were right on time for the opening credits.  There’s no coat check room at that theatre so we simply shrugged out of our jackets and kept our ski pants on.  Oh!  Forgot to tell you.  I’ve been wearing ski pants outside for about two weeks now, since the temperature dropped to -30˚C.  Aaaaaaand it’s still not officially winter yet.

Anyway, I thoroughly enjoyed the movie.  The god of thunder did not disappoint.  I freely admit that a part of my enjoyment stemmed from my visual appreciation of Chris Hemsworth.  Don’t judge me; I’ve had a severe lack of masculine eye candy in my life in recent years.  Still, it was mostly the action that I loved.  The story was pretty good too.

But the thing that made an impression on me for the night was how hot my ski pants are.  I mean, HOT!  We were about halfway through the movie when I started feeling uncomfortably warm but I managed to make it all the way through without embarrassing myself, since I was highly inclined to strip them off and chuck them far away from me.  Seriously, I think I got the best pair ever because they seem to generate heat, not just keep the cold out.  By the time I got home at around midnight and peeled them off, my leggings underneath were damp with sweat.  Despite that minor discomfort, I enjoyed my first movie experience here.

Next up is how I spent the early part of this past Sunday afternoon.  I went to my very first ever dog sled race.  It was held on a lake near the edge of town.  Only two of us expressed an intention to attend the race so we met at school and got a ride from the local teacher who had suggested the event in the first place.  She had other plans for the afternoon and didn’t intend to stay for the races but she felt a responsibility to ensure that we got there OK even though we said we were Ok to walk.  See?  I told you how great these women are.

I went with an open mind and no expectations since I’ve never been to a dog sled race of any kind, and my open mind paid off.  The event didn’t seem to be particularly well organised but the dogs were so darn adorable that I didn’t care.  As far as I could tell, there were between thirty and fifty people there (those poor estimation skills at work again) and at least twenty dogs of various breeds.  The event was to begin at noon but the first race didn’t get underway until about 12:20 pm by my guess.  They started with the kids’ race.

I thought several contestants would race at the same time but it seemed to have been a time event because the competitors ran one at a time.  Each dog was attached to a sled by a harness, with its human standing on the sled behind it.  They started from a position down the lake then ran a straight shot towards where we spectators were standing at the finish line.  After three or four contestants ran, I understood how it worked and I started cheering for the next dog up.  I guess I distracted it because the dog swerved away from the finish line and ran straight towards me and gave me doggy love.  I wanted to feel bad (the kid on its sled was giving me dirty looks) but I couldn’t because it was such a nice dog.

I’m sorry I have no pictures to show you the set up but by the time they got started, it was too cold for me to be taking my hands out of my mittens to take pictures.  I did get you this, though…

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Look at this giant poodle puppy…so adorable!

We stayed only for about an hour and didn’t hang around for the adults’ race because my feet were freezing and my companion’s hands were freezing too.  When I had left home, the temperature was -28˚C but it was much colder on the ice.  I should have worn my -50˚C boots.  It was so cold, in fact, that frost formed on my eyelashes, on the scarf I had wrapped around my face, and on the fur on the hood of my coat.  Again, it was too cold for me to keep taking my hands out of my mittens to take pictures so I have none to show you of frosty me.

Thankfully, the rest of my gear was fine.  Honestly, if my boots had been fine for standing around on a frozen lake, I would have hung around for much longer because, well, it felt good to be standing out on a frozen lake with a score of beautiful dogs.  In fact, it felt better than good.  It felt amazing.  There was not one moment in my life before this that I thought I would be standing on a frozen lake for any reason at all.  So I don’t care how cold my feet were.  I’d do it again in a heartbeat!

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