Baikonur – Day 10

Well, it is the weekend…like we need more rest!

But seriously, it is the last day before lots of stuff starts to happen so it is essentially a good day off.

We got to sleep in again which was nice.   We woke to a beautiful, crispy winter day.  The sun shining on all the little snow flakes making the place glisten – seriously, everyone was commenting on how beautiful it is with the snow so shiny.  I took some pictures with my BB so they don’t do it justice, and I hope I can get some D2X photos later or tomorrow to show it a little.

Don, Oleg and Andre by the Christmas Tree, squeaky music still playing.

Don, Oleg and Andre by the Christmas Tree, squeaky music still playing.

The big activity of the day was signing – not really for the backup crew, just a few for us.  But the prime crew has programs to sign.  They are really nice, but probably over 500 of them.  We all got a couple to take home which is great.  Lots of info about the crews and the Soyuz.  It is seriously a good reference document and done very thoroughly.  I love it.  We took lots of photos of the prime crew signing and Don made the pictures into a time lapse movie –very fun!  I am learning a lot from him.  He definitely makes life here interesting.  Again, I feel really lucky to be spending time with this prime crew as well as our own crew.  Lots of time to get to know one another –priceless as they say.

My favorite instructor twins, Petrovich and Pavlov.

My favorite instructor twins, Petrovich and Pavlov.

It was so beautiful from my window, I decided I needed to go for a run.  As I was leaving the building the rest of the gang (trainers, instructors, etc) were returning from the market.  My favorite twins, Petrovich and Pavlov were outside so luckily I got a picture with them (attached).  They are the old guard instructors – very animated but lovely.  Again, I feel very lucky to get to know these folks.  Then I ran down to the end to do my laps.  As I was jogging through the trees the light wind was blowing the big flakes off the trees in my face.  Actually, it felt really nice and was sort of fun as the sun was still shining brightly in this “snowstorm!”  When I got to the Proton rocket, I saw a big German shepherd sniffing around the trees – well probably peeing on one of the trees.  He saw me, we stared at each other for a moment.  It was neat to see his big healthy body in the snow.  I have seen German shepherd here before as guard dogs.  He might have been one of the offspring, since he looked really good.  Not like a stray.  He slipped through the thrones of the fence and took off as I got closer.  I did my jog and then went into the gym to warm up  and lift a bit.

Masha was at the desk and watching TV with Dima.  I think I guilted Dima into coming to the gym.  Aki and Sasha were already in the gym with the head doctor.  Dima soon joined us.  We all lifted a bit.  I showed Sasha how to do squats and RDL-I was seriously a little afraid of doing this.  He is the PRIME launch person for the prime crew so I was constantly critiquing him and making him use his back correctly.  I couldn’t stand it if he got hurt before the launch…yikes!  We had fun in the gym together and then had to have a round of badminton!  It was serious stuff!  Even Don’t doctor, Joe Dervay was into it…we have pictures to prove it!  Again, really great folks and I am really happy to be able to come here and get to know all these folks.  They really make the experience.

The badminton teams... Aki, Dima, Sasha and me.   It was Aki and Sasha against me and Dima.  Sasha and Dima are our trainers.  Sasha is the prime crew instructor and Dima is our crew's instructor.  They will be in the launch bunker at launch.  They are the voice that talks to the crew and reads them all the instructions they are to do.  They work hand in hand with the folks here who process the vehicle to get it read for the specific crews.  They are our advocates and good friends.

The badminton teams… Aki, Dima, Sasha and me. It was Aki and Sasha against me and Dima. Sasha and Dima are our trainers. Sasha is the prime crew instructor and Dima is our crew’s instructor. They will be in the launch bunker at launch. They are the voice that talks to the crew and reads them all the instructions they are to do. They work hand in hand with the folks here who process the vehicle to get it read for the specific crews. They are our advocates and good friends.

Maybe I am feeling like this is all coming to an end quickly – made me think about all the people here to support this launch.   I’ve heard it said many times before, it isn’t what you do, it is who you do it with which makes the event worthwhile.  I believe that to be true.  The people make the process.   More and more people are on their way early tomorrow morning.  Don told us that his family is leaving the Volga tomorrow around 3am.  It will be along day for all of them.  We will be here waiting to greet the next group and hope to make their experience as memorable as ours has been so far.

This is Tanya and Natasha.  Officially, they are our interpreters here.  One for each crew.  Unofficially, they are of course our friends, confidants, photographers, nurses, dancing partners, "get you out of a bad situation" folks!  All around great people you can really count on and trust.  We are lucky to be surrounded by such wonderful people.

This is Tanya and Natasha. Officially, they are our interpreters here. One for each crew. Unofficially, they are of course our friends, confidants, photographers, nurses, dancing partners, “get you out of a bad situation” folks! All around great people you can really count on and trust. We are lucky to be surrounded by such wonderful people.

Another trip to the banya this evening – we are lucky!  It is cold out there.  Just went for a little walk with Dr. Joe.  I heard there was hockey – but no one was on the ice.  I slid around on it – thinking curling might be a little safer overall than hockey at this moment in time.  The sun is starting to set, so the banya will be a nicer place to be than outside in the elements!

Banya was nice.  We had some really nice conversations about life and politics.  Funny.  I stayed for a little while longer and chatted with the trainer, Evgeny.   He is a strength and conditioning trainer like Beth was.  He is really a nice guy.  I learned he was a bike rider and genuinely a great sportsman.  He has good ideas about cosmonaut training.  Fun to chat with.

On the way back, I chatted a little with Masha.  She is my friend who works at the front desk.  I think we may go out in town the night of launch.  It is late, so we have to stay in Baikonur, and I haven’t been out of the prison compound.  So, with her living here, it might be fun to hang out with her.  We agreed, that is what we will do.

Also ran into the head Soyuz instructor.  He is a little devious and was prodding me to come over to make our Dima sing.  Did I mention, he is really a good guitar player and singer – he is just shy.  I think Yuri is trying to get me help Dima get out of his shyness.  Could be funny.  I will report later…

The pool..not really used right now...

The pool..not really used right now…

The basketball/hockey rink...I'm going to check it out.  They say folks are playing...

The basketball/hockey rink…I’m going to check it out. They say folks are playing…

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