Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Mighty Gauja

Your correspondents did their best to arrive in Latvia prepared for the long, dark winter. We calculated that we would need some way to get out and exercise during those frozen six months, so we invested in snowshoes. We tried to invest in cross-country skis, but those took a little more research and a little more expense and it just didn't happen. But that's just as well, because the secret of the long, dark, frozen winter here is that it is long, it is dark, and it is frozen, but it isn't really all that snowy. Reliable reports indicate that there were only a couple decent snowstorms the whole winter last year, and this year is barely ahead of that.

In any case, after a few meager inches of snow last week, your correspondents felt like they needed to get out and justify the purchase of said snowshoes. We went to the Gauja National Park, centered around Latvia's most scenic river, and found a visitors' center to inquire about trails. The friendly visitors' center employee told us that several trails were closed because of snow, but the nature walk, where one could see a variety of animals, was open. We tried in vain to explain that we wanted to walk on snowy trails because we had snowshoes. This is a hard concept to explain without the word "snowshoes" in one's vocabulary. Because to literally say "snow shoes" makes it sound like you have winter boots, which isn't really the same.

Anyway, we decided to try out the closed trail and were rewarded with the above picturesque view of the Gauja.

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