A HARE RUNS IN FRONT OF THE MACHINE, AND BEYOND IT IS LONG. We already see almost nothing - the battery died in the morning, so there are no headlights, no windshield wipers, no David Bowie, and not even a gas meter: we are driving blind in every sense. Just about it will be necessary to stop for the night, because almost no one sees us on the road either - neither people nor animals - even though we are a big red bus.
In my childhood there were so many cars that a little bit more and I would become a car mechanic
When it got completely dark, we caught up with the "valley of death": "No, well, you have to get there to spend the night in Monchegorsk!" This polar city is famous for two things: the sculpture of an elk and how it turned the surrounding area into a man-made wasteland at the end of the twentieth century. Emissions from the Severonikel combine burned trees and rocks, scared off partridges and foxes - the landscape still resembles Mars a little. We park the bus on a hill, from where on one side there is a view of the pipes of the Kola MMC, and on the other - of the lake, as gloomy as in Twin Peaks. We make tea with spruce cones, wild apples and tundra lingonberries, make a sandwich with venison, put the pots of thyme and juniper on the roof and go to bed. From passing cars, the bus rocks, so we fall asleep quickly, but before bed I have time to think that this is another perfect day on the road.
In my childhood, there were so many cars that a little bit more and I would become a car mechanic. Grandfather Radiy put me behind the wheel before I could clearly pronounce the name of the brand of his car - said "Moshkvich". And while my car fleet of models occupied all the windowsills in the house, I often disappeared in the garage with my dad - I washed our Volga to the color of milk. The details of the car's structure interested me a little. Cars had other advantages: they are beautiful and the perfect pastime. When it came time to learn to drive, I chose the women's driving school "Debut" - we were explained the rules of traffic rules at the Khitrukovsky "Winnie the Pooh". In a class with a copy of the engine, next to the same age as my grandmother and my peers, I first felt something like girl power - all these beautiful women were eager to drive.
The first car did not work. A used metallic olive nine had been parked in front of the house for months. During this time, homeless people spent the night in it, they robbed it a couple of times and even stuck a syringe into the wheel, leaving it to stick out. I patched everything up, made a couple of attempts to get somewhere. But then the car next to mine just took and exploded - then I decided that I was not yet ready for such a busy life, and sold Oliviero (as I called her). The main thing is that I realized that I don't need a car without a like-minded person.
"Raketa" appeared together with Bolshakov - we had just started dating and in order to diversify our meetings, we took from a friend to ride a "kopeck" that was not very necessary for him - "Zhiguli" of 1979. Needless to say, we still haven't returned it? Vanya had no rights then, so I drove constantly. Recently, a psychologist asked when I feel calm in my life, and I was surprised to find that I was driving. At first, however, we were on our nerves - until I caught myself screaming “Lord, why is a person walking down the road right towards me ?!” or "Brake, in the fog hedgehog!". Instead, we drive and argue with Vanya about something that has nothing to do with driving. It was so great to realize that since I was driving, I can now sort things out, then, therefore, I drive confidently. We began to discuss everything in the car. And since on the road we only want to talk about something important, "Raketa" brought us very close, and we fell in love with it, including for this.
At first, the trips looked like this: we went out of town, when all of Moscow began the most revelry, on the night from Friday to Saturday - for something that someone finds at a rave, someone on Facebook, someone abroad or visiting - we found it in the forests and villages. The route was laid most often according to the toponyms that attracted us. For example: "Let's go to Empty Christmas!" or "Well, to the Old Bolsheviks?" Sometimes they went specifically to strange objects, like the experimental railway ring, of which there are quite a few near Moscow. Sometimes friends gave us the keys to their summer cottages. Where to go was not so important: the car itself became the reason for the trip for us, and not a way to get from point A to point B.
We drove rolls of hay with the "Rocket", drove greyhounds across the field, danced on the roof, and photographed the car in ridiculous situations. Once we even got into a small accident: a driver ran into us from behind, who was staring at a dry cow parsnip sticking a couple of meters out of the window above our car - we were taking it as a birthday bouquet. But even without plants, many showed us the "class", honked, started chatting with us and were surprised that I was driving. For many in Moscow, a girl and a Soviet car are complex concepts if she is not in a passenger car. But far from the city, I saw a lot of women, cutting through on "gazelles" and "Cossacks".
We set up a separate Instagram account for Raketa, which soon had an amazing effect. We were interviewed as artists, Raketa itself took part in the exhibition of motorcycle-custom culture Nuts & Bolts, they began to turn to us with offers to test new cars and as connoisseurs of the Moscow region and the region, which we really became in part.
From such trips, you learn a lot about life outside the Moscow Ring Road. Firstly, you start to really, and not by compulsion, to love birches and all that nature, which is called "Russian". Suddenly it turned out that moss, pine forests, hills begin a hundred kilometers from Moscow; that the fog over the river might be more enjoyable than a whole week in Vienna. Sometimes we braked sharply at some reservoir at three or four in the morning and watched the dawn for a long time. It was strange and new, because we have always loved the city. I discovered bird sanctuaries, pontoon bridges and Muscovites who moved out of town. We fell in love with Saanen goats, Vietnamese pigs, fluffy chickens that look like kittens. The car is a new level of freedom. It can take you where even a helicopter cannot take you - for example, into a deep thicket. And considering that our "kopeck" went in the villages for its own, almost all doors were open to us. So we moved from aimless trips to exploring territories.
But there was a nuance - we both worked in offices and could only go out on weekends. In contrast to how happy we were on our trips, our publishing houses were somehow not noticeably happy. And in the end we decided to do the same with the work as we did with the car - move together in an unknown direction. Now we can say that this was the most correct decision. Soon we were offered to head a magazine about townspeople who moved to the countryside - so the trips were partially monetized.
Suddenly it turned out that moss, pine forests, hills begin a hundred kilometers from Moscow; that the fog over the river can be liked more than a whole week
I wondered how we could be of any use to anyone: what kind of example could we set, and what could we do at all? And I decided that the best continuation of our trips would be if some of our friends stopped saving money for expensive cars and revived the cars of their grand relatives. Or they would buy used Soviet cars and drive too, getting that incredible pleasure that we got. It would even be possible to arrange joint trips. But the idea did not catch on among friends, and we ourselves rolled those who wanted something new.Sometimes there weren't enough places for everyone, sometimes I wanted to go further than a hundred kilometers from Moscow. We began to think about the development of history and of ourselves in general as a project.
Once Bolshakov brought a thick book "Off the road: explorers, vans, and life off the beaten track" from Berlin. She sprinkled stories of people who travel around the world in minivans: here is a girl working as a freelancer and travels around the states, here is an old man with a bushy beard set off around the world, here a couple of Americans went to Russia. Someone promotes responsible travel, someone asceticism, someone hedonism - they built a king-bed in the car. All these wildly beautiful pictures opened up new worlds. And we realized that we also need a minivan and a big idea associated with it.
We found the perfect car in Avito - a red 1992 Mercedes-Benz bus that looked like a cow, a vacuum cleaner and a piece of Scandinavian design at the same time. And he had curtains! After a week of negotiations, we agreed on a price. One problem - the car was parked in front of its owner's house in Arkhangelsk. So, together with our first joint property, we got a trip, during which we even visited the beautiful island of Yagry. On the way to it, you can see how submarines stick out of the water, and next to the sandy sea beach - strangely designed Soviet high-rise buildings. I don't know what else would lead me there.
We called the car "Kometa", returned to Moscow and began to think. We decided to associate our road trips with food after the gatsrokamp that took place in Nikola-Lenivets, and now we realized: we need to go and cook right on the way from what we find in the wild and in the villages. So at the end of summer we packed our red bus with dishes, put three friends in it and headed north - to the Barents Sea and back. It turned out so cool that I want to do it a hundred more times - correcting the shortcomings, in the company of vegans and butchers, bakers and chefs, complicating the route, and with a broadcast - preferably television.
The journey lasted 14 days and 4500 kilometers. All the way we ran with the car like anxious parents: here it creaks a little, here it falls off - and stood, embracing, at night in some workshop on the outskirts of Vytegra, looking at the suspended Comet. Then I realized that Vanya, who by that time had become the second driver, was developing something like a complex on the basis of the fact that he did not understand the pieces of iron, which meant that he was “not a man”. The same stupid gender stereotype as the fact that all women on the road are a disaster. Together we began to figure out what our car was stuffed with: in the alternator belt, in the hub bearing, and even in how to find a car repairman at any time, anywhere. And they also made sure that if you really need it, then everything is possible. At night, get something that, as everyone says, you can't find before dawn, wash the firemen's car when all car washes are closed, or get local fish in a village where nothing has been caught for a long time.
In the north of Russia, there are not only Icelandic landscapes, a host of berries, the funny Sami capital of reindeer shepherds Lovozero and the darkness of natural spas. There we met very sympathetic people - they say this cold teaches the northerners to unite. Somehow we ended up almost at night in a remote village and could not find a suitable place to sleep. Noticing the house where the light was still on, we asked to camp in the courtyard. The owner looked down at us - four girls and one guy from Moscow - and allowed us to stay. We cooked pike soup right on the spot, and in the morning the owner of the house also examined our car for breakdowns while we talked with his centenary mother Anisia. The woman did not see well, but she had practically no gray hair. She joked and talked about everything - about her youth, about the village - and it was very interesting for her to hear about us. I realized how much I miss grandmothers and stories from the lives of women of the generation before last - thanks to them, you always better understand what is happening today. We bought an ice cream for all their family and drove on.
What's next? The more you have driven, the more you can travel: the driving muscles are trained in the same way as the muscles of the body - the whole world starts to seem very small, because you yourself can go around it. I want to drive more. I hope to involve the villagers in the project, sometimes turning into a rural food truck and treating them to food from their familiar local products, but in a new form. I am thinking of learning a lot more about myself, about relationships and about the world. As it was written in one of the workshops where we visited: "My experience is the most expensive, but the best teacher." For example, I will never forget the two plant pots on the roof of our bus again.
Photos: personal archive, Ivan Bolshakov