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Russia - Arctic Circle

Most of the towns north of Petrozavodsk looked pretty much like this.
These guys gave me the coolest Russian cycle hat.  It says "Russia" in Russian on it, although I didn't even know that until I got to South Africa and someone told me.  They did the route shown on the map below which I would really have liked to get in on if I'd known about it.
Petrozavodsk is a sister city to Duluth Minnesota, whatever that means.  Duluth commissioned this "sculpture", which some would call artistic but I just found to be weird.  I went looking for the Afghan War Memorial that's supposed to be around, but never managed to find it.
The landscapes north of St. Petersburg were fabulous.  It would be a great place to go hiking.
Here's my last campsite before I bagged it and took the train. The tent gets a bit claustrophobic after a day.
These guys apparently don't see an American with a bike and a laptop every day.  We had a great time while waiting for the train.
I lucked out and bunked with someone that spoke English on the train ride to Murmansk.  As you can see, the storage of the bike problem was solved with relatively little hassle.
The museum in Murmansk had a pretty big section showing all the things that were required to prevail in WWII.  This lathe was part of the section showing industry.  I just took the picture because as a kid I spent hours standing around a lathe a lot like this talking with the machinist.  He got me interested in electronics, which eventually lead to computers.  He taught me a lot of the basics writing schematics out on the side of a big wood stove with soapstone.  I never did develop much skill running lathes, but I got pretty good at avoiding work.
A lot of Murmansk has a sort of half-finished look to it.  The population statistics are hard to nail down because people are leaving in droves.  I'm not sure why, but I assume the demise of the huge defense budget probably cut way down on the jobs.  People used to stay here because they could make a lot of money.  That appears to be less true now.
Follow this river off to the right of the photo for about 50 km and you get to Severmorsk, which has the dubious distinction of being home to the largest concentration of naval forces in the world.  I really wanted to go there, but would have had to return to Moscow to get permission and it would have taken a while.
This is "Alayosh", a giant monstrosity of a concrete statue of a WWII infantryman.  Lonely Planet said it "could only exist in Russia".  I'm inclined to agree with them.
Most of my week in Murmansk I didn't see any of the hated Soviet Apartment Blocks.  Here they are outside of town on the way to the airport.