One of the things about Baku that we have been looking forward to is its proximity to mountains. I used to enjoy hiking, but haven't hiked since I have had children, and don't anticipate being able to hike for many more years. I do, however, still enjoy going up into the mountains if even for a drive or a picnic. They're much more scenic than just sitting in the woods somewhere.
So Monday morning after sleeping in, eating a big breakfast, and deliberating for awhile about what to do for our holiday, we decided to go up near the Alti Agach National Forest and have a picnic. Half an hour later everyone was fed, bathroomed, and in the car ready to go. We swung by the grocery store for picnic supplies, and off we went on our adventure.
Brandon had gone camping in the spot we were going, and so knew somewhat how to get there. We drove up the Baku-Guba-Russia highway (just in case you want to get to Russia, that's how you get there) along the Caspian, and then headed west. We drove for awhile through low, brown hills and then found out why the mountains were called the Candy Cane Mountains.
We thought about stopping, and then decided to keep driving since Brandon recognized the blue bus shelter in the picture and realized that we were on the right road. After some more driving, the hills turned from brown to green and we climbed up into a lovely green mountain valley.
Brandon turned off and we drove through a small village, almost getting stuck in a wet green field (some friends warned us about the fields - they had to have a local dump trump pull them out once), and provided a source of amusement for the locals.
Eventually we found Brandon's former camping spot, and pulled out our lunch.
And of course Edwin's toilet. Because no picnic is complete without a bright red plastic potty in attendance.
Joseph was faintly amused, and enjoyed the crackers.
Sophia and Edwin fought over the sweet corn puffs. They're like Cheetos, except sweet. It gets me every time. I can't figure out if they're supposed to be dessert or just a snack. But since the Azerbaijanis eat jam with a spoon (not on bread), I'm guessing they just like their snacks sweet.
There were lovely wildflowers everywhere. And grasshoppers. Everywhere. It's a good thing nobody's bothered by bugs.
At this point in the picture sequence, it started raining. We rushed everything into the car, buckled the children into their seats, and then the rain stopped. So we went 'hiking.' At first we wandered around in the woods, but when Edwin started freaking out about weeds hitting his legs, we went to the 'road,' a dirt track with more cow hoof prints than tire tracks. Then he really started freaking out about the mud caking on his shoes. There's always one malcontent in every family outing, so we ignored him and kept walking.
The walk was absolutely lovely, quite pleasant (excepting the toddler screaming 'Dirty shoe!!!' non-stop) and best of all completely deserted. We already have plans to go back.