When a family visit means a trip to Siberia

The writer works at The Spotlight in the advertising department.

A trip to see my in-laws is not a simple thing, and does not happen for me as often as it does for my wife and daughter. You see, my wife's family lives 5,093 miles from Albany, the farthest you can travel east in Eastern Europe, in a remote city in Western Siberia called Ekaterinburg. This is where all of my wife's family is, but now, more importantly, this is where my daughter's grandparents, great-grandmother, aunts and uncles, first and second cousins all live.

After an entire day of traveling (and I mean a solid 24 hours), I finally arrive at the childhood home of my wife, Ekaterina. I remove my boots and goose-down jacket and immediately settle into my spot at the kitchen table with my daughter in my lap, my wife across from me, her dad at the table head, her mom at her post in front of the stove and Great-Grandma in her comfy-cushioned chair by the window where the light is best for knitting. This is where I will spend 80 percent of my time for the next seven days in the kitchen; eating and toasting just being together.

For me, this is paradise. Gone is the cell phone and the laptop, along with the e-mails, text messages, notifications, status updates and tweets. Internet service, much less wireless signals, are few and far between here and despite having what is called a world phone, it still costs me five bucks a minute to use it. So I don't. There is absolutely nothing else to do in this place but relax and get to know more about my wife's family and absorb a little culture. I also get to know more about their country and the way they live.

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