Last year I finally made it to the eastern steppes, the largest remaining stretch of an ecosystem that at one time stretched from near the Pacific Ocean all the way west to Hungary. Now there are only remnants and Mongolia has the largest, best preserved part. We were heading west from Toson Hulstay Nature Reserve, a steppe area that is home to Mongolian gazelles and a variety of other mammals and birds, and had just crossed the timber bridge in the painting. We stopped to stretch and walk out on it to see the river. I got out of the van, turned back to look toward the way we’d just come, and saw this enormous cloud formation with rain in the distance. Summer is the rainy season in Mongolia and storms like this are welcomed by the herders whose animals depend on the grass that is watered by the rains. A good grass year means that more animals have a better chance to survive the long hard winters. So I never mind rain when I’m traveling there. I’m just happy for the local people.