The Olympics in Sochi spur pleasant memories and prompt colorful stories for one retired Missoula teacher.
The city by the Black Sea is a favorite of the world traveler, whose interest in all things Russian, dates back to the Cold War, and continues with lifelong friendships formed on a Sochi beach.
George Sherry was teaching elementary school in Missoula and Boulder, Montana, during the Cold War.
The Soviet Union always fascinated him. He learned to speak Russian. He taught English to Russian kids.
He's been to Russia nine times, and has toured all over that massive country. But Sochi is special.
"It's a very beautiful city," said Sherry in Russian.
Photographs he has taken of Sochi look more lush green than Olympic snow white.
Sherry remembers the city as a great place for the circus.
There's a photo of him swimming in the Black Sea at Sochi.
It was on a beach at Sochi he met Ilia and Fania Furmanov one morning while Fania did her morning exercises. The couple invited George to visit at their home in Leningrad. Eventually the Furmanovs moved to Seattle.
"We call each other about two or three times a month," said Sherry. "I go to visit them once or twice a year and they come here about every other year."
Sochi was the beginning of a beautiful friendship.