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A Chance Encounter

by Tyler

This morning, while I was securing our camera to the back of my bike, Tara announced, "here comes a flock of sheep!" A shepherd and his menagerie were approaching, complete with several barking dogs. The sheep didn't seem to mind us, they must've been a bit more domesticated than the ones we'd seen on Crete, who dashed away at the slightest noise.


Of course we didn't speak the same language, but our charades are quite good after a year on the road. We were able to hold a decent conversation, answering the shepherd's many questions about our trip. As we left, waving farewell, Tara laughed and said the guy's hat looked like the ones the "threeeee robbers" wore in her favorite childhood cartoon.

Wheeling our bikes back to the stream again, we found the water to be much colder today. When I offered to ferry Tara's bike over for her, she agreed immediately. During the first pass, I almost lost mine in the current! As I was momentarily unbalanced, holding on for dear life, horrific thoughts of our camera tumbling into the water raced through my mind.

I wasn't expecting such a strong force from the relatively shallow crossing; it must've been higher this morning. It took all of my strength to stay upright and wrestle my bike out of the water before it submerged completely. Safely on the other side, I hopped around, sucking air in through my teeth, ouching from the cold until I could feel my feet enough to go do it all over again. It was frigid!

Tyler Fording a Stream

Disaster averted, we hit the road and Tara informed me about her self-assigned job for the day: to find an old barn to photograph. Each area seems to have a distinctive style; Arges county (where we are currently) has lots of wooden, double-decker ones with ladders to reach the top. Many are intricately carved, but the photo that turned out best was this simple one:


I really liked the way the light was hitting this fence, the natural vignetting was really pleasing to me:


When it was time for lunch we hiked down to a grassy field near the road to have a picnic. We were eating some cheesy garlic pasta when Tara said, "Hey there's a dog over there in the woods!" Sure enough, just a few feet away sleeping amongst the trees, was this guy.

Friendly Stray Romanian Dog

We invited him over to share in our lunch, of course.

Tara and Doggie Tara and Doggie

Check out those bangs; my hair looked like that in elementary school!

Friendly Stray Romanian Dog

As we packed up for lunch we were passed by a bonafide gypsy wagon heading in the opposite direction. This guy smiled and waved, agreeing when we motioned a request to take his photo. The kids who were sitting in the back of the wagon shouted for money as they passed (we think).

Gypsy Wagon

Soon we came to a lovely woods that Tara said was, "like riding through a fairy tale." Just then, a woodsman popped out of the forest with an axe slung over his shoulder. Between that and the gyspy wagon we'd just seen, I was inclined to agree!


Tara had been deep in thought about our book during the ride, and mentioned earlier wanting to stop to get some ideas down. This seemed like the perfect place to do it, so we set up under the canopy of trees, marveling at the concept of taking an hour's rest at midday. We used to do it all the time in Italy but for some reason we'd completely forgotten about the possibility. Now that the days are longer, we'll have to do it more often.

Tara Writing

I went off to take photos of bugs, but came running back when Tara shouted excitedly that she had found walnuts! So that's what walnut trees look like. She was excited to open them, but they were both rotten. I guess these were from last season?

Walnuts Rotten Walnut

While Tara got down to writing, I wandered around in the trees, watching the sun filter through the leaves, searching for good subjects. This is quickly becoming my favorite type of photography. For some reason it is intensely relaxing to me, walking quietly through the woods, intentionally becoming aware of the vast amount of tiny life all around me.

Here are the results of my search:

Bee Tiny Grasshopper Ladybug Taking Off Ladybug Taking Off Spider's Nest

After an hour or so we hit the road again, both feeling refreshed. Our next destination was a highway heading to Bucharest. Towards the end of the day we had great difficulty finding a free-camp. We spent an hour of waffling back and forth about whether or not to settle in a very large field. For reasons unexplained, I felt uneasy about the area and couldn't shake it.

It was late, Tara didn't want to get back on the busy road with no shoulder, and she was starving. Given that I basically never have bad vibes about the safety of a free-camp, she took it to heart. We left. I felt better, but Tara was famished, so we stopped by the side of the road for a big snack.

Hunger abated, we hit the highway again. Shortly, we came to a dirt track leading off the road to our right. At the bottom was a decent spot: fine, but not great, and not very hidden at all. We were deciding what to do when out of the woods, seemingly from nowhere, came trotting two itty bitty black and white puppies.

Abandoned Border Collies

We were stunned for a moment by the absurdity of it, and then couldn't help but laugh. They bounded up to us in the most adorable display we've seen since we met a pair of kittens at Agriturismo Mezzapiaggia. I've said it before but it bears repeating: the amount of serendipitous stuff that happens to us out here is a little staggering at times.

Romanian Border Collie Pups

It was hard to set up camp or get anything done, really, because… look at these puppies!

Tara With Abandoned Puppies Tara With Abandoned Puppies Tyler & Abandoned Pups

When we did get camp made, the cute parade took a turn for the serious. Suddenly, I realized these little guys were out here alone. Nobody was around to take care of them. We couldn't just leave them out in the cold night alone, but we couldn't very well provide them with a home either.

As night began to fall and the temperature with it, we took them into our tent. Then, I took a picture of them, uploaded it, and posted it on a forum I run, which happens to be full of animal lovers. My plan was to check back later in the evening to see if anyone had any good suggestions. As I was working on a satellite internet which costs $6 per mb of transfer, I couldn't afford to start searching online myself.

Abandoned Collie Abandoned Collies

Later that night when I checked back in, Jessica, one of the posters on the forum, referred us to Romania Animal Rescue, a US company working to help save strays in Romania. I called them and spoke with Rory who promised to send us an email with some possible contacts to try tomorrow.

With a general sense of hope, the four of us settled into our sleeping bag, a warm fuzzy bundle of love. It was a strange sensation, having other lives in our tent. I can only begin imagine how my sister, a new mother, must feel about her son Eli. As I lay there, watching the tiny chests of our sleeping border collies rise and fall, I felt an intense wave of protectiveness wash over me. It was overwhelming.