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Ridges & Troughs

by Tyler

As he has every morning during our stay in Bucharest, Rob made us a delicious breakfast and gently rebuffed all offers of help. He even made us two extra breakfast sandwiches and packed them carefully in tinfoil so we could have them for lunch! When it was time to go, we exchanged hugs, many thanks, and promises to meet up when he visits the US again to see his older brother. Thank you so much for hosting us, Rob!

As we pedaled away, waving goodbye as we went, I was immediately filled with excitement, ready for whatever adventures the day might bring. I've said this before, but lately it really does feel that our riding days are easier than our "off" days are! It felt like we were leaving to go on vacation.

As we rode away, I got to spring some exciting news on Tara. I decided to be a vegetable lover a few days ago. She was dumbstruck when I informed her of this by announcing plainly (and wildly out of character), "I'm tired of all this meat and cheese for lunch, we need to get more veggies. All kinds of them. I LOVE vegetables!" She rode with her mouth open for a second, then cocked her head, eying me distrustfully as if some kind of alien life form had taken over my body. Around the time I convinced her I was serious, we passed a market, so we pulled over to stock up.

While Tara excitedly picked through the stalls, shouting over to me "this will open up whole worlds of cooking!" I spent some time visiting the local birds. The overfed fatties could barely fly! It was hilarious watching them struggle to reach the rafters, and even more comical watching them drop like stones into the giant, endless bowls of food below them.

Lucky Bird Lucky Bird Heaven Lucky Bird Jackpot Market Bird Lucky Market Bird

After our fruit and vegetable purchases were finished, Tara ran inside a nearby grocery store for even more supplies. We'd just finished packing all the new food when a young Romanian guy came up to talk to us.

Emmanuel and Tyler

Emmanuel, a 20 year old cycle tourist, was excited to meet us, and to tell us about some sights we shouldn't (but sadly, will) miss in the northwestern corner of the country. Before we left on this adventure, I really thought cycling around the world would satitate my desire to travel. Contrarily, the more we see, the more I realize how little we've seen!

Before we parted ways, Emmanuel asked where we were going to sleep for the night. When we told him we planned to camp outside of Targoviste, he seemed very worried for us, citing a large number of gypsies in the area. We've now been warned about gypsies and their penchant for stealing and begging at least ten times. I wish we knew more about them; facts, not fears.

As we cheerily cruised out of town it was comforting as the scenery began to look familiar, slowly turning into the ubiquitous Romanian countryside we've grown accustomed to: trees lining the street, their trunks painted white for some unknown reason, a drainage ditch on either the side of the road, and each "driveway" like a little bridge over it (the village below didn't have one though).

Ubiquitous Romanian Scene

Many people sell things in front of their homes: a few eggs from their chickens, bundles of radishes and green onions from their garden, or large, orange mesh bags of potatoes. Some sell wooden barrels full of alcohol, while some offer the stuff in plastic water bottles. In the mornings, there are even bottles of milk for sale!

Nearly every home has a bench or picnic table in front of it, where people (often elderly) sit and observe the world passing by. Some sit with friends and chat, while others sit alone. Also along the road, interspersed with all of these things, are ancient looking wells. Nearly all are weathered and rusty, and many seem to be in daily use.

Another common sight in Romania: drivers driving way too fast.

Romanian Road

Whoops! Our new graduated filter is too tall for our 20mm lens. I don't know how I managed to miss this in the store, but it's a good thing it was only $6. I don't think we'll be using it much, but Tara really liked the effect it had anyway.

Last, but certainly not least, there is farmland as far as the eye can see. The clouds were rapidly darkening today when we spotted woods in the distance across one of many empty fields. Deciding to call it a day, we foolishly pushed our bikes into it, hoping to find a good free-camp at the other end.

Muddy Wheel

When rain began to pour from the sky, the plowed furrows turned to sticky, cement-like mud that soon prevented our wheels from turning. Oh well. We took turns push/sliding our bikes to the end of the field, only to discover the woods weren't woods at all, but a few trees lining a small river. Oh well again.

Now we're settled down in a small area of non-cultivated pasture near the not-cover, by a small dirt road. It isn't perfect, but it will do admirably for the night. Also, without fail, after one day on the road, our clothes are completely dirty again! Oh well, once more.

Now the biggest decision of the day looms: troughs or ridges? The ground beneath our tent is anything but flat and we've just spent the last hour writing, laughing, and trying to convince ourselves that our sleeping mats are like an adjustable, posturpedic bed. Yes, a perfectly ergonomic bed, the kind where you can move it up and down with a remote control for optimum comfort! But really, it is just terrible.

We started with our bed perpendicular to the ridges (meaning our backs and legs were raised by giant lumps). Now we've opted to turn parallel, making for a very strange tent arrangement. Neither of us wants to flip the tent around in the rain, so we're laying lengthwise in the wrong direction. Thank heavens for being short! There is just enough room for a close snuggle, forced by the fact that we're sleeping in a narrow trench. One last oh well, and goodnight!

Tyler's Shadow & Free Camp


Okay, I know I JUST said I wouldn't post more comments, but you do not have to reply to this. They paint the trees like that in Ningbo (where we are in China) and when we asked them why they said, "To keep them warm." We have wildly different ideas about what that means (Emily says that maybe the "paint" has chemicals to help keep the plant warm, while I hypothesize that the white paint absorbs and retains heat, unlike black paint which absorbs heat more quickly from the sun releases it quickly as well).
Posted by Jeremy on January 5th, 2011 at 1:31 PM
No worries, Jeremy, you can comment as much as you like. I appreciate your enthusiasm!

I like the "to keep them warm" idea. It sounds so poetic, though it's probably something very scientific. :-)
Posted by Tara on January 5th, 2011 at 4:18 PM
The trees are painted in the spring with hydrated lime to protect them from the bugs crawling from the ground, especially caterpillars.
Posted by Ubu on January 6th, 2011 at 12:57 PM
Thank you for commenting, Ubu! Mystery solved.
Posted by Tara on January 9th, 2011 at 12:49 AM