Good morning, Poland!
This morning, as we broke from our first-ever car-based free-camp, Tyler finally lost it about "that damned trunk." It is no secret he has a bit of OCD when it comes to organization. Despite his best efforts to ignore it, the haphazard way our hatch-back was packed was driving him crazy.
When we were cycling, each and every one of our possessions had a very distinct place it belonged. After more than a year on the road, we could find almost anything in the dark without much effort. Lately, things have been going a bit more like this:
Tara "Honey, where are the tissues?"
Tyler "No idea."
Tara "…how about my bandanna?
Tyler *sigh* "Somewhere in the car. I hope."
a few minutes later…
Tyler "Do you know where my hat is?"
Tara "Are you kidding?"
Both of us "Oh. shit. Where the HELL is our cell phone?!"
Honestly, this feeling of total upheaval and unsettled-ness was driving us both nuts. So, this morning, Tyler popped open the trunk in disgust. He was convinced he could pack it better, saying, "There must be a way!" What followed was a disheartening three hours during which he tried every possible orientation of our gear, and wound up with a result that was, perhaps, even worse than the original.
The exercise wasn't a total loss though; we did organize the inside of the car quite a bit. At the very least, our "very important things" now have known locations.
We hit the road around noon, and began driving towards the sea.
The prairies, lakes, and forests we drove by looked exactly like Minnesota. It's no wonder so many Polish immigrants settled there! As we were admiring the landscape, Tyler came to the realization that he'd completely missed, or had taken for granted, the beauty of his home state.
A bit further on, we stopped at these tracks and waited for a good ten minutes before a single train car appeared in the distance. A few minutes later, it lumbered past at a snail's pace. This must be a common occurrence, as all of the drivers behind us got out of their vehicles to stretch their legs immediately after stopping.
We passed through many small Polish towns…
…and made an abrupt stop when I saw a sign that said "Pierogi." While Tyler made the most of an unsecured wireless connection by downloading a polish phrase guide, I went ahead and ordered us lunch. These "zapiekanka" were bread covered in cheese and spices, and grilled until the top was melty. A zig-zag squirt of ketchup completed the concoction. Yum!
While waiting for my zapiekanka to grill, I struck up a conversation with the woman working at the counter. My bumbling attempts at ordering in Polish had inspired her to start speaking in English, and for that I was grateful.
The first thing she said was a gruff "What you doing here?" She was not exactly friendly, but not unkind either. It was like a bullying older sister who's just trying to toughen you up. After I explained our trip, she unceremoniously thrust a pierogi on a plastic fork into my face, saying: "Here, you try Polish food."
The dough-encased cheesy potato concoction was really good! So, I bought five or six, receiving instructions that I could fry them, eat as is, or steam them. Food in hand, I rejoined Tyler and we shared lunch while trying to memorize a few Polish phrases he'd mastered.
Back on the road, Tyler called us to a halt just outside of our destination. It was time to take a photo with his new (old) Belca Belfoca! After using our digital camera as a light meter to determine the approximate aperture/shutter, he snapped his inaugural black-and-white photo with an anti-climatic *click*. Picture taken. Who knows how it will turn out?
As I finished the rest of the drive, Tyler busily worked on making a mini photo-notebook to record details about each picture he has taken. Hopefully, if some turn out better than others, he will be able to determine the reason why!
Finally, we arrived, three hundred whole kilometers down the road, at the Baltic sea. As we heard the water crashing against the shoreline, we exchanged a brief look of disbelief about the lack of effort it had required to get where we were. Finding accommodations nearby was also remarkably easy. The first campsite we visited had great prices, fast, free wi-fi in our tent, hot showers, and electricity. With all of our needs met, we've decided to stay a few days!
Tonight, for the first time in what feels like ages, I dug out our cook stove and made us dinner. I boiled/steamed our pierogis until they were warmed through.
Then, I tried to make curry wurst with the kielbasa I bought at the grocery store yesterday. It was no konnopke's imbiss, but with a sauce of ketchup, chili flakes, and a sprinkle of curry powder, it wasn't half bad.