Jeremiah Watt Cycling around God's Creation

long distance bicycle touring

Posts tagged ‘blessings’

Blog25-So long Pine and adios Bucharest

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At this moment, Iam probably the most dejected and forlorn fellow in all Bucharest. It was so long Pine on Friday morning 6am, he flew out for USA via Warsaw,Chicago and Los Angeles. Pine, was my best friend,my best advisor, my business sounding board, my executive director, my language app, my IT go to guy, and my son, all wrapped into one fuzz topped 6 foot 1 package. Pine, I cant say it loud enough, thankyou so much for riding with me, you made the miserable sections fun, and the fun sections evenmore so -THANKS SO MUCH!. More than that I got to see Pine the man come out, as a father we always see our sons as kids still. But a trip like this allows all aspects of a persons character to be revealed, your a great kid and I love you for all you provided on this journey. We knew this day was coming, and I dont think it caught anyone off guard and yet it wasnt a welcomed day iether. With Pine on the plane I set off to run some errands before I said adios Bucharest. All by myself, headed south by south west…….at least I think thats the direction I want to go……darn this phone, maybe I didn’t shake it enough. I should tell you that we enjoyed the city, went down to the Old Quarters and really enjoyed the narrow cobbled streets. Had one of the best dinners we have had so far at a Romanian Restaurant we found…….right next to Gelato shop…….ain’t that just convienient.

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My Pastor and friend, Mike, will be dissappointed in me as I was not able to make my Christian Outreach episode come to life while in Bucharest. Since I felt that Christ had spared my life just a week or so ago, I felt this was a sign of what Christ was wanting me to do since that is what I had been Praying about. But, my other Pastor friend whom we met out in front of Voronets, had been sent an email telling him we were on the nunt for an Christian outreach ministtry…..but he was kayaking in Sweden so no answer there. And we have a lady friend in Bucharest who runs an NGO Christian Ministry and both of her numbers resulted in no answers. So, I take away this, that God did not want me in Bucharest he wants me someplace else. Maybe thats over in Serbia, Croatia or Bosnia as they come next. I am willing to accept names and contacts in these countries if anyone knows people involved in this sort of Christian mission field.

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I did not roll away from the hotel Ibis till noon. Not because I got up so late. Rather it was my waiting on a no show UPS package (NO Christmas cookies for my UPS man Tim back in USA, since these UPS guys are Ll union and attached at the hip I think the pain should be spread universally. When one falls short they all should feel the pain) i was waiting on a new unit from Goal Zero. A nomad 50 battery pack and the larger panels so that I could have tablet power. Now we have to stop at bars and plug in foran hour or more thru the day to power back up. I have measured carefully and it takes 17.75 bottles of beer to pass one Romanian Hour. I think there are far fewer bottles of beer per hour in USA because you have to get up to pee six times in an hour. Put in 85kilometers today and are out in Alexadria region of southern Romania. Gently rolling farm ground. Nothing special but nothing terrible iether. Just watch the traffic and pedal. For supper tonight I had sausages and a new concoction……hot mustard and blue berry jam. Strait out of Cow Camp Cooking, page 98. It follows right on behind the recipe for rubbing par boiled potatoes on a salt lick to add that OutBackesque flavor. That page is one of my familys favorites.

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What tomorrow brings I do not know. But after it happens I will surely tell you if it was any fun at all. Tomorrow has arrived and I am sitting in a pine forest in Bulgaria about 39 miles over the river from Romania. I crossed the mighty Danube river on a ferry, along with 2 other cyclists. Thay are both Doctors of Enderology (thing bung holes and such ). Nice folks doing 2 weeks along the Danube. As I sit here typing and swatting mozzies, its  8.30pm, and 9 huge Klass combines just rolled past in a convoy, surprised to see that sort of equipment here. Had a great supper, finally got the nerve to fry a pork chop, turned out just fine, followed by a cup of Earl Grey and we are done.

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I have managed to stay on roads mar,ed in white, which are little wee rascals. This is wo derful for traffic concerns, but leaves much to be desired when it comes to dogs, got chased 3 times by dogs that meant business. No bites, just frayed nerves. The country here is big rolling ridges, reminds me of parts of Moldova in some ways, except these climbs are just longer with a few more curves to make it all more interesting. The villages that one passes thru are not as well off income wise as most of Romania, its pretty evident looking at houses and vehichles. One odd thing I noticed, in Romania I hardly recall seeing a Russian make vehichle such as Kamaz or Lada. But here in Bulgaria, oh my, but they come out of the wood work from cars to tractors, everything.

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So far, I have been up a little earlier than when P&I were together, so my pedaling day has about 1 more hour in it. With that extra time, I have covered a few more miles and taken a few more photos. I try to stop every 2 hours, get off and walk around…..good advice from my buddy Vladimir. At noon, I try to sit and eat at some local joint and have a conversation if at all possible. Last night, sometimearound midnight, a clap of thunder and a bolt of lightning woke me strait up in my bag of sleep. Within about 15 minutes therain was pelting the tent like it wanted to shred the outer layer on me. I had it all staked out at the corners, and guy ropes in place……so, nothing to do but lay down and go back to sleep. Got up about 6.45 and the rain was falling steady and hard. Everything was in pretty good shape really, it all got alot wetter as I tore camp down. Went as fast as I could,but just not fast enough. Skipped breakfast and hit the road. About 9am I passed thru a village and spotted a place to have coffee. Sat down to drink my coffee, 6 other folks all ready sitting around outside on bottle boxes etc…..so I just joined them. Great big fella sitting across from me says “WHERE”,  so I take it he is asking where am I from…..I proceed to tell him America. He opens his arms like giving a hug………and says “I LOFF OBAMA”. Well crap, my day was done. I got up, shook the political dust off my sa dals and moved on right then…….leftmy coffee sitting. had my rain suit on,and was as wet inside as outside,and finally the chill of riding down a big hill, and then pedaling up and getting hot all over again got to me. About 200 yards off tomy right at the top of thenexthill, was anaba doned Soviet type farm building. It was in bad shape,with trees and shrubs growing on the roof. I rode around to the backside to see if I could find a dry spot and fire up my stove to make my own darned coffee. Sure enough, there were just a few feet of floor space that was dry,enough for me……and not enough for O’Blamer.

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Spent maybe an hour getting a couple cups of tea down, and got warmed up. The rain never let up,must kept pounding the ground. 14 hours of it, and at one point my bike showed 48 degrees. Cold enough, I could not get my phone to respond to my touch…….same thing happens to my wife once in a while? Backto the phone,o ce I got myhands dry and warm everything phone wise worked just great. I made it to MONTANA, Bulgaria byabout 3.45pm so decided I would get a room and dry things out as well as charge things back up. My new Canon SX50 camera uses the battery alot quicker than my old camera and it needs a wall outlet to power it. My tablet was also dead from writing and reading at night. Pine, I repacked my bike and like it much better. Front panniers have all clothing and electronics in them. Back panniers now have tools, tent and bag of sleep in them. Which leaves me with the rackbag justfor the stove and all food. I went out on a limb, bought 4 jars (plastic jars) of peanut butter when I found it. I emptied 3 out, washed them good, and replaced contents with jam, coffee etc…….threw way everything glass…….not sure why it took so long to figger that out, and the rack bag is much lighter. Still miss you though,andhope Inever get over it. SO THAT YOU THE READER ANDFOLLLWER OF THIS BLOG UNDERSTAND, I have cussed the WordPress app to no end, becauze it is buggy inzide of a mobile Android platform……enuff to cause severe alchoholism…..promise ya! Today, we will beginmaking changes. My son Pine, has voluntered to take over posting the blogs from home on his laptop. I will send him the text and images via Evernote, and he will postit as he gets the time. The postings could be sporatic and out of sequence…….as I think there may be a women involved…….just sayin.

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Blog post 17 -Onwards west

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Onwards west. With Kiev behind us, an open rolling country infront, we head onwards west. The city of Kiev is quite hilly, which surprised us both.

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The hilly terrain would just stay with us…..and get bigger as we cycle onwards west thru western Ukraine. Ee rode 88 miles the first day, temp showed 109 at its peak. Pooped.As we travel the roads get rougher than a cob, with huge bicycle swallowing potholes. The roads are pretty much tree lined, which is great as its scenic and shady. But bad in that the shade often hides a bone jarring pothole ( worded in this maner so as not to offend some of my more sensitive readers, everyone knows there are no bones centrally located in your buttocks ).

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To be honest the roads are almost on par with Mongolia for roughness…..but paved……kind,a.The hills, never hit one under 10%, and steepest marked was 23%. And they just keep coming with greater regularity all the way to Romania but I dont want to get ahead of myself. We are cycling thru lush farmground and impoverished villages at least by American standards. It should be said that poverty does not stop dogs from barking, chickens free ranged the streets and yards, and the sound of childrens laughter was everywhere. So who is to say just who is poor……..poor in those things material. Probably. But rich in ways maybe we have lost sight of, is more the way it looked to us. Countless times we seen father and teenage sons walking holding hands, same with mother and daughter. Big brother hauling little brother down to the swimming hole…..little brother perched on the handle bars. Family here, seemed to have a deeper meaning than what I fear it has become back home.

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We were plesantly surprised at the amount of water in western Ukraine. Pretty much every valley would have a damned up body of water in it. This raised fish, and was used  to house ducks and geese for that village. This also convieniently served as a swimming hole for every kid for miles around. Heck, we even partook every afternoon at about 3pm if possible. With all the foul sharing the pond it made for lots of squish between the toes, and pretty ripe smelling green water at times.Each little village would have a Magasin or store of some sort.  But finding a cold drink other than beer or gas water as they call it, was at times a problem. Some how thru all those towns and villages we did make it work, even if it was a warm Fanta. In every village, there was a freezer full of ice cream…..and we had at least 1 everyday.

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We soon learned that there are water wells literally everywhere, once we got used to spotting them. From that point to now,  we pretty much quit buying water. Now, when we get overheated climbing a hill,  we spot a well, stop and pour a bucket over our head. Fnish the rest of the hill with sweat running down the crack of your butt, and goose bumps on your scalp.The farming on this western side of Ukraine becomes more labour intensive as you travel west. Near Kiev, the farms are large and utilize very modern machinery. By the time you travel less than 100km, that gives way to familys out putting up loose hay for winter feed. Horse drawn implements become very common.

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We did not see any teams, nor any draft animals being used, we did see single light horse hitchs as the standard. The wagon, seems to be the most common vehicle pulled, although we seen a few rakes as well as hay racks being used. The bulk of the hay is cut using a tractor and sicle bar stylr mower. But you would be amazed at how many folks ( men and women, even aged women ), carrying or rythmically swinging thier scythes thru tall grass laying it low, sweep after rythmic sweep. Tanned arms, open shirts, loose fitting torn trousers, paisley dresses and flowered scarves, all worn with what ever color and style shoe you prefer, including flip flops. There is no time here for fashion concerns and makeup color charts. Life is simple, it starts with a hearty bowl of soup laced with melted butter and generously sprinkled with fresh dill. A cup of tea and a few slices of bread, I left out the caveat of “farm fresh”, here you get what you damned well get. We have had bread like a shingle, and bread likea mother makes for thanksgiving dinner.

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As we ride west, we are approaching Moldova at its northern tip basically. We cross at a place called Soccora, which is situated on the steep banks of the Dnieper River. From the Ukrainian side, we take a ferry across the river, which is the only crossing choice available. Soccora, is a predominantly a Gypsie town, we felt safe, but there is still a stigma concerning the european Gypsie. We hit the biggest hardware store that we have ever seen thus far while traveling Europe. We found ICE COLD juices and teas. A word about teas over here, I cant tell you why, but the teas are much better here in Europe. There are also many more flavors available.

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If this town is known for any one thing, it would be the oppulent houses built at the top of the bank of the river. They are outlandish in thier oppulence. Golden cieling domes or brick domes done in colors and pattern, and metal eve and gable work that is pure art. Combined with a 24% grade of about 2.5 miles in length…….and by then if you have never prayed before in your life………you will…….even if its only for more air.Top that river bank and roll into a speedy decent on great road……only to roll right up the last climbs twin sister. There is sweat running off our elbows. I can squeeze my bars and have sweat water run out of the bar tape…….its 110. The blogs, and travel info guides all describe Moldova to be an essentially flat country…….my round butt it is. It may well be at the southern end, but up north its big rolling hills. At least half our riding day is spent climbing hills, none marked under 10%. Makes for tired old men, and humbler young men……I know, I have seen it.

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We both really liked Moldova, it was clean, productive, quaint and friendly. The general living standard of Moldova seemed to bea littlehigher than that of Ukraine, and Ukraine just a little higher than that of Russia. Bear in mind, I am talking about the rural farming regions of each country respectivly.  Each is a little cifferent, and yet so many things are the same. Farming is hard work any place, but certainly more labour intensive in these regions. Thru Moldova, the water wells were the most abundant and the most ornate to be sure. The water is cool and refreshing at the moment. But let it sit in the  bottle and it is not so nice. It does not quench your thirst when warm. It also grows mold in the bottle very quickly. And use it to cook with, and the pots have a heavy sediment layer added. We have drank plenty of it and were happy for it, poured a lot of it over our heads, but dont like it once warmed up.We crossed out of Moldova at the Costesti crossing. A huge lake beckoned us, but it was only 11am and we had miles to ride yet before a swim. We are into Romania praise be to God for his daily blessings and guarding our travels. We have averaged 58 miles per day thus far, and apart from tired we feel okay.

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