Last week I got to do something that I haven't done since I left Colorado - go camping.
Not the kind of camping that you do at some fenced-in place with paved parking spots and bathrooms with hot water - real camping, in the middle of nowhere, where you just walk until you decide that you've found a good place for your tent, where you have to do your business in the forest, and you have to bathe in a creek. Now that's good stuff!
In order to do this kind of camping, we went to Romania, since "wild camping" is not permitted in Hungary or Slovakia. And "wild camping" is a good term to use about Romania, which is one of the few places I've been in Europe where you can still get the feeling that you are in the wild.
We went to the Bihor/Bihar Mountains, to a place called Padiş/Pádis (everything has a Romanian, Hungarian, and often German name in Transylvania), which is like a high plateau, close to many cool places to hike and things to see.
Getting up there was no easy task. There are 2 roads that lead to Padis - one from the north and one from the south. Because of picking up John, we took the road from the north on the way there. This was one of the worst roads I've ever been on. I don't even thing this should be called a road - it was more of a series of pointy rocks and car-sized puddles. We went 20 km in a matter of 1.5-2 hrs. A lot of the time, everyone had to get out of the car and run alongside to help me not to bottom out on the pointy rocks.
At one point I saw a line of oil running down the road, and it took me a moment before I realized it wasn't from my car, but from the guy in the Dacia who had come the other way going about 40 km/hr. In one of the travel books someone had for the region, it said that you should only take the northern road to Padis if you are driving an SUV or a Dacia! Our Peugeot did a good job though, even though it wasn't a Dacia. Go Dacia!
On the way back home, we took the southern route, and left John in Oradea/Nagyvárad. Praise the Lord, that way was a great road and totally uneventful.
This was originally planned as a church camping trip, done together with Calvary Chapel Cluj, but both of us had almost everyone back out at the last minute, so in the end it was just me, 3 people from our church in Eger, and John - the pastor of the Cluj church.
It was a great time. The mountains there are karst, so they are full of caves to explore. The people from our church kept asking if it reminded me of Colorado, but I had to explain that although the Bihar Mountains are beautiful, they are a completely different kind of mountain than what I grew up with. But, that said - I really liked Pádis, and it was my first time climbing around in caves like that.
It was good to get back home to Rosemary and Nate, and I'm looking forward to going back, and looking forward to when Nathaniel will be a bit bigger and I can take him out camping and doing man stuff like starting fires and peeing outside. I guess I could always teach him to do that stuff here in Eger too, but my neighbors probably wouldn't appreciate it very much!
If you're interested in seeing pictures of the whole trip - shepherds, caves, horses, etc..., you can click here, or just watch this slideshow.