Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Shepherds, horse drawn carts and a Disco Queen...

The campground we had stayed on was operated by a lady who had been too long on Happy-weed, I think. She had a strange look in her eyes and spoke in a singing kind of way. Her eyes were wide open, like she had one too many Red-Bull energy drinks and to top it all of she was wearing a bright red hat which was fashionable 30 years ago when Donna Summer was in the charts. For those of you wondering who Donna Summers is, she's the disco-queen of the 1980s. We sat down at something which resembled a coffee table but was in fact her desk... and started filling in the visitor form. She needed to know everything about me, from passport details to drivers license, where we had come from and where we were going. It always surprise me why campgrounds ask you all this, while guesthouses don't need to know anything. She subsequently went through the list to work out what we owed her, a list of at least 50 different items...

The campground gave me the impression of a council site, of which she was the manager. She worked her way through the list and came to the conclusion that she could only charge us for two persons, being all of 20 Lei (5 Euro). After all we didn't have a car, a caravan, a motorhome, a trailer, a dog, kids or anything like that :-) The place was ok, it had clearly seen better days but most of it still functioned in one form or another.

The rain that had threatened to soak us decided to give us a thunder and lightning show but nothing much else. The next morning we woke early as we had a 300 km+ trip for the day. You may not think much of 300 km but do them on Romania's local roads and it becomes a full day. The local cat decided to be friendly with us while we were having breakfast and she was in luck. We had a big block of goat cheese. The cat had a couple of big chunks from it and waddled away, belly full!

Missing the only fuel stop in town meant a u-turn as the GPS showed nothing for the next 100 km. To our utter surprise the bikes had used a meagre 7.3 litres and 7.6 litres on 190 km! Ever since we have fitted the Tutoros, and thus have properly lubricated chains, we have been getting very good fuel consumption figures but this good still surprised us.
This is someones idea of inconspicuous I suppose... it does blend in rather nicely, don't you think?
We took the turn-off to a narrow road which we had been told by Radu to avoid as it was in a very bad state of repair. Just 10 km further we knew he wasn't kidding... and we had another 81 km to go. The suspension couldn't cope, we had to slow down to 50 km/hr. The suspension on the Bonnie worked ok but just didn't have the travel for this kind of work. The YSS on the Yamaha had us puzzled a bit. It seemed to do wonders yet Mike had more problems with the bigger holes than I did. We changed the damping to a softer setting which seemed to work even better on the small bumps but made it choppy on the bigger ones. We then went the other way and stiffened the rear end up which did wonders. We lowered the spring pre-load and now it simply floats...!

Meanwhile I found standing on the pegs did wonders for me. It looks ridiculous of course, riding trail-style on a Bonnie but who cares. The only problem is the backswept handlebars, which makes standing tricky and transmits the bumps on the handlebars straight into my shoulder blades. I need higher bars which are straight rather than curved. Easy enough to get at any motocross type bike shop normally, but Bonneville bars are in 1" diameter rather than 7/8"

We have become used to finding Romanian cattle and horses everywhere. Not to mention the many stray dogs, some of which would benefit from a Mexican education... We had also seen quite a few shepherds with flocks of sheep roaming the fields. But this morning we found a particularly large flock on the road. The dogs working to keep them all in line and at some point checking us out to see if we presented a threat to the sheep. They looked at us for a moment, found us ok and went back to work

Having said all that, we're sure glad we took this road. It is a beauty! Being in such a bad state meant not a lot of traffic and all the time in the world to admire the landscape. We saw milk being delivered in cans by horse drawn carts and tiny farms as they were hundreds of years ago. We followed a wild flowing river and admired the many little settlements that dotted this beautiful part of the world. It must have been a public holiday of some sort as we found people in traditional costumes on the way to church everywhere we looked. 

At the end of the day we looked for a campground and found Campground The Valley on our GPS. After a 12 km ride over tracks and gravel roads we found the campground closed. The camping season is short in Romania. The only ones there was an older couple that look after the place while the owners are away. As we only needed a bit of grass to put the tent up they agreed to let us stay and charged us again just 20 Lei (5 Euro), for which we got a level spot, use of the kitchen, a picnic bench and again a friendly cat. As our meal for the evening had canned ham in it as well, the cat joined us for dinner. Twenty minutes later she brought us a mouse... but then decided to have it herself after all :-)