The Mihaileni Canyon

There’s a small canyon in the countryside between Medias and Sibiu called Canionul Mihăileni. A river split open a hill right down the middle, creating a rift where some fossils were found. The river’s no longer around. It’s an interesting site and one which we tried to find one day but couldn’t, because there are no signs and no guides in the area. We drove around till it got dark and then we figured we’d best stop and turn back, or else we might find ourselves stranded in a field overnight. There are only dirt roads there, with deep ruts in places and rocks sticking out of the mud — just the kind of a situation that can gift you with a broken oil pan and a seized engined. At the time we had a VW Golf, which is infamous for the low placement of its oil pan. It’s like a short-legged horse with low-hanging you-know-whats. One hit and it’s going legs-up… It happened to us more than once.

Long story short, the photos you’ll see here are “not exactly” from the Mihăileni Canyon. They’re from the approximate area. But it was autumn, there were rolling hills all around and the foliage was beautiful, so photography-wise, it wasn’t a disappointment. Maybe someday we’ll make it to the actual canyon. Enjoy the photographs!

Photos from a wedding we attended

As I say in person to anyone who asks me and as I also state here, I do not like to photograph weddings or events. I do not even like to attend weddings. I find the whole experience contrived, farcical and drawn-out.

Bear that in mind as I also tell you that my wife and I are coming up on 15 years of marriage. I love being married to the right person. I just don’t like the over-the-top pomp, stress, sweat and ceremony of the actual wedding.

Nonetheless, we were invited to attend a friend’s wedding a number of years ago. Btw, if you’re part of our circle of family and friends, please don’t invite us to weddings. We won’t skimp on the gift, you’ll still get it, we just don’t want to go through the tortured day with you. We’ll come see you the day after, or after the honeymoon, but not on the wedding day. Don’t do that to us, please.

I brought my camera, because I always bring my camera. These are the photos I took. See if they bear any semblance to wedding photos you’ve seen so far. Inasmuch as a wedding event is largely a farce, the title of this post is also very much a farce.

Enjoy the photos!

Panoramas from Southern Transilvania

Back in August, I took several panoramas during a trip from Sighisoara to Fagaras where we decided to take the winding country roads, which meant also meant driving on dirt roads for quite some time during that trip. The views were worth it. Here are a few of them. Go ahead, click through to see them at full size, the details are worth it.

The historic Seneca Schoolhouse in Maryland

If you should drive into the Maryland countryside, along River Road, the Potomac River and the C&O Canal, past farms and mansions, you’ll find a lone building made of red sandstone, standing in a meadow. This sign will be next to it.

The building is the one-room Seneca Schoolhouse, the only school in the area during the later part of the 19th century, after the Civil War. The schoolhouse was established by a local farmer and miller by the name of Upton Darby, who generously provided the land, stone and wood for the building. Local families contributed money or skills for its construction.

I love the cozy little building. It’s wonderful architecture. I love the door knob especially, though I doubt it’s the original one, as it says “City of New York” on it…

There’s more information at the schoolhouse museum’s website, including visiting and contact info. When we stopped to see it, the light may have been perfect but nobody was around to show us inside, so all we could do was to walk around.

Cows and roads in Romania

A typical sight you might encounter as you drive through the Romanian countryside is cows returning home from pasture in the evening, or, if you’re an early morning traveler, going to pasture.

It’s interesting the first few times, particularly if you’ve never seen that sort of thing before. It’s “touristy”, cute, etc. But it gets old really fast, for multiple reasons:

  • Herds on the roads worked back when the pace of travel was as fast as a horse and buggy could take you. Nowadays cars go somewhat faster than that. Having to slam on your brakes and go in 1st gear or stand still for up to 30 minutes isn’t something the weary traveler looks forward to doing when trying to get home or find some lodging.
  • You won’t find it cute after an angry ox sticks his horns into your hood or tries to mount your car, frustrated because he couldn’t mount his favorite cow that day…
  • Your neck veins will possibly burst as you experience the indolence of the cow herders, who will drag themselves along at a snail’s pace, blissfully unaware of the cars that are waiting for them to move the animals off the road. Most won’t give a cow’s behind about you even if you ask them nicely or yell at them.
  • You’ll not think it such a quaint sight after you run through a few steaming cow pies and have to hose them off your car later.
  • If you have to brake suddenly, then begin to slide dangerously on the mud laid on the road by the cows, you’ll begin to appreciate the usefulness of clean asphalt, unsullied by manure or thick mud.

In this day and age, I’m surprised village mayors still allow the cows to use the main roads, instead of directing the animal traffic to use the side roads and the back roads. Sure, the cows have gotten used to using the same route every day, but they can be re-trained. It seems to me the will just isn’t there, and that’s a shame.

Larriland Farm, Maryland

Larriland Farm is a place where you can pick your own fruits and vegetables. It’s in Woodbine, Maryland, well into the countryside, so it’s a nice getaway from the city.

They use integrated pest management techniques to grow their crops, which means insecticides are only used as a last resort. This makes their fruits and vegies healthier than the stuff you generally find on supermarket shelves.

We went there to pick strawberries. That’s our MINI parked near the strawberry field.

If you’d rather not go out into the fields but would still like the benefit of farm-fresh produce, they do have ready-picked bushels available for you to buy. And they have a few goats for your kids to play with, too.

No self-respecting farm would do without a red barn, right?

I like farm machinery. Don’t you?

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One perfect foggy morning

Have you ever woken up to the perfect morning fog? I have. We were staying with relatives in a tiny little village in Moldova, Romania. Their house sat between several hills.

As I got out of the house on day, morning was just starting to break. The soft, diffuse light just barely illuminated the sleepy silhouettes of the trees.

Breaking light

A little while later, the sun started breaking through the fog. The empty country road lay out before me, beckoning.

On the road again

People started to wake up. Here, a man took out his horse to pasture as the sun literally burst onto the scene from top right.

Into the morning sun

The fog found itself overpowered by the sun, and retreated to the valleys between the hills. As far as the eye could see, little hill tops peered out from among the soft white fog, greeting the morning.

Hill top after hill top

I descended into a valley not yet touched by rays of light, and spotted the sun around the corner. A new day had begun, and there were many miles still to go.

Just around the corner