In the countryside in winter

In the winter of 2010, we drove through the countryside between Luduș and Apahida in Transilvania, in what is known as lake country because of the many natural and man-made lakes in the area. As we traveled through, it began to snow and the drab grey and black landscapes suddenly turned white and beautiful. We stopped the car in several places to take in that serene quiet and fresh air that you can only feel and smell when it’s snowing. Enjoy the photographs!

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!

More photos from Dobrogea

Quite a few years ago, I published this gallery of photographs I’d taken in the province of Dobrogea in Romania. I’ve been going through my catalog lately, re-discovering the places I’ve visited and photos I haven’t yet edited, so I thought I’d put together another gallery of photographs for you.

You may know that Dobrogea is thought of as flat place, wide and mostly arrid — great for agriculture — and it certainly is that, but there are some spots in it that can look quite different. Did you know that Dobrogea has mountains and they’re the oldest in Romania (quite possibly some of the oldest in Eastern Europe as well)? They’re so old and worn down by time that they look like hills. You’ll get to see them here, including the biggest one of them, Altantepe.

Enjoy the photos!

A hike through the hills of Moldova

These are photos I’ve taken during a couple of hikes through the hills near the village of Strugari in Moldova, Romania. Here’s a map of the area.

A map of the region around Strugari, Moldova
A map of the region around Strugari, Moldova

It was the middle of March (the 14th and 15th) and spring had just arrived. Most of the grass was dry and leaves hadn’t sprouted yet. As a matter of fact, no buds were even apparent on the branches of the trees in the area. A friendly little mutt that belonged to friends of ours accompanied me on the hikes (you can see him in the photos). A late snowfall introduced an element of adventure to one of the outings. It’s lovely to be in the middle of nowhere and to be suddenly surrounded by myriad falling snowflakes. A magical quiet sets in, sounds are muffled and a feeling of wonder takes over.

Enjoy the photos!

The dawn

It’s not often I wake up early enough to see the dawn. I usually work late into the night, because I find that’s when I can gather my thoughts and be at my most productive — when I’m alone, the noises of the day have subsided and the only sounds I hear are the reassuring churning of the hard drive platters in my Drobo and my own breath.

When I do manage to wake up early (or work through the night and into the dawn), I get these gorgeous, glorious views of the Earth waking up as that huge fireball called the Sun starts to light things up. Mind you, I’m not talking about the sunrise. It’s the dawn, also known as the daybreak. It’s when the darkness of the night starts to fade away and shapes begin to form out of the mist. It’s when things unseen become seen.

I thought I’d publish a gallery of various photos I’ve taken in recent years of the dawn. Some of the photos are from places where I’ve lived, others are from places I visited and most are from the road. My wife and I would often just get in our car and drive to some town where we had business in the middle of the night, so we’d be there in the morning. The roads were quiet and it was an experience unto itself to be in the middle of nowhere, our car a capsule of civilization and warmth in an otherwise cold place at a cold time, its headlights eyes, peering out into the darkness and making sense of it. Now that we have a small daughter, there’s no night driving. We’re too exhausted. We’re happy to take any and all sleep we can get. Which is what I’m going to do after publishing this post, because it’s way past midnight here.

This gallery isn’t exhaustive, it’s a work in progress (I hope I’m around for a long, long time to capture countless more dawns on bits and bytes) but I think it’s beautiful to look at and I hope you do too. Enjoy!

At the South Rim of the Grand Canyon

A few years ago, I visited the Grand Canyon; more precisely, a portion of its South Rim. It was winter, so the snow provided a nice color contrast to the golden-hued soil and rocks typically found there. I would have liked to spend more time there but our schedule allowed us only a few hours.

Here is a gallery of photographs from that trip. And there’s also video from the ride in the propeller plane that took us there.

Enjoy!

Vistas from the Southern Carpathians, courtesy of the Transfagarasan

Somewhere near the Four Springs there’s a dirt road that branches off the Transfagarasan and goes off into the mountains. It’s used mainly by trekkers and shepherds with their flocks. Not many dare drive on it, because large boulders pop up here and there from the uneven ground, making it easy for the unexperienced driver to break their oil pan, bend their steering or wreck their suspension.

Those are the kind of roads that attract me. It’s exciting to pull off the asphalt and tackle the unknown, relying on my senses and experience to straddle the boulders, humps and holes carefully, pulling my 2WD passenger car through without a scratch, proving to myself, time and time again, that I can do it without a 4WD. Sure, I’ve cracked the oil pan a couple of times in the past, but I learned from my mistakes and got better at it. Now I can safely maneuver our car on roads where even 4WD cars fear to tread. And that’s what makes it possible for us to see places most people don’t see and take photographs that most people can’t take, not without some serious hiking.

This particular dirt road led off into an old glacier valley, where it split in half. Left meant climbing higher into the valley and right meant climbing into the peaks. We chose to go higher into the peaks, up to a point where we found a small waterfall that made its way down the cliff cheerfully. The view was glorious, so we climbed up the slope halfway, perched ourselves on a rock and took in the grandeur of nature for a while.

I included more photographs in the gallery below. Enjoy and remember to take some risks every once in a while. There are no guarantees but the taste of success is sweet!