Saturday, April 19, 2008

When in Romania....

Tomorrow at this time I'll be at the airport to catch my first flight on the way to Romania. For the next couple weeks I'll be miles away from any internet connection, so you won't be hearing from me for a bit. I'll be doing volunteer work most of the time at an orphanage called Asociatia Pro Vita, in a village called Valea Plopului, which is in Transylvania, sort of between Bucharest and Braşov (here). United Planet has a description of the project, and you can even find some videos of it on YouTube. I'll have a couple days in Bucharest on my own, too, before I head home again. I've learned a bit of Romanian so far, including the all-important "nu vorbesc româneşte" ("I don't speak Romanian"). I'll be reading my phrase book voraciously on the plane, though, and they'll teach me more while I'm there. Anyway, time to start thinking about packing....

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The Next Book in the Universe

Today I finished recording my first audiobook for Books Aloud, just in time before I leave for Romania. It's cool to have finished it, though I wish I could listen to the whole thing to hear how it turned out, e.g. to see how consistent I was with character voices, etc. (I think something I signed at the beginning said they wouldn't/couldn't give me copies of what I record.) Now the recording is going off to someone else who will transfer the whole thing to cassette tapes, since most of the patrons are blind and therefore have an easier time with tapes than CDs. I'm not sure how long it will take to actually make it into circulation.

They also gave me the next book I'll be reading: another young adult novel called The Last Book in the Universe, by Rodman Philbrick. (Hopefully it won't be the last book I read, though.) I've read a bit of it so far, and the story seems reasonably intriguing, though some of the post-apocalyptic slang feels a bit forced.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Ceci n'est pas un pont

Tiptoe Falls Rowyn and I went to the Portola Redwoods State Park yesterday and had some lovely hikes around the little network of trails there. However, Pescadero Creek wends its way through there as well, crossing the trails at numerous points, and it turns out that most of the footpath bridges are only temporary, and are still dismantled from the winter.

The first time we came to a supposed crossing, we found the metal frame of the bridge hauled up on shore, along with a number of planks that probably had provided the solid footing for it. There was no other easy way to cross that we could see, nor could we spot a continuation of the trail on the other side, so we figured it wasn't worth wading. (There was a good picnic spot on a mossy rock, though, from which we watched other folks attempt to navigate the crossing.)

We backed up and came at the creek twice more with the same result: no bridge (at least not over the water), no handy rocks or logs, and no visible path on the other side anyway. We also tried options that weren't on the map (purely by accident, as the map was quite unclear about the [non]existence of various paths). Eventually we found a crossing with a thin, bouncy, fallen tree trunk stretched across it, and that did the job.

This let us make our way to the only specific scenic location we knew of and therefore our nominal goal: Tiptoe Falls. They're called "tiptoe" because they're just baby falls, and you never know when they might be napping, so you need to sneak up quietly on them. From a dizzying height of, oh, about 5 feet, they plunge thunderously into ankle deep water. Scenic in its own small way, though.

After that, we figured the easiest way back would be to find our way to the bridge on the service road, since the map didn't just show it as a dotted line crossing the creek, but three solid lines clearly indicating "solid, permanent, honest-to-goodness bridge on a road." When we got there, after several more inaccurate paths and some forging through the woods, here's what we found to get us across:

Ghetto River Crossing
  1. A concrete block, as if from an extinct dam.
  2. A narrow, wobbly plank over the water.
  3. A nearly vertical, muddy bank with no path or steps.
  4. A fire hose tied around a stump at the top and dangling down the slope so you could haul yourself up.

Hacky, but it worked.

Anyway, it was a lovely hike overall, and all the map and bridge silliness just gave us more mileage out of the little trails. We also saw newts (one of which dropped out of a tree at us), slugs (of the banana variety), and fairy doors in trees.

[p.s. here's the the title reference.]