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1.4 Recovering at our "Shangri-La"

Updated: Aug 25, 2022

So the next morning we continue again in all-wheel mode and in good hope to climb. Already at the first steep slope Brigitte prefers again to get out and go ahead on foot. No sooner is she a few meters away from the vehicle than a hideously garish whirring beep sounds in my driver's cabin. An alarm tone that I have never heard before. My first thought is that it must have something to do with the four-wheel drive. The stress level rises again immeasurably and we have barely managed a few hundred meters. A glance at the navigation tablet brings relief. It is a heat warning from the authorities. Temperatures of 43° are expected today. This probably concerns the regions in the valley. An emergency number is also provided. Why I get such a thing on my navigation system, I don't know. Somehow I must have clicked on the corresponding notifications in the Locus Map App. For me this means all-clear. My machine seems to be fine after all. That's what matters to me in this situation.

Looking for our little paradise in nature

As it turns out later, Brigitte also got this message on her cell phone. So we don't seem to be completely away from radiation yet. But having a network does not bother us. In case of emergency it is always good. Otherwise there is also the satellite phone, but we don't have that on board at the moment.

As reconnoitered with the drone the day before, a short time later we encounter an inconspicuous trail off the otherwise already small dirt road. It leads us directly to a knoll, between fir trees and relatively low grass. We've made it. This is it. Our retreat, our little paradise, our "Shangri-La" is found. Here we want to relax for the next few days, not having to worry about the further route or a next place to sleep. We are curious what will be the first problem, lack of water, electricity, food or maybe our impatience? Our first autarky test can begin.

Our "Shangri-La": Here we shall stay for a few days

We set up carefully. That means I maneuver our Unimog back and forth until it stands perfectly. To the view, regarding shadowing and of course, thanks to the compressed air cushions, flat.

One month on the road: An Appenzeller at Apuseni. Cheers!

We enjoy traveling to the fullest. But resting also has its charm. Especially when you know that you have done everything right with regard to the heat wave. Up here, meanwhile at about 1'170 m.a.s.l., it's quite bearable. We are now exactly one month on the road. How time flies. The daily travel routine has already become a bit routine. But the extensive resting is still new territory for us. Finally Brigitte finds time to edit her photos and I bring this blog up to date. The one-month travel birthday we celebrate with a grilled sausage dinner and to digest an Appenzeller from our dear friends at home.

Living with a view

Two or three times a day a shepherd or mountain farmer comes by on a quad or jeep. Always friendly greetings and usually a few words exchanged. Our Romanian has never been very good and after more than four years, has not improved since our return from this country. Nevertheless, we always understand each other well, even if partly with hands and feet.

Already the next day we are offered a plastic bag with blueberries. We accept with thanks and also wanted to pay for it. No chance. This is a gift, money is not accepted. The people ask us anxiously if we have enough water. Yes, we have. The almost 300 liters will take us quite far. That's even enough for our daily evening shower. Only my dear wife does not dare to drink from our own water yet. Although it is triple filtered. Particle filter, carbon filter and UV filter. The latter both when refueling and again when taking water. You probably won't find such well treated water anywhere else, even if it is labeled drinking water. My sweetheart so far casts my argumentation to the wind. So for the time being, we still drink bottled mineral water. Carrying with us up to two dozen 1.5- or 2-liter bottles.

The following day we go for a walk, uphill. When we take a closer look at the track, we are glad to have already found our spot further down. The track does not get easier at all. Suddenly we are approached by a woman stepping out of her wooden hut and also get immediately invited. The Romanians really have no fear of contact. Completely different than the Swiss. With pleasure we let ourselves in for a coffee. Afterwards there are also still blueberries from the 10Kg. bucket. Meat, sausage and cheese are not waiting for long. Somehow we feel bad to eat away all their food stock and leave it at a tasting. But for the woman it was a matter to entertain her guests in a princely way. A shy look into her hut shows us that she has bought plenty of supplies. In wise foresight, we have of course also taken gifts in our backpacks and can thus at least return the favor for her extraordinary hospitality.

Soon we develop a daily routine. I first make the coffee in the outdoor kitchen, while Brigitte slowly prepares breakfast inside. Sometimes we have soft breakfast eggs, sometimes a fruit smoothie. It seems to me that we have pretty much all the household machines with us that you would have at home. Yesterday we even had homemade mango ice cream. It's not for nothing that we call our natural oasis "Shangri-La". We simply lack nothing and enjoy it immensely to be able to do everything in the great outdoors. And still we have our little jobs that need to be done. So after breakfast it's "back to work", like finally catching up on this blog.

I also "tinker" with the Unimog almost every day. All operating fluids, such as engine oil, brake oil, hydraulic oil, reduction gearbox oil etc. have to be regularly checked. Yes, there comes so much together. Of course, I carry the most important ones in reserve. I also finally took a closer look at the status of the gas tank. The 20Kg tank is filled to a maximum of 80%. Believe it or not, after a month of regular though light use, we still have about 77% available. The promises that a full tank will last several months are actually not taken from thin air.

Yet again, fascinated by the panoramic views

We also intensively observe nature during our activities. And nature observes us. Brigitte is usually not very good with the flying and jumping creatures, i.e. insects. But here she does it amazingly well. Except for the meals, which she doesn't want to take outside. So we sit in our comfortable camper chairs and move every half hour to stay in some shade and to eat we move back to our high seat in the cabin. This hardly detracts from the view, because we have panoramic windows on both sides and adventurous-looking portholes on the back of the cabin.

Let's discover our surroundings

Disposal works quite pragmatically for us. What comes from nature goes back to nature. Everything else we collect and dispose of as soon as we are back in civilization. That this is not practiced by all people, especially here in Romania, is unfortunately very obvious. Hardly a place on the road or forest edge, where you do not find any plastic bottles or beer cans. Sad but true. But what shocks me the most is the fact that, for example, at a Carrefour in Arad, you can't even return your used glass. So the big multinationals bring their products and expertise to Romania in order to earn big money here, but they leave their guidelines for environmental protection and recycling at home in France. Shame!

We are now already five days in Apuseni and the time flies like in a flash. Last night it finally rained a little. This is not only very good for nature, but also takes the dust out of the air and from the vehicle. I take the opportunity to clean our solar cells without wasting valuable water and to make them more efficient. Our intensive activities with computers, I-pads, cell phones, cameras, drones, food processors and cordless vacuum cleaners are now draining our power reserves a bit. We can't get them to 100% charge now, as we did when we were driving daily. While driving, the batteries are also charged with about 30 ampere hours in addition to the solar power. Currently the battery charge is now in the 70s.

Today Brigitte finally bakes the first bread. It is only right that everything is tried and tested on a maiden voyage. The oven should remain no exception. Why she chose a rye bread is beyond my knowledge and understanding, because the sticky dough is anything but easy, if you are not at the flowing water. Once aside from the difficulties of preparation, the bread was a complete success. Simply heavenly. Home-baked bread tastes much better anyway. When it is prepared under such circumstances and served with the Apuseni view, it deserves a "sublime". 10 out of 10 points, hands down.

Rye bread FRAME style

We are just about to enjoy our first bread, when from outside a "Hey Elvețian" sounds. Our encounter from the day before yesterday, the quad rider with the torn visor cap, is just once again on the passage from the valley to his mountain hut. With a big laugh, he grabs a plastic bag full of freshly picked blueberries from his breast pocket. "For you," he must have said, and he holds them out to me. I know that I will never be able to compensate his gift with money. I quickly turn to my vehicle and hand the man with the big gaps in his teeth a FRAME snap cap. He immediately sees the logo, which is identical to the one on our vehicle. His joy is enormous. Enthusiastically, he puts it on right away and quickly makes his old tattered one disappear. I think we've made another new friend today, too.

In the Overlander Forum we ask for some easier routes in the Apuseni Mountains, which can also be driven with larger calibers than the conventional jeeps and off-road vehicles. We get a few ideas, which we like to study and maybe drive later. We notice it already, we have to keep on going. We want to get to over 2,000 m.a.s.l. in the Southern Carpathians, maybe to get an even better view?

The night was a bit rainy and we are worried about how we will get down from this steep mountain in case of rain and muddy track. On the steep downhill our eight and a half tons do not exactly work to our advantage. My physics teacher would be pleased that I understood this and still remember it today. We take advantage of the sunny morning weather and leave our Shangri-La after a week of rest and long before we would have exhausted our water, electricity and food reserves.

Next blog: From the Ferris wheel in the salt mine and Dracula Castle


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