Last week I went up to Maine for a bit.  Sadly, my mom’s dog Lucy had been hit by a car and I was heading up to help out.  Some lady had hit Lucy while mom was checking her mail.  Mom had Lucy on a leash, but somehow the driver didn’t see her and ran her down!

Now, before you panic, Lucy is and is going to be OK.  She’s not dead or paralyzed, but she was pretty out of it after the accident in a combination of shock and painkillers.  She had to get stitches and she had badly bruised her mouth, meaning she couldn’t eat solid foods for a while.  You know what you can feed dogs who can’t eat solid foods?  Microwaved babyfood with pills hiding inside!

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Despite her front left paw being kind of lame after the accident, Lucy did not seem to have any trouble bounding into the bed I was sleeping in when we weren’t looking!

I stuck around the house, using Lucy’s harness to lift her outside to go to the bathroom.  I made sure she took her pills and that she didn’t chew her stitches.  At one point we had to put a mitten on her, but I think by now, one week later, she’s already had the stitches out!

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I took the noble pup out for a drive a few times. You can see she’s got her hurt paw held a little delicately. Balancing on just the other leg got her tired out pretty quickly, which was good for getting her to drink some water and rest up when we got home.
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I asked her what she thought about the lady who hit her. (Just kidding, she’s mid-yawn.)
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I got tired at one point, so Lucy took over driving for me.

Now that Lucy is fully on the road to recovery, I want to write about another puppy that I met recently!  But first, let me set the stage.

Now, where did I last leave off on my adventures…

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Ahh yes, Thank you Shorena!

After Pauli, Shorena, and I had our dental work done, we decided to head off on a two-ish hour train ride south of Lviv to a village Pauli had head of with some good hiking.  We spent 3 of our 2 grivna tram tickets to get ourselves to the train station and got an early start to the day.

At the train station, we bought some delicious snacks!  We got a couple of nice pastries and a bottle of Borjomi mineral water!  Pauli and I each got a cheese Danish.  I was looking forward to it, but when I bit into it, it was dry and horrible.  Shorena contentedly munched on her breakfast sandwich while Pauli wrote postcards on the train ride.  Before long, we had arrived at Slavske!

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Just pulled into the Slavske Train Station! It was a bit smaller than the one in Lviv.

We only had a vague idea of where to go, but the village was nestled in a quaint valley.  Really, any direction we picked would lead to a nice mountain hike!  We stocked up on supplies before wandering into the heart of Slavske.  We bought a small baguette, a bag of croissants, and a sausage.  After all, what else do you need when you go hiking?

There aren’t many landmarks in Slavske, so we headed for the most prominent one we could see:

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A gold-roofed chapel!

We parked on a bench and made ourselves some “sandwiches” with our supplies.

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Ringing the lunch bells.

Satiated, we wandered in an upward direction towards a cemetery.  Maybe the path picked up again on the other side?  Turns out it didn’t.

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Environs from the Cemetery
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We had gotten a bit above the cemetery, but found ourselves doubling back to find an alternative route.
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Nice view, though! Would be a shame if it were interrup–
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German Interruption!

As the day began to warm, we realized we had not thought to get any water!  We passed on visiting the shady teahouse nestled sort of against a garage and found a little convenience store.  With two liters of water and a giant box of juice, we were ready to set out again!  But we had only the foggiest notion of which direction to head.  Fortunately, we found a touristic map!

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Yup. The best guide Slavske has to offer! The gold-roofed church is represented by a little church-y icon on the left side of the map. We were following along the road from left to right, looking to follow the dotted path marked in yellow.
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Shorena took some time to stop and smell the flowers.

We wandered down the road, contemplating whether we should rob villagers of their bicycles.  We decided not to.  According to the map, we should cross a small bridge and bear left shortly thereafter.  As fate would have it, we would never find even the beginning of the hiking trail.

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This was not the left turn. But there was a strange cute puppy hanging around.
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He made us nervous by callously crossing the road before oncoming cars. Careful, pup!

When we found what seemed a likely candidate for the hiking trail, we veered off the paved road.  The puppy followed us.  We picked our way between the village houses and got to the beginning of the farmlands very quickly.  Two old ladies chatted by a fence.  We approached them.

“Do you speak English?” we asked, already knowing the answer.  The toothless one smiled at us and shook her head, so we tried again, asking in Russian, “Do you speak Russian?” Their eyes lit up with recognition and they told us that they kinda spoke Russian.

Not knowing the word for “hiking,” I asked the pair if they knew where the “tourist path” was.  They looked dumbfounded, but we figured, there can’t be that many tourist paths.  I mean, when non-villagers are hanging around, where do they go?  The women consulted each other in Ukrainian and then responded, “Are you trying to go to the Канадка?” None of us knew that word.

“Да!” we replied.  With a flurry of hand gestures they pointed us in the direction of the Канадка.  Confident in our destination, we set out up the hill, puppy in tow.

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As we walked through the beautiful Ukrainian countryside, we realized the puppy would not leave us alone. We decided to bring him along for the hike and dubbed him Le Pup.
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The hills around the village were populated with nice country homes and farms.
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Confidence riding high, we were sure that we would find the Канадка without any trouble.
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We climbed higher and higher, following the dirt path.

We had a backpack with us, full of sweaters, water, and postcards.  It wasn’t terribly heavy, but it doesn’t breathe that well, so we took turns swapping it back and forth, especially as it got hotter and hotter.  We weren’t the only ones feeling the heat, though.  Le Pup’s tongue wagged out wetly as he sometimes led the charge or alternately lagged behind, pumping his short legs.

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Whenever we stopped to rest, Le Pup stopped with us. Eventually he would flop down in the dirt and catch his own breath.

At one of our first breaks, we broke out the delicious cool water to quench our thirst.  It was then that we discovered that we had mistakenly bought seltzer water.  Not exactly the most refreshing choice on a hot hike.  We finished the juice and choked down some fizzy water.  Le Pup looked like he was hurting, so we tried to get him to drink some.  He was not interested in drinking from the bottlecap or from our hands, so we had to get creative.

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Here Pauli is trying to get Le Pup to drink some mineral water out of a juicebox that we had cut in half to form a bowl. Le Pup wasn’t having any of it!

When Le Pup first started following us, Pauli recounted some bad experiences he had had with dogs–a really bad one in childhood, and a scary time in Batumi getting cornered by an angry stray while out for a jog. He stated a strong preference for cats.

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Le Pup won Pauli over, however, and before we had even come close to Канадка, Pauli was singing a different tune!

As we continued climbing, we felt increasingly like we had missed the hiking trail by a long shot.  The path kept ending at people’s houses.  We would have to double back and take the other fork, but we still never seemed to be progressing.  We were also mostly in the hot sun, but that couldn’t be helped at the moment.

When the road ended at a farm again, we decided to find the farmer and ask where to go.  We saw a young man pushing a giant tilling machine up a hill and followed him when he disappeared behind a bush.  Pushing onward, we came to a clearing where the young man had begun plowing.  To the left, three elderly folks, two kids, and a baby were relaxing under a tree.  The boys stopped playing as the whole family turned to stare at us.

I can’t blame them, after all, three obvious foreigners had materialized out of nowhere and approached from an odd direction.  From their perspective, we could have come out of their own house or from the woods somewhere.  Pauli and I approached with Le Pup at our heels.  We established Russian as our shared language and began asking for directions.

“Is that your dog?” one of the women interrupted.

“No, actually.  Uh, he is just with us.”  Everyone laughed.  Two six year-old boys tried to attack Le Pup with toy guns and a plastic knife.  We explained our route and destination as best we could.  The grandfather laughed, as if to say, “how the heck did you end up here?”  When we asked if we could get to Канадка from the farm, he laughed again and said, “Yeah, you see the treeline at the top of the hill?  There’s a road there, should take you straight to Канадка.”

I looked up at the top of the hill.  “How do we get there?”

The grandfather pointed at the five fences between us and the treeline.  Bouncing his hand over the fences he said, “Hop! Hop! Hop!”

Shorena joined us and the baby in grandfather’s arms reached out to her.  She took the baby as the grandparents told us that he was named Taras and that he was six months old.  As soon as Shorena had Taras in her arms, one of the boys stopped playing and stomped over to his grandfather, a scowl crinkling his little face.  He glared at Shorena and whispered into his grandfather’s ear.  “This is Taras’s older brother.  He is very protective of his baby brother,” the grandfather laughed, taking back Taras.

One of the old women began explaining to Pauli in German how their grandchildren attended school in the village and were studying English and German.  As we parted ways, we knew that they would be laughing about the time a Georgian, American, and German randomly showed up in the middle of their field.

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That’s the treeline at the top of the photo.  We weren’t thrilled about the number of fences we had to climb over, but an adventure’s an adventure!

After Hop!-ping the five fences and following the road for a bit in the hot sun, we finally found some shade beneath a shed.

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Le Pup took off after a farmcat.  We thought it might get the best of him, but he scared it over a fence and proudly sauntered back, dropping into a cool ditch beside us.

The house had several beehives and as we pondered our next move, a six or seven year-old girl came skipping down the path.  She stopped dead when she saw us.  We were definitely not on a path frequented by tourists.  We waved, and asked the girl “Which way to Канадка?” She flailed one arm pointing us back and to the left.  She beat a hasty retreat, running up the hill away from us.

Our path took us around to the front of a lone house.  We saw the girl run around from the side of the house inside, shouting for someone.  Her dad came out, and with him, a lion of a dog.  When the family’s dog saw Le Pup, it sprang into action.  Man, if you ever facedown a dog bigger than you charging straight at you, you might start counting down your moments left on Earth.  Le Pup fled as fast as his tiny legs could carry him.  He was staying barely ahead of the huge hound, but there was no way that Le Pup could escape.

Luckily, the man yelled at his dog and called it off, shaming it back to the porch.  Le Pup returned to our feet panting, with his little heart beating out of his chest.  The man heard us out and pointed us in the direction of Канадка.  His daughter, no longer afraid of us, waved goodbye as we headed around their property.

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Though Le Pup wouldn’t drink seltzer water from a juicebox, he wasn’t opposed to drinking brackish puddle water from the ruts in the road!
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We suspected we were getting close. The peak was not too much higher above us and we had a great view down onto the village.

We turned one final corner and in one moment saw and understood “Канадка”!

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It turns out “Каналка” means Chair Lift!

The top of the chair lift spilled out onto a trio of little cottages and some walking paths.  Families were arriving from the bottom of the mountain and popping over to the scenic overlook before heading back down.  Inside one of the cottages a woman hawked coffee and snacks.  What drew our eye, however, was the barbecue she was operating.  We placed an order for three plates of shashlik and grilled potatoes.

Shorena and I decided to pony up for a round-trip ride on Канадка.  We rode through the trees and down the mountain to a small park with some swings and a restroom.  When we returned, Pauli had finished off a number of postcards.

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What took you so long?
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Le Pup was ready for dinner, too.

We settled down with our plasticware and our local beer and enjoyed an awesome mountaintop-cooked meal!

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Zakarpatia is the name of the beer we had, and of the region! We were, after all, in the Carpathian Mountains!
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After a long day of hiking over people’s farms, this meal really hit the spot.

Before you ask, of course we shared with Le Pup.

We wandered over to see the view that all the locals had ridden up for before heading back down.  It was going to be dark before long and we had a train to catch.

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It was a lovely view out across more hills and valleys. As you can tell, the sun was already getting low in the sky.
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Le Pup wasn’t sure what to do. He’d followed us for about four hours already and we’d fed him. But we were also heading back in a different direction than whence we’d come. Sadly, Le Pup did not continue with us. Perhaps it’s fortunate. If he had followed us to the trainstation, there’s a substantial chance we would have adopted him on the spot. Au Revoir, Le Pup!
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Et Bonjour, La Vache!
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As it got darker, we weren’t sure where we would wind up, or even if we would technically be in Slavske still. A familiar site, however, reassured us that we were on the right path.

We got back to town with about an hour to spare.  We had coffee at a hotel and then got some cider and some peanuts at a roadside hut.  They had a TV and we watched a competition show where contestants had to make the judges laugh.  Every round they succeeded, they won some money.

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Who made it up and down a random mountain? These guys!

We hopped on our train back to Lviv and settled down for the night.  Our adventure was nearly at an end!

BUT NOT YET!

The next morning, we woke up and got ready to leave the apartment.  We had a whole bottle of vodka and half a sausage left, however.  Having finished our MacCoffee’s for the morning, we decided to have a traditional Ukrainian breakfast of sausage and vodka!

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Before having breakfast.
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After.

Pauli had an early bus to catch.  It was not easy to find.  No one seemed to know where it was, including us!  He was traveling back to Leipzig via Krakow, and had a long road ahead of him.  We bid him farewell and waited for our train back to Kyiv.

 

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It wouldn’t be a Roli-Poli vacation without at least one Hip Hop photo!

Shorena and I spent another day or so in Kyiv, doing some souvenir shopping and seeing the sights.  I made a new friend and revisited some old places I remembered from when I had been there in 2008.

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I saw these billboards everywhere for Robert Kiyosaki.
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In the souvenir market, these two old dudes were playing an awesome Ukrainian folk song. It’s really catchy!
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This is one of my favorite churches in the world! It’s St. Andrew’s Cathedral and the roof looks like it’s made out of dark green velvet!

Having spent an awesome week in Ukraine, I returned to New York, dreaming of where I might travel on my next adventure.  I got a few ideas on the flight…

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Maybe Norwegian Fjords?
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Icelandic Mountains and Glaciers?
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Icebergs of Greenland?  Time will tell!
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One thought on “The Adventures of Le Pup

  1. You really have a gift Raughley. Your stories and photos are incredibly joyous! You should put this skill to use in your work, whatever it may be. I can see you are well and it makes me happy 🙂
    Health & Happines to you in the future! I hope that we see each other again.

    Marina (Stanford).

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