DarkMonohue HalfDork
8/26/22 2:21 a.m.

In reply to Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter) :

Only too happy to help!

"Bible on the Dash" seems especially appropriate for the work you're doing. 


Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter)
Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter) PowerDork
8/29/22 12:55 p.m.

In reply to DarkMonohue :

Just watched the music video, love it!

Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter)
Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter) PowerDork
8/29/22 1:02 p.m.

It begins:

It’s 4am and I nearly hit my goal of 4-hours of sleep.  Once the first alarm goes off, the many others I set soon follow:

0403:  Wake up, Neo.

0406:  Passport, covid paper

0408:  Fuel can spout

0411: Review “Lessons Learned” document.

The idea I had when I set these was that I could accomplish them as they were going off in the morning.  I mean, how hard is it to grab your passport and your covid vax certificate in 3-minutes, right?  Except just getting out of bed felt like it took me the first three alarms, it was all down-hill from there.

Sarah is already up and moving and has the pot of coffee going.  She pours me a mug and has the thermos out to take in whatever’s left from the carafe.

The alarm goes off again.  This one is labeled “fuel can spout” and is quite literally to remind me I needed to drive to our house that’s under renovation to grab a fuel can spout I left there.  I was mowing the lawn and I only have one spout to share amongst our many different fuel cans.


In the end Sarah and I decide that it’d be better if I dug around the garage and mustered up an old funnel, which we did.  After that I reviewed my lessons learned document (something I keep to remind myself what went wrong on my last trip, and what I needed to do better this time), and went over the route one more time with Sarah on our wall map (we keep a map of Ukraine on our dining room wall so I can call back with updates and say “passed ‘day 1’, headed to the push option” without needing to go into specifics).

Once in the truck I start connecting electricals and immediately notice the nipple to my 12v cigarette lighter has gone missing.  In its place is a spring sitting proud…



Well this is a great start.

Electrical me knows that the spring will still conduct electricity, so I don’t waste too much time on the FOD search.  Once the quick look around with the flashlight doesn’t reveal the missing nipple’s location, I decide to stab the nipple-less charger into the receptacle and say “heck with it”. 

It works, and my GPS and phone are now charging.

After that, I still had yet to tape the decals in the windows (I opted to go with a green cross and “Humanitarian Aid” this time as we were carrying more than just medical supplies).  The decals, while just home-printed jobs, are important at the border crossings as the lines seem to get extremely long on the weekends heading into Ukraine.  Police and people seeing the decals (and the contents of our vehicles) often give us “head of the line” privileges.  Something that’s 100% necessary when you’re trying to stick to a delivery deadline…

So up those go (Front, and both sides.  I don’t hang a rear-facing one as I think people looking in the back can see the boxes).

Next are the fuel cans.  I have two full NATO cans (without spouts) but only one fits in the back of the truck.  I find I have room enough that I can fit the second by laying it on top of the first it I lay it on its side, but I don’t want to risk it building pressure and spilling all over our supplies back there (even though I’ve never had a NATO can spill…).  Back to the garage that goes.


I can’t help but remember that the last time I was in country, there was a fuel shortage.  Having a spare can on hand was an absolute life-saver.  I’m headed about 13-hours further east this time and was REALLY depending on having that second can for peace of mind…

Oh well.

04:50 now.  The thermos is full, Sarah and I say our goodbyes, and I turn the key.

“Contact!” I yell, and the 4-Runner’s engine roars to life.



I check the GPS:  9-hours to my first checkpoint (inside Ukraine)

“YASS!”  (this was about 2-hours less than I was expecting)

Into first gear and out of the driveway, I’m just over the curb and the passenger seat boxes fall onto my right shoulder.  It’s no effort at all to reposition them, but I’m just going to have to accept that during any evasive maneuvering, shoulder checking boxes of bandages is going to be a regular thing…

On the B-roads I’m scooting along at about 60-90kph.  I absolutely hate this road.  Any faster than 90kph in this truck and it wants to throw you off.  Add in oncoming traffic and you’ve got to slow down to 60.  There’s nothing between you and a head-on collision but a thin white stripe.  And there’s no room to your right before you hit the ditch.  It’s white knuckle to say the least.  Especially when loaded the way we are.

Even still, I can hear a slight rub coming from the driver’s front fender…

It’s not bad, and I can 100% tell it’s just the plastic fender liner catching wind and being pushed back into the spinning tire (I was in there looking for wires while troubleshooting the windows and must have left a fastener out) but still, at 90kph it really gets loud.  Plus the tire will eventually wear through the plastic and cause permanent damage to something that’s easily fixed.

Ladies and gentlemen, we have our 1st roadside stop!





Ok, so it’s only a zip tie (singular), but still…  Oddly enough, I find myself fixing things in the same dirt lot where I once had to use a pair of lineman pliers to plug a nasty oil leak (except this time I’m way better prepared!).

Back on the street and it’s fuel-a-burning and wheels-a-turning.  I’m cruising at a pretty good clip down this deserted road, keeping it in 4th gear for the throttle response.  Touch the gas, and I instantly start climbing through the KPH.  Let of even slightly, and I’m instantly engine braking back down.

I think it’s weird that the GPS’s start to argue at this point but I can’t pay them much mind.  My phone’s GPS seems to be trying to add 2-hours and wants to send me off and to the right (through the farms and fields).  The Tom-Tom GPS is steady as a rock and has me pointed in the right direction.  So it’s the one I follow.

Near the next big town, the phone GPS is closer, but still not spot on.  Every exit it tries to have me make a U-turn, and I can’t figure out why.   I’m still not too not worried, so I decide that I’m just going to keep pushing it east until the phone GPS falls inline.  Eventually it does, and now the two are in sync.  It’s not +2 hours when the phone is compared to the TomTom anymore, but more like +15 minutes.

I can live with that.

Out on the highway and off of the bump-twisties I have time to do a status check.

  1. I forgot to pack my road-trip bladder.  It’s only been an hour and I have to go pee (my fuel gauge isn’t even off the “F” mark yet!!!)
  2. I forgot my USB stick with my two playlists on it.


That’s about it actually.  Pretty uneventful when you try to pack the minimum items possible.  The USB thing I can get around since I have this cool radio frequency transmitter that plugs into my phone’s headphone jack and my car’s cigarette lighter.  From there it will broadcast whatever music my phone plays on FM radio channels.  And since I made the executive decision to download both playlists onto my phone before I left (as a backup), I am back in action!



As I get closer, I realize that I’ll eventually need to get my driver’s window rolled down before I start hitting toll booths on the M-way.  I don’t want to roll my windows down yet, it’s still morning and it’s cold out!  Eventually I have to give in and get out my long red battery wire with my short black alligator clips and…


The drivers side window is down, and that fresh, cold stinking air is coming in!  And just in time too,  that first toll booth was way closer than I remember!

Unfortunately having the window down has the added effect of introducing enough wind noise when I’m driving that I can no longer hear that little FM radio transmitter thingie I brought… back to scanning the normal radio’s FM channels..

I can already tell that having that PCV system fixed and working properly is making a pretty big difference.  The hot-oil smell that usually fills the cabin is completely gone.  In its place is the exhaust smell from the leak I never got around to troubleshooting.  And OOF is it bad…

I drive this way for 7-or-so hours and we’re starting to get “danger close” to the border.  It’s been a while since I’ve traveled this route, and the last time I did the marque road signs read “Refugee Assistance, call 1-xxxxxxx).  Now they just display road info.  A definite sign of the times, I think. But then again, I still see the occasional empty convoy heading east, so maybe things haven’t changed THAT much.  Either way, it’s time to take care of the rest of the windows.



Wires cross:




All three windows (driver’s, passenger’s, and the back window) are down and ready for inspection.  One thing I hadn’t considered when I set up the wires in the back seat was just how much stuff we were going to cram in this truck!  Getting my arms in there and connecting the right circuit would have made a proctologist proud.

It’s the final stretch now, and I call it the “monotonous mile”.  There’s nothing out this way, not gas, not even radio reception…  I’d compare it to something out of “big sky” west Montana.




But I can’t help but feel like I’m getting more and more excited to be getting closer and closer to Ukraine.  Have you ever been on a long difficult trip, and started hitting landmarks that you knew were close to your home?  That’s how this feels.  Just over the horizon I can feel this warm comfortable environment waiting for me, and I really can’t wait to get to it.  For lack of a better term, it really does feel like I’m “almost home”. 

VikkiDp New Reader
8/30/22 3:14 p.m.

Oh, Bill, your stories touch my soul heart and you haven't crossed the border yet wink i'm waiting for the continuation and the book about all your adventureswink

Thank you, bro smiley you're the better Dad for your boys yesyesyes

When i realize how many people help and support us - you, your family, GRM's guys, friends, acquaintances and not so people - it's very-very powerful - to be togetheryes Thanks you all!!!heart

Because sometimes despair and inner pain fill me and people around me, especially if something tragic happens... too much pain, too much deaths, too much...

But we know exactly that the Victory is near!!! There isn't the other way!!! For all us!!!


84FSP UberDork
8/30/22 4:13 p.m.

Stay safe Bill!   It seems like there is a lot going on there at the moment with the Kherson offensive among others under way.

Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter)
Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter) PowerDork
8/31/22 12:57 p.m.

In reply to 84FSP :

Thank you!  Here's wishing the Ukrainians a speedy and decisive victory.

In reply to VikkiDp:

Thank you, and you are right that there is no other way.  Good always triumphs over evil. 

I've told Mrs. Hungary more than once, that if I could then I would drive to Dnipro every day.  I can not tell you how agonizing it is to go back to my desk on Monday after a weekend like that and be forced to sit for 8-hours straight.  I could do so much more.  crying


Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter)
Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter) PowerDork
8/31/22 1:15 p.m.

Across the border!

So here we are at the border and the first thing I notice is that there is absolutely NO LINE!  (applause). 

Well, mostly…

Normally this road is backed up in the right lane for kilometers before you get to the crossing point.  I mentioned “head of the line privileges”?  That’s what the other two (left) lanes are for.  There’s usually someone directing traffic, but this time that lane is completely empty. As I drove by that and through the first gate-arm that is the border checkpoint, I did find myself in a line of cars that was about 25-cars long…

Meh.  I’ll take it.

They’re taking about 4-cars at a time and I can easily math out that I’ll be in the 6th group.  The problem is it takes nearly an hour to get through it all.  I use the time to take in my surroundings, and it’s all business as usual.  People getting out to stretch legs, parents taking their kids to the port-o-potty, and I did get to see a UN/WHO van.  That was pretty neat.

Eventually I get through the EU checkpoint, and on to the Ukrainian side.  More checks follow, and it’s all stuff I’m used to.  By now I know to warn Vika ahead of time that the customs agents may want to speak to someone in Ukrainian, and of course they do.  This agent in particular wasn’t happy with her name being in a spot I thought appropriate on the customs form.  I show him her phone number, and he closes the window. 

A call is made, the window is opened, I sign the paperwork, and all is right in the world again (one of these days, I’ll get this crossing down)

Enough of that though, we’re in!  Welcome to Ukraine, everyone!  There’s nothing standing between our donations and that hospital now but 2-lane blacktop!



I did notice though that as I was finishing my process with the customs officials, that my truck’s idle was “hunting” a bit.  It’d idle, then rev up a little, then settle back down to idle, rev back up a little, and repeat.  I stabbed the gas to clear it and it worked.  I’m pretty sure it’s just a vacuum leak at my PCV hose.  It had a pretty big crack at one of the connection points and I didn’t bother with it.  All a mental note for later though, for now I need to get my paperwork back in order and hit up the first booth I see to exchange some of the Euros I had left over for Ukrainian Hryvna (which I do, and am rewarded with a FAT wad of cash in the local currency)  

Back on the road, there’s a kilometers-long line of oncoming semi-trucks parked on the left shoulder, and any oncoming traffic needs to drive in my lane to get around them. But that’s all pretty normal to me by now.  I’m not sure how those truckers keep things in order, but I’m sure they have their system.  Lots of the drivers are out and shirtless (easy, ladies) and have little “camps” set up.  Most have chairs, and some are playing cards.  I’m getting a kick out of seeing all the little communities when


“Oh crap!  I forgot to roll up that back window!!!!”

I pull over and luckily nothing fell out.  I was so excited in my getting across the border, I forgot the 45-or-so minutes I spent pondering what I was going to do when I finally got across.  I still have a big number of military checkpoints ahead of me, and I really do not want to be reaching back into that proctologist hole to “snap snap” sparky wires to get that back window down.

What I decide to do is to roll the window down far enough that it won’t interfere with me dropping the tailgate any time it’s necessary.  I also leave it UP enough that it’ll catch any boxes before they have a chance to depart the truck.  It takes me a few tries bumping things up a few times, going too far, then bumping them down again, only to have to go back up 2-bumps, but I get it.  After that, we’re on the road again (come on, sing it!).



I find myself in the middle of a three car group.  There’s still that loooooooong line of semi’s sitting on the left shoulder, but I simply watch the guy in front of me.  When he shifts far right, I do the same.  A car goes by, and we both put all four wheels back on the black-top.

Easy money

Or I thought it was.  A set of police lights was headed our way and the guy in front of me and I do the natural thing and pull off to a stop on the right.  Not the guy behind me, no sir.  He decides this is his chance to set a Ukrainian land-speed record and the only thing that had been standing in his way has now exited stage right.  He is ON it!  And easily misses the police car, but you can tell he didn’t expect the ENTIRE CONVOY of high-speed semi-trucks that are barreling along behind those flashing blue lights.  Oh to be a fly on his window when he saw THOSE headlights…  (In the industry, we call that a “code brown”)

Eventually the police escorted convoy clears and we’re on our way.  I’ve got the name of the Ukrainian city I’m using as “checkpoint 1” entered in to the respective GPS’s’s’s’s but I’ve been using my phone as a camera and it’s goofed things up a bit in that department.  Without data service to get its bearings back, I’m down to only my Tom-Tom.

This should be no problem.  Checkpoint 1 is a city that I’ve visited several times and am very familiar with.  It sits on the outskirts of a much larger population center, but it in itself is more of a “one-street-town”.  I love it.  It has everything I need, nothing I don’t, and I even know where all the wifi spots are so my phone can latch back on to its GPS signal and get me to where I’m actually going.

Except, where my Tom-Tom takes me is not “Checkpoint 1”…




I end up in the absolute middle of nowhere.

When I say “Checkpoint 1” is a “one-street-town”?  Yeah, THIS place is a “one-street-town”!  Because there’s nothing else but this “one street” and the GPS claims it’s a “town”.  And I don’t see a darn thing…

The road I’m on doesn’t even have a dividing stripe down the middle, and people driving the opposite way seemed shocked to see another human in the area…

Oh well.  This is why we have “Plan-B”.

For some weird reason, my phone picks this very minute to catch its GPS signal, so I enter my Plan-B location into both it and the Tom-Tom (who I’ve named “Bob”.  The phone’s GPS is named “Betty”).  Each GPS has its benefits, so I try to use them for different things.  Bob (the Tom-Tom) works come hell or high water.  It may not have gotten me where I expected when I entered “Checkpoint 1”, but we can figure that out later.  It depends on neither cell service nor wifi to get me what I need.

The phone, on the other hand, has AMAZING resolution.  Not only do I know where I’m going, but I know everything there is in the area and how much the food, rooms, and gas costs when I get there.

So there we go.  Bob and Betty are workin, and we’re skippin our first stop at Checkpoint 1 (don’t want to risk another “get lost” if the phone quits again) and we’re headed to “Plan-B”.

About now you’ve probably gotten the impression that I like adventure.  Which I do.  But I should let you in on a little secret:  Once out of my comfort zone, I get very VERY shy and don’t like to do anything by myself.  And right about now I am 100% outside of my comfort zone, and here’s why:

I’m by myself.  I need to interact with someone.  And I don’t speak a single word of Ukrainian…

Scary right?  I’ve thought about this though, on those nights I couldn’t sleep?  I have a plan, but it hasn’t made me any more comfortable now that I’m in the moment.  What I did was print off this paper you’re going to see below.  Over the blank spots, I put clear packing tape so I could write with a dry-erase marker how much fuel I needed and what pump I’m on.  Then, when I needed to stop again in the future, I could erase those numbers and write new ones!



Genius right?

Well, I’m getting down to a quarter tank about now and my respective GPS’s’s’s’s are informing me that my ETA for the night isn’t going to be until 21:50-ish if I’m lucky.  There’s no getting around it, I am actively avoiding human interaction and I am running out of time (and fuel!  Well, mostly fuel).  Eventually I have to stop procrastinating and just make a stop.

I’m at my first filling station, and I have no idea how this paper is going to go.  I write the desired quantity of fuel, the pump I parked at, I show it to the cashier, and…


I’m getting fuel and I didn’t even speak a word of the language (except “thank you”, which I can say in Russian?).

It's 19:30 and we’re back on the road.  Better yet, we have a new “comfort zone” established.  Your buddy Bill can officially purchase fuel!





Nearly 15-hours in the driver’s seat now and I’m really just trying to keep my brain awake enough to play “follow the leader” with the guy in front of me.  I’m also learning a bit of the rules to the road.

The guy in front is a box truck (and he’s got a pretty good speed goin).  What he does is he drives with the solid white stripe sent right down the center of his rig, and basically runs with half his car on the shoulder of the road.  I follow suit.


Most of the people passing us can then do so without crossing the center stripes.  It helps that we drift a little further right when we see someone doing so.  The oncoming lane does the same, and for the most part traffic is polite enough that there are no issues.

Except the occasional Lada 2105…  It goes something like this:

“Hey!  I’m going to pass you!”

Me: “cool man.  You wouldn’t be the…”

“On your right”

Me: “that’s fine, I can always…”

“Through this bus stop”

Me “oh f’kin, seriously???”

It happens more than once…

Anyhoo, when not getting passed by suicidal Lada drivers, I do notice that the countryside is incredibly nice to look at.  This is a country I definitely wish I had spent more (or any!) time touring before all this happened.  Also unfortunately, the countryside view also includes graveyards with freshly placed Ukrainian flags over relatively freshly dug graves.

This is where I need to apologize for the heartless way my brain works when left unchecked.

I wanted to stop to take a closer look, but I had that really good truck driver in the lead and didn’t want to lose him to traffic.  My brain, being my own worst social enemy says “You don't need to stop now, there’ll be more... ”

WTF brain, really???

And unfortunately it was right.  I made a mental note to stop at one of these places on my return trip if time permitted.

I did end up stopping around 2100 though.  It was in some random town and it was dark and I thought I should have been able to see my destination by now on the GPS.  Looking at the Bob the GPS, I could see that he had the wrong town selected as the final stop for the night (it was headed in the correct direction though).  Maybe it was a spelling error?

Betty the phone had quit working some time back, but I could zoom in on the map in “terrain” mode and see that I was just over 2-hours off of where I wanted to be.  Unfortunately 2-more hours of driving would have had me out after curfew.

There wasn’t much around me to pull into for the night so I carried on with the phone in terrain mode, and I just adjusted the map with my finger whenever required.  I did have that “goal town” in mind and I even had a “push option” listed on Mrs. Hungary's map back home, but it never dawned on me to have a “fallback town” if something went long and I couldn’t drive the expected distance for the day.


So I mentally set 2130 as the start-time for finding a place to sleep.  It’s humid, it’s dark, and even though I’m wearing my glasses (which help me a lot with driving at night), I can’t see a darn thing because never once during the day did I clean the dead bugs off my windscreen.  Any time the oncoming headlights hit them, they cast an opaque-like glare over my entire window as if the bugs were giving one final F-U to the truck and driver that squashed them dead mid-flight.  Sorry bugs.

Just like before, I latch on to a semi-truck that’s travelin’ at a good clip.  He is COOKIN!  And after just over an hour of driving through pitch-black nothin’, we come into a town I can’t spell.

I can see on my phone that our route is going to take us on a southerly road that will guide us out and around the population area, but it intersects with another highway on the east-side and I figure that will be my ticket.  When I get to that intersection I decide I’ll double-back west and into the population center.  I figure that heading that way, I’m bound to eventually find SOMETHING with a bed I can sleep in.

It’s either that, or maybe I can park in amongst the tractor trailers and catch a few Z’s in the driver’s seat of the truck…  Is that allowed after curfew?

DarkMonohue HalfDork
8/31/22 2:34 p.m.

In reply to Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter) :

Regarding suicidal Lada drivers: having seen an indicated 160km/h from the passenger seat of the world's loudest 2108/Samara (at night, no less) - can confirm.

I have had the same thought many times. We could be doing so much more! But there's a reason they only draw a pint of blood at a time. They want you to make more and come back again.  Same with us; we have to do the daily slog so we can make a paycheck and keep the wheels turning.

Check your coolant. You might have a leak, resulting in an air pocket at the throttle body idle-up (wax) valve. Or your TPS might be out of adjustment.

Keep the greasy side down.


VikkiDp New Reader
9/1/22 1:05 p.m.

Bill, it seems that adventures find you by themselves подмигивание

And you noticed right - Ukraine is very beautiful country with many different beautiful places that made the nature or our people and most of the people are kind and helpful смайлик

It's hurt to understand that some of these places are destroyed this war - i was planning to visit something of them before it happened плач


Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter)
Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter) PowerDork
9/5/22 1:24 p.m.
DarkMonohue said:

In reply to Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter) :

Same with us; we have to do the daily slog so we can make a paycheck and keep the wheels turning.

Check your coolant. You might have a leak, resulting in an air pocket at the throttle body idle-up (wax) valve. Or your TPS might be out of adjustment.

Keep the greasy side down.


Yeah, it sucks but the daily grind is very much a requirement, isn't it.

The TPS I can say is 100% good.  I spent a LOT of time getting that dialed in last fall (I got darn good at it too!).  I'll add "coolant check" and "clean IACV" to my laundry list wink

Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter)
Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter) PowerDork
9/5/22 1:26 p.m.
VikkiDp said:

Bill, it seems that adventures find you by themselves подмигивание

And you noticed right - Ukraine is very beautiful country with many different beautiful places that made the nature or our people and most of the people are kind and helpful смайлик

It's hurt to understand that some of these places are destroyed this war - i was planning to visit something of them before it happened плач


I've yet to run into a Ukrainian that didn't try to help.  They may have been tired, or irritated, or many other things, but no one's let me go without fuel, coffee, or entry into the country. laugh

Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter)
Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter) PowerDork
9/5/22 1:39 p.m.

Our Overnight Stop

I hit the expected intersection and for one brief moment decide to stick to the tailgate of that truck, and turn right to continue east.  I crest a shallow sloping hill and can quite literally see nothing out in the distance so I think better of it and u-turn it back to my plan.  Westbound now, I’m by myself on the dark highway.

It’s only half a KM back to that intersection but I make note of the area as there are multiple fuel stations with trucks parked all through them.  Obviously bedded down for the night.

Beyond that, it’s a few KM’s of wondering if I made a mistake before I catch the first glimpse of lit up parking lots.  One after another I pass but none of them are anything useful (mostly industrial, at this point).  Eventually I hit paydirt.  There’s a gas station, and attached to it is a Restaurant and attached to THAT is a Hotel.

Houston, the Eagle has landed!

Ok, now I just have to communicate to the clerk that I need a place to sleep for the night and that I will be up at 5am and wanting to head out (I don’t want to get locked inside like the last time…).  Of course, for that I have a paper!


Pulling into the parking lot, I am immediately questioning my decision to stop.  The place doesn’t look nice at all.  Unfortunately there’s no time left to let my social anxiety procrastinate things.  It’s 22:30 and my butt really needs to be inside.

Once inside?  It… is.. amazing!

Ok, a bit girly for me but the lady at the desk obviously runs things and she is running  a tight ship!  The place is well kept, in good repair, and nothing is out of its place.

She reads my note, says a few things to me that I don’t understand, grabs a key and shows me a room without a bathroom attached (fairly common around these parts).  It’s 500UAH, but she tells me she has another WITH a bathroom for 1000UAH.

Pfffft! I’m nowhere near that high-falutin, give me the 500 room!  Which she does.

Here’s how it looks:



 Before I get too settled, I decide to grab my stuff for the night out of the truck and then cross the wires to roll up the windows for the night.  Once back in the room and settled, I can log into wifi, catch up on my messages, and chat with Mrs. Hungary for a bit.

I’m probably just a bit over-tired but I’m really missing the kids, and I tell Mrs. Hungary as much (It’s been a long week).  Mrs. Hungary tells me that it’s been super cookin at night and she slept right through the evening (the heat really takes it out of her). 

Once we hang up, it’s back to business.  I write VikkiDp to start planning our attack run tomorrow.  I let her know the route I’ll be coming in, and what time to expect me.  She has a place to meet, and a plan to utilize the UA Post Office and a private post office (known as NOVOPOST) to help us get all the school supplies out in a timely fashion (N-Post once got things from Lviv to Dnipro for me in less than 24-hours, and it was CHEAP!).  This will cut down on time spent driving around Dnipro.  After that, we’ll make our run on the hospital.

To make sure we both get to the same place at the same time, it will be on me to message her when I’m 2-hours out.  That will start the timer.

Easy peasy.

Ok.  It’s late, I need to lay out my “hotel dinner spread” and hit the rack.  Here goes:



I couldn’t help it.  I had to look up what went wrong with Checkpoint-1 and that other town that got entered incorrectly on the Tom-Tom…  Looking at my phone, my spelling was spot on.  Furthermore, I cant find a single other place that’s spelled similarly nearby that may have been the cause for confusion…  Unfortunately, I left the Tom-Tom in the truck so I cant compare notes.



It’s after 11-now, and I brought my booklight.  I end up reading until I fall asleep.

(Insert sleepy noises here)

4:33 and my alarm startles me awake.  Before my body has time to complain, I jump out of bed and start with the day.  It takes my brain a second to catch up, but I manage not to injure myself.  By 5am, I’m handing the key over to the front desk lady (who does not look happy to be awake at this hour).  Darn it, daylight is BURNIN!

Out at the truck, I do a quick fluids check.  Coolant is 100% but the oil is ½ quart low (it’s not leaking, that was my starting quantity for this trip.  I was just too lazy to top up).  My phone is 100% recharged and so am i.

Not wanting to make the same mistake with the headlight glare as I did yesterday, I spray the truck’s washer fluid on the windscreen.  The wipers suck to much to do any good on the bugs, but I soak a rag with the stuff and have better luck.  Close enough to clean for me…

Both GPS units fired up, and it is windows down and east bound!  9-hours to my next checkpoint.


I got the windows down and the heat goin full blast (defrost).  Someone needs to tell me if this is just a Washington State thing.  Do other people from other places get anxious enough after a cold grey winter to roll the windows down even though it’s way too cold outside to do so and try to compensate by blasting the heat?  Or is that just a PNW weird-ism?

Anyhoo.  I’ve got the phone GPS goin so I know the address is good this time.  The Tom-Tom for some reason will not let me enter “Dnipro” as a destination.  No amount of spelling will fix it either.  The damn thing keeps trying to send me to Belarus or to the Russian Federation (did I do something to this to piss it off???).


(same issue)


(same issue)

Bleh, forget it.  The truck is warmed up, time to get going.

I’m just passed that intersection I turned at yesterday and go to snap a picture of the scenery (it really is beautiful out here).  The whole stinking phone froze…

Damn it.

Not knowing what else to do, I turn back around and drive back to that hotel I was just at.  I swear I DO remember how tired that woman looked, and I 100% try to snag the wifi signal without opening the door and sounding the entry chimes…  but dang it.  it was no use, I had to.

(doorbell chime rings, followed by my boot-steps up the stairway, snag wifi, recover GPS, and turn around, more boot steps, open door again and the chimes ring again.  I can hear her walking to the front desk as the door closes and I leave)

Sorry lady!!!!!!!

Ok, here we go:  Second verse, same as the first!  The roads are SMOOTH and I am flyin.  There’s no one on the roads but me and the occasional early riser.  I’ve got 2/3rds tank of gas and I don’t plan on slowing down until I run out. 

By 6:15 I can see the first signs of people out.  They’re fuel station employees sweeping the lot and getting ready for their days work.  By 6:45 I’m in my first big town and I stop for coffee and fuel.  The coffee lady speaks English and asks if I want an “Americano”

I most certainly do!

The fuel lady does not speak English but both of them get a laugh out of my note (I think I may have spelled Benzine wrong…).  Oh well, it’s all good times.

Splash and dash, and back on the road.  Just like on previous road trips, I am 100% waving at every military or aid vehicle I see.  It was harder last night as it was darker by the time I got into country, but I’m making up for it today with enthusiasm.  Anything military or anything with a red-cross anywhere on it gets an “out the window” wave of the hand.

(stuff like this really makes my day.  Especially when they’re empty and headed west, and I’m full and headed east)

And that’s how we tick down the minutes for this next leg.  Wavin at trucks and clippin along at 110kph!



The suns starting to come up now and is blinding the left corner of my eye when I decide the coffee wasn’t enough and down my first energy drink.  Directly ahead it’s getting grey, and you don’t have to be the head weatherman on king-5 news to realize that this might mean rain.

Folks, if I may:  Never stop appreciating owning a vehicle which has something as simple as “windows that work”.  If I hit rain, I gotta roll the things up.  If the things are up because I hit rain, then I gotta “spark spark” in that proctologist’s hole to roll them back down for the next checkpoint…  I did not anticipate being in this predicament, and I’m not sure what I’m going to do about it yet.  But I let my mind chew on it while I still have time.

Further along (and still dry), it’s time for me to change highways and with that brings another checkpoint:

“!@#$%^&?”  the soldier asks.

“Amerykans’kyy” I smile and reply, and I hand the soldier my passport.

“nyet. !@#$%^&?” The soldier asks again and makes a twisting motion with his hand near his bicep


“da! Tourniquet!!! He asks.

“Nyet, sorry” I reply

He's a bit disappointed, but it’s cool and he lets me go but the whole thing kinda made me feel bad. 

I’m pretty far east and I have no idea what the rotation is like for these soldiers here at these guard stations and how often they move to the front.  But people asking for tourniquets probably aren’t asking because they’re planning on going on Sunday fishing trips…  That guy might legit get shot.

It’s my first time traveling without at least one in my boxes of supplies, and I make a note to make sure I bring at least a couple with me next time I’m here. 

Next time someone asks “!@#$%^&?”  I’m going to make dang sure I’m prepared.

84FSP UberDork
9/5/22 2:19 p.m.

You do what you can sir - keep it greasey side down.

Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter)
Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter) PowerDork
9/5/22 2:39 p.m.
84FSP said:

You do what you can sir - keep it greasey side down.

100% will do.  But I think you have the perfect title for this next update: 

The day continues much how it began.  Smooth roads and good speed.  I drank my first energy drink around 8:45 AM.  That Americano was good, but Bill needs about 4-more of those to reach his morning coffee quota.  The energy drink helped with that quite nicely.


Bob and Betty are arguing.  Bob doesn’t seem to care that I couldn’t enter today’s destination, he’s adamant that I’m going the wrong way.  Learning from my lesson, I haven’t so much as even breathed on my phone so Betty is still trackin true.  If all goes well, I should hit Dnipro just before evening.

Eventually I did hit traffic.  Well, “traffic” in this case was a stopped military convoy…

I had just passed a GREAT spot where I could have stopped to pee (I had to go) when I ran into stopped vehicles on the highway.  We were in the middle of nowhere, but only parked for about 10 minutes before the convoy got going again…  at a whopping 50kph…


I wasn’t sure what was allowed in this case, I mean can you PASS a military convoy?  Do you have to do it all at once or can I leap-frog the vehicles one at a time?  Are they going to think I’m crazy for speeding and shoot at me?

I decide to let the local drivers lead the way.

It takes forever but I eventually get answers to my questions (yes, no, one at a time, and no).  My turn comes to pass, and I do so when safe.  Every time I overtake a vehicle I stick my arm out for a wave.

Pass a vehicle, wave.

Pass a vehicle, wave.

You get the idea.

If I passed two vehicles, I made sure they both got waves.

Eventually I’m about 2/3rds of the way through and we’ve come to a rather large town.  I am now part of a military covoy!

And that’s how I decide to let things be as we roll on through the main drag.  People are stopping, people are lookin, and I’m right there in the middle.  I love it.

On the other side of town, the highway is clear again so I go back to it.

Pass a vehicle, wave.

Pass a vehicle, wave.

It was nice of you guys to let me hang with you there through the parade, but I do have a schedule to keep (and I need to find a bathroom).

I break free and am off like a shot.  My truck is getting  low on fuel again and I do NOT want to fall behind and get stuck back in with the military vehicles.

I push it as far as I can, but I’m on fumes and eventually have to pull over.  The fuel station is a small 2-pump job, but we get her topped up.  Just up the way is a dirt road and I take care of my business while a pack of dogs appears out of nowhere and lets me know I’m in their territory (they keep their distance though, so all works out).  Back on the highway, I make it in time to fall in behind the first 10 or so vehicles in that same convoy.

Not everyone gets a wave this time.  I pass a few in quick succession and am back out in front.  One more big wave and its’ off I get.  Safe travels, guys!

A few hours down the road and it’s another highway change followed by another military checkpoint.

When the guard greets me, it’s the usual “Amerikanskee” with me handing over the passport.  But this time the guard doesn’t seem interested.  He asks a question so I show him my “My name is Bill and I’m driving to…” paper.

That’s not what he wanted either.

“Here, this is Vika’s phone number”

Not what he wanted.

He starts pointing to my GPS so I zoom out and show him my destination.


Failing in all of the above, he takes a step back.  Thinks for a second.  And says “600-meters, right”

“OH!  Got it!  Yes, sir”

I’m not sure if I’m in trouble, or if this is going to be a “open up the vehicle, we need to look” situation but I want to exaggerate compliance so I putt along at about 30kph for 600km and take a right.

Nope.  Just a simple detour!  Down one HECK of a dirt road!

It’s not marked well at all so of course I make a wrong turn.  Right into a factory parking lot.  An old man gets me pointed in the right direction.


I’m banging along enjoying the bit of fun that is seeing semi-trucks and busses crowd down this pot-hole ridden washboard surface when I notice a man running from my left side and then I catch the slightest glimpse of a vehicle pulled off to the right.  It was a black Mercedes and someone was out of it and waving.

“crap.  Was that a mom with a kid???”

It was.  But I noticed them too late to stop so I’m forced to keep going.

“Probably just as well, I wouldn’t be able to communicate and I’m not sure what I could do to help.  That man probably has things handled…”

“dude, you have a truck FULL of hospital supplies, baby food, diapers, and water.  Plus you’ve got tools and a tow-rope.  If you can’t help, who the heck can?”

And just like that I’m 3-pointing it around and drive the 100-or-so meters to get back to the motorist.  Sure enough, it’s a mom with an infant and there’s a man in the driver’s seat.  Two men have made it from the building across the street and appear to be helping.  When I get to the front, I can see that they’re pouring water on the driver’s head and trying to get him to drink.  The mom, of course, looks super worried.


Obviously we can’t communicate, but I do have more than 4-liters of water in the truck.  I bring it with me and hand it to the two men helping.  They make a blowing motion with their nose, so I snag some tissues and come back.

nope.  Not what they wanted.

They try again, this time making a gesture that looks like they’re asking for nose spray, but I don’t have any.  Instead I give one of them a translated copy of my inventory.  I know enough about things like this that I can tell that nothing on the list is going to be useful here, but they don’t know that yet.  I use the time to try to think about what I can do with the resources I have…

We wet a few rags and place them on the man’s head and back of his neck.  Thinking of the kid (a boy, under a year old) I go back to the truck and pull out the stuffie box.  The man with the inventory is letting me know with motions that none of our supplies are going to be helpful, but I proceed anyways.  I open the box, and let the kid take his pick from the contents.  He pulls out a stuffed otter with big blue eyes and the mom uses it to distract her son.

The men have another bottle dumped over the driver, and it looks like they got one poured down his throat.  Earlier I could see his left hand was hanging down into the door frame, and was making weak attempts to kinda claw at the door seal.  That’s stopped now, and his breathing has slowed to more of a normal rate too.  Cell phones were out and I’m thinking they got an ambulance called.  There’s not much more I can do now but watch.

“ok?”  I ask the two men.

“Ya.  Ok” one of the men replies.

We wave as I excuse myself, and I’m off.

I wonder what the heck happened?

Not much further down the road, I reach my next turn in the detour route.  Not long after that, I’m passed by an oncoming ambulance. 

Not long after that, an air-raid siren starts up.

I’m told that no one bothers at this point.  They hear them so often that it just doesn’t register on their list of concerns.  What I’m seeing matches that perfectly, and I keep driving. 


I’m waved through at the next checkpoint.


DarkMonohue HalfDork
9/5/22 4:52 p.m.

In reply to Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter) :

I don't know if it's a PNW thing or not. I grew up in NorCal (although my dad is from the PNW) and have done it a bunch. Sometimes it's because the defroster needs a little help and sometimes just to enjoy some of that fresh morning air before the day gets hot.

You do any more of that dirt road stuff, you're gonna need to freeze-frame it now and then while a Waylon Jennings type catches us up on the situation you're in and the odds of coming out of it unscathed.

Thanks for the update. We was starting to worry a little bit. And that was days ago...

Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter)
Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter) PowerDork
9/7/22 10:39 a.m.
DarkMonohue said:

In reply to Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter) :

I don't know if it's a PNW thing or not. I grew up in NorCal (although my dad is from the PNW) and have done it a bunch. Sometimes it's because the defroster needs a little help and sometimes just to enjoy some of that fresh morning air before the day gets hot.

You do any more of that dirt road stuff, you're gonna need to freeze-frame it now and then while a Waylon Jennings type catches us up on the situation you're in and the odds of coming out of it unscathed.

Thanks for the update. We was starting to worry a little bit. And that was days ago...

Yeah, sorry.  It takes me a while sometimes to turn my scribbles into something readable for the forums.  I try to get at least two out a week, but I also post on the "GoFundMe" site for the people who donated through there, which limits my word-count slightly.  But the "windows down" thing for me was always me being anxious to enjoy the fresh morning/spring air.

I can see it now:  Zippin down a dirt road, the bridge over a river is half-way out... I decide I can make it so I floor it (all 100-horses of it, that is), and once launched and all four wheels are off the ground, the scene freezes.

Waylon:  "Now, Hazzard County is the only place that I know of that needs an air traffic controller for cars..." laugh

Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter)
Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter) PowerDork
9/7/22 10:44 a.m.

The wave

I feel at this point, I should explain “the wave” a bit... 

I graduated boot camp and was set to fly to my next duty station the morning the twin towers got hit.  My sea-bag was packed, and I had just received my plane tickets when the entire world came to a violent and abrupt halt.  For one week we were stuck in our barracks with no information, and no plan forward. 

When the world started moving again, what it lost in duration, it made up for with intensity.  All us recruits, HUNDREDS of us, were put on buses and were driven day and night to where we were all going next.  And for those few days, in those buses full of fresh recruits, I found myself right in the middle of the largest parade/procession I think the world has ever seen.

Every city we drove through brought traffic to a stop.  People pulled over and got out of their cars, people waved, people cheered… We were a part of something much bigger than anything we could imagine previously.  We had a purpose, and the entire world was behind us. 

I wont ever be able to describe how it felt to be in that position. 

The most awful event of our lives had just transpired.  Our generation’s version of Pearl Harbor.  And we were on our way to go do something about it.  And we were going to do it with the support of the entire world.

Now we’re here.  And I don’t need to describe what’s happening to anyone who's reading this here.  The people I’m waving to wont know that it’s an American driving the truck, they couldn’t possibly know that the donations that filled it came from all over Europe and America, they only MAY catch a glimpse of the Hungarian plates… but more important than any of that:  The Ukrainians need to know “When their world came to a violent and abrupt halt.  When the most awful event of their lives had transpired and they picked up and started trucking east to do something about it.  The world took note, and we all picked up and are trucking east with them”.

Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter)
Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter) PowerDork
9/7/22 10:53 a.m.

Checkpoint Dnipro.

Speaking of “being in the military”, I should say that my mind has plenty of time to wander while I pass through all these checkpoints.  You may have noticed that some of the ones I encounter are from road/highway intersections.  Well, that also tends to be where cities put up their big welcome signs, and tributes to famous people from that area.  A lot of these guard stations are set up at REALLY cool places, and it absolutely kills me that I can’t (or “wont”, rather) take pictures of them.  Some of these cities have some pretty dang cool tributes and welcome signs, and I often wonder what the soldiers think about standing guard there.

And that also gets me thinking as I pass through unmanned stations, or stations that are this far east.  What sort of conversations took place through all the events leading up to now.  Some of these aren’t even "military”, some were obviously set up by neighborhoods at entrances they wanted to fortify (empty glass bottles, obviously meant for Molotov cocktails, are still stocked in some of them).  What was that like in the early days when everything was uncertain?

It really makes me ponder.



1.5 hours from our checkpoint now, and I haven’t been able to catch a wifi signal to call Vikki.  This is where the Tom-Tom stands poised to save the day.

While the phone may not be able to update locally, the Tom-Tom (Bob) knows where every gas station and hotel is.  I simply type “WOG” into the Tom-Tom and it tells me there’s one about 5km up the road.


It works, and before you know it I’m logged into their wifi network (I had no idea what to do as I can’t read the instructions on my phone in Ukrainian, so I just mash all the buttons and resort to just hoping it doesn’t result in an enlistment in the Ukrainian Army).

With the WIFI connected, I’m able to get my message out to Vikki and shortly after taking back off my radio decides to quit working…

Shortly after that, my left blinker starts doing a “fast blink” when I try to signal left.

Now this second one kills me because blinkers will tell you which bulb has failed based off of how the blinker fails.  If it blinks fast, it usually indicates one of the bulbs is bad.  If it doesn’t blink at all, then you know it’s the other.  But for the life of me, I can NEVER remember which one means which!

A Hospitaller van passes by, headed west.  They got a “lean out the window” wave.

A red van with a faded red cross on the front follows.  They get a wave.

You know you’re getting close to Ukraine’s 4th-largest city when the guards at the checkpoints start speaking English.  It’s a lot of fun being able to chat with people again, and my time stopped at the guard stations begins to reflect that (too many days of one-word sentences).  And being so close, I can now look at the Tom-Tom and catch a glimpse of how IT spells "Dnipro".

Ready for this?  "D-N-I-P-R-O"...



That's it.  DNIPRO.  Just like I tried no less than 20 times...  Why the heck does this city I can now see on the map, not register when I type it in?


On the outskirts of Dnipro, the Toyota's blinker starts working correctly again.  See, a lot of people think that Toyotas don’t break.  This isn’t true.  No, Toyotas are just capable of fixing themselves (which is exactly what the blinker did).

Unfortunately the radio is still dead, but I do try to turn it on every once in a while.  I guess the Toyota magic only applies to OEM parts…

Blue van with red cross:  wave




I was just passing a Multi-launch rocket (or missile?) system that was parked outside of a fuel station (and wondering if I should break my “no military pictures” rule and ask for a photo, because it was dang cool) when the GPS alerted me that I was at my destination!

Dang it, gotta U-turn it.

When I got back around, I had an idea of where I was going to park but I saw Vikki on the curb trying to flag me down.  So I just stopped right there on the side of the road (hey, traffic could get around!).

Maaaaaaan, I kinda dropped the ball here.  I sort of failed to tell her just how full the truck was.  This whole time she thought she would hop in the cab with me and that we’d go to the drop points from there…  Obviously much head scratching followed.

See, I can’t really go anywhere because my phone wont take a new address without a wifi signal.  She can’t go with me to give me directions because the truck is too full.  We need to go to the Posta first, and it SEEMS super simple, but we don’t want to get separated by traveling separately.

In the end, Vikki simply mobile hot-spots her phone and we have a quick laugh at how easy that was solved…

I’m going to drive, she’s going to hop a bus, we’ll meet there!  Except as I drive off, I realize I don’t really know what a Ukrainian post office looks like…  Now, you might be thinking “Bill, how do you…?” but hear me out:

In Denmark, their post offices are desks inside grocery stores and fuel stations, and they’re not marked on the outside.  In Germany they can be a kiosk at a gas station…  In the US they’re big buildings with “United States Post Office” printed on the side.  How do you even write that in Cyrillic?????

Maaaaan, Vikki’s going to never stop laughing at me if I can’t even do this much…

When I get to the destination, it’s at a V in the road and I take the right side as there’s a big building with a big parking lot.  I figure if it’s not the Posta (it’s not), then at least I have a good base of operations from which I can walk around (and keep an eye on my truck with the windows still stuck down).

Adjacent to this parking lot is a fuel station, and adjacent to that is a brick building that looks like a warehouse.  None are it.

Back at the truck I zoom in on the GPS (still running, because I didn’t touch it) and POOF!  The darn post office is on the left side of the V!

Easy enough.  I get there, drive over the curb, and park on the dirt just as Vikki is walking up from her bus trip.  This is it!  No matter what happens from here, this is our drop!!!  Our stuff made it to Dnipro!!!!


Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter)
Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter) PowerDork
9/7/22 11:10 a.m.

We're going to interrupt this program for our regular Monday update (on a Wednesday)


No spoilers on the soccer balls or stuffies.  Info on those will be given with the Dnipro updates (you may have seen that one stuffie had been handed out on the drive already).  Donations are starting to come in for Kisgorbo, and we have lots of time before our next monthly transfer to them.

I never received word back from either junk-yard I've contacted about Mayor Kozma's steering gear (Mental shared a Junk-yard with a suitable donor, and I found one on Car-Part but neither returned my e-mails).  So the hunt is still on.  We do have a couple pledges for support, I have found a rebuild kit for about $57, and I'm in for a handful of bucks as well if anyone finds a steering gear local to them.

Otherwise we're mostly stocked and operational.  We do have some physical school supplies on hand to donate to Ira but I'm going to wait for cash in hand before I make the drive to Budapest (it gets kinda expensive).  This came from items we could not donate in Dnipro, and think they'll be useful at Ira's school.

Other than that, I hope to have one more update out this week and that should bring us close to the end of our travels!

Cheers guys!  And thanks for all your help in all of this!

johndej SuperDork
9/7/22 11:51 a.m.

Great updates Bill! 

tuna55 MegaDork
9/7/22 4:07 p.m.

That was a great update, Bill!

AClockworkGarage Dork
9/8/22 12:18 a.m.

I feel you on the No Military pictures thing. I'd want to take pictures of literally everything.

VikkiDp New Reader
9/8/22 4:57 a.m.

Bill, thanks for your story yes Bob and Betty obviously  didn't really want to get you to Dnipro but you did it yes

The checkpoints, the guardians, military convoys and other such things can't be to take a picture - the war is going and we're too close by it.

Most of the people don't pay attention to the air raid sirens but all of them understand that somewhere missiles are flying and somewhere can be hits

People are getting used to war, but of course it shouldn't be like this

Wish all of us peace and good!!! 

VikkiDp New Reader
9/8/22 8:35 a.m.

Bill let me add a few words from me to your story smiley

Meeting day

Morning, sirens - i don't pay attention to them ...ok... waiting for the message from Bill... a cup of morning's coffee... ... heard loud sounds... what are these... explosions... 1-2-3-4... aaaa...
I'm starting to worry if it can affect our plans... reading the news - it's ok - all missiles(those were BIG missiles)  are shot down by the air defense

Got the message from Bill and am going to the meeting point yes  sirens sound... ohhh... again frown

I'm going to cross to the other side of the street(where the meeting point is) and i see Bill's truck drives past me at high speed (maaan, you're not driving on the highway) and it doesn't turn towards the meeting place surprise 

my thoughts this moment - where and how i'll be looking for this man in  the huge city  - he doesn't have data service (by the way we forgot to buy Ukrainian sim-card smiley for the next trip you must have it)

Eventually - hello, Bill !!! welcome to Dnipro!!!

And the next surprise for me(will they even end today? answer - no wink) - there isn't any place for me in the truck - Billl, you're awesome - the truck is totally full yes but we solved this problem very quickly and went to send all packages smiley


tuna55 MegaDork
9/8/22 9:14 a.m.

Thanks for the update, Vikki!


I chatted with my kids last night about the latest adventure to Dnipro. I was thinking about you two meeting, and all of the waving and chattering with different people from different countries who would have otherwise never come into contact.


One side of the war has people pulling together resources, volunteer, military and state driven, bringing defense weapons, humanitarian aid, refugee assistance, people putting themselves into harms way to defend human life. I thank you both (and all who have aided you here and everywhere else) for shining bright in the face of terrible darkness.

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