Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter)
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5/9/24 12:32 p.m.



(I'll see a lot of these while in country, but I think this is the only photo I took)

Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter)
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5/9/24 12:37 p.m.

Trip Report:  Day 1 (continued)




At this point I've been looking for a WOG or an OKKO fuel station (for their wifi) for a WHILE!  Being ahead of schedule is working against me as normally I would have stopped by now which means I'm usually staring at the scenery and not usually paying attention to what fuel stations are where.

About the time I get to 1/4 tank, I decide that "enough is enough" and I pull in for a fill-up (and you know what that means!  Out comes the paper)


And of course you know about the rule concerning stopping for fuel at a non-WOG/OKKO...

Yup.  Not 2-seconds down the road (and I'm not making this up) is an Okko.

No choice.  I have to stop (all those medical supplies, remember?  I need that wifi connection.  Plus I forgot to buy a phone charger at my last stop)

Good times


Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter)
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5/9/24 12:51 p.m.

Trip Report:  Day 1 (continued)




Another stork!  I was wrong about the photos cheeky

So a few things:

I'm noticing that my phone's GPS has finally updated itself.  If I keep this pace (and don't sleep) then I'll be in Dnipro by 0630 the next morning.  This is like "danger fast" compared to my normal trips.  The second is I'm starting to see more aid trucks.  One (a Swedish van) and I paired up on  the road for a good hour or so and it was kind of cool because he had the same "red cross in a white circle" decal on his hood.  It was like we were our own little covoy.  Unfortunately he fell behind a bit and eventually I lost him.

Then there was this cemetery:


This is that little "no-name mountain town"'s cemetery.  The last time I drove through here (less than a year ago) there were only two (maybe 3) rows of graves in this new area they had plotted out.

Zooming in on the full-size version of my picture, I'm counting 8 or 9 rows (and it's expanding onto the other side of the path)




Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter)
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5/9/24 12:55 p.m.

Trip Report:  Day 1 (continued)

By 8:30 at night I'm passing an American themed diner (closed already) that I know I've slept at before.  My calculations still have me running about 4 hours ahead of schedule, which is nice because it means I won't be pressed for sleep. 

Not that I'll sleep much if I have to sit in the driver's seat, mind you.  But I'm secretly hoping to be able to re-arrange the cargo area and squeeze my sleeping bag in.

A little later I come across a jack-knifed truck


By 10pm, I'm starting feel the exhaustion start to slip in and I start looking for a parking spot.  Just after 11pm I've found one and I'm stopped.

I did try to re-arrange the cargo area in the pouring rain, but it was of no avail.  I couldn't fit anything big enough in the front seats that would allow me enough room to sleep in the back.  So into the driver's seat I went, and it was lights out.

Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter)
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5/10/24 12:32 p.m.

Let's see if I can't get one more update in before the weekend.

Trip Report, Day 2:

I woke up on the second day around 4:30 and had a couple cans of cold coffee I had packed for exactly this occasion. After a quick fluids check, the truck and I were on our way. My first stop would be just before sun-up at a WOG station.  There follows my routine of snagging the wifi, getting a cup of hot coffee (finally) and using the head (there wasn't one where I stopped for the night).  It's good to stretch my legs.

Even better is the pupper that decided to join me:


I've never made it this far into country on the first night before so it's all new and interesting to me.  Last night in the dark I kept myself busy trying to guess what town I was in (now, was this the one with the village market I always like to see... or is it the one with that monument...?).  Most of the time I had no clue, but it keeps the brain from getting too bored.

Evidence of my "eastwardness" drove by in the oncoming lane.  A convoy of flat-bed semi-trailers were hauling damaged military equipment west.  Pretty cool to see, and I wonder where they're going.

It's getting more and more "interesting" to see equipment this far west though.  I know I've said it before but back in the day, military activity was everywhere.  As if to prove my point, I ended up driving by a former military block point I used to have to stop at.  I decided to take a tour as it's been abandoned for quite some time (I hope nobody minds).



I know it's kind of a crap video, but I really was trying to show what was in the facility without showing the surrounding geography (etc).

Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter)
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5/10/24 12:38 p.m.

Trip Report, Day 2 (continued)


That little tour kind of kicks off some more touring on my part.  I'm always rushing to get to my destination and never get a chance to snag photos of the stuff I see along the way.  This shack, for instance, I've driving by MANY times and it always catches me by surprise.  But Every time I blast past it, and never go back to get a photo (It's falling down now)



Another is this "sign on a sign".  I'm guessing this wasn't put up by any officials (DOT, or similar)



Unfortunately another convoy of burned out military vehicles passes me by, and snaps my attention back to the job at hand.

Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter)
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5/10/24 12:42 p.m.

Trip Report, Day 2 (continued)






Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter)
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5/10/24 12:58 p.m.

Trip Report, Day 2 (continued)

Of course, being where I was, I saw a BUNCH of Ukrainian anti-tank units on the prowl.


Happy huntin', Fellas.

StilettoSS New Reader
5/10/24 3:12 p.m.

What a beautiful place. It reminds me of Pennsylvania for some reason (which also makes me sad for the unfortunate people living there). Again, stay safe and get rest.

Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter)
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5/13/24 12:28 p.m.
StilettoSS said:

What a beautiful place. It reminds me of Pennsylvania for some reason (which also makes me sad for the unfortunate people living there). Again, stay safe and get rest.

You know, I'm convinced that most of us in the US could point to a part of Ukraine and say "oh that's just like (insert home-state here)" but I 100% agree that a good portion of the country is a LOT like what I remember from Pennsylvania

Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter)
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5/13/24 12:34 p.m.

Good morning and happy Monday everyone!  Just a real quick update before I go back to the trip report.  Pretty self explanatory this time, but have a look:



Now we did have some issue with our bank transfer this month, and neither VikkiDp nor I know exactly why but we had to submit the wire request twice before it FINALLY went through (today, in fact...).  Vikki said it wouldn't hold up any assistance to any of our mothers, but I was glad to see the money finally leave my account.


Ok, on with the report.  Here we go!

Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter)
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5/13/24 12:41 p.m.

Trip Report Day 2 (continued)

So we're darn close to Dnipro at this point but I'm low on fuel again.  GPS has me about 2.5 hours out and I still don't quite have my bearings yet with how far ahead of schedule I still am.  I eventually wimp out and stop for fuel at a random gas station.  And sure enough, not 5 minutes afterward I'm pulling into a WOG station to snag the Wifi.

Kicking around the station, I'm catching up on messages.  Vikki informs me that the flower seeds we ordered will be slightly delayed, but that she'll deliver them in person when she gets them.  No problem.

I'm seeing more aid vehicles now as Dnipro is a bit of a hub in the network to port things to where they need to go from there.  I even see a Hospitallers van, but didn't get a chance to wave.  It reminds me that I haven't reached out to them in a while so I take the opportunity to do so now "Hey, I have an empty truck and can hit Kherson or Kharkiv.  Do you guys need anyone or anything hauled?"

They don't.

I also get a message from Vikki that one of our families has a sick baby.  I check the inventory as I'm pretty sure we have a lot of goodies with their name on it, and we 100% do!  That makes me kind of excited about this delivery and it's just the boot I needed to kick my butt back into the driver's seat.

Here we go!

This is still my favorite spot to stop for a photo.  I like to tell myself that when this is all over, the first thing I'm doing is going in "Gambler 500" style and picking up all the litter I see around the Oblast's sign... 

It's fun to think about.



Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter)
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5/13/24 12:50 p.m.

Trip Report, Day 2 (In Dnipro!)


I stop at our usual meeting spot before Vikki can get there.  I'm a bit early, so it's not unexpected.  While I'm waiting a Mitsubishi Pajero pulls up and at first I just disregard it as another beat up vehicle.  As I got a closer look though I can see that the thing is riddled with bullet holes (looks like it was driving away from whatever/whoever was shooting at it).  There's no back glass, and one of the tail lights is shot out.  Inside is a man with his family (complete with wife and small children) and I just can not process what I'm seeing.

Vikki arrives shortly after and tells me that her husband's work car broke down so she was on foot (her daily driver had already broken down recently, so this was #2 as far as inoperative vehicles goes).  After we greet each other it's straight to work.  Just like when I packed, we can sort out the older children pretty easy but the younger kids need some attention to make sure everyone gets what we've packed them.  Here goes:






Luckily Vikki and I are pretty in tune at this point.  We both came prepared with printed papers and we both have about the same idea of what is going to go to who.  We joke that we're either this office's best customers or that we're their least liked customers.  When Vikki gets to the counter she is there for almost a solid hour while package after package is organized and sent off.  name after name gets checked off the list.  And little by little the truck gets emptier.  I run back and forth to make sure she has what she needs for the next package (and the one after that), and she makes sure nothing gets sent to the wrong place.  It's a lot to keep track of.

Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter)
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5/13/24 12:56 p.m.

Trip Report, Day 2 (Coffee to the tune of an air alert)

We're still WAY early for our ETA at the orphanage when all is packed up and shipped off to our children.  To kill time we head down to the train and bus depot for a cup of coffee.  When we drive by, Vikki tells me the bus depot has been hit three times already, and there is plenty of damage on that side to back up her claim.  When we park she points to the apartments above the train station where a missile hit on the 19th.


Just like the last time we saw the results of a missile strike on a residential building, there are lots of personal belongings strewn about.  Things inside are collapsed and even glancing quickly in the window you can see items like microwaves, clothing, jackets, and furniture pushed right up against the glass.  Building debris seems to coat everything (for obvious reasons).  A guard is standing nearby keeping people out. 

When I pause to take the above picture I hear the unmistakable sound of the air raid siren going off.  Vikki checks her phone.  There are hostile aircraft in the air.

We go get coffee from a shop just up the road

Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter)
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5/13/24 1:02 p.m.

Trip Report, Day 2 (Outside the Orphanage)

Eventually we kill enough time getting coffee that we can head to the orphanage, which is exactly what we do.  Once there we're greeted by one of the workers and given the grand tour of the place.  It's AMAZING!!!

I'm not sure what I was expecting when I got here, but this really blew me away.  It was so quiet, and so nice inside and out.  It really seemed like a darn peaceful place to be.



Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter)
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5/13/24 1:09 p.m.

Trip Report, Day 2 (Inside the Orphanage)

Inside the orphanage is just as awesome.  Our tour guide shows us the ground floor and the first floor.  We start with the basic things like the Easter art work on display.  The common grounds in the center of the building...  There are a LOT of plants around (which gives it a more "natural" and a less "sterile" feel).  The facility has a gym for physical therapy.  Class rooms with computer stations, a physiotherapy area with a sensory room.  There's a food court, but we're shown areas that have "mini kitchens" so the clients can learn how to cook and care for themselves... just all SORTS of neat rooms and areas that just seem to cater to every possible need.  We absolutely love it.

We don't tour the client's quarters though as it's nap time and we don't want to disturb them.  Luckily that's all on the floors above us.







I really could go on all day about this place, but I'll let the pictures speak for themselves.  This wasn't something that was set up just because someone was visiting, you can tell that this place keeps things at this level (or above) naturally.  I was ver impressed.

Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter)
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5/13/24 1:21 p.m.

Trip Report, Day 2 (Back outside the Orphanage)

Back outside Vikki and I are waiting on the director so we can drop off our donations to her.  They mention that the porch swings were a recent donation and Vikki and I pick one to sit down on.  Again it's just SUCH a relaxing atmosphere out here.  It's about now that I realize that the building has all its windows completely boarded up. 



Just like the sandbags protecting the children's hospital, never in a million years did I think I'd be living in a world where an orphanage would need to protect its children from explosions by boarding up the windows..

I have a long time to ponder this thought while we waited for the director.  I can't remember what held her up, but it wasn't a big deal.

When we met, she was SUPER friendly and very happy to meet us.  We show her what we have to donate, and explain about the chocolates for the children, the flowers that are delayed, and the Bioresonance Stimulator still on order.  Of course pictures are taken almost immediately.




She tells us all about the direction she's trying to move this place.  About how even the most luxurious place can be like a prison if you feel trapped.  How they're really focusing on the grounds this year in an effort to get the children outside and doing things.  About how the picnic supplies are going to be a great way to break the monotony and add another special activity to keep things fresh.  I'm very happy we were able to help.

Our departure is quick though, and now there's only one thing left to do.  Visit friends!

Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter)
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5/13/24 1:35 p.m.

Trip Report, Day 2 (Visiting Friends)


Back at Vikki's place we're able to meet with her husband and Sergei.  First we go inside to eat a quick meal.  Vikki is preparing palacsintas for us, and her husband and I are talking hobbies.  Record players, world war 2 stuff, and of course I brought him a bottle of Hungarian palinka (he pours himself a glass, and even Vikki gives it a taste).

I have gifts for Vikki too.  Mostly things we found for her on our last vacation to Macedonia and back.  Some of the stuff I picked out, but some of the items were picked by Mrs. Hungary.  Of course Vikki has presents for me and the boys as well and some of the beer she picked out is just too cool for words (one says "Putin Hulo!", which makes me giggle)



We get to talking cars a bit, and that brings us back outside.  Vikki's husband is driving a work truck with a Chrysler engine and we just have to go have a look.  He tells us there's another with a Ford engine running around as well. 

Sergei, Vikki's neighbor, is outside and he had JUST cleared out a grassy area behind their houses and is enjoying the view with the nice weather.  Of course I brought a bottle of palinka for him as well, and just like that the neighbors are outside drinking (not me, of course.  I'll be driving shortly).

Another air raid siren goes off.  Everyone checks their phones.  Cruise missiles are headed in our direction.  The phones are put away and the conversation picks up right where we left off.

Sergei has a friend over named Dimitri and it turns out he speaks a bit of English.  We chat a bit and then says "Hold on, Dimitri will be right back"

When he returns he has two trident key chains.  One a metal Ukrainian trident on a leather background.  Another smaller metal trident.  When he hands the second one to me he says "My friend from Avdiivka gave me that in 2018"

I immediately decide I'm going to cherish these.

Viki also gives me a patch from Dr. Julia's old unit.

Sergei, ever the mechanic, notices the new shocks under the truck (Blue and Yellow Bilsteins!)

Unfortunately I decide we're going to have to cut this short as I'm getting the strong urge to sit down and have a drink with these guys.  The weather and the scenery here with Sergei's newly cleared garden is just so dang NICE!  Vikki and I talk and try to work out a way to get to Kyiv to see a photography exhibit.  It's about a couple that became war photographers, but it wont open until almost noon.

We wont be able to swing it this time, but decide that on our next visit I need to add a day so we can stay and drink.  We can pitch a tent in Sergei's garden now and sleep there.  I inform Mrs. Hungary as much, and then it's time to be on our way.  The coca-cola I drink on my way out of town is a darn poor substitute for beers with my friends, but it will have to do.

Good night friends, good night Dnipro.  Stay safe...

Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter)
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5/13/24 1:51 p.m.

Trip Report (Epilogue)

I was feeling so good about the time I got to spend in Vikki's neighborhood that I didn't realize how much I needed that first checkpoint to zap me back into reality.  There was still work to do, and still a long way to drive.

There's lots to talk about, and lots that happened on the way home.  Photos were coming in from Vikki and the children before I was even out of the Oblast.  I had forgotten I was supposed to meet another aid worker, and found out she spent her stay in a shelter due to those air alerts.   I'd find out that it was more infrastructure that was hit during my stay in the city.   I lost GPS multiple times and actually used the stars at one point to keep myself pointed west (Really, I just got pretty decent at finding the North star, an I found my way from there).  In one humorous episode I purchased 3.5 liters of gas due to a smudge on my paper when I was trying to order 35 liters.  That was fun (no getting around it, I'm going to have to learn the language one of these days), but then I lost my visa card...  and so on.

One thing I was excited about was this suction cupped stuffed cat I found:

I'm a child of the 80's and I remember very well that back then almost every vehicle had Garfield the cat suction cupped somewhere in the windows.  I've searched them out on ebay once or twice but never pulled the trigger on a purchase.  I always though one would pair well with my 80's Toyota, so when I saw these for sale I just had to have one.

The part that really made it all worth it though was back at the western border.  While waiting in line to cross I was doing all of my usual checks (fluids, trash collection, prep for the final run, etc) when a mother approached me from the car behind me.  I told her in Ukrainian that I was American and that's as far as the conversation went (she smiled politely, before talking to the driver of the vehicle in front of me).

When she got back to her car she was holding her little daughter and I wasn't paying much attention to them (mostly I was updating my notes from the trip) until they approached me again.  I smiled knowing we wouldn't be able to converse and the little girl (maybe 2 or 3 years old) handed me a bag of salted pumpkin seeds and salted sunflower seeds before saying "thank you" in Ukrainian.  I was so floored by the gesture that thinking about it now still makes me want to cry.  I can only imagine what her mom must have told her about why the truck looked the way it did for her to want to do that.  In a bit of a shock at the situation I found myself in, I quickly dug through what remained of my bag of snacks.  Did I have anything a little girl might like as a treat?

I did.  I had one small pack of Oreo cookies, and I gave it to her and told her "thank you" in Ukrainian.

There's no getting around it.  I'm going to have to learn the language.

Next trip is already in the plans.  Dr. Julia is still out on the zero line and there are things she needs.  I'm betting we can get them to her.

Thanks everyone.  And if you get a chance this weekend, just think about all those children at the orphanage who might be outside right now (in this BEAUTIFUL weather) enjoying one of the many picnics that you made possible.

VikkiDp Reader
5/14/24 9:23 a.m.

Hi everyone!!! heart

How are you doing?

There's some news, a loootttt of things and a lot of thoughts i should write about smiley

First - the monthly transfer has finally received yes

So in the next few days, i'm gonna order for a few little ones everything they need heart 

Thanks to all who support Moms and kids fund heart

The report below

Important note - the fund balance also includes the money we should pay( the second half of the price) for the device for the orphanage (25000 uah + bank fee)

Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter)
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5/14/24 9:54 a.m.

In reply to VikkiDp :

I'm so glad to hear that money made it.  I initiated the second transfer last week and watched all weekend as the money had NOT left my account.  I was worried we were running into a new issue and I was going to have to drive cash to you now as well cheeky

I can't wait to see your updates!

VikkiDp Reader
5/14/24 10:35 a.m.

Next one - Bill thank you for all you're doing and for all your stories!!! heart

And let me tell you guys, he was quite brief winklaugh

But if to be honest, i think writing stories is one of the hardest things on every our trip blush sometimes it's really hard to describe everything that's going on and everything that's feeling (well, for me it's exactly, but i'm trying) smiley

Some of the moments in Bill's stories reminded me that i still have to go back to the events of the December trip to explain some things and add some details wink

I apologize for not making it in time, there were the reasons for that blush 

By the end of the last year i had a looottt of work to do, it was really exhausting. Right after New Year, i went on a business trip for almost two weeks (it was in January), almost as soon i got home - a second business trip for a little over two weeks (it was in February).  It should be clarified here that I love traveling and take every opportunity even at this time, even if it is work related. It gives me a chance to take my mind off everything that's going on and reboot a bit (ummm... a little bit). 

I was hoping I could write a few words about the December trip (really!!!) and I promised myself many times that I would do it soon and I really have something to add to that story blush but I've often been faced with the choice of writing something or going to bed - and i chose to get a few hours of sleep blush because (honestly i don't remember if i wrote it here or in the thread about invasion) most often, all drones attacks or massive missiles attacks happen at night - so, a couple of extra hours of sleep is never a bad idea. 

*important note!!! i'm not complaining, just describing a little bit of our life right now. I'm a quite strong and stress-resistant person, but sometimes it gets too hard and too much.

So guys, hopefully there will be a little something added to each of the stories on my end heart

VikkiDp Reader
5/14/24 10:41 a.m.

I haven't said everything yet cheeky

I hope I'll get a chance to write something a little later smiley

Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter)
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5/14/24 10:43 a.m.

Guys.  I have bad news.  Our kids are growing up!  I remember the first time we saw some of these children back in our first Dipro run and they all looked so young crying





































That is a lot of happy children guys.  A LOT of happy children heart

Happy Easter, everyone.


VikkiDp HalfDork
5/15/24 8:55 a.m.
VikkiDp said:

I haven't said everything yet cheeky

I hope I'll get a chance to write something a little later smiley

Unfortunately, i didn't get a chance to post anything yesterday indecision emergency blackouts started again and it was unexpected sad

The most important note i'd like to tell you all is i'm glad we're able to support kids and people here - in Ukraine - and we do it together heart we've done HUGE work(honestly, sometimes i can't even imagine how much we've done!!!) together and we continue to do it no matter what, no matter how much effort it takes!!!

We'll get rest and sleep we need soon (yeah, someday - yes, Bill? wink), hopefully very soon!!! and in the meantime, we're gonna keep moving!!!

Thanks to you all for your support!!!


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