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Travel Blog

Travel Blog
Fasten your seatbelts it's going to be a fun ride

Saturday, August 21, 2010

The danger signs...

-I stopped using my hair brush days ago and I am considering the same with my toothbrush

-I don’t care whether there is or is not toilet paper in the bathroom anymore

-I stopped using the pictures of animals to ask what kind of meat I am eating

-I had the happy realization that my gear weighs 20 lbs (without the helmet) 

Hotel lobbies have scales in them (???)

Decided to head for the highest pass in Turkey where we stopped in a village and everyone came out (AGAIN) and this kind person advised us to take the 3000 meter pass instead of the higher one.

Found one of the most GLORIOUS rides of my life thus far. 

Winding twisty, potholed roads and villages along the way.
The moon is getting fuller.

Rode along a stream for a while.

-I prefer gorilla camping in the middle of nowhere 

and taking a bath in an irrigation stream rather than a “Grand” hotel. (in fact I’ll just stay the hell away from anything with the word “Grand” in it.

The next morning we had a breakfast of figs, well fig jam now...

-Large bugs don’t scare me anymore but stray dogs still do

-However there is more to fear from boys in small villages than stray dogs…they either wave hello or heft a large brick or stone and throw it

Now this one will make many people laugh out loud;

-I am a magnet for Turkish boys.

How hot is Turkey in August?
The pavement melts. In the U.S. usually a bike will ride in the tire track but here it’s the opposite, it’s safer to ride in the middle where the oil drips from cars. Why? Because in the tire track the pavement melts and it’s the consistency of crunchy peanut butter but a lot less fun. (the black track on the right is melted)

Riding through 107 degree weather is like having 50 hair dryers on hot blowing at you and passing a fully loaded truck belching black smoke trying to go uphill is like a blow torch. Your nose and eyes are always dry and lips chapped....MJ even you would use chapstick and M&M's melt.

Lots of fresh water ponds where we cool off.

Went from 104 to 54 degrees from the Eastern plains to the Black Sea region. 

Had some fun with my Spot. Took a dirt road and hit enough bumps to finally wear out the industrial strength Velcro…I had a feeling of where it flew off and I also suggested to Luke that some boys we passed had it. Sure enough they hit 911 and the local Jardarma, border patrol (we were on the Armenian border) AND the police all used my GPS to track me. It was impressive!
These guys are from one of the three units who found me...

We have visited so many archeological historical sights now I can't tell you the names anymore but here is another one, cave homes. 

And an ancient bridge

Heading towards another very high pass today....

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Dam and Damn

So I woke up this morning earlier than Luke again to a cacophony of animal sounds; cows, goats, sheep, roosters and one donkey.
Being hungry with no one else up and all the coolers with food in them locked I decided to forage. The trees were full of green and black figs.

Mount Nemrut next. Luke offered that I ride with him, I accepted since it was full of hairpin turns with that oh so fun gravel. 2800 meters high, you could feel the sun cooking you.

A new kind of payphone, just connect your cell phone and place a call from here (no cell phone service from the peak)

Mount Nemrut. I forgot to bring my Teva's so I hiked up to this barefoot. Luke tried to comfort me by saying it was therapeutic since important nerve endings are in the feet, I can barely feel them anymore, they have cooked inside my boots.

Cool wall of stone, they cut out a grove in the bottom stone and place the tall wall stone in it but the earthquakes knocked them all down.

And this one is my favorite.

Sun just coming up over the man-made pyramid of gravel, the sonar/radar readings show an open cavity underneath so they are excavating to get to it.

Back to camp for a feast again *sigh*. Fresh figs, olives, this egg, tomato, chili dish called Menemen (sp?) and honey to die for oh and don't forget the fresh cheese.

Took a ferry across the vast lake created by the 4th largest Dam in the world, Ataturk Dam. 
I parked on the right side of this truck and as you can see the sides are very high, the truck was rocking back and forth a lot, come to find that it's full of cows.

Forgot the floaties at home for the problem, just tie a bunch of empty soda pop bottles together.

Controlled Chaos getting on the ferry.

So I thought of a little trick....wet my body armor and let the wind dry it, sort of a cooling vest so we stopped here at this gas station in the middle of nowhere and the kind attendants cut a watermelon for us and remember they can't eat or drink all day.  Turkish Hospitality.

Of course it could be that they felt bad for the poor girl who tumbled to the ground as soon as she got off her bike. :) 102 degrees

Tried to find the famous fortified walls in a city on the way to Mardin and everyone came out to help....

This was our primary destination...Mor Gabriel Monastary. Fortunately the guide book was wrong and we made the last tour...

I was not feeling like a Grecian Beauty but I could not resist posing in this alcove.

So this is the second Damn. Found a hotel that I was hoping would be nice and for the money $100 US, it should be but it's not much better than a Motel 6 and this is the pool we cannot swim in until all the Muslims finish gorging themselves on food, post sunset. I totally blew a fuse in the lobby...

But I'll end this blog on a funnier note. These door handles have built in anti theft systems....they are so squeeky and noisy that the neighbors can hear you going to the bathroom in the middle of the night.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Sheep and Gravel

Woke up early to see all the balloons launch and packed up the bikes to go on to Mt Nemrut. Yes, more long dusty straight hot roads which this time included a herd of sheep crossing the road.
Luke surprised me with a great mountain pass that turned into a beautiful dirt road that snaked through some rural villages. The houses were made of field stones and wood, very primitive looking with munchkins running around everywhere.

Stopped for lunch and had the best soup.

Now the only thing that makes some of the riding difficult is the Turks love gravel, on the paved road, oh yes, I can almost see my rider friends cringing. It's very difficult to see and you usually don't know till you are on it, add to that some sharp turns and you have yourself a white knuckle ride.

I will also add to that this is not only the month of Ramadan but also the month of massive road construction. 
The roads here (other than the deadly gravel) are very good and they are building at an amazing rate.

Now you all know how much I enjoy my BMW but the side hard cases are a royal pain, they keep flying off so we stopped at a garage, grabbed a drill and zip tied them back on. Also took a photo in the shop of the tools they are making. 
Now I've got some respectable bruises, the count is 4 so far, this one is the best.

And the bug bites are weird, always two little dots. Mini Vampires? 
Luke also did a great job of scaring me about the sheep here, there are blood sucking parasites on them that can attach to humans. Ekk

Finally arrived at our campsite.
Freezing cold water in pool Check
Surrounded by Turkish men half starved in more ways than one staring at me in my bikini. Check
Washing machine is a tub with some soap. Check
Figs and Pomegranate growing wild...ruined my appetite.

Then had a FEAST (again) and he said it was beef but it tasted more like goat but who cares.

Tomorrow Mount Nemrut.