Sunday, November 29, 2015

Adventures 2015 - Istanbul

As with any trip as I sit down to trip to write about, I become extremely overwhelmed at the idea of capturing the trip.  So I'm going to break this up into a few posts rather than attempting it all at once. I can guarantee that it'll be a bit of picture overload.  

First of all, when many people asked where my next trip would be and I said Turkey, I often got very confused looks accompanied by some utterance of WHY?  My theory with most of my trips is WHY NOT? Istanbul had been the setting for a book that I had read a few years ago, and that initially caught my attention. After which my uncle had passed through and visited Istanbul, which also peaked my curiosity. In addition to the fact that it is the only city that spans two continents; I love weird details like that. Also, I wanted something different.  I did not want a typical tourist destination. Somehow I managed to convince Michelle it was a good idea, and after months of procrastinating, we were off along with our friend Kelson.

The way we set up our flights, we ended up with a 10 hour layover in New York City.  It was a fun detour on our way to the our main destination.  We had breakfast at Rockefeller center, went to top of the Rock, walked to Times Square, and manged a brisk walk in Central Park. We also quickly established rules on when and where Michelle was allowed to whip out her selfie stick. :)

Upon arriving in Istanbul, admittedly the first thing I noticed upon exiting the aircraft was that the airport wreaked of BO. Luckily that first impression of the country did not persist throughout the remainder of our visit.  The second impression was that we did not belong, and I loved it.  There were very few other tourists that were American or even European.  The airport was filled of people from the Middle East. Most women wore the hijab, but there were many in burkas as well.  I did have a hard time not staring, I wasn't trying to be rude it was simply taking it all in, and really coming to terms with the fact that I was the one out of place.

We managed to figure out the subway/light rail system to get to the old sector of Istanbul.  I was fascinated passing all of the mosques on our ride there, and then stood in awe as we got off at our stop and We were  practically in front of the Hagia Sofia, a building that I had been studying pictures of for months.  Unfortunately the google map that I had printed for directions from the stop to our hotel was not as clear as I would have hoped.  We ended up wandering up and down several cobble stone streets.  Unfortunately my luggage and my water bottle did not handle the cobblestone very well, and one wheel became useless and my water bottle shattered.  Luckily a man reading his newspaper on a shop step took some pity on us and offered to help us figure out where our hotel was located.  After a few more turns, we made it.

After some much needed showers we went out to explore the nearby surrounding of our hotel.  We wandered down to the Bosphorus and found people gathered spending their evening enjoying roasting clams and oysters, shooting balloons with BB guns, laughing and enjoying themselves.  I loved that for as large of a city that Istanbul is, the old sector of town felt calm and peaceful. In contrast to many cities I've traveled to, there were more stray cats than dogs. 

We finished the night with a Turkish bath.  Now as much as I thought I had read about a Turkish bath, nothing can quite prepare you for the experience until you're there being taken care of by a fat Turkish lady being worked on a marble slab in all of your naked glory.  To say the least there was more nudity involved than I had anticipated.  

Sunday, July 19, 2015

My Date with Eastern Nevada

I have been in Nevada for nearly a year, and most of my little scattered adventures have been limited to Las Vegas and its surrounding area.  I figured it was time to branch and get to know my new state of residency.  I had heard that Great Basin National Park was suppose to be one of the best places to see the stars.  So conveniently after looking at a calendar of the phases of the moon I decided to make a quick trip up to see if it lived up to the hype.  This was a trip that had very little planning and very few objectives other than see the stars, do a little hiking and taken in a bit of Nevada along the way.  It was one of the first times on road trip I gave myself permission to not be in a hurry.  Since I'm not the best with explanations, here are a few photos to help describe my date with eastern Nevada.
I almost breezed through Caliente, but decided to make a quick stop to take a picture of the train station.  It caught my eye, and I love it.  I may stopped again on my way home. Also a couple of years ago, I was kindly informed that this little town Caliente is not pronounced with the Spanish pronunciation.  Every time I see it, I have to read it probably three times trying not to say caliente.

 Not too far outside of Caliente, there was a turnoff for Cathedral State Park.  The name caught my attention, so I thought why not.  There was not a soul in sight, in the park, on the road. Nowhere.  I enjoyed the quiet walk taking in what looked like a martian wasteland, or that of a Star Wars film.
 After making it up to Great Basin, I was grateful to find an open campsite seeing as it was a lot busier than I had expected.
 The weather was perfect for relaxing in my hammock and enjoying the sound of the creek that flowed just a few feet away.

 The park did an excellent presentation on light pollution and the importance of protecting the sky.  They also discussed many of the night creatures, most of which were predatory and stealthy.  That discussion did not help later on as I tried to fall asleep.  While camping alone was very freeing, it was also very terrifying.  Back to the sky, the rangers also had telescopes set up so that visitors could see Saturn, M-81 (another galaxy), and star cluster. The sky was incredible.  It has been a while since I've seen that many stars, and since I have been able to see the Milky Way.  Staring at the stars, as with most things in nature provides a overwhelming sense of perspective.
I wanted to get some better pictures, but to be completely honest I got a little too creeped out being completely alone in the dark with a fierce wind whistling through the trees.
 In the morning I took a tour of Lehman Caves, and it was fantastic.  The formations were stunning, and the guide was very informative.  Trying to wrap my head around the time it took for the formations to form and how they formed was all together fascinating.  It is a strange yet intriguing sort of beauty down there.

 After the cave, I hiked the alpine loop around Stella and Theresa lakes.  The view of Wheeler's peak was impressive, and that will have to be a hike in the future.
 Leaving Baker, this is quite possibly the loneliest functioning gas station that I have ever seen.

 On the way home I made a detour on the scenic route through Pioche.  These little Nevada mining towns are fascinating to me.  They have this ghostlike quality that makes me wonder what they were like during their heyday.

 On the north side of Cathedral State Park there was a pulloff for Miller Point.  This actually provided a more interesting view that from within the park itself.  At another time, I'd like to go back on wander around more.

Even though it was a quick trip, it was a great little escape to breath some fresh air.  Now I just have to plan another trip to get to know western Nevada. Carson City, Reno, Tahoe... so many options.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

What do I value?

Trying to come up with a title for this post was a little difficult.  I've had several thought swirling through my head recently.  But one of the thoughts has been centered around what I spend my money on.  I do not have many physical possessions, although more than many people in the world.  Instead I have spent most of my money on experiences, most of those being travel. :)  The other day I listened to a radio discussion on whether people value things or experiences more in the long run.  The conclusion was that most people find more satisfaction in experiences rather than things.  I know that has been the case for me.  I love trying and seeing new things.  So about six weeks ago I combined the two and closed on a house.  It has been both an experience and well, a rather large physical possession.  After having spent my money on mostly experiences, this is a new adventure for me.  I have faced some fun problems already, but it is a great learning experience.  Even if, part of that experience has been having enough crickets to compete with the Mormon cricket plague of 1848.  My house is slowly coming together, and when it is done I'll post some pictures of the inside.  For now here is me and my house...

Michelle came to visit.
Fun on the strip and way too many selfies.  
We went to see Zarkana on the strip on Halloween.
The strip is pretty sketchy anyway, but on Halloween it provided some interesting people watching.
First time to the St. George temple.
Humbled by the history.

Quick weekend trip to Arizaon to hike Humphrey's Peak.
The highest point in AZ. 

A brief encounter with Fall.

The RiSE Festival

Friends to add to the experience in the middle of the desert. :)
I was a little giddy to say the least.

SOO many lanterns, IT WAS SPECTACULAR!

Just a Friday night.

This girl can eat more sugar than anybody I know.
Favorite view of campus at BYU.  

Chance to see old friends.

I hated the reason for being together.  Saying goodbye to Karmen was difficult but grateful I got to reminisce with these wonderful people.  Maybe we shouldn't be smiling this much at a memorial... on second thought it was much better that way.

This was a gorgeous run!  Boulder City to Lake Mead.

Sometimes when you're the shortest....

When you get together with four of your favorite college roommates, why not do Zumba.

There have been many trips to Disneyland this year, but this was great because I bribed Elise with popcorn to go on Space Mountain with me.  She LOVED it. (The ride and the popcorn.) 

Said goodbye to summer in California.

First hike in Nevada... Mary Jane Falls it was a bit of a disappointment.
 I'll have to return in the spring when hopefully there is more water. :)

Sunday, September 14, 2014

My America

Under this tree Washington took control of the American Army. How cool is that? :)
While clearly I love a good adventure abroad, this year I've kept things a little closer to home.  I have thoroughly enjoyed exploring new cities and new landscapes in the good old USA.  I am fascinated by the people that I come across in all of my adventures.
Caution: There may be a little bit of a photo overload. :)

The beginning of May took me to the foundations of our country, and the cradle of the revolution.  My friend BH was graduating from Harvard with his masters, and thus it was just as good of a reason as any to make a trip east.  I LOVED Boston!  Whether we were wandering the Freedom Trail or taking in a game at Fenway, it was a great time.  There is always some inevitable gratitude the ensues when I'm able to visit places that I have read about or heard about growing up.  Standing where they first read the d\Declaration of Independence, or where the Boston massacre took place, put me in awe as to all of the factors that led up to the revolution and eventually the United States in general. In addition,  there were still some spring blossoms which I absolutely loved.  Oh how I've missed seasons.  There's something refreshing about change.  BH was a great tour guide, and I'm grateful for his amazing hospitality.

A Sunday drive along the coast to Maine.
Determined to get a lighthouse picture in Maine.
Sunday drive to Maine.

Harvard's Freshmen Dining Hall...
somehow the Morris center doesn't seem up to par.

Inside the freshmen dining hall.
BH convinced a little freshman to sneek us in,
don't tell anybody especially
since you're not suppose to take pictures. :)

What child wants to ride a skunk?


MORE BLOSSOMS! I was pretty happy about it. :)


Union Oyster House

Enjoying clam chowder at the oyster bar that has been there for over 200 years.

Loved these historic cemeteries in the middle of the city.

Also in the month of May I popped down to visit my mom for Mother's Day.  I made these rolls, which if I do say so myself were AMAZING!  I was quite proud of them.


The beginning of summer brought its own set of adventures.

Exploring the Lava Tubes outside Flagstaff.
Last minute trip to Mexico, yes please! 

Yay for teachers getting in free to the Musical Instrument Museum. in Scottsdale.
 It was FANTASTIC! Experience music from around the world.

For quite a while I have had the intentions of making it to San Francisco.  Several people had given me a hard time that I had been to Antarctica but I had yet to visit such a major US city. So I jumped at the chance to go with my good friends Bethany and Jackie.  I think we had the perfect trip.  So many little things seemed to just fall into place.  
Muir Woods. So maybe I was a tree hugger for a day.

What an American Icon! 

What girl doesn't love a little bit of chocolate?

BIG anybody? :)

During one of Argentina's World Cup games, my friend David made Milanesa. MMMM. Hard to go wrong with thin strips of steak breaded and fried. MMM MMM MMM.

Timothy's home from PANAMA!!!
One of my last DBacks games I decided to treat myself to a lemonade from THAT guy in the background.  He's great, always cheered me up hearing him.  "LEMONADE, LEMONADE, LIKE YOUR GRANDMA MADE!"

Quick trip up to Snowflake, I didn't realize we were hiking the pinnacle.
My not so skinny jeans were exactly helping me out.
Loved finding the petroglyphs in the canyon, but it always makes me miss grandpa and his expertise.

Not too far outside Mesa is Four Peaks.  In six years I hadn't been out there. So for a sunset hike he headed out on a Friday afternoon, and it was spectacular.

Glacier National Park - Just over 30 total miles of hiking and it's hard to say anything other than God is the master landscaper.   Absolutely Gorgeous!

Oh, and we stayed in a Tepee.  I was pretty stoke about that. 


And by the way now I live here...