Tour de Farm: Idyllic Idling in Erdek

With a population of over 13 million and one foot in Europe and the other in Asia, Istanbul has all the thrills, diversions, and energy of a huge cosmopolitan city. But all that can sometimes leave one wishing for a respite. We were treated to just that by our friend George. As a transplanted Texan who has lived in Turkey for the past 20 years, George combines the patented charm of the Turkish men with good old-fashioned Texas hospitality. Not really knowing any of the four of us, he nevertheless graciously invited us to be his guests on his farm outside of Erdek, a lovely small town a 2-hour ferry ride across the Sea of Marmara from Istanbul.

George’s farm is flush with flowers, vegetables, fruit and nut trees. We were treated to apples, peaches, pears, pomegranates, plums, olives, and almonds all grown on his farm, as well as his own honey and fruit preserves. All were incredibly fresh and delicious. The almonds were small and crisp and tasted like they were infused with almond-oil compared to the ones we can buy in the States. To this feast, he added fresh, locally made borek (a Turkish pastry), baclava, and of course, tea.

We revelled in 2 days of lolling on his deck with spectacular views of the sea, strolling around the farm, and enjoying George’s good company. We watched the full moon rise and indulged in a delicious dinner seaside at Yesilim Camping and Restaurant–unassuming-looking and informal with fabulous seafood and vegetables.

The second day, after a stroll through Erdek with stops for lunch and ice cream, it was time to catch the ferry back to the bustle of Istanbul.

I swear that’s a fly rod he is carrying off the ferry.

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A Visit to “the World’s First Temple” as Turkey-Syria Border Tensions Erupt

An errant Syrian mortar on October 3, 2012, brought death to a Turkish mother and her 4 children and focused world attention on the Turkish town of Akçakale, nestled up against the Syrian border. Turkey quickly retaliated by shelling military targets just across the border in Syria, killing several soldiers who were there defending the swaying Assad regime.

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“War Crosses the Line,” reads the headline in a Turkish daily after the deadly Syrian shelling.

Only the week before and 20 miles away from Akçakale, we had bumped over gravel roads to a site that receives much less of the world’s fractured attention. Known as Göbekli Tepe, “Potbelly Hill,” this active archeological dig features circular arrays of massive standing stones with finely carved animal and human-like figures that have been dated to more than 11,000 years old, some 8,000 years older than England’s Stonehenge and 7,000 years older than the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt.

Both Smithsonian Magazine and National Geographic have dubbed Göbekli Tepe “the world’s first temple.”  National Geographic goes on to say,”Indeed, Göbekli Tepe is the oldest known example of monumental architecture—the first structure human beings put together that was bigger and more complicated than a hut. When these pillars were erected, so far as we know, nothing of comparable scale existed in the world.”

German archeologist Karl Schmidt began exploring and excavating the area in the 1990s, after other archeologists had given it short shrift.  The discoveries there have set many a hoary archeological theory on its ear.

We were lucky to visit during the two-month period of the year when the area is an anthill of careful continuing excavation.  We were moved and humbled to stand so close to such ancient and finely rendered artifacts and hope that the tensions and retaliations along the Turkey-Syria border do not damage this incredible site.

Archeologist Karl Schmidt supervises the meticulous work of the Turkish and German archeology teams.

Schmidt and team members inspect a new discovery unearthed during our visit.

iPalouse–Shooting and Tweaking with iPhone and iPad

 Ancient winds blew glacial silt into rolling dunes in eastern Washington and western Idaho.  In this agriculturally fertile area known as the Palouse, the hills are plowed into intricate contours for planting wheat and beans. Abstract patterns and colors stretch as far as the eye can see–a perfect venue for a workshop on iPhoneography.

More and more, I travel sans computer, relying on my iPhone and iPad for storing and tweaking travel photos. I still take most photos with my Canon Powershot SX20is camera, but the iPhone increasingly serves as a second camera. Many of these Palouse photos were taken on the iPhone, and all the photos were processed in various apps on the iPad.

Sunrise Palette (Two photos taken with Canon, merged in True HDR app, fine tuned in Snapseed app)

Self-portrait (iPhone, Hipstamatic)

Lone Tree and Steptoe Butte, iPhone photo

Same photo, with effect added in Moku Hanga app

After Moku Hanga effect, converted to black and white in Snapseed, then added Drama filter in Snapseed

Started with two plain photos, converted one to a sketch in Photo Artista Sketch app, then merged/blended the sketch with the barn photo in Filterstorm

Greens and blacks

Started with iPhone Hipstamatic photo, converted to sepia in OldPhotoPro app

Morning in the Palouse

Palouse in Black & White

The moose are loose in Palouse

Strangers in Good Company

An iPhoneography workshop in the rolling Palouse Hills of Eastern Washington with Teri Lou Dantzler and Harry Sandler offered up incredible photo ops and 4 days of learning about taking and processing photos with the iPhone and iPad. But the trip gave the added wonderful bonus of the people in the class. We braved 4 a.m. wake-ups for sunrise shoots, scorching heat in the high 90s, and dust everywhere. No whiners here–only a bunch of photo and iPhone fanatics who made the time an unforgettably fun experience.

And when they hunkered down in a patch of posies seeking the perfect shot, they looked like a bunch of lovely flowers themselves.

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Cody and the Tetons

What can beat a week in the Grand Tetons? Having Diane’s great, great nephew Cody with us. We crammed in a boat ride across Jenny Lake; a hike past Hidden Falls to Inspiration Point where Cody lured and petted chipmunks; a bicycle ride; a fly casting lesson; canoeing Lower Slide Lake; a horseback ride; moose, buffalo, pronghorn, raccoon, and eagle spotting; outfitting Cody with cowboy hat and boots; fishing on the Gros Ventre River; a fish/float on the Snake River; and a birthday dinner for Diane.

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