The day will come when I will die. So the only matter of consequence before me is what I will do with my allotted time. I can remain on shore, paralyzed with fear, or I can raise my sails and dip and soar in the breeze.--Richard Bode

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Balloon ride in Cappadocia, Turkey

Good morning from Cappadocia, Turkey. I have been cooling my jets, waiting for time to pass before I can meet my daughter, Jessica, and my son-in-law, Renaud, in Istanbul. I have mostly been reading and watching "Game of Thrones" on my computer.  This is Ramadan (or Ramazan as they spell it here) so, (when in Rome, do as the Romans) I have been trying to not make myself conspicuous by eating during the day while everyone else is fasting.  I did sneak some cookies and a coke up to my room though.

Finally, night is falling and the day's fast is over. Time to tie on the old feedbag.

I've been watching this pair trot around town. Wherever mother goes, baby follows. It is so cute.  And if baby goes wandering off on its own, mother gets really excited.

I've been mostly eating the set menu (soup, salad, entree). Pretty good stuff. After the evening meal, it is time to do some souvenir shopping. How about a Turkish rug?

What do you think of this hat?

I was hoping to watch the World Cup action. It is a huge thing to do. Unfortunately, it starts here at 11:30 p.m. and I have to be up by 4:00 a.m. for my balloon ride. Choices have to be made. Goodnight. Yawn..

The wrong balloon company picked me up this morning. They were supposed to only get a get a girl from Lisbon, Portugal. It took some sorting out, but they finally delivered me to the correct spot with the right company. The ground crews were blowing up the balloons when I got there. It was an interesting procedure to watch. First, our crew inflated our balloon with a big fan, then they fired up the jets.

And then we have lift off. Let us go, ground crew!

This is your captain speaking -- there will be no falling out allowed.

As far as I could tell (it was hard to count those guys) there were about 40 balloons. It was quite the sight.

As  you can tell, I was loving it.

I talked with the girl from Portugal at breakfast back at the hotel later. She said the balloon she was in flew high all the time. She was disappointed. The rest of us flew low, in and out of the rocks.

There were times I thought we would hit one, but our pilot was unerring. He was very impressive.

The flight only lasted about an hour. I thought that would be too short, but it turned out to be about right.

The ground crew caught us and guided us to a smooth landing right on top of the transport truck. I was very impressed.

I was back at my hotel by 7:00 for a shower, breakfast, some conversation with an interesting young man from Oregon who is on holiday from his teaching job in Qatar. He had some teaching stories to tell. For one thing, the parents there are very watchful, and they just fired every single administrator at the school. They also made the teachers remove every reference to pigs from their textbooks. Wow. Can you believe it? What fundamentalism. And of course, there can be no boy/girl relationships mentioned, not matter how innocent, in the literature books.

Anyway, time to pack the motorcycle and hit the road. Gotta be in Istanbul tomorrow. I spent the rest of the day riding across northwest Turkey. The hills reminded me of Nebraska, or even more of southern Alberta and northwest Montana.

I'm staying the night at the only roadside motel I've seen in Europe. It was too early to stop, but I am only three hours from Istanbul and have my orders on when to be at Jessica's friend's house where I will meet everyone and leave my motorcycle while we explore Istanbul. I am on a superhighway (lots of them here) and I am supposed to have a coded sticker for the tolls. The last time I went through one of the unmanned booths (they are all unmanned) I set off alarms. I hope the gendarmes don't get me tomorrow.

I will let you know,

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