Hello, and welcome to the next step in my post-military globe-trotting. Many of you followed my first blog (tonyrides.com) as I traveled the United States on my Motorcycle, riding over 18,000 miles and reaching 49 states and three countries.

In this next installment, my friend Jerod and I will be going abroad for an open-ended jaunt. We will start in the Middle-East at the end of February and see where the roads and the winds take us.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Mission Accomplished (Act II Scene II)

After 29 days, approximately 300 miles, 3 walking sticks (for Me), and countless amounts of med tape (for Tony's feet), we've managed to finish the Lycian Way in total along Turkey's Mediterranean coast.  The one stat I'd like to give but honestly don't know is the amount of elevation change we covered throughout the month--But I will say that hiking East towards Antalya as the guidebook recommends is the best bet, since the last third of the trail is the most challenging in terms of elevation gains, length of hiking days, and relative scarcity of water.  On our final night, we actually used up the very last of the iodine tablets for water sterilization and boiled several extra liters of water on the campfire to stay on the safe side.  The scenery along the trail continued to astound, with the summit of Tahtalı Dağ (Mt. Olympos) arguably the highlight of the trip.  The Turkish Ministry of Tourism claims that Mt. Olympos is the 'highest mountain nearest to sea level'-an admittedly rather ambiguous claim-that said, it was a very challenging climb with absolutely stunning views in all directions, and with approximately 7,800 feet of elevation gain over the two day ascent we were quite satisfied to have made the summit.  All in all, this will undoubtedly be a part of our travels we look back on with a sense of accomplishment.

Along the trip, we had a chance to meet several other groups of through-hikers (intending to go the length of the trail as well).  The various nationalities included British, Australians, Dutch, Danish, Israeli, Austrian, and even one other American.  For their part, the Turks think anybody who wants to walk 300 miles for 'fun' is pretty much crazy--and there were certaiınly some times we had a tendency to agree with them.  That said, the Turkish hospitality all along the trail was absolutely amazing-especially in the more remote alpine sections.

We also understand that Mr. Frank's Social Studies Class at the Wattsburg Area Middle School has been following the blog and we would like to stay we appreciate the support and hope we have kept things entertaining and perhaps even educating.  Our time on the Lycian Way was certainly a stroll through history, as it was not uncommon to camp in an area that Alexander the Great had spent a winter, or walk past a statue of Marcus Aurelius still standing.

We're in a bit of shellshock here in Antalya--with a population just short of a million, it is quite the sight after 29 days seeing (many) more goats than people.  That said, we managed to find a hammam (Turkish Bath) this morning to ease those aches and pains and a day or two of gluttony is probably in order after the last month.  Thanks for following.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Dogs and Hospitality (Act II Scene I)

We rejoin our intrepid trekkers in Finike, Turkey......

Wow.  We just finished two of the hardest days of the Lycian Way (Lykia Yolu in Turkish, and pronounced lick-e-ya).  The guide book called for 3-4 days worth of food, but Jerod and I decided we could do it in two.  It was two long days, with about 22 hours of hiking and 1,600 meters of climbing.  We probably could have done it a little quicker but Turkish hospitality cannot be denied when it is offered.  About half an hour into day one of the the two-day section we were dragged into a house for breakfast.  We politely declined but were harangued until we acquiesced.  In comparison with other mid-East households where men rule domestic life, Turkish women seem to wear the pants at home.  We were sat down and fed huge mounds of Gozleme (a Turkish quesadilla), fresh vegatables, goat cheese, and honey.  This is followed with tea and group photos.  The next day we had lunch with some shephards, one of which was actually featured in the originally version of our guidebook.  She proudly showed us her copy of the book, as well as photos that other trekkers had sent to her after previous visits.

We have also had some fun dog interactions.  We decided to one section of the trail as a day hike and get a ride back to our campground in the afternoon.  It was cheaper than lodging in the next town and let us hike a day with no packs.  As we set out in the morning four stray dogs joined us for the walk across the long beach.  They ran circles around us and tackled each other on the sand as we went along.  As the trail left the beach, however, we lost two of our entourage, leaving only Nilla and Brownie to tag along.  At the base of a steep climb we took a break and discussed the possibilities of the dogs making it up the climb.  Turns out that they seemed to have an easier time than us.  As we cruised through a little village a female stray named Spot appeared and began an on-again/off-again relationship with Nilla.  Now there was five of us and we set out again.  We found it tough to carry enough water for five mammals on a hot day when there are no buckets to dip in the wells, but we shared what we had and kept on.  We narrowly averted disaster when Nilla was almost taken out by one of the aforementioned Kangal sheep dogs.  After Jerod and I got a few direct hits with some rocks it went after an easier target in mild-mannered Nilla.  Running at them with 15-pound rocks held above your head seems to scare them off, though, and Nilla survived with only one little puncture wound.  Spot, however, seemed enamoured by the physical prowess of the larger, more aggressive sheep dogs and hesitated a moment before rejoining the group.  We all made it safely to Demre and called for our ride back to camp.  Our host at the campsite knew Brownie from town and offered her a ride home too.  Spot and Nilla wouldn't get in the car and made a de facto move from Andriake to Demre.  We saw spot on the road the next day, but she seemed to have ditched Nilla.

So the hiking has been good enough, and my ankle is holding up.  I'm not enamoured with hiking, but it is a great way to really immerse yourself in a region and get a first-hand look at local life.  We are two-thirds through the hike and just passed our two and a half month milestone of traveling.  Spirits are high and blisters are healing.  The next blog and last installment of the blof will come from Antaliya at the end of the trail.  Until then..........

Sunday, May 9, 2010

The Road Goes On Forever (Act I Scene II)

The Lycian Way continues for Tony and I (13 days in), staying tonight at a pension here in Kaş (pronounced lıke 'Kosh').  We have witnessed quite a few beautiful seaside Medıterranean towns, but in my humble opinion this one takes the cake (so far at least).  Quite a stunning scene involving sheer cliffs, several bay islands, and quaint whitewashed villas lining the hillsides during our somewhat harrowing descent into town today.  Not surprisingly, we have run into a few ex-pats here already, mostly British.

The trail itself has proven challenging and over quite varied terrain--everything from 'yaylas' (apline meadows) to class 3 rock scrambles (hands and feet required) to 2,500+ year old steep mule paths used for hauling supplies to the ancient people who lived ın these lands.  The author of the guidebook we're using for the trail describes an 'almost careless' relationship with history in this area, and that strikes me as apt.  Walking over ancient aqueducts or across Greco-Roman columns laying in the traıl (with distinct inscriptions still visible) come to mind.

The animals encountered have been of the mostly harmless kind-turtles, snakes, lots of goats and other domestic animals, etc.-with one notable exception-the Kangal dog--bred throughout Turkey as wolf-fighting sheepdogs, they are quite territorial and don't take kindly to strangers crossing their paths or getting near their sheep.  Maybe I forgot to mention they are also very large-close to a German Shepherd in sıze.   We have found that rock-throwing seems to work as the best deterrent.

And last but certainly not least--it's not lost on either of us from the other sıde of the world that today is Mother's Day, so on behalf of both Tony and I--happy Mother's Day Bea and Sue, we appreciate all the support over the years and love you.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Lycian Way (Act I Scene I)

Welcome to the first installment of Lycian Way blog entries.  We are roughly 50 miles into the trip and enjoying things so far.  Since we left Fethiye 8 days ago we have passed through farms, walked around cliffs descending to clear blue water, and passed through ancient ruins, including Pydnai, Letoon, and Xanthos.  Yesterday we spent several miles hiking through the remains of a Roıman aqueduct.  Later on, we rejoined the aqueduct only to find it flowing with water from the same spring that has fed it for thousands of years.  We have had a mixture of sleeping arrangements.  Some small bed and breakfasts, called pensions here, and some camping as well.  We have eaten all of our meals from the supplies we are carrying. 

Things have not been all easy, however.  Four days ago I had a minor ankle sprain, but luckily it was near the end of the day's hike, and also only one day from our scheduled rest-day.  However, just yesterday I managed to sprain the same ankle again.  Now I am holed up in Kalkan resting my ankle while Jerod is doing a two-day loop that starts and stops here.  I bought some wraps for my ankle and will attempt to rejoin him when he gets back tomorrow. 

The good news is that I am using my downtime to upload new photos to our public Facebook gallery (no membership needed).  Click here to view the pictures.