Little Stories

Travel blogging is funny. I'm always thinking of what to post next, how to keep things fresh, etc. etc. What sometimes gets lost in the process are the little stories, the ones that I might tell when I got home at the end of the day, but two or three days later, seem of minor importance. Anyway, I've collected a few of these littles stories, which, each in their own right wouldn't be a blog post of its own, and combined them to share. I hope you enjoy!

Two Forks, Two Toothpicks, and a Salt Shaker
I found a bunch of vacationing Peace Corp folks to pal around with and we were all out to dinner. As is my wont, in fidgeting to entertain myself and others, I did the old two forks, two toothpicks, and a salt shaker trick. While the peace corp folk were mildly amused at best, the waiters loved it. The first one saw it while clearing off the dishes and promptly examined it to the point of knocking it down. Then he handed me the pieces in an obvious do-it-again gesture. I did, and he ran off to get his buddy. Next thing I know, there are 3 waiters gathered around our table, excitedly speculating (I can only assume) in rapid Turkish on how to do the trick. They then take away the forks and salt shaker and retreat to the back room. We all have a good laugh and settle in for our dessert.

In two or three minutes, the waiters are back. They couldn't quite figure out how the toothpick goes between the forks so again have me show them. When I show them, one slaps the other on the shoulder in an I-told-you-so fashion and off again they run, all smiles.

While we are making our way to the door, the peace corp peeps encourage me to show them a rope trick or two*. I do, and they love it, having me do the more curious ones time and time again to try to figure them out. Once we are out the door, the head waiter chases me down and pulls me back in to show the boss man more rope tricks. One of the waiters shuffles over as I'm about to leave and gestures for me to hand him the rope, with which he busts out his own rope trick!

Pretty much awesome. Gimmicky "magic" tricks cross language barriers better than anything I've encountered to date, except of course a smile. I'm glad I'm travelling with my rope and my bag-o-tricks. The come in super handy all the time.*

My Cave
I've found my cave. The main room is maybe 6'x8' with 5' high ceilings. The short passage in is lower still. There is a large floor to ceiling window that looks out over the valley. I sit with my legs dangling out of it, 15 feet above the ground. Last night's lack of sleep on the overnight bus from Istanbul hits me and I lie back. My legs are in the sun and it feels good.

With my eyes closed, I start to develop an intior design plan for my cave, with schemes for heating and screening to keep the birds out. Yes, I could live here, for a while. Give me a broom and a bed roll and I'll start my lease tonite. The song bird landlords no doubt will accept my cookie crumbs as payment.

The call to prayer from the nearby mosque bring me back. Reality reminds me that we are no longer cave dwellers. Insurance issues, you know. But I could do it. I know I could. When the housesitting market falls through, and no more volunteer circuses need help in the kitchen, I will be back, to take up residence in my cave.

Spreading American Culture
Travelling is not only a good way to learn about the place you are visiting, but also about so many other places in the world. Every place I stay, there are other travelers from all over the world with whom I love talking and sharing jokes, world views, language tidbits, and more..

For the past couple days, I've been travelling with a wonderful little group consisting of a Canadian, a German, and two Croatians. The Croatian girls are fire crackers, always go go go with a joke, a smile, and quite often singing as they skip down the trail. On our last afternoon in Cappadocia, the three of us went out to explore euphemistically-name Love Valley, after the distinct shape of some of the towers of rock. Sitting on a hilltop with the setting sun casting the rock formations in an amazing light, I made a grave mistake. Thinking that I was sharing in a little cultural exchange, I taught the girls about the penis game.

For those of you that don't know the penis game, don't be scared*. It is a childish activity that consists of seeing who can (or is brave enough) to yell "penis" the loudest. Typically this is played by giddy teens in shopping malls, public squares, or anywhere else there are people around. Luckily for me, we were pretty much lost ourselves, so there wasn't anyone near to be affected. Needless to say, the girls took to playing the game with fervor.

Culture, esp. American culture, has its good points as well as its bad. And while I try to share my favorite bits with my new foreign friends, a bad one is bound to slip out now and then. So if you ever happen through Zagreb, Croatia and hear some offensive yelling, I'm sorry. My bad.

Tuesday March 29 2011File under: travel, Turkey

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Postcard from Cappadocia




Cappadocia is awesome. I'm staying in a town called Goreme, which is right the heart of the region. Valleys with cliffs covered in human-carved caves are around every corner, perfect for hiking and exploring.

I ended up on a tour yesterday that took me to a huge underground city (again, all hand carved caverns), to a monastery-turned-caravan stop (again, carved in the rock), and another beautiful valley. Tours aren't usually my thing, but this one worked.

I like this place so much, I don't want to leave. But so goes the nature of travel, I guess. I leave on a night bus tonite for places unknown. I'm fairly sure that smiles will await.

                                                             ~Wren
(Click to flip)

Saturday March 26 2011File under: travel, Turkey

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Istanbul (Not Constantinople)

ISTANBUL
(NOT CONSTANTINOPLE)*

Thursday March 24 2011File under: travel, Turkey

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On the Way to the Blue Mosque

A funny thing happened on the way to the Blue Mosque...

Istanbul is a city full of mosques, many of them very very beautiful. I set out yesterday with the aim of making it to the Blue Mosque, one of the most famous. Being that it is one of the most famous mosques [in the world], I figured it must be the biggest one I see on the horizon so set off in that direction.

Once I arrived, after gawking at the spectacular innards, I realize that this isn't the famed Blue Mosque. Oh well. It's a wonderful sight I might not have visited otherwise, so I can't be mad. Instead, I take a gander around at the surrounding hills and spot the next most magnificent mosque on the horizon and set off on foot towards it.

Navigating by landmark in the distance in Istanbul leads to some less than traveled roads and paths, which is partially why I do it*. So while this second mosque also wasn't the Blue Mosque, not only was it again totally worth seeing, but it led me to some great out of the way places*.

Finally, I made it to the Blue Mosque, but so late that I couldn't visit the interior. But that's okay. Now that I know where it is, I will go back. Mosques are like cathedrals in Europe or temples in SE Asia—while they are all totally spectacular, seeing too many in a row can cause one's eyes to glaze over. So perhaps saving the Famed Blue Mosque for another day is what the universe's plan was all along.
Tuesday March 22 2011File under: travel, Turkey

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NYC Whittling

It feels like I've passed through New York City quite a few times in the last couple years. If I had to guess, it'd be about 5. In that time, I've slowly ticked items off the list of NYC activities. But it's a big city and it seems like my to do list grows despite my slow whittling.

While visiting wonderful friends is always highest my highest priority, I always seem to have enough time to throw a few other activities in the mix. This time around, I found a spare hour to ride the oft-touted Staten Island Ferry*. The highlight was a closer than expected view of the Statue of Liberty.

Another activity that was on my list for quite a while and am so glad to finally check off was a visit to Dube, Inc. juggling store. Over the years, I've bought more than a few props from them, all by mail order, and it was neat to simply be surrounded by props.

It was a low-key couple days in the big city, but wonderful nonetheless. Thanks to the friends that made it great, and thanks to the city itself for continually showing me something new (like these yummy donuts made with mashed potato dough from Wonder City Donuts!).
Sunday March 20 2011File under: travel, USA

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Hiking in Boulder

It turns out I really like Boulder, CO. Twice in the past week, I've been released solo into the town to see what it has to offer. Both times, my opinion of the town grew and I can't wait to go back.

The first visit was specifically to check out Chautauqua Park, mainly just because of the coincidental name*, but it turned out to be a great place to hike as well. While I didn't come away with many good hike pictures*, I did come away with a fun souvenir pic.

Visit #2, a couple of days later, I ended up on another great hike, this time following Boulder Creek Path from downtown. But what made this hike so fun was that it happened in the midst of a pretty good snowstorm (such that I ended up with some pretty awesome ice chunks in my beard). The way sound is dampened, that the light is different, and all nature seems to take on a completely different feel makes being out in nature so much fun.

Anyhoo, thanks Boulder. Hopefully I'll see you again soon!
Tuesday January 11 2011File under: travel, Colorado

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Pueblo Riverwalk

It turns out I really like riverwalks. Before on this here blog, I've posted about (or at least mentioned) the riverwalks in Naperville and San Antonio. Now I've got another one to add that, in my opinion, at least rivals if not surpasses them both.

The Riverwalk in Pueblo, CO is a great mix of commerce, open space, performance venues, water features, and more. While there isn't much action, esp. in the way of commerce, now that the temperatures are below freezing, it seems obvious to me that in the summer, this place would be hopping. But even now, there were quite a few souls out walking along the ample paths lining the manicured stream.

It both amazes and inspires me to see such a deliberate public space in a town like Pueblo. I give my high praise to the planners that made it so. The feel of the place, along with its functionality and its beauty guarantees that I will be back someday to enjoy it further. If you ever find yourself in Pueblo, I suggest you do too.
Wednesday January 5 2011File under: travel

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Snow Fun At All

I grew up in a place where snow wasn't a foregone conclusion every winter. In fact, I remember very few winters where there was enough snow to get out and play, sled, build snowmen, etc. Because of this, when I find myself in a situation where there is good snow on the ground. I feel like I have to get out and enjoy it.

Such is the case here in Colorado. There was a fresh blanket of snow awaiting me when I stepped off the plane coupled with single degree temperatures. The temperature has since risen enough to make for outdoor activities being reasonable. On a walk through Denver the other day, I couldn't help but stop and do a little snow construction. Not as good as that igloo on Garcelon Field back in the day*, but pretty fun.

The only downside of the whole thing was the inability to feel my fingers for a good while. Oh well. Totally worth it.
Monday January 3 2011File under: travel, USA

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Impressive Architecture

It's been a while since I've come across a building that I get down right giddy about, a building that I want to come back to again and again just to look at. Yesterday, I found one of those buildings.

I mean, look at it. It's big, it's impressive, and it's just plain awesome. Where is this Romanesque architectural spread? San Francisco, CA that's where. It's the Palace of Fine Arts which houses a theater and the Exploritorium* and is surrounded by a wonderful pond and lawns perfect for juggling.

Although I felt like a slack-jawed gawker doing it, I couldn't help but snap shot after shot. Hopefully next time I come back, all the construction will be done and I'll actually get to go inside!
Wednesday December 1 2010File under: travel, pics

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Canvas Fun 2 - Map Lines


Here are some further adventures with HTML canvas. For this one, I was trying to recreate an Indiana Jones style map to give someone a brief overview of my travels. Again, I realize this is by no means groundbreaking in terms of its display or anything, but the fact it is all done through HTML gets me pretty excited. Anyway, have a look and tell me what you think. Version #1, version #2

(As for the last adventure with canvas, I think I've isolated some of the issues, so hopefully it should load up correctly now. So go ahead and give it another look too, if you like. )
Wednesday November 24 2010File under: coding, travel

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