NOTE: Additions to the text in red were added during the report compilation, for the website.
NOTE: Sharon's comments will be in {curly brackets}.


Saturday, December 6, 2008. Family Fun Day. Day 20 of 21.


NOTE: Pronunciations:

Cihan - GEE-hahn ('hahn' to rhyme with 'Don')
Canan - JOHN-ahn ('ahn' to rhyme with 'Don' also)
Burcu - BOOR-jew ('boor' to rhyme with 'poor')
Aysel - eye-SELL
Metin - MEH-tin
Kemal - Keh-MALL

We get up leisurely have breakfast about 9:30. {A typical hotel breakfast with the usual Turkish fare of tomatoes, cheese, olives, and hard boiled eggs. But they also have pancakes , "egg bread" which I found out was French Toast, and omelet. Then the whole array of breads, cold cereal, tea, coffee, and three juices. Yum!} I work on another report while Sharon finishes her coffee and reads her book. Cihan calls and said Metin, Canan and Burcu will pick us up about 10:30. We will be downstairs, ready to go.

Shortly after 10:30, they pick us up and we're off. It's great to see them. We believe the last time we saw Metin or Burcu was in 2001, when Burcu was only 1 or 2. Canan was in California a year or two ago, with Tara, selling her crafts.

It's great to see them. I heard Metin was missing a tooth, and it appears that it's exactly the same as my upper one. Hey, Brothers in Teeth.

Cihan is in the kitchen, cutting up ingredients for pizza for one of the meals today.


Cihan would be a chef in another life


I get the puzzle out and set it up. We work all day and night on it, till Metin and Canan take us home about midnight.


Burcu, Tara and I work the pieces.


We eat, snack, have meals, desserts all day long. It's a puzzling foodfest. An eating puzzlefest. {We started off with two desserts that Canan made and brought over with us. A cake like strawberry shortcake instead that the fruit was cherries. The other was a traditional type of Turkish cake with a sugar syrup over it, topped off with deliciious whipped cream that Cihan tells us comes from water buffalo. What a treat. Who needs dinner when we start off with dessert?}

We watch the Turkish Deal or No Deal again (Miktar ya da yok Miktar - don't you just love that 'ya da' in there?), and it's a great background event to occasionally turn our attention to.

The report of this day reminds me of why I use a digital voice recorder. Because when I don't make notes, I don't remember much about what I did. Sort of like when Sharon comes home from work, and asks what I did today. Uh, I know I did something. Then for the next few days I'll write down my tasks and she comes home and asks what I did, and I read off seven or eight things. "Boy, you've been busy," she says, perhaps not realizing that on the "I don't know" days, I am just as busy. Busy is a good thing, of course.


Sharon bought a bunch of these little balls 2 or 3 inches in diameter, filled with stuff sort of like slime, if you've ever bought your kids or grandkids things with slime. Sort of like fast-moving silly putty, but still fairly slow-moving. So if you squeeze one, it's very, very pliable. There is also a netting, tightly fit around the ball, with holes in the netting. When you squeeze the ball real good, about 20 or 30 little bubbles pop out through the netting, then recede back through the netting, into the original ball shape - wait, what's that thing that's worth a thousand words?


Here's Burcu, squeezing the heck out of the ball


So Cihan's brother-in-law Metin starts taking pictures with his camera, and I decide to do a demonstration with a ball. Only... only...


Goop Ball


One of the bubbles, poking through the netting broke, and the inside started slowly, slowly oozing outside. Like silly putty, when you start peeling it up, it doesn't leave a mess behind, but rather, all comes up in one oozy but solid-enough-if-you-work-fast piece.

Well, we finally get the puzzle down to everything but dark or blue pieces, and Cihan takes us back to our hotel.

Good night. One more day in Turkey, then we fly out early early the next day.


Sunday and Monday, December 7 and 8, 2008. Giant Two-Day+ Marathon. Day 21 (plus travel day) of 21


Cihan comes to pick us up, together with all our luggage, in his dad's car. While we wait, I click off a couple of steet pictues.


Our hotel entrance


He drives us back to his parents' house, and guess what - it's time to eat again. He says the puzzle is almost done. They saved the last few pieces for us, he says.

Sure enough, they left out three pieces. Burcu gets the last one in.

We present Burcu with a little gift, the one we picked up at the fish restaurant in Hereke earlier in the trip. She does a nice light show with it.


Burcu's Light Show


Somewhere in there, between meals and snacks and desserts and tea, we get in a rousing game of Okey. I forget exactly who won (the team of Canan and Tara), but it wasn't the team of us.

Sharon, showing that the Lutman team DID win one round

Like me, Metin is the photographer in this family, and so doesn't get many photos of himself in the lot. Here he is, with Sharon and me. He's a medical doctor, but has the assignment of being in charge of the complete hospital computer system, including a powerful digital camera, which he has used to take lots of these pictures. But not the one below.

Metin with Sharon and me, at the Okey table.


Some casual shots, toward the end of the evening.

Cihan's usual method, for their flights to America, is to stay up all night, because the taxi will come to pick us up at 2 am, take us to the airport, and we fly out at 5:15 am. When are you gonna sleep?

But slowly all the travelers take short naps except me. I go to the computer room, where I broke the house record for Zuma. Or Zima. Something like that. 200,000, and I finally quit because it was time to do a final check on packing.

We hug and kiss goodbye to everybody not going downstairs. Aysel will go down and throw water on the back of the van, a traditional good luck practice I understand. {It is supposed to insure that you will return.}

The taxi (actually the same van as the other night) picks us up a little before 2 am, and after making sure all the luggage is aboard, and saying our last goodbyes, including a 2 am yell to a couple of open windows on the 7th floor, we load into the van and take off.

The roads to the new Ankara airport are super smooth and there is almost no traffic. No surprise, really, as this is a holiday weekend, plus it's the middle of the night. We arrive at the airport, and first we drop off Cihan and Tara, who will fly out on Lufthansa. Then the driver takes us a little farther, where he lets us off at Turkish Airlines.

We rent a cart for 1 euro, and load up all our luggage. Check-in doesn't open till 3:30, so we have about a fifteen minute wait. Tara comes walking up, inside the terminal, and she and Sharon head off to the rest room while I wait.

There are some fantastic, huge photographs of events in the world on display easels in the airport, like landing on the moon, and they are fun to peruse and read.

Sharon comes back, and check-in is open, so we check our four big pieces (the duffel bag is about 3% full, having brought lots of gifts and some of Tara's crafts over). The friendly check-in lady gives us all four sets of boarding passes, so we go through security, then head out to the gate.

Here's the plan:
Turkish Airlines, Ankara to Istanbul. One hour flight. One hour on ground.
Turkish Airlines, Istanbul to Frankfurt. 3.5 hour flight. Two hours on ground.
United Airlines. Frankfurt to Chicago. Ten hour flight. Two hours on ground.
United Airlines. Chicago to San Francisco. 4 hour flight. Bob Ross will meet us and take us home.

{All goes pretty well except we leave Istanbul one hour late and nervous to catch our flight in Frankfurt we are also delayed by police checking everyone's passport as we leave the plane which slows everything down. We hustle to make the flight, get on it in time and WAIT 3 hours on the tarmack because of fog. So the flight out of Frankfurt is delayed about three hours, and we arrive in Chicago after our connection has already left. The good news is, United was on top of this, and scheduled us on a flight only a little bit later. Again we are hustling through the airport as we have less than an hour to check our bags through, take the tram to the domestic terminal, go through security again and get to the gate. I go ahead out of security as Bob always takes a little longer to get through the checks with all his electronics and laptop. So I get to the gate as they are calling "Last call for boarding flight 145". I go up to the gate and give the lady my passport and ticket. As she is checking it, I say, "My husband is just behind me." "Where?" she demands. "I'm not sure, but he will be right here." "I can't wait", she says, "I have to close the gate." While she continues checking my ticket, I go back out from the waiting area to look for Bob. Little did I know he had stopped to buy a newspaper! Yikes, Bob. I see him down the concourse, pulling both our checkin bags. "Bob", I yell. He looks up and sees me and moves a little faster, but not in any urgency. "No", I say, "RUN!". Now he starts to run, and reaches the gate in time to hand his passport to the slightly annoyed lady. That is as close as I ever want to come to missing an airplane.} We call Carrie Ross from Chicago, telling her about our situation. That's from the back row of the airplane, with the engine running, and the flight attendants shaking their fists at me, "NO CELL PHONES. HANG UP NOW. NOW!!!" I barely tell Carrie the new flight number and hang up. There is snow on the ground, and it seems to be raining.

I ask for water, but the flight attendants are busy and I suspect they need to punish me a little, but we take off and I get my water.

We are both in aisle seats, across from each other. We each have an empty seat adjacent to our seat. "Ahhhhh," is heard often by our flying neighbors.

When we get to San Francisco, we see Bob's friendly face, but the check-in luggage refuses to show any face at all. Checking with United Luggage, we learn that the bags didn't make the tight connection in Frankfurt. They will be delivered to our home tomorrow sometime. Excellent.

Then it's off to home. Bob delivers us safely, and all is well there. Boomer is exceedingly glad to see us, as he bounces off the walls for a while before settling in. {And our bags are delivered the next day as promised. Way to go, United. You got us on a new flight and delivered our bags to our door}

Well, we did it. Our fourth trip to Turkey, and from lots of angles, the best one yet.

Happy Holidays to everybody, and Peace Out.


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