Ryan's Journal

"My life amounts to no more than one drop in a limitless ocean. Yet what is any ocean, but a multitude of drops?" — David Mitchell

Floating in the Air

Posted from Selcuk, Turkey at 10:35 pm, July 23rd, 2014

It’s pretty cool when you feel like you’ve gotten in a full day’s worth of activity, look at the time, and realize it’s only 6:30 in the morning.

The hot air balloon ride was totally worth doing. The pilot of our balloon was apparently some sort of otherworldly wizard who was capable of sending the balloon three thousand feet into the air before dropping down to within a foot (literally) of the canyon walls for a few minutes, and then lifting us up a thousand feet before repeating the maneuver in a new canyon. The trip started in the pre-dawn hours, and the balloon lifted off so gently that the only indication of flight was that the ground was becoming distressingly far away – it’s an unnerving sensation to be leaning over the side of a basket a half mile up in the air with nothing supporting you. We watched the sunrise from that height with a hundred other balloons surrounding us, then the balloon armada dropped down to float together through the canyons before repeating. The weather conditions were apparently perfect, and after an hour in the air we landed softly next to the waiting trailer. The much feared presentation of the “flight certificate” was as painful as I imagined it might be, but despite that bit of tackiness I would still highly recommend the experience.

Following the balloon ride I was back at the hotel by 7 AM, grabbed a quick breakfast, and then did a return visit to hike in the Rose & Sword Valleys in order to enjoy the Indiana Jones spirit one last time. Sadly, after that it was time to check out of the incredible, stupendous, and ridiculously great cave hotel, and then it was off to the airport to embark on stage three of the Turkish odyssey.

For my last five days in Turkey I’ve put my life on the line by renting a car and facing the wrath of the Turkish roads, with tonight’s first lesson being that a “road” on Google maps may be something that causes locals to jump up from their seats and yell out warnings when you try to drive on it, necessitating a long drive of shame in reverse along a narrow, one-lane cobblestone path. Assuming the necessary lessons are learned without incident and I can survive this new motorized portion of the trip, in the coming days I’ll get to see a mix of ancient and natural wonders that were old even in biblical times. Life continues to be very, very good.

Cappadocia hot air balloon sunrise

This was my sunrise this morning, but with a hundred other balloons that are out of frame. I have no complaints.

Cappadocia hot air balloons in Love Valley

I wish I’d gotten much, much better pictures that did justice to how cool it was to be floating through the valleys of Cappadocia with a hundred other balloons. Unfortunately this is about the best I got, but on a positive note you can see the previously mentioned phallic stone towers that give the valley its name.

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