Saturday, January 7, 2012

Turkey - 11

Hi, This will be my final Turkey post.  Our second day in Cappadocia began with an optional (at extra cost) dawn hot air balloon ride.  It was fantastic.  The pilots were very skilled and could bring the balloons down into the steep valleys so that in many places the baskets were only a foot or 2 off the ground.  In the photo below we are looking down on one of the balloons that is rising from a close up look at the rock formations.

We also got down low and got a close up view of some of the dwellings carved into the rock.

As the sun rose both our balloon occupants and the colors warmed up.

Ballooning in this area is very popular.

This photo perhaps gives a better idea of just how close the quarters are in which the balloon pilots maneuver.

After our balloon ride and a quick breakfast it was off to a "factory" where Turkish rugs are hand woven.  We were told this is a cooperative and was developed to remove the middleman and assure that the weavers received the maximum compensation.

Although this looks like a painting it is actually carpet.

These rugs can cost thousands of dollars.  Some of the rugs being sold were more than a hundred years old.  The older the rug the more expensive it tended to be given equivalent sizes.

After lunch we stopped at another area where there were many hoodoos with conical tops.  These formations occur when the cap rock is much harder than the supporting column.

Later in the afternoon we visited an elementary school supported by the Grand Circle Foundation, established by our tour operator, Grand Circle Travel. The children read poetry and sang.  Some enjoyed posing for photos.

Our last stop was the studio of a French expat who was an artist with pottery.  He demonstrated by making a teapot.

The potter employed a number of associates who decorated pottery.

Here the potter holds up one of his plates.  While there were items that sold for only $20 to $30 the more expensive items, such as this, were up in the hundreds.

The next day we left Cappadocia and drove to Ankara, our departure city.  On the way we stopped at an area that has been occupied for more than 3,400 years.  It is believed this area was a memorial chapel and that the carvings date to the 13th Century BC.

We then moved across the valley to a ruin of a city that had been the Hittite capital from about 1700 BC to about 1200 BC when both the city and the Hittite kingdom were destroyed.

The lions gate in the wall surrounding the city is shown below.  The statue on the left is a reconstruction whereas the one on the right is original.

Our final day was spent in rain and mist in Ankara, Turkey's capital.  We began our morning at the Anatolian Museum where many of the artifacts go back to 8000 BC.

This particular statue of a mother breast feeding a baby dates to 3000 to 1950 BC.

Cast in Bronze, this a ceremonial standard of the Hittites, the ruins of whose capital we visited the previous day.

Mestafa Kemal Ataturk led the founding of the Turkish republic and is a national hero, much in the vein of George Washington.  Unlike Washington, however, his coffin is above ground in this structure.

This is Ataturk's coffin.

There were many classes of school children visiting the day we were there, and I suspect this is true every day.  Each class poses for photos in front of the tomb.

Thus ended our trip to Turkey.  The afternoon was at leisure and we returned home the next day.  We thoroughly enjoyed Turkey and its people.  I hope you enjoyed the photos.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Railfanning 12-28-2011

Hi, Friend Doug Koontz and I elected to head up to the Brandywine Valley in Delaware and Southeastern Pennsylvania last Wednesday to try and find the 2 GP-38s the East Penn Railroad had leased a few months ago.  After driving up from St. Dennis, Maryland we stopped at the railroad's office at Kennett Square, PA where we were told that the crew had left about 20 minutes earlier and they had work to do at Pocopson, PA.  They would then go on to Embreeville and Modena, PA before turning around and heading for the CSX interchange at Elsmere Yard outside of Wilmington, DE.  We did note that only one of the GP-38s was present leading us to hope the other was on the train.

We immediately headed for Pocopson where we found a long string of cars on a siding but no sign of the train.  Doug went into a hardware store located along the tracks to ask if anyone had seen the train.  He was told that they thought the train had headed south about 20 minutes earlier.  Therefore, we turned around and headed south.  When we checked the tracks south of Chadds Ford, where the former PRR east west line from Kennett Square joins the north south line (former Reading) from Modena to Elsmere, it was obvious the train had not passed.  After some further checking of the track at the junction of the 2 lines we headed back north.

Finally, after checking as best we could we found the train, consisting of 2 units and a flat car, at Embreeville, PA.  We had a few minutes to snap photos and talk to the crew before the train headed north.  What we learned was the crew had driven to Embreeville to pick up the train.

We were able to catch the train once more before it headed into the yard about a mile north of Modena where interchange with the Brandywine Valley RR was accomplished.  Branywine Valley is the plant railroad for the Arcelor Mital steel mill (formerly Lukens Steel) in Coatesville, PA.

After about a 30 minute wait the train headed south with  a former New York Susquehanna & Western GP-18 leading.  On the southern outskirts of Modena it crossed a small creek.  Its interesting that this locomotive is almost 50 years old and has just begun to serve its second owner.

We caught the train a number of times along the country roads as it headed south,

including here at Northbrook, pA.

The crew stopped at Pocopson, PA to switch, first passing the former Reading Station

and then some cabooses on display.

Just south of Pocopson the tracks pass a horse farm.

As we could not find additional locations we felt were worth photographing we decided to wait at Elsmere Yard for the train.  However, before the East Penn entered the yard a CSX local arrived with a GP30 slug freshly repainted into the latest scheme on the point.

Finally, as the sun was disappearing from view the East Penn train entered the yard.

We really enjoyed the day and I hope you enjoy the photos.