Botas Seaside Drive
Carol has just returned from morning Chapel, where she plays piano and organ. I suggest we go for a drive and do lunch at the truck stop on the autobahn; it's a nice day and we should take advantage of it. As is our usual routine driving out east in the country, we leave the base and make our way to the main highway and then onto the industrial park where we can connect with the east/west autobahn. Once on the autobahn, the truck stop is not far to the east; we probably drive only thirty minutes to get there.
The highway is excellent and today we see few cars on it; we see far more trucks
as they traverse the country carrying freight of every description. I know I've
talked of it in the past but I still marvel at the loads on some of these trucks;
I can't imagine why gravity doesn't simply turn them over on the curves. Most
of the cars we encounter are moving far faster than we are. Every once in a
while I'm in the far left lane and one of these speeding cars gives me the blinking
light routine; meaning simply, get out of my way! For that reason, I generally
stay out of that lane. The big trucks are the only things I pass and I don't
pass many of them. As we descend the entrance ramp to the autobahn it curves
downward and then begins a very gradual climb that seems to last for a good
while. We've had a good deal of rain lately, so everything is green and beautiful.
Carol has the camera and intends to get some pictures of the scenic views in our wake but it's far too hazy for some shots. The roadway too, raises and falls through this area of rolling hills, which make photography difficult for her. The sky is filled with broken cloud cover and the sun makes an appearance every now and then. As we make our first gentle curve, a mountainside comes into view demonstrating the horrors of modern progress; the extraction of road building materials have made this majestic edifice a monumental scar on the landscape. From level with our line of sight to nearly the peak of this mountain earth moving equipment has torn the rock to bits. Should the destruction continue, this mountain will no longer even be a slight hill. I would suppose this super highway we're currently plying is drawn from a very similar edifice; I very much like the roadway but still feel down by what it takes to create it. Here comes the truck stop up on our right; I slow and pull into the exit lane and into the parking area. We'll park just past the service station in front of the restaurant. Again there are few cars here, but the trucks are plentiful; they park both in front of the facility and to the rear. It seems out of character, but there are few buses here today too.
We're seated in the family section of the cafeteria and have a lovely panorama
of the mountains in the not too distant view behind the truck stop. Since it's
such a lovely day, many of the truck drivers are enjoying their lunch on the
extensive patio out front. The windows are huge and most all of them are fully
open so we feel as though we too are sitting outside. This is a very large building
and there is plenty of seating inside. In the center of the dinning area is
an island where the cashier is seated. We're not settled hardly before our server
brings over our soup accompanied by a plate of sliced tomato and cucumber, with
lemon wedges, and fresh parsley. He also has a tin of pita bread cut in quarters
for us. I use the lemon wedge to squeeze into my soup; I know what you're thinking,
put it out of your mind, it really is great in the soup. There are two real
staples in this country; lemons and parsley; you will get them at nearly every
meal. This is some great soup too! Carol eats the parsley and tomatoes; I eat
most of the cucumbers. Once our server notices our soup is finished he brings
our main dishes and asks if we need anything more.
While we're enjoying these tasty entrees our server returns to the table with another gentleman; he's introduced as the boss, Abraham. As is our usual experience in this country, the gentleman is very gracious and expresses his gratitude that we would have lunch in his facility. We used our meager Turkish to express our thanks and told him, it's very good food. He invited us to return; that we'll certainly do, it makes for a nice change from our local restaurants. Once Carol finishes her chicken and veggies she asks the waiter if she can get desert. She gets up to accompany him to the line so he will know what she wants. When they return, he is carrying a honey soaked bread kind of thing covered with nuts and sugar water. I know that does NOT sound all that appealing and I can't make it sound much better; however, Carol has always enjoyed it.
As always, meals in Turkey conclude with the serving of tea. This one is no exception; our waiter brings the tea and our check--today's lunch costs right at ten dollars. After tea we make our way toward the door; we're intercepted by Abraham who wishes to thank us once again for coming, as he reiterates his invitation to return. We get into the car and get back onto the autobahn where we head further east. It isn't far before we decide to turn south toward Iskenderun Bay on the east end of the Mediterranean Sea. I've decided to get off at the Yumurtalik exit, which actually is the Botas Petroleum Station exit. (It's funny this exit is designated Yumurtalik, because there is a great deal of country between this exit and the actual village of Yumurtalik.) Once we get through the tollbooth, we start down the ramp toward the west. We don't get far before our roadside bursts with color; brilliant red poppies, purple/blue lupines, and yellow flowers resembling a daisy; the color is simply splashed across the countryside. The road is still a very nice four lane with wide shoulders so I pull over; Carol gets out to get a photo of the flowers. Almost immediately, as we continue on, we view the sea off to our left, but it isn't real clear. We continue on and as we crest the next hill we fully confront the Mediterranean Sea; there are a number of ships in the bay at anchor, the sea is very calm. I believe this station is the terminus for an Iraqi and/or a Russian oil pipeline. There were at least 4 giant piers out into the Bay. Again, the haze is such that the sky and the sea appeared to be one. The highway continues along the coast for a good distance but we're on the inside of the four-lane and can only barely see the water over the guardrails. When our highway comes to an end we turned off to the left onto another road that is paved but NO highway. This is barely a two-lane road and according to the little sign that appears to the side of the road now; we're headed toward Incirli and the water's edge.
That was a short drive, we've just come to a controlled entrance and I'm not in any hurry to find out how their security works; I'm simply making a U-turn and head back the way we've come. Once I get to the road where we came down the hill, I go right past it, on to see what's over the next hill. I don't go far before a large van comes up behind me, I get over a little so it can go by; it appears to be full of children. The road has now taken a turn up the hill again. It's still a paved road but I use the term road very loosely here. The roadside is a blaze with yellow daisies, and there's a house every 50 yards or so, until we crest the hill. Now we're at another crossroad, we'll go right toward the seaside again. Here we go again, we're descending a pretty significant hill and then we're going right back up the other side. At the top of this hill there's a fella sitting under a tree as he cares for a herd of cows, there's probably 12 or 15 in this herd; they're on both sides of the road and completely oblivious to our presence.
Carol's pointing down the road now, there's a cut off carved into the hillside that leads up to the four-lane. We turn onto this entry ramp and I decide to pull over so Carol can get more flower pictures. The color is just radiant here, the red of the poppies, the yellow daisies, and the purple/blue of the lupines make a mural of the countryside. Carol has taken one photo of poppies contrasted with the rocks of the hillside, beautiful. The haze of the morning is dissipating now and the view out toward the sea is striking.
The countryside is seven shades of green with all the rain we've had and is, in a word, beautiful. I feel like I may be over using that word but the scenes before us on this afternoon are nothing short of awesome. Back on the four-lane now, we stop again for more photos. The sea in the distance is turquoise and as it washes ashore the white caps lick at the sand. After pictures we move on to the next side road, we once again turn toward the sea. Again, we're not going to get there, but I turn off toward the right and make my way to the next country road. While coming across the four-lane I noticed this little road wandering up the mountainside and thought it might be fun to drive to the top; I figured the view would be incredible. The road makes the standard meandering adventure as it ascends mountain, the dodging of potholes add to the adventure. As we break over the crest, I stop the car again for some more photos. Forget the seaside view; the countryside stretched out before us is just lush with grain, evergreen trees and a vineyard in the distance. I decide to get out with Carol as she is going to take more pictures; I can't believe the vast expanse we can take in from up here.
Almost immediately out of the car I hear this sickening hiss coming from under the hood, the water is boiling out all over the shoulder of the road. This is going to present a real challenge, as I'm no car person; I get into the car and do the obvious; I release the hood latch and then go open it up. I have a problem, no question; my immediate concern is how serious is my problem; I choose to accept it as 'minor' (the roadside just isn't that wet) and go to the trunk for my gloves and the water I always carry. There's a cranberry juice bottle full of water in the trunk; I take it back to the scene of the challenge and open the reservoir for the radiator and begin to pour. Oh, good, it fills without taking the whole half-gallon, fortunately, that reinforces my analysis. We're fifty plus miles from the base and decide the prudent course of action is to make our way home. I put things back together and get in the car; we've decided to forego the air conditioning this afternoon, it's very nice out anyway and it should help keep the strain on the engine to a minimum. I make a U-turn on the hilltop and head back down this winding, pothole-filled roadway. At the bottom there's a service station and we stop to fill up the water bottle and a couple others that we have with us; we always carry drinking water. The temperature gauge has NOT moved since the incident, I don't remember seeing it move to begin with, but I do not wish to take any chances so the air will remain off.
We make our way back to the highway, and onto the tollbooth. I collect the
ticket and head for the entry ramp back home. The gauge has made no attempt
to move. We onto the autobahn and I've decided to keep it slower than normal,
I do 60 instead of the usual 75. It isn't long and it begins to rain, it is
pouring now. This helps to cool the car even more I feel, still no heat shows
up on the gauge. We make it home without incident and the water level seems
fine. I can't add any water; I guess it wasn't all that serious a problem--a
GREAT ending to a full afternoon.