So we camped. And it was the experience I knew it would be. You may recall that I wasn't looking forward to this camping trip. I love camping. I seriously love it. I just wasn't looking forward to this trip. The kids didn't want to go either which was quite amazing. The boys had only been home a week after their 9 day trip out east. This is the last week before things pick up so we just wanted a lazy week at home. We had friends who really wanted to go camping with us one last time before we head back to the states in November, and this was the only week we knew for sure we could manage it. And we love these friends and love camping with them so we pulled ourselves together and headed out to an unknown camping spot. That was the beginning of our adventure!
We arrived at Ilgaz National Park and read on the sign that tent camping was 5 lira. When we told the gate attendant he said there was no camping spots in the park. Brian pointed out that the sign had a price for tent camping and that we had read that on the internet as well. The man was quite confused and told us that there were only hotels...no camping. He did tell us that we could go in and look for a place to set up a tent. That if we found one we could pay our fee on the way out. We drove around, looked around, and didn't really see any suitable place to set up a camp. There were hotels and parking lots. There were ski lifts and mountains. There were no flat places to set up two tents without hiking in. We didn't go prepared to hike. We had two 10 man tents. We had 3 coolers, 11 sleeping bags, bags of food, backpacks of clothing, and various other camping equipment. There was no way we could hike down the side of a mountain with all of our stuff. We also stopped and asked a policeman if there was a place to camp, and he told us camping was forbidden. So we waved at the little man in the booth as we drove back out of the national park. We had no idea where to camp at this point. A few kilometers down the road there was another ranger booth. We decided to stop and see what those people could tell us. There wasn't anyone in the booth; however, there were three men walking down the road. Brian decided to ask them if they knew of any camping in the area.
One of these men happened to be the head of the General Directorate of Forestry. He and his cohorts had just been checking out the forest and had branches of pine cones to inspect. He told us that we could camp anywhere we wanted and called someone to come meet us and take us up the mountain to find a camping spot.
Two men came and brought us up the mountain to a caretakers house. They handed us over to Ali Bey who said we could camp in his yard and use his bathroom.
We asked if we could look around some before we decided so he went with us as we searched for a place to camp.
Finally we came to an area that was perfect. Forest behind us, a nice clear patch of ground in front of us, and a fresh watering hole about a kilometer away. Poor Ali Bey was willing to let us camp there especially after hearing that we got permission from the head man, but he was quite concerned about our safety. He wanted to know what we were going to do about the bear and wild boar in the area. We told him that 11 people were probably going to be loud enough to scare any wildlife away.
After we picked our spot Hussein and his cows came walking by on their way home for the day. Brian affectionately called him a cowherd since he was herding cows. One cow in particular wasn't very happy with where we decided to set up camp.
But set up camp we did.
While we were setting up camp the kids checked out the woods and fields near us.
Anna Grace and a friend came running back with reports of raspberry bushes so we handed them a container and told them to pick as many as they wanted.
They were the perfect addition to our fruit salad!
As the sun went down it got a little chilly up there on that mountain so everyone went to put on long sleeves and pants. Well everyone but my boys who had forgotten to pack any long sleeve shirts or jackets. Now I must confess that Jacob asked me to check his bag before we left. I never did. I just told him to make sure he had clothes for a couple of days and to make sure they weren't good clothes. Thankfully Will had remembered long pants, and Josh had accidentally packed one of Will's long sleeve shirts that was left at his house so Will was fine.
Jacob got to wear one of my long sleeve shirts and a pair of Brian's shorts that had a drawstring waist. They still fell down, but at least he wasn't cold. I may not have checked Jacob's bag, but I did bring 2 extra long sleeve shirts besides the one I planned on wearing, because I wasn't sure what any of the kids had packed.
After it got dark everyone had hot chocolate and hot coffee which warmed us up nicely.
That night I didn't sleep well at all. It was cold. The ground was lumpy and the wind was blowing. If we hadn't been sleeping in our tent I think it might have blown away. And of course every noise woke me up. I was wondering about those bears and boars. Thankfully no wild animals bothered us during either night we were camping.
The next day some of us went fishing and the rest of us hiked though the woods and around the area.
We also hiked the kilometer to the fresh water source which was an underground stream that had been piped into two troughs.
We filled up our jugs and hiked back to camp.
Everyone had great fun making spears with pocket knives and roaming the woods.
They played games in the trees using homemade spears for money.
The kids took turns using the hatchet as well.
Jacob made a ladder out of sticks wedged between two trees.
Between the sticks he wedged in place and the broken branches sticking out of the trunk he was able to climb up quite high.
This is what Erica did during much of our camping trip. She either sat in the van or in the tent and read. She was quite perturbed with me when I wouldn't let her sleep in the van. She said, "Don't you care about my safety? What about those wild animals?" I said, "No, I want you to risk your life just like the rest of us."
Erica also changed her clothes every day and tried to be matching and cute. Evidently she didn't get the memo on what to wear when camping. I did laugh when she tore this pair of capris while getting out of the "safe" van.
It was beautiful place. Quiet, peaceful, and perfectly beautiful. We had tons of fun and are all so glad we went.
One of the things that always amazes me about Turkey is the lack of respect for nature. We brought in quite a bit of stuff. We also brought out every bit of trash we produced. While hiking through the woods the first day we came to a clearing. There was trash everywhere. Ali Bey said that there had been another group like us (meaning foreigners) who had been there a couple of weeks before for a day trip. He said that they left the place perfectly clean...like they found it. Then a group of Turks came in for a picnic and just left all their trash. Dirty diapers, plastic wrap, styrofoam meat trays, plastic bottles, cans, etc. You name it, and they left it. He said that Turks just don't care about keeping things clean. I have witnessed that in town with people throwing trash out of their car windows and kids throwing candy wrappers on the ground when they are done with the candy. I am just amazed that you could look at the beauty of the above picture and then just leave your trash everywhere.
There were no bathrooms so we had to use the woods. Everyone was fine with part of that, but there are two members of my family who refused to poop in the woods. Refused. We were planning on leaving after lunch the third day, but because they were so uncomfortable we ended up leaving about 2 hours earlier. We drove about 20 minutes and stopped at a place for them to go to the bathroom. All they had were squatty potties which they were perfectly fine using. Um...how is that any different than squatting in the woods? The woods are actually cleaner than most squatties I've seen. They said that with squatties there were stalls so nobody could actually see you going. It had everything to do with the privacy issue. Crazy!
Everyone brought a backpack filled with whatever camping clothes they thought they might need.
Well everyone but Brian. He brought this small suitcase which totally cracked me up. He never came close to wearing all the clothes he brought, but he liked that he had options just in case. I guess options would have been nice when I peed on my pant leg while trying to squat and pee out in the pitch black darkness. I was too busy trying to make out the shapes of wild animals in the dark to notice that my pant leg was in my pee stream.
Oh the joys of camping!