Road Rash

“Handbrake turns on the beach. What do you think?”

After a few hours on the road, we decided that racing a rented Renault on a deserted beach, and pulling 180’s with the brake sounded like big fun.

So we did…

It was our last Friday in Turkey. Since The Girl and her roommate, Haji, had the day off, we rented a car to explore the Aegean coast. Haji, is a Brit, but spent many summers in India, and likes to drive – that perfect combination of experience and youthful reflexes.

He got us out of the city, and started up the coastal road, with The Girl as navigator.  The Boy and i were in the back seat bickering like the Turkish Toddlers we’d become. “Get off my side of the car!” “Mom! He’s lookin’ at me!” The Girl handed back some snacks and told us to pipe down and enjoy our day out!

Stopping at a deserted seaside spot, we got out to enjoy the view. Absolutely breath-taking – even on a gray and windy day. Just as we headed back to the car, we were joined two gentlemen in matching uniforms, arriving in an olive drab Land Rover.

The language barrier with the soldiers was insurmountable, until one of the gents said “Dangerous”, with a sweep of his arm suggesting we move along. Which we did.

daisyfae: i kinda remember seeing a sign back there saying “Prohibited” or something. And “Do not stop to take photographs”. i wonder if that was a restricted military area?

We cruised along, none the worse for wear, to the village of Teos. Small fishing town, with some delicious old structures to conquer.

And perhaps the freakiest collection of feral cats we’d yet encountered.  Channeling “Children of the Corn”. These critters have perfected the “What are you lookin’ at, shithead?” look – popular at redneck family gatherings.

From there? Southward, to Pamucak Beach. Stunning expanse of sand. In warmer weather, this is apparently the perfect spot for swimming. i fell madly in love with the fiberglass corn shack – looking a bit lonely in the winter.  Wondered briefly if corn smoothies were the Turkish equivalent of popsicles…

Right around then, Haji suggested the handbrake turns. “Turkish Mom” had some reservations, but she was out-numbered 3-1.  The Boy was up first… and proceeded to execute a respectable turn.

Unfortunately, the sand was a teeny bit less accommodating than expected, and he dug the rear wheels about 4” deep in wet sand. Three young, able-bodied 20-somethings got out to push, as i rocked the Renault until we were clear…

“Chinese Fire-Drill” style, they jumped back in the car, and we hauled out of there – as a few curious locals were wondering what the fuck the idiot tourists were doing to their beach…

Off to Şirince for dinner! Mountaintop village, and home to regional wineries. To get there? A slightly harrowing drive up a mountain road, full of hairpin turns.

Just as i was getting cocky with the driving, attempting to pass a slow-moving car ahead of us, we came around the corner and i was staring at the grill of a bigass bus.  A thin guard rail to my right, protecting us from a tumble down the mountain.

Doing what any skilled driver would do, i stopped the car, closed my eyes, and concentrated really hard on not shitting my pants. Calamity avoided across the board, but my confidence took a gentle hit.

We agreed before dinner that i’d drive home, so my two children and Haji sampled the local wine with dinner. It was dark as we hauled down the mountain, half expecting to be chased by villagers with torches and pitchforks.

Cruising the mountainous roads back to their apartment, i was enjoying the hell out of the drive. Halfway back, Haji said “We need road beers!”

daisyfae: Not sure that’s a good idea! What are the ‘open container’ laws here?

Both The Girl and Haji assured me that they’d never seen anyone actually pulled over for anything since arriving in Turkey. And that’s with a police station across the street from their apartment.

“Yay!  Road beers!”*

We continued cruising along. Good roads, which were fairly deserted. Each small town would have a few traffic lights – apparently on timers. Red lights, with no other traffic for miles.

Once again, The Girl and Haji shared their knowledge of local driving habits, and told me there was no need to actually stop. Given that i’d been on buses all week where the drivers consider traffic signals a suggestion, i figured ‘what the hell?’, and rolled on with caution.

About a quarter-mile past the fourth light i’d ignored, we saw the internationally recognizable red and blue flashing lights. As i slowed to figure out what was going on, i could clearly hear the sound of beer cans being stashed.

The rustling wrapped up right around the time i saw the police officer in the middle of the road, signaling me to pull over with his flashlight.

“mother fuck”

daisyfae [rolling down the window]:  Good evening!  Is there a problem?

Had absolutely no idea what was going on, and decided i should get out of the car – if for no other reason, to buy some time for any further beer-stashing if necessary.  As i opened the door, he waved me on.

At least i think that’s what he was doing.  i still don’t know.  Drove on down the road, no chase car in the rear-view mirror.  Whatever he was looking for, it was apparently did not involve a middle-aged American housewife.

A potential brush with “Oğuz Law” avoided.  As was an opportunity for “Midnight Express – Family Edition”.

* Not for me.  i’m crazy, not completely stupid…