I was in Turkey and Greece!

So I went on a really big trip this summer – I visited my brother!  I flew into Istanbul, stayed with him there for two nights, and then we rented a car and went up to Sile on the Black Sea, Yalova on the Marmara Sea, the city of Bursa, and Ayvalik on the Aegean Sea.  We took a ferry to the Greek island of Lesbos / Midilli.  We also saw ancient ruins in Bergama and went to a Turkish bath with natural hot springs in Inegol.  We crammed a lot into 10 days!  This was my first time overseas since 11th grade, when I took a class trip to England and Scotland.  It was the first time I’d seen my brother in three years – it was pretty great to reconnect.  We did lots of swimming and hiking and we also went to a Whirling Dervishes festival, which was going on continuously for 114 days of summer.

If you wanna read more, I wrote about this trip, through the lens of someone who is non-binary, here!  I wrote about TSA stuff, but more excitingly, I wrote about feeling more comfortable in a “male” role in a way that I am not, in America.  I even swam without a shirt on, in front of others – something that I didn’t plan on ever doing!
Traveling Non-Binary:  Gender Perceptions in Two Cultures

The website is called Transgender Universe, and I’ve written for them before (this is my 4th piece).  I like switching it up with blog writing every now and then.

Camping trip during Christmas in July

This post has nothing to do with being queer and trans; it’s not about janitors or mental health.  I think I need a short break from that stuff…

My partner and I went camping this past weekend, and it was exactly the sort of thing I needed.  Things had been feeling heavily monotonous and mundane, even on weekends.  I hadn’t been getting much enjoyment out of things that are usually fun.

Leading up to going away, I had an anxiety meltdown about it – about all the planning and packing.  Mostly, it was about the prospect of being away all weekend and not having enough time to regroup for the work week.  It didn’t occur to me that being away could be rejuvenating in a way that doing things at home, worrying about work and mentally preparing for work, never could.  Huh!

We left Friday right after work and drove for about 2 hours to our destination.  We stopped at a farm stand along the way to buy firewood, and we got some golden plums too.  We had wanted to camp at a state park, but all the ones near where we were headed were booked up already, so we had to resort ahead of time to a privately owned “campground.”  It was actually an RV park with over 150 trailer sites and only 9 tent sites.  Everyone was right on top of each other.  Quite a few were blasting country music or classic rock music, and people were rowdy with the fires and the drinking till late into the night.  We got the sense that some of these people had been there a while, and a lot of them seemed to know each other.  (Other than the noise and the overcrowding), we had a great time!  We didn’t spend all that much time at the site anyway – basically just making a fire both nights, making food over the fire, drinking some beers, and sleeping.

During the day, we did a bunch of stuff at the nearby town.  We went to the very impressive (and very busy) local farmers’ market, then went to a craft supply store and a book store and a clothing store.  For lunch we went to a (also very busy) brewery, where they had beet greens on their pizza and salads made of baby kale, tat soi, beets, candied peanuts, and grilled blackened tofu.  Yum.  We then went for a hike on a gorge trail and waded in the cold creek.

Back at the campsite, it was Christmas in July (7/25).  Some trailers had gone all out with the decorations – it was pretty entertaining to see.  Events included a hayride with Santa at 6, cookies with Santa at 7, and a Christmas movie in the field at 8:30.  We’re not sure but we think at least the movie got rained out.  Yep, it started raining, but we were prepared.  We’d already made a fire and eaten quickly, as the sky darkened, and we spent some time reading books in the tent that night.

Before the rain started, we got a chance to make use of the campground’s pool.  This monstrous pit was nothing like I’d ever seen before.  It was huge, and it was 7 feet deep at its deepest, but there was no drop-off edge of the pool.  So there was no way to jump into the pool – it just gradually got deeper from the edges, like a lake would.  There was a rickety slide with one of the railings duck-taped at the top.  My partner and I slid down it about 5 times each – that was the best part!  It seemed to be not heavily chlorinated; algae was growing at the bottom of the “deep end.”  Another great factor was that it was “swim at your own risk.”  No lifeguard!  And there was a bin for returnables (full of beer cans and bottles) near the gate where you sign in and enter.

So many people had golf carts!  We saw people taking golf carts to the bathrooms, to the playground, to the camp store.  People just driving around on them.  Dogs looking regal in the passenger seats.  Do people pack golf carts into campers and bring them?  I’d never seen this.  Do they rent them from the campground?  I have no idea.

Sometimes when things have been rough, and options don’t seem possible because of mental energy or anxiety or difficulty initiating, mixing it up and going out of comfort zones is the best thing for the mind.  We have a couple more trips planned for this summer.  Trips I’ve been anxious about.  I hope I can just remember how much fun going camping was, and harness that feeling as I get ready to go on vacations!