A Goldtent Exclusive ( click map to enlarge)

Just now, I arrived at the airport in Istanbul and returned the rental car, after putting 6,000 km of fairly wild touring of Turkey on it. I’m always happy to return a rental car, with both the car and myself unscathed. The only damage was a small dent in my wallet. ‘Small’ because I only got two speeding tickets, including one this morning when I was taking it easy. I’m happy to pay these two tickets vs. being in prison for the way I drove!

Speaking of the way I drove, I think I must have a bit of Turkish blood in me, because I understand and like the way the Turks drive. Basically, in Turkey you can do anything you feel like (except getting busted at random speed traps). This includes driving how you feel, instead of by rigid regulations. If you feel like stopping in the middle of the road, it’s acceptable, probably because everyone realizes you probably need to do that; the reason doesn’t matter. Have to go the wrong way on a limited access road? No problem! People will part like the Red Sea for you. Two cars going in opposite directions in the ‘suicide lane’, making it four cars total across a three-lane road? You guessed it: no problem! Heck, we even had five cars across one time and mine was one of them. Everyone pays attention and does whatever seems most appropriate, respecting the rights of other people to do as they feel. In spite of the scary-sounding description, I never saw an accident during my travels, in spite of what might sometimes appear to be total mayhem to the casual observer.

The image at the top of the email shows my travel route so far, including my jaunt around Turkey. You’ve got to realize that beyond the first week of this trip, as per my usual MO has been no plan at all. Everything has unfolded perfectly moment-by-moment; I’ve just been following my nose.

After leaving the seaside paradise of François & Silke near Marseille, I visited balloonist friends who live near the city of Tours, France. It was a very nice visit that grew to be longer than expected, with a flow of pleasant surprises.

What about the subject line, of being “stoned out of my mind”?! Well, what that refers to are the thousands of huge megalithic stones of the ‘alignments of Carnac’ and the effect they had on me. It was mind-altering.

These two galleries explain in pictures and a few words some of what transpired in France, but you’ll have to imagine most of it:

a friendly visit


seriously stoned


After a few days spent on France’s Atlantic coast, I was drawn eastward, first to Italy, then on to spend time with friends in Slovenia, before moving on to Hungary, which was mentioned in an earlier email. From there, I zig-zagged southward through all the Balkan countries before coming to Turkey.

Last week, my 60-day visa to Tajikistan was approved, so I purchased a ticket to fly from Istanbul to Dushanbe, Tajikistan tonight. Once in Dushanbe, I will get together with a Tajik man I met in 2019. Our tentative plan is to spend the next two months exploring remote parts of the Pamir Mountains together. I’ll know a lot more after we meet in person tomorrow.

Depending on what we plan and how quickly we head off into the mountains, I may or may not have time to send an email from Dushanbe before disappearing into the boonies. If you don’t hear from me within the next few days, it might be a couple of months before you hear from me next, so there’s no need to worry if that happens. But, if you don’t hear from me for many many months, well, then you will have missed the opportunity to worry ?

Enjoy your August. And please, don’t worry, be happy!