Last night I boarded a bus from Konya to Ankara. Tuesday I’ll board a bus from Ankara to Istanbul. I’ll be in Istanbul for about 3 days, and then I bus it back to Konya to resume the walk later this week.

I’m here in Ankara to document Monday’s (tomorrow’s) Republic Day celebrations. Republic Day, the 29th of October, is similar to July 4th in the US — a day celebrating the founding of the nation. I figured what better place to take photos of a big national holiday than the nation’s capital?

In Istanbul I’ll just be hanging out with friends, taking a few days of much-needed spiritual R&R. The physical aspect isn’t a big deal at this point, but the spiritual (in this case, social) one is. I am by nature an introvert, in that I recharge my batteries by being alone, but I am a very social introvert, and after two months on the road I am going out of my mind simply craving hanging out with friends.

By the way, I’m really psyched about doing laundry in Istanbul too. I know, it’s a weird thing to be focused on, but my clothes haven’t seen a washing machine in two months. I’ve been hand washing them when I have access to running water — a shower, a sink, the faucets at a mosque, whatever. Wool stuff is especially slow to dry, though, and is hard to deal with when you are on the move day after day. Believe me, there are few things more pungent than moist, half-dirty woolen underwear that hasn’t lost its mothball smell yet. I can get myself cleaned up good enough, but these days my backpack smells like there’s a decaying Yeti inside.

On the bus out of Konya last night it didn’t take me long to get back in touch with how much I love walking across the country. I don’t think we were three miles down the road before I began smiling and laughing to myself, imagining myself walking along the shoulder, thinking about how much I love traipsing down the road waving at people as they drive by. I don’t know what it is, there’s just something about it that I like, a lot.

I’m especially excited to get back out on the road for this next section — the month of November will be packed with great stuff. One of my best friends from university (University of Chicago, yay!) will be joining me for a day or so. We’ll be dropping off the plateau over two of the steepest days of the walk and visiting some Roman-era Christian ruins, ruins from when Christianity was still a radical sect being hunted by the Empire.

Later in the month another friend from the US, this one an American friend from my Istanbul days, will be joining me for a Thanksgiving Day dinner by the side of the road, wherever I am at the time, probably somewhere along the Mediterranean coast between Silifke and Mersin.

Oh, and of course, I’ll be spending an entire week in November walking along the coast, often so close to the sea I could throw a rock into the water. How cool is that?

I’ll finish out the month reaching the walk’s halfway point in Adana, and then for a week in early December I’ll be the resident guest speaker to high school students at the American College in Tarsus.

Yes, November’s looking to be a great month. But before I hit the road, I’m taking a few days of spiritual R&R in Ankara and Istanbul.

Photos of both experiences (Republic Day in Ankara, and Istanbul highlights) to follow in the days to come.