Adventure in Istanbul by Kimberly Kierce

Altrusans Julianne Lovelace, Courtenay Tanner, Kimberly Kierce, and Janie Jaquier were joined by Julianne’s daughter, Lynn Lovelace, and Courtenay’s friend since childhood, Connie Merillatt (who currently lives in California) for 10 days in Istanbul, Turkey in March, 2009. These six ladies took Istanbul by storm – well not really – it was more like a drizzle because it rained nearly everyday. But that did not stop the them from doing lots of shopping and seeing the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace, Dolmabache Palace, The Grand Bazaar, the Spice Market, the markets of Ortokoy, the Silk Market and Green Mosque in Bursa, an original Turkish Bath, and the ancient walls and aqueduct of the city.

The group was shown the historic sights of Istanbul by Esra Canturk (pictured between Julianne and Courtenay), a good friend and tour guide extraordinaire to the Emir of Qatar and other notables. Her passion for the history and culture of Turkey and Istanbul was intriguing. She made the art and architecture come to life. She made some great recommendations for a few “must experience” restaurants. The food was fantastic. Baklava – need we say more?

On the group’s adventure to the silk markets of Bursa, they took a 1-hour ferry boat ride across the Sea of Marmara from Istanbul to Yalova and a 1-hour bus ride from Yalova to Bursa. They enjoyed a day full of sightseeing and silk and tapestry shopping in Bursa. They returned on the 1 hour bus ride from Bursa back to Yalova, only to discover that their last ferry of the day was cancelled. No 7:30 pm ferry. Cancelled due to rough seas. When they asked how to get back to Istanbul, the ferry workers said, “I don’t know”. So, the six ladies were awestruck by their stranded predicament. But, a young Turkish man advised them that there was a bus leaving for Istanbul soon and they needed to hurry. So, they ran for the bus and got a seat – Whew! They made it, and were on their way. An hour later, when the bus was full, they finally departed Yalova for the “approximately” 2.5 hour ride back to Istanbul. About 3.5 hours later (midnight), they were finally back at their hotel, relieved that they made it “home”… but the spoils of their shopping success made it all worth it!

On one of their two sunny days, they enjoyed a relaxing and scenic boat ride along the Bosphrous Strait to the Black Sea. What a great place to be on two continents at the same time – the European side and Asian side of Istanbul were fantastic!

They also enjoyed an evening watching Whirling Dervishes, and on another evening they enjoyed a show of ancient and native dances – yes that would include belly dancing. But the ladies left that dancing to the professionals.

The people of Istanbul were friendly, fun, and sociable. The architecture, history and culture were fascinating. The “Sisterhood of Altrusa” brought these ladies together for a wonderful, international adventure they will never forget.

Hoodoo Treasures of the Southwest By Ken Bell

The southwestern part of the United States has many great scenic wonders: magnificent mountain ranges, soaring canyons, deserts, mesas, ancient cliff dwellings. However, one of the scenic wonders of the Colorado plateau region is less known by many who don’t live in the Southwest. It is the land of the hoodoos. What is a hoodoo you may ask. Look up the word in the dictionary and you get several definitions: 1) a form of voodoo, 2) something that brings bad luck, and 3) a natural column of rock often in fantastic shapes.   The hoodoos of the Southwest (also called tent rocks, or fairy towers) are definitely not bad luck, but can be good luck for those who take the time to visit them and appreciate their wonders. They inspire awe and mystery and come in many fantastic shapes. They are found in the high deserts of the Colorado Plateau from northern New Mexico to southern Colorado and Utah. Perhaps some poetry and pictures can better explain the beauty and mystery of these rock formations.

                           Hoodoo Badlands                                                                                                                               By Ken Bell

                            You stand silently on
                            gray powder dirt hills
                            surveying the starkness, the quiet of
                            your colorless world.

                            You hoodoos,
                            even your name conjures up the magical.
                            You skinny rock wizards of the desert wind,    
                            where did you come from?
                            How long have you stood here, watching?

                            Some think you’re beautiful.
                            I’m attracted to your mystery.

There are numerous places for the visitor to see these wonderful rock formations. One largely unknown and therefore more adventurous is the Bisti Wilderness, a site managed by the US Bureau of Land Management, and located about 36 miles south of Farmington, New Mexico. The Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness is a 45,000-acre desolate area of steeply eroded grey hills. It is an amazingly scenic and colorful expanse of eroded rock formations. This area is free to enter . There are no signposts pointing the way, but the usual approach is via New Mexico road NM371 heading south from Farmington. This road heads south through wide open prairie land at the east edge of the Navajo Reservation. After 36 miles a historical marker records the location of the Bisti Trading Post, now abandoned. The main entrance to the badlands is 6.5 miles further south. From the parking area, the visitor is free to wonder the land in several directions. Trails are few, there is no water, and it can be hot in the summer months, so take care to bring water, dress appropriately, and keep cognizant of the way back to the parking area.

A more known area to view hoodoos is Bryce Canyon National Park in southwestern Utah. Bryce Canyon has the largest number of hoodoos of anywhere in the world. It is not really a canyon, but a collection of natural amphitheaters. Bryce rock is more colorful than the grayer rock of the Bisti area. Some of the hoodoos at Bryce are close to 200 feet tall. Most park visitors sightsee using the scenic drive, which has 13 access viewpoints. Also Bryce has eight marked and maintained hiking trails that can be hiked in less than a day. There are two campgrounds in the park, and the park is open year round.

There are many other hoodoo sites all over the southwest, waiting for the adventurous traveler to discover and explore.

Road to Ruidoso by Gypsy Jane

September 2016

A girls’ trip always promises a good time for all. Our recent visit to New Mexico was certainly a prime example. First you make a plan:

  • Who? I think ’’fun people” probably covers it.
  • What? Shopping, eating, shopping, golfing, gambling,shopping…
  • When? That is obvious: Any time it’s 100 degrees in Dallas and 70 degrees in Ruidoso.
  • Where? Already covered that: Ruidoso, this time.
  • Why? Just because.

We flew to El Paso and drove onward to Ruidoso in the high country. Believe me, arranging 5 huge suitcases, and 3 sets of golf clubs, even in two cars, is quite a feat.

The desert around El Paso was so green and vibrant from all the rain. Easy on the eyes. I suppose I was unconscious on the last trip to Ruidoso because I didn’t realize we would see the military on maneuvers as we drove through Fort Bliss. Quite sobering.

And then, it was as if someone had put a scenic backdrop at the end of the road in the distance! The gorgeous mountains, tall fir trees, and the more distant peaks in shades of purple looming ahead looked like movie sets. Breathtaking.

And this is just one reason that New Mexico is truly an artists’ paradise. Georgia O’Keefe and Peter Hurd are just two big names that come to mind, but there are thousands of local artists that find their inspiration in this unexpectedly beautiful place . Shops large and small, road side offerings and even unexpected art, like this rock on the road to Capitan, is just one example.


Flying in an airplane will really whip up an appetite. Since our route took us through Alamogordo, Mexican food as our first meal of the trip seemed appropriate, Rizo’s was the pick. Not the best, but certainly filled the bill.


Saturday morning breakfast at Pena’s Place is required for Eggs Benedict. Absolutely yummy and even a half order will hold you til lunch. It is a small, unique restaurant with gorgeous wood carvings and a friendly staff.

Met a couple of bow hunters having breakfast before they set out to stalk more elk, moose and deer. One of them said they had missed a really good shot earlier and needed to restore their confidence with a good cup of coffee and a sturdy meal. Folks not familiar with bow hunting don’t realize the skill required to take game with a bow and arrow. Sitting perfectly still for hours in all kinds of weather is wearing even on a seasoned hunter. One false move and your target bounds off into the brush leaving you pretty disgusted.


Ruidoso is Bear Country. There are moose, deer and elk crossing signs all along the road, but carved bears are everywhere. There are bears on every corner because the bear is the guardian of the area, the Sacramento Mts. and we should honor our Brother Bear. We saw carved wooden bears of every size, and in all kinds of poses. I still mourn the ‘one that got away.’ It was a bear in front of a Medical Office sporting a crisp white jacket and head mirror. Still, I did capture a few.


Shopping therapy in Ruidoso is primo. We found gorgeous Indian jewelry at Tanner Tradition, as well as paintings, wood items, fabric art and even a Painted Pony. Their selection is huge and they have a reputation for authentic items. This trio of puppies are the guardians of the door. The rusted bedsprings covered with vines climbing on it was a usable idea for my garden at home.









We saw more gorgeous jewelry at Mitchells. They, too, have unusual and beautifully crafted pieces. A unique feature of this store is their cases are not locked so you are free to examine items up close even if the staff is busy with other customers.

There is a plethora of souvenir shops, both budget and high end clothing shops, and a fabulous shoe store called Stepping Out. Loved their shoes! Didn’t have time to go to the Leather shop. So many shops, so little time.

What better way to relax than to win — or lose– money at Inn of the Mountain Gods Casino! We discovered the Blackjack machine was slightly more forgiving than live dealers at the tables. At the Apache Casino we discovered the Game of Thrones machine and it was hours and hours of fun. Each of us, however, have our favs and tend to search them out in the sea of machines. Interesting fact about these Indian casinos is that you can’t take alcohol from the bar out onto the casino floor.

We are certainly not pros, but since we love to play golf it was on the agenda two days.  Inn of the Mountain Gods has one of the most beautiful courses I have ever seen. I particularly love the teepees across the lake. Janie made par on holes 10 and 12 which are very difficult. No small feat.

The Links at Sierra Blanca seriously reminded me of the courses we played in Scotland.  Up and down, over hill and dale, and Links was exactly that. Anyone who says playing golf and riding in a cart is easy, is also nuts. They have never experienced that joy. I was surprised the altitude would affect me so adversely. I guess an altitude of 8000 ft is substantially more than a little different than the 630 ft of Richardson, Tx. I did notice they were selling oxygen canisters in several shops.


Cloudcroft is at 8886 ft and a lovely drive through Lincoln National Park. I was thrilled to finally see 3 does grazing right at the side of the road but too late for a photo. The ‘Lodge’ at the top of the mountain is famous for its longevity and famous clients.  Rebecca’s Restaurant inside the Lodge, is named for for a beautiful chambermaid with striking blue eyes and flaming red hair who disappeared from her quarters after her lumberjack lover found her in the arms of another, The shopping in the village was a little slim, but charming nonetheless.


Everywhere we went on this trip there were hordes of motorcycles. The Golden Aspen Motorcycle Rally in Ruidoso was in full force. Motorcycles in groups are very loud.

We spied these two guys in Cloudcroft village and since Julianne’s favorite color is orange, we snapped a photo of her on one of the cycles.


On our way to El Capitan, we discovered the San Patricio Retreat. The Retreat, originally called, “Ft. Meigs” was the home, gallery and studio of artist, John Meigs, a longtime friend and collaborator of artist, Peter Hurd. Meig’s dream was to create a place of beauty that would be a gathering place for the arts and local community to enjoy. Today it belongs to the Pecos Benedictine Order by the Diocese of Las Cruces. Guillermo, pictured, and his wife live nearby and they manage the property which is now available for rental. One couple has a long term lease in the Casita. The property of gorgeous.

The Iris Farm was not in season but it must be breathtaking when all those rows of flowers bloom. Fortunately they have a lovely shop with jewelry, clothing, garden decorations, etc. This tile mural was in the shower of the dressing room.

No trip to this part of the country would be complete without paying homage to Smokey the Bear. The sign gave the history and we posed with the Bear himself.

Continuing on through Lincoln county, we found Torreon, a mud brick structure with an interesting history, in Capitan.

We discovered Annie’s Gift Shop. An artist herself, she supports the work of many other local artists. These are just some of the interesting sculptures.

A little paint will smarten up any bench. Empty quart coke bottles have new purpose as a colorful chandelier!

All of this art will make some folks hungry and there is no better place to dine than Renee’s Fine Food. This great big salad with shrimp was delicious. Art appears here in the form of multicolor shutters creating a fenced off patio.

Thursday, our last day was amazing. Since the weather was perfect we had lunch at Tina’s, a small restaurant with outside seating in the midst of some really interesting shops. Tina’s Green Chile Enchiladas were the best I have ever eaten. Tina is well known for her pies, particularly the coconut cream and peach chile. Each slice was 1/4 of a pie — enormous — with ice cream on the peach pie. I meant to take a picture when it was delivered in all its glory, but I ate half and photographed the leftover. YUM.


The shops in the compound that includes Tina’s is a treasure trove of art, gifts, repurposed items, etc. This gypsy wagon was just one gorgeous example.


Our friend Mary has fond memories of the Ponderosa so we remembered them with this photo. I’m sure it was more inviting 50 years ago?


A quick trip by the Police Dept. on our way to the airport, reminded us of Ruidoso’s commitment to the Bear.