Idaho-Berlin Reunion


We arrived in Salmon, Idaho around 4:30 on Saturday July 1. Sandy, Corrie, Tom and the kids were already there. Sandy tells us that we are going to a demolition derby.  It will be a first for the Dirilgens!



I didn’t get many photos but in between the cars hitting each other, there were 4 motorbikes with couples on them. The man was driving and the woman was sitting behind him with a baseball bat and a balloon on their head. Each person was trying to hit the balloon of the other people. The last balloon not popped wins. It was quite the show.

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Salmon is a small town in Idaho, where Sandy spent some time growing up there. She gave us the local tour around. It was great and it was great to see these people that I made so many memories with while in Berlin.

We left on July 5th and headed to Colorado via Salt Lake City. We stayed at the cutest AirBnB, I wanted to take it with me.



Yellowstone National Park


We arrived at Yellowstone on a Friday morning and drove right in, didn’t have to wait at all. We heard about the long lines to get into the park and was really happy that we didn’t get in one. We drove to our campsite to set up and then go explore. We were right next to Katie and family which was great. It was a beautiful place to spend the night and for $28.

We went straight to Old Faithful which was only about 12 miles from our campground but it took a good hour to get there. On the way we ran into a herd of bison. It’s nice as everyone is just as interested as you in seeing nature and everyone is going slow and stopping at random places. IMG_1749IMG_1747

Arrived at Old Faithful with about 20 minutes to wait for it to go. It is called Old Faithful for a reason. Little did we know the Smiths were there at the exact same time.


It is pretty amazing to think that there is an active volcano under the earth and it could erupt at any time! The guy next to me said “the US is gone if this blows and we can’t go live in Cuba, cuz Trump is taking care of traveling there.” I just nodded. He was decked out in Cuban flags. I didn’t tell him I was secretly Cuban!

We went on to explore the other hot spots of the park before going back for dinner at our campground.

IMG_1776IMG_1777IMG_1775IMG_1774Hot dogs, sausages, and S’mores for dinner. I think we threw in a few carrots too.




Beautiful flowers grow at the water faucet. And the water came out fast and COLD.


Next stop Idaho.

Big Sky, Montana


It took a good 3 days from Roselle, IL to get to Big Sky, MT. We hooked up with The Scherers and drove from South Dakota to Big Sky together, just two Subarus on the road!

We were exhausted upon arrival it was a lot of driving. Luckily we were staying there for 4 days and our next few drives were way shorter.

Even though I said I wasn’t going to do anything on the first day in Big Sky, I was happy that we went on a little hike very close to where we were staying. It was beautiful and I kept telling myself that we are not in New England as that is what I was reminded of.

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Waterfall action shot, we were getting so splashed here. 

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From Big Sky where we had temperatures from 45F-85F (7C-29C) we all drove to Yellowstone where we camped for 1 night. We got in for FREE since Fiona is a 4th grader. So FYI: all 4th grade students get into all National Parks for free. The entire car gets in for free. It was great and saved us close to $100 for the 3 parks we went to.

The Presidents and Montana!


Arrived in Hill City, SD around 5 pm local time to the awesome Scherer family. We ate a lovely dinner and then headed to see Mt. Rushmore. It was a crazy busy day but we didn’t have much time, we needed to head out in the morning for Big Sky, MT.

It was very cool to say the least. It was brief as we were exhausted from driving all day and we still had one more day of driving to get to Big Sky, MT.

a brief family stop and then never ending driving

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After leaving Pittsburgh we headed to Roselle, IL. We are new to being in the car all day so we didn’t make it all the way to my cousin’s house and decided to camp. We thought it was a good idea until about midnight when it started to pour. My tent is about 18 yrs old and it leaked a tiny bit. The girls slept all night but mama didn’t. Also the weird guy parked next to us in his car all night kind of freaked me out so I just couldn’t relax. I survived and we got up early and drove to Roselle.

We had some nice down time with my cousin Stacey, her husband Jim and their son Adam as well as  seeing my Uncle Garry and Aunt Barbara and cousin Chet. It was a great chill 2 days. Washing clothes and catching up on family gossip.

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Deep conversation with Uncle Garry.


At the neighborhood pool.

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Celebrating Fiona’s 9th and Adam’s 11th birthdays.

We then hit the road for 3 days of LONG driving.

Day 1: Roselle-Le Mars, Iowa Flat corn fields

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Day 2: Le Mars-Hill City, SD

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This was a crazy day through the Badlands and really strong winds.

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Wide open spaces.

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Reminded us of Capadoccia in Turkey.

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We have a lot better photos from our DSLR, once we get home I can upload them.

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That is a bison in the distance.


At the famous Wall Drugs.

Then onto Hill City to meet up with the Scherers (that’s Katie Carlin’s family). It was like the day never ended but this post will. South Dakota and Montana up next.




After FallingWater we drove about an hour to Pittsburgh where the plan was to go to Andy Warhol Museum, stay the night at an AirBnB and then hit the road to Roselle, IL and stay with my cousin and her family. Well there was a hiccup. As with most museums it was closed on Mondays and although I swear I did my research, I screwed up. We had the afternoon free and went to the museum Tuesday morning instead. It was all good, we were on holiday. So we were to our AirBnB chilled for a few hours and then went out to explore.


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loved walking around the city

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and going up the funicular which is very much like the one in Tunel in Istanbul. In fact as weird as this sounds Pittsburgh really reminded us of Istanbul.

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from the top

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Pittsburgh, it was such a pleasant surprise.

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Being silly.

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Dinner. A great recommendation.

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Salami, cole slaw, pickle, french fires and fresh bread. Should have melted cheese too but no cheese for me. Orcun is happy with his sandwich.
The next morning we went to see Andy and his art. Being a fan of Warhol, I have seen many of his pieces over the years and across the world but it was great to see his work that was collaborated with Jean Michel Basquiat. From Pittsburgh we drove to Roselle, IL and the long 4 day drive began! 

Falling Water or Water Falling


I felt like I was on a pilgrimage going to see Frank Lloyd Wright’s Falling Water house in Mill Run, PA. It was built in 1939 for Edgar Kaufman and his family as a weekend getaway from Pittsburgh. And what an amazing getaway. The photos just don’t do it justice.


Soap and running water at the entrance to wash your hands and clean your shoes as you enter the home.


A view from one of the balconies.


From another.


The waterfall the house is built around.


On the kid’s tour, the kids got to build cantilevers to fully understand how FLW used them.


Cantilevers in full view.

IMG_1560It was pouring rain the entire morning and we had to throw our umbrellas to the side to take the photo and hurry to get them again. None the less it was worth it. If a Frank Lloyd Wright fan, you must go.

There is nothing like old friends

We stayed with Serkan and the boys for our first night and it was so good to see them and meet Erkay. My heart was heavy seeing them without their mom, my good friend Jennifer.  Pictured here is Emre, Fiona age 9 (baby group friends from Istanbul) Lulu and Erkay age 5 1/2. We had a wonderful time with them. img_1491.jpg


IMG_1486 Then we head to Tracy and Pat’s in Kutztown, PA. It took FOEVER in the VA/DC/MD traffic. I swear we were in bumper to bumper from like 10:30-13:30 that day but we made it just in time for dinner. Being with Tracy and her family is always food for my soul. I don’t see her enough but when I do it is just so good. Pat and Orcun have become great friends and so have the kids and to think Tracy and I met in 1996 at the Milan airport on our way to the NYU Venice program such young 20 somethings. Friendships that last this long mean so much. We haven’t see each other in 4 years but it is like yesterday when I walked into her home.

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Tracy and Pat took us to a local weekend market where we also took the dog Molly and Lulu pushed her in a stroller. Lulu was in heaven with that dog. At this market I also got a front license plate, something that I have been wanting for my car. I wanted to write Anne loves Orcun but I was vetoed and I got this. The guy even threw in the bug guard for protection!


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And the last set of photos but NOT the least are from Roadside America. And it is something you have to see to believe. It is things like this that we are looking for on this road trip.

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Onwards and Westwards.

you sunk my battleship



We left home around 8:30 on Thursday June 15 and headed to Norfolk, VA. We visited the USS Wisconsin docked in Norfolk. It was built for WWII and was used all the way through to the Gulf War. It was a pretty cool experience seeing how the sailors lived and worked on this ship that sailed around the world. We then went to see Serkan, Emre and Erkay.

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