Trip 19 - 2015

Trip 19 - 2015
Brody Barkan, Ellen Clack, Aislinn Miller, Jeremy Leary, Liam Taylor, Ian Slaughter run in ancient 1896 Olympic stadium in Athens, Greece


  • Turkey: Istanbul, Canakkale (Troy), Sirince (Ephasis)
  • Greece: Samos, Patmos, Athens, Mycenae, Nemea, Olympia, Ithica,
  • Italy: Rome, Florence
  • Austria: Lake Bled, Vienna, Mauhausen
  • Germany: Schonau am Koenigsse, Berchtesgarden
  • Switzerland: St. Moritz, Zermatt, Zurich


  • Brody Barkin
  • Ellen Clack
  • Jeremy Leary
  • Aislinn Miller
  • Ian Slaughter
  • Liam Taylor

Trip Leader

  • Mr. Taylor, Age 82

Trip Assisstents

  • Julie Zeigler-Nacco
  • Katy Dykstra-Cantrell
  • Rich Murphy

Trip Highlights

The 2015 Arete trip wasn't like any other. Just a month or so into the seminars Mr. Taylor fractured his hip. With the assistance of his youngest son, Cory, the every other week seminars continued while Mr. Taylor was in the rehab hospital. This included holding a couple of the study sessions at the facility.

The most unusual development was the arrangement to have three Arete veterans from 1981 split up the driving time three ways. This was completely new. Mr. Taylor has driven on all of the 18 prior trips. But with the injury and his being over eighty years of age, the three alumni graciously arranged to take time off from work and be the drivers.

All praise --- Julie Zeigler, Katy Dykstra and Rich Murphy arranged to take off work for approximately 15 days each and cover the driving. Their maturity and knowledge of Arete presented an unusual and special gift for the 2015 students. This proved to be unique, and promising for future Arete travel.

In addition, the students again and again were responsive to my needs, limitations. Again and again different ones of them met me at the foot of a set of stairs, or helped me up a curb. My grandson, Liam, was especially helpful. When I would go down to the lobby at departure time, he would already have my big bag down and ready to go. Some even made sure they were up to watch out for my safety in the dark of a campground when I needed a bathroom visit late in the night.

We began with the surprise security checks at the San Francisco airport. Not the usual passage for everyone, but special checks by name. Liam, all sixteen years of age, was interviewed for the longest time. Some eight Homeland Security agents watched while he was interrogated. When he didn’t want to give his father’s name, an agent threatened him with a “federal law”. Ian Slaughter was checked out in San Francisco and Amsterdam a total of four times.

As said, this Arete trip “wasn’t like any other." And we have experienced some whoppers.

Arete once again takes on the nihilism of the multiple graves at Gallipoli. Julie Zeigler is one of the three adults who took on driving and travel leadership for Arete 2015.

The horse appeared before the walls of ancient Troy. What a start. Homer, Achilles, Hector assembled on the battlefield of the Trojan war.

Here is the 2015 Arete travel team before their flights to Amsterdam and Istanbul. Katy and Rich would assume their driving and leadership roles in Athens and Rome, respectively.

Grandson Liam Taylor helps grandfather Bill Taylor to evening meal on Patmos. The marvelous island was well worth the travel time and expense.

Five time Arete traveler, Katy Dykstra, led the middle portion of the 2015 journey. Katy met us in Athens and fulfilled her leadership and driving role until Rome. Nobody knows the Arete trips better than Katy.

Arete first approached the Blue Mosque in 1989, our initial adventure into the sounds of Islam.

Aislinn, Ellen and Julie were covered properly in the Blue Mosque in Istanbul.

The students once again, as on earlier trips, loved Istanbul. And they especially valued a lot of free time to explore the streets of the old city. With Mr. Taylor unable to cover ground quickly, the students benefited with their insatiable appetite for freedom.

Julie helps Bill to dinner table in Istanbul. These precarious moments were negotiated successfully thanks to an alert Julie.

Tremendous tradition of running on overseas trips was continued in 2015 especially by Jeremy Leary. He will be seeking the county cross country title when he returns to his senior high school year. While completing serious mileage most days, Jeremy never missed a study seminar on the trip. The same cannot be said of Achilles and Hector who ran at Troy on the ancient battlefield before Jeremy.

Aislinn, Ellen and Julie returning from their Homeric run on the battlefield of ancient Troy.

Ian, a sprinter, struggled with "mind and body" on the agricultural fields of modern Troy.

Jeremy was reflective throughout the trip.

Arete students look out across the battlefield of ancient Troy. Think of where they are on the ancient wall, where Homer has placed them. They had just run on the fields below in the company of Achilles and Hector.

Mr. Taylor was served his Turkish breakfast on the third or fourth floor of a home within a charming Moslem village.

The village resides close to Ephesus.

Bill shared his favorite hike on a Greek island with the 2015 students. He had first come down the trail to this "paradise" on Patmos in 1993 with an Arete group. No roads, cars, to the cove. Bill had to stay back this time due to his injured hip, but the students confirmed the beauty of the setting and gratitude for the excursion when they returned.

Aislinn and Ellen sought to escape sea sickness as we went from Turkey to the Greek islands of Samos and Patmos.

Aislinn suddenly came to dance with surprising flare and energy.

This is an existential location for Mr. Taylor. And the calamari is miraculously fresh. The owner remembered "Bill" from 1993, as "Bill" remembered him. The cluster of islands around Ephesus and Samos were the home of the ancient philosophers who inspired and instructed Arete West.

Familiar "sandy beach" on Samos for those of Arete '95 and '99. Arete is a sequence of trips with such connections, each aiding our understanding of linear history.

Fresh calamari along with the philosophers.

Always the journal. --Jeremy, of course.

Ellen matured from silent high school student to the confidence of leadership and existential awareness.

Bill is a lot happy because he negotiated the bed of rocks leading to his calamari taverna on Patmos. And pleased his teacher, Julie.

The spontaneous late afternoon runs above the city of Patmos offered this spectacular view.

"Boy, girl, boy, girl, etc."

Aislinn reads from Mr. Taylor's book "Athenian Odyssey" only a few meters from where Socrates taught young Plato in the ancient marketplace in Athens. Super!

Aislinn, Katy and Ellen fulfill our 2015 pilgrimage to Athens at the top of the Acropolis. Nice to see them there.

Liam wanted to possess this reading on the Acropolis. He read from his grandfather's book about the Greek's defeating the huge Persian navy in their miracle victory in the straits of Salamis. You can see the blue water of the straits off in the distance. This is history!


Our table at Mycenae, where the marvelous Greek family makes us feel so welcome and shares home cooked meals with us. The plain of Argos, where myths abound, is in view from our table.

The six student members of Arete 2015 invaded the forbidden throne room of Agamemnon with the plain of Mycenae behind them. Agamemnon made his way up and into this most powerful of fortresses upon returning from the Trojan war.

Mr. Taylor locates himself at the outside tables in the Arete cove when he visits Ithaca. With him in 2015 are his grandson, Liam, and the long one, Jeremy.

Arete once again raced from the Nostos hotel, up to the village of Stavros and over the ridge and down to the sea, in our anticipated "handicap" race. These two girls, Aislinn and Ellen, continued floating after finishing the arduous run.

Ian completed the morning competition with relaxation in the fresh pure sea.

Katy, running alone, came upon this beach after her long runs on Ithaca. Yes, she went for a swim.

The students always love their solo walks on Ithaca. I let them out of the van up near the village, one by one, and tell them to see me at the hotel in a few hours. They always tell me of valuing this time of being alone on this Greek island.

Absolute beauty as we sailed away from Greek shores toward Italy. Bill would disembark in a wheelchair on a swift moving escalator. The Arete students insisted on this exit tactic.

Michelangelo and the dome commanded awe in St. Peter's for Ian and Jeremy.

Bruno was a brilliant, honest man, who was burned alive by the church on this very spot for independent thinking. Perhaps there is irony in this picture in light of the seagull? Like, the casual treatment of life. The more religious, the more "casual?"

Our third leader, Rich Murphy, joined us in Rome and even though he knows Bill very well, and is hardly surprised at his spontaneous behavior, he was startled when Bill disregarded a head waiter screaming "It is impossible!" and went ahead to lead Arete students down into the cellar of a private party restaurant. But Rich understood when Bill pointed to where Julius Caesar was murdered. Photo shows Rich helping Bill up the steps from the cellar of the restaurant.

"Yeah we see the Dromo, Rich."

Brody was on his second straight Arete trip. He had wanted to go back to Lake Bled in Slovenia and everyone seemed pleased with his personal excursion. Arete 1987 slept just to the right of the van when they spent the night at Lake Bled, while Arete 2013 slept a bit further within the camp site. "Ethan, where are the damn keys?"


Sigmund Freud saw "Oedipus Rex" in a theater in this plaza in Vienna. The play by Sophocles led him to his theory of the "Oedipus Complex." Earlier on their trip, the Arete 2015 had looked down from the Acropolis to the fifth century B.C. Theater of Dionysus, where the play was first presented by Sophocles. Bill loves pointing out this multi-century space of time to the Arete students, like 5th century B.C. to 19th century, A.D. These are the kind of connections of time that ignite Arete thinking.


In Bavaria we had a casual dinner in a German village that at one time was enjoyed by Nazi soldiers and their families. We were in the heart of the neighborhood of the German World War II headquarters. Cory's map, that he provided for us, directed us to this ominous location. While the deeds of Hitler and his "little Hitlers" were atrocious, recognizing its reality is of enormous importance.

Arete 2015 continued with the coveted Nietsche walks, but this time the readings were presented at the beginning of the trail due to Mr. Taylor's compromised mobility. Each student gave their interpretation of the controversial thinking of the great philosopher before their wonderful runs in the forests above Sils Maria.

We do not know the chap on the left, but the one on the right is Brody Barkan of Drake fame.

It was back in 1979 that Arete '79 held a workout at night on this petite track in St. Moritz, Switzerland. It was cinder then, but today is synthetic and the surface for those of Olympic training.

The Matterhorn told of the trip about to end.

Liam celebrates. The grandson pulled it off.

Rich told of a narrow passage way and a Lenin who in 1917 left Zurich by train for St. Petersberg and the Russian revolution. And they came upon a familiar cathedral near the quay, the swans ate our traditional sausages. Bill stunned them earlier by the lake in Zurich when he asked them to look up the far shore to where another significant man left on another kind of mission. Dr. Charles Hager, traveled to Hong Kong in 1883, deeply influenced the moral world of Sun Yat-sen, sometimes called "the founder of modern China." The tough theology of Dr. Hager, my grandfather, wasn't lost on me when I stood in 1999 in front of where he lived in the old mission house in Hong Kong. My mother was born there in 1901. Once again connections danced the day.

And so we return to Troy, the horse, the ancient walls.

Will Arete return?