Vineyard #1

In addition to work and travel, my housemates and I have decided to try and turn our backyard into a mini-vineyard. Currently it is just dirt & weeds. By this time next year I hope it will be trellised, planted and have a a year growth of grapes. Woot!

I feel I should document my progress with the grapes, so that is what I plan to do here.

Over the weekend Joe & I plotted out the vineyard. We have approximately 3,000 sq ft to work with. Vines need to run North-South which puts our rows a little slanted in the backyard. If we did our math correctly, we should be able to get 5 rows with 10 vines and a 6th half row with about 5 vines. That is 55 vines!

Currently we are thinking of going Syrah and Cab grapes. I have seen grapes for as little as $4, but those dealers were out of New York and there was a 50 vine minimum. No idea where I will be getting the grapes from.

This is what we believe we have to do and the approximate timing:

  1. Prep Soil – rent tiller (ASAP)
  2. Order Grapes – delivery and planting of grapes will be in early spring, but we need to get our order in now (ASAP)   :  DONE 09.25.13
  3. Order Posts & Treat – we are going to 4×4 posts from Home Depot or Lowe’s and need to treat the posts with a weather resistant seal (ASAP)  :  DONE 09.30.13
  4. Install Posts – we need to rent an auger and get the darn posts in the ground (October)   :   DONE 11.25.13
  5. Weed Suppression – the backyard has a horrible established weed population. In order to suppress the weeds we are going to put down landscape fabric and mulch (early December) : DONE 06.07.14 – This got delayed because we determined it would be better to plant the grapes first and then add landscape fabric and mulch around the plants.
  6. Trellis – get wires, attachments, etc. to set up trellising (December)
  7. Plant – grapes should come in March   :   DONE 03.14.14

See the different rows?

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#homevineyard

I Am A Bad Blogger

When I created this blog, I thought I would be very good about documenting all my trips around the world. Turns out, I am a horrible blogger. I am still taking many trips, I just never bother to update about them.

It is now September. In the last month I went to Machu Picchu, Puerto Maldonado (Peruvian Amazon), Iguassu falls, Sao Paulo, SF Beer & Bacon Festival and Fargo North Dakota. Which one of these things is NOT like the others?

The trip to Peru and Brazil was great and I will try and update later with details and pictures, but I wanted to say that it was wonderful. There were 11 of us in total. Me, my boyfriend Joe, Katy, her fiance Evan and several of Katy’s friends from high school and their significant others.

The Machu Picchu Group

We spent several days in Cuzco and then hiked the Inca Trail. The Inca Trail hike was so peaceful and not too difficult. I did struggle with the altitude, especially when hiking up hill, but it was nothing I couldn’t do. We went with a tour group called Llama Path. They were excellent. It was total glamping. The porters were friendly, the facilities as nice as they could make them, and I have never seen any tour company so concerned with catering to everyones special food needs. It is understandable why they do this, it would be horrible to have an allergy attack or food sickness when you are a two day hike from anywhere. Even with this concern, LLama Path went above and beyond.

I did not like Machu Picchu as much as I was hoping. Don’t get me wrong, the ancient city is amazing. It was just that during our four days of hiking we saw other beautiful ruins and there was no one else around. When we finally made it to Machu Picchu, it was full to capacity. You could not enjoy the views because there were tourists everywhere, and at one point I actually got sad when I saw tourists leaving their garbage in the windows and other places in the ruins. If you have the physical ability, I would recommend doing the 4 day hike rather than just the ruins so that you get to experience other ancient Inca sites without thousands of people running around.

From Machu Picchu we traveled onto Puerto Maldonado. The Peruvian Amazon was interesting, but not my best amazonian experience. Since I lived in the Darién for three months, this amazon experience was just was not as interesting. I did get to see lots of wild birds, swim in a lake filled with piranha and caiman and fish for piranha (I caught two!). For animal life we saw lots of parrots, a few different types of monkeys, capybara, caiman and shit-tons of spiders.

After the Amazon most of the group left to return to the states. From then on out it was only Katy, Evan, Joe and I. We next traveled to Iguassu, which has to be one of my favorite places in the world. Words and photos can not describe the beauty and awesomeness of the falls. I can never do it justice, you will just have to go there yourself.

We also went to the bird park (it is very good with lots of different parrots and a lovely butterfly area), the public zoo (this is free but also sad and skipable) and the tasty restaurant TAJ (which had a half priced dinner and drink deal on Sunday, woohoo!).

Photo Katy Took of the Falls – beautiful right? The real thing is a thousand times better.

 

After Iguassu it was on to Sao Paulo. We didn’t do much in Sao Paulo, but I did get to have the greatest sushi meal of my life at Mori Sushi (approx $35 for the greatest all you can eat sushi ever), and go to the boat hotel that Katy had been telling me about for years. From Sao Paulo we went to Maresias (considered the Ipanema of Sao Paulo) and Ilha Bela. Maresias has a beautiful beach where we just hung out and Katy & I drank Pina Coladas and Joe had a glass of tequila with salt that was supposed to be a margarita. Ilha Bella lives up to it’s name as a beautiful island, but it is also cursed.

The island has over 400 waterfalls and one of the most amazing hikes I have ever been on. We had to rent a car to drive to the edge of the national park. From there we hiked about two miles in until we can to a sign talking about a farm and a second path leading down. We took this special path and what we thought would be a farm turned out to be a hidden bar!! There we purchased beers and continued to hike a few hundred more yards until we came to our first, and ultimately only, set of waterfalls. It was a series of three waterfalls, and while they were not super large, they were extra special in that they made for natural water slides. I love waterslides. My day at Schlitterbahn was one of the happiest of my life (I was 17 I think). My love for waterslides is shared by Katy and Evan, so we spent the day drinking, swimming and sliding down the falls.

Now for the curse. Ilha Bella is over-run with a billion fucking mosquitos; and these are no ordinary mosquitos, they are the Asian Tiger Mosquitos which means they are out at all hours of the day and extra horrible. We wore bugspray but even so, we all ended up with tons of bites. The bites were weird too. Some of mine turned directly into blisters instead of normal itchy bumps, and Joe’s turned into birthmark style purple blotches. It was gross. Joe’s were so bad that we were concerned customs would stop him and not let him back into the USofA.

I have ended up writing far more than I originally intended. I still want to do another entry going into more details of my trip, and addressing Beer & Bacon Festival and Fargo. Shit, I also just realized that I never wrote about the Galapagos Islands and Chile. This weekend I have nothing planned. I think it is the first and only weekend of the summer I have absolutely nothing going on. Without anything happening, maybe I can write more in this poor neglected blog of mine. Doubtful, but a girl can dream.

Chile – Stolen From My Mom

My Mom kept a diary while we were all in Chile. Rather than re-write out everything we did, I decided to take the lazy way out and just post her log of activities. Yay for lazy!

CHILE 2012

Wednesday, December 19 and Thursday, December 20

Eric picked us up at the house and took us to SFO.  Tracy has a cold! We took American Airlines flight to Los Angeles. We walked over to the International terminal and changed the seats for Tripp.  After a hamburger at McDonalds, we boarded the Lan flight to Lima.

After a chicken dinner (ravioli for Tripp) we slept most of the trip.  Layover in Lima – Tracy feeling bad! We then caught the flight to Quito arriving about 4:00 pm.  After customs we took a taxi (bad traffic) to the hotel – Nu House in La Marisal right on the Plaza Foch.  Great hotel, very modern.  Nice 4th floor room – Tracy on 1st floor.

 

A quick shower and then we walked around the square.  Dinner at BBQ & Co. which is cattycorner from our hotel.  I had spaghetti and pulled pork (good), Tripp had fish and Tracy had a steak sandwich.  We got a pitcher of Pilsener beer (tasteless).  We bought water and headed back to room.   Bed.

 

Friday, December 21

Breakfast at Q, a restaurant right below the hotel. A buffet – pretty good.  Taxi into Old Town.  Saw President’s palace, government buildings, walked all around.  Went into a museum on the history of money in Ecuador. Interesting. Went into Grand Hotel on Square. We were tired so went back to hotel. Lunch at Magic Bean.  Tripp wanted Happy Hour Pancakes but they no longer serve them.  I had nachos, Tripp had pizza and Tracy had potato soup.  Tracy still sick.  Tripp and I walked around area, found a beautiful art store.  Rested.  Katy came in and she wasn’t feeling well.

 

Dinner at Cinquecento (Italian).  Katy ended up joining us.  I had fried calamari/prawns.  Others had pastas and Katy had minestrone soup.  Back to hotel.

 

Saturday, December 22

Up early, taxi to train station.  Caught a tourist train to Machachi.  Nothing there. Cold and rainy. Took a tour of a local farm- “good energy” as it is center of 3 volcanoes.  Saw horses, llamas, goats, rabbits. Lunch at old farmhouse.  Very good food – empanadas, celery soup, pork or chicken, papaya for dessert.  Guide played guitar and sang.  Young kids from tour also joined in. Lots of fun! Train back to Quito.  Got lucky and found cab right away.  Back to hotel. Rested.

 

Got free drink at Azure Beach bar across the street (mojitos) Then bucket of beer and nachos at BBQ & Co.  Odd because Pilsener beer better in bottles then on tap!  Asked hotel for typical Ecuadorian food restaurant – they sent us to Mama Clorinda’s.  It had a large menu but was only serving turkey, lamb and potatoes as it was Christmastime.  Left and went to Dors – new restaurant that we had found on our walk.  Just opened – no customers.  But good and very pretty.  Tripp and Katy shared a meal of 3 steaks with different sauces (lemon, mushroom and red wine).  Tracy and I had languistino bisque and a shrimp torte (like a napoleon – very good but Tracy did not like the sauce as it was avocado).  Walked back to hotel. Bed.

 

 

 

Sunday, December 23

Hotel did not do wake up call.  Woke up at 4:52 – had to be at airport by 5:30! But we made it.  Checked bags then checked into Aerogal flight to Galapagos!  Met at San Cristobal Island airport by guides Omar and Daniel.  Bus to town (San Cristobal) then tendered to boat, Monserrat.

 

Got settled in.  Cabins small but fine.  Unpacked.  Lunch (spaghetti buffet) then got on bus to Galapaguera Land Tortoise breeding center.  Learned all about what they are doing to save the tortoises.  Very interesting.  Back to town, walked around.  Stopped at bar and had beers and fried plantains with cheese.  Good.  Back to boat.  Had peach drink and introduced to crew.  Dinner was fish over carrots and beets with really good sauce.  Dessert was poached pear in cherry sauce – very good! Exhausted, went to bed.  Took a Dramamine and put on wrist pressure bracelet. Slept fine!

 

Monday, December 24

Breakfast – eggs and pancakes.  Then took panga (tender) around cliffs of Cerra Brujo – through natural arch – beautiful.  Back to boat then got snorkel equipment then boat to beach.  Saw sea lions, blue footed boobie, warblers, frigate birds, lava gull.  No marine iguanas!  Then relaxed.  Back to boat. Lunch was eggplant parmesan, cauliflower, chicken curry, meat.  Chocolate mousse for dessert. Then snorkeling to Kicker Island.  Water cold. Saw sharks – Galapagos and black tipped, sea turtle, damselfish, starfish.  Back to boat. Rest. Excursion to beach, Playa Ochoa.   Hermit crabs and stingrays.

 

Got out Christmas tree.  Beer before dinner.  Mine was vinegar! Dinner is turkey for Christmas Eve dinner.  Eggplant parmesan, sweet carrots, green beans, Caesar salad, tomatoes and mozzarella.  Birthday cake for dessert for Annmaria.  To bed – rough voyage but no sea sickness.

 

Tuesday, December 25

Breakfast – fried eggs and French toast. Excursion was a walk on a sandy beach of Espanola Island.  Gardner Bay – lots of sea lions, finches.  No marine iguanas!  Snorkeling around little island – sea lions, stingray, lots more fish.  Sea lion nipped at guys fins! Lunch of typical Ecuadorian food – very nice.  Coconut rice, peanut sauce on potatoes, fish, chicken, fruit. Hike on beach –and around to Suerez Point: marine iguanas, the waved albatross (on this island only), blue footed boobies, Nasca boobies – really neat. Saw the “Soplador” or blowhole.

 

Dinner was pasta and meatballs, tiramisu.  We played dominoes then bed.

 

Wednesday, December 26

Breakfast of hardboiled eggs and toast.  Floreana or Charles Island.  Landed at greenish (olivine crystals) beach called Comorant Point.  Saw Great Blue heron.  Walked across island to a lagoon with beautiful sticky sand. Saw flamingoes, sea turtles mating and females leaving shore after nesting.  Snorkeling around Post Office Bay. Lots of fish, playful sea lions, Galapagos penguins!  Cold water though. Got a postcard from Palo Alto left the day before!

 

Sailed to Santa Cruz Island.  Coconut shrimp and cake for dinner.  Pangaed into town Walked around.

 

Thursday, December 27

Bags out, Breakfast. Pangaed to Charles Darwin Reserve.  Land tortoises and yellow iguanas.  Bus to other side of island.  Ferry then another bus. To airport.  Somewhere along way girls bags were robbed (Evan’s jacket and Tracy’s Iphone plug and some headphones.)  Aerogal to Guanaquil then Quito.  Taxi to hotel.  Got settled (we are in kid’s old room) – shower that felt great (tiny showers on boat).  Tracy got bad news about mortgage – very unhappy.  I went and checked out shops while Katy and Tripp had beers.  Some neat places.  Met Tripp and Katy at bar – San Jose State in bowl game on tv! Tripp, Katy and I went to Mama Clorinda’s Ecuadorian restaurant again.  Katy and I shared sampler plate – good – 3 kinds of meat (pork, goat and beef or lamb), fried plantains, hominy, Peruvian giant corn, chicharronne.  Tripp had a beef dinner.

 

Friday, December 28

Breakfast at Q again, Tracy joined us.  Went on a city tour with a guide.  Through the cathedral – neat, volcanic ash rock, can see angel statute on hill through back window.  Then to town square.  Saw old bishops house (now shops and restaurants).  Went through “gold” church – covered in gold leaf, La Compania De Jesus.  Up to the angel statue – great lookout – she is standing on a dragon.  Then drove 1 hour to Middle of the World.  Kind of hokey but lots of fun.  Shrunken heads, facsimiles of native houses and graves.  Line where 0.00 latitude is (equator is actually 26 kilometers wide).  Saw demo of water swirling in different directions.  Katy rested egg on nail.  She got a certificate. Drunken walking on line.  Then back to hotel. Girls and I went back to art shops and bought a few things.

 

Free mojitos again but at Q (really good). Group was burning figures in effigy for New Years – creepy.  Dinner at Achiote – Ecuadorian.  Tracy had ¼ guinea pig (not much meat and gristly) Tripp had goat.  Katy had soup and I had grilled shrimp.  Appetizer was delicious rice cakes with cheese.

 

Saturday, December 29

Up early.   Out to airport. Flight to Guayaquil then to Santiago.  Rental car at airport.  To Katy’s apartment.  Started laundry – first load was stinky shoes from boat! 2 more loads that day. Went for pizza below her apartment.  Ran into a couple from our flight.  Katy gave them ideas of places to go. Walked to PWC – saw Katy’s office.  Tried to get dinner on way back but no one had any money.  So had cheese and crackers at Katy’s.

 

Sunday, December 30

More laundry.  Katy and Tracy went to get Evan (they missed him) at the airport.  Tripp and I walked down to Juan Valdez and Starbucks.  Packed up – car loaded! Off to Indominita winery.  Beautiful – up on hill.  Lunch was delicious.  I had 2 appetizers: 3 types of shrimp (bisque, fried and ceviche). Tracy had grouper, Evan had conger soup, Katy had salmon and Tripp had steak salad.  Wine tour.  Bought some wines.  Then had dessert – an assortment!

 

To Valpariaso apartment.  Sparse but great view.  We had our second Christmas.  Met Liam (Kiwi) and Jules (English).  She is 8 months pregnant.  Liam made dinner – chicken pasta and salad.

 

 

Monday, December 31

Liam made pancakes with fruit.  We walked into town.  Stopped at ship bar – great! Had  chorollana – the fries/meat/onion/egg thing. Bought hats and yellow underwear (for good luck).  Went up an ascendor. Liam made a pork loin stuffed with prunes, couscous salad.  Ice cream from New Zealand for dessert – delicious.  Fireworks show – amazing!

 

Tuesday, January 1

Liam and Jules left.  We drove to Vina del Mar and around to Playa Cocha.  Pisco sours and ceviche at little restaurant.  Back to apartment.  Dressed for dinner. Savor Color closed but they recommended another place so we went to La Concepcion restaurant.  Everything was delicious.  I had filet, Tripp had ravioli with crab, Tracy had hake, Evan had conger on eggplant and Katy had shrimp curry.  We shared an appetizer of shrimp in filo dough.

 

Wednesday, January 2

Up early.  Katy and Evan caught bus to Santiago.  We drove to Punta de Choros.  No problems except in La Serena – a mad house.  We tried to go to restaurant in Old Town but it was packed with people and no parking. Ended up at mall eating at Subway and paying to park in their lot. Got into town around 4:30.  Waited at restaurant Eneyoe for man to guide us to cabana.  Drank Coronas. Way down a maze of dirt roads.  Settled in.  Funky little cabins.  Walked along water.  Drove into town.  Ate at same restaurant – shrimp empanadas (delicious), locos (dense and not very tasty) and conger.  I went to bed. Tracy and Tripp watched an episode of Supernatural on her Ipad.

Thursday, January 3

Breakfast in cabana.  To Harbor San Augustine for boat tour.  Met Willie @gmail.com for English tour.  Tour was great! First we went to Choros Island. Dolphins frolicked around our boat. Saw on island: sea lions, 3 types of cormorants, vultures and Humboldt penguins.  Plus we saw the endangered sea otter.  Then on to Isla Damas.  We walked around it for an hour.  Back to harbor.

 

Back to restaurant for beers and shrimp and queso empanadas – delicious.  To cabana for a nap.  Dinner at same restaurant – this time ling cod and corvino (sea bass) fried.  Back to cabana.

 

Friday, January 4

Breakfast at cabana.  Packed up and drove back to Santiago.  No bathrooms for a long time after La Serena.  Lunch at a Shell station – hot dogs and empanadas.  No problem getting back.  I took a bath as I had not bathed in Punta de Choros.  Taxi to Katy’s work.  Walked about a mile to a neat bar and restaurant at the end of the Park of the Americas, Mestizo. Kids fed flamingos in park. Had pisco sours and ceviche.  Evan met us there. Taxi to another area. Spanish restaurant Pinpilinpausha (Basque). Had paella and salad.  Taxi back to apartment.

 

Saturday, January 5

Slept in.  Walked to Barrio Italiano.  The place we were to have brunch had construction next door that was very noisy so we left and ate at a little outdoor café, Café Anay.  Tripp and Katy had the Big Breakfast.  Tracy and I had delicious pizzas (whole wheat crust, serrano ham. cheese, heart of palm, artichoke hearts and onion).  Walked through cute shops. Walked over to Central Market and Plaza de Armes – the artist wasn’t there.

 

Walked over to BellaVista and had beers at usual place, Backstage Bar and Restaurant.  Walked back to apartment.  Rested.  Dinner in little area , Lastarria, at Restaurant Peztoro.  Shrimp croquettes, Katy and Evan shared fish, Tripp had pizza and Tracy had chicken kebobs.  Taxi home.

 

Sunday, January 6

Slept in. Drove to Santa Rita Winery.  Beautiful.  Nice tour. Wine tasting.  Delicious lunch at Dona Paula Restaurant in a beautiful room.  Swordfish, seabass, salads, salmon carpaccio and I had scallops parmesan.  Spiral cookie with ice cream and caramel sauce for dessert.  Stopped at Lider on way home to get stuff for next 2 dinners.  Guys dropped off rental car and walked to California Cantina to watch playoff game and drink beer.  Girls took taxi to Plaza de Armes.  Katy surprised us with makeup lessons with Victor for our Christmas present.  He was a hoot. It was lots of fun.  Katy was “daytime”, I was “late afternoon early evening” and Tracy was “night”. It was great.  We ordered some things that we have to pick up on Tuesday.

 

Back to apartment.  Evan cooked steaks and veggies.  More football. Watched part of a movie (too dumb) and went to bed.

 

Monday, January 7

Katy and Evan off to work. Tripp and Tracy taxied up San Cristobal and walked down while I made pumpkin pies. Lunch at sushi restaurant below the apartment. Then Tracy and I went to Los Dominigos looking for copper pots and other things. Did not find much.

 

Cooked turkey.  Liam and Jules came over.  Marcello made it for dinner.  Turkey was good but not as juicy as last one. But it was lots of fun.

 

Tuesday, January 8

Katy and Evan to work.  Tripp, Tracy and I went to Plaza de Armes to go to PreColumbian museum.  Could not find it.  Turns out it was closed for renovation! So we walked to Santa Lucia.  Then back to Plaza to meet up with Victor to get makeup.  Back to apartment and lunch at pizza place.

 

Met Katy at her office and walked to W hotel.  Met Evan and had pisco sours.  Walked across street to Tiramisu and had dinner.  (Tripp and Evan had pianini, Katy had salad and I had pasta).  We ran into couple from our Santa Rita wine tour.  They are from Louisville and live on a horse farm.  His son had just climbed a mountain in Chile and 2 young men from Kentucky had died doing it also. Taxi home.

 

 

Wednesday, January 9

Packed up in the morning. Tracy had a hair appointment with famous guy. Katy got off work and we went to Bellavista and had beers while waiting for Tracy.  Her hair looked fantastic! He suited it to her hair type and coloring.  We all loved it. Lunch at Como Aqua Para  Chocolate.  Really neat restaurant.  We had 3 types of pisco sours (ginger, merkin and aji).  Had 3 appetizers: ceviche, meat and veggie relleno and _______. Got copper pots.

 

 

Back to apartment, finished packing and got ready to fly.  Went to Bravissimo for ice cream.  Got the Millennium Berries.  Huge thing with 4 types of ice cream (strawberry, raspberry sorbet, vanilla and chocolate mousse) with berries and raspberry sauce.  It was delicious and we ate the whole thing! Santiago was hot – 95 degrees!

 

Taxi to airport. Saw the people from Louisville again.  Plane to Lima (watched movie, Looper ). Plane to SFO – tried to sleep.  Watched Who is Bernie.  Tracy got sick the last 2 hours and threw up on landing. Joe Warren picked us up. Home to cold weather.

Galapagos & Chile

Here is what I did in December 2012 & January 2013 while in the Galapagos & Chile. Please egnore the horrible editing, grammer, etc. I wrote these out as notes on my iphone while I was on vacation and I am too lazy to bother to fill in the days/correct them…

12/19 – Fly to Lima. We took LAN so the planes were nice and the whole trip far more comfortable than if we had taken an American airline like United.

12/20 – Fly to Quito, check in to hotel, walk around area we stayed, get dinner at BBQ & Co. We are staying at Nu House hotel in Quito’s La Mariscal district. This area is Quito’s arts & entertainment distrct and a great place to stay.

12/21 – Go to old town, see president’s house and money museum, pass by a restaurant called Texas Chicken, eat lunch at The Magic Bean (it is very disappointing since they no longer offer pancake hour), rest, have dinner at Italian place near hotel.

12/22 – take train to machachi, get really fun tour of farm that includes delicious home made lunch. Train is a big deal, the children in the small towns all run out to meet the train and there is lots of waving. Take train back and eat at plaza near hotel for dinner. Get free drinks before dinner and bucket of beer with nachos.

12/23 – get up waaay early and fly to Galapagos. Meet up with tour and drop stuff at boat. Go to tortoise breeding site. Some were HUGE like small vw bugs. Have dinner on boat. Food is ok, better than expected but not great. Had spaghetti for lunch and fish for dinner.

12/24 – Christmas Eve. Took boats out to natural bridge. Saw lots of birds. Went to beach in late morning. Saw baby seals! Sooo cute. Nice beaches. In afternoon snorkeled with sharks. Galapagos shark, white tipped shark and black tipped shark. Also sea turtles. Lunch was ok with awesome chocolate dessert. Dinner ok too, nothing super special. Mom got vinegar beer. It was hilarious, she cracked open the beer, took a big swig and almost did a spit-take. I would not drink the beer but it smelled horrible, like vinegar.

12/25 – Christmas! Went snorkeling in morning, swam with sea lions. Went to beach with sea lion breeding. So many baby sea lions playing in water near shore. At the beach there were also funny mocking birds that want after your water bottles. In late afternoon went to island and saw dancing albatross, NASCAR and blue footed boobies and sea iguanas! So cool to see iguanas swim.

12/26 – skipped snorkeling in AM since going again in afternoon. Went to another island with sea lions breeding and iguanas. These were black and red. Also saw flamingos and sea turtles on land since the turtles had come up to lay eggs. Saw turtles stacked for mating. In afternoon went to post office and snorkeling and swam with sea turtles and penguins. Awesome! In evening went into town. Could not find flag towel. Very sad.

12/27 – Went to Darwin center and saw turtles and where lonesome George lived. Flew back to Quito. Got bad news and did not feel like doing much rest of night. San Jose state won a bowl game. WTF?

12/28 – Took tour of Quito. Saw statue at top of hill, basilica and gold church. Went to Intinan Museum, center of the world. Fun with physics! I could not get the egg to stand, but Katy did. Had dinner at fancy restaurant. Went shopping with mom in afternoon. Tried cuy (guinea pig), it was not very good. It is tough and tastes like pig knuckle.

12/29 – got up early, flew to Santiago. Had yummy pizza. Walked to PwC. Tried to get dinner but had no money. Went to bed.

12/30 – Family BPin the AM. Tried to get Evan from the airport and failed. Stole wifi from ice cream shop. Packed and went to lunch at Indomita Winery. Lunch was great, wine OK, dessert amazing. Lovely view of valley. Drove to Valpo. Apartment has great view, saw dolphins from window. We are on the 19th floor. Had second Christmas. Evan liked Easter Island legos I gave him. Met Liam and Jules. Liams mom is chef and he made great dinner. Tried to use Internet to watch important cowboys game but Internet did not work. I am staying in a claustrophobic bedroom.

12/31 – Cowboys lost but Liam made pancakes with cinnamon & lemon zest. Family went for 10K walk through Valpo. Saw the pirate bar and had churrimoto. Also went for a Funicular ride. Pork with prunes for dinner, yum. Learned that Pisco is just un-aged brandy. Kiwi Liam shared his special kiwi ice cream. Traded yellow underwear and funny hats. Watched the extra amazing Valpo fireworks!!!

1/1 – Lazy morning. Drove around bay. Walked and got beer. Went to fancy dinner at La Conception. Packed to get ready for trip.

1/2 – drive 300+ miles to Punta Los Chorros. Had to drive through Chile desert and 40K of crazy gravel road. Go for walk along beach. Had Locos (they were OK but not worth the fuss, a lot like abalone) and great empanadas . In the evening we just sat on porch of cabana drinking and looking at ocean. Go for walk along beach. Lots of bad dreams, wish I was not sleeping alone.

1/3 – Morning run on beach. Ocean tour, saw: dolphins, tons of birds, penguins, stinky sea lions, sea otters. Got more empanadas and beer for lunch. Chill at cabana. Sunburn. Fried fish and beer for dinner. All meals at same restaurant, one of only two restaurant in town and the other one was never open. Read and watch supernatural at night. Gaze at stars!!! More stars than I have ever seen anywhere in my life. Looking up at them gave me vertigo there were so many.

1/4 – Morning run along beach. Drive 400 miles to Santiago. Eat tasty empanadas and see vicuña on the way. Meet Katy for feeding flamingos and drinking pisco sours in the centennial park. Totally drunk. Go to Spanish restaurant for dinner. Get home, kill gingerbread boy.

1/5 – Walk to brunch in Barrio Italia. Eat brunch. Crazy homeless dude. Walk to plaza de armis. See church and artists. Walk to Los Domingo’s. have a beer. Walk back to apartment, see larpers on the way. Haha, nerds. Go to lastaria for dinner. Dog fight. So sad. Have OK dinner. Watch football.

1/6 – Go to Santa Rita Winery for wine tour and delicious lunch. Pick up turkey. Go to surprise makeup event for Xmas gift from Katy. I looked good. BBQ at apartment for dinner. Watch football and dumb movie.

1/7 – Hike Santa Cruz mountain with dad. Get adopted by dog. Try and have pizza for lunch but not open until 1 so have sushi. Go to Los Domingo’s. Have turkey dinner and pie. Try and name Liam’s kid. Watch BCS bowl game.

1/8 -Bad dreams, wake up to bunnies! Try and find cultural museum, epic fail. Hike hill. Are you Chilean? impossible! Pick up makeup, victor on Chilean time. Dad gets pooped on. Get yummy pizza for lunch. Go to PwC and meet Katy. Go to W for pisco sours. Get Italian food for dinner. Try and get ice cream, fail.

1/9 – Last day in Chile. Get fabulous haircut from world famous hair guy. Dude is crazy for his cat. Enjoy drinks out and then head to airport. Byebye Chile.

I Have Returned

Hello Poor Neglected Blog,

Did you miss me?

Since I last wrote, I have been to/done the following:

  • Galapagos Islands – amazing! Island cruise is the way to go
  • Chile – Valpo for New Years, Punta Los Chorros (try the locos), Santiago & surrounding wine country
  • Tahoe – skiing at North Star, yummy food
  • Attended many a free whisky & bourbon tasting event in SF
  • Become a founding member in the first San Jose Beer Co-Op (i.e. I am going to be a partial owner in a bar)
  • Discovered SFfuncheap.com

I am currently planning another trip to South America where we will hike Machu Picchu, tour the Peruvian Amazon and visit Iguazu falls. I am also going to an event at the SF Academy of Sciences tonight, Tahoe next weekend and possibly Vegas the weekend after that. I will try and post about my travels and any adventures soon.

 

Tahoe – Dec 2012

Went to Tahoe last weekend with Susan, Joe and Courtney & Family. It was great fun. Only once in my life can I remember going with someone to see snow for the first time. My family took the daughter of a family friend of ours to Tahoe and I remember laughing as she screamed, “Snow!! Look Snow!! Snow!!” over and over. She was so excited to see snow she could not contain herself.

It was like that last weekend with Courtney’s kiddos. Derek is five and Celeste is three. Neither of the kids were as vocal about their excitement at seeing snow as Catherine had been, but I still got a huge kick out of watching them explore the new substance for the first time. Derek had no concept of what snow would be like, and his first comment when touching it was to express shock that it was not sticky. I guess from pictures the closest thing he could image to snow was paste. Paste is white and sticky and snow is white and must also be sticky. It has been a long time since I have been in a situation where I have been exposed to something so new that I have no other knowledge or experience to build upon. It really is fun to see that wonder of children and learning about the world around you.

Northern California has had lot of rain this year, which generally translates into snow in the Sierras, but not this year. The storms have been coming from Hawaii and have been warm enough that Tahoe is getting rain in the lower elevations. Our cabin, around 6,800 ft, had patches of snow but nothing thick and all of it very hard and icy. We had to go up the Mount Rose highway. Mount Rose is at about 8,000 ft, and has an excellent sledding hill. Good times were had by all.

I stopped writing this and have just returned to my poor neglected blog. I am going to publish this post as is.

Photo taken by my bestie

Another S. America Trip

I am now trying to plan two S. American trips simultaneously. There is the trip next month to Galapagos & Santiago, and now there is a trip in July/August of 2013 to Machu Picchu. For Galapagos I am the one in charge of planning and it is a huge pain. For Machu Picchu, I am going with the Vegas Girls, so while I am providing input, I do not have the plan the entire thing myself. This is a lovely change.

For Machu Picchu I think we are going to be using Llama Path (LP) as our tour company. One of the Girls’ coworkers used this company before and really enjoyed it. Plus LP has an emphasis on sustainable tourism, so even though we will be hiking the Inca trail, our impact on the landscape and ruins should be minimal. Every year there is talk of closing the Inca trail and Machu Picchu because all the tourists are having a negative impact. I want my contribution to the destruction to be as minimal as possible, and LP appears to have that same conservation focus.

We are going to be a huge group. As of now, it appears that 11 people will be going. It is the Vegas Girls and everyones significant others. With such a large group we are thinking of doing the private Imperial Tour that LP offers. The private Imperial Tour isn’t significantly more expensive than the group tours, especially since the group tour adds an additional $70 a day if you want to rent half a porter. Here are the details for the Imperial tour. Nothing has been decided on yet, but I think we will likely go with this tour.

OPTION 2 – PRIVATE SERVICE (Imperial service)
   In this service no one else will be allowed to join you  so there will
be only you and your guide, the cost of this trek is 670 USD  per
person .
 This price already include a half porter per person
Also, it looks like I am going to be going to Tahoe in two weekends with a group of friends. I will post about that trip if we actually go. I love having so many travel plans in the works.
Cheers ya’ll!