I could share so much about Lima… the history… the Museo Larco… the parks… the olive trees… BUT, I am going to share two very different sights of Lima Peru that really stood out for me on my recent trip.Read More
Rome is known, among other things, for its art, architecture… and dare I say, fountains. Rome is reported to have over 2,000 fountains, which is the most fountains in any city in the world. These fountains provide drinking water (some still do - even for the weary tourists). Many of the fountains are decorative and some have legends and history attached to them- like the Trevi Fountain.Read More
We are overdue a Wednesday Wanderings travel that is close to home, don’t you think? Well, how about Mason, Texas? I am rather smitten with Mason, and have been ever since my husband surprised me years ago with a day trip to see fields of yellow flowers. There were fields that were a sea of yellow like I had never seen before, or since.
Mason is a small Texas town on the edge of the Texas Hill Country, and is the county seat of Mason County. The current Courthouse was built of granite in 1909 and is the centerpiece of the square which was recognized by Texas Monthly as one of the best town squares in Texas.
Mason is also known as the “Gem of the Hill Country” because the largest blue topaz found in North America was discovered in Mason County.
Mason has many things to offer the traveler, but, I am going to go out on a limb here, and bet that most of us have a greater familiarity with the literary work of one of Mason’s residents, Fred Gipson, than we have for his hometown.Read More
I realize this is not my usual blog post, but this is special sighting I want to share with you. On a recent trip to far west Texas, there was a little critter who blended in with the soil and rocks so well that only his/her movement gave him/her away. This guy is classified as a reptile, and he/she was tiny - maybe the size of a quarter excluding the tail. Do you want to take a look and maybe make a guess? Well, here you go:Read More
My "Office" Last Week
I love it when my “office” for the week looks like this. Some gals showcase their pedicured feet perched on the lounge chair by the pool. Apparently, hiking boots, snake leggings, and a camera in my hand is the way I roll. LOL!
I made a few (okay, a LOT of) images that I hope to work on next week.
However, on a serious note, the Big Bend area of Texas is in desperate need of rain. So, order up one rain storm, hold the lightning, please.
In March, I had an opportunity to visit the Silicon Valley area of California. I have visited San Francisco, Napa Valley, Laguna Beach, Los Angeles…, but I never made it to this area. Can I tell you a secret? I was really excited because, as you might recall, in 2016 I wrote a blog post about John Steinbeck’s novel Travels with Charley. This was my opportunity to visit some of the places like Monterey, Cannery Row, Salinas, and… wait for it… The National Steinbeck Center. But, I’m getting ahead of myself so I will start at the beginning of the trip.Read More
I have been fortunate to say that I have visited the Big Bend area of Texas for many years now. I have been fascinated by the history of the area. I have watched the changes accumulate over the years. I have enjoyed the wide open spaces, learned a few of the landmarks, delighted in watching the wildlife, and, I have marveled at the sunrises and sunsets that are second to none. But, most of all, I love to visit this rugged, sparsely populated area of Texas to make new memories, and perhaps a few good images, as souvenirs until the next visit.
I recently created a photo book that included images from my many visits to the Big Bend area. Since I just worked on curating the images for the book, it is fresh on my mind and I thought it would be fun to "explore" the area with you all today. As for the visual part of our Wednesday Wandering, I thought I would share an image I included in the book, as well as a link to the preview of the book.
This image of a rather battered and bruised windmill is one of my favorite images from the region. Some days, don't you just feel like how this windmill looks? For those days that you feel battered, broken, about to fall... you get yourself all patched up and lean into the wind. Buck up buttercup, because the sunset view is coming.
If you are interested in seeing a few more images from the book I mentioned; HERE is the link. I hope you enjoy the "virtual" trip. If you have any tips for favorite places to stay, hike, and/or take photos, I would love to hear from you. Be sure to leave me a comment before you strap on your virtual hiking boots.
I recently had an opportunity to visit, or wander, around northern Nevada. My absolute favorite part of the trip was the loop we made around Lake Tahoe, which is technically both Nevada AND California. I have always heard how beautiful Lake Tahoe is, but I was not prepared. It seems the whole world turned blue - blue skies, blue water... with a glistening blanket of white snow added for good measure. Beautiful. Here is a panoramic view of the lake. The little cabins and docks gave it a bit of a nostalgic feeling.
We stopped for lunch and had the best Mediterranean food at Artemis Lakefront Cafe. (The Artemis Salad was SOOOOO good.) Then we walked on the docks, looked at the boats, watched the ducks preen, and we were off again. It was such a lovely day, lovely company, and such special memories to bring home. I feel my blood pressure going down just thinking about it now.
After a comment I made in my monthly newsletter a few months ago, my sweet husband surprised me by securing tickets to the Van Morrison Concert in Las Vegas. I suspect my comment expressing my willingness to empty a retirement account to attend a Van Morrison concert in Ireland, or, alternatively, Santa Fe, New Mexico, may have been an encouraging factor in the spontaneous ticket purchase. Nevertheless, I was going to the concert in Las Vegas, so off we went. We lived in Las Vegas for a few years, but I have not visited since we moved away nineteen years ago. It was fun to return and see all the changes. But, the best part of our visit was going to the concert at Caesars Palace. I even got a few pictures as proof. Thanks for the songs and the memories - old and new.
Our train to Aguas Caliente left Ollantaytambo at 9:00 p.m. The train rocked along in darkness, which only added to the anticipation of getting a glimpse of Machu Picchu.
When we arrived in Aguas Caliente and made our way to the hotel in the darkness, the sound of rushing water filled the night. The only interruption was a sudden burst of celebratory fireworks on the other side of the river. We arrived at our hotel and the sound of the water outside became that white noise that lulls you to sleep.
On the first day in Aguas Caliente, as we ate breakfast waiting for the appointed time to meet our guide. The view was exactly what I envisioned with the morning clouds covering the tops of the mountains like cotton candy. Tomorrow. Tomorrow would be the day I capture that classic image. Today we would arrive at Machu Picchu too late. Today we hike.
The next morning we were in line for the bus to Machu Picchu by 5:20 a.m. and there was already a line blocks long. But, the que moved pretty fast and we were on the bus by 6:20 a.m. As luck would have it, the day was clear and warm. No classic clouds on the mountain for us today. After a little exploring Machu Picchu on our own, we headed back to the hotel with our passports stamped to memorialize our visit to Machu Picchu. On our way to the hotel, we stopped at a French Bakery and enjoyed coffee and a apple tartin that was DELICIOUS. We walked around the square and explored Aguas Caliente, which is not without its own special charm.
What a trip this was. I think the people of Peru are what stand out as the best part of the visit. But, it is time to head home and plan another adventure for another day. Thanks for “traveling” with me.
Days two and three of hiking the Sacred Valley are, quite frankly, a blur. I was trying to enjoy the experience and take it all in, but that proved to be difficult when you feel like you are neither seeing, nor experiencing, nor photographing when you are worried about safely navigating the climb/descent immediately before you. Many times, I felt like I was snapping photos from an automobile speeding down the Autobahn. I returned from the trip with very few usable photos, but hey, I got a torn hamstring as a souvenir. So, given the speed of our travels, I will consolidate these two days into one post. You are just going to have to trust me on this one. Day 2, we traveled about an hour drive from Cusco and hiked the back side of Tipón, where we saw examples of the Inca water channels and impressive stonework.
After that, we met the van and traveled toward Pisaq. Along the way, we stopped at a beautiful church – Seńor de Huanca. So named after the person who owned the land. The spot is famous because a meteor landed there. The meteor remains to this day inside a special room inside the church. It is a magical place and well worth a visit.
And then we were on our way to Pisaq. The Pisaq ruins were difficult for me. As full disclosure about this part of our adventure, there was more than one time I wanted to channel my inner two-year-old child so someone would remove me from the trail. I managed to be an adult and push through…barely. There was one point where we were on a very steep, narrow trail, and, I admit, parts of the trail was navigated on all fours. But I DID navigate it. After what I THOUGHT was a difficult passage, Jay and I reached a somewhat level area where we hugged the mountain stopped to catch our breath (we were high five-ing and celebrating our safety) when we turned the corner and discovered that we had another steep hill to climb. Okay, so this is where I lost it and started chanting, “I can NOT do that!” repeatedly. Maybe even at a decibel level higher than I realized at the time. Did I say, repeatedly? Jay finally broke the verbal panic-induced trance with the reality of our situation by stating the obvious, “We have to do this because there is no other way out.” For the record, I hate when he unleashes logic on me. And so, this is where the real “fun” began. Needless to say, I do not have pictures memorializing that part of the hike.
Day 3, we started the day visiting the ruins in Ollantaytambo. Sometime the day before, my Fitbit went dead, and I had no way to recharge it. With all these stinkin’ steps I was taking, I was not even getting fitness “credit”.
In the afternoon, I finally got some quality time in Ollantaytambo to walk around and take pictures. Ahh! This is more like it.
Before I hit any of these trails, one of the books I read was Turn Right at Machu Picchu by Mark Adams, in which he references “martini explorers”. When I read that, I scoffed, thinking, right-on brother. Then, it occurred to me that I might be classified as a "martini explorer". Horror! I had justified not hiking the entire Inca Trail, theorizing, to assuage my guilt, that this was my reconnaissance of the trek. By the end of day two, when I enviously; neigh, covetously, sat in a restaurant all stinky, sweaty, hurting, exhausted, sporting hat-hair… watching a group of ladies load up on a Mercedes bus looking all fresh and put together with shopping bags in tow; I know I was looking at them like a puppy eyeing a piece of bacon. It was then I announced aloud, "I want a Mercedes bus. I NEED a Mercedes bus." From here on out (and I feel a bit Scarlett O’Hara-ish about this), I shall be a “martini explorer”. And, furthermore, I shall make no excuses, nor be shamed by my new status as a “martini explorer”, for I have earned it.
LIFE LESSON: Before you unleash your hard earned money on a tour, make sure there is a Mercedes bus somewhere in the package. If there is no bus...RUN!! Run hard. Run fast. This is no time to power walk.
Next week, the reward is the end of the trail: Machu Picchu, so until then…