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:

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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.

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Van Morrison Concert

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.

Sacred Valley Days 2 and 3 (or How I Now Own a New Explorer Status)

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.

Sacred Valley II Collage, Digital Photography, © 2015 SuZan Alexander
Sacred Valley II Collage, Digital Photography, © 2015 SuZan Alexander
Senor de Huanca, Digital Photography, © 2015 SuZan Alexander
Senor de Huanca, Digital Photography, © 2015 SuZan Alexander

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.

Collage 3 Digital Photography, © 2015 SuZan Alexander
Collage 3 Digital Photography, © 2015 SuZan Alexander

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…

Happy Trails…