Final weekend of my friends one month West Coast visit, we took a short flight down to San Francisco. Of course, we nearly missed the flight from Portland. Arrived at the gate just before the door closed. I still can't believe we made it. Checked into the hotel, then immediately left the hotel to walk around before it got too late and everything was closed. The next couple days involved a lot of walking, staring at google maps, and besides a few cranky moments of disagreement there were still a lot of laughs, fun, and long conversations.
Union Square, Trolly, lombard Street, Alcatraz (from a distance), Golden Gate Bridge (from a distance), Ghiradelli Square, Pier 39, Fishermans Wharf, Sea Lions
Union Square, City Bus, Street Car, Chinatown, Coit Tower, Transamerica Pyramid, In-N-Out burger
Union Square, Macys, watched a labor day protest, took the Bart to airport
I saw quite a bit over the last 30 days. Things even I have never seen or experienced, and I've lived here for 38+ years. Due to weather, temperature, air quality (smoke from the fires), and overall exhausting the poor guy and needing to give him an occasional nap break... there was quite a bit I excluded from my original plan. Even I was starting to struggle to keep up with myself. Whether it was Seattle, Oregon, or in San Francisco... what we did cover is still quite impressive. Seeing more than many people see in a lifetime.
Photo Credits: Kat Wilson & Santhosh Nemmaluri
Keep Portland Weird, City of Roses, Bridge City, Stumptown, Bridgetown.... along with many others. All being names for Portland. A city I will always just call "home".
For months I had planned my friends visit. Adding in as many of my favorite places, and ones I haven't yet been. Figuring out which were feasible after work vs needed to be grouped together for a weekend. Then the smoke from the fires in Canada rolled in. All that planning was destroyed. Pushing us to stay indoors until it cleared, but still fitting in as much as possible:
I will admit, I was sensitive over Portland. Showing it off like a prized cow. Wanting and hoping my friend would go back and tell all our coworkers how amazing of a city it was. But honestly, it didn't matter. I love this city. Its my home, my city, and I get to enjoy it every day regardless what anyone else thinks of it.
On the same note, he taught me a few things. Stop rushing. Slow down. Yes, I can enjoy the things around me but when was the last time I stopped and looked at something closer? I need to take more time for the things I really enjoy.... or for the things I don't know I enjoy yet, because I don't give myself time to figure it out.
Photo Credits: Kat Wilson & Santhosh Nemmaluri
After a long weekend in Newport and heading up highway 101 to Tillamook, there was still time before the sun was due to set and for us to make a small detour before heading back to Beaverton... plus, it had finally stopped raining.
Driving down highway 26 you can't help but notice a sign that is nothing less than begging for visitors, "It's Down Here to Vernonia" with an arrow pointing. About a half hour through windy roads, you will finally arrive upon a small quant town. A single road, small businesses, restaurants, and repair shops on either side.
I stumbled upon this town a few years back while searching for unique points of interest to photograph. In Venonia's case there is a gem hidden on the edge of the lake just outside of the main town, an abandoned mill building turned into a grafitti park. Now, anyone that knows me knows my heart will skip a beat and flutter at the sight of well done street art. This place does that.
Photo Credits: Kat Wilson & Santhosh Nemmaluri
With a late start out of Portland Friday afternoon, and many hours of sitting in traffic, we finally made it down to Newport four hours later than expected, but thankfully before dark. Spent the next morning on the beach, walking around the small town, and then headed down to the Aquarium.
Oregon Coast Aquarium, exploring and examining every inch of every exhibit for over five hours. Not missing a beat. The sea lions and seals were probably my favorite though. I've seen them out in the wild many times and always thought of them as "dicks" of the sea, but the ones at the aquarium were fun, playful, and enjoyable to sit and watch for about an hour. They've moved up in my book. I kind of want one now.
Heading out on Sunday, stopping at the lighthouse for one last view of the ocean before we continued up highway 101. Destination: Tillamook Cheese Factory! Which just opened back up in July after the visitor center had been closed for remodeling. Like everything else, we took our time, watched the curd get packaged, workers ignoring the gawking observers from above, sampling cheese, then waiting for ice cream downstairs.
Next stop: Vernonia
Photo Credits: Kat Wilson & Santhosh Nemmaluri
The original plan, of my friends 30+ day visit to the Pacific Northwest was to spend the first weekend at Crater Laker. Unfortunately due to the forest fires, fire ban, and air quality from the smoke in the air... I detoured our plan to Seattle. Luckily though, I think it turned out to be more of a blessing. I'm glad I was not out camping in the cold air when death came over me. I was so sick. Congested, headache, throat... you name it, it was all brewing inside me.
Seattle... the sister city of Portland. It was a really nice weekend with clear skies, full sun, warm, and way less smoke up North. We wondered around, did the normal tourist stops (ferris wheel, space needle, pike street, fish market, wharf, MoPC, etc), all while nurturing my low energy levels due to forgetting my cold meds and feeling like my head was on verge of explosion. Even with all that going on, it was still an enjoyable weekend with an amazing view.
[Its been a few years since I've been up to Seattle, outside of the airport. The weekend we went seemed to be the right time to visit as they had just recently finished remodeling the observation deck of the Space Needle. Adding a rotating glass bottom floor, which I will admit... made me really queazy and threw off my equilibrium (slow circular motion), but still really cool all the same. Very much a head trip... whats moving? the wall or the floor?]
Photo Credits: Kat Wilson & Santhosh Nemmaluri
As we were heading to Boston for purpose of attending a concert, we decided to add a few extra days for exploring the city. Although our time was too brief to really get a complete feel for it, we did manage to explore many of the sites that make Boston so appealing. From the rich history, architecture, and unique neighborhoods. I'm sure even another few extra days still wouldn't have given enough time to cover everything.
Following along The Freedom Trail, a red brick path guiding you through the city, this is an easy way to catch glimpse of all the historical landmarks without too much effort. Its a few miles, but worth sticking with till the end. Starting at The Boston Common and continuing on stopping at the Massachusetts State House, Granary Burial Ground (graves of Adams, Hancock, and Paul Revere), first public school, Benjamin Franklin Statue, Old South Meeting House, Boston Massacre site, Faneuil Hall Marketplace, Paul Revere House, Old North Church, and ending at Bunker Hill Monument. Winding around, but always looking down to ensure we are still following the path... except for one small detour, which was an absolute must. Cheers! The bar and set for the 80's TV show where "everybody knows your name". A little nostalgic.
As a kid I was always asked in school what I wanted to be when I grew up. Frankly, I had no idea. None. I knew I liked to draw, loved poetry, and was into the arts... but what does that make out to in a career back in the 80's? Nothing. So, I put down a fake career goal. A professional baseball player. Had I ever played? No. Had I ever been to a game? No. Did I know anything about the game? No. But who cares. That's what all my assignments were now on from 3rd till 6th grade... baseball and how I was going to be the first female professional player. My teachers weren't too pleased with my new founded career path, but I stood my ground. Why couldn't I be one? And who says girls can't play professionally?
We bought tickets for the Boston Red Sox game at Fenway Park that evening. My very first game... 30 years after I started putting that as my career path. I never did pick up playing and learned nothing of the game. But none the less, I really enjoyed tonights game. I knew there were innings, but as people cheered and boo'd I couldn't tell you why. hahaha
After a day covering sites and landmarks not covered by the freedom trail, such as the location of the Tea Party where they dumped the tea into the sea. We headed back to our hotel to get ready for the whole purpose of our trip. Radiohead was playing at TD Gardens. Third time seeing them in the past three years. Each time being memorable, different, and an amazing show. I get chills each time. Always a surreal experience.
The great departure back to home. Leaving Boston and heading back to our regular scheduled lives. Knowing we barely uncovered this city. I do feel we will be back someday.
For the past couple weeks I have been trying to figure out how to start this post. On one hand, attempting Costa Rica again after a stressful visit two years ago, and on the other wanting to find a delicate way to touch on the crisis in Nicaragua but stay away from it at the same time.
I'll come back to this...
Walking into a field, being summoned by a group of men holding machete's waving us over, mumbling "we're going to die, this is it, we're going to die". We approach and were handed fresh mango's cut from the tree above. Best mango's ever! Juicy, sweet, and best way to eat was to cut a hole in the top and slurp out the insides.
Pay respect to the man with the machete.
Prior to this trip I was feeling pretty pumped. I lost over 35 pounds, changed my eating habits, was exercising daily, and had done an overall cleanse of the mind. I thought I was ready to go on a long week jungle adventure in Peru. Why not? I was the healthiest I have been in over a year. How hard could it be? LOL. I was about to find out. No amount of planning could have prepared me for this week.
LEAVE // 04.14.2018 | 06:30 AM PDT | PORTLAND, OR
ARRIVE // 04.15.2018 | 11:19 AM CDT | CUSCO, PERU
TRANSPORTATION // ALASKA AIRLINES | LATAM | AVIANCA
LAYOVER // ORLANDO, FL | 2 HOURS // LIMA, PERU | 11 HOURS
(HOTEL ACCOMMODATIONS IN LIMA, PERU (WYNDAM) | CUSCO, PERU (HOTEL TIERRA VIVA))
Day 1: Choose Your Own Adventure
As soon as we arrived in Cusco the elevation took its affect. Headache, stomach cramping, and if you moved quicker than a slug crossing a street everything around you would spin, causing you to feel lightheaded and dizzy. On a good note, no vomiting. We immediately decided to walk around the town to speed up the acclimation process, which thankfully worked. Quickly overcoming the dreaded sea sick feeling and shopping around for the best deal on the jungle trek to Machu Picchu.
We took the chance of not reserving anything prior to arriving in Cusco for the jungle trek. After doing some research online it would have run us an easy $400+ US dollar/per person, but we waited and it definitely paid off. Average price were $180+/per person depending if we also wanted to include the rafting, zip line, and any of the additional hikes at Machu Picchu (which we did). Picking out the different options and pricing it out from one tour company to the next, we finally settled on the one that left the following morning at 7:30am and was the lowest price of $510 total, which included rafting, zip line, and the Machu Picchu Mountain hike passes for two.
Day 2: Bicycling & Rafting
The van arrived at 7:30am, driving from hotel and hostel picking up other travel companions that we would get to know very well over the next few days. Driving through the Sacred Valley then up to Abra Malaga where we started the first part of our adventure; mountain biking. Surprisingly, even though the elevation was much greater than in Cusco (over 4500 meters above sea level) it did not seem to affect me as much anymore. Still with a headache, but fortunately the dizziness and stomach cramping had dissipated. Gearing up and picking out our bike of choice, trying not to think about the last time I was on a bike was at least 10 years prior. Hoping the old saying "It's like riding a bike" (meaning, its something you never forget how to do) was actually true. We set off down the mountain side.
At first a little wobbly, but once I got the feel for the brakes and shifting I was on my way. Waiting for openings between oncoming cars, I slowly leap frogged my way forward. Increasing my speed a little more after each person I passed. This was fun! After stopping for a short 20 minute break, we were off again. This time with a warning there would be a few rivers we'd have to pass through. Taking this information as there would be potential bridges we'd need to go over, reality this meant actually riding straight through water that was spilling over the top of the roadway (aka. the river actually passes over the road). Few hours pass and only one near slip when my front tire slipped into a crack and nearly took me down, we made it to the bottom. Soaked from riding through the "rivers", seat shaped bruise on my rear, and a huge smile on my face... we were headed to the river for the next adventure; white water rafting.
Class 3 rapids are definitely something that give you a good workout. Paddling through the waves, trying to stay inside the raft, and avoid obstacles. Fortunately, we were the only raft from our group that did not seem to lose a person in the water.
Day 3: Inka Trail
Staying at a hostel in Santa Maria, 5:30am wake up call, we were back on the trail. Today was going to be the long day. Over 8+ hours of walking, no bus if we opted out, just our feet to move us forward. The next few hours were about to challenge everything in me.
Making my way uphill. Trail getting steeper and starting to alternate between steps and dirt path. Looking uphill as the others in my group disappeared around the bend. Rehan following close behind them, unfortunately with our few bottles of water in his backpack. I wasn't sure I was going to make it and we were barely only a 1/2 hour in.
2 1/2 hours of continuously going up. Stopping to give my lungs a rest. Still putting another foot forward and climbing onwards. We finally made it to the "Monkey House". Giving us a chance to take a break, learn about the land, people, and their tequila, coffee, and chocolate making process. I wasn't going to complain. This was a much needed rest from that dreaded uphill battle. Only to start the trek again after an hour, uphill again. How much higher could we possibly go? Finally, we open up into a portion of the famous Inka Trail. With only a meter wide walking path and a large drop on the side, the view was breathtaking. One slip though and you would be yet another statistic lost to the jungle. The trek was still tough but it wasn't as strenuous as it had been just moments before. The path was more flat with some ups and downs, which was more my style. Hours passed, stopping for those golden photo opportunities, and taking a group photo before ascending once more to where we would be stopping for lunch.
After a two hour break, taking a power nap on a large flat rock, we were back to walking. Rested and picking up the pace. The second half of the trail had a bit more obstacles to go around. From large rocks that you needed to climb up and over, twists/turns, ups/downs, and a pitch dark tunnel. Not to mention the very creative ways the trail took you to cross the river at multiple points; balancing as you walk across a fallen log, sketchy wooden bridge, suspension bridge, and two guys pulling you across in a wooden basket on a wire. Don't look down and it's all "safe" as long as you don't lose your balance. Vertigo is definitely a thing to avoid, if you can.
The end of this long day was the relaxing soak in the thermal hot springs. Paying just s/.10 per person, this made the long day worth the pain before settling into the hostel in Santa Teresa for the night.
Something I told myself as the day went on: Physical weakness can be overcome, but mentally I needed to stay strong. These words resonated within me. Having a lot of time to think, lost in my own thoughts, encouraging myself, and rethinking my "life decisions". I did not quit. I will not quit. I kept going.
Day 3: Zip Line & Railroad Tracks
Another early wake-up, starting at 7:30am, we were going zip-lining today. This was my first time and the fear of heights was a little nerve wracking. Gearing up and then starting the hike up, again hating life as I barely made it to the top with a loss of breath and the feeling that my lungs were going to burst out of my chest. Now, looking over the edge. Waiting my turn. They hook me up and I was off soaring through the air. Oh my god this was fun. With only three zip lines, I was bummed it went so quick.
Sitting in the grass at the end of the 3rd zipline, waiting for the rest of the group to make it over, I look down and see another long tension bridge over the river. This one wasn't like the others that we came across on the hike yesterday. This was a little more intense. The boards being my leg length apart, using our zip line harness as a safety, one by one we were sent out onto it. Again, not looking down, focusing on the boards ahead, and balancing every step. I loved it. Except for the few times others on the bridge lost their footing and caused the boards to flip sideways, leaving me with some nasty bruises from the wires. Still, it was exiting. I'd definitely do this again.
The next 3 1/2 hours was something other than pleasant. Starting at the base of the railroad tracks, our guide deciding to take us through a "shortcut". Uphill again, crossing the railroad tracks as we come out of the trees for a quick opening, then darting back in and going up some more. My body was starting to hate me. Blisters on each of my toes. Two toenails taped down as they were in the process of falling off. And my hip was in a great amount of pain. I kept going up the trail. Never stopping. Still not quitting. Ultimately, though, still climbing.
The railroad tracks were a slight gradual incline as we walked along at somewhat of a brisk pace to start. Meeting at one of the bridges as a group, then parting ways for the fast to go faster and the slow to go at their own pace. I somehow faired somewhere in the middle. Only stopping a couple times. The pain in my feet were becoming somewhat unbearable. Shifting the way I step to take pressure off sore spots. Digging deep mentally and wanting to walk in silence and not be bothered.
Agus Calienta was in sight. Finally. The base of Machu Picchu was near.
Day 5: Machu Picchu
Keeping to the theme of barely having enough rest to let the muscles sync in and realize how much pain they were in. We woke at 3:30am to get into our respective lines. Me taking the bus and Rehan to the base of the 2000+ step hike, both heading up to Machu Picchu. As much as I wanted to do the hike and have that unbelievable experience, my body was giving up. At the risk of about to lose two toenails and my hip screaming, I opted for the bus to speed me to the top.
After the last few days of having clear skies, perfect temperature, and just the right amount of sun vs shade, today was less than perfect. We woke to rain, fog, and cold. Bundling up in our rain gear and hoping the clouds would burn off, we kept our hopes up and were going to enjoy this ancient beauty regardless of the weather.
As the tour came to an end, the guide leaving the group near the exit where we could enter again another two more times to roam the ruins on our own as long as we entered before Noon. Keep in mind, on entrance you start at the top and slowly you can make your way back down to the bottom. Once you pass a certain point though, there is no turning around and going back up without exiting and re-entering again from the beginning. I mention this because Rehan left for the Machu Picchu Mountain hike and I had gone down too far because I saw llamas and wanted to try to take a photo with them, not realizing I had gone past that point of no return and was unable to enter for my third time as I had missed the "enter 3 times before Noon warning". So I was stuck, waiting for him to exit for a couple hours. I was upset at first, but besides the sun gate, I had seen all of the ruins. I just didn't get a chance to really analyze all of it before I was forced out. Lesson learned! Yet again, finding myself alone with a lot of time to think and awe at what I had just accomplished the last few days.
Day 6 & 7: Huaypo Lake and Salinas De Maras
Sleeping in for the first time in almost a week back in Cusco, after taking the train from Agus Calienta the night before. Slowly taking our time to get ready for our 1pm reservation to go quading through the Sacred Valley. Unfortunately we were unable to go to Moray, but we were able to visit Huaypo Lake (which was a nice surprise) and Salinas De Maras which were both picturesque and something pictures will never do justice.
Day 8 & 9: Lima, Peru
Having just over a day and a half, wandering around Lima before our red eye flight back home. We ran into one of our trekking companions from Machu Picchu. Overall, this week went from inspiration, to soul searching, then ending in many laughs... this was a great way to end this journey.
LEAVE // 04.23.2018 | 01:05 AM CDT | LIMA, PERU
ARRIVE // 04.23.2018 | 12:19 PM PDT | PORTLAND, OR
TRANSPORTATION // ALASKA AIRLINES | LATAM
LAYOVER // LOS ANGELES | 2.5 HOURS
When someone visits Portland there are a few must-see's that need to be checked off the list. Unfortunately, the weather wasn't the greatest and I only joined for the final weekend of their trip, so that list was short.
Starting with iFly as the original plan to go real skydiving was foiled by rain and wind. Then taking a long drive down the Columbia River Gorge with the first stop at Multnomah Falls. I can never get enough of this place. Even after the tremendous sadness end of last summer with the Eagle Creek fire where a couple kids lit our beautiful forest up in flames and seeing the devestation months later here at the falls. I can now see how close it was to taking the lodge. Nonetheless, its still an jaw dropping sight to just stand and watch, feel the wind, and sound of the falls. Breathtaking!
Continuing down I-84, stopping at Hood River waterfront park and spending an hour or two walking along the levy and rocks. The view was picturesque of the Columbia River with the backdrop of the mountain range of Washington on one side and Oregon behind us, along with kite surfers and sail boats. Was a great spot to spend a couple hours walking around and soaking up the rainfall.
Heading back to Portland, crossing the Bridge of the Gods to Washington side only to turn back and cross back to Oregon. Such a monster bridge that lives up to its name. Then parting ways at the Columbia Gorge outlet stores. Thanks for visiting Portland Nagesh and allowing me to spend a day with you and your lovely family!
[I watched a video a few weeks back where T-Rex went across the Multnomah Falls pedestiran bridge. Even though that bridge is now closed due to the damage from the fire, I couldn't help but bring them with]
It saddens me that I cannot remember all the different variations of food I had or what many were called. Which means I will most likely keep adding to this list as I go through photo's and talk to my friends back in Hyderabad. Unfortunately this list will never be complete as there were so many and now that I look back, there were many even I cannot explain outside of my full happy belly. What I can recall though of some of the most amazing goodness, I've made a list below:
*** Repeated Favorites
For a good portion of two decades I've been a huge fan of Indian food. Now after visiting Hyderabad a second time, I can officially say its not Indian food that I fancy, its South Indian food that has hit a soft spot in my beating heart. The flavors, varieties, textures, and spice... it's like an explosion with each bite. Indian food from anywhere else will never be the same for me. Forever now tasting bland and mild, but South Indian food is what I will sought after. The spicier the better.