Adventures in Washington, D.C.

Adventures in Washington, D.C.

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The big house, DC

We jetted off on a quick family weekend to a cousin’s wedding party in Washington, D.C. last weekend. I used to laugh when people talked about jet lag for cross-country flights, but man does that get real as you get older. Here is where we stayed, what we ate, what we did, and generally our judgmental attitudes about it all….enjoy.

The Line Hotel in Adams Morgan

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The Line Hotel used to be a church, DC

Upside: The lobby/restaurants/bar used to be a church and they carefully implemented original pieces throughout the design and décor from the organ pipe chandelier, to the updated pews utilized as benches outside of the elevators. Thoughtfully appointed with a mid-mod feel with antique touches, unique and trendy. Very clean and staff was awesome.

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The Line Hotel, DC
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The Line Hotel, DC

Downside: Since it used to be a church, it’s acoustics were designed for quiet hymns, stick a hundred hip, young people in there and it seemed to always be at a moderate to serious roar in the main area (very quiet in the rooms as they are in a separate building.) Another downside was being brought back to mourning my beloved childhood bunny rabbit, as his fur pelt happened to be draped across the desk in the room, unexpected and unappreciated.

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Organ pipe chandelier, The Line Hotel, DC

Who this place is for: If you are under 30, wear glasses you don’t have a prescription for, and want to be seen on the scene, this is the place for you.

Who this place is NOT for: People over 30, people prone to migraines, people looking for either casual/unassuming accommodations or elegant/classic accommodations, or people who have or have had pet rabbits.

🌎🌎🌎.5 (of 5) on the GOA globe scale.

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The Diner in Adams Morgan

There for: Dinner

Upside: Stamped tin roof, great prices and unique atmosphere.

Downside: Again with the noise, you’ll begin to see a theme in this neighborhood. Don’t go on a Friday night, slow service.

Who this place is for: The same young, hip people that stay at The Line, and like Ariana Grande music.

Who this place is NOT for: People who don’t like Ariana Grande.

What to get: Chicken and French Toast- A twist on a classic.

🌎🌎🌎.5 on the GOA globe scale.

Tryst in Adams Morgan

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Tryst, Adams Morgan, DC

There for: Breakfast two days in a row.

Upside: Sitting in front on the second day, much earlier was a significantly improved experience. Interesting theming and charm.

Downside: Went later in the morning the first day and sat in the back, could not even hear each other/ourselves along with incredibly slow service.

Who this place is for: People who like to go places to read/study things, but not really because it’s too loud.

Who this place is NOT for: People who like to have conversations.

What to get: Any Frittata, way good.

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Tryst, Adams Morgan, DC

🌎🌎🌎 on the GOA globe scale.

Atlas Brew Works in DC

There for: A private wedding party

Upside: Great for an event, plenty of space, but still felt cozy and warm. Great service and many beer options.

Downside: Some great light, dark and IPA beer options, but not a lot as far as reds/ambers/browns which we prefer. Assume the beer menu is always changing.

Who this place is for: Craft beer fans.

Who this place is NOT for: People who only drink Coors or wine coolers.

What to get: District Common which is a California Common or American Stout

🌎🌎🌎🌎.5 on the GOA globe scale.

Legal Seafood in DCA Airport

There for: Lunch

Upside: Not only awesome for an airport, but in general, awesome. Great food and service.

Downside: Other people were there.

Who this place is for: Seafood lovers.

Who this place is NOT for: People with severe shellfish allergies.

What to get: Anything with Maryland crab.

🌎🌎🌎🌎🌎 on the GOA globe scale.

Narwhal Exhibit in the Natural History Museum

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Narwhal exhibit at Natural History Museum, DC

Upside: Narwhals, the unicorns of the sea are finally being appreciated for their amazingness.

Downside: There was not a live Narwhal there.

Who this place is for: Narwhal lovers, preschool field trips and Arctic conservationists.

Who this place is NOT for: People who hate animals and non-believers (dad/husband).

🌎🌎🌎🌎🌎🌎 on the GOA globe scale.

Must See Right Now:

  1. Holocaust Museum’s exhibit lining the reflection pool by the Lincoln monument. Never forget.

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    Holocaust Museum’s Exhibit, DC
  2. Newborn baby Lowland Gorilla, Moku, at the Smithsonian Zoo! Take your uber/trolley to the top of the zoo if you have kids or any trouble with climbing, it’s quite a steep climb from bottom to the top.

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    Baby Moku at Smithsonian Zoo, DC

I’ll leave you with this Public Service Announcement:

Don’t be this guy-who puts his seat as far back as possible, on a 3 hour flight, in bulkhead with many more feet of leg room than anyone else just cause you can. That is all.

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Thanks for reading if you made it to the end and didn’t jump ship halfway through!

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African American History Museum, DC

-GOA

WashingtonDCAdventureGuide

 

 

Happy Mother’s Day!

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If you have been here before, you might know that this blog is about travel adventures with my mom. Sometimes our guys and our babies (dogs) make appearances, but it is largely for us. Today, on Mother’s Day, I wanted to share our story briefly to help you get to know us better and to honor my mom.

I am an only child and grew up in a small, incredible mountain town called Eagle, Colorado. My upbringing was full of daily outdoor adventures in the mountains and rivers with my parents and friends. I have deeply ingrained memories of road trips all over the country to national parks, to new cities and new places. I remember like it was yesterday a road trip to Florida, my mom handed me a map she had created in a little book, of the route we were taking so I could follow along, learn to read a map, and discover my own adventure. This is really where my wanderlust bloomed, and I developed an insatiable thirst for exploring the unknown thanks to her. Into young adulthood, we remained extremely close transitioning from simply mother/daughter, to that and choosing to be each other’s best friend. We began traveling to far flung destinations across the globe together, as well as those close to home and realized that we had the perfect travel companion in each other. We both prefer off the beaten path, though as she might say, “not too far.” We love adventure, places most people might claim we were a bit crazy to go to. We have been to 6 continents together, we have been hang-gliding (twice), rafted (and survived) the Zambezi River, we trekked through the Amazon Rainforest, we have eaten incredible seafood in the Balkans, and walked on a glacier in Iceland. We experienced seeing the big 5 in Southern Africa and we have been to many of the Disney theme parks world-wide. We have so much left to see together, and I feel so grateful to get to share these experiences with my best friend. Happy Mother’s Day to all of you!

GoA

 

Adventures in the Caribbean Sea: Royal Caribbean Cruise Part II, Ports 🛳

Adventures in the Caribbean Sea: Royal Caribbean Cruise Part II, Ports

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Now that we have the cruise ship all reviewed, we have to get to the fun part, the ports! We chose this cruise for a couple of reasons, one of us had never been to the Caribbean, and this took us to many different countries in a short period of time.

San Juan, Puerto Rico 🇵🇷 

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The cruise departed from San Juan, flying in was a breeze, flying back out was a bit of a nightmare but I’ll get to that. Old San Juan is unlike anywhere we had been before, cobble stone streets and rainbow hued buildings, every doorway begging Instagram influencers to pose in them. We strolled the streets, shopped, people watched, melted in the heat and then made our way to Fort San Cristobal which was built by Spain in 1783 to protect the old city from land-based attacks. The fort brought incredible views and fascinating history as well as a relaxing break from the hustle and bustle of the old city center. Do not miss checking out San Juan’s forts.

Upon disembarkation, there was a dock worker’s strike in San Juan, so we were unable to get off the ship and many hundreds missed their flights. Apparently, this can happen, so book your flight for later in the day when you get off the ship. We ended up getting off the ship hours later than expected, fighting for a cab which we shared with 14 people that was made for no more than 7. The small airport was in no way prepared for the amount of people who descended upon it in a rush to make their flights. We waited in line to check in for hours and narrowly made our flight though we had given ourselves almost 8 hours from the time we docked to take-off. The flight itself was unique especially when the flight attendant on our Southwest flight attendant literally sat on me pre-flight. This was followed by the quintessential horror flight experience where the man next to you wet coughs his life onto you so you cover your orifices with your scarf and hold your breath the whole time while praying you don’t get Ebola. We cannot blame this on Puerto Rico though, altogether a place with a lot of heart, color and tradition.

Views: 🌎🌎🌎🌎🌎of 5 on the GOA globe scale

Greenery: 🌎🌎🌎🌎of 5

People: 🌎🌎🌎.5 of 5

Beaches: N/A

Overall: 🌎🌎🌎🌎of 5

Would we return: Probably not. Although Puerto Rico is clearly brimming with culture and resilience from the hurricanes and we very much enjoyed Old San Juan, we are unlikely to return. We think you should support the country by visiting for yourself!

 

Barbados 🇧🇧 

 

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What we did: 4×4 Jungle Tour, Bathsheba and Harrison’s Cave.

Barbados! This incredible island captured our hearts from the moment we left the port on our 4×4 adventure. The vehicle was a truck with the bed lined with seats and outfitted with a serious roll cage (not that it would have helped at all with the way these lovely people drive). We careened around the island while I hung out the back of the open-air truck with my eye in the viewfinder of the camera and the GoPro in the other hand, attempting to capture this vibrant place. I have years of practice making my mom nervous by teetering on the edge of cliffs, canyons, buildings and this was no exception, her soccer mom protection skills are top notch. Local people honked and waved as we flew by seemingly excited by our presence in their home country. As an off-road enthusiast, I appreciated the rough dirt roads though others might not have enjoyed it quite as much. Bathsheba beach was otherworldly with the most giant boulders in the water and the swaying palm trees, the local spiced rum did not hurt either.

The last stop was Harrison’s Cave, a cave system that was built out as a tourist attraction. There is a tram that takes you through the various rooms of the cave, worth seeing, but beware, you are required to wear a shower cap and hard hat, not a good look. Both of these stops and driving around the island taking in the breath-taking vistas were a highlight of the entire cruise and one of our two favorite stops.

Views: 🌎🌎🌎🌎🌎of 5

Greenery: 🌎🌎🌎🌎.5 of 5

People: 🌎🌎🌎🌎🌎of 5

Beaches: 🌎🌎🌎🌎of 5

Overall Experience: 🌎🌎🌎🌎🌎of 5

Would we return: Absolutely, just not on a boat.

 

Grenada 🇬🇩 

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What we did: Island tour including spice factory, waterfall and crater lake.

There are three things that were very unique about Grenada, none of which are the highlights listed above on the tour. 1. Grenada is the reason we decided to rate the “greenness” of each country. 2. Monkeys 3. Tunnel of Terror. We have been all over the world and were profoundly shocked at the depth of the color of green in this beautiful country. We could have driven around this island in circles for days, it was indescribably lush and beautiful.

We were dropped off at a “waterfall” (Iceland wrecked any other lesser waterfalls) with about 100 other tours. The first thing we noticed was a man standing at the entrance next to some colorful booths promising incredible spices, as this is called the spice island. He held on to a leash with a handsome Mona Monkey attached to the other end, clearly well trained. As the tourists with their zinc covered noses and oversized hats poured out of their buses, they rushed for this man with his monkey. The man would tap his shoulder and the monkey would jump up to pose with the tourist, or the tourist’s shoulder, the tourist pays the man, the man yanks the leash and the monkey jumps down and this was repeated probably 50 times during the time we were observing. That sweet monkey is held prisoner and forced to perform hundreds of times a day. You can make this stop. I know you want your picture with a monkey for your Instagram, but when you pay the man, he keeps imprisoning and mistreating them. If tourists are accountable for the choices they make on their vacations and how they affect people and animals, abuse like this can stop. Do you research, if you are interested in animal encounters, as we are, go with a reputable company who contributes to conservation in a positive way. *Stepping off soapbox*. After we left the waterfall stop, we were brought to a crater lake which was fairly disappointing, however, we encountered a free, wild Mona Monkey who we fondly decided to call George. He posed in all of his monkey business glory for some time and made our day.

It is also important to mention that while the port is not far from town, we did not get the feeling that we were very welcome when we wandered a bit. We were told there was a pedestrian tunnel separating the tourist ridden port from the heartbeat of the city and its people. There is a pedestrian tunnel, IT’S ALSO A CAR/TRUCK/SEMI TUNNEL! We discovered this approximately in the middle as local people walked quickly in opposite directions and played some kind of sick game of chicken, randomly deciding who might or might not die a messy and painful death. The other fun tidbit was that as tourists, we were easy bait and were all but shoved into oncoming traffic. If you would like to avoid this potentially life-threatening, panic attack inducing or at least wildly unpleasant experience, take a shore excursion and then head back to the boat in Grenada.

Views: 🌎🌎🌎🌎🌎of 5

Greenery: 🌎🌎🌎🌎🌎of 5

People: 🌎🌎of 5

Beaches: N/A

Overall Experience: 🌎🌎🌎.5 of 5

Would we return: Yes, to stay at a resort.

 

Dominica 🇩🇲 

 

 

What we did: 4×4 Lost World Tour with Wacky Rollers- Titou Gorge and Botanical Gardens.

Upon getting off of the boat, a class of school children greeted us with singing and dancing, the warmest welcome. Heading into this trip, this was the country I most looked forward to seeing and for good reason. The tour was called the 4×4 Lost World tour, it felt very much like a mix between Jurassic Park and Pirates of the Caribbean, two of the best film series ever made. Needless to say, we adored this place. Once again, I sat in the very back of a massive open-air truck so I could film/shoot out the back as we drove. The botanical gardens were not in and of themselves all that special, what was special however, was the landscape, greenery and the sweet stray dogs. We have a long history of me petting and snuggling dirty, stray dogs and desperately attempting to adopt them all over the world, while simultaneously horrifying my mother.

Titou Gorge is where part of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest was filmed. It started out a little rocky because you arrive to the mouth of this gorge and they require you to put on a life vest/belt to swim in what appears to be a shallow pool in the rainforest at first glance. I am macho and consider myself a strong swimmer and was fairly unhappy with the life belt thing. However, you jump in and swim into this narrow gorge with rock walls jutting up around you and vines and jungle above your head. I attempted to film this incredible experience, and at some point, may share some video as it is challenging to describe. I soon became grateful for the swim belt as it is very deep, and you are swimming against the current until you arrive at the end of the gorge which culminates in an incredible waterfall. This is a do not miss experience when you visit Dominica. Overall, this place is full of joyful people, insanely beautiful sights and the perfect place to create new memories.

Views: 🌎🌎🌎🌎🌎of 5

Greenery: 🌎🌎🌎🌎🌎of 5

People: 🌎🌎🌎🌎🌎of 5

Beaches: N/A

Overall Experience: 🌎🌎🌎🌎of 5

Would we return: In a heartbeat.

 

 Maarten/Saint Martin 🇫🇷 🇳🇱

 

What we did: Island Tour-French and Dutch sides, Carousel, island views, walked around Phillipsburg, dipped our toes in the clearest blue water we have ever seen.

Our visit to Sint Maarten/Saint Martin came at just the right time, though the first few ports were beautiful, they were challenging areas to navigate when shore excursions had ended. We took a largely disappointing brief island tour to allow us to see the French side as we docked on the Dutch side, and to get a taste of the flavor of the place. The tour took us to a carousel/ice cream place first which was discouraging. We spent this time walking in the area and observing the hurricane damage and how hard the people were working to rebuild their homes and businesses. The devastation was still very much at the forefront of our visit, boats remained partially submerged, roofs destroyed, windows broken, and cars ruined. What we also observed were people replacing roofs, repairing boats and clearly coming together to restore their beloved island. The best part of this island was the ten-minute walk from the port to the heart of Philipsburg which was incredibly easy to navigate, shopping, tons of food and entertainment options and an alluring white sand beach.

Views: 🌎🌎🌎🌎of 5

Greenery: 🌎🌎🌎.5 of 5

People: 🌎🌎🌎🌎of 5

Beaches: 🌎🌎🌎🌎🌎of 5

Overall Experience: 🌎🌎🌎🌎of 5

Would we return: Yes, fly in and stay at a resort.

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St. Thomas 🇻🇮

 

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What we did: Transfer to a “secret beach”, Lindquist Beach, walked around Charlotte-Amalie.

Honestly, there is not much to say about St. Thomas. The beaches are the best we have ever seen, the whitest, softest sand, the bluest, clearest water, warm, salty breeze, the works. Aside from that, St. Thomas feels like the United States, very touristy. Just not our vibe.

Views: 🌎🌎🌎.5 of 5

Greenery: 🌎🌎🌎.5 of 5

People: 🌎🌎🌎 of 5

Beaches: 🌎🌎🌎🌎🌎🌎 of 5

Overall Experience: 🌎🌎🌎.5 of 5

Would we return: Unlikely, the beach was incredible, but the rest of the island lacked some of the character that made the others so unique and captivating.

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-GOA

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Adventures in Tempe, AZ: How to Pretend You are in College Again (but realize your glory years have passed)

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1 Part= Go to a work conference, bring play-doh and spend much of the time texting jokes back and forth with co-worker.

1 Part= Stay out hours past your bedtime, eating greasy food and drinking cheap beer, talking about how times have changed since we were in college and wondering how the shorts have gotten even shorter.

1 Part= Push yourself wayyy out of your comfort zone and drink the strawberry slushee drink with the super cheap rum that makes you feel intoxicated just from the fumes.

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Tempe Mission Palms Hotel and Conference Center

Upside: Beautiful grounds, great service, extremely comfortable beds and conference services offers a “snack shack” during breaks from the program fully stocked with endless snacks and drinks, unique and awesome.

Downside: Super hot in Arizona, last time I checked hotels cannot control the weather though.

Who this place is for: Families visiting their kids at Arizona State, conferences, really anyone looking for a good time.

Who this place is NOT for: People who are allergic to the sun.

🌎🌎🌎🌎/5

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Fat Tuesday-Mill Street Tempe, AZ

Went for: Happy hour drinks

Upside: Cheap drinks and an attempt to feel young again.

Downside: Feeling like you’re 100.

Who this place is for: College students who have just turned 21 and don’t know the difference between good and bad liquor and/or people with good fake IDs looking for a good time.

Who this place is NOT for: Self-respecting adults.

What to get: Peach Bellini slushee drink- cheap champagne is apparently better than cheap anything else.

🌎🌎/5

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El Jefe-Mill Street Tempe, AZ

Went for: Dinner

Upside: Good happy hour, good tacos, piñatas.

Downside: College bar, crazy town, and you can’t hit said piñatas.

Who this place is for: College students who can’t afford anything else, adults look for a fun time and to relive their youth.

Who this place is NOT for: People looking for an authentic experience.

What to get: Any of the tacos and Dos Equis.

🌎🌎.5/5

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Pedal Haus Brewery-Mill Street Tempe, AZ

Went for: Lunch

Upside: Great atmosphere for adults, beer was good, food was good.

Downside: I would imagine it would get crazy at night like all other places on Mill Street.

Who this place is for: Craft beer fans.

Who this place is NOT for: Non craft beer lovers.

What to get: Fish and chips-surprisingly not fishy and delicious.

🌎🌎🌎.5/5

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Zipps Sports Grill-Mill Street Tempe, AZ

Went for: Second dinner and drinks.

Upside: Every sport you could imagine on all the TVs.

Downside: Every sport you could imagine on all the TVs. Starving waitresses (or their metabolisms haven’t slowed down like ours yet).

Who this place is for: College students, men of any age who appreciate starving waitresses in shorts if that is what you can call them.

Who this place is NOT for: People over 30 who like conversations.

What to get: MOAB (mother of all brownies), took 5 of us, but totally worth it.

🌎🌎.5/5

Moral= Tempe is an excellent spot to go for a work conference, girl’s trip, guy’s trip, romantic trip, vacation from adulthood…but go in the winter and maybe get a spray tan first and go shopping at Forever 21.

-GOA

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Adventures in Realistic Expectations: Ecuador and Peru Part II ✈️

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After the unique time we had in Ecuador, we were putting A LOT of weight on the second half of the trip-Peru. We began in Cusco, this incredible, mountainous town at 12,000 some feet in elevation that felt like being back in time. Though we live and work between 6,000 and 8,000+ feet in elevation, I immediately came down with a special case of altitude sickness, the headache was blinding and awful, and I was largely stuck in the room. Mom was able to tour the city and capture some of the moments I was so sad to miss. As I looked out the window like an angst-filled teenager missing prom, some type of parade took place in the street below. Though we still have no idea what was being celebrated, people stopped to create art with flower petals and this is forever imprinted in our minds.

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Thankfully, the next day, we hopped the train to the magical Machu Picchu. The train itself is an adventure, not only are the views the entire way indescribable, they have created their version of in-flight shopping and they hold a fashion show with items available for purchase…so much Alpaca. I wanted it all, but I have to say it is super itchy! The train pulls up to the town at the base of Machu Picchu and at first, it looks forgettable, a means to get to the wonder of the world. We soon realize that this town is one of the most vibrant, special small towns that most certainly deserves to stand on its own two feet. We’ve been all over the world and have never seen anything like this place. A town, a river that is completely surrounded by the most mystical mountains jutting straight up to the heavens, topped by a constant mist that just adds to the allure. If you are going to Machu Picchu, stay in Aguas Caliente for a few days, you will thank me. Years later, as I write this, I remember like it was yesterday walking the oddly angled streets, the smell of guinea pig cooking, seeing the warm smiles of the lovely people who inhabit this place and an overwhelming desire to sell everything and move there (until I saw a large, orange, arachnid in our room, you might be starting to see a pattern).

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The rules of visiting Machu Picchu have changed, but in 2009, we were able to take the bus up the mountain in the afternoon as the hordes of day-trippers were on their way out which enhanced the experience significantly. One cannot talk about this place without talking about the drive up. Some athletic people say that the most adventurous way to see it is to hike in; those people haven’t taken the bus. The switchiest switchbacks in the world, on a one-lane road, in a large bus, speeding with an increasingly massive drop mere inches from the wheels. The other passengers were not amused, and intelligently feared for their lives as we sat in the back of the bus as usual, hands in the air and laughing incessantly. We reach the top and enter, and for the first time in our lives, we are speechless. We are not religious, but this is a place where spirituality permeates everything and everyone. We wandered with our jaws on the ground, trying to take photos that will show a fraction of how spectacular it is. For hours, we attempted to pet Alpacas, stopping to sit and just wonder at the natural and man-made awesomeness and then wandering on. Eventually, they kicked us out; otherwise, we would have pitched a tent right there and stayed forever.

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After the thrill-ride of a drive back down as changed people and a good nights, sleep, we did what all people who have been spiritually changed do, we went shopping. All jokes aside, this is our favorite type of shopping; we have spent countless hours and days in local, open-air markets all over the world. In our opinion, this is one of the greatest ways to get to really know a place. The color, smells, flavors, people, the price haggling, and this was a good market. As per usual, we ended up buying another bag to fit all of the other treasures that we found, most of which now sit in my “You can’t get rid of that I got it in __________”pile, though I never use it. As we were perusing and purchasing, we experienced a sudden onslaught of what appeared to be miniature mosquitos with a not so miniature bite. Usually mosquitos, avoid me, yea I’m not sweet, I get it, but this was a serious exception. I was covered in these bites, mostly on my legs. A little After Bite and a good night’s sleep would do the trick, right? Woke up with my legs swollen to twice their normal size, turns out that a combination of mosquito bites and an allergy to laundry detergent is bad. I had a fever and we feared that the infection would spread/worsen, but it’s always a tough call to go to a doctor in a foreign country where sanitation standards may not be the same. We decided to try to get back to the US, though it would be a challenge as I was not able to walk well. Good news is, I got a sweet wheelchair in the Lima airport and a lot of sympathy and horrified looks at my legs and eventually made it back to the States. I was seen by a doctor who, as usual, wondered why I do the things I do with severe allergies, like travel to crazy places.

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Here’s the lesson for this journey, don’t shy away from travel/adventure if you have health issues or special needs, just learn from me and prepare. I now travel with significant medical supplies including clean needles should I require hospitalization abroad along with a sleep sack. *Note- A sleep sack will not protect you from bed bugs, I’ll save that story for another day. I would like to say that this is the only trip where wacky stuff and bad luck affected us, but that is not the case, as you’ll see if you come back. It’s all part of the adventure, it is a funny memory and one of oh so many, where I can say, “so glad I survived.” It’s all part of the fun, don’t you think?

-Generations of Adventure

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Adventures in Realistic Expectations: Ecuador and Peru Part I ✈️

In October of 2009, my Mom and I go through the motions of heading to the airport, parking, security, heading to the gate, spending 5$ on each bottle of water, boarding and then…the dreaded, feared and infamous pilot announcement that the check engine light has come on.

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Dugout canoe in the jungle. 🇪🇨

Fast forward what felt like a week, many delays, a very unnecessary night spent in Miami and we secure a speedboat in an attempt to catch up with our river boat that has already started working its way up the Napo River, a tributary of the Amazon with all of the other passengers in tow. We later learned they saw pink dolphins and had lovely weather right up until we got onboard, which still, 9 years later, irritates us endlessly, as this turns out to be pretty much the only wildlife sighting.

From my trip journal: “Spotted some of the first wildlife, a horse and 2 Chihuahua looking dogs. It’s pouring and I’m sitting in a lawn chair on the top deck of The Manatee, a boat that I can safely say looks NOTHING like it did in the brochure. A wide variety of bugs crawl across the Astroturf looking for prey, which is me. The good news about being out in the open, is that it’s not anywhere else on the boat with a roof where every inch is covered in spider webs and unfortunately the evil beings that live in them. This includes inside our cabin where I am forced to cover everything but my eyes to prevent what all other spider fearers know is a real possibility, you know what I’m talking about. I’m surrounded by Spanish speakers who, lucky for me, do not yet know I speak Spanish which is always a fun time.”

Now going into this I’m picturing that I’m J-Lo in Anaconda the movie (my mom can be Ice-Cube). Excitement, adventure, beauty, exotic animals galore, as you’ll quickly learn, this was not our lot. Adventure, yes, but not always the kind you seek out.

As I mentioned before, the rainforest may have been teeming with colorful wildlife, but we sure as heck wouldn’t have known it. I won’t bore you with the ins and outs, just the highlights, good and bad:

-Shooting a 5-foot blow dart gun in the middle of the jungle with locals that I like to imagine had poison darts in it.

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Blow dart gun in the jungle. 🇪🇨

-Checking swinging from a vine in the jungle like Tarzan off the ol’ bucket list, surprisingly challenging, no wonder he was so jacked.

-Guide :“Who wants to get out and swim? There are only Electric Eels, Caiman Alligators, Sting Rays, and Pirahna- probably not the blood sucking kind.” Everyone else: “That’s a no. Me: *Grabs pool noodle and cannonballs in much to my mother’s dismay. I swear I only felt a couple of things brush by me while I took a nice, mid torrential downpour swim.

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Swimming in a tributary of the Amazon with Sting Rays, Caiman Alligators, Piranha, and Electric Eels. 🇪🇨

-Me and Mom: “Do we need our boots for this little nature walk to see more plants?” Guide: “No.” Us: *Full blown army ant attack sending us literally running and screaming in shockingly searing pain that lasted for some time. This led to one of our most proud socks and sandals moments.

-Meeting a 30-year-old Grandmother and having a couple of beers with her at the bar on the boat, only to learn that reproducing at age 15 is culturally expected in Ecuador.

-A horror movie moment including spiders and a canoe in a lake full of Caiman Alligators at night, which honestly deserves its own post, stay tuned for my spider series.

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Beautiful welcoming committee to the terrifying spider canoe experience. 🇪🇨

Looking from the outside in, none of these things seem super shocking as it is a jungle, hello, and I like to think that had we seen more than all the bugs and some sleeping bats, it might have seemed that the challenges would have been worth it.

We emerge from the dark, damp jungle and what felt very much like a Joseph Conrad novel, to spend a couple of days in Quito. We experienced having a foot on each side of the equator, which was not nearly as hot as they made it seem like it would be in 4th grade geography. We shopped at local markets and ate and enjoyed not fearing spiders crawling into your ears while you sleep and laying eggs, which I maintain, is a rational fear.

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Quito. 🇪🇨
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Market in Quito. 🇪🇨

 

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Walking the equator. 🇪🇨

The lesson here is, have realistic expectations, be prepared to find the joy in the little things, the company, checking things off your bucket list and having incredible (incredibly stupid) stories to tell when you come back that will always be better than your friends’ stories. Lastly, this is probably obvious to people who are not me but, DO NOT go to the jungle if you have a pathological fear of spiders. You’re welcome.

Stay tuned for the hi jinks that ensued as we continued our adventure to Peru!

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Quito. 🇪🇨