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 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 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. 🇪🇨