Monday, March 30, 2015

Back from Fin Del Mundo!




Wow, y'all. WOW! We are back from our Chilean adventure after 24 hours of traveling (not being facetious... it was actually MORE than 24 hours, but who is counting? me) and it was fabulous. Stunningly beautiful, physically demanding, and an adventure from start to finish. The terrain was rugged with vicious winds, summer snow, and weather that could (and did) change ferociously within minutes. The towns were quaint and humble, but exuded such a vibrancy for life and zest for color, action, and community. It was a confusing experience to be a tourist that was treated as a neighbor or friend. The whole ten days were a whirlwind and both Andrew and I feel lucky to have had the opportunity for the trip.

In case you missed prep for our trip, you can find that here, here, here, here, and here!




I can't wait to share more of the experience, but be warned because I totally plan on focusing on some of the humorous mishaps... who doesn't want to hear stories about (literally) drunk mice and boiling water landing in my husband's lap. I promise they were both funny- even if they sound more treacherous than comical.

Here are some photos to try to show one one-millionth of the scenery. Hope that you enjoy!















And with this last photo, you can never say I never gave you anything...


YOU'RE WELCOME
Hope that you are having a wonderful start to your week,
S

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Packing Made Me Do It

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This post does not come from a good place. The inspiration brought anxiety and anger and helplessness (as seen above), but I will say that we are packed (and by the time you are reading this will be 7 days into our Chilean adventure). It wasn't pretty though. Generally, packing should not be anxiety inducing. For me packing is normally like this: throw everything in a bag, zip up bag, add a couple more things, rezip, call it a day, add the final few things, rezip, congratulate yourself on such an awesome packing job, and then get your butt in gear because you are officially late.

Well, things become a little bit more challenging when you then realize that you will be carrying all of your belongings needed for 10 days on your person through a national park. And it will be cold. And you can only bring two pairs of pants. And one pair of shoes. The lack of choices becomes overwhelming. How can you possibly decide between A and B if you can only have one of each?

Yes, it may have been a long day at work, but this was more than my little brain could take. So I organized and laid everything out and rearranged and got overwhelmed and was underwhelmed by my choices and finally was able to fit my clothes for 10 days (not counting outer jacket, 2 shirts for when we aren't in the park, and clothes on my body into this 10 liter stuff sack.

I know, I know- the photo is dark. BUT LOOK AT THAT APPLE FOR COMPARATIVE SIZE!
Included in that pod of quick-dry and spandex are:
-1 pair of hiking pants
-1 pair of tights
-2 long sleeve shirts
-3 short sleeve shirts
-1 pair of yoga pants
-1 sleep shirt
-Socks
-Under things
-Hat
-Head wrap
-Bandana

ALL IN THAT TINY BAG! I don't quite even believe myself, but here is to hoping because that is all the stuff I got for this adventure.

So now with head lamps and dehydrated food packed with care, I leave ya folks with the start of our adventure. Next time you hear from me (in only a few days thanks to scheduled posts), we will be back stateside and I can't wait to share all the details with you!

Thanks for the listening ear and no judgment zone on how nasty I will look after wearing the same clothes day in and day out!
-S



Monday, March 23, 2015

Penguinos for Days!



Magellanic Penguins  ~Magdalena Island. Located in the straits of magellan this tiny island is home to more then 60,000 pairs of Magellanic penguins.
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I have a confession to make, but don’t tell my husband. Ok- not really. Life tip- don’t post things online that you don’t want to people to see. The internet doesn’t work that way. Now back to my confession. I am so excited to hike the W circuit in Torres del Paine. Excited to do something challenging, excited to see the incredible sights, and excited to spend a full week un-plugged and enjoying nature and stuff. BUT (you knew this was coming) I am more excited to see penguins than I anything else in a really long time.

I do not have an undying love for penguins, I didn't have a bunch of penguin toys growing up, nor have I ever really thought about penguins beyond the occasional aquarium visits. All this madness started when researching Chile and penguin images kept popping up. I was a little confused to how this related to the park, but ran with it. I mean who doesn’t love the look of these penguins; they’re cute, mate for life, and are completely un-domesticated. Obviously, they will run right up to me and hop in my backpack and we can be best friends forever (KIDDING- Chilean internet cops don’t arrest me). Magdalena Island is home to a huge population of penguins (and no resident humans) that people can actually visit! Huge doesn’t even begin to describe it. It is estimated that over 60,000 pairs (remember that mating thing) of Magellanic penguins inhabit the island. 60,000 pairs! OF PENGUINS!
  
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This was definitely added to the must-do list for Chile and I am pleased to head out for a half day tour to meet my new best friend. After hopping on a boat and cruising across the Strait of Magellan, our tour will land on this protected nature reserve to oogle at the thousands of Magellanic penguins milling about on their pebbly breeding grounds. It will be the far end of the mating season (we arrive late March and most are headed out by April) but I think it will be pretty awesome to see these little guys waddling around.

I imagine that by the time we get to ‘penguino day’ on the itinerary, we will be pretty darn tired and that these new friends will be exactly what we need to spark our energy back.This goes under one of those ‘bucket list items that you never knew you had until you saw’ side trips and all I can do is hope that it meets half of my expectations.


Chile Patagonia plateau,The land of icebergs and glaciers..... AND I might add.... PENGUINS!
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And in conclusion, I think everyone should know that penguins can jump six feet out of the water and into the air. Penguinos are very impressive.


Hope you are having a fantastic Monday! We should be on day 2 of our W circuit trek today, so send anti-blister/ good thoughts our way.


-S




Friday, March 20, 2015

Chile By The Day


Cuernos. Parque Nacional Torres Del Paine, Chile
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Guys by the time that you read this, we will either be flying over thousands of miles, chilling in Lima, or headed down even further south to start our trek through Torres del Paine. But I feel like there is so much I have left to share! Yes, you know we are going on a 5 day W-circuit camping adventure in Chile, but there are so many details left. So I thought I would do a quick recap of how we planned our trip and what the heck we are doing!

Although picking Chile may not seem like it was incredibly well thought out, by the time we got around to planning it we knew it was the perfect location. One of my good college girlfriends had lived and traveled there extensively and sent us possibly the most exciting email of my life. It was like watching an Opera special- and you can go here! and you can see this! and you will do all these things! I never knew there was so much to do in Chile and then I wanted to do it all.

The hard part was realizing that no, we couldn't do it all. There are these pesky things called jobs and the fact we are moving in less than a month (insert panic attack here) made us really have to prioritize what we could do in 10/11 days time. So after some serious timelining and researching, we came up with a pretty stellar itinerary.
Torres del Paine, Chile
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And here it is!

Day One: Work all day, drive home, get bags, scarf down dinner, then get our butts to LAX for a red eye flight!



Don’t you dare miss the Magic Water Circuit show, in the Parque de la Reserva in Lima — it feels like a private show. | 26 Fantastic Reasons To Pack Your Bags And Visit Peru Right Now
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Day 2: Wake up groggy from the plane and hurry up because we only have one day to explore LIMA! Culture, food, culture, food, walk, photos, food- then hurry back to the airport and fly to Santiago.


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Day 3: Wake up at 5:30am in Santiago and you guessed it ANOTHER flight further south! Fly to Punta Arenas and take a bus down to Puerto Natales (yes it is still not even noon yet). Explore Puerto Natales a bit and then head to the infamous 3 O’Clock Talk at Erratic Rock. Get terrifed over what the next few days will bring and then head to bed- it will be the last real bed in quite a while.


Grey Glacier, Patagonia - Chile.
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Day 4: Arrive at Torres del Paine! Take a catamaran to get into the park and set up camp at Paine Grande. Hike up to Refugio Grey (STUNNING) and then come back down. Total hiking 11km for the day.

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Day 5: Up early and set off to Campo Italiano. Stop and have some lunch around Paine Grande and get back on the trail because we have to cover 18.6km before turning in for the day!

Los Cuernos del Paine
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Day 6: Head out for the there-and-back trail to Campo Britanico and then get our tails in gear to make it to Refugio Cuernos for the evening. Don't waste daylight cause this day has 20.7km of hiking.
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Day 7: One last long day... on an unrelated note, how big do you think the blisters will be by now? Make it to 20km to Refugio Las Torres and go to sleep early because...  

los, torres, sunrise, del, paine, national, park, famous, camped, tent, reflection, lake, windy, amazing, , photo
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Day 8: Wake up before sunrise and get in high gear! Need to make it to the Torres del Paine before the sunrises for an amazing view. Bask in the glow of own accomplishment. Then head down to Laguna Amargo for some real food, change of shoes, and civilization. Play it by ear and see whether we feel up to headed to PN or PA. Sleep in a bed. Or maybe seperate beds by this point. Sleep on anything as long as it is not the ground oh, and eat some carbs.

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Day 9: See some penguinos and maybe grab one to stick in a purse… just kidding, I won't have a purse. OR STEAL A PENGUIN, JERKS! More details on our penguino side trip next week!

Day 10 and 11: Fly home!

Typing this out made my fingers hurt… that is probably a bad sign for how my toes will feel after doing this trek...

Hope you all have a wonderful weekend!
-S

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Lima For A Day

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Guys, the time has come. The countdown for our South American adventure can be better stated in hours rather than days. HOURS, Y'ALL! Now that the whole thing seems even more real, it is so exciting to focus on the final few details that aren't exactly 100% buttoned up yet. And honestly there is one part of our trip that has been completely overlooked in our planning.

Traveling down to South America is surprisingly difficult- even coming from a large city like LA! It is even harder when you have to travel to about as far South as possible. A few months ago when picking out flights, the thought of back-to-back-to-back international flights seemed a like a poor way to start off a vacation where we are going to be trekking, hiking, and camping. I think that it would be positive for all of us if we avoid as many situations that can lead to ANY ADDITIONAL STRESSORS. I don't want to give Andrew any additional reasons to push me off a glacier. So due to predictive behavior and sheer luck of aviation, we were able to break up our flights for a mini-trip in... Lima, Peru.

Photo: Parade in Lima, Peru
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Sounds great. But now what? How can we possibly explore even part of Lima in a mere 8 hours. I KNOW! 8 hours! Actually way less than 8 hours. It is exactly 8 hours from when our plane lands to when our plane takes off. So include all the fun things that happen in an airport where you don't speak the language and you've just woken up on an airplane thousands of miles from home and we probably have 4 hours in the city. 4 HOURS, I KNOW!

So although I'm bummed that we won't be able to really dig our teeth into even one millionth of this city, focusing on the positives means that we have the opportunity to add one more city to our travels. So now priority one is planning what the heck to see in Lima for 4 hours. Understanding that we will be coming off an overnight flight, I think it will be ideal to make a list of some of the top possibilities to see and we can explore as our energy levels and the travel gods see fit.

So without further ado, here is our list of things that our on possible lists for one afternoon in Lima:
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Huaca Pucllana- This adobe and clay pyramid, found in the Miraflores district of Lima, is an archaeological site estimated to be from 500 AD and really caught my eye. It is a piece of ancient history just blocks away from modern Lima and steps away from their own restaurant. The site was both a site for religious or ceremonial activities and community center. It is known as the heart of the Lima Culture (a group from 200 to 700 AD). This site looks very interesting, but is in Miraflores instead of the city center of Lima- don't know if we will get the time to make the trek.

Walking through an archway of water at Parque de Agua in Lima
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Water circuit- The Circuito Magico del Agua is the largest public water complex in the world and looks spectacular! Seeing as how public art is literally part of my job, I think that this looks amazing, whimsical, and right up my alley. Everyone recommends that you should go during the evening and unfortunately that won't work with our schedule, but it looks so cool.

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Plaza de Armas/ Plaza Mayor
- is the heart of Lima... so I feel like we have to make the stop. Not only is it surrounded by the Government Palace, Cathedral of Lima, Archbishop's Palace of Lima, the Municipal Palace, and the Palace of the Union, but it has been the site of so much history. It is gorgeous and has a certain charm that I feel like even in a jetlagged stupor we will enjoy.

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Larco Museum- This has been on the top of all the 'must do' lists that I've seen. The museum showcases over 4000 years of Peruvian history and the land used to be home to a pre-Columbian pryamid. The museum focuses on pre-Columbian art, but randomly has a gallery of erotic pottery. Yeah, I had to read that a couple times too. 

Church of San Francisco
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Church of San Francisco- So to be honest, my sister says that this site is a little (stomach) unsettling. She went on her way back from Macchu Pichu and the catacombs did her in. All the guidebooks recommend this church and they say the catacombs have over 25,000 different people's remains. It definitely looks interesting, but I'm not quite sure this one is making the cut on our mini-trip.


Travel Guide Lima
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Ceviche- "You must not leave Lima without stuffing yourself with ceviche"- OK. Sounds good. NO qualms with this one. One of the easiest ways to experience a culture is through your tummy and I'm hungry already.

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Pisco Sours- This one is like the ceviche. It is already a done deal. Nothing says 'lets get this vacation started' like an adult beverage and Lima is known for these tasty cocktails. And for you drinking history buffs out there, pisco sours were inspired by whisky sours in the 1920s and the want to use pisco, a local liquor distilled by grapes.

So what would you spend 4 hours in Lima doing? Anyone been there?
-S

Monday, March 16, 2015

Watery Weekending

Sunday night hit real hard when I looked at my to-do list and realized that Monday WAS in fact mere hours away.

You see the weekend went a lot like this....


Amazing.

For real, y'all. This weekend Andrew and I finally cashed in on his Christmas present (whoops- 3 months past the holiday) and started our scuba certification process. And man, IT WAS HARD. As I write this, we are watching Blacklist on Netflix, eating a frozen pizza (NO JUDGEMENT ZONE) and our minds and bodies are in a melodramatic scuba coma. From Friday night to Sunday evening, our lives were scuba, scuba, scuba. We learned dive tables and regulators. We studied all sorts of terrifying decompression illnesses and surf stories... no lie, at that point I was ready to walk out and start knitting as a hobby instead. We (okay- just me) took over 30 minutes to sausage my way into a NEOPRENE wet suit (tragic) and spent a lot of times looking like a duck walking around in the fins. And it was a blast. Truly. A blast.

On our honeymoon Andrew and I went scuba diving in the DR and I really struggled with equalizing (the process of adjusting your ears to the pressure as you go deeper and deeper down). But Andrew was in his element. He was scuba-ing over there and chasing some fish over here and generally being way adorable. I, on the other hand, had a death grip on the instructor for the whole afternoon- making for a few raised eyebrows on who exactly was honeymooning with who, but alas. Seeing how much Andrew loved it, I was determined to do it again and make scuba something that we could both enjoy together. I'm really grateful for trying round two.

We were lucky enough to train with Sea Stallion Scuba in Lake Forest, CA and they were absolutely fantastic. Very thorough (I actually understood the dive tables) and made me feel really comfortable with the safety skills like flooding your mask and using a back up breathing system. We spent the morning in the classroom sessions and the afternoons in a local pool. SO although pool diving is not the least bit scenic, it was exactly what I needed to feel confident in the skills necessary to scuba safely. We have 4 ocean dives and 1 snorkel outing before we are card carrying SSI members, but at least we got the pool down pat.

So here are some snaps of our weekend. All the pool ones are from our GoPro and I'm really impressed with how they look; check 'em out!

Dive tables require coffee in the AM.
Neoprene is pretty much the worst thing ever and whoever invented them probably had a vested interest in diet plans. Just saying- for a friend.
Everything lined up and ready to go!
Ya know, just seeing the sights. 
Average Sunday at the pool.
The Jaws theme song was playing in my head... 
Do these make my feet look big?
BECAUSE WE ARE REALLY ATTRACTIVE PEOPLE, FOLKS.
And in case anyone out there cares, remember that book I said was great about Kenyan runners (Running with the Kenyans by Adharanand Finn), well a Kenyan runner won the LA marathon this weekend!  Congrats Daniel Limo!

Hope you're having a wonderful day,                                                                                                       
S                                                                                                                                                                 


Friday, March 13, 2015

5 for Friday

While avoiding accomplishing any substantial tasks or being stressed out about the lack of progress, I'm focusing on things that require very little effort and are downright wonderful. Without further ado here is my current list of sanity keepers (a la brain dump)!

Great read about where running can take you and a nice mind break to inspire the lazier side of my brain. It is definitely inspiring me to schedule my next half and full marathons in the nearer future.

Two Tone 14k SOLID Gold Very Skinny Twisted Rope Infinity Band Stacking Ring Mixed Metals Rose Gold and White Gold Shiny Finish
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This adorable stackable ring… I want one

A Diver and a Shipwreck by Boaz Meiri on 500px
Beautiful
Getting excited for our scuba certification class this weekend has had me pretty amped looking at underwater photography. Found this gorgeous compilation!

5 Mile Treadmill Workout Image
Happy Being Healthy Mom
This treadmill run- pretty much perfect ability to zone out, yet follow a plan at once. Not the quickest miles, but the intervals and hills make it a fun addition to anyone's fitness regimen. I will say that it drives my OCD mind wild that (at least the two times I tried) the workout didn't quite add up to the 5 miles advertised. But I really enjoyed doing it- thanks Melanie. I've been working on creating one of my own that I hope to share soon!


Houston Skyline At Night
Photographer: Jim Drought III 
Job Searching in Houston. So this may be a bit of a roller coaster, but it is a bit exhilarating seeing all the options that are out there. I got my graduate degree is a very specific field and by broadening the definition of what I studied for and what the skills I have learned are… it seems like there may be a multitude of options. Or- I may just lay on the couch and watch reality TV all day. We will see.


Have a great weekend,
S

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Our Trip to the Channel Islands


This past January, Andrew and I headed for a camping/anniversary trip out to the Channel Islands. AND IT WAS GORGEOUS! Truly one of the most beautiful places I have ever been to and incredible that this completely unplugged, untouched by civilization island is less than 50 miles away from hectic LA. I warn you, my photos simply do not do it justice, but you'll just need to get over that- and then go see for yourself! So much of the geography of the island reminded me of Ireland, but with distinctly Californian weather. The rolling hills, the clear blue sea- I was at home.

For some background, the Channel Islands are a group of 5 islands off the coast of Ventura, CA that form a National Park. Some of the islands are off limits to... everyone, some have a handful of NPS employees, and a couple are available for visitors. We camped at Santa Cruz island's Scorpion Harbor (no, there are no scorpions... that we saw) for a quick weekend trip and it was spectacular. Around 25% of Santa Cruz island is National Park land with the rest being owned by the Nature Conservatory. The official population on the island is a whopping 2, but boat concessionaires bring groups out daily. I would highly recommend camping, but if you are going just for a day trip come prepared. There is no food, no trashcans (you must pack everything out with you), and no paved roads. We saw a couple people with sandals and baby strollers. I'm going to go out on a limb here, but they didn't look like they were having the best time.

Those that live in glass houses, though... We had one hell of a morning before we were even ON the island. Andrew- I'm speaking to you here. I promise to do my best to try to keep my head on straight before our next adventure. Because the scene was not pretty. There was a complete lack of sleep due to the boat company stressing how imperative it was to get to the boat an hour early (completely and laughably unnecessary- literally it wasn't even open yet), the harbor being 2 hours from our house, and going out for a big celebratory dinner for our 1st year wedding anniversary the evening before. To say we were a little bleary eyed would be a massive understatement. The boat ride was beautiful though and for about an hour we chased sea lions, dolphins, and a couple whales.



Once we were on land, we headed to set up our camp site and this photo just makes my heart happy. Andrew and I spent the day of our actual 1st year anniversary out on the island, so this photo will live in my heart. It is definitely a difference from what we were doing 365 days before.


Our main reason for going out was the hiking and it did not disappoint. I may be prejudiced, but since we had received some rain (basically a miracle) the week before, the island was stunningly green! I would absolutely recommend checking out this hiking guide. We did the 7.5 mile strenuous hike to Smugglers Cove backwards- meaning that instead of hiking down the really steep part, we hiked up. Oooops- I shouldn't be in charge of the map. 



This photo is for my mom. She gets upset if you just post pics of things and not people. Here you go, Janny!



Then the next morning after some delicious dehydrated food (THIS IS SARCASM, FOLKS), we headed to Potato Harbor. This hike had incredible ocean views and was much more of a moderate intensity level. We got adventurous though and had our lunch on a cliff overlooking the Pacific... won't lie, I was terrified the whole time. We were even able to spot a couple of blue whales off the coast- incredible.






 So a couple days letter, very sweaty and even more in love, that was the end of our Channel Island anniversary weekend.


Happy Thursday,
S