Eating Guinea Pig in Cusco, Peru

Guinea Pig for dinnerYes, we ate guinea pig in Cusco, Peru. It’s known as cuy, a popular Peruvian dish.  Josh and I had to try it. Even though it cliché to say, it really tasted like chicken.  While eating I tried to imagine farmers herding these cute and cuddly critters.  It didn’t bother me as much as I thought it would.  Must have been the Cusquena?

Cusquena Cervesa- Cheers!

Many visitors to Machu Picchu travel through Cusco and use the high elevation (over 11,000 ft above sea level) to acclimate before hiking the Inca Trail.  We took advantage of those days to explore the city as much as we could before our trek.

Hills of Cusco, Peru

The elaborate architecture around the city was breathtaking.  Cusco’s Cathedral in the main square is one good example.

Catedral de Cusco

We made sure to visit the famous Twelve-Angle Stone which demonstrates the Incas construction skills in carefully placing these massive stones.

Twelve-Angle Stone- count 'em!

The main square is home to plenty of good restaurants that have more than guinea pig on the menu.  We had delicious quinoa risotto, alpaca steaks, Andean cheese and more.

When we returned home we bought a huge bag of quinoa to make dishes that remind us of our visit.  They never turn out as good.  I guess we have to keep trying or just plan another trip back.  I like the idea of another trip back!

Plaza de Armas

Monkey Business in the Serengeti

Zebras and WildebeestsJust when we thought our day of safari in the Serengeti was over, we had one more unexpected encounter.

Josh and I entered our room at the Serengeti Lodge and immediately opened the windows to let in some fresh air.  We both headed to the bathroom to clean up and get ready for dinner.

Within seconds we heard a ruckus and some screeching.  Josh ran out to discover three monkeys were tearing up the place.  He yelled and chased them out the window.  These crafty monkeys were trying to claw their way back in!  After noticing our apples were missing, we checked our bags to make sure they didn’t take anything valuable.

Monkey Business

Our nerves finally settled down and then we saw it;  a sign on the back of the door warning us to not leave the room unattended with the windows open, even for a few seconds.

Thank goodness they only got away with our apples and not our passports.  I can only imagine a monkey trying cross the border pretending to be me!

Check out other pictures from our safari below.

Hippos

Serengeti sunset

Sun-Kissed in Cabo

Fun in the sun!Sun smooched is more like it!  The beach was relaxing, the water warm and it was just what we needed to bring in the New Year.  We headed south of the border to celebrate the holiday in Cabo San Lucas.

Cabo Sunset

Colorful pink and golden sunsets would finish off an extraordinary day of basking in the sun and time spent at the swim up bar.

Riu Sante Fe

We stayed at the Riu Sante Fe, an all-inclusive resort about a mile down the beach from downtown Cabo San Lucas.  I would highly recommend this place.  Everything from the food, drinks and staff were top-notch.

El Archo

One of the days we kayaked to El Archo and snorkeled in the bay.  The rock formations around the southernmost tip of the Baja Peninsula are beautiful and I definitely want to explore the area more the next time we visit.

southern tip of the Baja Penninsula

12 Memorable Moments from 2012

2012 was a year filled with plenty of memorable moments.  Climbing Mount Rainier was a highlight along with many others.  It’s hard to narrow them all down into one post so here are just a few.

1- Sleeping on Ingraham Glacier the night before our summit to the top of Mount Rainier

Mt Rainier- Ingraham Flats

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2- Kayaking to El Archo in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

El Archo

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3- Soaking in the sunshine on the beach at Steamboat Rock

Steamboat Rock

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4- Backpacking over Memorial Day Weekend in a remote part of Eastern Washington

Memorial Day Camping

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5- Lounging in the summertime with a cold beer at Owasco Lake, NY

Owasco Lake

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6- Seeing hundreds of starfish on a hike to Cape Alva on the Olympic Peninsula

Cape Alva

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7- Enjoying a sunny afternoon at Gasworks Park in Seattle, WA

Gasworks park

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8- Watching a sunset then roasting marshmallows by campfire at Golden Gardens Park

Golden Gardens Sunset

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9- Picking blueberries while enjoying the vibrant fall colors on Granite Mountain

Granite Mt

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10- Seeing several cotton fields on a road trip across North Carolina

Cotton Field

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11- Collecting seashells and watching dolphins swim by at Caladesi Island.

Caladesi Island, FL

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12- Relishing in the beauty of Palouse Falls in Southeastern Washington

Palouse Falls

Squeezing through Vancouver Island’s Caves

Jinger in the Cave

It’s hard to stay dry these days in the Northwest, so why not embrace it with a Wet & Wild Spelunking Adventure?  One soggy weekend we explored the Horne Lake Caves on Vancouver Island.  I wasn’t nervous exploring these caves until our petite tour guide, Carol warned us of some tight spots.  Tight spots?!  My 5’9 frame towered over her.  She must be no more than 100 lbs soaking wet!  If Carol has trouble getting through some of these caves, then I know I will.

Ladder in and out

Our guide led us through three of the many caves in the area; the Riverbend Cave, Main Cave and the Lower Cave.  All of the caves offered sights of delicate calcite formations also known as speleothems.  Some of which were called drapery, soda straws, mashed potatoes, popcorn and bacon strips.

Bacon?

There were a few that formed animal shapes like an alligator and this one below of a wolf guarding the entrance to the Riverbend cave.

Wolf guarding the entrance

Here’s one shaped like Buddha next to a reflection pool.

Buddha

If you want to go caving without a guide, the Main Cave is open to the public.  Make sure to take a helmet and headlamp for your own safety.  Carol pointed out one formation called the “can opener” which got the name after a one guy decided to venture into the caves without a helmet.  Needless to say that caver learned his lesson after nearly removing his scalp from the crown of his head. Yeowch!

A Night Under the Stars at Glacier Lake

camp at Glacier Lake

On a backpacking trip this summer we lucked out with an awesome spot to camp next to Glacier Lake.  About 5 and a half miles in from US 2, the lake created a completely serene setting for us to get away for the weekend.  The trail crossed Surprise Creek several times and wound through old growth forest filled with massive trees.

Old growth tree

In the middle of the night we woke to the sky bursting with bright stars.  We climbed out of our tent to soak in the view.  The Big Dipper was positioned perfectly at the edge of the lake with its mirrored image reflecting off the water.

Big Dipper Reflection

If you want to check this hike out, visit the WTA website.  You’ll have to wait a few months for summer and the snow to melt.

cool flower

Sea to Summit: Road Trip Across North Carolina

NC mapIt has been several years since I last visited North Carolina where I grew up.  Josh and I planned a road trip across the state before meeting up with my family for Thanksgiving.

We landed in Charlotte early one morning and headed for the coast.  On the way out, we stopped at the family farm for a visit with my uncle.  We wandered around the barn, the pony pen, our fishing hole and reminisced about the good old days.

Horses at the farm

After a few hours of catching up, we got back on the road for Wilmington.  We were ready for some relaxing days on the beach.  The weather forecast had other plans.  Even though it was soggy most of the time, it did not stop us from checking out downtown and Fort Fisher State Park.

Fort Fisher State Park

A couple of days later we hit the road towards Raleigh- Durham- Chapel Hill.  We took a side trip to the Cliffs of the Neuse State Park for a short hike.  The banks along the river were swampy with many cypress trees and their exposed knees.

Cliffs of the Neuse State Park

As we continued our drive west we passed countless cotton fields in full bloom.  It was so beautiful that we had to pull over and take a few pictures.

Cotton Field

We spent an evening in Chapel Hill and strolled along Franklin Street.  I was raised a Tar Heel fan so it was nice to see the UNC campus again.  We ended the day with a few pints and BBQ at the Carolina Brewery.

The next few days we spent with my family near Hickory for Thanksgiving.  It was great catching up with everyone and we ate more than our fair share of good southern food.

For Black Friday we avoided the shopping crowds and went to Mount Mitchell State Park to hike off the second helpings of turkey.  At 6,684 feet, Mount Mitchell is the highest peak east of the Mississippi River.  We opted for the 4-mile trail instead of driving all the way to the top.  Now we can check off another summit from our list.

us at the summit

Being the beer enthusiasts that we are, we had to squeeze in a day trip to Asheville.  We sampled beer from three breweries; LAB (aka Lexington Ave Brewery,) Asheville Brewery and French Broad Brewery.  Since we were close to Chimney Rock State Park, we headed over for another quick hike.

Chimney Rock

Four state parks and six breweries later we hopped back on the plane for home in Seattle.  We packed in as much as possible to make it a great trip and still had plenty of time for turkey, pie and visiting with the family.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Foreign in Boracay, Philippines

Golden sunsets, crystal blue waters and powdery white sand are part of why Boracay is paradise. This small island in the Philippines is less than 5 miles long with spectacular beaches, diving, night life and world class kiteboarding on Bulabog Beach.

Josh and I visited friends on the island to ring in the New Year of 2007. We stayed at the relaxing Blue Mango Inn on White Beach. Every morning we woke to the sounds of gentle waves crashing right outside our door.

We were a good stroll down the beach from D’Mall, where there is plenty of shopping, restaurants and bars. A cold San Mig Light brings back many memories from our trip.

Our friends ran the Blue Mango Dive Center and lead us on fantastic dives around the island. We saw reefs teeming with tropical fish, barrel sponges and vibrantly colored nudibranchs.

Whenever I hear the Armand TJ’s song “Bora Bora Boracay,” it transports me back to the island and tempts me to book my next trip.