Friday, February 12, 2016

There and back

ahoy,

Tonight we made it back to cusco after Machu Picchu. The day after we landed, we made the journey to Machu Picchu. A woke up feeling better after a restless night for both of us (a symptom of the altitude). I was so relieved he was returning to normal. We descended to about 8,000 ft, which also helped. We sat on the train across from these 2 girls that had gone straight from the airport to Machu Picchu. Witnessing the state of those two had me glad we stayed the one day in cusco first. I think A would have been so much more miserable had we continued onto a 90 minute bus ride to a 90 minute train ride after flying for 24 hours. But then I'm also not sure if staying at 11000 was wise either. It could have gone really wrong. I do not approach the state of A's health with as much hubris. But we were both able to enjoy the ride and views a lot, and we were both happy that he was not miserable anymore.

We arrived to a tree hotel, which I would definitely recommend. After wandering around and seeing pretty much all of Aguascalientes, we found food in a typical tourist restaurant. This little town is so interesting to me. Everyone in that town was pretty much on the same journey as us. You arrive one day, tuck in early to wake up early and hike around Machu Picchu the next day, and then you're out of there back to cusco. Every single person visiting that place, was in the same boat as us. People have done the trip, and people will continue to do so. Everyday the trains bring in hoards of people to go on this same pilgrimage. Same routine. Same steps.

We woke up at 4:30 AM. And the hotel delivered breakfast to our room. Our room had a great view of some rocks, and the sounds of the raging river. Seriously, I've never seen a river rage so hard. It was rainy and dark as we stumbled to join the crowds boarding the buses up. A almost went on this trip with his regular sneakers that are not at all waterproof. At my behest, we found boots in Chicago literally the day before we left. Life with me is a life of nagging. Very practical nagging, as we stepped into the ruins with his feet dry despite the downpour. It was incredibly overcast. Visibility was low, but I liked it. There's a spooky glow to places when it's foggy. Unfortunately for us we had timed entry tickets to Wayna Picchu, the next peak over from mp, in the morning when it was still overcast, so we were not able to see anything when we were at the top. But it's the journey, right?

We hiked around the ruins a bunch more as the skies cleared up. I was pretty exhausted after our hike up Wayna Picchu, but we trudged on. That place is no joke. It is just never ending and thoroughly spectacular. I definitely need to read up on some more context. There were lots of llamas, at one point they were in our path and we waited for them to clear out before we could continue. The place got thoroughly crowded. February is supposedly the low season, so I can't imagine how crazy this would be during peak season.

We went back down around 1pm and hung around the hotel until it was almost time to board our train. We got a pizza to go which was the strangest rendition of pizza I have ever had. All the restaurants seem to sell the same foods for tourists. Pizza is everywhere, and I don't think anyone knows how to make it. We made it back to cusco same way we got there, seemingly the same way everyone gets there.

Happy to not be in a hurry to anywhere tomorrow.

habitually elevated,
jt


Wednesday, February 10, 2016

South America for the first time

Ahoy,

Today we landed in cusco, after nearly 24 hours of travel. There were and continue to be points where I question whether we should have gone on this trip. The flights and connections were incredibly exhausting. This is definitely not for the weak of heart. We landed in Lima at about midnight and our flight wasn't until 4am. It seemed pretty commonplace though because everyone was sleeping at the airport.

We got to our hotel and slept for about 5-6 hours. I was initially concerned about the altitude, but I awoke feeling fine. Cusco is at 11,000+ feet above sea level. I was initially a lot more concerned about A in the altitude and he was less so. Hubris. After discovering his adverse reaction to the altitude in mammoth a few weeks ago, I really started to panic internally. He brushed it off. Hubris. It hit him hard today. He stayed at the hotel while I went out. When he did go out, after walking for a bit he upchucked in the street. That stuff projected like I had never seen. S*** gets real at high altitude when your travel companion is yakking in the street. Hubris spilled out of his body. Hubris haunts his dreams as he sleeps right now. As for me, I'm pretty okay physically. My appetite is way lower than normal, but other than that I have nothing to report.

Tomorrow we'll go down in elevation to about 8000 feet at Machu Picchu. I hope he feels better and that he can acclimatize because we will be back to cusco for the tale end of our trip.

It just pains me to see him like this and I question whether we should be here and whether we will do something like this ever again.

despondently awry,
jt

Thursday, January 28, 2016

best friends

Ahoy,

Perhaps I'm being forward. It seems like every time I get to hang out with O & H I like them more and more, even though I thought that that wasn't possible because I liked them so much initially. They are friends I very gladly would spend every new year's with. And I'm so happy that I got to hang out with them this year to celebrate. I think I will never ever get enough time with these folks. They will get sick of me.

We scooped them up from the airport and picked up sandwiches at our corner deli to enjoy at an art museum. It was still holiday break so the tram up was super duper crowded and we opted to walk up. H says "if you've got 2 working legs and a heartbeat." Go figure that walking up is an option! We picnicked and wandered around for a little bit before driving out towards Arcadia to meet her family. We had to stop at the grocery and pick a case of mangoes and 9 coconuts, of course. When in Rome. Also, boba.

We learned that the Rose Parade is a multi-day endeavor. H's family had started setting out their spot at 7am! We joined in the evening with dinner to hang out and wait some more for the parade the following day. This is quite the extravaganza. Families were sleeping and playing out there. As a child, my parents never really let us out for parades. And they never bothered with parades. The only one that I ever knew of was Chinese New Year Parade, which was always in the dead of winter. So I had no chance of standing outside idly anywhere for any reason. It was an interesting experience to be a part of this family tradition. H's family was incredibly kind and welcoming despite my sorry state of health. It was so nice of them to invite us to join on their family tradition. It's always fun to see what other families are like, because there are just so many varieties.

There are some staples that we try to hit with these VIPs, Muji and omusubis and of course tons and tons of coffee. And we got double scoops of ice cream for $1. What a steal! The last full day with O & H had the pretense of an easy and "chill" day. I think everyone was ready for that, probably me most of all. We started with a late brunch across the street, went on a short hike, and ate some more at lemonade. We finally made it into sushi for dinner. The previous evening there was a 3 hour long wait and we tried our luck again and got a 1 hour wait. Yahtzee!

I can't wait to see O & H again. They are great friends to have.

lovingly delectable,
jt


Tuesday, January 19, 2016

home for the holidays!

Ahoy,

This was probably the first time I was in Chicago for Christmas in a handful of years. And it was the first time my dad was home ever for this holiday. After what I assume was a successful and arduous run at a pretty popular and long-standing restaurant in Chinatown, they sold it. So my dad for the first time in his life has had time to do things that he wants to do. Mostly watch old Chinese war movies. I deemed this year necessary for us to be in Chicago.

Also, we drove the car from Chicago to LA. So we went car shopping with my folks wherein they very casually purchased a subaru forrester because they did not mind the look and size. A and I made the 2000+ mile trip from Chicago departing the day after Christmas. We loaded the car with snacks and beverages and buckled in for the first stretch from Chicago straight to Denver. There is nothing to look at and no reason to stop in the Midwest, so we deemed it wise to just go the 15 hours straight to the Rockies in one leg. We left around 7:30am and made it in around 9:30pm thanks to a new time zone! Fortunately, this would be the halfway mark leaving us more time in Utah to check out some national parks.

The second day started with a 5 hour drive to Arches National Park. There were more people waiting to get in than I thought, but I'm sure less crowded than a non-winter day. We made the rounds in 3 hours despite warnings of icy roads and trails. Weather warnings be damned! We are going to see some arches! They were super cool. A told me later he was most excited for this park. We'll definitely have to come back. We scrapped the idea of checking out Canyonlands, and made a beeline for our hotel right outside Capitol Reef National Park. What was supposed to be a 2.5 hour trip ended up taking about an hour longer because we missed the initial exit and A drove like a grandma. In his inexperience of winter driving, he thought the car would stop working. We ended up on this incredibly windy, icy road for about an hour, wherein we saw one other car quickly pass us and a rabbit. The temperature dipped to -10 and A continued to drive like a grandma because he thought it was so cold that the car would just stop running or we would run off the ice. Painfully slow. We arrived to the hotel to find out all the businesses close at 8 this time of year so we could not get dinner. I was a grumpy human that night. A was happy to have made it alive to a heated hotel room.

The next day we drove through Capitol Reef in about an hour and continued our journey to Zion. We decided to scrap the trip to Bryce because A was afraid of the ice. He was over the whole winter thing. We ended up with 3 hours in Zion, which was a perfect taster also to get in a couple short hikes on icy trails. I would guess he was the most impressed with Zion. I think he had lower expectations, but immediately he mentioned regretting our decision to cancel Zion earlier that year now seeing what he missed. Zion is a gorgeous, breathtaking, incredible piece of American terrain. Also, it looks a lot like California Adventure. Ironic. We will definitely be back.

We zipped over to Vegas that evening driving through some dramatic canyons and cliffs. So much more scenic than the Midwest, it's amazing all the different landscapes there are! We decided to get dinner at a restaurant on the strip and I immediately regretted my decision. The contrast of the Vegas scene and tourist to a National Park ecology is jarring to say the least. We were so happy to just do nothing in our hotel room that night.

The following day would be a drive we were thoroughly familiar with - Vegas to LA direct. At last we were home! I can't say that I was ready to ring in the new year, but we would be rounding that corner regardless. And I know I always look forward to seeing O & H!

rarely over-looked,
jt

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

adventures from last year

Ahoy,

I think I should update this adventure log before I forget what things we did. Pictures will have to come later because this sd card reader is faulty right now.

The holiday season started off with a jump back in December. The RRS had some gift cards that was gifted to us for a stay at a b&b in Carmel. I took this opportunity to expand the trip with a stops in Morro Bay and Big Sur. We took the iconic highway 1 up the coast in his little sportscar. He loved it. We departed on a Friday afternoon and made it to Morro Bay in time for dinner at our favorite place for oysters. The hotel was run by an Indian family - likely the only "ethnic" people for a while - and the lobby smelled delightfully of Indian spices. We had parked outside this exact hotel on other day trips to this tiny town.

In the morning, we picked up a baguette and coffee before hitting the road up the PCH to Big Sur. That baguette was so good. We should have gotten 2. The day before and day after would be overcast and rainy, but it happened to be bright and clear the day of our trip. We got to ride with the top down and it was before the holiday season and winter, so there wasn't a lot of traffic to get stuck behind. He had a great time zooming along the winding roads and every corner another reveal of dramatic cliffs into a vast ocean. Lunch was a picnic with a sweeping view over the ocean from the hike to McWay Falls. One of those moments where you can't believe the beauty of nature, and the fact that you are enjoying it. What an honor to be alive, to have a heartbeat and 2 working legs. We made in to our campsite with pretty good time - enough to set up our tiny home for the evening and to go on a hike to a waterfall. A fire happened pretty easily despite everything being quite wet. It was a nice night to be among the trees.

We awoke early to a light misting. Yesterday's weather was long gone. Our trip up to Carmel continued to whisper weather at us. There's a dusting of magic to witness the wilderness in natural elements. I feel in many ways honored to feel the dampness of bark and drops of water on my bones as we swept through the once "vast, unexplored, and impenetrable" coast. By the time we got to Monterey, it was raining pitchforks. We went hog wild at a bakery and sought refuge at the aquarium. His boss also gave us passes so we spent our time seeking out the exhibits we liked because we had both been there before.

We checked in to the b&b that afternoon. It had a fireplace and was so cozy. A's boss joked with him that taking me to a b&b would ruin my taste for camping, because it was what happened with him and his wife. But I jested that that would more likely happen with A's taste because he has never cared for the cold or wet. We wandered around Carmel before tucking into some French food. French is always our go-to for when we feel fancy, which is him more often than me. We all know that he's the fancy one.

We took the 101 back down to LA the next day in one straight shot. It was delightful. To go camping in December! For all the flack I give this place... to be able to go camping in December!

greatly humbled,
jt

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

you heard it here first

Ahoy,

I vow to never go to a club ever again. That is not something I need in my life. Traumatizing is probably the most succinct word I can think of to describe the experience.

I went out to Vegas with some other friends to go to a bachelorette party. We went climbing in the day which was fun for me. Too bad it ended at a club.

anticipatingly awful,
jt

Thursday, November 5, 2015

second brain

Ahoy,

How our conversations go sometimes:

me: Just like that other time... x y z happened...
him: No, that didn't happen. I don't recall.
me: yes, it did. You remember... details m n and o was going on...
him: ohhhhh, yea, yea x y z did happen.

I serve as his external storage. This is how a lot of conversations go. I wonder how they will go when we get old.

bashedly awry,
jt

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

quiet on the homefront

Ahoy,

There hasn't been much happening lately. A and I went to an Ocktoberfest thinger at the Alpine Village in Torrance. It was not what we expected. There was a stage with some singers and stein holding competitions. It was amusing. There was not nearly as much beer as I thought, or food. The highlight was probably getting vehicular gummies at the German grocery store. They were delicious.

A got a motorcycle. We made a trip to the store to pick up security implementation and I'm pretty sure at some point in that visit he had one of everything in his hand. Security is no joke when it comes to his new girlfriend.

We went to a ballet at my request. A said he liked it more than he thought he would. Isn't that always the case with things I pick to do.

We made another trip to ikea at some point. It's always a challenge because we have limited space in his auto, so I end up riding home with a lot of stuff in my lap. It's a precarious journey.

I've lately added some broccoli and cauliflower to my garden, and it's been quite the struggle keeping the hornworms from eating all of it. This is a long war, and probably unending. I must remain vigilant.

I really miss weather. It's been so hot all summer. I'm so sick of it. I'm ready to feel the bite of a chilly day. I remember stepping into the shower in Chicago winters and having my limbs stinging for a while under the warm water because they were cold before I entered. I kind of miss that sensation. Of feeling the warmth and comfort of a hot shower, getting into cozy pajamas, and tucking into a cozy bed I had to wiggle around in to warm up. I am so over this feeling of having to constantly peel off the layers, and being sticky from sunscreen and sweat. Over it!

delectably munched,
jt

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

to the south

Ahoy!

Another milestone for me this year is going to the south! Although some folks argue Texas is a whole other category for the south - it's Texas - it's quite possibly the closest I've been at this point in my life. We stayed with friends that say "y'all," who were incredibly kind and accommodating. Our initial goal was to meet up with our cruise director - our favorite Jewish Texan, currently in Seattle. You may know him from other appearances on this soapbox. We love him! And we love his friends! Their house is hugenormous. Although I could never imagine myself in such a house, I do appreciate the hospitality of others who have such gargantuan homes.

Our first stop was for burgers and fries - the equivalent of in n' out in this neck of the woods. The burgers were good; I'm no burger connoisseur. But the fries were way better than in n' out. Now every time I munch on in n' out fries, I'll be thinking about P. Terry's fries. My fry world has been ruined. Austin is the hipster capitol of the south, and I totally believe it. We went to a hipster coffee shop and ate at a homey brunch place in a formerly sketchy neighborhood. Also, we ate at a Tex-Mex place that gave out huge portions, and an amazing bbq place. I prefer American/ Southern bbq over kbbq. Kbbq has never been my favorite. I never want to go, and dread when others request it. It's really out of peer pressure, but such is life. There is no force as strong as peer pressure! It was hotter than a brick over pizza there! We spent part of a day on the water canoeing. We went to where the bats are and we could hear them! Another day we spent at a brewery, and then we came home and A napped for probably more than 5 hours. I love this part because he started out the day really adamant about doing something athletic. Really, really adamant. And then he napped on the couch until dinner. Sometimes the brain wants one thing, but the body wants another.

Our last day we had time to walk around downtown Austin before our flight. We made it out early to try to beat the heat. We saw the Capitol, UT, and made it all the way to the flagship Whole Foods. It was pretty toasty by the time we were on our way to the airport, but we made it before the worse of it. Whew! There was a lot of downtime at the airport, but I was more than happy to be sitting inside.

We did a lot of fun things, and ate yummy food, but Austin was so incredibly toasty! I really thought it would be normal by September. I don't understand how anybody goes anywhere for more than half the year. It's amazing. I would not make it out there. I would not.

determinedly climate controlled,
jt

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

fried chicken party

Ahoy!

Some really good fried chicken from Hawkins in Watts! Totally worth the trip! I promise.