Wanderlust: Joshua Tree, CA “The Integratron”

No, it’s not the bad guy in Transformers. Nor a futuristic dinosaur. How do I explain what it is when I don’t even really know what I had experienced. Except that it was one of the most purely unique experiences that I have ever had. Intrigued?

Most people look at me crazy when I try to describe to them the experience that is the Integratron. It sounds kind of hokey with vortexes, alien landing strips, sound baths that massage the brain, cell rejuvenation of the human body. It’s unique to say the least.

“The Integratron is an acoustically perfect tabernacle and energy machine sited on a powerful geomagnetic vortex in the magical Mojave Desert.” – as stated on their website. Uh huh. What they said.

A small, white dome in the middle of the desert with perfect acoustics housed over a vortex of energy. Not knowing exactly what that meant, the 8 of us paid for a private sound bath session to experience all that is the Integratron. So, we got the tour by the women who currently own and run the place. We took off our shoes and climbed the ladder to the second floor where there were mats for each one of us. We stood in the center of the dome and the weirdest thing happened. Your voice was amplified and magnified in the center but only to yourself. To those around you it still sounded normal.

Then there was the Sound Bath.

Yes, I know that this might look all Heaven’s Gate cult-ish. But, we weren’t wearing purple Nikes or drinking the Kool-Aid. In fact, this is what the sound bath was all about. Everyone lies down, closes their eyes and tries to clear their mind. Then the sound bath begins. Joanne Karl, current owner of the Integratron plays the giant quart bowls and we are lulled into a sleepy meditative state where cell rejuvenation is suppose to occur. Each bowl corresponds to the different chakras of the body. When we got to the brain chakra bowl, oh man, if your brain could get a brain massage, this is how it is done. It was the most surreal, stimulating feeling I have ever felt that I can’t even begin to explain in words except that you must try it for yourself. Whether or not it rejuvenated my cells and healed my body it was a trippy 30-minutes to experience.

We spent the night at Joshua Tree Inn, where musicians of all ages and backgrounds come to find inspiration. Singer/songwriter Gram Parsons of The Byrds died of an overdose in Room 8. Lucky us got Room 9. Right next door to the old haunts of the musician himself. We had a little mishap with the door when we tried to open it after going out to visit the room the other half of our group was staying in. When I went to try to open the door, I unlocked it with a key. Once it was unlocked, I tried pushing the door open which was done a few times earlier in the evening without any effort. It felt as if someone was on the other side pushing against it. I had my brother try and with a little effort he was able to push it open. I walked in and the ceiling fans were spinning slowly. We didn’t turn them on before we had left. Then with a few more spins, they came to a complete stop on their own. Legend has it Parsons likes to pass the time playing practical jokes on Joshua Tree Inn’s guests.

This was the Giant Rock that George Van Tassel used as an airport for extraterrestrials. The rock cracked in half during the turn of the 21st century and revealed shiny granite inside.

Getting to the Giant Rock wasn’t easy. There are no paved roads. And no real directions and cell phone reception is spotty. On the side of the road where the Integratron sign sits, there is a makeshift sign on cardboard and black marker that says, “Giant Rock.” Trust it. The rock is the way the arrow points. Try to map it out on your GPS where you can to get a rough direction guide.

Afterwards, we hiked around the Joshua Tree rocks that looked like giant deer turd, then headed to a hiking trail we had passed on the way. There was promise of water on the trail which ended up being a slight trickling stream. It was a hot day so hiking was laborious. We sought out some hieroglyphs and then turned around.

On the way home, we made a pit stop at the Dinosaurs in Palm Springs just to complete the our random weekend getaway. Then we headed back home back to Earth and reality.

Integratron
2477 Belfield
Landers, CA 92285
Tel: 760.364.3126

Wanderlust: Honolulu, HI “Hawaiian Winter”

A destination wedding. Romantic bliss, union of close friends and of course a good excuse to go on vacation. So, when the wedding invitation came from Hapa Hipster, I immediately marked it in my calendar and started putting away for my winter Hawaiian vacation because who needs a better excuse than a wedding to travel. Not only do you get to witness one of the most beautiful moments of your friends’ lives but you get to visit a new place all in one trip.

The wedding was being sponsored by a military personnel at the Hale Koa, military-only hotel, because the bride used to work for the military. The rest of the wedding party stayed either at the Ilikai Hotel and Suites or The Modern, which were right next door to each other.

Angelaishere and I decided to make a little mini vacation out of it and extended the weekend wedding to a week-long winter getaway, 7 glorious days of tropical beauty in the middle of winter.

Here are some highlights from the trip. The food part of the trip will be their own individual posts since there was so much to eat and I would hardly do it justice trying to cram it all into one entry.

Ilikai Hotel

Our balcony at the Ilikai gave us a picturesque, bird’s eye view of Honolulu.

North Shore During the Billabong Pipemasters

We decided to rent a car and drive up to the North Shore for the Billabong Pipemasters. Luckily for us the swells were the biggest they had been all week.

Mr. Masumoto

A trip to the North Shore is not complete without a pit stop at Matsumoto Shave Ice in Haleiwa, where we got to meet Mr. Stanley Matsumoto.

Kailua Beach State Park

We took a bus to Kailua Beach State Park to visit the beach that the locals go to in an effort to get away from all the tourists in Honolulu. We definitely found a more pristine beach, a lot less people and no tall condos overshadowing.

Tricia and Anthony Wedding

The beautiful couple getting married at the Hale Koa hotel.

Fun with Moustaches

Photobooth time! Fun with stunner shades and moustaches.

Poke with Strangers

On our bike ride adventure, we went looking for the best poke in town at Ono’s. Unfortunately, the day we went was the one day they were randomly closed. A local pulled into the parking lot looking for Ono’s poke as well. Sharing in our disappointment, he offered to take us and our bikes in his truck up the hill to Fort Ruger Market, his second favorite place to get poke. I don’t know what compelled us to get into a stranger’s truck, besides the promise of good poke, but locals are all so friendly and nice, I have a hard time thinking anything bad happens in Hawaii. We ended up driving up to the entrance of Diamond Head and had our lunch on a scenic overlook.

The sunsets in Hawaii are different than in Los Angeles. There’s something surreal knowing that you are in the middle of the ocean on this little piece of volcanic land.

The way of life is just different there too. Life is enjoyed not rushed through. The relaxed attitude and friendly demeanor makes it feel like you are home away from home.

Wanderlust: Long Beach, CA “Reggae Boat Party”

Once upon a time there was a Living Social deal online that advertised a taste of the tropics on the Reggae Boat Party from 12:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. every Sunday afternoon from June to September where we could throw all our cares overboard and enjoy the ocean’s tunes without getting pulled under by the price.

We couldn’t pass on those promises of a sunset dream at just $14 a pop but we found it rather difficult trying to schedule 4 different people’s schedules with a very unresponsive vendor. After leaving multiple messages we were finally able to book one of the few remaining available dates, the the anniversary of 9/11.

The tragic anniversary proved to be a beautiful 75 degree day despite the gloomy undertones. We hightailed it to the LB Marina after a late start and after some hassle finding parking because of the anniversary celebrations we were on our way to the tropics. Well, not really as we found out from the captain that the boat never leaves the marina.

Reggae Boat Party

After getting our drink ticket redeemed we examine the rest of the people that we would be sharing the small boat space with for the next three hours. Upon initial survey, it looked  like there was a paper company party with all the name tags and hodgepodge of middle-aged, quirky characters. The rest of the boat was sprinkled with a few younger people who were duped into buying the Living Social as well. There were also real reggae aficionados in the mix and then there was the cast of the Jersey Shore wannabes hooched up for a Sunday afternoon boat ride. I swear the girl did not have underwear on. But, the funniest part of all this was the family of Chinese tourists that included an elderly grandma who spent most of the boat ride asleep on the couches by the bar.

There was a live reggae band which was pretty cool. Though they played reggae music from a CD more than the band actually played.  The website had advertised that there was food available for purchase but the only thing for sale was Domino’s pizza and wings and potato chips. Nothing veggie-friendly.

So, we were starving and bored and the only thing that we wanted to do was get off the boat as soon as possible so that we could get some grub. Three hours never went by so slow.

But, we made the best of it and enjoyed some time on the water in perfect southern California weather and remembered all those who lost their lives 10 years ago on this day.

Wanderlust: Providence, RI “Discovering Providence”

Utilizing the company mandated spring holiday on Friday, I decided that I would add on an additional  vacation day to spend the long weekend on the East Coast visiting my friend Nora, who currently is a culinary school student at Johnson and Wales in Providence, Rhode Island.

Knowing that Nora is a fellow lover of food, I knew what this trip was going to mostly be based around. And that I would probably go home 10lbs heavier than when I came.  So, I decided that I would put my non-dairy, mostly veggie, healthy diet on hold and “cheat” for the weekend.  I mean, after all, when in Rome…

I take the red-eye from LA to Boston and get in at 5:20am.  Bless Nora’s heart to get up in the pitch black pre-morning dawn to come get me all the way from Providence.  The flight coming in was a little windy so I felt the nausea creeping up during preparation for landing.  Initially we were going to take Boston by storm right after my pick-up, i.e. pit stop at Mike’s pastry for cannolis, Newbury Street for untaxed shopping and Harvard Square for preppie boys scoping.  But, I wasn’t feeling so good and thought a nap and shower would do me some good so we head back to Providence to Nora’s apartment.

Newport mansions Cliff Walk

Nora’s apartment is a newly refurbished old mill transformed into loft-type accommodations for the younger crowd looking for a unique living space.  Her loft was nicely-sized with high ceilings and mill windows that let in a lot of natural daylight.  A few moments after I get to her apartment I pass out on her fluffy rugged living room floor cuddling her space heater for warmth.

A few hours later post nap and shower I still feel a little groggy but re-energized enough to go explore Rhode Island.  I first thing I learn is that it doesn’t take long to get anywhere in the state and that the entire state population is about 1 million.  I think LA alone is about 12 million.

The Duck and Bunny Snuggery is “a cozy and comfortable place…a place where you will remember to forget….(huh?)” as printed on their menu.  From the outside, it is an unassuming residential clapboard house on Wickenden, but once through the narrow front door you enter the house to an Anna Sui inspired dining rooms serving gourmet crepes, random eclectic fare, tea time and cupcakes.

Inside Duck and Bunny

Nora ordered The Tiny Evans which is an egg cup with mushrooms, shallots, tarragon, topped with baked egg, gruyere and cream. I ordered the The Dougie Boy which is smoked salmon purses, capers, dill, green onion and creame fraiche in an herb crepe. We split the Truffled Pomme Frites, handcut potatoes, crisped, topped with Naragansett creamery’s Atwell’s Gold and drizzled with white truffle oil, salt and pepper. Delish. I topped off the meal with a Coconut Truffle Black Tea.

The Dougie and Truffled Pomme Frites

Cold Fusion Gelato in Newport is handmade artisan gelato family owned and operated by the Kopfer family. The gelato is handmade fresh every day using all-natural ingredients. I was in a fruity mood and went with the raspberry and lemon sorbet. Perfect amount of sweet and tart for a refreshing thirst quench and nice afternoon sugar pick-me-up.

Raspberry and lemon sorbet

Pastiche Fine Desserts Café on Spruce in Providence is full of decadent desserts. We took home a slice of the fresh fruit tart, fresh lime mousse tart and banana cream tart. The fresh fruit tart was not overly sugary. The lime mousse tart was refreshing and the banana cream was like eating air, a good balance of cream and vanilla custard.

Pastiche goodness

I think I just ate my way through Rhode Island.

Wanderlust: Ambergris Caye, Belize “My Belizean Paradise”

Day 1 First day in Belize.  It’s amazingly gorgeous here.  The water is turquoise and the way of life here is just so relaxed.  I badly needed this.  The past 2 months I’ve been suffering from what I now know is inflammation.  And a very painful one at that.  In one week, I saw a rheumatologist, a gastroenterologist, a neurophysiologist, an opthamologist, a retina specialist, and got vials of blood drawn, a chest CT scan, pins poked and electrical pulses zapped through my muscles, eyes dilated twice, an eye angiogram with dye contrast and many flash photographs taken of the inside of my eye.  All this within 7 days.  Least to say, I’ve had quite the busy week. So flash forward to me sitting on a pier with nothing but turquoise blue waters surrounding me is pure and utter tranquility.  I love it. I don’t want to leave.  Because of my hypothyroidism and anemia, I started levothyroxine, a thyroid medication on Monday and Thursday night I started a steroid immunosuppressant, prednisone.  It has worked wonders.  No muscles pains, no joint pain, no fatigue and euphoria is one of the drugs side effects. I’m not ready to give up without a good fight.  I will win this and I will get my full vision back on top of my good health! Day 2 Woke up in ultimate paradise.  I left my heavy thoughts behind and woke up free as a bird without a care in the world.  My inflammation has gone away though I still have blurry spots in my right eye.  I had breakfast at the hotel.  Fresh fruit – watermelon, pineapple, and papaya with toast, eggs and orange juice.  Then Fern and I caught the resort boat into town and we rented a golf cart to drive around the island.  We shopped for a bathing suit for Fern and for lunch I had my very first conch burrito.  I loved it!  I have to have it again before I leave.  Conch has a chewy texture reminiscent of octopus.  We stopped for snacks at a local market because markets are my favorite things to visit when traveling. I’m not the sick girl here.  Just one who was in need of a vacation.  My soul feels rested.  I feel rejuvenated and relaxed and stress-free.

Day 3 Woke up naturally at 7am to the bright sun shining through my floor to ceiling window that opened out to the white sand beach.  Had the same breakfast at the hotel and spent the morning under a thatched roof cabana in a lounge chair with books, journal and snacks just being at peace.  The tropical breeze is like a lullaby.  Boats fly by every so often driving up and down the coast of the island.  Later, ventured out to a neighboring resort, Costa Maya, where a man named Bigs we met at the airport works.  The walk was about 15 minutes along the shore.  Bigs had the server bring us traditional Belizean food because we didn’t want anything from the tourist menu.  Fern had a pan-friend tilapia and I had coconut shrimp with rice and beans.   Came back to my hammock and lost myself in the sway of the ocean breeze. Day 4 Slept in this morning.  Bananas were in the breakfast fruit plate mix today.  After breakfast we went swimming off the dock.  I touched a starfish and swam with the fishes.  Fern jumped off the dock.  We laid out and took a nap on the dock’s lounge chairs after swimming.  We went back to our rooms to shower and before the boat left for town.  We were famished.  This time, in addition, to the conch burritos that I so thoroughly enjoyed, I also found rock crab pupusas while walking around town.  We sat at the local park and watched the kids play and fishermen bring in their catches for the day.  We stopped at a bakery to get some sweets for later.  We caught the last boat ride back and it was only 6:30pm but in the middle of the ocean it was already pitch black.  The speed boat bounced up and down on the waves in the abyss.

Day 5 I still wake up and run to the window to make sure that I’m not dreaming.  Yup.  It’s still paradise.  And I’m here.  Enjoying every second of it.  Of being alive.  One more day.  Sitting in my hammock with my journal and book and Belizean pound cake.  The tropical island breeze soothes my senses.  There are all these honeymooning couples here.  Makes me wonder if I’ll ever have honeymoon.  I can’t really even begin to imagine it.  Maybe one day. This trip was to clear my head so that I could re-evaluate what I want out of life. Mortality struck me the other day.  The day I realized I wasn’t going to live forever. We did a night out on the town after kayaking and conch collecting.  We had dinner at Fido’s, a beach bar restaurant that seemed popular with the locals as well as tourists.  Still obsessed with conch I ordered the conch fritters, which were amazing.  These crispy, doughy balls of flavor infused with bits of conch.  We finished the night with a chicken drop bingo game of sorts that brought out a crowd and then ended up at ladies night at bar called Wet Willy’s.  I enjoyed myself for the first time in a long time and was beginning to start feeling like myself again.

Day 7 Last day in Belize.  I have to say relaxation was a success.  I don’t think I can get more relaxed than I am right now.  Tomorrow I get on a plane and fly back to reality.  But, I’m ready to face everything.  I needed this trip more than anything.  And I truly believe it was timed to help get me through everything and to garner me the strength to face what is to come.  I feel healed and can fight this and everything else that comes my way. Sometimes you have to wonder if coincidences are really unexpected or are they timed with utter precision in this big, grand plan called life.

Wanderlust: San Francisco, CA “I Heart SF”

After a rough couple of weeks I randomly bought a ticket to come up to SF to see my good friend from elementary school and her husband in their new place. They were having a housewarming and I thought what better reason. I missed my 7:25am flight because I got to the airport at 7am and still needed to park and shuttle it from Lot C. The security line was minuscule and I was pretty sure I was going to make it. I’m used to being the last person to board the plane so it was no big deal. But, going through security I realized I didn’t know my gate number. So, it took me a few minutes to find a schedule board and start walking in that direction. I got to the gate and they had just barely shut the doors. The gate attendant said it was too late and that I had to go to the service desk to rebook my ticket. The available flight out was 9:45 with 16 open seats so attendant behind the desk said she’d put me on stand-by so I wouldn’t get charged. I had two hours to kill. I sat for a little bit, when to get some breakfast and decided to write and people watch.

They picked me up from the airport and we ran some errands to get ready for the party. Then we had some major food preparation to do. I ended up chopping watermelon for the arugula salad and making the hamburger patties for the grill. Someone brought these amazing French Macarons from La Boulange Bakery. Amazing. We went to a party after the housewarming party, met a ex-pro football player who was going to cooking school and then to a bar in Haight Ashbury. Today we went to a nursery and bought a rubber plant for the place (makes me want greens in my new place),shopped at the Alemany flea market, ate brunch at Kate’s Kitchen where I had the organic strawberries and bananas French toast. Their new couch got delivered. There home is becoming a home. People in SF are way more interesting than people in LA. LA is so predictable. Same conversations. And it always reverts back to them. I can’t wait to move into my new place and redecorate. I want plants, to grow herbs, paint more, buy a keyboard and learn piano, streamline the clutter, get rid of junk, simplify, simplify, simplify.

Wanderlust: Lima, Puno, Aguas Caliente, Macchu Picchu, Per “My Daring Peruvian Adventure”

Friday August 21
Copa Airlines Seat 17F
LAX to Panama City, Panama City to Lima
A little exhausted it’s now 2am and I’ve had the longest week ever. One of my WIT goals is to blog more so I will start with this trip. Lately, I haven’t done much internal dialoging. These stories aren’t going to write themselves. Nine whole days away from it all. Now work. Just adventure lying ahead of me. I’m beyond excited to experience a new county and it’s culture. I’ve always wanted to do this visit and experience Machu Picchu and now I can cross it off the list=)

Saturday August 22
Made it to Lima! Having dinner overlooking the ocean at Vista Al Mar. Eating Jalea Real. It’s gorgeous and peaceful and barely anyone speaks English. Feeling entirely out of my element and I love it. We walked around the Largo Mall in Miraflores. Our waiter at dinner tried desperately to convince us to come out dancing with him. It was cute. If we weren’t so tired we’d probably could have gone. I thoroughly enjoy the language barrier. We then, after a really long dinner, went to the Metro supermarket. I love markets abroad. Miraflores is an upscale beach town. We ran into a really nice police officer who showed us the way to the market. I’m getting used to the little Spanish I know. Then we went to the Internet cafe to check in with family.

Sunday August 23
LAN Airlines 11:35am flight to Puno via Cusco
Woke up this morning and had a very American-friendly continental breakfast complete with loud obnoxious American tourists talking about visiting the “shantytowns”. Sometimes I like to claim my Thai nationality. Our driver came to pick us up at 10am to take us to the airport. Driving through Lima random children would jump out in front of the car and perform tricks like juggling oranges and doing acrobatics for money. Lima looks like a shell of a town. Buildings were half finished. Seems like there’s a huge renovation project in the making. Miraflores seems to be the Santa Monica to Lima’s Downtown LA. Large discrepancy between rich and poor. Arrived in Juliaca after a stop in Cusco. Four takeoffs and landings later. A taxi bus awaited our arrival. A local Incan woman sold some alpaca mittens/gloves/scarves. We took the really bumpy bus ride to Puno which took about 45 minutes. The altitude hit me almost immediately and I started seeing stars and my heart wouldn’t stop racing. They recommend going to Cusco first to acclimate. But we went straight to the highest point in Peru. The air is a little dry and dusty. Puno/Juliaca reminded me of City of God. Tomorrow our guide picks us up at 6:45am to take us on a boat tour of Uros and Taquiles Islands.

Monday August 24
Didn’t sleep a wink last night. Heart was pounding in head. Suffering badly from altitude sickness. My heart was racing. The bus came to pick us up at 6:45am. We took a boat to Uros Island where the people live on floating reed islands. I bought a wooden flute from one of the families. I was still feeling ill. Then we went to another island, Taquilles where we climbed the road to the top. We had a lunch of pan-fried trout. The lake was gorgeous. I skipped going out to dinner when we got back because i was still feeling sick. Holly and Fern brought me back quinoa soup.

Tues August 25
Woke up this morning not fully functioning. This altitude sickness thing is starting to scare me. I spent half of this morning in slow motion. I was hearing people but there was a slight delay. I kept bumping into things and my chest feels like it got punched and I have this dry cough. The bus came to pick us up at 7am to drop us off at the bus terminal where we were about to embark on an 8-hour bus ride. We stopped at an Incan museum and Inca city and then a restaurant in the Andes. We finally made it to Cusco and it started to rain with the sun still shining. Our guide picked us up and took us to Samay Hotel. We had a dinner show at Don Antonio where they showcased traditional folkloric dance. I tried the traditional foods of guinea pig and alpaca. It wasn’t bad. We walked back to the hotel where I befriended a stray dog I named Barney. I fed him some water and he decided to walk us home the entire way.

Wednesday August 26
Woke up with pretty bad chest pains. Hard to sleep night prior. My pounding headaches seems to come and go but is now all concentrated in chest pains. I was okay sitting up but the minute I laid down it would be sharp shooting pains. We had a tour of the city at 1pm. We went to breakfast, paid our tour balance and I went back to bed till about noon. We grabbed some soup from a nearby restaurant. We went to the Quoricancha (Temple of the Sun), a pretty cathedral, some other ruins. When we got to Saxywaman the skies just dropped hail. It was awesome. We ran to the bus and then we drove to another Incan site. But, it was a 10-minute walk and I was short of breath and the sharp chest pains and overall feeling of fatigue. We came back to the hotel and passed out and woke up hungry and ordered pizza. I still had pretty bad chest pains and couldn’t sleep lying down. Fern called the front desk and the were going to call a doctor. I said no because I wasn’t sure what they would give me. I was scared. I’ve never had this kind of pain before. I didn’t sleep much that night either.

Thursday August 27
We checked out early and took a taxi bus to the train station for a 7:45am train trip from Poroy to Aguas Calientes. Perurail trip took 3 hours and ran along the Ollaytambo River. It was so picturesque and unbelievably awe-inspiring that even though I didn’t get much sleep I remained awake and excited for the next bend. The valley was just surrounded by thise grandiose mountains. We saw where the Incan Trail started and all the brave souls who were about to embark on a 3,4,5 day hike to Macchu Picchu. We arrived at Aguas Calientes around 11:30am. A hotel rep picked us up and walked us to the hotel. No taxis in AG. The buses to Macchu Picchu took off from the train depot. Our hotel room, Santaurio, had a balcony overlooking the river. We sat for awhile just taking it all in. And as much pain I was still in I couldn’t help but start to forget and start feeling healed. Maybe by the magic of the mountains? Something definitely happened. I was starting to feel better by the second. Hector our tour guide came to brief us before our MP trek.

Friday August 28
Hector came to pick us up bright and early at 6am sharp. I slept well for the first time since being in Peru. I still had slight chest pains but it didn’t wake me up. My hands were tight when I woke up and getting out of bed I felt like a senior citizen with cracking knees and back. We walked to the bus stop where there was already a line and several buses had already left and returning for another load. The roads were tight and the bus drivers drove without caution. It was basically a one-way street so whenever another bus came down one of the two would have to slam on their breaks. It was like playing chicken. It took about 30 minutes to get to the top. We got there and it was still misty. It was perfect. We wanted to catch it before it all burned off. My energy level thrown in with a sense of adventure was coming back from the dead. I felt like I was being healed as I stayed on the top of MP. I secretly asked to be healed by the mysticism surrounding the mountains. And it worked! MP healed me. The longer I stayed the less my chest hurt and it got easier to breath. I still think I need to get checked out. I might have gotten bronchitis. The days in Puno feel distant and like a dream. I wasn’t fully coherent for it. Cloudiness filled my head. Memories are foggy. MP is basically indescribable. You have to see it for yourself to experience it. There’s nothing like it on Earth that I have experienced. I tried to capture it in photographs. It was beyond amazing and everything I hoped it would be. And magically I was resurrected from the living dead and was abounding with newfound energy. The best I’ve felt in awhile. We got done with our tour around 9am and headed back down. We were dropped off near our hotel because there was a blockade in the middle of the road. It turns out that a bus on the way up tipped over. The windows were shattered and it blocked the road from anymore buses from going up. We don’t know when it happened or if there were people on board. Hopefully everyone was okay and they got to make it to the top. Our train departed at 5pm. I was only on the train for a short while when the feeling of malaise returned. My chest tightened and I was in more pain than ever before. My breath was short and every one felt like someone punching me in the chest. I slept most of the way. Our guide was at the train station to pick us up and she suggested I go to the clinic. I said I would try to sleep it off and if it got worse I’d go in the morning.

Saturday August 29
I woke up better but still feeling like I got run over by a bus. My chest wasn’t as tight and I could breathe for the most part. Wasn’t 100% better but better than the night before. We slept in and didn’t have plans. I just wanted to go to the market to find gummy bears. At the market I became disoriented. Maybe from the heat, maybe from the crowd or physical exertion. I was hearing people but felt like I had a slight delay. I felt like my hearing was muted but all my other senses were super sharp. Like I was hypersensitive to people’s thoughts around me. It was too intense. I needed to escape and get back to the hotel room. I rested for the rest of the day and around 4pm we went to the artisan market for souvenirs. Then we went to a small house turned restaurant where I only had an appetite to keep down soup. We went back to the hotel to rest and pack. I took a shower and was starting to feel better.

Sunday August 30
Woke up great and abounding with energy. I was excited to feel better and to be heading home. 9 days is a long time to be traveling. We did a lot and it took a lot out of me. With the altitude sickness and all, I wanted more than anything just to get to sea level. I finished the last of my packing and went down for my last Peruvian breakfast. Overall, the trip was amazing. Once in a lifetime and even though I was in a lot of pain and misery for most of it, I don’t regret a single thing. Okay, maybe underestimating the altitude factor. It was a big dream of mine to see MP and now I have with my very own eyes and it has enlightened my soul and sense of adventure . Now, it’s time to return to the real world, where I’m actually excited to return to. Until the next adventure. Australia in November.

To be continued…

Wanderlust: Lake Tahoe, CA “4th of July in Tahoe”

Emilie’s dad has a cabin in Truckee that we decided to take advantage of for the long weekend. So, we headed up Thursday night and drove straight there.

The skies were so clear that all the constellations were visible. It was surreal to see the night sky the way it should be seen. We meet up Page and his friend Veronica the next day. We spent the morning driving around the lake, stopped at Harrah’s and then drove back to grill on the BBQ.

The next day we decided to go rafting on the Truckee river. We went to CVS to pick up inflatable boats and pumped them with air at the gas station. Then we threw the boats in the water and headed wherever the river was to take us. We ran into some rough waters and rocks and I was slammed into a concrete bridge pillar at one point. I started to hurt so I decided to hop out of the river and walk the rest of the way back to the car. We made dinner again that night and watched some movies.

It was a pleasant nature getaway. I felt completely refreshed going back well minus the bruises from rafting.

Wanderlust: Chicago, IL “30-Mile Bike Ride Chicago-Style”

Three-day weekends means time for flyaway travel. This time destination Chicago, the Windy City. I had never been and this year seemed to be the year of never-been’s. So, why not? Kristan J. lived there so she opened up her home to us. We saw most of what Chicago had to offer. Oprah’s house, Sears Towers, Hancock building, Millenium Park, fireworks at Navy Pier, deep dish pizza, and a 30-mile bike ride on Lake Shore Drive. It was a brief tour but we definitely came, saw and conquered. Veni, vedi, vici. I was pleasantly surprised by Chicago and would definitely go back for round two.

Wanderlust: Washington, DC “Cherry Blossoms in DC and Lost Luggage”

Having planned at least one trip for every month of 2009, it was April and cherry blossoms were in full bloom in DC. So, we thought it was a perfect time to fly out and pay Anna and Milo a visit.

We had some issues with connecting flights on Midwest Airlines and somehow they lost my luggage. I had nothing with me except my purse and the clothes on my back. Slightly inconvenienced there was nothing I could do so I tried to make the best out of it. Definitely annoying.

I had been to DC before so I skipped most of the monument hopping. I did enjoy the Spy Museum and spending time with Anna shopping for replacement items. It wasn’t the most memorable of all trips because I was half-preoccupied with trying to track down my luggage for most of the trip. But, it was still fun to be in DC during the cherry blossom bloom.

Still annoyed at my lost luggage though. I’m never flying Midwest Airlines again.