The days are getting shorter and the mercury is falling. If you’re not a fan of outdoor winter activities (or even if you are!) and are looking for a fun, exciting thing to do on a cold day, indoor skydiving might be just the ticket. I had been wanting to try it, and when Groupon offered a deal for iFLY, I jumped on it and bought four, hoping my family would be on board with the idea. Luckily they were.
After watching an instructional video and getting suited up and ear plugged, we headed over to the wind tunnel. We learned how to enter the tunnel and the correct body position for staying “afloat”. The instructor stays with you in case you lose altitude, go too high, or are going to bump into the glass.
Driving in Peru is terrifying. And I’m not even talking about being the driver. Just being the passenger brings on cold sweats, elevated heart rate and even terror. Ricardo picked us up at 7:30 a.m. for our 4 hour drive down to Ica and we were looking forward to some down time. We were heading south to fly over the Nazca Lines and to dune buggy and sand board. After hiking the Inca Trail we were ready to have an easy day and a relaxing car ride. It became clear from the get go that this was going to be anything but relaxing.
Horns in Peru are used as frequently as the gas and brake pedals. “I’m coming over so you’d better get out of my way” and “You may think you’re coming over but I’m not getting out of your way” seem to be the two main sentiments horn usage conveys. Lane lines are merely a suggestion and interestingly, there seems to be no road rage, although we could tell when he strongly exhaled, that Ricardo was miffed. It was impossible to discern what exactly had annoyed him though, when there was chaos constantly.
Once we got out of the city we relaxed. We were on a two lane highway that meandered along the coast and it was beautiful. Suddenly my heart was in my throat. Ricardo was passing into oncoming traffic. We were still parallel to the truck we were passing and Ricardo wasn’t even leaning forward, like I do when I’m passing and see an oncoming car. As a head on became more and more imminent, I began chanting, “oh my God, oh my God, oh my God” and squeezing Brett’s leg harder and harder. Read More
Fifty yards remained. As our guide, Fredy, gathered us around for one last talk on our trek to Machu Picchu, I found myself verklempt. It had been an absolutely incredible three days. We had seen some of the most beautiful sights I’d ever seen and it also hadn’t been easy. We had hiked almost 28 miles over three mountain passes and there was one point on the assent of the second pass that I didn’t know how I was going to continue. My feet were so chewed up and I could feel a toenail coming off, but it’s amazing what you can do when you have no choice.
As we stood fifty yards away from the Sun Gate and our first view of Machu Picchu, I was overcome with gratitude. When Fredy had finished our last “family meeting”, I walked to the Sun Gate alone in my thoughts with tears streaming down my face. Gratitude is a very powerful and wonderful thing.
The Inca story is fascinating and incredible and ultimately, very sad. Their culture thrived for hundreds of years in the mountains around Cusco, until the Spanish Conquistadors came in the search of riches. And riches they found. The Incas had gold, a lot of it. It’s a story all too familiar in the annals of history, and while the Spanish destroyed the cities they found, they didn’t find them all.
In 2009, Danny Barber had a lot to look forward to. He was planning a backpacking trip in Australia with a friend and from there they would go where the wind took them. He had purchased a new pair of hiking boots and was in the process of breaking them in.
Then the unthinkable happened. As he was waiting at a bus stop near his home in Manchester, he was jumped by 5 thugs and beaten. He was able to make it back home, but was under attack the whole way. He was wearing his new hiking boots.
Danny suffered severe head injuries and passed away a few days later. As his family said their goodbyes, they took Danny’s handprint. His best friend began taking the handprint on his travels. As Danny’s story spread, more and more people began taking his handprint all over the world. Read More
Both of our sons are Eagle Scouts and I was recently asked to write a post for the national Boy Scout blog, The Voice of Scouting. It was quite an honor, and you can read it here:
Boy Scouts enriched our family in numerous ways. We learned valuable information in many areas, had lots of quality time on camp outs, ski trips, and hikes, and volunteered countless hours in the service to others.
I will be forever grateful to Boy Scouts for its part in helping our sons become the wonderful young men they are today.
When I was six, I had a hamster named Whiskers. She would rip around the house in her hamster ball and I always felt jealous of the fun she was having. Little did I know that human hamster balls, called zorbs, would be invented 18 years later in New Zealand.
The 2009 season of The Amazing Race (an American TV show where contestants race around the world performing exciting challenges) was the first time that I was introduced to zorbs and it looked every bit as fun as I had imagined as a six year old.
When my weekly perusing of Groupon had a deal for zorbing, I was ecstatic! I wasn’t aware there was a place in Colorado to do it. The deal was offered by a tubing company and the picture accompanying the deal was of the tubing hill. Perfect! It may not have been the rolling green hills of New Zealand, but a snowy slope of Colorado wouldn’t be too shabby either. Read More
Always looking for new things to do, I peruse Groupon weekly. Sometimes the adventures I find are a hit and sometimes a miss, but Epic Sky Trek in Castle Rock, Colorado was a bullseye!
It is a massive four level (ground floor plus three levels) aerial trekking beast. There are over 110 challenges and the difficulty goes up the higher you go. A color coded system lets you know exactly what the difficulty of a challenge is before attempting it.
Harnessed in with two lanyards, safety is paramount. The lanyards don’t just have carabiners. They have special hooks that can only be disengaged one at a time, so it is impossible for you to be completely unhooked from the safety cables at any point. Read More
I’ve never really been into Astronomy. Sure, I enjoy a starry sky, a full moon, and Southern Cross by Crosby, Stills and Nash, but Orion and the Big Dipper are as far as my constellation knowledge goes and we’ve broken out our telescope twice in the last 13 years.
When I heard that we would only be a couple of hours away from totality in the American Solar Eclipse, I planned on going. I’m an “experience as much as you can” kind of gal and seeing a total solar eclipse seemed like something one should experience in their lifetime. Read More
Juneau, Alaska is a very special place. It is the only US state capital that is inaccessible by road, and can only be reached by plane or boat. Interestingly, it is on the mainland, however the rugged terrain surrounding it makes road travel impossible. It also has a very colorful gold mining past.
Joe Juneau was a Canadian miner and prospector who co-founded the settlement with Richard Harris. When it was time to name the city, Juneau bought drinks for the townspeople to help persuade them to name the city in his honor. It worked.
Having only one day in each of the ports, we had to maximize our activities. Bike & Brew was great! And it was perfect for our fairly large group. We were picked up by Cycle Alaska and driven out to Chapel by the Lake, where we got our bikes, helmets and our first glimpse of the Mendenhall Glacier across Auke Lake. It honestly didn’t look real; it was so perfect and beautiful. Read More
When one of my best friends asked if we’d like to join her family on an Alaskan cruise, I was very excited. They love cruising and we love them, so of course we said yes. Alaska had been on our “To Do” list for a while and a cruise offered the opportunity to see more in less time than land travel.
Being a planner, I began looking into excursions and wanted to have our itinerary planned out well in advance. If you’re like me, snorkeling is the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Alaska. Okay, maybe not. In fact I didn’t even know that was a thing, but looking for things to do in Ketchikan that caught my eye. We would be snorkeling in Alaska. Read More
When I was planning our time in Friday Harbor, Washington, I had no idea that it would turn out to be one of the very best days in all our lives, because there was actually a whole lot that could have gone wrong.
We were in Seattle for two days before leaving for Alaska, and while exploring a new city is always fun, I wanted the second day to involve the ocean, the one thing Colorado doesn’t have. After looking into different options, kayaking with orcas was the obvious choice. Sea Quest Expeditions out of Friday Harbor was exactly what I was looking for. Read More
If you look to the west in Manitou Springs, Colorado you will see a long gash in the side of the mountain, running from its base to its summit. It’s a perfectly straight scar, bisecting the forest into north and south sections, and if you don’t know what it is, you might wonder about it. If you do know what it is, it looks intimidating as hell. I was in that boat.
This gash is what remains of a funicular that was built in 1907 to access a hydroelectric plant at the top of the mountain. It remained in use for many years, and even operated as a tourist attraction for some time, but in 1990 a massive rock slide took it all out. The railroad ties were the only things that remained, and it was determined that the track would not be rebuilt. The Manitou Incline was born. Read More