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Off to Peru

September 29, 2014

Yesterday we got up at 4:15am for our 6:00 flight - first leg Seattle to San Francisco.  On board were two flight attendant trainees.  I think they might have been 12.  No, I exaggerate, they were probably more like 17.  Anyway, near the end of the flight they sat down in the seats just in front of us to chat with the flight attendant supervisor.  Conversation goes pretty much like this... be sure to use a valley girl accent when imagining the trainee talking...

Trainee: I'm just so excited that our graduation is coming up in a few days!
Supervisor: Did they instruct you girls anything about ratting on other flight attendants?  Because you know, that's just not right.  It won't get you anywhere with your peers if you do that.
Trainee:  Yeah, they told us to do that, but most of us like get it, you know?  But there were some of the girls that I think would rat on people.
Supervisor: Well you go back and tell those girls it won't work, and they need to remember that people will believe anything.  So if they rat on people, then people will say stuff about them too.  Any questions about anything else?
Trainee: No I think we've got it.  My favorite part is the serving stuff.  Though the whole alcohol thing was really confusing.
Supervisor:  What about it?
Trainee: Well like when you pour wine, why two fingers below the rim of the glass?  And I heard even that there are different types of glasses for different types of wine, what's up with that?  I mean not on the airplane but in real life I mean.

At this point it was all we could do not to burst out laughing.  Thank you to Alaska Airlines for injecting a bit of humor in an otherwise uneventful flight.

From San Francisco it was onto Mexico City, and then the midnight flight to Lima Peru.  When we reached Lima it was 6:30am by the time we cleared customs and our flight to Cusco wasn't scheduled to depart till 2pm.  Originally we had booked it this way because we wanted to leave time in case the flight to Lima was late.  Fortunately, we were able to get on the 9:40am flight instead - a relief as we were both asleep on our feet by this time.  We arrived in Cusco and Lily (the hotel owner's wife) picked us up.  We arrived at the hotel around noon - a mere 34 hours after having left our hotel yesterday morning.

The B&B we are staying at Gringo Wasi is very homey.  The ceilings are all low and the doors really short - the doors are only 6 foot - 18 inches shorter than back home in the US.  This is because Peruvians appear as a group to be somewhat short and stocky.   We are super glad to be staying in this small town of Huarocondo outside of the larger town of Cusco.  We didn't know it when we booked the B&B, but we wouldn't have been happy in Cusco as it was very poor looking city with trash piled everywhere you looked and stray dogs digging through the trash.  While they might not be any richer in this small town, its clear they take quite a bit more pride in keeping it nice.  We are told this small village experiences life mostly the same way they did 100 years ago - farming mostly by hand and cooking over wood fired stoves.  Here is the view of the surrounding Andes Mountains near the hotel.

On Lily's recommendation, for lunch we went to the town square where ladies serve the town specialty - lechon.  Its a whole pig roasted in an adobe type oven.  They served it with something that looked like potatoes but tasted kind of funny to us, and a sweet corn bread that was cooked in a corn husk and steamed the way you would cook a tamale.  The roast pig was tender and good.  Note in the picture how they keep the pig warm all day - wrapped in blankets. 

This is the town square - you can see the town ladies with their pig feast stalls sitting in front of the church.

 Having just traveled 5200 miles to get here, we needed a rest.  Not to mention time to adjust to the 11,200 ft altitude here.  So we just hung out at the hotel the rest of the afternoon.  Dinner was served at the hotel for $4 each, plus $6 for a carafe of wine.   Dinner was a shredded chicken and sauce dish that was a bit like a curry.  A bit of spice we were told was a local pepper.  Yum!

 

Hurricane Ridge

September 27, 2014

This morning we got up and drove up to Hurricane Ridge.  Oddly, Dave had never been there despite having hiked all over the Olympic Mountains as a kid.  It was a spectacular day for the drive up.

Then we headed to the Camaraderie Winery for a picnic and some wine tasting.

It was the perfect end to our trip back to the states.  After a great dinner of burgers and wine, the sunset was again lovely with the moon rising over the mountains.

At 6am we board the flight to Peru!

Logbook Found!!!

September 26, 2014

We spent the week in Seattle visiting friends and family and getting ready to leave the USA for points south.

As we were packing up at the hanger today, Dave was emptying the trunk of his car, and low and behold.... there was his FAA logbook!  We had believed the logbook lost in the hanger break in.  The look on his face was priceless - relief mixed with joy.  Because this means that not only does he have his irreplaceable logbook back, but it also means that the thief whoever it was, wasn't as intent on hurting Dave as we had originally believed (the logbook having no financial value only value to Dave).  This was a huge relief.

We spent the evening at David and Lisa's place in Port Angles - where our furniture is stored.  Melissa had to resist the urge to say, "hey I have a bowl just like that one!" only about 10 times before her brain clicked that it was our stuff we were visiting.  When David and Lisa told us they had bought this new retirement home just as we were packing up, it was the perfect solution to just ship everything over here while we are away.  Its almost scary how well everything fit with their decor.

We had a great sunset dinner looking out over the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

There may have been a few too many glasses of wine between the 4 of us...

Kudos to Dr Ochenrider

September 22, 2014

This week in Seattle we have a ton of errands to run, friends and family to visit, and a few doctor's appointments to attend to.  Today we saw our travel doctor.  He specializes in travel medicine - so things like what vaccinations should you get for travel to XYZ country and so forth.  Important when traveling to the middle of nowhere like we have been.  We both saw him before we started this venture to ensure we were fully covered with vaccinations and things like malaria prevention medications for when we go into malaria infested zones.  We have grown to like him more and more.  Today he spent about 45 minutes with us reviewing our current situation and what all we needed to complete our trip.  That was not a typo.  45 minutes with the doctor in the room - having a CONVERSATION.   He appears to believe is role is that not of god, but of trusted advisor.  He explains his thinking out loud and makes sure you are following his logic as he goes.

One of the questions he asked was whether we wanted a flu shot today.  Melissa explained that no, we didn't get one last year because being in Central America the shot wouldn't address the right viruses anyway.  (For those not familiar - flu vaccinations are formulated based on which particular strains of flu virus will hit a particular area - so a flu shot for North America won't be the same as a flu shot for Europe.)  To which he said, yes, that's true - except for H1N1.  Duh.  H1N1 hit Central America big last year and is expected to hit again this year - and all other flu strains aside - H1N1 is much more deadly than most.  So we really shouldn't be traveling without that one.  Nice catch doc!

Then we find out he believes in high protein diets.  How cool is that?!  So many doctors are still on the low fat, low salt, high carb mantra - despite the growing evidence.  So to realize he believes what we believe philosophically about diets - WOW - we were totally blown away!  So cool!!

Road Trip Wrap Up

September 21, 2014

Today we drove home to Seattle - wrapping our summer road trip.  A few trip stats:

  • Drove over 6000 miles in 38 days
  • Visited 4 Canadian provinces and 12 US states
  • Stayed in 19 hotels, two family cabins, and one friend's house

When we first packed the car, Marla burst out laughing - not believing there was any possible way the luggage was gonna fit:

But Dave found a way to fit everything in like a jigsaw puzzle.  So almost every day of the trip Dave packed everything into the car with precision (same exact way every time as this was a puzzle with only one solution) while the rest of us just watched as "helping" wouldn't have been helpful.

The car performed quite well, though at one point the door handle on the rear door where Melissa was sitting stopped working and Dave had to let her in and out of the car as though the child lock was engaged (yeah, stop laughing).  Melissa tried to schedule with Lexus in San Francisco to have it repaired, alas, they managed to annoy her by not returning her calls.  Meanwhile, in Canada, we had gotten get one big chip in the windshield from a rock, which Melissa then had filled the same day.  Alas the fix only lasted a couple of weeks before the windshield cracked in Bakersfield CA.  First place we could have it fixed was San Francisco.  So while we were waiting for the repair, the light dawns on Dave that Safelight is well practiced at pulling off door panels as they do it all the time to repair side windows.  He offers to pay them to remove the interior door panel so that he can examine the door lock (pulling the door panel requires a specialized tool).  They did it for free.  And when Dave looked at the door lock - low and behold a small plastic alignment tab had gotten busted off inside the door and worked its way into the door lock.  He pulled the stray part out and voila!  The door lock then worked just fine.  Dave reassembled the door and all is now well.  And it cost us zero.  Gotta love that.

Crater Lake

September 20, 2014

Today we left Klamath Falls on a gorgeous fall day and toured Crater Lake.  None of us had ever been there.  Dad and Marla had tried in vein twice to go see it - but in the spring and fall often the park is closed due to early or late snowfall.  But there was no danger of snow today!

We were fortunate enough that we were able to have dinner tonight with Dave's cousin Marty, her husband John, and their two sons Andy and Johnny.

Klamath Falls

September 19, 2014

We left Point Richmond this morning, picked Dad and Marla up in Sacremento and headed for Klamath Falls.  Long day on the road, but when we reached the hotel we were lucky enough that Christina had packed our dinner - leftovers from Zachary's Pizza - Chicago Deep Dish. Mmmmm. Zachary's is the best!  Even better than what we had at Uno's in Chicago.  So we had a picnic sitting outside the hotel.  The hotel owner came running out insisting that we needed wine glasses.  But we told her that chateau de cardboard did not require fancy glasses.

Sonoma

September 18, 2014

This morning we left with Mike and Christina to head for Sonoma.  First stop was Gloria Ferrer for some champagne.  The poor gal serving the wine started to put a big tray with glasses on the table, and it was one of those slow motion things where the tray, not quite onto the table, started to tip over backwards.  Glass and champagne everywhere.  Ooops.  She was super embarrassed.  But soon all was well when a new set of drinks was served.

Next stop was Chateau St. Jean.  Their facility is quite elegant.  We decided to splurge and taste their premium wines - which were excellent.  But none of us had the stomach for $80 to $100 per bottle prices.

Then it was onto BR Cohn.  We were way less than impressed.  None of their wines was particularly good, and all had just silly price tags - particularly given the quality.  Yet the tasting room was packed and people were buying like crazy.  It was one of those "the emperor has no clothes" moments.  Just goes to show what happens when a name brand goes down hill - only the name remains and apparently that's enough to continue to convince people "it must be good".

We had reservations for 6:30 dinner and had time to kill, so we walked around the square in Sonoma.  We wandered past a sign advertising a "new generation" tasting room.  Wondering what a "new generation" tasting room was we stuck our heads in to find a modern plush room with couches - empty but for the gal behind the counter.  The winery was called Passaggio.  She invited us in and we asked what they were about.  She explained that their wine maker believed in crisp fruit forward wines - nothing aged in oak.  We figured it was worth a try.  Turned out to be really good and we bought a couple of bottles.  Their Chardonnay and Sangiovese were our favorites.  On some of their wines they give 5% of the sales to the fallen officers fund because the owner used to be a police officer.

Then it was onto dinner with Jerry and Carol from Angelina.  They live in Petaluma - so we were super happy to be able to see them while we were here.

 

Just call him Captain Dave

September 18, 2014

Yesterday we drove up to San Francisco, stopping along the way for lunch with Dave's Uncle Andy and Aunt Marie.  Then dinner with friends in San Francisco.  We arrived late at the home of Mike and Christina in Point Richmond.  Some might remember it was here on their dock that we stayed - precisely a year ago - on our way south through San Francisco on Apsaras.  Mike had a pitcher of sangria ready when we arrived.

Today was all about Dave studying for the US Coast Guard captain's written exam.  A month ago he started studying for the written test.  We purchased an on-line training package to help him study.  Purchasing the package was a bit of a fiasco though.  The school you choose will be the ones to administer the test, so we needed to find a school that would be giving the test in Seattle when we were home.  There was one school that claimed to offer a test location in Seattle and said they would schedule the test at any time.  Melissa sent email to request a test date while we were home.  They said they didn't believe he would be ready in 6 weeks time.  Melissa explained Dave's experience.  They sent him a quiz - supposedly to determine if he was qualified to purchase their $500 training course.  Dave completed the quiz.  Melissa then asked which test location she needed to put in the shopping cart - there was one for Bellingham, Friday Harbor, and Aberdeen, but not actually in Seattle.  Their response was, "if you need help figuring out how to operate the shopping cart then maybe an on-line class is not for you".  Seriously?!  We wanted to tell them to take a flying leap at that point, but they were the only on-line class with a test schedule that fit our needs.  Dave suggested that maybe we take another trip back to the US at some point when he could take the test in Florida or California or something.  So Melissa started trolling back through all the schools and when and where their tests would be given.  Low and behold, one school was giving the test in Richmond CA - less than 5 miles from where we are staying with Mike and Christina on the date that we had planned to be here anyway.  It would only give Dave four weeks to study and get ready though.  When we got to Seattle a few weeks ago we picked up the class materials and along the road Dave has been studying.  He actually only studied four evenings total for a couple of hours each night.  Then he did a bunch of practice quizzes today before the test.  And no surprise he passed with flying colors - passing two of the four sections with 100%.

What does this mean?  Well, getting his US Coast Guard captain's license is now only a bunch of bureaucratic paperwork away.  Getting his license means that he can carry up to 6 passengers for hire.  Not that we plan to start chartering our boat.  The most likely use for the license is that Dave might do the occasional boat delivery here and there for friends and some insurance companies like to see a licensed captain aboard.  None the less, it is a huge achievement to get this milestone behind him!

We were ready with a bottle of champagne and a new captain's hat when he arrived home!

San Jose

September 15, 2014

Today we left Melissa's Dad in Bakersfield to hang out with the grandkids and headed for San Jose to see Dave's cousin Judy and her hubby Robert. By sheer coincidence, Judy's brother Gerry was in town for training for a new job, so we got to see a "bonus cousin" tonight that we've not seen in years.  Knowing Dave well, Judy suggested a local burger joint for dinner.

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