I'm so excited Chihuly's exhibit returned to the Desert Botanical Garden. I'm a huge fan and even met him years ago at the Tacoma Museum of Glass at a book signing and watched him blow glass with other glass blowers from around the world. Click here for that post. Visiting Chihuly in the Garden for the second time was as breathtaking as my first visit!
We started the 35 mile Nebo Loop at the base of Payson Canyon. The winding road took us through the scenic byway and over the mountain to Nephi. The views of the Wasatch Range were incredible. We finished our scenic fall day in Utah at Rowley's Red Barn Pumpkin Patch.
We stopped for a picnic with Grandma in Payson Canyon. The weather couldn't have been more perfect and the fall colors were beautiful!
One of the roads was closed due to the government shutdown.
Snow on top of Mt. Nebo...
We didn't expect to find snow on our fall vacation. Charlotte was thrilled!
After driving the Mount Nebo Loop we stopped in Santaquin at Rowley's Red Barn. They had fun activities for children including a hayride to the pumpkin patch. Charlotte's favorite was sliding down a giant slide on a potato sack.
Click here to see more fall pictures.
Our first stop in Peru was Puno. Some might wait and do Puno after a visit to Cuzco to better acclimate to the altitude but we didn't have any problems. We stayed at the Tierra Viva Puno Plaza and liked the hotel and location. I enjoyed Puno and Lake Titicaca but quickly noticed you don't come to Puno for the architecture, it seemed to be the "unfinished city" everywhere we went we saw unfinished buildings.
|Me, Amy and a Sweet Local Lady|
About an hour outside of Puno is Sillustani. The Colla people buried their elite members in these towers. At 14,000 feet the walk was breathtaking, literally. In the distance are beautiful views of Lake Umayo.
|This is the rock walled village near Sillustani. We tried the local food and learned how the village functioned. Greg enjoyed this playful Alpaca.|
The Uros people are famously known for their unique totora reed floating islands. Besides seeing the islands my favorite part was to see the beautiful children in their traditional and colorful clothes. The children joined us on a boat ride that was also made from totora reed. They sang and danced and held their hats out for donations... they have learned how to tug at the heart strings of tourist.
|This is just one of 45 islands on Lake Titicaca. It was a three hour boat ride from Puno but worth the wait. We took a long walk on Isla Taquile and enjoyed views of the lake and the snow capped Bolivian Andes in the distance. It reminded us of the views along the Cinque Terre and Mallorca... Absolutely breathtaking! The locals still wear traditional clothing and follow their ancient cultural traditions. |
San Pedro Market
Ladies selling produce from their wheelbarrow.
We stopped for breakfast in Ollantaytambo and took a quick walk through town.
The Road Not Taken ...
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
There are two ways to get to Machu Picchu. One is easier, but you miss a great adventure. The one less traveled by was our choice.
When you begin the Inca Trail you cross the train tracks that take you directly to Machu Picchu. It's a little bit of a tease knowing in one hour you could be at your final destination. I just hoped to survive the high altitude and four day's on the Inca Trail!
Day 1 on the Inca Trail...
We checked in at the entrance of the Inca Tail and showed our passports. They only allow a limited number of hikers on the trail each day.
We had amazing views right from the start!
|This is the Llactapata ruins one of the first set of ruins we passed along the Inca Trail. We passed 30 Incan ruins before reaching Machu Picchu.|
"So far so good!"
|Matt, Merris, Esther and Greg|
|I never tired of seeing these cuties on the trail!|
Soaking our feet after a long days hike...
Happy to survive Day 1!
DAY 2- Dead Women's Pass- 13, 829 feet
We left camp before the porters and they passed us before we reached Dead Women's Pass. These guys are amazing!
Looking up towards Dead Women's PassWe hiked Dead Women's Pass on Mothers Day... it seemed so wrong! But surprisingly Greg and I did fine! Our breathing and energy level was good. I think Greg's Crossfit workouts helped prepare him and my past marathons probably didn't hurt. We also had a little luck on our side since we didn't get altitude sickness!
Below is the whole group on top of Dead Women's Pass. One of the things that made the trek so special was the people in our group. We had lots of fun and laughs and fond memories of our time together.
With the porters on top of Dead Women's Pass. I think the bags are as big as some of the porters!
After reaching the top of Dead Women's Pass the descent down to Pacaymayo Valley was steep with lots of steps. Greg and Michael literally ran down the steps. I thought the decline was harder than the trek up so I took my time.
|Ester, Matt, Merris and our guides|
Greg, Amy and Gary
Overlooking Pacaymayo Valley
Towards the end of Day 2 we got rain. It was a nice treat but the rocks were really slippery and I fell several times. Glad I didn't slide down the mountain. :)
Camp- Day 2
|I couldn't leave the trail without taking a picture of the worst part of the Inca Trail. And this is a very clean toilet. I finally figured out the proper squat after a few days. If you haven't spent much time with this type of toilet you need to check this site out before hiking the Inca Trail.|
Our chef made us moms a Mothers Day Cake. Seriously who makes a yummy cake from scratch in the middle of nowhere? It was also really nice to get a video taped message from Charlotte... what a sweet treat after a hard day (good planning on our husbands part)!
BEAUTIFUL DAY 3
Day 3 was my favorite (besides the end of Day 2).
The scenery was fantastic!
|Gary, Greg, Amy, Amber and Chuck|
|The trail passes through the mountain using a system of tunnels. I can't even imagine how they engineered that.|
This was my favorite Incan Ruin besides Machu Picchu. The rounded walls reminded me of a flower and the clouds made it so mystical.
Taking a break
As we descended 1,500 steps the vegetation got more dense and jungle like. We passed through an amazing cloud forest and saw orchids, hanging moss, tree fern, flowers, butterflies and this cute guy...
The last set of ruins on Day 3
After dinner we had a porters ceremony and said goodbye to the chef and porters and presented them with a group tip for their hard work. I couldn't imagine doing the trek without them!
DAY 4- Arrivel to Machu Picchu
Ute alumnus. I can't believe Gary lugged this flag the whole way. That's a dedicated Ute! Gary organized our Peru trip... Thanks Gary!!
Yea we made it!
I almost got a smile out of Greg.
Greg and Michael on the way up. You can check out Michael's blog here. He has great photo's going up Huayna Picchu (they show how steep it really is) ;).
On top of Huayna Picchu
Notice there are no guard rails!
Greg going down a steep section that had no rope. I tried not to look down and that seemed to help. The pictures don't do justice to how steep this was. In the end I'm glad I hiked Huayna Picchu. The views from the top were amazing and we could see all of the mountain ranges in the distance. The hardest part of the hike was going down!
As we walked towards the exit I kept looking back at Machu Picchu reflecting on the amazing journey leading up to that day. We left the park by bus to Aguas Calientes and did some last minute shopping. We met our guides and group for one more meal together before heading back to Cuzco by train.
As amazing as Peru was I think my favorite part of our trip was hiking the Inca Trail.
Click here for my packing list and tips for the 4 day Inca Trail to Machu Picchu.
Plaza De ArmasWe had limited time in Lima so we hired Lima Cabs to show us around. They picked up up from the airport and gave us a private tour of the main attractions in Lima. Our guide was great! I'm glad we didn't attempt to drive ourselves because I was sure we weren't going to make it through the day without getting into an accident. Driving in Lima is total chaos and it should be considered an extreme sport!
My favorite part of the day was visiting the San Francisco Convent and Catacombs. I also loved the Miraflores area and Love Park.
Parque de la Muralla