A Travellerspoint blog

A Trek: To and through a Peruvian National Reserve

by Izzy

all seasons in one day 58 °F
View Izzy's Travel Itinerary on triptime's travel map.

“Just the ten of us” (and a dog) set out on Saturday morning; stomachs full on vegan biscuits and artichoke hearts from breakfast. A crew of assorted individuals and couples from around the world, volunteers at the eco-village we are staying at, on our way to the Reserva Nacional de Lechay for a day away from Chacra y Mar and the Hare Krishnas. The trip originally was rumored to be taken with the center’s only mode of transportation, an old work van, but that would be too easy. Instead, we set out on foot, everyone at their own pace sparking-up small-talk along the way. The walk from the Eco Truly Park to the main road was just over 2 KM. There was no hiding that we were all travelers, sticking out like a hand full of sore thumbs. Cabs and mini-buses began to flock around us, negotiating prices and routes. Many in our group were experienced, spoke Spanish and knew how to handle the aggressive and persuasive drivers. After a bit of discussion, all ten and the pup hopped into a mini-bus heading towards the city of Huaral.

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The driver dropped us off just outside of the Huaral bus depot, much nicer than the one we experienced in Lima, though the bus was rickety and the seats were full of attempted patch-work. If the bus had air-conditioning, it quit working a good 20 years ago, so we relied on a small cross breeze from the limited openings of the windows to keep us cool during the 40 minute drive to the park.

As the bus screeched to a stop, ten heads popped up from their assorted seats and filed down the aisle towards the exit door. Stepping off that bus literally felt like we had been dropped off on another planet, shades of brown stretching in all directions – desolate, with a slight breeze lingering from the nearby ocean shores. The overcast sky made it hard to distinguish the horizon. A single dirt/sand road and a small sign letting us know we were on the right track were all we had to go by. Time to walk. And walk. And walk some more. The brown dusty landscape gradually gave way to an immense scattering of wild desert plants topped with tiny purple buds. In the distance, we could see the road sloping up, green hills and a cluster of trees just above the surrounding fields of long-stemmed yellow flowers. It felt as if we had been cast in some bizarre version of the Wizard of Oz, making our way towards the Emerald City while following the yellow-dirt road.

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More than an hour had passed since we left the bus, and it felt like we were walking up an escalator that was going in the opposite direction. Finally, a glimpse of the park’s entrance – a small one-man operation. The “lone park ranger” graciously gave us a group discount of one sol per person and allowed a few of us to use the bathroom. “NO MASCOTAS” was posted on the access sign. Sorry pup, no pets allowed in the park. We’d have to get him on the way back out.

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Onward and upward. The terrain was now covered in lush vegetation and leafless craggy trees. The fog was thick above and the temperature was cooling. We eventually learned that the surrounding hills are in the shape of a horse shoe, so as the fog rolls in from the sea, it is caught or held back by these steep hills, creating a moisture-rich ecosystem very different from neighboring areas. At one of the picnic areas, we talked with a local who explained the various trail options. Against Marisa’s wishes, we were soon heading to the top of the ridge on a two hour hike that would loop back to where we started.

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Scattered throughout the trail, the ten of us made our way through the misty and mysterious scenic path, passing families, a group of foreign bird watchers, a Peruvian band attempting to shoot a music video and native hawks diving down from the sky to pick up dinner. The trail was well kept and had a naturally flowing feel as we ascended and descended through numerous switchbacks. Two hours went by fast. The views were non-existent on the ridge because of the thick streaming fog, but just below, surreal views of alien landscapes jetted out through the valley. It was quiet and peaceful and enchanting. Marisa was now singing a different tune, happy she had made the trek.

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But we were still a long way from home. The sun was going down fast and we had at least an hour or so walk back to the main road, where we would have to hail a passing bus back into Huaral and then a cab to our junction and then the jaunt by foot back to the Eco Park. Did I mention that we had not eaten any food since breakfast? The legs were tired, the stomach was rumbling and the sun was setting in the middle of nowhere. As we walked towards the park’s entrance, the last few families drove out in their cars along with buses full of Peruvian tourists. As what seemed to be the last vehicle in the park kicked up dust as it rumbled by, the break lights suddenly came on and a woman hanging out of the mini-bus’s sliding door promptly yelled for us to get in! What luck! We hurriedly picked up the pup from the “lone ranger” and staggered into the bus. They made room for the girls to sit in seats and cleared the aisle for the rest of us to sit on the ground. Music played and stories were shared. Not bad timing.

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They dropped us off in the town of Chancay, even closer to Chacra y Mar than Huaral, and we said our “thank-you’s” and “good-byes.” Night time was in full effect and the race back to home was on. Marisa and I quickly made alliances with the Costa Rican couple who were willing to share a moto-taxi with us. Next thing we knew, Marisa, Lisa (San Francisco) and Rosa (Costa Rica) were sitting inside the covered motorcycle-drawn rickshaw, while myself and Gustavo (Costa Rica) held on tight to the small luggage rack that extends out from the back of the carriage. Off we went! The moto-taxi has to drive on the side of the highways because it does not go fast enough for normal traffic and at one point, we almost kissed a passing passenger bus making its way around us. The girls seemed to think it was funny, but the combination of no padding, the smells of exhaust and trying to figure out how to keep our feet from dragging on the road proved to be quite a memorable ride. We paid the driver a little extra to take us all the way back to the beach, completing our day. It was one of those trips where there were no expectations or itineraries, no real strategy or overwhelming goal, but it surely was a trip to remember.

For more pictures of this TREK, COPY & PASTE the web link below to a new tab (they are towards the end of the album):
http://s427.photobucket.com/albums/pp359/triptimephotos/TripTime/Eco%20Truly%20Park/

Posted by triptime 14:49 Archived in Peru Tagged backpacking Comments (1)

Welcome to Peru: Living in a Brick-Shit-House

by Marisa

overcast 60 °F
View Izzy's Travel Itinerary on triptime's travel map.

We spent our last day in NYC running last minute errands, writing blogs and getting ready for our 11:30 pm flight to Lima, Peru. Reality finally hit us, “are we seriously doing this?” We packed our backpacks tight and did an urban hike to the subway to the JFK airtrain, next stop, PERU! We awoke at 5:30 am as our plane started its decent into the awfulness of smoggy, dirty, chaotic Lima. We were warned by many travelers not to stay even a day in the capitol and once there we could see why. We hopped in a cab with a speed-racer driver and got to the bus station in record time. Just one bus ride and one taxi later, we were pulling up to Eco Truly Park, a Yoga Ashram on the Chacra y Mar beach, an hour and half North of Lima. We could see the little green oasis and cone buildings (Trulys as they call them here) as we approached. The green of the “park” contrasted sharply against the massive towering brown sand dunes and dismal grey skies.

This is a very different place with so many quirks and mysteries. We have been here a week today, just soaking it all in. The Park is actually an Ecological Hare Krishna Ashram, something we didn’t know until we arrived. Every kind of devotional Hare Krishna music blares from the speakers of the common areas – Reggae, Rock, Chanting, Discourses etc. (although mysteriously a lone Pearl Jam song was played yesterday!). We are volunteering here, but paying for a shared room in the visitors’ quarters since we wanted to stay together. The rest of the volunteers are staying in the designated male and female dorms. Our “wigwam,” as we like to call it, is actually a cone shaped Truly made out of mud and cow dung bricks… that’s right, a brick shit house! It’s very pretty but unfortunately I seem to be allergic to it, every time we are inside I go into snotty fits of sneezing. One of the huge benefits of having our own room is that we also have our own bathroom (down an outside corridor of course). The toilets here have the same seat but no water, you go into a bucket that you then cover with scoops of sawdust. They are ecological “dry” toilets. I know they sound awful, but if you cover properly they don’t smell at all. I am more accustomed to them than Izzy, since we had them in the ashram in Mexico, but he seems to have adjusted to the new system pretty well too. The shower water is freezing cold, but I really love it, it makes you feel SO clean and alive.

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The weather has been overcast, foggy and pretty chilly since we arrived. The beach we are on is like no beach I have ever seen. We haven’t ventured onto it very often, since every time we do, we have to wade through trash and dead animals to get to the water’s edge. Yesterday, when out on the beach, we saw something that I am assuming is only possible below the equator – a rainbow arch straight above our heads and a rainbow circle around the sun. The ends of the arch were not even pointing towards the horizon. It was like a big sticker had been placed in the wrong spot in a coloring book.

The food at the ashram is a different combination of rice, corn and potatoes for every meal, since that is mainly what is being harvested during this time of the year. We heard that before we arrived, the harvest was of blackberries, therefore, a part of every meal. I appreciate not having to worry if anything has meat in it, since this is a 100% vegetarian place.

We are surrounded by peacocks, roosters and chickens, ducks, turtles, dogs and the occasional rat. They are the Eco Truly pets and they run wild, so you have to be careful of rooster attacks and flea-ridden doggies wanting a pet behind the ears. Lisa, one of our fellow volunteers, swears she saw a puma on the roof of the shower building the other night when she went to the bathroom. She was so sure, that she hid in the bathroom stall until someone else came through. The locals swear there are no pumas in the area, but another volunteer found a puma carcass washed up on the beach recently. Izzy now walks with me to the bathroom at night, just in case!

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The Hare Krishna Devotees are very sweet to us. Hare Krishnas are devotees of Krishna, but although I am familiar with Hinduism from my Yoga training, things here are very different from what I have seen in other ashrams. Before entering the kitchen, we must wash our mouths out with water; while making the food, we are not meant to taste or smell it; food is served to Krishna on the alter before it can be served to everyone else; Krishna and the other dolls on the alter have there clothes changed five times a day and even where pajamas at night when they “sleep”.

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There are ten of us volunteers in total - Israelis, Canadians, Japanese, Costa Ricans and Americans. We range in age from 21 – 31. We work four hours a day weeding, cooking, cleaning and making lanterns or other crafts. The work is very laid back and you decide when to do your hours daily. Sometimes we all get together for a campfire (to cook chocolate stuffed bananas), or to play ultimate Frisbee or soccer. It feels a bit like summer camp. Since there isn’t a common area for volunteers at night time, Izzy and I started watching downloaded episodes of the television show Heros on my computer or his Zune in our room. I am dreading the day we run out of episodes! We have already watched five out of the ten we downloaded before leaving the states - they are so addicting. I am so glad we chose to room together! We have so much fun making each other laugh, sharing our thoughts and comforting each other along the way.

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Thanks Ithai.
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For more pictures on the Eco Truly Park, COPY & PASTE the web address below to a new tab:
http://s427.photobucket.com/albums/pp359/triptimephotos/TripTime/Eco%20Truly%20Park/

Posted by triptime 14:39 Archived in Peru Tagged backpacking Comments (2)

Frequently Asked Questions

by Marisa & Izzy


View Izzy's Travel Itinerary on triptime's travel map.

Frequently Asked Questions
Since the day we decided to take this trip around the world we have answered the same series of questions everyday. We thought it would be a good idea to include FAQs in the blog to help out fellow travelers looking for info and maybe answer questions some of our friends missed the answers to…

Where are you going?
We Los Angeles, CA, Sept. 5, 2008, and drove cross-country to visit friends, meet each others families, explore our own beautiful country and test out our team skills ; ) We left NYC October 20, 2008, to travel to Peru, Brazil, Argentina (and Uruguay), Chile, New Zealand, Australia, Hong Kong, Thailand (Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia), India (and Nepal), Jordan (Israel and Egypt), Hungry (and Eastern Europe), Finland (and Russia), Italy and Spain (Morocco, Portugal and France) - the places in parenthesis are countries we hope to visit by ground once we have landed in the region. Check our “Marisa and Izzy’s Itinerary” link to see where we have been so far and where we are going on the world map.

How are you getting there?
We bought Round-the-World tickets - 16 one way flights to five continents. There are a few travel companies online that offer RTW tickets. We went with One World because it was the only alliance that included South America. Our destinations are set, but we can switch our flight dates according to availability without paying any extra fees. A 16-flight ticket cost us $5,500 each (that comes out to $343.75 per flight if you are good at math).

How long will you be traveling?
Our RTW tickets have to be used within a year from the date of our first flight (Oct. 20, 2008). Depending on our financial situation, energy and cohesiveness we will probably forfeit our last flight from Madrid, Spain to NYC so that we can explore Western Europe for few extra months. We plan on making it back to Los Angeles by January 2010, one year and four months after starting our trip.

How much will it cost?
We have $6,000 dollars each. So our budget is about $400 a month each. Add another $6,000 for the plane ticket and supplies and the trip should cost us about $12,000 dollars a person. Since we will mainly be working on organic farms through the WWOOF program, volunteering at Yoga schools, orphanages and schools, staying with friends (or friends of friends) and living with families through the cultural exchange and peace promoting Servas Organization we will not have that many daily expenses. Keep your fingers crossed.

What are you taking?
We are each traveling with just one backpack each. We are following the spring/summer seasons throughout the trip, so luckily most of our clothes are for the warmer climates. We have started with…
Five pairs of socks, five pairs of underwear, long johns, a fleece, a rain coat, a scarf, flip flops, hiking sneakers, an alternative pair of shoes (Izzy went with a pair of universal Teva’s, while Marisa chose to “raise” her game with a pair of heels), two long sleeve tops (Marisa also has two thin easy to pack dresses and five tank tops – just in case), journal, camera, first aid kit with a homeopathic medicine kit to boot, umbrella, flashlight, mosquito net, moisturizer, face wash, toothbrush, toothpaste, Campsuds (good as body wash, laundry, shampoo and dishwashing- the Duct Tape of soap!), nail clippers, razor, Q-tips, handi-wipes, nail file, hair product, safety pins, thread and needles, fish line, a mirror, Zune (thanks Eli!), Ipod, Laptop computer, bungie cords (for a laundry line), day pack, sunglasses, pen and paper, ear plugs, sleeping masks, comb, sunscreen, mosquito repellent, pocketknife, water Nalgene, quick dry towel, money belt, plug adapters, B vitamins (so mosquitoes won’t like our smell), books, hacky sack, nail polish, a little makeup and barrettes too. If we have packed it and don’t need it, we will leave it behind. If we haven’t packed something we need, we will buy it and if it can’t be bought then the locals must not use it so we must not need it.

How did you plan?
We really don’t have a plan. We usually don’t know where we are going or where we are staying until a few days before. All that is planned are the main flights. We did research through backpacking books and forums leading up to our departure and we have a list of cultural exchange and volunteering organizations worldwide to fall back on if we can’t find places to stay through word of mouth. The more you plan, the less freedom you have along the way (this philosophy was reinforced after reading Vagabonding – a must read for lengthy travelers).

What web sites were most helpful?
There are some incredible web sites for travelers, here are a few we depend on:

To get the laws and custom for the area you are traveling – www.travel.state.gov

To find out the climate of where you are going – www.climate-zone.com

For travel news – www.worldhum.com/dispatches

TRAVEL FORUMS –
www.travellerspoint.com
www.tripadvisor.com
www.lonelyplanet.com
www.worldtravelingpartners.com
www.travelindepentent.info

VOLUNTEERING –
Google – WWOOF and the country you want to go to
www.ecoteer.com
www.meaningfultravel.org
www.travelwithconscience.com
www.truetravellers.org

FREE LODGING –
www.usservas.org
www.couchsurfing.com
www.globalfreeloaders.com

What places are you most looking forward to?
Every time we are asked this question, we start by saying New Zealand, Argentina and India. Then we usually continue to list every other country as well. We wouldn’t have picked them if we weren’t excited to go there.

How will you keep in touch?
Internet cafes connect the world, so we’ll hop in when we need to catch up on emails, blogs, Kobe stats or Sarah Palin parodies. When there is reception, we can check emails through Marisa’s Blackberry, so send away. But we won’t have any phone service, though don’t be surprised if you get a collect call – I’m pretty sure every country allows at least one call from jail!

What languages do you speak?
Marisa habla espanol y Izzy… solo ingles todavia.

Is this trip dangerous?
Life anywhere can be dangerous. We don’t think this is any more or less dangerous than living in LA. People are beautiful and generous everywhere in the world. Good things happen to good people.

Did you get all your shots?
We both got the Yellow fever vaccination required to travel from Peru into Brazil and Izzy also got the Hep A vaccination since it is usually contracted through contaminated meats and seafood – Marisa doesn’t have to worry about that one. We were given a long list of suggested vaccinations but through research and speaking to fellow travelers we decided to stick with the minimum amount of shots. Since arriving in Peru, we have been told that the mosquitoes that carry Malaria are only out between 2 and 6 am. We have to look into that one though… sounds a little too good to be true. We are going to use mosquito nets, repellent, vitamins, homeopathy, healthy food consumption (though Izzy may stray a time or two) and common sense to keep ourselves as healthy as possible.

Do you have insurance?
We have traveler’s insurance through World Nomads, which includes: lost or stolen property, doctors and hospitalization ($100 deductable) and emergency medical evacuation to your home country for $250 (every six months).

What are you planning to do when you get back?
We have no idea! We are looking forward to a year of exploration that will take us to the next phase of life and the opportunities that come with it. We have plenty of time to decide what dreams we want to pursue, how to materialize them and where to live throughout this venture… but if we are still clueless when we get back, we can count on you to put us up, right?

Posted by triptime 14:15 Archived in USA Tagged tips_and_tricks Comments (1)

NYPD Blues

by Marisa

sunny 56 °F
View Izzy's Travel Itinerary on triptime's travel map.

One of our last days in the Big Apple we set out for Ellis Island. It was an interesting day, the statement I wrote for the police is below…

The incident in question took place Oct 18, 2008 on Ellis Island. My boyfriend and I were walking towards the ferry to leave the island when we heard a woman screaming, "you better sit your ass down before I give you a problem". I was too far away to know who the screams where coming from and because of the initially assumed it was teenagers getting into a scuffle. As we walked closer I realized it was a woman with two very small children. She continued to scream at the eldest child who looked about three years old and then I saw her take off her belt and loop it in her hand as though she was going to hit him with it. It was at that point we got a close as possible to the situation.

I was waiting on the sidelines to make sure she didn't do anything to the child. Once he saw the belt in her hand he ran away from her screaming and hysterically crying, "I'm sorry Mommy, I'm sorry Mommy I won't do it again". He was absolutely terrified, hysterical and trembling. One other gentleman stopped nearby at this point to watch what was going on. She ran after the little boy and caught him hard around the back of his neck, half-choking him. She then screamed at him, "you don't fucking embarrass me" and hit him hard twice in the face with her hand open even though she saw me, my boyfriend the other gentleman, his wife and daughter all standing right there obviously watching. The hits were loud and they weren´t slaps across the face - they were blows straight into his little face. I screamed at her, "don't hit him!" as soon as I saw her do it and she screamed back at me to mind my business. I screamed back, "you don't hit your kid" and she continued to tell me to mind my business while I went for security

My boyfriend watched her board the ferry while I was inside looking for help.I went to the first service area and told them what was happening and they said, "oh yeah, she was in the store a while ago". They told me to go to the second service area and that is when I found security. The security called the police to go to the ferry. I ran to the ferry and asked them to wait until the police came because they had untied the ropes and were just starting to pull away from the dock. The police arrived and I accompanied them aboard to identify the woman.

I understand that flustered parents can sometimes lose their cool, but what I saw was WAY beyond that. Seeing a toddler treated viciously in public was so deeply disturbing and it makes me wonder how much worse it must be behind closed doors. I worked with severely abused children in Mexico for 8 years - a country where a child usually has to be hospitalized before the abuse is taken seriously. It is so reassuring to know that we live in a country where we can protect children that are being abused before potential hospitalization or death. Thank you so much for your professionalism. Please let me know what is being done and if Child Welfare will be following up.

Thank you.

Posted by triptime 14:11 Archived in USA Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

New York, New York

by Izzy

sunny 67 °F
View Izzy's Travel Itinerary on triptime's travel map.

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Answering the call from the bullpen was 6'6", right-handed powerhouse Winston Gaffron. Big "Win" had read my last group email that asked if anyone was in NYC for the week prior to our departure, and without batting an eye, gave the shout that he was in the Apple and we were welcome to crash with him. I was a little confused by all this, not that Win wouldn't offer up his place, but that he was in New York in the first place. Last I had heard, he was living the southern California dream up in Malibu. But it was true, Winston was now bi-costal! Being the baller that he is, big Win now (personally) trains a client that resides in Los Angeles for most of the year, and New York for the remainder... the remainder when the weather is perfect, like now!

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Marisa and I have now covered over 4,000 miles on the road and have seen a major part of the U.S., and Mother Nature has been with us every step of the way. Besides the torrential downpours through Memphis, TN, we have soaked up day after day of amazing temperatures and sunshine. Is that even possible? YES!

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The host with the most settled us right in to his 58th street apartment on the south-side of Central Park, making us feel super comfortable about the situation. Winston and I have known each other for four years now, but this was the first time we really got to spend a substantial amount of time together, chatting up all kinds of stories while taking in the sights, sounds, smells and tastes in a city that demands attention.

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Marisa and I did our best t hustle around Manhattan. She has previously spent some time here, while I was a NYC virgin. Subways, taxis and just plain hoofing it got us around. One quickly learns to push your way through the streets, crosswalks and subway terminals in attempts to make the next light, hale the passing cab or catch the outbound train. It's competitive, and I liked it.

I'm not going to write my way through all of the things we did, the pictures and video will do that, but I do want to say that I loved every bit of this city and can't wait to come back for more! Special THANKS to: Reyna (Marisa's sister) for two lovely brunch experiences, a fabulous day at the park and all of the airport munchies! THANKS also to my old friend Jose from Methodist College. I know it's been nine years, but it was still great hitting up the town with you and catching up on lost time. And the ULTIMATE THANKS again to the man, the myth, the legend - Winston!

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For more pictures of NYC, COPY & PASTE the following address into a new tab:
http://s427.photobucket.com/albums/pp359/triptimephotos/TripTime/NYC/

Posted by triptime 14:03 Archived in USA Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Philly

by Marisa

sunny 66 °F
View Izzy's Travel Itinerary on triptime's travel map.

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We arrived at my parents and almost immediately went to my best friend Jill’s for a little get together. We hung out with my girlfriend Joanne, Jill’s sister Kim and I finally got to meet Jill’s three month old son, Cale! By the end of the night, it was just Izzy, Jill and I talking and laughing into the late night hours. Jill and I have been friends since we were 16 and have been through just about everything together. She makes me laugh harder than anyone and she has the uncanny ability to make any and every situation humorous. I’ve really missed her in L.A. During the rest of our stay, we went to visit my Grandmom and Uncle Robbie, Izzy taught Jill how to use Moviemaker, we got some time hangin’ with Anna Banana Brown and her gazillion stuffed animals, we stocked up on many, many, many homeopathic remedies, I voted by absentee ballot, I saw my girlfriend Bobbi and her daughter Bella (for the first time in 8 years!) and we spent a day in historic Philadelphia.

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The one place we went in Philadelphia that I had never been to before was the Mutter Museum of Medical History. It was the most horrifically fascinating / disturbing places I have ever been. We found out about the Mutter Museum when we saw it featured on some Travel Channel special on the creepiest places to visit around the world. It is the collection of tools and specimens used in the study of medicine over the past 200 years. Some of the more unique pieces in this tiny museum are human leather bound medical books (apparently it was common practice to use dead patients’ skin), a wall of still-born babies in formaldehyde bottles – each with their own very strange defect and so many other gross samples of disease and illness. I had to use all my strength not to vomit a few times, but as upsetting as it was, it was also incredibly informative and interesting. I am sure it is just a freak show experience for many, but if you actually read the information under each item, you gain a great appreciation for the medical advances in the last century and the doctors and scientists that pioneered them. Most of the models of diseased faces and growths are things none of us ever have to worry about contracting. I don’t think I have ever felt more grateful to live in the 21st century!

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One of the highlights of our trip to Philly was having the chance to hang out with Karen and Guy. I worked for them as a nanny for their twin baby boys from the time I was 18 – 20. Jacob and Aaron were only three weeks old when I started. They are now big guys - 11 years old! Karen and Guy have always been great friends to me; so genuinely excited and supportive about everything I do. We went over their house to help them celebrate Karen’s induction into the Upper Darby High School Hall of Fame for her amazing contributions in the world of Psychology. (And if that isn’t impressive enough, she’s been on Oprah too!) Karen and Guy gave us the biggest surprise thus far when against all of our adamant protests they gave us a super-duper trip donation that left us absolutely shocked and amazed. I hope you don’t mind me mentioning your gift, but we were so deeply touched. Thank you so much Karen and Guy!

We had another welcomed surprise when Red Grammer spent the night at my parents’. My mom taught Bahai Sunday classes in our house when I was growing up and she always played Red’s music for us. Red is also a Bahai and his music is the most uplifting, fun and conscious music for kids. His songs bring back so many childhood memories. My mom works at QVC and after years of trying, she was able to open the doors that Red needed to sell his CDs on air. He was just in town for the night because he had an appointment the next day at QVC. We stayed up late talking around the kitchen counter and eating frozen yogurt. In the morning, before leaving, he played and sang a prayer for us.

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My Mom took the week off from work, so we got to spend a lot of time together. She spoiled the hell out of us, making us buffet breakfasts with blueberry pancakes, taking us shopping for the rest of our gear and first aid supplies, getting me all the stuff mom’s are into, like chiropractor and dentist appointments. My Mom and I got Izzy to try ear candling - I think he’s a believer now. My Dad worked down in his office a bunch but always came up to tell us the occasional joke or just hang out and see what we were up to.

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It was a heart-filling, emotional visit home and I will hold it close to my heart while we travel to the corners of the world. This has been to most incredible transition – spending such beautiful times with so many of our closest family members and friends. I feel like we have filled our emotional tanks to the brim and now we have the fuel we need to take this journey. Thanks to all of you that are in our lives, we cherish your friendship.

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For more pictures from Philly, COPY & PASTE the address below to a new tab:
http://s427.photobucket.com/albums/pp359/triptimephotos/Philadelphia/

Posted by triptime 13:50 Archived in USA Tagged family_travel Comments (0)

The Hand-Off

by Marisa

overcast 59 °F

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Art and Jean drove us halfway to Philly - 3 ½ hours to Somerset PA Oct 3rd. There we met up with my parents and we all spent a night together in a charming B and B Victorian House. We went out to dinner and ordered way too much desert – massive baked cookie Sundays topped with half a gallon of ice cream! It was really adorable watching my dad’s face light up when he heard that Art was an outdoor writer and fisherman. After dinner it was back to the B and B where we soon found the owner and his friend s practicing their Southern Baptist Gospel Songs in the living room. After a few songs we were all seated with them, singing along and laughing at the occasional comical rendition. The pianist was a young blind man named Scott who had us all charmed with his immense warmth, joy and incredible musical talent. I remember looking around as everyone was singing, thinking that we couldn’t have planned a more beautiful and spiritual way to spend time with both our families. The things I am most looking forward to on this journey are the unplanned surprises. That night was a good example of the beauty of synchronicity.

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The next morning we took photos together, ate a fabulous home-cooked breakfast and said good-bye to Izzy’s parents. It was the sad moment I think we’d been dreading all morning. After goodbyes we spent the day with my parents at the nearby Falling Water House – designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. The house was revolutionary and controversial when it was built in the thirties. Organic design was coined by Wright. His incorporation of nature into his design was inspirational and as we walked the grounds my mind was racing with designs of my own… but the house-owner phase is still FAR-OFF in the distance for this wandering girl! That night we arrived on my turf, good ‘ole PA!

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Posted by triptime 16:32 Archived in USA Tagged family_travel Comments (0)

Ohio (from the other side)

by Marisa

sunny 69 °F
View Izzy's Travel Itinerary on triptime's travel map.

I loved having quality time in Izzy’s home town, getting to know his parents, family and friends. Izzy’s parents, Art and Jean warmly welcomed me into their home and lives - taking us fishing, trying my strange food concoctions with a smile (Big Art even wanted seconds of my tofu burgers!), throwing us a family party, showing me around their workplaces and sharing so many dinners, laughs and memories. I spent a whole lot of time just relaxing; reading, eating and sleeping… we’re on vacation right? Izzy spent most of his time making fun of me for relaxing, eating and sleeping. I coined the new phrase, “taking a 400 day weekend”. I finished reading Harry Potter 7 – the last in the series. If you have not read the Harry Potter Series I really encourage you to. It is absolutely phenomenal. Nothing I say can do it justice. Just trust me; you will fall in love with the wizarding world.

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I enjoyed hearing stories about Izzy as a sensitive little boy and seeing all of his photos. I laughed so hard, he makes the exact same facial expressions as always. Finally meeting Izzy’s buddies and having faces to match with names was so much fun. Woody, Dave and Ryan fully lived up to their reputations and were just the funniest, sweetest bunch of guys. The girls were lovely too. Unfortunately I only had a chance to hang out with Heather, Mindy and Cortney briefly, but I could tell we would be fast friends if given the opportunity. We watched the VP debate with Jean, Izzy shingled the shed with his dad, we had lots of homemade apple cobbler and ice cream, ate peppers, tomatoes and concord grapes right out of the garden and had the most lovely time. Thank you Ohio crew of friends and family – you are so great and I am so glad I got to meet you all finally!

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Posted by triptime 15:52 Archived in USA Tagged preparation Comments (0)

OHIO - The Heart Of It All

by Izzy

sunny 64 °F
View Izzy's Travel Itinerary on triptime's travel map.

Over the past ten years, I have lived in North Carolina, Kentucky and California, but northeast Ohio is where I grew up; Ohio is where I have roots. And this trip has allowed me to share those roots with Marisa, showing her off to my friends and family, letting her into my childhood and teenage years. I wasn’t nervous (though Marisa might have been). I knew she would fit right in, and she did. Hanging out with Mom and Dad in our old farm house was as natural as Marisa’s diet.

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Right off the bat, the folks had us out on Portage Lake in their new bass boat. As my dad strives toward bass-mastery, I on the other hand haven’t caught a fish since “Buck was a Calf” (or, to think of it, since Hector was a Pup). While fishing is against Marisa’s religion (in relation to PETA), mom seems to wrangle in the day’s top fish each time she is out with dad. Quite a combination. It was a beautiful, early fall day on the lake, but a bad day to pull fish from the watering hole… dad was later quoted as saying, “This was more of a boating experience, than a fishing venture.” I guess that’s the lingo used when trying to put an optimistic twist on an outing. Not to say that we were shut out; oh no, I am proud to report that after watching the Holden threesome struggle with the rod and reel, Marisa openly grabbed a pole and tried her luck. We weren’t using live bait and bobbers like we did as kids; nope, she was slinging an open-faced reel with only a duel-colored rubber worm and a small embedded hook attached to the line. Then BAMMITY! Overwhelmed with the thrill of the catch, Marisa was reeling in her first ever fish – a good sized Crappie! Though upset for piercing the fish’s mouth, her excitement showed. Congratulations Marisa, you passed the Holden family test with flying colors.

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But Marisa wasn’t off the “hook” that easy. She also endured: a night out at the “Harbor” with all of my high school friends, home-run derby in the rain at the old little league field, a rousing evening of Balderdash at Rone’s house, Sunday morning at High Church, a Jones Family Picnic at our house, rummaging through 257 Church Street, touring both Mom and Dad’s work places, endless hours of post-season baseball, a night of darts with the boys and an onslaught of family photos. Marisa smiled, laughed, engaged, played and respectfully made it through the gauntlet of situations. That is true love!

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I would like to THANK: Uncle Bill for the haircut, Mariah and Mike for dinner and for coming up on Sunday, all of the Joneses for coming to the picnic and meeting Marisa, Madman Manko for orchestrating the Friday night out, Woody for being Woody, Rone for his hospitality and supreme dart-istry, and Big Art and Jean for being the greatest parents I could ask for – you continue to support and inspire me in all I do.

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For more pictures of OHIO, COPY & PASTE the address below to a new tab:
http://s427.photobucket.com/albums/pp359/triptimephotos/Bagavagabonds/Kentucky/Ohio/

Posted by triptime 12:43 Archived in USA Tagged family_travel Comments (1)

Ken and Tucky

by Izzy

sunny 70 °F
View Izzy's Travel Itinerary on triptime's travel map.

After a final night on the “Camping Trail ‘08” in Arkansas, shaking raccoons and kissing armadillos, my first lady and I weathered the storm through Memphis and landed in Kentucky for a four night stint with my college constituents.

First up, the ‘VILLE - home of Churchill Downs, Louisville Slugger, minor league baseball’s Riverbats, Fourth Street and the permanent residence of Doctor Nick Nash and financial counselor John Upton (both hosts on our stop). Highlights included: addicting calzones, Ryder Cup chaos, Taylorsville Lake boating/tubing/skiing, corn-hole comebacks, future Sen. (R) B. Sullivan serving up drinks and the hospitality of life-long friends.

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Next stop, the LEX– home of Keenland, Lexmark, minor league baseball’s Legends, Fazoli’s and the permanent residence of Transylvania University and their record setting baseball coach Chris “Soup” Campbell (the host of this stop). Highlights included: Pazzo’s pizza discrepancy, cold-n-frothy beverages, lima beans, Transy-Time with Guru K. Ghode, lunch with the McGuire Family architect, Soup’s musical serenades and the introduction to George Brett’s… well, his personal confession to what happened after he went out and had “a great flipping(sp?) meal” (youtube will tell you the rest).

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This blog post is proudly supported by the TripTime Ticket of Holden & Godoy.
For more pictures from Kentucky, COPY & PASTE the address below to a new tab:
http://s427.photobucket.com/albums/pp359/triptimephotos/Bagavagabonds/Kentucky/

Posted by triptime 20:52 Archived in USA Tagged backpacking Comments (1)

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