Dear 100 Hour Board,
Tipperary: You've been adventuring in South America! Can you tell us more about it and can we see your favorite places?
Other writers: Where have you adventured this year? What was your favorite place?
Other writers: Where would you like to adventure in the next year?
Dear Auto ~
We hosted good friends in our basement this past summer when they unexpectedly had no where to live (7 kids and 4 adults in one house!), so to express their gratitude, they told us to go on a kid-free vacation and they'd take care of our kids. We weren't about to say no to that! Yellow's parents are serving a mission in Germany right now, so we opted to go visit them. It did NOT disappoint. I love Bavaria and Austria so much.
Favorite place in Germany: Partnachklamm Gorge. Definitely our number one so far. It was incredible! Imagine the Narrows in southern Utah, but then put it in the mountains (with grey rock instead of red). Add a turquoise river with almost constant white water from all of the fallen boulders at the bottom. Now cut out a book in the side of the gorge that runs the entire length of it. Walk on that as water drips down on your head as it melts off the Alps above you. Also enjoy the cascading waterfalls from above as well. Seriously amazing.
Favorite place in Austria: Hallstatt. A salt mine way up in the Alps. They've been mining for thousands of years. Archaeology is easier there, because the salt preserves things very well. There is a lake at the bottom, surrounded by a quaint village. Breath-takingily gorgeous.
You didn't ask, but I'm going to tell you anyway. My favorite food from Bavaria was easily Kaiserschmarnn. It's like a sweet, bite-sized German pancake, fried in butter with raisins (and maybe apples) and topped with powdered sugar. I'm working hard to replicate the recipe at home. Wish me luck.
Right now I'm in Moab for the week. I've lived my entire life in Utah and Idaho, but this is my first time exploring Southern Utah (excluding Lake Powell, which I explore almost every summer). I don't really have a favorite place, but I love this panoramic picture of Windows at sunset.
In the coming year I will be going to Island Park twice (once in summer, once at Christmas), going on my first cruise to the Bahamas, and there is a possibility of a girls' trip to Greece in 2020. I'll update you on those next year, I'm sure.
Last summer, I sadly did not go to Asia. It did however leave me A LOT of free time which I used primarily to watch ALL of Community. Sometime during my binging of all 6 seasons, I peeled myself off of the couch and went to Moab and Arches with some friends. It was a lot of fun, even though I'm TERRIFIED of heights and cried climbing up/down Delicate Arch. Definitely would go again!
Last month, some friends and I went to Idaho to stay in her family's cabin. That was great but deciding to go to Yellowstone was not great. We spent 6 hours in the car just driving around the park. I thought it would be more like Arches where you drive somewhere and then you hike around but nope. We walked around a lake for a little bit and then drove and drove and drove and saw Old Faithful and then drove and drove and drove and then saw some hot pots and then drove and drove and drove and drove. 3/10, not recommended.
This year I am PUMPED though because I'm hitting up 4 different countries before the end of the summer. In about 2 weeks I'll be starting my annual month long Asian journey. I'll be in Hong Kong, Malaysia, Vietnam, and then finish up in China. My passport will be almost completely stamped so I may do a quick trip to Mexico or Canada before it expires next June to completely fill it up!
Of course I'll tell you about the trip! South America was so legit and I could go on for hours. Alas, this is neither the time nor the place so I will just hit you up with some pictures and trip highlights!
Cajamarca Peru: We spent 3-4 days up in a small village in the Cajamarca province of Peru. The Peru part of my trip was an engineering study abroad where we worked on projects with the village for a whole year before going down to Peru. Our project was to help the village process and clean the quinoa they grow and sell. It was such a cool experience to work with the people there!
Macchu Picchu, Peru: This made the entire trip worth it! Macchu Picchu does not disappoint. It's just as cool in person as in the photos.
Uros Islands, Peru: On the Peruvian side of Lake Titicaca there are about 200-300 small islands made out of floating bundles of dried reeds. We went and stayed with a family of church members out on their island. It was amazing to experience being on an island made of floating plants. Also, their kids were the most adorable I have ever seen and I will have to show you the 30+ pictures I took.
Torres del Paine National Park, Chile: There's a pretty famous 4 day backpacking trail we were going to do, but we got up to the park and the rangers said it was too windy and cold to enter the park without a guide. Fortunately, our taxi driver was the son of the first park ranger and grew up in the park. So he drove us around and showed us all the coolest sights and we didn't have to backpack or camp. It was such a blessing in disguise.
Perrito Moreno Glacier, Argentina: The glacier was so cool! (#SorryNotSorry for the ice pun) The glacier was breathtaking from far away but we got to climb up on top of it and that was 1000 times better. I don't like spending money but it was definitely worth paying extra to hike on the glacier. It felt like we were on a different planet.
Mount Fitz Roy, Argentina: If you're familiar with the brand Patagonia, Fitz Roy is the mountain outline on the logo. We got into the nearby town around 8:00 pm and hiked for 3-4 hours in the dark and camped out in the freezing cold to get up to the mountain early. It was the worst night of sleep in my entire life and I was legit a little scared about hypothermia, but it was so worth it! We reached as far as you can go without climbing gear around 10 am and there was no one else in sight. This honestly was probably my favorite part of the entire trip. The view was amazing and it was cool to keep it all to ourselves.
Las Nazarenas Steakhouse, Buenos Aires Argentina: I ate here last year and it was the best steak of my entire life. This year I got to eat here twice! We had a grilled round of cheese, french fries, salad, soda, and 1 lb steak for $24! Apparently the recent economic downturn in Argentina has made this super cheap. I'm really sad for my Argentine friends, but I am not going to complain about being able to afford the best food ever!
Anyways, I definitely recommend South America! Thanks for asking about this so I can talk about my trip without dropping a bunch of not-so-subtle hints to get someone to ask me!
Dear Auto Surf,
Owlet and I went to Greece a couple months ago! It was super fun. We planned it ourselves, which took some time but I think allowed us to see the things we really wanted to see. Here's our itinerary:
- Flew to Athens, then to Santorini, rented a car, and checked into an airbnb in Thira.
- Drove to a monastery at the top of the island. Unfortunately it was closed and the sky was somewhat cloudy, but the views were still pretty cool.
- Hiked from Thira to Oia, about 6 miles. This was one of my favorite parts of the trip. You walk through cobbled streets with whitewashed houses and along the edge of a caldera overlooking the sea and neighboring islands.
- Still on Santorini. Walked down to the harbor and take the cable car back up.
- Toured the huge archaeological site of Akrotiri where acres of uncovered ancient buildings just sit there. Then went to the corresponding museum.
- Walked along the beach and take pictures of Owlet in her fancy dress.
- Flew to Athens.
- Checked into our airbnb in Athens, which was harder than you'd think since the guy said there'd be a lockbox with a key code AND THERE WAS NO LOCKBOX. We roamed up and down the stairs helplessly until the man on the first floor said, "Are you here for George? Here, let me give you his key."
- Walked to Monastiraki Square to meet our tour guide for our 4 hour walking food tour of Athens!!! It was my other favorite thing to do. It was so much fun to sample amazing food and walk around with someone who could explain everything to us. Word of advice for all tours, though: confirm your appointment a few days in advance. They'd scheduled us for the wrong time and there was a good deal of calling and waiting and serendipity needed to get us a tour guide before we had to leave. It all worked out great, but still.
- Rented a car and drove to Olympia. Checked into our airbnb-reserved hotel.
- Toured the Olympia site and museum. Lots of cool ruins standing around. Imagined the wonder of the world that was the statue of Zeus. Ran the length of the Olympic stadium.
- Drove to Galaxidi, a hilly sea town close to Delphi. Checked into our airbnb with a man who spoke no English, which was a cool experience. Almost everyone else spoke some English.
- Toured the site and museum of Delphi. There's a lot you need to just imagine, but there was also the Sanctuary of Athena that was close enough to walk to but far enough to avoid so many tourists.
- Drove to a millenia-old church at Hosios Loukas.
- Car didn't want to start for a good 10 minutes, then suddenly did. I didn't want to stop and have to restart it again, but I definitely didn't want to keep it another day as planned. So we drove to Sounion and...
- Saw the Temple of Poseidon at sunset-ish. It's right over the sea and is gorgeous. Then the car didn't want to start again for a few minutes, but finally gave in and we drove back to Athens to return the cursed contraption. Checked into the best airbnb yet.
- Attended mass at the Metropolitan Cathedral. Nope we definitely did not wake up in time for that.
- Tour the Acropolis, the famous giant rock upon which sits the Parthenon! Also saw the accompanying museum.
- Walked up Filopappou Hill to catch a site of the Acropolis and the rest of Athens in time for sunset.
- Tour the National Archaeological Museum, which was HUGE. We pretty much just ran through the vase section to say we'd seen the whole thing.
- Toured other sites around the Acropolis like the Temple of Hephaestus (remarkably intact and never rebuilt! All the other temples had to be put back together) and Ancient Agora (where Socrates discussed philosophy and stuff).
- Ate dinner at a fancy rooftop restaurant with views of the Acropolis.
- Flew home.
The last out-of-state vacation I went on was Billings, Montana in 2016. So going to Southern Germany with my dad to visit one of his old mission areas in October is gonna be exciting! Especially since I've never been to Europe before. I've been trying to keep up on German through Duolingo to prepare.
Plus, the Munich Art Museum has Van Gogh's Sunflowers so I'll finally get to see one of his pieces in person!!
Besides that, I'm also excited to go to the Shakespeare Festival since they're doing Hamlet AND Twelfth Night, which are my favorites.
We went to China. Also, I kind of talked about our China trip in a different question, but ANY EXCUSE TO SHARE MORE PICTURES, RIGHT??
If you ever need to feel Extra Beautiful, go to China and have your picture taken professionally. Sure, I was living off a few hours of sleep as we’d just flown in the night before and, yes, it was an All Day experience (lunch provided), but I have never felt so beautiful. This is probably the most narcissistic I have ever been in my life, but I’m still obsessed with our pictures.
Also, I finally got my face edits to save, so here is a picture of me holding a real, live, sweet and fluffy arctic fox. I didn’t know it was a dream until I saw it and, honestly, that’s the only souvenir I brought home this trip.
While in Harbin we visited a Russian village where I ate Russian chocolate and debated ruining the Russian’s souvenir photo business by uncovering my very white face and offering to take pictures at a cheaper price, but then I didn’t do that.
We also saw Siberian Tigers, a Liger, and other big cats, and on top of all that I got to experience a very authentic Chinese New Year. Oh, and I dyed my hair purple, which was AWESOME.
We’re still trying to decide on where to go next year, if anywhere. We are supposed to be adventuring in Southern California this week but I’m having surgery instead, and I am so bummed. After recovery and all my summer trainings and various doctors appointments, there will not actually be much of a summer left, and who knows if we’ll have time/money to even go at that point?
Pity Party over. Excuse me while I go rewatch our home videos of last summer’s trip to Knotts Berry Farm.
Last September before school started I went camping with Pebble & co. in Idaho near Ashton. We paddle-boarded the Warm River, hiked to Cave Falls, and took a scenic drive with a view of the Tetons. I couldn't find any pictures (back up your pics, kids) but trust me, it was beautiful.
And, of course it's not unknown that I got back from Oahu, Hawaii a few weeks ago. I did a LOT of snorkeling. The first day, we swam with Hawaiian Spinner Dolphins in Waimea Bay:
And we also got to see some turtles:
We swam with a Spotted Eagle Ray, plenty of tropical fish, and even saw 2 monk seals. It's pretty amazing out there.
I also hiked Laie Falls, visited the temple, went to the PCC, chilled on the beach, and ate LOTS of really delicious food. Here's two more pics:
After Hawaii, we visited Pebbles family in California and got to tour JPL, which was awesome. We got to go to the hi-bay where they're constructing the Mars 2020 Rover, so here's that:
Anyway. It's been a party. I'm going to Oregon in August with my family and I can't wait. I've always wanted to go to the Pacific Northwest, I figure that's where my soul belongs. Next year, I'd like to visit Alaska.
Last summer while visiting my parents, I finally made it to Provo, South Dakota after spending the day in Edgemont doing railroad photography. It's a pretty sad-looking town where dead cars significantly outnumber living people. I've now visited two of the five Provos of the world, leaving Provo, Kentucky; Provo, Bosnia and Herzegovina; and Provo, Serbia on my bucket list.
-yayfulness, lover of geographic odds and ends
Dear Auto Surf,
I went to Russia last week. My sister served her mission there and wanted to go back to visit; I needed a vacation, and this was a good excuse to use a bunch of airline reward miles that I'd saved up from all my work travel. In addition to her mission, my sister wanted to visit Moscow and Saint Petersburg, and since I didn't have enough vacation time to go for the full 2.5 weeks she was planning on, I accompanied her for two days in Moscow and four in St Petersburg.
A nice American in Moscow for work was also at St Basil's Cathedral at the absurdly early hour we were and offered to take pictures of us in exchange for us taking pictures of her.
On our way to the hotel in St Petersburg, we passed a mini bazaar thing in a park, where we bought salo (сало) - a dried-cured pork belly, like bacon but edible raw - and cheese, which we ate with apples and bread. In general, I found the Russian food a little bland, but this meal was definitely one of the exceptions.
We went to Catherine Palace (which the palace in Anastasia was modeled after) but couldn't go inside because the line was too long. About 90% of the people there were Chinese tourists, so we were going to look for someone who spoke Russian to ask for a picture, but I found a Spanish-speaking family and asked them instead.
The State Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg was okay (and HUGE), but I liked the Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow better, mostly just because the art on display at the Hermitage was older, and I generally prefer paintings from the Romantic period onward.
As for the next year, I have a few goals. I've been wanting to visit San Francisco, CA for a while now, so hopefully I can manage that in the next year. I also think I'm going to try to visit my mission in Mexico this year, now that it has been five years since I got back.
Dear Auto Surf,
This has been a less adventurous year for me than usual because of a new baby + some physical complications from childbirth that have limited my mobility, but we went to England and Wales for 2 weeks in the fall; Monterey, CA for one week in the winter; and New Mexico for one week in the spring.
In the next year, I don't know. Probably Utah over the summer to visit family, and then somewhere in the fall when our nanny takes her yearly trip to Peru. My husband really wants to visit Fiji, but that seems like a long flight with a toddler, especially since said toddler has, historically, only let me hold him on an airplane. We will see.