Tag Archives: driving

Road Tripping in Peru

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img_9147One of my favorite things to do in a country is drive.  Of course, I love trains as well,  But, driving allows you to stop at will. You see things that are not in any guide books, or posted on line.  You get the authentic feel of a country, catch unexpected views,  stop at random roadside stands, and see everyday life in towns.

Since as this blog posts, I am on the road again – this time in Spain, I decided to share some of my favorite random photos from driving in Peru.  Mostly in the Sacred Valley.

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For More on South America: Go Here

For more Sweet Spot Travel: Go Here

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Ecuador Part 4: Getting Lost on the Avenue of Volcanoes

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Kinda hard to miss

Kinda hard to miss

How do you get lost when a volcano is your navigating landmark?  Apparently, it is not as difficult as one would think.

We are big believers in seeing a country by driving a car on your own (or taking a train).  There are so many things missed when flying over, or being escorted by a tour.  We also bow down at the alter of the GPS (Costa Rica: No Signs Allowed).  However, due to my limited Spanish (yes, the GPS was all in Espanol!), the sparce map programming for Ecuador, or just (I fear) my mental capacities – the GPS rented from the car rental company in Cuenca, Ecuador was not as much help to us as expected.

Truth be told, we saw much more of the country than originally planned (much, much more)on our drive along Avenue of the Volcanoes from Cuenca to Banos to Quito.  Lucky for us, there were only a few roads that take you through those mountains (and we found them all), or we would probably still be searching for a way out…

We did manage to locate the Ingaperca Inca Ruins between Cuenca and Banos:

Ingaperca Inca Ruins

And see some colorful things along the way:

No billboards needed when there is the side of a house to paint.

Who needs billboards when there is the side of a house to paint.

We kept driving when it was raining:

I think we do this way...

I think we go this way…

And took random breaks when it wasn’t.

Anyone for a game of hoops?

Anyone for a game of hoops?

Sometimes we drove by the view,

No shortage of cows in Ecuador.

No shortage of cows in Ecuador.

And sometimes, we got out of the car to take in the view:

We will get there someday.

I think it is too far to jump.

And sometimes, we just followed the truck in front of us:

Goin' my way?

Goin’ my way?

Driving though the rural and mountainous parts of Ecuador, we came away with two impressions: Ecuador is a vastly beautiful country, and those volcanoes may be big, but they do not a navigational tool make.

In the end, we made it to all of our planned destinations…and a few unplanned ones as well.

All in a days travel…

The best days that is.

For other articles on Ecuador:

Ecuador Part 1: Forrest Gump Goes to Quito

Ecuador Part 2:  Getting Mobbed and Spit On in Cuenca

Ecuador Part 3:  Throwing My Kids Off a Bridge in Banos

For More Sweet Spot Travels: GO HERE

4 Things to Know About Raising Country Kids

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Yes, I seem to be running a theme of Country Living lately (Top 10 Clues You Are Not Cut Out For Country Life).  No rhyme or reason, just where my brain is roaming around on these hot summer days leading up to Fourth of July!

Today, my most recent article about raising country kids is running over at ParentSociety.com.

I grew up in the suburbs, lived in the city, and then moved to the country when my kids came along. I did not expect there to be any difference when it came to raising my kids in the country as opposed to the city/suburbs. Kids are kids, how different could it be? But I am here to tell you I was naive as a turkey on Thanksgiving…

Yes, I was naive – but my kids have educated me well.  I mean really, who needs shoes or a license to drive anyway?  Have I said to much?  Alright, already, just go read this quick little piece and find out the rest!  Whether you are planning on ever being a Country Parent or not, you just might be glad you did! Go Here!

4 Things to Know About Raising Country Kids

Faking It as a Country Girl

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10 years ago I did something unbelievable; so amazing in fact, that my friends and family were in awe (or, shock was it?).   I moved, with my husband and two boys, from the city to my husband’s hometown in rural mid-west Missouri (for how city girl met country boy go here).

Now, I know what you are thinking: California girl moving to the country – train wreck about to happen. Well, sometimes, it felt that way.  In truth, there were adjustments to make.

First off, in an attempt to minimize my transition trauma, we chose a house in “town” as opposed to one smack dab in the middle of a farm – like, without neighbors…and lots of snakes. However, while it is true that in “town” I can actually see my neighbor’s house, it is also a fact that “town” is basically a one block main street with some off-shooting streets, not even enough inhabitants to fill up an AMC Movie Theatre (unless you include the animals and livestock), and to get a decent work-out, you must run/walk/bike the circumference of the “town” numerous times.

However, in addition to learning to survive a rural mid-west winter (A California Girl’s Guide here), I have acquired knowledge of immense use to making it faking it as a country girl.

1.  Anywhere in town, always leave your keys in your unlocked vehicleThis is very important, because you never know when someone will need to quickly jump into your vehicle to move it out of the way of a passing farm apparatus, help an elderly person needing your parking space, or borrow it for some quick, random errand.  If all goes well, your car will be in the same location when you go to retrieve it.  If not, a few phones calls (in my case, usually to car-swapping brother-in-law) will quickly establish a location and alternate transportation if needed.

2.  Don’t be fooled, in the country the snakes live in town too. In fact, they enjoy flaunting this fact by dropping out of trees in front of your house guests, sunning themselves outside your kitchen window, slithering through your baseball pick-up games, or hibernating in your domicile.  It is best to pretend you are copacetic with co-habitation and hope they are eating rodents and not your baby birds.

3. If you run out of or forget an item at a store, seek help. “Running” to the store to get a needed item is just not an option, the store might as well be a billion miles away (Which explains why savvy country dwellers have pantries the size of Mt. Rushmore).  Therefore, if you need an item such as eggs, milk, spices, butter, canned corn, etc…appeal to a neighbor.  If you require items such as: Whole Wheat flour, tofu, tempe, organic beans, or turkey bacon…make spaghetti.

4. Learn how to follow road directions.  I know what you are thinking…how dumb can you be if you can’t follow directions. But trust me; survival depends on a vast amount of UN-documented knowledge.  Here is generally how my first direction experience went:

Me: “How do I get to xyz?”

Direction Giver Guy/Girl (DGG): “Drive straight out of town then turn left at the Smith house” 

Me:“Who are the Smiths?” 

DGG: “The Smiths are the people who used to live in that house next to the barn where John Chaney kept his horse named Champ”.

Me:“Oh”.

DGG: “Then, take a right onto Boat Road” 

Me: “So, there will be a road sign?” 

DGG: “No, that is not the actual name” 

Me: “Huh?” 

DGG: “It is called that because of a building that looks like a boat”

Me: “So, I will see this building that looks like a boat and know when to turn?”

DGG: “No, the building was torn down several years ago.” 

Me: “Oh”.

DGG: “Then, when you see the black bull standing in the pasture..” 

Me: “You mean, like with horns?”

DGG: “Yeah – turn right at the sharp corner where Duke Dudley wrecked his truck and there you are.”  

Me: “Where?”

DGG:  “At the chicken coup with the rooster weather vane.”

Me: “Oh”…

And as a country Mom, I have learned to curtail the shock of watching my kids driving before their feet reached the pedals, wielding all manner of power tools and weapons of mass destruction, and requesting flying squirrels as pets. But, that is a story for another day.

In closing, if there is one key thing I have learned about rural life, it is this…

The good thing about living in a small town is,

When you don’t know what you are doing, that’s ok…

Everybody else does…

New Years Non-Resolutions

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Yeah, I know the New Years Resolution Bus has passed.  However, due to the fact that my Christmas Cards invariably hit the ground running about mid-January, I decided to claim end of the year procrastination as a “tradition” and forge ahead.  Besides I was occupied between Christmas and New Years combating a bunch of kids for a patch of mountain on which to ride my board (hey, I only took out a few…that I know of) -man-made snow, quite the hot commodity.

Anyway, I will make this easy.  I do NOT make New Years Resolutions.  Not since, after occupying Los Angeles for 10 years, I Resolved to give up using the F bomb – which has led me to a lifelong, frustrating and futile search for its replacement equal.

Therefore, here are my 6 New Years NON-Resolutions:

I will NOT drink more water.  Let’s face it, at a certain age the Pee Pee dance is no longer cute and becomes potentially hazardous. (If you are not getting a mental picture here, just give it a few years).

I WILL add to my embarrassingly large, spilling out of the closet, “yes, honey, I swear I got that for a good price” denim collection. However, as an attached rider, I renew my vow to shun all things bearing the name “Jegging” and I will pass on the new “Ass-Cam” now being installed in select designer denim fitting rooms.

I WILL eat sugar in my coffee, in my soda, in my desserts, in my snacks; Even if it means the possible acquisition of a JLo Butt (wait, maybe I should re-think that Ass-Cam…?).  “I’ll have boobs to go with that butt please.”

I will NOT give up the right to throw things when the situation demands.  For example, kids’ shoes I have tripped over a cajillion times, malfunctioning machines (full confession coming soon), cat that lies right in the middle of the room (jk – of course I would not throw my cat…she’s too fat.)

I WILL cook way more pasta then anyone wants to eat.  Furthermore, I WILL, in a fit of thinking I am the next Pioneer Woman, mangle some poor unsuspecting piece of beef, force my family to eat it, and expect them to give me praise.
Lastly, I WILL, in my totally un-cool Soccer Mom van, peel out when local teens make fun, bump into curbs, back into low concrete walls and drive over the grass on the side of our new driveway that hubby is desperately trying to grow.  Because, well, that’s how I roll.

Happy 2012.  May all of your New Years Non-Resolutions be a success!