Do you ever put off a phone call because you just don’t want to do it? It’s easy. Tell yourself you’ll do it tomorrow, that you’ll have more time to prepare, you’ll be in a better mood, you’ll have your papers in order.
Today I made a phone call that I have been avoiding. I called Gina Berg at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine to ask her if my father’s cremains are ready. Although the paperwork tells me that it usually takes 2 years after the date of death to receive cremains, (and it has only been 13 months since Dad died), I called early because I really want to take a pinch of Dad’s ashes to Peru. He loved traveling so much that I can’t even imagine going on the trip without him.
Good thing I called. Gina said Dad’s body was used by third year surgical students to practice exploratory techniques. Dad would have totally geeked out over that. I’m so proud of Dad for donating his body to the medical college that I plan to follow in his footsteps when my time comes.
When I reflected on our last big trip to France and Spain, I mentioned that in future trips I would not cut corners with lodging. So for our Peru Trip, we relied heavily on one of my favorite travel sites, Luxury Link. We first learned of Luxury Link, a vacation package auction site, from our friend Kirk, who is the best deal-wrangler I have ever met. We have since used the site to secure packages in Costa Rica, Thailand, Spain, St. Lucia, and now Peru.
Our first package is for our first 2 nights in Sacred Valley, at Hotel Rio Sagrada. We had a $100 coupon, so this deal turned out to be super cheap, for:
2 nights in a Deluxe Room with private terrace
Welcome amenity upon arrival, including selection of fresh fruits and Peruvian coca tea
Buffet breakfast for two each morning
Dinner for two each evening
Andean Temptation cooking class for two on one day of your choice
From Sacred Valley, we head to Cusco to check in 2 days in advance of our trek. To assure that all trekkers are acclimatised, our trekking company requires payment in person 2 days before the trek starts. So we will arrive in Cusco and check into the Aranwa Cusco Boutique Hotel. Our package includes:
2 nights in Classic Room
1 king bed
Intelligent oxygen system
Welcome tea upon arrival
Buffet breakfast for two each morning
Dinner for two on one evening of your choice, served at Mishti Gourmet Restaurant
Then we spend 3 nights camping on the trail, and when we arrive at Machu Picchu we will be staying at the Sumaq Machu Picchu Hotel. We didn’t purchase a package for this stay since we are only there one night.
Then we’ll re-do the package at Aranwa Cusco Boutique Hotel, enjoying Cusco for 2 more nights.
We are 23 days away from our departure for Peru and 27 days from our Inca Trail Trek. Preparations have begun in earnest. We have the trip planned out, but now I am very interested in getting as fit as I can. The Trek lasts 4 days and covers around 27 miles. To those of you who marathon, that sounds ripe for a race, and yes, they do hold an Inca Trail Marathon. But here is how we’ll split it up over 4 days. Lowest point is 8,000 feet and highest point is 13,779.
I also tested all of my gear on the Humphrey’s Peak hike on October 23. That was a 10 mile hike with about a 3,500 foot elevation gain/loss.
Now I’m spending 4 weeks recreating the mileage of the Inca Trail. My goal is to accomplish the Trek comfortably, which means not feeling too sore to sleep each night. I would also like to keep all of my toenails, a feat I have not been able to accomplish on past through hikes.
Monday I hiked Camelback with the day pack I will carry on the trek. This hike offers lots of scrambling, with an elevation gain/loss of about 900 feet. I packed my day pack exactly as I will for the Inca Trail and it weighed 26 pounds. That was too heavy, especially considering I don’t have to carry a tent, sleeping gear, or cooking materials. After the hike, I tried to pare down what was in my pack. There weren’t many things I wanted to take out. So instead of removing much more from it, I decided I’m going to lose 5 pounds to take care of that extra weight.
Yesterday I did a 7 mile South Mountain Trail run at dawn that was delightfully cold, rocky, and beautiful. The sun was in the east and the moon was in the west. I didn’t take my pack because I ran with Miranda. She’s a great motivator! This trail offers an elevation gain/loss of only 400 feet.
Today I did a 5 mile South Mountain Loop with pack. This one offers an elevation gain/loss of almost 1100 feet.
Since I’ll be out of town for much of next summer, John wants someone to stay here to help with the dogs. We have a few leads, but nothing solid. I had some free moments back in early October so I thought I’d look at Craig’s List to see if any of those ads had potential. That’s when I saw this:
I am a pro triathlete based in Vancouver Canada. I’m planning on racing the IronMan in Tempe at the end of November and would like to come down and train in the hotter drier climate for a month or so beforehand. Looking for somewhere that I can stay during this time. Couch or floor space is totally fine but I would like to be able to cook. I’m very friendly and easy going. Love kids and dogs so also happy to do some baby-sitting or pet-sitting.
Hm. I thought. That sounds like fun! So I replied to the ad and said:
Have you had any takers on your training base for November? I was hunting Craig’s List because I am going to be out of town a lot, and we need someone who can stay here with the pets. We’re hiking the Inca Trail in December and will need someone with them then. Any chance you might stay through December?
So she replied:
It wouldn’t be too hard to convince me to stay longer. Vancouver is not the nicest place to train in December!
So 5 days later I went to the airport to pick up Miranda Alldritt, our new roommate.
Miranda fit right into our little household. Can you say Butternut Squash curry? Delicious! And she’s so good with the dogs that I rarely see them anymore since they’re mostly curled up in her bed. And she helped me set up my MacBook Pro to run VMWare, something I had been terrified to try myself. And we got a fast and furious education about what it’s like to be a pro athlete, versus the little dabbling we do with racing. My weekly load of training equals one day of Miranda’s workouts.
So today is the big race. We all got up at 4 am to cheer on Miranda. You can follow her here, # 74. Good luck roomie!
It’s no secret that 2009 was a rough year for me–let’s hope the roughest of my life. My mom dropped dead of a heart attack on John’s birthday, and within 5 months my dad was dead from cancer. Even though they were both life-long smokers, I never imagined that both of my parents would be dead before I turned 40. But that’s how it happened. So I’m certain you’ll forgive me for stepping away from the blog.
Now over a year later I’m negotiating each day as you might imagine I would. Some days I want to take on the world. Other days I want the world to go away. I’m a different person now. I’ve been told this is normal.
Even though my personality and priorities have changed, a lot of my interests remain the same. And one of those is travel. After my father died, even as I sorted through notebooks and files and years worth of statements in an attempt to settle his complicated estate, one of the activities I also managed was planning a trip to Chile for May 2010. And what a wonderful trip it would have been had there not been an 8.8 magnitude earthquake 2 months before we were supposed to tour Santiago, Atacama, Cochalgua, and Valparaiso. When I called US Airways in March to ask if they might refund the money for our tickets and they responded “Certainly, right away!” we decided that the trip to Chile could wait.
John and I have a promise that each year we will visit a country we have never visited, and 2010 will be our twelfth consecutive year of fulfilling the promise. When the Chile trip was canceled, we knew we had to replace it with a trip we could complete by December. We talked about a short trip to Antigua or Barbados. But then as my 40th birthday loomed, I decided that we better accomplish some of our dream trips while we still can. I made a list of my top 25 trips, and I asked John to do the same. And that’s how we realized we should get ourselves to Peru, pronto. And so we are flying to Lima on Dec 17th, then on to Cusco where we will get acclimated to the elevation. On Dec 22 we will start our 4 day Inca Trail trek so that we arrive to Machu Picchu on Christmas day.
So I will be updating this blog with tales of our trip planning and then with our trip taking. It feels wonderful to write again, and to travel again too.