Female police officers keep things moving at rush hour.

The Crowe family adventures continued in 2017 to a long-awaited (three years in the making) trip to Peru and Ecuador. Initial thoughts are it was beautiful, fun, interesting, exhausting, and worth the wait. I’ve never taken a Spanish course but found that all the Spanish we see in the States gave me enough to work with when needed. However, as usual, many people in the world know English at least a little.

So, day one we arrive after a very nice comfy flight into Lima. In the morning we grabbed a 30-minute cab ride into the center of town. It cost the three of us a whopping $6. I can only explain driving in Lima as a ride on the Tower of Terror. I was upfront for the action and took it on faith alone that we would arrive alive at our destination. Lane lines are merely suggestions and spaces between cars are measured in millimeters. Cars without dents are non-existent and cabbies have mad reflex skills. Good brakes and a horn are necessities. Also, the intersections were managed by female police officers. Evidently the ladies were less prone to corruption and don’t take crap from anyone, making them perfect for the job.

There is no metro in Lima—politics and infrastructure make it an impossibility. There are a lot of private busses and here’s the fun way it works. As the bus runs down the road, a guy on said bus yells out where he’s going and solicits prospective riders standing on the curbs. Then they pack the busses to the gills. They also have Uber there; however the low-cost cab ride didn’t incentivize me to look elsewhere for savings.

Church in Lima.

After touring through a cathedral and the central square, we visited the St. Franciscan Monastery and Catacombs. Since so many people needed to be buried in the limited consecrated ground (that they conveniently paid for), they would throw the bones from the older burials into pits to make room for new burials (we saw a lot of those bones and some mummies). There were hundreds of old/ancient books in the library. To our surprise they were left out in the open, unprotected to the elements. It was a beautiful place with hidden paintings under plaster and complex baroque-style artifacts.

For lunch, we walked around and found a Peruvian/Chinese place which we later discovered was very popular in Peru. A lot of Chinese immigrants had arrived there in the past and they would call people over to “come eat rice.” The Peruvians couldn’t understand them, they just heard the word “chifa” so the Chinese restaurants are now all called Chifa. We had potato/egg-like tortillas with chicken and meat. It was pretty good.

As we walked around the square, we saw a small protest going on. A number of police in their riot gear were there but it was peaceful and we saw them shaking hands with the protestors after. Evidently there is a lot of corruption going on with business and government leaders. Sounds familiar. We bought a few items from the locals and managed to negotiate a cab ride back to the hotel. The next day we started bright and early with a group tour to an interesting museum.

Some of the 45,000 artifacts at the Museo Larco.

The Museo Larco has 45,000 artifacts, dug up on an estate nearby by a private family. The objects were all from graves—funerary items to help the dead with all they need in the afterlife. They were a pretty advanced civilization and had beautiful pottery, textiles, and jewelry.

For lunch we went to a hacienda where they bred Spanish horses. We saw a little show and some dancing. The horses have a special gait—only one hoof touches the ground at a time. I got a little “pony ride” and then went on to have some pisco sours and munch on the buffet. I also tried Inca Cola, a yummy yellow soda and some Peruvian food, which is delicious.

A coffin carried through the streets of Lima.

Some sights we saw on our ride included communities that formed by squatters. In Peru, you can build a house on an empty lot (some of them had foundations built on old tires) and if no one tells you to leave after a few years (5 or 10), then you are good to go. After a while, neighbors form official communities. We laughed at a casino with a name that translated to “coin swallower.” And we also saw a coffin carried through a street, a couple of prisons right in the middle of the city, lots of car repair shops, and a lot of street entrepreneurs selling water, juice, and an assortment of crap to pedestrians and people in cars.

Dinner at one of the oldest homes in Lima.

After a tour through a gorgeous church and a walk through the town, we made our way to a one of the first homes built in Lima back in the 1500s. Descendants of the original family still own the home and it’s right next to the Governor’s Palace. The beautiful woodwork, very old furniture, and an open ceiling with a tree in the courtyard, were our backdrop for dinner. Our group heard a talk from a British ex patriot and a local Peruvian woman about their life and the local culture.

The adventure continues with a flight to Cusco, then on to Machu Picchu, and Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands.




These wonderful dancers entertained us during lunch.

The Spanish horses at the Hacienda.

Chinese restaurant–Chifa!

The church in the central square of colonial Lima.

Siesta time in Lima.

Guys sell water, news, and more to drivers.

Groups of kids on a school outing at the museum.

the Museo Larco.

Mom and Dad at the beautiful museum.

Life in Lima.

A shop waiting to open.

The houses were build on arrid land by squatters.

A house gets built slowly in Peru and laundry is done on the roof.

Pisca Sours, a favorite drink in Peru. Yum.

Training one of the young horses at the Hacienda.


The last part of my wonderful trip to Oregon took me to one of the most beautiful places I’ve seen—Crater Lake. I stayed in a very rustic cabin in the park area and then made my way to a mystery house which I’ll describe later.IMG_4838

As I made my way around the roads and up to the top edge of the caldera, my first view of the lake took my breath away. It lived up to the hype for sure. The deep blue, clear water is pristine and beyond the tree topped caldera is a scene of mountains and valleys.

IMG_4844Crater Lake was once a very large volcano reaching 12,000 feet—it was called Mount Mazama. Nearly 8,000 years ago a violent eruption caused a collapse of the volcano in on itself forming the crater. Over the millennia, snow and rain filled the crater and created the lake we see now. It’s the deepest lake in the U.S. and one of the purest in the world.

IMG_4833I drove around the west side up to the northern rim and got out a few times to take pictures. At one point I started on a hike and ended up walking over quite a bit of snow that was still on the trail. Finally I had to turn back when the hillside was covered ahead. The scenes of the lake changed as I went around and stopped at different areas to hike. All the views were spectacular and I saw some wildlife including deer and cute chipmunks, and marmots which looked kind of like ground hogs.

IMG_6071The visitor center had a nice video of the history and science of Crater Lake and the rangers were very helpful. Some of the roads were closed but I did get down a little south to see some pinnacles. These structures are called fossil fumaroles, and were formed when steam and gases were released. They became hard after a time and stand out from the softer ground around them.

After a few hikes and lots of photos I drove back to the cabin area. Since there was no cell service and no Internet, I went down the road for another hike in the woods to see a natural bridge over the beautiful River Gorge.IMG_6086

The Vortex

On my last day, I drove a bit south and west to Oregon’s Mystery House—a place where there is a vortex that causes physics to be questioned. Many years ago the Indians that lived here avoided the place because their horses would not travel through the vortex. Miners came later and their mules had the same reaction, but because there was gold in the creek there, the miners stayed and set up shop. IMG_6152They built an assay office but soon abandoned the building to storage since the balances they used to value the gold were “not quite right.” The building later fell down the hill in a storm and sits at a weird angle.

As we toured the area our guide had a number of us stand at one end of a balanced platform and then switch places. It seemed our heights changed as we switched places. When we were in the building, some of us had severe motion sickness. I stayed to see the experiments such as watching a little girl roll a bottle downhill and watch it come back to her and I balanced a broom on its own. I was surprised how many people showed up there—considering it was in the middle of nowhere. But well worth the visit.

Final ThoughtsIMG_5263

Our northwest states are stunning and I encourage everyone to visit and take in the pure nature and beauty of the area. The people of Oregon respect that beauty and take good care of it, using alternative energy and recycling. The air is clean and people are nice and I am very happy to put this visit on my completed bucket list. I had a wonderful time visiting my niece and while I miss her, I’m glad she is living in such a wonderful place that’s good for the soul. God’s beauty can be seen everywhere in Oregon.

















Drake park in Bend.

My Oregon vacation continues with several days in Bend. It is in central Oregon and while there is a substantial population it has a small town feel of a kind or resort town. There is a mix of expensive boutique stores, outdoor sports enthusiasts, and new age hippies. With beautiful snow-capped mountains surrounding a cute pedestrian friendly downtown, residents enjoy hanging out in the expansive park along the Deschutes river and sitting outside in café’s and trendy restaurants serving local food.


Archer meets a new friend.

My adventure in Bend began in the morning of July 4 when we walked from my rented condo apartment into downtown to check out the first of several parades that day. These parades actually rival the infamous Horton Bay parades up in Michigan. The first parade was for dogs and other creatures. Dogs small and large were dressed up and walked or carried down the road. I was amazed at the number of them and then even more so when I spotted other creatures—chickens and roosters, miniature ponies, goats, horses, and bringing up the rear some large snakes.


Archer gets lunch on July 4.

We then headed down to Drake Park, a beautiful grassy area along the river filled with rows of retailers, artisans, and food tents. There were wonderful local businesses selling soaps, t-shirts, woodcarvings, dog products, recycled artwork, and much more. We gave McKenna her first taste of a delicious cheesesteak sandwich. It was the loveliest day and we enjoyed lunch on a blanket near the river in the shade of a warm sunny day.

The girls’ dog Archer was a fan favorite—about a hundred people asked what kind of dog he was—some of them insisting on his combination of breeds even though they were wrong. Archer is a funny looking and really cute guy—a lab, beagle mix. We took him over to the bank of the river to have a little swim. And he met many new friends, including a massive dog 10x his size.


The endless bike parade. July 4 in Bend.

It was then time for the bike parade which basically was several hundred people on various bikes coming down the street cheering loudly—many drunk and/or stoned and in the most colorful outfits. The people of the town were very friendly and in spite of the revelry pretty much orderly and kind. We spent the afternoon swimming and resting before meeting for a delicious dinner and fireworks. We went to a school under the Butte in Bend where they set off the fireworks and evidently with the dry climate, they inevitably set fire to the place. Some geniuses near us set fire to some brush with some of their own stash.


A view of nearby mountains from the river as we floated.

The next day we “floated the river.” The Deschutes river in Bend is very shallow (and cold) and it’s a daily activity for the residents to rent tubes (or many have their own) and enjoy the beauty of the surrounding area. We floated about an hour and passed by neat homes–some old and small and some newer and bigger. Many of them had cute decks and yards—one even had a bed. There were some rapids we bypassed and some random logs and such we sometimes missed and sometimes had to awkwardly maneuver around but the scenery was lovely the entire time—including some mountains, birds, and interesting people. We landed back at the park in town and caught a bus back. Our very fun day was topped off with another delicious dinner at Anthony’s—which had a wonderful view of the river. The food was mouthwatering and was made better by wonderful conversations and good company.


The artwork around the restaurant was interesting. This sign was made up of silverware and railroad spikes.

My last day in Bend continued with another delicious meal—brunch at Chow—an interesting place with local artwork placed around the house, and a garden where they grow some of the herbs and vegetables they use in their meals. We all had tasty mimosas and yummy eggs and such. We sat outside because the weather was once again warm and sunny. Dogs were welcome and we had more wonderful conversations before heading out to Bachelor Mountain.

A short drive from Bend took us to the mountain where skiing is enjoyed in the winter and hiking and biking are prevalent in the summer. There was still a lot of snow on the ground so we couldn’t hike down, which was fine—we took the chair lift up and back and had wonderful views of the mountain ranges. The Cascades were in the distance and close by were the Three Sisters and The Broken Top Mountain. Little lakes dotted the valleys in between them. We took a little hike around the top after lunch throwing snowballs and taking in the views.


McKenna and Zenia atop Bachelor Mountain. The Three Sister s in the background.

We spent some time exploring the shops and bookstores in Bend before I left for the south. We met some interesting people in town—a guy who set up a table with his small paintings and a book he wrote—about traveling around the west with mules. I can’t say I would be comfortable with his lifestyle but I really admire free souls like that who embrace life and nature. One of the wonderful gifts of traveling is meeting people who have such a different outlook and lifestyle as you—it gives you a new perspective of the world around you and makes you appreciate people much more.


My niece and I on July 4 in the park in Bend.

This was the best few days I’ve spent in a long time. If I could live without working, I would rent a little place on the Deschutes River for a time each year and float on the river for some peace and rest.

Next stop and post, Crater Lake.




The girls and Archer in Drake park, Bend, OR. July 4


Archer wants that stick!


The view outside Anthony’s in Bend. We floated the river there earlier that day.


The houses on the river had the cutest yards like this one.


This house knows how to enjoy the comfort of the river with a bed under a canopy roof.


A view of the river as we floated along.


McKenna takes the rapids and ends up flipping over.


Lots of geese hang out on the river, some seem to walk on water and others were swimming alongside us.




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