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.

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I think this is Mt. Ranier with windmills turning from the heavy winds blowing across the fields.

On my second day in Oregon, I got up from the wonderful home where I was staying in Hood River and headed east along the Columbia River. The scene was gorgeous and soon I was starting to see more desert landscape. The scenery was magnificent and changed continuously as I drove east and south. At one point as I was driving through low rolling hills and endless fields with wind generators dotting the horizon, I looked in my rear view mirror and saw a huge snow-capped mountain. I pulled off the side of the road to get a good look and then scanned to the left and saw another mountain in the distance. I’m pretty sure the one was Mt. Rainier in Washington. I don’t think any other mountain that far away could have been as huge as the tallest peak in America. I saw it once from a plane and now viewed it from land.

While I normally dislike the journey and am more of a destination kind of person, I fully enjoyed the drive and stopped to take photos as the landscape called to me. Oregon has a natural history filled with geological turbulence and regrowth. Ice ages, volcanoes, water, weather patterns, storms, and more formed the beauty we see today. Fields and prairies, hills and low bushes, tall beautiful trees, mountains in the distance, and windy rivers all captured my attention and made me relaxed and happy.

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The stage coach station in the old west town of Shaniko.

I stopped at a ghost town called Shaniko. In the old west, it was a thriving place but when the railroad passed it by, it became desolate. So the locals now make some cash from selling antiques in the old stagecoach station and from people like me who stop off to see a little tiny old west town.

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The Clarno Unit of John Day Fossil Beds.

After my short visit, I continued on a somewhat deserted road that turned sharply up and down the hills of central Oregon toward one of the locations of John Day Fossil Beds Parks. There are three sites that make up this park. I first went to the Clarno Unit, where I hiked about a mile and a half through in the high sun and along rough paths through ancient rocks. The scene of the tall rock monuments changed as I wound my way around the paths. These rock cliffs were formed from volcanic mudflows that swept through the area 44 million years ago and preserved a diverse assortment of plants and animals that inhabited a near-tropical forest. My heart was palpitating when I got to the top of a 450 foot elevation on a small rough path ending under an arch and a fossil of a tree embedded in the cliff.

I was in want of ice cream when I finally made it back to my pickup truck—the so called “economy rental”, but alas, no civilization was nearby so I continued along the windy roads to the next park, the Painted Hills. These colorful hills were beautiful. Reds, yellows, and spots of black flowed through the rolling hills as a result of ancient volcanic flows.

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The Painted Hills

The Painted Hills is one of those places where the view keeps getting better and different as you move along the paths. The hills look like sand but when you see it up close, it’s more like very dry, crumbly rock that has been colored. As I was making my way down from the top of one path, I noticed many people with dogs—they are allowed on leashes. And then, my eye caught one woman walking her little goat. He was on a leash, so I guess that works! One of the cool things about traveling is seeing all kinds of people who make it interesting enough to write about.

IMG_5306With my Fitbit buzzing at 10,000 steps, I called it a day and drove the final leg down to Bend where I would get to see my niece and her friend. More mountains dotted the landscape as I reached hippie town, USA. Seriously, it is a lovely town, about to burst at the seams as more and more people (and students) add to the 80,000 population. More on Bend and my fun with “Grasshopper” on my next post, but once again, I will say I thoroughly enjoyed the drive through this gorgeous state with seemingly vast resources and open land.

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