One rainbow, hold the rain: day hiking to Peru’s “Rainbow Mountain”

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The glowing red clock at the front of the van read 2:14 a.m. Flashes of the outskirts of Cusco, Peru—streetlights, rows of cramped convenience stores, hand-painted ads on stucco walls—whipped past my periphery, punctuating the near darkness.

Circa-2013 pop music almost drowned out the sounds of our van rattling as it flew over pot holes and swerved around slower cars. I took a deep breath and tried to focus on the road straight ahead—instead of how fast we were going, instead of the tangle of apprehension and nausea growing in the pit of my stomach. I was utterly exhausted, but wide awake with nerves.

I wondered what I had gotten myself into.

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In solidarity

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I had a post ready to go today about a hike we did in Peru…but it just doesn’t feel right. I may not have anything new to add to the fray, but I can’t ignore the significance of this weekend for our country (and our world).

To put it simply, I have not been impressed with how our almost-45th president has acted in the days since his election. Based on everything we have seen throughout the past year, I do not believe that he is fit to lead our country with dignity and compassion. If I am wrong—and I hope I am—I will be be thrilled to shout it from the rooftops.

But if I’m not, I want it to be known that I do not support bigotry and hatred in our highest office. I won’t be able to attend a march this weekend, unfortunately. But I want the record to show that I stand in solidarity with those who march for unity tomorrow.

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Snow day nostalgia

We’ve officially been back in the states for more than three weeks now. In this in-between phase of my life, I’ve been spending a lot of time at home—my first home. The city where I was born and the house where I grew up. Good old Greensboro, North Carolina.

This is the longest stretch I’ve spent at home since I was 21 and fresh out of college. But when I walk into my childhood bedroom, it feels like almost nothing has changed. It isn’t a shrine, exactly, but it definitely hasn’t become a home gym or anything either—let’s just say that my mom has yet to be converted by Marie Kondo.

Basically, it’s like an archaeological site of personal history in there. Boxes full of old diaries detailing my 7th grade woes, old birthday cards, photos, trophies, yearbooks…the more you dig, the further back it goes. If I’m home for more than a few days, it’s inevitable that, at some point, I’ll get pulled in. I’ll open up a cabinet or peek under the bed in search of a book or a misplaced sock, and suddenly it’s two hours later and I’m sitting on the floor surrounded by elementary school assignments, simultaneously laughing and cringing at some horrible poem I wrote in the 2nd grade.

Nostalgia is the strangest feeling. Part longing, part relief of knowing the past will stay where it is—the comfort of perspective. Sometimes, like when I crack open that diary from 7th grade, I’m searching for that feeling—the indulgence and security of getting lost in unchangeable memories; the satisfaction of snapping back into the present and appreciating how much has changed.

Other times, nostalgia reaches out on its own and smacks me in the face.

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Friday favorites & feelings

“What was your favorite part?”

I can’t begin to tell you how many times I’ve been asked this question throughout the past two weeks. No shade to anyone who asked me—I would be eagerly asking you the exact same thing if our roles were reversed.

But man, is that a hard question to answer. Each time, I find myself completely overwhelmed with what to say. The first few times, I’m pretty sure I went with “Uhhhhhhh…oh my gosh. I don’t even know. There were so many things! I should have been more prepared for this question!” Eventually, I learned to throw out a few go-to highlights (hiking on a glacier in Patagonia; playing on sand dunes in Colorado; conquering a 17,000 ft. peak in Peru).

But do you want the honest truth? I still have NO IDEA what my favorite part of the last five months was. And the thought of whittling those experiences down into cohesive stories and sound bites is still overwhelming.

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My brain right now, trying to decide where to go from here.

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