Great American Adventure Part Two: Peru & Chile

Well, it’s somehow already here—part two of our adventure starts in T-minus 30 minutes when we board our flight to Lima (by way of ATL of course).

The Torres! Well worth the steep hike
WE’RE GOING TO SEE THIS SO SOON!!!

After a wonderful weekend seeing Hartsville friends and dancing the night away at a beautiful wedding, the past week has been a flurry of packing, organizing, re-packing, calling banks, running errands, buying last-minute supplies, booking hostels, checking and re-checking schedules and flight plans, and hitting up all of our favorite Greensboro restaurants in between all the trip prep. 🙂

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Two months’ worth of gear in one backpack. I think I may have defied some laws of physics, but somehow it all fits!

And of course, this one important errand:

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Being in a different country is NOT stopping me from voting in this election! But I can’t say I’ll miss all the nonstop political coverage. 

It’s been a little bit hectic, but I think we’re as ready as we’re ever going to be. We don’t have every step of our route planned out (trying to leave some room for spontaneity), but here’s the general itinerary:

Peru:

  • Lima
  • Cusco
    • Vinicunca (“Rainbow Mountain”) day trek
    • 4-day Inca Trail trek into Machu Picchu
  • Puno & Lake Titicaca
  • Arequipa & Colca Valley
  • Arica

Chile:

  • Santiago
  • La Serena
  • Elqui Valley
  • Punta Arenas
  • Puerto Natales
  • Torres Del Paine National Park

If I’m being honest, I’m much more nervous about this trip than our U.S. route. I haven’t traveled like this since my study abroad days in college (somehow more than 6 years ago now)…and this time, neither of us speak hardly a word of Spanish. [Side note: I bought “learn Spanish” CDs for the road trip and we listened to a grand total of one 30-minute lesson. So “Hola, senorita! Habla Ingles?” is about the extent of my Spanish knowledge. This should get us pretty far.]

But knowing that I’m a chronic over-preparer, I’m reminding myself again that we can’t be ready for everything—and between the two of us, we’ll be able to figure it all out one way or another. After all, we did make it through that one time in Paris when we accidentally got stranded in a strange suburb at 1:00am when the trains stopped running.

And with that said, I have a plane to board…wish us luck! Hasta luego America, see ya in two months!

Learning to live in the moment

11,332 miles.

54 days.

25 states.

16 national parks.

Two tarantula encounters.

One fender bender.

Zero regrets.

… We’re back from our U.S. road trip!!!!!

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The “after” picture—all four of us (including the Subaru) made it back in one piece! Unfortunately, you can’t tell how extremely dirty everything and everyone is in this photo.

It was, in a word, a WHIRLWIND. After a couple of days basking in the simple pleasures of things like a real bed and a hot shower, I’m still processing everything that we experienced. I think I might be for a while yet. (Luckily we took eight billion pictures to help me remember it all.) But one thing I can confidently say is that we live in a giant, huge, stunningly beautiful, diverse, enormous country. (Did I mention how large it is?)

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A good day in the Badlands

After our wonderful stay in Wisconsin, we said goodbye to family and—clean, rested, with the car neatly packed and a cooler full of cheese—started our journey west.

Fast-forward nearly 400 miles of incredibly boring southern Minnesota interstate…and we finally crossed into South Dakota! We ended up camping in Palisades State Park for the night—juuuust over the border to the east of Sioux Falls. After a good night’s sleep, we decided to do a little exploring before getting back in the car. And it was the coolest place! Originally an old mining town, the park featured a winding river with crazy rock formations and trails all along the shores.

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We went for a short hour-long hike, and at 9:30 a.m. on a weekday, didn’t see another soul. It ended up being one of those unexpected road trip surprises: a hidden gem just outside of Sioux Falls. If you’re ever in the area, you should definitely check it out.

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After that, it was onward to our next destination: Badlands National Park, the first national park of our trip! It was just a few more hours of boring interstate (and about 8 million tourist trap billboards) away, about an hour east of Rapid City. After we took photos with the sign (obviously) and purchased our pass (we’re official card-carrying NPS annual pass holders now, NBD) we headed into the park.

dsc_0678And about two minutes later, we felt like we were on another planet.

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Rubber bands & Ziploc bags

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Locked & loaded: ready for two months on the road

The summer before I went to college, I spent MONTHS getting ready.

I made lists on lists on lists. Over and over I ran through them all in my head, trying to think of every possible thing I could need for my dorm room. One morning, my mom found me rummaging through a cabinet, hoarding a small selection of office supplies: rubber bands, scotch tape, scissors, Ziploc bags.

“You know,” she said—in the simultaneously kind yet all-knowing voice only a mother can master—”I bet there’s someplace in Chapel Hill you can buy those if you need them.”

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Off to a smashing start

In which we encounter the first mishap of our trip before even leaving the driveway.

I apologize for the long break between posts (and also for the potato quality photos here—we left our good camera in North Carolina a few weeks ago and finally got it back today).

My excuse is that this is what my life has looked like for the past two weeks or so:

Moving is always chaos. Then, consider the fact that we’re moving away from somewhere, but not to anywhere—therefore, our stuff is being spread out among a total of two houses and three storage units (not counting what we’re taking with us, which also had to be separated and packed).

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Great American Adventure Part One: U.S.A. Road Trip

First of all, I have to give a HUGE thank you to everyone for your wonderfully supportive response to our big news! Taking any kind of risk—especially one on this scale—is so much easier when you have family and friends cheering you on from the sidelines. I was overwhelmed by all the love, well wishes, and votes of confidence. You all are the best and we are truly grateful!!

With just 30 days until we officially hit the road, things are already getting a little crazy over here —wrapping up projects at work, starting to pack up our stuff, showing the house to new renters, making last-minute appointments/meetings/COUNTLESS lists….etc. etc. etc. I meant to post this a week ago, but time keeps getting away from me!

Anyway, since a few people have asked for more details (and I would LOVE to gather as much advice as I can in the next few weeks) I wanted to share some specifics that were too much to fit in the original post. Starting with Part One: the good old-fashioned U.S.A. road trip!

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Time for a new adventure

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Well, the secret is out. Now that all family, close friends, landlords, employers, etc. have all officially been informed, I am so excited to finally go public with some VERY big news: In just over a month, Chris and I are leaving Hartsville and hitting the road for one of the biggest adventures of our lives!

After four wonderful years living the small-town life, we’ve decided to finally do something we’ve been dreaming about doing for a long time—quit our jobs, sell/donate/pack up everything we own, and TRAVEL. From late August through mid-December (in two parts), we’ll be crossing a few big things off of our travel wish list…

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“Because It’s There”—Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer

Have you ever read a book that climbs into your brain and refuses to leave?

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Last year, I picked up a copy of Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer for 50 cents at a used bookstore. I had read Into the Wild a few years before and really enjoyed it, so I was excited to give this one a try. More than a year later, I finally opened it up…and finished it within 48 hours. Once I got about 10 pages in, despite knowing how it ended, I could. not. stop. reading.

Even now, weeks later, it’s still on my mind. This book just…destroyed me. I’ve read plenty of books that made me cry (looking at you, The Book Thief), but I’m talking about something different. I never cried during this book—it was less of an acute sadness, and more of a heavy weight on my soul. When I finished it, I got so quiet and somber for so long that Chris, concerned, asked me if I was going to be okay.

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5 tips for first-time Yosemite visitors

Two years ago, Chris and I checked a BIG item off the bucket list: visiting Yosemite National Park!

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It’s still one of my favorite trips I’ve ever taken. Recently, I posted a throwback picture to Instagram, and a friend—who’s planning his first visit to the park this summer—asked if I had any tips. I promptly wrote him a novel of an email. So, with Yosemite on my mind and most of this already written, I thought it would be fun to share some of my experience here!

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