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2019 Walker Canyon

Tuesday, March 19

So after a fun couple of days with friends in Big Bear, we found out there was a “Superbloom” happening all over Southern California and we chose to drive south to a place called Walker Canyon near Temecula where the Bloom was supposed to be spectacular. It did not disappoint!

A two mile hike into the canyon proved to have absolutely amazing views! As far as the eye can see! Mostly orange California Poppies. Native only to this region of the country, they bloom every year, but most years it is sporadic with dots of color here and there.

But every seven to ten years, we get this, “Superbloom” that follows a heavy rain year, which we had this year! We have seen Superblooms before and every time one occurs it is a marvel to see! This was my first Superbloom with good digital camera gear. The last one was early in the history of digital cameras and my equipment isn’t what it is now.

This Superbloom went for miles and miles in all directions and we thoroughly enjoyed the entire afternoon walking through the canyon! If you ever get the chance, go see one up close and personal!

Don’t forget to follow us for more fun days that we’ll share!

2012 Peru Day 16

Thursday, April 12, 2012

We wake up and go to the restaurant at the top of the hotel, as usual for Peru and take a few last minute photos from the top overlooking the city. Then our taxi arrives and it’s off to the airport.

I do manage to get some fun photos from the plane on the trip to Lima. We arrive late in the afternoon and watch sunset from the terminal before boarding our flight back to the States.

We fly home in the dark and arrive before sunrise, tired and happy!

See you for our next adventure!

2012 Peru Day 15

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

This morning is brighter and the threat of rain is all but gone. We get up and don’t rush to the bus. We have 10 AM tickets for Waynu Picchu this morning. Waynu Picchu you ask? That’s the name of that pointy mountain at the backside of Machu Picchu. Yes, you can climb it AND there is another city on top of it! So we grab some fruit for breakfast and catch an 8:30 AM bus. Not as long a line today because the long lines are at 5 and 6 AM. By now, most tourists are in the ancient city.

So we get into Machu Picchu about 9 AM, take a few sunlit photos of the place and head for the back where there is a shelter with a roof on it where you wait to enter. Waynu Picchu has two entry times. 10 AM and 2 PM. We have tickets for 10 AM. Only 200 people can enter at each time slot and we had to buy these special passes 6 months ago. They sell out.

Precisely at 10 AM, they open the gate and check our passes. We are about the 10th people in this morning. At first the trail splits in two and we wonder which way to go. But shortly into it, we see the two trails merge back to one. I make a note that the first quarter mile goes downhill and I realize that it will make the last of the hike uphill and I cringe, knowing I will likely be exhausted!

We continue on and the steps prove difficult. The steps vary from 3 inches high to knee height! And add to that the rains of yesterday and before have the trail soaked and nothing has dried up. Elee is having difficulty and tells me to continue on and she will either meet me or see me when I come down. I continue on. Some parts are easy and some parts are extremely steep. Some of the steeper parts have cables on the side to help you pull yourself up. At one point, shortly after a really steep and irregular set of steps, I turn and get a glimpse of Machu Picchu and it is quite the sight!

I finally get near the top and there is a set of benches to rest on. I find a vacant seat and sit for 15-20 minutes, thinking about whether I can go on. This has been a tough climb. Some hikers come down a very steep set of narrow steps with no side rail and tell me the top is right at the top of those steps! Okay, good news! So I get up the courage to climb these steps and I go up, one foot after the other. The trail opens onto a small plateau and the view is fabulous! My camera is thrilled and chirps happily away! But then I look around and realize, this is no city. I’m not at the top!

I see a couple hikers enter a cave and that is the trail ahead. A couple other hikers come out of the cave with wet muddy knees and inform me that is the way to the top and the city. I am so exhausted that the idea of crawling through mud is out of the question. I point my camera up and get a couple shots of the walls of the city. This is the end of the road for me. So I hike back down to the benches on the level below and rest again, thinking it will be a long hike down.

As I’m sitting there, I look up and what a surprise, Elee has just walked up. She sits next to me to also rest and we chat. I am so proud of her for making the effort, knowing her knees and legs are not as good as mine. She wants to know if I made it to the top. I don’t tell her I didn’t, I tell her it’s at the top of those steps I point to. So she gets her second wind and climbs up. I go up with her. We make it to the plateau and we take some photos. I then point out the cave and how to get to the top and she agrees with me, it is too much.

So now it’s time for the hike down. It is very wet and slow to avoid slipping. It takes longer to go down than it did to come up but we make it.

We get back to Machu Picchu, happy and not disappointed that we didn’t get to the top, but happy for what we did do. We take the bus back to Aguas Caliente and the train back to Chinchero. They serve us dinner on the train and he wearily chat about our adventures. Then we take another bus back to Cusco and we check back into the same hotel. We are now on our way home. We get dinner and go to sleep exhausted yet happy!

2012 Peru Day 14

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

We get up early and it is still dark. We grab a bite to eat in the hotel, mainly just some fruit. We get outside to the bus stop and at least 100 people are already in line. It is first come first serve for the buses. so we end up on the forth bus and it departs. We get to the road up the mountain and it is a rough zig zag all the way up. I attempt to take some photos but the ride is way too rough and I actually fear for our safety as the driver seemingly drives way too fast and about halfway up, the empty buses are coming down and the road certainly doesn’t seem wide enough. So it is a white knuckle ride to the top and the cameras are parked. Take note to see the photos that show the road tomorrow!

So we get to the entrance and check in with our prepaid passes we acquired before we left for the trip. It is misty and foggy as our guide finds us and we step into a magical place!

The stone work and the magical nature of this place are a dream come true. I have wanted to visit this place since I was a young child and I firmly believed that dream would never come true! But here I am and it is real! We climb and descend, climb and descend, over and over again, marveling at the stone work that is beyond comprehension. Generations of Inca, Quechuan, and other civilizations built the structures using different techniques and methods and it is apparent.

When the Spaniards invaded Peru and destroyed the Inca people, they never found Machu Picchu. What a blessing! But the Spaniards brought with them disease and the Inkans that survived died off in a short time. So the biggest damage here besides the rotting away of wood materials is some random earthquake damage that is relatively mild. The last photo in this series shows the worst of it.

I try futilely to imagine living here. Our guide tells us that they haven’t uncovered one third of this place. They know it’s there and the terracing and city goes to the bottom of the mountain in all directions. But the Peruvian government has decided that they have reached their quota of tourists and want no more volume of people trampling the area. So they have put a moratorium on more excavation.

The fog and the rain have made for magical photos.

See the strange stone structure coming up? That is part of the “Temple of the Condor” where the people worshiped their gods. Later in the day, the rain starts to dry up and we find the Inca Trail and try to hike it to the Sun Gate. But partway up the Trail someone tells us it is 90 minutes each way. We realize we don’t have the energy for this and we get to a point and take a distant photo of the Sun Gate.

The Sun Gate is two thirds way up the ridge in the first photo. Way too far to climb on exhausted legs! So we work our way back to the entrance and onto the last bus down.

See the mountain in the back? We will climb that tomorrow!

We get back down and it is dark. I know we must have gone to dinner but for the life of me, I don’t remember it. I know we go to bed for another early day tomorrow!

2012 Peru Day 13

Monday, April 9, 2012

At the bus terminal this morning some girls in native costumes were there to see us off. We spy another INRI crucifix as our bus leaves the city. We travel past the town of Poroy, normally where we would get the train to Machu Picchu. But due to heavy rains back a couple months ago and a landslide, the tracks are closed part of the way. So our bus takes us to Chinchero where we can board the train.

Moving among the crowds at the train station, we check our luggage and board the train. We find seats in the front car. It is more luxurious that we expected with skylight windows and comfortable seating. The train ride is about 2 hours. A couple of vendors are selling their wares on the other side of the train. I don’t know how one could buy anything. Maybe through an open window? There is a large picture window in the front looking forward and that is where I camp out for the ride. The scenery is again breathtakingly beautiful! The conductor drives the train from half of the front. I get some fun shots of a poor lady with flowers to sell but the train doesn’t stop. If it did, I would have bought them! After a fun and scenic couple hours, we arrive in Aguas Caliente, a town at the base of Machu Picchu.

We check into our hotel on the banks of the Urubamba River. A raging river that we wouldn’t want to fall into! The photo of the Mosquito Hawk doesn’t really show it, but that thing’s body was about 3 inches long!

It is still early and our guide asks if we want to go for a hike and we happily agree! So prepared for rain which looks likely, we head out on a road that follows the river. A lot of fun sights and some tunnels to walk through, we hike about 3 miles to a point where we look up and see the edge of Machu Picchu and we are excited. Have you ever seen a banana blossom? But the rain is imminent so we turn back and head for the hotel. The rain holds off until the last mile and we quickly don ponchos we have brought and make it back relatively unscathed and somewhat dry.

The rain has let up and it’s time for some night photos and a stop at “Indio Feliz” for dinner.

Now to get some sleep for we need to be up early and in line for the bus up the mountain!