Next in Our Imagine Series: Machu Picchu

Imagine…

You are poised at the Gate of the Sun.  Before you, just visible in the day’s emerging light, a shadowy outline in the valley below unveils the end of your quest:  Machu Picchu. Your morning has started in the wee hours with tea service, brought to your tent by your Peru Trek guide. By headlamp, you rise to follow him down the rocky trail, just to catch this sunrise.   Your frosted breath mingles with the mist encircling the moss-cloaked gate, lending a spiritual quality to this morning.

To arrive at this threshold, your small group has spent the last three days following in the footsteps of your sturdy porters.  Past dusty fields where local kids kicked a futbol amongst grazing oxen, alongside the splashing Kusichaka River, and up the grade to the mountain pass, you notice that the price of Gatorade toted in by trailside vendors is going up as quickly as the elevation.

At the mountain pass, your guide Victor treats your altitude-induced headaches with herbal oils that you inhale from his caring palms.  You meander down the wooded trail, lush with orchids and snow-white clumps of begonia that mirror the distant snow-capped Andean mountains.  You emerge from the forest to find lunch set up, tablecloths and all, on the riverbank.

Peru’s many marvels have roused your imagination over the past week. You cheered, shoulder to shoulder, with red-clad locals as they boisterously waved homemade banners in the final minutes of Cusco’s local soccer match.  

You stepped ashore onto the southern floating reed islands to learn weaving from the tribal women, and you floated down the Tambopata, a feeder river to the Amazon, past brick-colored clay cliffs brightly dotted with blue and yellow macaws.   As howler monkeys settled for the night in the treetops, you too withdrew to your screened-in jungle hut to fall asleep by the chirp of the katydids.

And you will always fondly recall Amaru, a Quechuan village 15,000’ up in the Andes where you spent one unforgettable night in the dirt-floored home of a local family.   Their lima bean tea warmed you against the mountain chill. Then Hilda, your host Mom, cooked you dinner over the fire in their open hearth as guinea pigs ran back and forth.   

Are those creatures dinner or pets?   Yes.

 

But this morning’s sunrise is what you really came for.  Somehow, it surpasses your imaginings.

 

As you stand at the Gate, it occurs to you that what had begun as a mountain hike had ended, thanks to Victor’s mystical communion with these mountains, as a pilgrimage.   This Incan city’s mysteries are yours alone, at least for the next few hours until the first tourist-packed train arrives. You step out.

That was a trip of a lifetime”, you say.  “Let’s do it again next year!”

Sleeping in a Costa Rican Treehouse

Ever wanted to spend the night sleeping in a treehouse! Well now is your chance! There is a one of a kind treehouse nestled in the amazing jungles of Costa Rica just waiting for you!

This three-story treehouse is surrounded by wild jungle and includes a spectacular ocean view. The open-air space includes 360 degree views which are breathtaking. The house includes hand carved furniture and a dream kitchen. Have your morning coffee among the calls of the macaws and watch the monkeys swinging through the trees on this once in a lifetime adventure.

Next In Our Imagine Series: British Virgin Islands

Imagine…

 

your guide cuts the skiff’s motor as you slip onto the sand of this deserted island.

 

You’ve landed on a crescent of pearly beach in the British Virgin Islands.   It is fringed with palms, lapped by aquarium-clear water, and breathtakingly perfect.   

 

And it is just yours, for the entire day.

 

Provisioned with a picnic basket full of champagne and salmon, your snorkel and fins, and some comfy towels, you wave goodbye as the boat putters off, and then you are alone…

 

…Deliciously alone, a no-one-can-find-me-here alone!   You turn to survey your private playground and wonder,

“When have I ever been at such leisure, untouchable by the world and all its distractions, to savor a day and a place, just for myself?”

You string up your hammock and sway.

 

At your BVI resort, beach drops like this are just one of the indulgences awaiting you.  Over the week, you will take salt-sprayed sails on their sloop, dance to reggae drummers beneath the stars, and stroll to the neighboring cove to visit the Baths, quiet pools created by giant boulders where you can soak in the sun and explore sea caves.  Back at your casita, you will bathe al fresco in showers secluded in the seagrapes.  And at day’s end, you will feast on the distant isle of Anegada, licking lobster butter off your fingertips, wriggling your toes into the sand, watching the sunset.

 

That was a trip of a lifetime”, you say.  “Let’s do it again next year!”

 

 

 

Next in Our Imagine Series: Alaska

Imagine….    

Your helicopter banks above an immense ice field, a great white sheet of some 30-football-fields that blindingly reflects the brilliant June sunlight.  The evergreen shores, sapphire waters, and a jumble of Juneau rooftops are only minutes behind you, but here the only color comes from a few bare boulders jutting out of the mountainside and a cluster of brown specks on the valley floor below.  Those specks are the sled dog camp and you’ve come to meet the huskies that make their home there.

The wop-wop-wop of the chopper blades thrum in your ear as you drop into the bowl and fly towards the camp.  When the helicopter door opens, brisk glacial air crystalizes inside your nose as you clamber out onto the snow-packed field. You immediately appreciate the Arctic boots provided by your guide, and you squint in the piercing sun.

Your little group feels like ants as you walk across the vast space towards the kennels.  Out on this lonely, empty, wild glacier, the yips and howls of the dogs offer a lively welcome, and the resident Iditarod-veteran lopes over.   In an oversize brown cowboy hat and fringed furry mukluks, bleached blond stringy hair and a wind-worn smile, she huskily says, “Welcome to Norris Glacier Dog Camp.”

You are free to wander the doghouses, five straight rows of white miniature igloos.  You stop to stroke the huskies, one at a time, and wiggle your fingers to the soft undercoat of their dense fur.   Their cornflower blue eyes are striking out here in this sea of white, gray, and brown. Their pink tongues loll and drip, salivating for the run!

Your guide joins you and the other tenderfoots, sharing chilling tales from the 1049-mile annual race to Nome. She explains how the camp works and how everyday Alaskans use dogsledding in their daily lives. As she walks past his kennel, she addresses her lead dog, Asha, with a loving pat between his ears.  He squeezes his eyes shut and points his nose in the air, soaking up her attention.

Masterfully, she wrangles the lunging, yapping dogs, one by one, into the 16-dog harness, then jumps on the sled for a quick demo loop.  With a “Hike!” they take off. She turns the team right with a “Gee!” then left with a “Haw!” Once they get revved up, convincing them to stop can be tricky, but her well-trained team comes to a halt with a jingle of the tack. The dogs stand panting, their exhales making small puffs of steam in the air.   

Now it’s your turn to take charge of the sled.  Unfasten your seatbelt and hold on tight!

Like the takeoff on a rollercoaster, with the acceleration of skiing nearly out of control, the sled lifts ever so slightly off the snowpack and, almost airborne, takes the first wide curve around the field.  Thankfully, the dogs know where to go on this snowy oval, but your mind recalls movie scenes of frozen river crossings and treacherous forest switchbacks, and you wonder – do the dogs always lead the way?

The sharp air, the piercing sun, the powerful dogs, the flying momentum –  you feel so exhilarated that you find yourself laughing out loud into the wind.

When, all too soon, it’s time to leave, the chopper lifts up and sweeps you away from the husky camp.   You look out at the azure Alaskan sky and recall the blue of the sled dogs’ eyes.

That was a trip of lifetime”, you say.  “Let’s do it again next year.”

Sharing the love of travel!

 

Looking for a Low-Cost Trip with Mom?

Are you traveling on a budget? A great way to make a trip low-cost is by choosing a destination that is an inexpensive flight away (or even drivable!) and then taking advantage of all the great amenities that already exist like hiking and picnics and gratuity-only walks. . Here are three fun, low-cost trips that will give Moms a new adventure in a beautiful corner of the country, without blowing the bank. Continue reading

Waterfall Rappelling in Costa Rica

Looking for an extreme adventure? Try waterfall rappelling in Costa Rica! Get a one of a kind view of a beautiful waterfall by being lowered down right in front of it! Waterfall rappelling is when you zipline out in front of a waterfall and then are lowered towards the water at the base head first! It’s definitely an adventure for adrenaline junkies!

Everyone who does waterfall rappelling wears a helmet and gloves and is rappelled down by an expert! This is as extreme as water sports gets! Later you can get up close and personal with the falls, as you rappel down a smaller water with the water rushing down around you. There is truly no other experience like it!

Sperry Chalet in Glacier National Park

Ever wanted to spend the night in a national park? The Sperry Chalet in Glacier National Park can help you accomplish this! You can hike a gorgeous 6.7 mile trail through serene forest, streams, and wildlife to reach the quiet retreat high above the tree line. See glaciers up close (even slide down them!) and sit out on the porch with a nearly 360 degree view.

Sadly, the Sperry Chalet burned down in the forest fire in the summer of 2017 and the rebuilding efforts are already well underway to bring this slice of paradise back to its full glory.