Mar 22, 2011

South America - Here we come!

OK... So, it's been forever since I posted anything, but I'm so excited about our trip that I wanted to capture the details beforehand to share them with you... If you know of any hidden gems along our route, that we shouldn't miss, please let me know!

First, we're headed down to Rio De Janeiro on June 8th. We'll spend a fun-filled week seeing the Copacabana, watching those girls from Ipanema, checking out some favelas, doing the samba, the merengue and the cha-cha-cha and just generally soaking up the Brazilian atmosphere!


From there we'll be flying to Iguazo Falls for a couple of days. This series of 275 waterfalls is on the border of Brazil and Argentina.

Cataratas del Iguazú, Misiones, Argentina

Next we'll be flying to Lima, staying the night and then heading off to Cuzco in the Andes in Peru. (Cuzco is the historic capitol of Peru.)

Panorámica de Cuzco

We'll be hanging out in Cuzco for a couple of days to give us time to acclimate to the 11,400 ft altitude. Then we'll head off to a day in the Sacred Valley and we'll be spending the night in someplace called Ollantaytambo.

Ollantaytambo - Peru

Now the real adventure begins! We head off on the Inca Trail. This is a 4 day hike through the mountains and old Inca villages that the Incas used before the Spanish arrived to get from place to place and that they used to ultimately get to Machu Picchu.

The trek is limited to 500 people a day, and you have to go with a group, to keep damage to the trail limited. I've never been on a hike that required porters to carry your belongings and apparently, even with the porters this is a grueling hike, but it should be an amazing experience. Each day we'll start hiking at 7am and end at 4-5pm and there are lots of up and and down hills. It will probably be the most "remote" civilization I will have ever seen.

Machu Picchu

After our time at Machu Picchu, we'll be flying to Puerto Maldanado, the entryway to the Amazon Basin. From there, they will be taking us via motorized canoe into the Amazon to our eco-lodge. (No electricity, but working toilets and kerosene lamps!) We'll spend a few days checking out the wildlife and meeting the natives.

3 Toed Sloth

Next we'll be flying to Lima, where we'll spend a quick night before heading to Curacao, where we'll spend a week decompressing from all of our adventures on a hut on a beach. (Or at least the closest thing we can find!)

Playa Porto Marie, Curaçao

I've always believed that every time I've gone to a new country, I've come home a changed person. I can't wait to be the Trigby that has experienced all this.

Oct 7, 2010

Moving on...

In a few short days, I'll be leaving my fantastic SOMA loft to move to the Mission. Frankly, to an even more fabulous loft space with a beautiful deck, sky lights all over, on a quiet street with a great kitchen and tons of storage space! I can't wait!

It's been an interesting experience living down here. I can't really beat the commute, although it was hard to blame Muni for making me late to work when all I had to do was cross the street. It won't be the same living in the Mission. I'll miss the feeling of being on top of the world, and I'll miss my beautiful view, and I'll miss the Coke Sign. I will not be missing the homeless shelter around the corner, or all the broken glass from the car break-ins. I won't miss the steam cleaner coming by weekly at 4:30 AM, or having to go up & down stairs in the middle of the night to use the bathroom!

I've enjoyed my place, but I'm ready for my next new adventure! I think Eric & I will turn our new place into a really nice home. I look forward to lots of entertaining at home and a Winter full of excuses to not go anywhere, but just stay in. I also can't wait to explore the nooks and crannies of the new neighborhood! Watch this space for pictures coming soon!

Aug 25, 2010

7x7 Desserts - #2 -Alfajores from Sabores del Sur

Our 2nd stop on our dessert tour was for Alfajores from Sabores del Sur. I never would have expected that one of the very best desserts would have been from the Alemany Farmer's Market! (Which has been operating in that spot since 1947!)

The Experience: We got up early on a Saturday morning to head down to the Alemany Farmer's Market. Once again, we had Muggs with us, but when we got to the Farmer's Market, they told us "no dogs allowed", so we had to make a quick dash for it while we left Muggs in the car. We raced through the market, searching everywhere before we came to the small coffee stand labeled "Sabores del Sur". I don't think either of us really expected that this unassuming coffee stand would have much in the way of desserts, but were we ever wrong. We bought our cookies and some coffee from the incredibly sweet owner and raced back to the car to enjoy our cookies back at home.

My Expectation: I really wasn't expecting much. I had already been to the best Mexican pastry shop EVER, in Dallas, so I was fairly sure these cookies wouldn't compare.

Evaluation: Occasionally a person eats something that is perfect. These cookies are that dessert. I'm fairly certain that if there is a heaven that it is made out of these cookies. The stuff in the middle is a carmel like filling, which looks like it's going to be thick and frosting-like, but it's light and airy and has the delicious taste of carmel. YUM. If you have no other reason to go, head down to this place and try these cookies. They are just that good.

#1 - Alfajores from Sabores del Sur
#2 - Lemon Cream Tart from Tartine Bakery

Eric's Thoughts: Here

Aug 24, 2010

7x7 Desserts - #1 - Lemon cream tart at Tartine Bakery

So... It's taken me a little while to get the time to start posting these, so there will be a flood of reviews at first... but then they should settle into about once a week. First up, the Lemon Cream Tart at Tartine Bakery.

The Experience: We walk by Tartine all the time and Eric has a spiritual relationship with their morning buns, so I knew anything that we'd have here would be good. Of course, we had to wait in the line, that always seems to be wrapped around the building. We were walking Kathleen's dog, Muggs, so Eric had to wait outside with her while I went in and got the tarts to go. The picture shows the small tarts on the bottom and the big tart on the top. Obviously they are art, even before you eat them. They put my tarts in a tasteful little bakery box and we walked back to Eric's place to enjoy them.

My Expectation: I love anything lemon and anything creamy, so I was sold even before I tasted the tart. Eric isn't so wild about Lemony things, so he wasn't as excited as I was. (Plus, he has that crazed look in his eye for the aforementioned morning buns.)

Evaluation: Yes! They were heaven. If a lemon cream tart sounds like your "thing", then you'll have a hard time finding a better one on planet Earth. Simple. Straightforward. Delicious. Extremely creamy. Not overly sweet. Just enough crust to add a sweet crunch, but thin and light. Truly heavenly.

Ranking: Being that this is the first one. This one is currently, #1.

Eric's Thoughts: Here

7x7 - 50 Deserts in 50 Weeks

View 50 Treats to Eat Before You Die in a larger map

About a month ago, I was perusing 7x7 magazine, and came across their list of, what they say are, the 50 best desserts in San Francisco. Taking this as a personal challenge, Eric & I decided to try one new dessert every week for the next 50 weeks, until we had tried them all! We decided to do them in order, so as to not pick out those that we liked best and skip the rest. Of course, Eric being the phenomenal photographer that he is, is capturing each one artistically.

Me being lucky to get the target of my photograph in the frame at all, is just using my iPhone to capture them. Still, they're so delicious looking that it isn't that rough to get a decent shot.

One other great thing about doing this particular set of quests is that not only will we try a lot of tasty treats, but we'll have the excuse to eat at a lot of amazing restaurants!

For each dessert, I'll be covering:
  • The Experience
  • What I expected from the dessert
  • What I thought of the dessert
  • My ranking of the desserts tried so far
  • A link to Eric's posting of the dessert (so you can see the pretty pictures & see what he said)
And... no, I will not be posting my current weight, waist size or need to purchase a new belt. Hopefully this will all just be further incentive to get my butt to the gym. For now... Let's start with the dessert!

Aug 12, 2010

Camping - Lassen Volcanic National Park

For as long as I've lived in San Francisco, I have wanted to go camping in Lassen Volcanic National Park. It's in northern California, just east of Redding, which is about a 4 hour drive from SF, and it's got active volcanos (all four types!), open boiling pools of water and sulfurous gas coming out of the ground! I've seen most of California, but I hadn't been here, so I've been looking forward to going ever since Eric first told me that he'd take me many, many months ago!

It had been forever since I'd been car camping, but I loved it. On Saturday, we hiked up to the very top of Mount Lassen. You drive up to the parking lot which is at 8,500 feet, and then you hike the rest of the way up to 10,500 feet, up to the crater where Mount Lassen blew back in 1915. It was incredible! Pictures never capture the feeling of being up so high, but we did manage to hike to the very, very tippy top!
Way down below us, you can see the snow in August, so that gives you a sense of how high up we were!

I downloaded a cool app into my iPhone that not only tracked our entire hike, but allowed me to take pictures along the way. Here's a link to our Hike! The satellite image was taken when the mountain was completely covered in snow. It wasn't quite that bad when we hiked it. Still, it was a grueling climb and we were thrilled when we made it to the top.

To get to the very, very top, you had to follow this trail:

If you're thinking, "What trail?", you'd be right. The last bit was a little insane, but the hike back down was total relief.

That night we made dinner and crashed. There were a million stars out, so we just sat and talked and laughed and watched the night sky and listened to the sound of the woods and the other campers. It was an incredibly peaceful evening.

I thought we'd take another hike on Sunday, but we were both worn out, so we just walked around Lake Manzanita, which was really beautiful, and then drove home.

Being unplugged from all media sources and input was a really wonderful break and left me totally refreshed by the time Monday rolled around. I need to remember that and go camping again soon! Thanks Eric!

Jun 24, 2010

PDC - Day 3a - Coba!

The next day we got up early, rented a jeep to head into the jungle!


You really do feel like you are in the middle of nowhere, after a few hours of driving through this:


We did eventually come across Coba. This was an ancient Mayan city that was founded around 100 AD and abandoned about the time the Spanish showed up, with the hey day really being about 800 AD. Due to the jungle, you don't really realize how large the site is. We checked out some of the buildings at the entrance, which included a small pyramid and a ball-court.




There was no shortage of flora and fauna:

Flora at Coba


Then after walking for about 45 minutes through the jungle (think hot & humid), we came across the large pyramid in Coba, Nohoch Mul.

Nohoch Mul

We didn't come all this way to not climb up to the top, but once you're up there, you realize there really is nothing around you but jungle!


Once we climbed up and down that pyramid, good sense got the best of us and we decided to rent a bicycle taxi to take us to the last site and back to the entrance. Our final stop at Coba was to see the stelea (big carved stone tablet) that predicts that the end of this phase of the Mayan calendar in 2012! There are a lot of these stelea all over the place here, but this one particular stelea explains the Mayan creation myth and seems to say that this phase will be over in just a couple of years. Here it is:


As you can see, unfortunately, because these stones are all made of limestone, they basically melt in the rain, so there isn't much left to check out and the details are pretty sketchy. In case you're worried that the end really is near, it won't be because the Mayans predicted it. Apparently the Mayan's thought there would be 9 cycles of existence, and this only predicts then end of the 7th cycle. So... after a bike ride back to our car, we headed back into the jungle, but that will be a story for a little later...

Jun 23, 2010

PDC - Day 2 - XPLOR

I'd better get this darn trip documented, before I forget all about what happened...! Our 2nd day in Mexico, Eric's parents had bought us tickets to XPLOR, an adventury sort of amusement park in the middle of the jungle about 10 minutes south of PDC. First they give you little helmets with chips embedded in them so that every time you get near a camera it automatically takes a picture of you. Like this one, when we were in the "heart" of XPLOR:


This was the center starting point, from here there are all kinds of different adventures to go on. The first was driving the little off-road cars around a track which ran about 5 miles. It was very narrow, so there was very little "freedom", but still it was fun driving down into tunnels, over suspension bridges and up steep hillsides in the jungle!


Driving in XPLOR

Next was the zip-lining. I had never done any zip-lining before, and sailing WAY above the jungle, hanging from a cable was incredible! Unfortunately, you are SO high up that they don't really take pictures of you way up there. Eric was a little freaked out, and a lot freaked out when we got to the tallest one which was 45 meters tall, but he jumped like a trooper especially when he realized it would be at least an hour walk back thru the jungle if he didn't!

There's a video, but it will have to be posted later.

Finally we did some underground swimming and rafting in caves full of stalactites. It was awesome!