August 31, 2007

Peru Itinerary

Just in case anyone wants know what we're doing right now... it's this! I copied all of this out of an email I sent to my family when we booked the trip...

Aug 31: Fly to Lima, overnight in Lima at a hotel close to the airport (we won’t be there long).

Sept 1:
Early flight Lima to Puerto Maldonado – a jungle town at the confluence of the Madre de Dios and Tambopata Rivers. From there we take a motorized canoe up the Tambopata River to a Jungle Lodge. Once we get there we can learn about the Ecotourism Project and the Local Community of Infierno. Also our lodge is near to a 35 meter scaffolding tower which we can climb to see the rainforest canopy (and hopefully some birds!) up close.

Sept 2-3: Jungle Lodge. This place sounds really cool – there is limited electricity and no running hot water but it is made entirely of local materials, and is run/owned by a local community. We booked a guided canoe ride around the Tres Chimbadas oxbow lake to look for giant river otters, along with turtles, hoatzin, and wading birds. Also, we can go to a community ethno botanical center, and/or take some hikes through the rainforest. But the thing I think I’m the most excited about is getting to visit the Clay Lick – it’s where hundreds of parrots and parakeets congregate to ingest clay - it should be spectacular.

Sept 4: Jungle to Cuzco. Get up early and travel back through to Puerto Maldonado for our flight to Cuzco. The rest of the day we spend in Cuzco (probably just downtime getting used to the altitude – Cuzco is at 10,500 ft.)

Sept 5: Day in Cuzco – I’m sure we’ll check out the Cathedral, Temple of the Sun, etc. But I’m most excited about the Museum of Traditional Textiles. I’m also looking forward to some fine dining in Cuzco – apparently food is really really good and really really cheap.

Sept 6: Sacred Valley - we 'll catch a bus from Cuzco to the Sacred Valley (which is an area of Inca ruins close to the city) to check out the ruins and, most importantly, go to the Pisaq market – a market for local wares. Meaning lots of alpaca! I think I’m going to see some fabulous hand spun/hand woven/hand knit things!

(We are doing the traditional 4 day hike up to Machu Picchu)

Sept 7: the first day of the hike – We will spend the first part of the day meeting our group/guide/and porters (it’s illegal to hike the Inca trail hike unless you are part of a guided group. Plus this way we don’t have to carry everything ourselves – the porter will carry our tent, sleeping bags, and food). From there we have a 7.5 mile hike up through terraced areas, several distinct areas of ruins, and past views of the Urubama Mountain range and Mt. Veronica (18,745ft). Arriving at Wayllabamba for camp.

Sept 8: This is the day I’m most concerned about on the whole trip. We will hike 8 miles including the ascent up to 13, 828 feet (4,215 meters) at Pacaymayu or “Dead Woman’s Pass”. I'm terrrified. This will be the highest place either Matt or I have ever been. To put this into perspective – Mt. Whitney – the highest point in the contiguous 48 states is only 677 ft taller… That and the highest place either of us has been skiing is at 12,800 ft. Yeah. It’s going to be rough. From there we will hike down into a valley and then back up again to camp at the twin lakes of Yanacocha.

Sept 9: Today’s hiking is longer but less intense. We will cover nearly 9 miles but most of it is downhill. This part should be really cool – pieces of the path are original Inca paving, steps, and tunnels cut into the mountains – including a descent of over a thousand steps from an area known as the “Town of the Clouds”. We will end up at the town of WiƱay Huayna, or “Eternal Youth,” (which was named that because of the orchids that decorate the site with blooms year round) next to the Urubamba River.

Sept. 10: The last day of hiking – we will wake up at around 4am and hike 3.5 miles down through the rest of the jungle in the dark in order to reach the “Sun Gate” at sunrise. We will have our first glimpse of Machu Picchu as the sun rises over it. Expect to see lots and lots of pictures of this when we get back! We will take a guided overview tour and then have all day today to explore the citadel, or relax in the hot springs at our hotel in Agaus Calientes (the town nearby).

Sept 11: We decided to take the time and spend an extra day up at Machu Picchu. We can climb Huayna Picchu - the giant mountain behind it -the one that’s in all of the classic shots of the site, or just spend the time photographing and experiencing. We have tickets on the afternoon train back to Cuzco for the night.

Sept 12:
Train to Puno, Puno. Today we are taking the luxury train south through the Andean Mountains and across the high Andean Plains to Puno – a town on the shore of Lake Titicaca. This is our one upgrade of the trip – we figured after spending a 10 days hiking in jungles and sleeping on the ground it might be nice to have a day of luxury rather than a day on a bus. It includes a 3 course traditional Peruvian lunch and a sight-seeing stop along the way. Should be pretty interesting.

Sept 13: Puno & Lake Titicaca. Here we’ll take a boat tour of 5 of the 32 Islands of Uros – which are manmade, floating islands constructed from layers of totora reeds. Best part is that we will be able to pick up some “traditional local handicrafts” – which I think means more alpaca. From here we arranged to do something really cool – spend a night with a local family on the Isla Amantani. Seriously. The island is in the center of the lake and we can hike up to the highest point to see both sides – Bolivia and Peru. Or we can just chill with the fam. I’m hoping that we end up with a spinner/weaver/knitter!

Sept 14: Puno & Lake Titicaca. On the boat ride back to Puno we get to stop at the island of Taquile which has both Inca and pre-Inca ruins. The local islanders still wear “time-honored clothing” and again make a good chunk of their living selling handicrafts. There is also a museum of traditional costumes on the island, which I’m hoping is as amazing as it sounds. The travel agent we were working with also said that the ritual ruins at the top of the island are a great place to watch the sunset over the lake. Then we’ll just head back to Puno for the night.

Sept 15: We’re on an early flight out of Puno back to Lima. We aren’t spending too much time here but hopefully we’ll have decent amount of time to explore the city.

Sept 16: Travel home!

They are leaving me for way to long. My "grandparents" had better spoil me rotten while the people are away.

And we’re out!

Alright everyone – our flight leaves at 8:30AM tomorrow morning so this will be all for awhile. I had grand schemes for a long post about details complete with a finished sock and sock pattern. But I ran out of time. The sock is only partially finished:

Details Sock
and I haven’t written up the pattern yet – it’s still just sketches in a notebook….Probably because packing took for-ever (sandlot style). But everything we need for the next two weeks can be safely tucked away in just 2 little backpacks. Honestly I don’t think everything I would need to live for 2 weeks on a normal basis could fit in 10 backpacks let alone one…. Amazing what travel does to the difference between “need” and “want”. Kindof makes you think…

Anyways I am bringing yarn (there’s always room for yarn!). Just not much yarn…

One skein of Cider Moon Glacier in the colorway Lower Whacker Drive:
Lower Wacker Drive
For these, because they are mindless and pretty.

And one skein of Cider Moon Flurry in the colorway June Carter:
Photo Hosted at Buzznet
For these (or these if the monkeys pool in a weird way), because at times I will need something a little more complicated.

We also have a duffle bag to take home souvenirs. Including, hopefully many forms of Alpaca.

So yeah… Have fun with the knitting/blogging w/o me! I’ll catch you when I get back!


August 30, 2007

Eggplant Parmesan

So this week I’ve been frantically preserving/canning/freezing/storing as much of my garden as I can before we leave for our trip. And my fav. way to save eggplant has got to be Eggplant Parmesan. So here’s the recipe I used – straight from my grandma.

Eggplant Parmesan

Step 1: Grow the eggplant:
Homegrown Eggplant
Homegrown Eggplant
(as a side note if you really want to freak out your neighbors a good way to do it is to photograph eggplant on your front lawn).

Step 2: Peel the purple part off of the eggplant with a potato peeler.
Eggplant Parmesan
Step 3: Slice the eggplant into ¼” pieces and layer it in a colander with a sprinkle of salt over each layer.
Eggplant Parmesan
Eggplant Parmesan
Step 4: Weigh down the eggplant with a bowl or something (like a hofbrau house mug filled with water) so that it starts to squeeze out some of the juice. This will get rid of the bitter taste.
Eggplant Parmesan
Step 5: Go knit or fold laundry or something for a few hours and let the eggplant drain. Or you could skip steps 1-5 and just start with straight-up eggplant but according to my grandma this is the way that she does it because this is the way her mother did it. Following my great-grandma’s recipe is motivation enough for me! You could also skip steps 1-5 by using sliced zucchini and making zucchini parmesan instead. Also very tasty.

Step 6: Put on some old clothes b/c this next part is MESSY.

Step 7: Heat some oil in a pan over medium heat until it starts to get little bubbles and steam a little. While you’re waiting for that to happen set up an assembly line of eggplant, flour, and beat eggs:
Eggplant Parmesan
Step 8: Roll eggplant slices in flour:
Eggplant Parmesan
Step 9: Dip floured eggplant in egg:
Eggplant Parmesan
Step 10: Fry until golden brown:
Eggplant Parmesan
Be very, very careful with this part. The oil is scalding hot and splashes really easily – I have a few burn spots on my hands from this! Also – I used tongs to flip them once or twice so they would cook evenly.

Step 11: Layer the fried yumminess on a plate with paper towels so that some of the oil is absorbed:
Eggplant Parmesan
Step 12: Once all of the eggplant is fried, layer in a baking dish tomato sauce, then eggplant, then tomato sauce, then parmesan cheese. I cheated and used store-bought sauce but homemade would probably be better!
Eggplant Parmesan
Repeat until you run out of eggplant or space in the pan, ending with parmesan cheese. I had 3 layers total of eggplant. Also if you want to you can add some shredded mozzarella and/or Romano cheese to cover the top layer:
Eggplant Parmesan
Step 13: Bake in a 350 oven until the cheese is bubbly. Or do what I did and cover with foil and freeze until that awful day in January when it’s so gray out it seems like summer will never come back.

Because this makes a hell of a mess I made 2 pans to freeze – one of eggplant, and one of zucchini:
Zucchini Parmesan
It’s as easy to make a little of this as it is a lot so go crazy!

August 29, 2007

Our New Toy

Something you may not know about me - I used to be super into photography – but then digital took over and after that it seemed silly to shoot with film… and I had a point ‘n shoot digital so I did the best I could with that. I definitely missed my SLR, though:

The Louvre, Paris, France - taken August, 2001

Sagrada Familia

Sagrada Familia, Barcelona, Spain - taken August, 2001

St. Vitus Cathedral, Prague, Czech Republic - taken July, 2001

(I posted a bunch more of my scanned in photos on the flickr site here)

Well last week we got this:

A digital SLR! I’ve wanted one of these for about 5 years now – since the very first one came out. And we finally had a good enough reason (and had saved enough up) to buy one! I’ve done an exhaustive amount of research on this – brands and lenses and memory cards… Oh My. It’s overwhelming. But I’m so very happy with our choice: a Canon Digital Rebel XTi –It’s literally the digital upgrade of the cameras we used to love... And because everywhere I’ve read said you should invest “glass” more than anything we upgraded the kit lense to a sweet 18-200mm all purpose lens:
I also splurged and got this:
A simple 55mm fixed focal length lens with a very wide (1.8) aperture… which means that I should be able to imitate my fav. knitting photographers with some spectacular small depth of field work! Of course I’d actually have to do some knitting for this to apply but whatever…

How about some random pictures from around my house?

Garden Overall
Both of those were taken standing in exactly the same spot.... And so were these two:

Yeah for focal length!

I don’t have a macro lens because those cost a first born child or a vital organ but with the lenses I have I can fake it pretty well:



And of course I had to take some pics of my fav. subject:
Fire Yarn Single
Fire Yarn Single
Fire waiting to be plyed

Fire Yarn, Plyed
Plyed Fire. (noone actully thought I'd be able to wait to do that until I spun another bobbin did they?)
Fire Yarn, Plyed
Fire Yarn, Plyed
Fire Yarn, Plyed
Fire Yarn, Plyed
Yeah for new toys!

August 26, 2007

A bit of a butt kicking

So yesterday was our final regatta of the season. The way they did it was to rank the teams based on their previous race times and then set up brackets of 8 teams. The good news was that we were ranked 8th overall out of 32 teams – which for a team with several novices on it is really, really good. Hell for an all experienced team 8th is good! But the bad news is that the 8th seed in a bracket had to race the #1 seed. So we had to race the top team at the boathouse. They practice every day - we practice once a week, they are all experienced rowers who have been doing this for years – we have half novices and half people who did this one other year. Their average race time beat our fastest by a full 20 seconds.

We were the Jamaicans and they were the Swiss – We didn’t have a chance at winning but hey, our team is alot more fun!

So our start was awesome and we pulled ahead right off the line:
Regatta #3

And we were smooth and fast and balanced:
Regatta #3

But then their experience kicked in and they started to pull ahead:
Regatta #3

And it was all over from there. We finished with a time of 2:31 which is very close to our fastest (2:28) and which is certainly a respectable time.

They rowed under a 2:15.

We weren’t embarrassed but we definitely got our butts kicked. Oh well. There’s always next year!
Regatta #3
Top row: Jackie, Andy, Pat, Matt, Kirsty, Debbie. Bottom Row: Erin, Gavin, Matt, Jeanne, Dexter.
Also I want to thank both Katie Tee of Anodyne and Andi of Hooked on String who have both nominated me as a Rockin’ Girl Blogger!

I’m supposed to nominate 5 more people now but honestly just I can’t choose. There are so many great blogs out there by so many different and interesting people…. And well… you all rock!

August 24, 2007

Another list? Really?

K so here we go again with the long lists:

1.) This past weekend was the Feast:
The Feast
One of my fav Cleveland events by far!

2.) Thank you for all of your input way back when on the Sahara Bling! I decided to go with the silvery gray bling:
Bamboo Sahara
Bamboo Sahara
But then the whole P3tog through the back loop thing derailed me for awhile. And I was totally distracted by my new boyfriend… but I finally finished knitting the neckline and blocked it out:
Bamboo Sahara
Bamboo Sahara
All that’s left now is one sleeve and to sew the neckline together!

3.) I’ve spun an entire bobbin full of the Fire:
Spun Fire

And it’s every bit as awesome as I expected it to be.

Spun Fire
Now I really want to ply it but I should probably spin another full bobbin before I do that…. We’ll see if that actually happens or if I just dive right into the plying.

4.) On Sunday my mom and I spent many hours turning this:
Homegrown/Homemade Salsa
Homegrown/Homemade Salsa
Homegrown/Homemade Salsa
Homegrown/Homemade Salsa
Into this:
Homegrown/Homemade Salsa
And then finally into this:
Homegrown/Homemade Salsa
40 jars of homegrown/homemade salsa!
Homegrown/Homemade Salsa
Homegrown/Homemade Salsa
I was going to try to write out a recipe – sortof like the fresh garden salsa one – but there is no point to that considering we just threw in whatever was ripe (lots of roma tomatoes and jalapeno peppers this year), tasted it until it seemed right, cooked it and canned it. Man is it good!

5.) We leave for Peru one week from today. I’m starting to go a little nutty with all of the preparation…. And I’m getting more than a little terrified about this:

That would be a section through the Inca Trail – the 4 day / 28 mile trek up to Machu Picchu. It’s going to be the hardest, most challenging, most interesting thing that we’ve ever done. On the second day of hiking we reach something called “Dead Woman’s Pass”. We will hike up to 13, 828 feet (4,215 meters) – which is only 677 feet less than the highest point in the contiguous 48 states. And I’ve had problems with altitude sickness before…. And I’m thinking it’s called “Dead Woman” for a reason… I hope I can make it!

6.) I should be able to make it because I really have been training quite a bit:
Hinckley Reservation
Sat. we hiked something like 6 miles with loaded packs on… Cleveland has some really beautiful and interesting natural spots - and Hinckley Reservation is one of those places:
Hinckley Reservation
Whipps Ledges

Hinckley Reservation
Matt went rock scrambling

Hinckley Reservation
Which really concerned Dexter.

Hinckley Reservation
Graffiti from 1878!

7.) And Finally… our last race of the season is this weekend – and we’re racing the best team in the entire organization – who are basically competitive rowers and not just doing the summer bar league. So if you want to see us get our asses handed to us come down to the boathouse at 10:00 tomorrow morning!

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