Peru Travel Plans and a Change of Race Plans


 Peru Travel Plans!


About 2 years ago, Mike and I started talking about doing a trip to Peru. I have always wanted to hike to Machu Picchu. Mike has never been on an “Ashley Trip”, which made it an even more exciting adventure to plan.  Side note: an “Ashley Trip” consists of backpacks, hikes, bus rides, and hostels, as opposed to beaches, resorts, and free margaritas.

We quickly realized that we wouldn’t be able to make it happen during the summer of 2012, as the cost for flights alone are astronomical. In an attempt to make our vacation a priority, we created a separate “vacation savings” account and set up automatic transfers to take $5 a day out of our checking account so it would continue to grow. This account is considered untouchable (with the exception of vacation expenses, of course). Any extra bonus cash has also been deposited into this account. At the end of April, we realized that our Peru dreams might actually become a reality – we had reached just over $3,000, almost enough to pay for our flights 🙂

Let the planning begin – once we got the okay to take 2 weeks off at work, we bought our flights and started planning. Er…Ashley started planning and Mike said, “just tell me what clothes I need to buy”.

Fast forward to ONE WEEK before we begin our trip…

We’re about ready to go!  We will be spending 15 days in Peru starting late next week. Our general plan is as follows:

Days 1 – 3: Cusco

Day 4: Begin Machu Picchu hike – all day mountain biking

Day 5: Hike day 2 – also whitewater rafting

Day 6: Hike day 3 – also jungle ziplining

Day 7: Hike day 4 – arrive at Machu Picchu for sunrise and explore the ruins

Day 8: Train to Puno (on lake Titicaca) – called “one of the world’s greatest train journeys”.

Day 9: Boat trip on Lake Titicaca, spend the night with a local family on the floating island of Amantani

Day 10: Day 2 – boat trip on Lake Titicaca, visit Taquile island

Day 11: Bus to Arequipa, the 2nd largest city in Peru

Day 12: Free day to relax and explore Arequipa

Day 13: Hike the Colca Canyon, relax in local hot springs

Day 14: Colca Canyon day 2 – watch La Cruz del Condor

Day 15: Arequipa – Market tour and Peruvian Cooking Experience

Day 16: Back to the USA


Our trip sounds like it will be both incredibly amazingly awesome as well as exhausting. I am sure we will need a vacation from our vacation when we get home. I am just so pumped to share my love for real world travel with my husband – I hope he enjoys it as much as I do! I plan to keep a journal while we are there, so hopefully I’ll have some fun stories and photos to share with y’all when we return.


A change of race plans


On another note…I had hoped to complete an Olympic distance triathlon this summer. I even made myself accountable by writing about it here and here. Do you want the good news or the bad news first?  How about the good news?  Okay. I did complete an Olympic distance training schedule and actually feel much better about my swimming abilities than I did before I started training. I even completed a “practice” race where I did all three disciplines on the same morning (.93 mile swim, 25 mile bike ride, 6.2 mile run). I’m pretty confident that I would be able to complete the triathlon I was planning on doing without a problem. However (bad news), I’ve decided that doing my very first Olympic tri right after 2 weeks in Peru might not be the smartest idea. Granted, we will be very active while we are in South America. However, I won’t be following any semblance of a training plan and we will certainly not be following a diet that is conducive to staying in race shape. I would rather hold off on doing my first big triathlon until I know that I’ll be prepared. That said, I plan on looking into a race early next summer.

So…now you know. Hopefully you’re not too disappointed in me and we can still be friends.

I’m actually really happy to get back into lifting weights and other forms of exercise. I’ve been following a tri training plan since the beginning of April, so it’s nice to have the freedom to do what makes me happy on any given day. “Gorgeous day for a bike ride! Let’s do that!” Or, “It’s too damn hot to run outside. Screw that”.  I just need to be careful not to fall off the workout wagon after our trip or I’ll need to go back into schedule mode.


Wherever you are and whatever you’re up to, I hope you’re happy and that life is treating you well. Catch you on the flip side. Hasta Luego!

Categories: Fitness, Travel | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

New Year’s Snowboarding Trip – Lutsen


December was filled with lots of adventure (hence, my long absence from blogging regularly). A week in Jamaica, followed almost immediately by the craziness that is the Christmas holiday, and finished off with a trip up to the North Shore of Lake Superior for New Year’s. PHEW!  All of this fun is exhausting.

One of those….”wouldn’t it be fun?” conversations over Thanksgiving dinner turned into a….”yeah, let’s do this!” with my sister Jessi and her bf Joe. I couldn’t imagine a better way to spend the holiday than bundled up sailing down a hill with a board strapped to my feet.


As a native Minnesotan who had her own skis at age two, I am completely amazed that I have never ventured the 4 hour road trip up to Lutsen before. It’s about as close as you can get to the Rockies around here, and you can make it as short as a weekend trip from the Twin Cities. YES.

We stayed at Caribou Highlands lodge, which is right on Lutsen Mountain – Ski-in, Ski-out – no need for a shuttle to get to the runs. We definitely paid a premium to visit over the holiday, but after staying right on the hill, I don’t think I’d do it any other way.


I was incredibly impressed at the size of this place. In Minnesota, it’s tough to find a hill that takes more than 60 seconds to ride down. These were solid 3-4 minute runs, with multiple options (especially on Moose Mountain) that can get you somewhat lost (or maybe that’s just me?).




It was Mike’s 2nd time EVER on a snowboard, and he completely rocked it. By day 2 he was a regular pro 😉  He says he’s now officially addicted and wants to go every weekend. Score one for me! I’ve only been trying to get him on a snowboard for the past 7 years. We somehow even ended up on a black diamond on day two – Mike took it in stride and didn’t even bite it.


It was COLD (-25 windchill) but we made the best out of it. Boot warmers and lots of layers were key. Poor Jessi was sick and decided to relax on day 2, but Mike, Joe and I braved the elements and had some fun riding fun boxes in the snowboard park. Wheeeee!





NYE Dinner at Mogul’s Grille & Tap Room at Caribou Highlands was fab. I had the blackened mahi mahi, with LOTS of fresh shrimp and crab claws from the buffet. MMmmmmmm. And ironically, my friend Mikel from college happened to be our server!  What a small world it is.

We had a ton of fun hanging out with Jess and Joe; something we don’t get to do nearly often enough. Lots of Rumchata and blueberry moonshine, a little hot tubbin’. and table tennis; and finally, watching the Vikings make the playoffs definitely capped off the weekend! I’d absolutely do a weekend up in Lutsen again. I think next time, I’d pick a weekend in late Feb/early March when it’s not so frigid and you don’t have to pay holiday premiums at the resort and on the lift tickets.


What did you do for New Year’s? What are your favorite semi-local weekend getaways?


Categories: Miscellaneous Musings, Travel | Leave a comment

Travel post #1 – Jamaica


I’m just realizing that I have yet to write about anything travel-related on the blog. Travel is a BIG part of who I am. Learning about and experiencing new cultures – the music, landscape, people, food, etc – makes me feel so incredibly happy and fulfilled.

I was lucky enough to marry my best friend on a beautiful beach in the Dominican Republic on Leap Day (February 29) this year. 60 of our closest family and friends (yep, 60!) joined us for a week long party. What an amazing time.


We weren’t able to take a honeymoon immediately after our week-long wedding vacay, so we postponed it awhile. In July, a great Groupon deal showed up in my inbox. About an hour later, we had decided to pull the trigger and take a trip to Negril, Jamaica in December!

This would the first visit to Jamaica for both of us, and my 17th country visited thus far.

We stayed at SamSara hotel in the West End area of Negril. Flying into Montego Bay, we had about a 1 ½ hour drive from the airport to the hotel.


SamSara Hotel

The resort is very quaint and located on the cliffs, about a 5 minute drive (or $6 taxi ride) from 7 Mile beach. It is a “sister” resort to Legends, which is located right on the beach – all-inclusive eating and drinking is available between both properties, which allows you to experience both sides of the coin.

This vacation was very different from the typical “Ashley trip” (which generally includes backpacks and hostels). This was exactly what we were looking for – R&R, with some cliff-jumping and a little reggae mixed in.


We visited a waterfall called YS Falls, which is about a 2 hour drive from Negril. Gorgeous – very touristy but worth a visit. Cool pools to swim in and ropes to swing from…it satisfied my need for nature, and we were able to capture some beautiful photos.




The highlight of the trip came on our very last day. Along with a bunch of people from our resort and the owner of a local club (who, it turns out, worked with the same people as I did at a previous travel job – small world!) hired a driver to take us 2 hours down the coast to St. Elizabeth Parish. We were on our way to the home of a guy named Sam, who is about 60 but miraculously has the rock-hard body of a 20-something. Sam owns a home on the beach with about 30 dogs and a bunch of pigs. And for a fee, he’ll let you hop in his fishing boat and will take you out to the Pelican Bar….aaaaah, the Pelican Bar.

This is Sam.

Located over ¼ mile out to sea, the Pelican Bar is a true Jamaican experience. Only accessible by boat – it sits on a sand bar and reef. This thing is made out of random sticks and boards. They sell Red Stripe by the bottle, so you’d better like beer. And if you want food, just let them know. But be prepared to wait an hour or two because they have to go catch the fish for you. Talk about fresh!




Would I go back to Jamaica? Ya, ‘mon. I liked that Negril is safe enough to roam around and check out the sights, restaurants, etc, without being confined to your resort. All-inclusives tend to make me antsy and a bit claustrophobic, but because we got such a great deal on the trip, we were able to get out for meals and drinks without breaking our budget.

Our trip was exactly what we needed. A pre-holiday break from the daily grind and the perfect belated honeymoon 🙂


Categories: Travel | Leave a comment

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