June 6th, 2017 – Washington DC

We started the day seeing the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.  The girls had learned about them at school and thought it was cool to actually see them.  After a not so great museum lunch yesterday we decided to go to Subway for lunch.  As we were walking back toward Pennsylvania Avenue we saw all of these police motorcycles.  They cleared the roads and the presidential motorcade came through.  Pretty cool, but very loud.

Don had it with the three females he was with not wanting to go to the Air and Space Museum, so he went while the ladies went to the American History Museum.  He had the good camera with him, so no pictures of the girls (the iPhone really takes lousy pictures without a lot of light).  Bella and Caden were very interested in the First Ladies Dresses and the 5 story doll house.

At the beginning of the trip, each girl got $40.  They were told they could use the money to buy souvenirs and not to ask us to buy them anything.  It was very interesting watching them for three days decide how to spend the money.  They learned very quickly how expensive things were and several times they started to buy something that was way overpriced and decided it was not worth the money.  In the end they bought some very nice souvenirs and hopefully began to learn something about managing money.

  

  

  

  

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June 5th, 2017 – Washington DC

It was a rainy day so we spent the whole day in the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History.  We had a great time.  The girls loved the mammals, the jewelry and stones and the mummies.  They also have a great hands on portion of the museum.   We also learned that Bella and Caden can roll their tongues, but we cannot.

  

  

  

  

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June 4th, 2017 – Washington DC

We had our first day in Washington DC with our two oldest granddaughters.  We did a lot of walking – 5 miles which is evidently more walking than the two of them have ever done in a day (at least based on their complaining).  We kept them going with food, Gatorade and ice cream at opportune times.  We were able to see Fords’ Theater, the White House, and several of the monuments.  We actually got to see the son of one of our friends who is a sniper on the White House.  We waved, but surprisingly he did not wave back – guess he was busy being watchful.  They had a great time and enjoyed seeing all of the things that they have heard about in school and Don had a great time taking pictures.  Tomorrow we have to get him on the other side of the camera.

  

  

  

  

  

 

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May 28th, 2017 – Asheville – North Carolina

Asheville, NC is a beautiful small city in the Blue Ridge Mountains.  It is not even in the top 300 in the US as far as population.  Who knew that the number 3 and 4 craft beer companies had breweries here?  Thanks to Google – we did.  We went with our daughter and her husband to both of them.  Sierra Nevada has a beautiful complex – the drive into it is like driving into a mansion.  They have a restaurant that serves small plates and the food was very good.  We like having a continual parade of food that comes out as it is ready.  New Belgium is more about the beer.  They had a food truck, but we were stuffed.  It was Beer Week in Asheville, so both places were quite crowded.   Overall, between the breweries we tried 20 different beers.  We are already planning another trip for the next time we are in the area.

  

  

  

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May 20th – 27th, 2017 – Hilton Head – South Carolina

We were not home very long before we drove across the country to South Carolina.  We had a great week at the beach with our son, his wife and their two kids.  It is great to be grandparents.  Hilton Head is such a nice place for young kids.  We loved playing in the sand on the beach, at the pool and all the cuddles.  Leslie took daily naps with our granddaughter.  Our grandson got his first pony ride which he loved.  Merlin also likes Hilton Head because it is dog friendly.

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

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May 3rd, 2017 – Sillustani – Peru

Another beautiful fall day in Peru.  We made one last stop before flying back to Lima.  Sillustani is a pre-Incan cemetery on the shores of Lake Umayo.  The tombs, which are built above ground in tower-like structures called chullpas, are the vestiges of the Qulla people, who were conquered by the Inca Empire in the 15th century.  Odysseys Unlimited evidently felt that we were acclimated to the high altitude because they made us walk to the top of the hill to see the towers.  We did it though.  It was well worth it because the view was great.

The 9th picture shows a line (in the middle of the picture) that has an interesting story.  According to our guide, several of the Incan cities are built in a straight line with exact distances repeated over and over.  He said that mathematicians have drawn a line that extends across the globe going through several mysterious places such as the Great Pyramid, Machu Picchu, Anghor Wat, the Indus Valley and ending at Easter Island.  He named a whole lot of places that are on the line, all of which have ruins of buildings that current historians cannot totally explain the origin of or technology that produced them.  They are all located with some mathematical significance along this line.  Not sure exactly what it means but it was pretty interesting.

  

  

  

  

  

  

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May 2nd, 2017 – Lake Titicaca – Peru

Leslie has wanted to go to Lake Titicaca since she learned about it in the 3rd grade.  Yes because of its name, but also because it is the highest lake in the world.  What we did learn is that “titi” means “puma” and “caca” means gray, so it is actually Lake Gray Puma.  Pumas evidently were very plentiful a long time ago and they were a holy animal to the ancient Peruvians.

We had a beautiful sunny day.  We have been so blessed with the weather on this trip. We started with a gorgeous sunrise.  We arrived after dark the night before and had no idea we had such a fabulous view from our hotel.   Lake Titicaca is a beautiful blue.  The water is so clean.  We got to take a boat ride on the lake.

Our first stop was one of the floating islands where the Uru people live.  The second picture shows what looks like a city on the shore, but it is actually 97 islands built out of reeds that are in a cove on the lake.  We got a demonstration on how they build them.  It takes about a year to build one and they last for about 25 years.  The islands are kind of small, but they have a few families on each one.  They also have islands for schools, a medical center and even a soccer field.

The islands now have become a tourist attraction.  For the islands that are having visitors, the people that live there wave as you approach (3rd picture).  They explain how they live, show you their houses and then sell you their handiwork (8th picture).  It was a very interesting stop and kind of hard to believe people live on these islands made of reeds.  The population is decreasing though, as there is no high school and once the teenagers go to nearby Puno to go to high school, they do not want to return to the islands.

Our second stop was on a real island,  Taquile which is very remote (9th picture).  Taquileños are known for their fine handwoven textiles and clothing, which are regarded as among the highest-quality handicrafts in Peru. Knitting is exclusively performed by males, beginning in early boyhood.  Women spin wool and use vegetables and minerals to dye the wool to be used by the community.  Women are also the weavers of the Chumpis, the wide belts with woven designs worn by everyone in the community of Taquile. They did a traditional welcome dance for us when we got there (13th picture).  Leslie joined in but did it very slowly as we were at 12,500 feet.   The last picture was taken with our tour guide Ernesto.

  

  

  

  

       

  

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May 1st, 2017 – Andahuaylilas & Raqchi

We had a long bus ride from Cuzco to Puno (10 hours).  Luckily it was broken up with a few stops.  We stopped in Andahuaylilas (first 4 pictures) to go to San Pedro Apostle church.  It is called the Sistine Chapel of the Andes which unfortunately we cannot show you because no pictures were allowed inside the church.  It was quite beautiful inside and like many churches in Spain, every inch of it was decorated.

Our next stop was Raqch’i (pictures 5 – 13) .   The Inka site at Raqch’i was a primary control point on a road system that originated in Cusco and expanded as the Inka empire grew. Most of the Inka structures are enclosed by a 4 km-long perimeter wall, but just outside it, on the Inka road that entered Raqch’i from Cusco, an enclosure with eight rectangular buildings around a large courtyard was probably a tampu (a lodging house for travelers).  The remains of the temple and food storage buildings once again show what great architects the Incas were.  

We stopped at the continental divide at a point of over 14,000 feet.  There was a small market there – one more chance for Leslie to spend money while Don got to take pictures.  Our last stop was Pucara where they make the good luck bulls.  We mentioned them in another blog.  People get them as gifts and they put them on top of their houses to bring them good luck.

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

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April 30th, 2017 – Cusco – Peru

We are in Cusco – 11,200 feet above sea level- the air here is a bit thin.  Cusco was the historic capital of the Inca empire from the 13th to the 16th century.  When the Spanish conquered the area, they destroyed a good deal of the Incan structures, but there are still Incan walls all around the city.  Cusco is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the Western hemisphere.

The first picture is of the Church and Convent of Santa Domingo.  The church is built on top of the Korikancha which was the most sacred and important building in the entire Inca Empire.  When the Spanish conquistadores arrived in Cusco, the temple was torn to the ground and its valuable items taken.  Even though the church was built on top of the temple, many of the original temple buildings remain.

Leslie found the alpaca she is bringing home.  He is in the 2nd picture and small enough to fit in her suitcase.  Every Sunday, in the main square of Cusco, there is a huge parade.  Different professions take turns parading around the square. There were some very colorful outfits and it was very interesting to watch.  For those of you concerned about the 9th picture, those are not real alpacas.

We got to have lunch with a local Cusco family.  We had the traditional dish for special occasions – guinea pig.  It actually tastes like roasted pork.  They also served a chicken dish, so we only ate a small amount of the guinea pig.  The family’s oldest daughter is 22 and has just become a lawyer.  She speaks English and dined with us.  After lunch, the whole family came up and we got to meet them.  We each gave them gifts, either from our home town or chocolates.  The chocolates were a big hit with the youngest son (he immediately put one in his mouth).   We had some free time today to walk around the city, so the other pictures are of whatever caught Don’s eye.

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

 

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April 29th, 2017 – Machu Picchu – Peru

We went back to Machu Picchu this morning.  It is so beautiful and magical in the morning mist.  We got to see the lower half this time.  We got extremely lucky with the weather.  It was a pleasant temperature and the sun shone during part of the time on both days.  It is really something to see Machu Picchu in the clouds and the sun.

As we were riding up in the bus, our guide told us that there used to be young boys that would get on the bus at the top, say hello, get off the bus and then race the bus down to the bottom and get back on the bus for tips.  They had to suspend this because the boys were making so much money they started dropping out of school.   The last picture shows a stone that was carved and set so that the 4 corners point North, South, East and West.  Leslie put the compass on her cell phone down to check it out and it was exactly right.  It is so incredible how advanced the Incas were.

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

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