Hola Amigos y Amigas, Peru es Estupendo

Forgive me amigos but yo pienso mas en espanol than ingles at this point. We arrived in Cusco yesterday morning after the plane was ridiculously late getting out of BWI, then the flight from Miami to Lima was even later and after having a discussion with Terry I urged us to check our bags so we wouldn't have to deal with them. This was a critical mistake because our bags were the last off the plane causing us to miss our flight to Cusco. Luckily, the people at the Lima aeropuerta forsee these issues and employ assistants to get lost Americans out of messes.

At 5AM a wonderful hombre navigated us through the quagmire of airlines available and in a few hours we were mobile again and on our way to Cusco. The flight from Lima to Cusco was fabuloso, the mountains along the way stuck out of the clouds like craggy shards of glass, with glaciers. The mountain lakes are brightly colored in yellow and green from the minerals in the soil. The weather is aqui is most ambient, getting into the low 70s during the day and in the 60s at night.

The Peruvians are amazing people and while Terry was busy dealing with maps, innkeepers, other tourists and guidebooks once we reached our hostel I fled for the door. I hit the plaza D'Armas and saw a bunch of touristas so I headed for the sidestreets and struck up a conversation with a tiny peruvian mujer and her bambino. She didn't really speak espanol and neither did I but because I was making an effort to converse she offered me a popsical. What a gal!

I have a beautiful picture of this church at night but it is too large to upload. Anyhoo, Terry and I passed this church on the plaza last night, I went in to watch the church service. It was time for the wafer distribution so I figured I would participate so I could get a better look at the massive gold chatzkes up on the wall behind the priest. So I put my hand out for the wafer but didn't eat it immediately. The Peruvian priest admonished me in front of the entire congregation. Obviously I broke some sort of church rule. Mind you this is some iglesia, the local muchachas huff solvent on the front steps.

Speaking of drugs I have discovered a new one, chocolat con leche. These folks make the very best hot chocolate in the world. Then there is the food.... I had a 4 course lunch at a nice restaurant today that cost a little over $1. I didn't really know what I was eating but it certainly was delicioso.

Terry has turned out to be a wonderful trouper. When I suggested we do some light hiking he was immediately apprehensive. I pointed to a little mountain that had Jesus at the top and he nearly choked. I told him that he underestimated himself and then secretly regretted that I left my electric cattle prod at home. Terry lit a prehike cigarette and then we filled our bladders and went for broke. With no specific plan we hit the mountain and did 5 reasonable difficult miles with a 1200 foot elevation change. BTW, we started our hike at 11,000 feet, I took a picture of my GPS readout but it didn't come out so you can see the altitude. We walked through the bario and met all sorts of personnas.

Tomorrow we are going to leave Cusco and bus it to some other place that has a long name that I can't remember. Then we will push on toward Machu. Other tourists are giving us a lot of great information and being very helpful, they are from all over the world and are very very polite. The best part of this trip es dos semanas yo no vis no gringas monos gordos con SUVs grande. Life is muy bueno.

Also, special thanks to Edgar Huerta who spent an entire year drilling espanol into my head, it is paying off in spades.

North Central Rail Trail Pictures

I have ridden the same 14 miles of this trail over 100 times in the last 3 years but have never taken a picture until yesterday. These pictures are here so that I can remember how beautiful this place is when, in February, it is miserable cold and barren.

Harrisburg, Peters Mountain and the Susquehanna

Years ago I used to love to watch "One Life to Live",with Vicki and Dorian squaring off over Lanford power. At the beginning of every show was this lovely overhead shot of the bridges of the Susquehanna in Harrisburg, PA. I have since traveled on the highways through Harrisburg a few times but I never spent any time there enjoying the city. Since Harrisburg is only a few miles from the City of the Charm I figured now was as good as time as any to go get a closer look at those bridges.

I wanted to do some hiking in the area so members of the Mountain Club of Maryland advised that I explore the Appalachian Trail near Duncannon, PA. So without much preparation I decided to head north on Friday. 3 hours before I was scheduled to leave a crown popped out of my mouth. I decided not to cancel my trip and forged ahead with my tooth in my bag.

Central Pennsylvania seems awash in transportation. I don't know who decided to put all these roads and railroad tracks everywhere but you can't seem to get away from the transportation noise, there are trucks everywhere. The good news is that with trucks come truckstops, delicious food at competitive prices.

If you wave at a Marylander they wave back, if you wave at a West Virginian they invite you in for pie. If you wave at a Pennsylvanian they scowl at you. I don't think anyone actually has a friend in Pennsylvania, I think Rick Santorum has the citizens all obsessed over the dearth of family values. The good news is that Pennsylvanians don't seem to be very fat, you see many joggers and people exercising so you don't have the whale problem that you have in WV.

I drove to Duncannon, Pennsylvania and spent the night in the minivan on the street. Duncannon is a nice little town right on the AT. It isn't run down enough to have empty homes, but not quaint enough to have Bed and Breakfasts with cutsie flags either. It was hotter outside than I expected in the high nineties and I had trouble falling asleep.

After careful consideration I decided that the Peters Mountain side of the AT looked steeper than the Duncannon side so I made my way to the trailhead on Saturday morning and climbed the mountain. Even in the heat I sailed to the top, I am getting much better at going up. Of course, in PA you always have rocks on the AT and here was no different. I think I did a total of about 8 miles and quickly tired of traversing the pointy-rocked ridge. It was hot and not a molecule of air was moving although this trail had some excellent views of the Susquehanna. I decided I needed to ride my bike so I headed south to Harrisburg for the afternoon.

Harrisburg is a capitol city and quite nice. It has rowhomes, activity on the corners and a downtown, so it immediately gets high marks from me. It has a beautiful bike path that is parallel to the scenic Susquehanna. Unfortunately, with the heat and it being late summer, the poor river was starting to reek. With its wide streets and stately turn-of-the-last-century homes Harrisburg reminds me of Albany, NY (Gee, I wonder why?).

I parked across from the police station downtown and grabbed my bike and hit the bike path. I first explored an island on the river that has a sports arena, mini-golf course, beach and tiny little railroad....very cute. Then I went north and south on the trail by the river near Front Street. I never expected this city to be so inviting. I was probably its only tourist yesterday.

I was hungry and, although I had plenty of food in the car, I wanted to enjoy one of the restaurants on second street. Because of the heat nobody was outside but I bet this place is really buzzing in springtime. I was well served at the Neato Burrito. Afterwhich my tooth problem really started to bother me and I didn't think I wanted to spend another night in the heat so I reluctantly headed homeward.

When I drove down Light Street towards my house I saw a big 400 pounder. I can swallow the fact that my beautiful city gets overrun with fat suburbanites in the summer where I find them so offensive that I can't enjoy my own harbor area. But when the summer ends it is time for the heifers to retreat so I can have my city back. Does it ever occur to these people that they are responsible for serious visual pollution?