Vacation is over and I am back in Peru so I guess it is time to post an update here. I returned to the U.S. the end of January for two months to visit my family and friends, and of course to do some hiking. Many people ask why I go back to Minnesota to see my family at this time, which is a very good question! It is because January through March is the rainy season here in Peru, and there are few tourists here for hiking and mountain climbing. So, even though those aren’t the months I would chose to be in Minnesota, that is the time I need to do it. I did have a good visit with my sisters and their families, in spite of some cold weather. They even saved lefse for me, a traditional Norwegian holiday food, which they always make before Christmas! I spent about 2½ weeks there in February, until I had to escape the cold and head towards California.
As usual, when driving across the U.S., I pretty much live out of my car, a Honda CRV. There is just enough room in the back to sleep there, alongside of all my stuff. Having a GPS unit hooked up to my laptop, really was very helpful, it was the first time I have used a navigation GPS for traveling, but I’m hooked. Since discovering that most Walmart stores allow RV’ers to spend the night in their parking lots, that has become my campgrounds of choice. Which works out well because Walmart is also my favorite store. I manage to spend enough there that I think it works out OK for them too. The only problem I had was at a Walmart in the L.A. area, where the security guard watched me as I got everything arranged for bed, and then when I laid down came over and told me that I couldn’t sleep there. I said that I had been doing it at Walmarts all over, and even at this same store previously. He said that they only allow those with camping trailers or RV’s to sleep there – sleeping in a regular car wasn’t allowed,even if I was living in it. I asked if there was someone I could talk to about getting permission and he said the store manager would have to approve it. I went into the store, found the manager and she said I could, so that took care of the problem.
On both of my last two trips to the U.S., I have had time on the drive from Minnesota to California and back, to take time to visit and sightsee along the way. I got to see my son in Denver, after waiting a couple of days for him to get back from a business trip that had been extended at the last minute. During the wait, I visited other friends, as well as made another attempt at climbing Pike’s Peak. The third time was not a charm however, and I had to turn around again due to snow, just above Barr Camp. I went south from Colorado Springs, hoping to get warmer weather, but really didn’t find any until I got to Phoenix. There, thanks to recent reconnections through Facebook, I got to see friends that I hadn’t seen since college days at International College in Hawaii, over 35 years ago!
Once I got to California I spent as much time as possible in the mountains, in spite of continued cooler than normal weather, including snow above 5,000 feet on a number of the local peaks, which like Mt. Wilson and Iron Mountain, as well as Ice House Saddle near Mt. Baldy. I hiked many of my favorite trails there, including two trips to the top of Mt. Wilson and back, using four different trails. I also got to meet Augie, (an on line friend of about two years on Summitpost), and we enjoyed getting to know each other on the beautiful hike up to the 8,007 foot summit of Iron Mountain.
While sleeping in my car at Chantry Flats between the two Mt. Wilson hikes, I was woken up during the night by something bumping my car. I tried to ignore it, hoping it would stop but it continued. When I sat up I thought it was a couple of big dogs, but soon realized that there were two bears up on their hind legs, looking into my car, no doubt attracted by all the food I had in there! Banging on the window didn’t scare them away, so I finally had to open a door and yell at them. After looking at me for a moment, they slowly got down and walked away. Too late I thought of taking a picture, by then they were out of flash range and I felt it was best not to chase after them for a photo.
Even with two months, I still ran out of time and didn’t get to see many friends that I would have liked too, but am thankful for the opportunity to see the ones I did, including many at a reunion picnic of our old singles class from what used to be Community Baptist Church. It was there that I was introduced to hiking, mtn. biking, climbing and the other outdoor activities that have been such a blessing in my life for the last 15 years, as well as making lifelong friendships. One of those good friends is Dave Mehaffey, who always “leaves the light on” for me, to rest and clean up while I am in the L.A. Area.
On the return trip to Minnesota, I spent time looking for an affordable retirement “home”, but without much success. I did find some places to park an RV at no cost, as long as you don’t mind not having water, sewer or electricity! I also did some more hiking in the Las Vegas area, northwestern Arizona, and at Zion and Canyonlands National Parks. Near Canyonlands, after a morning snowfall, and hearing the storm forecast for the Colorado mountains, I decided it was time to make a beeline for Minnesota, not wanting to miss my return flight to Peru. Thankfully, with God’s help and 4-wheel drive, I didn’t join the many cars in the ditch due to the snowy and icy roads, and arrived back in Minnesota safely.
I thought for awhile that I had made one too many stops at Walmart, but was able to squeeze everything into my suitcases, and still not go over the weight limit. With another snowstorm forecast for later in the day, I was almost glad my flight left at 6:00 am. I guess as a thank you to my sister Cindy for picking me up at the airport after midnight and getting me back there at 4:30 am, I forgot two pounds of premium cheddar cheese in her refrigerator!
After an extended stay in Lima, again visiting with many friends, I am back in Arequipa, waiting for some clients, before returning to Cotahuasi with them near the end of the month. Ahh, finally having nice warm, sunny weather!