July 31, 2010

Garden of Plenty

Our garden is coming along splendidly. The peas, spinach and lettuce are all done after a month or so of filling our fridge (and our friends' fridges) with green stuff. Now we've just started harvesting the first carrots and banana peppers. Even with a deer coming in and chomping on a few of the pepper plants they're still doing great, and soon we'll be able to sample our Sante Fe grande, anaheim and red chili peppers. I expect the poblanos, jalepenos and bells will take a few more weeks, though.

See? We can actually grow peppers!

Anaheim peppers

Our first crop of banana peppers.

Yay! Minnesota sweet corn!

Chleo enjoying the shade of our monstrous tomato plants.

April 16, 2010

Home on the Range

Yeah, I know...I've been neglecting this blog the past five months or so. But with our new start here in Oregon, I thought I'd revisit it and use it to share some of our adventures living here on the ranch. This will be a pretty quick post, without much explanation, but there will be more to follow in the weeks to come.

One of our blossoming cherry trees. The grassy area directly behind the tree (between it and the next fence) is the proposed garden plot. Sonja's been busy clearing all the pruned branches and various detritus from the area in anticipation of breaking ground in a few days.

The house! This is the front view with one of our little arches. The garden is behind the big tree to the left.

Soon there will be green things galore filling the space behind Sonja. And no, we didn't get a new dog. This is one of our landlord's pups...a really sweet Aussie named Quigley. I think you can see the ranch horse, Ghost, behind the chicken coop in the background.

This is the view of the house from across the John Day River. The white building is the house, the large, red-roofed building to the right of it is the garage/shop, and you can see Ghost munching on his hay to the right of that. Highway 19 passes along the base of the hill behind the house.

This is the bridge across the river that we use to get to our landlord's house. The water is pretty high right now with all the snowmelt, but I expect that it will get much lower as the summer progresses.

And here is Ghost. We are looking forward to exploring the hills around the house on his back. He's a real sweetie without a saddle on, so I'm hoping that he's the same with one.

So there you go, the first batch of photos from our new home in Oregon. We are both totally in love with it and can't wait to start making the house our home and exploring the countryside. I'll be posting more pictures on here and in Facebook in the coming weeks...much more frequently when we finally get internet access.

October 30, 2009

Peru 2009 -- Finding Our Way

I'm sitting in the only corner of our hotel room here in Cusco where the wi-fi doesn't disconnect me every three minutes. I shouldn't complain though...who woulda thunk finding wi-fi would be so easy in Peru? I thought I'd give another quick update, this one with more pictures. I had to use the crappy Microsoft photo editor for these, so they're not as cleaned up as I'd like them to be.

The legendary Lost City of the Inca. No words can adequately describe the magic of this place. Even the thousands of pushy tourists couldn't detract from the experience. Well, not much, anyway.

Llamas at Machu Picchu on Wednesday morning.

Sonja admiring some of the exquisite stonework characteristic of the Incan empire. The lines are so straight, and the stones carved so perfectly, you couldn't fit a pin between them! No mortar is used, either. Only perfect craftmanship (literally) holds these walls together.

The fortress of Ollantaytambo was much smaller than Machu Picchu, but impressive nonetheless. Even moreso when you consider it was the site of the Incan Empires only win against the invading Spanish Conquistadors.

After exploring the Incan fortress at Ollantaytambo on Thursday morning, we found ourselves in the middle of a festival in the village center. Men and women were packing the tiny village, many wearing traditional clothing.

Local women enjoying the festival, with a bored boy hanging out behind them.

A street vendor in Ollantaytambo.

Yes, this is exactly what it looks like: roasted cuy (guinea pigs). While I did manage to muster up the courage to try alpaca last night (not my favorite), I haven't yet decided whether I will attempt to partake of this particular Peruvian specialty.

The ruins at Pisac, northeast of Cusco, are very impressive in their magnitude and architecture. Some of it rivaled what we saw at Machu Picchu. We stopped there yesterday afternoon after an exciting ride in a local bus from Ollantaytambo.

We leave for the Amazon on Sunday morning, so I will probably not post again until the evening of the 9th. But then I hope to have lots of fun monkey, bird and rainforesty photos to share.

October 28, 2009

Peru 2009 - Walking in the Footsteps of the Inca

This was our view this morning at around 6:30, as Sonja and I stood in awe on a terrace above the legendary Machu Picchu. It was as magical an experience as you would imagine in a place like that. The stonework was phenomenal, the ruins expansive, and the crowds plentiful. Still, we were able to find little nooks and crannies as we explore the site where we were able to enjoy the experience on our own.

Tonight we find ourselves back in the mountain village of Ollantaytambo. Yesterday we were greeted here with a wonderful festival, including dancing, music and llamas. Much quieter tonight, but still a cool place. Oh, and we saw the southern hemisphere night sky tonight for the first time! Too many lights in town to make out too much, but we do think we spotted the southern cross. Still can´t believe we´re in Peru, but the fact that the water drains clockwise in the toilet helps.

This won´t be a long update, since I´m typing this from an excruciatingly slow computer in an internet cafe, with a keyboard that has all sorts of funky keys (like Ç and ¿ and ñ. Bet your keboard can´´t do that!). But as soon as we find some wi-fi I´ll be sure to post a bunch more pics and stories.

October 27, 2009

Peru 2009, Day 1 -- 5972 miles in 24 hours

Flying sucks. It doesn't matter how often you travel, or how comfortable the seats are in first class (and they ARE quite comfortable), flying across the world is still a grueling, agonizing, exhausting process.

We arrived in Lima about an hour ago and promptly found a Starbucks with a wifi connection. We also found a McDonalds and TWO Dunkin' Donuts. Man, I love American capitalist empirialism!

Anyway, I'm not all that coherent right now, so I'll keep this post short. In a few hours we catch a flight to Cusco, high in the Peruvian Andes, then catch a train to Aguas Calientes. After a LONG, good night's sleep in a real bed we'll hopefully be feeling like we're on top of the world. Tomorrow morning we will be climbing ancient Incan steps up into the ruins of Machu Picchu.

Flying first class does certainly have its perks.

I've never had a better meal on an airplane before!

Our first impression of Peru! Gotta love it.

October 25, 2009

We're Leaving, On a Jet Plane

Well, we will be tomorrow morning, anyway. Everything is packed. We still have some room to stuff all sorts of fun items we discover on the other side of the world. This will be the first time either of us has traveled south of the equator. I can guarantee that one of the first things I'm going to do upon arriving is to flush a toilet and check which way the water goes down (FYI - in the northern hemisphere water drains counter-clockwise).

One of the other things I'm looking forward to seeing is the night sky. All sorts of fun constellations (the Southern Cross) and heavenly objects (the galactic center) will be visible...all of them for the first time. It will be strange to look up and not see some of our most familiar "landmarks".

Well, I hope to post here as often as possible while we're wandering through the high Andes. Check back often (or just subscribe to my blog using google reader, it will automatically tell you when I've posted). I'll be sharing our adventures as they happen.