Next, Peru

gate, Peru

So, M and I left Inuvik together and flew to Vancouver. From there, she flew to Montreal and I to San Francisco. I was home for a week, and then I flew down to Peru to see N.

It was another road trip — I flew to Lima, and then to Tarapoto. Nora met me there and we rushed back to her town because she needed to give a class (rushed in a manner of speaking — we did rush, and it took us 24 hours). We stayed in her village for about three days and then retraced our steps slowly to Tarapoto and the airport, stopping in Chachapoyas, where we saw Kuellap, an amazing ruin, Moyobamba, where we stayed out in the country at a tilapia farm, and Tarapoto itself, where we visited a market, a cigar factory, and a wildlife refuge.

Peru is beautiful, and it was great to see N. We’re going back at Christmas, although possibly to a different part of the country.



leymebamba 2

rooftops leymebamba


keullap view

kuellap view 2

tower at kuellap

view from kuellap 3

Nora and andrea kuellap

kuellap view 4






nora tarapoto

It really does look like that — mountains, and then when you look closely, people farming all the way up. It’s lovely.

Arctic adventure

maddy -- toronto airport

So, we left Detroit Lakes in the middle of the night, drove to Minneapolis, and flew to Toronto. (M and I did. K hung around the airport for a bit and then flew home.) From there to Vancouver (see above), and from there to Whitehorse (see below). By this point, it was night.

whitehorse night view

I think this was around 11 — in any case, late. It’s pretty far north.

In the morning, we flew in a tiny plane to Dawson. What a place! It’s a gold mining town.  (By the way, if you’re ever in the Yukon, fly Air North. They have lovely little planes and they feed you real food. I sat next to a helicopter pilot who told me terrifying stories about bears.) We met M’s friend A at the airport and rode into town. It was the beginning of our adventure.

Anyway, Dawson is lovely.

dawson city

The streets are not paved.

dawson bank

It’s on the banks of the Yukon river, and someone has built a house right in the middle of the river.

house in yukon riverWe spent the morning in Dawson, and then made our way back out to the beginning of the Dempster Highway to camp for the night. But Alex and I both woke up the next morning with the realization that 450 miles up a dirt road in 5 days was too much. It was a huge relief that we both felt the same way. So, I hitch-hiked back into town (got a ride from some gold miners who gave me tips about who to talk to). The bus company, who does ferry people around to various adventures, could not accommodate us at a moment’s notice, but they referred me to a guy named Colum, who normally drops people and canoes off here and there. He was off eating breakfast, but we spoke by phone and came to an arrangement that he would come find us on the highway on Sunday afternoon and drive us a fair bit down the road to where we could get to the end by ourselves. He dropped me off back at the beginning of the highway and we were off!

dempster highway beginningHere’s the traditional opening shot:

dempster bridgeAnd our first night camping on the highway:

dempster night 1

And the entrance to Tombstone Provincial Park (beautiful)




dempster lunch

Second night’s campsite

tombstone campGlorious scenery

dempster high point


Later that day, and just as it started to rain, Colum picked us up in his van.

20869795301_61bb108949_kand took us all the way to the campground right before Ft. McPherson.

We stopped at a spot he knew on the river (was it the Yukon again? Not sure)

dempster river


And again at the Arctic circle.

arctic circle

And here’s a shot of some fog on the tundra.

dempster tundra

Here’s the third campsite all packed up

dempster night 3And day 4. It got wet.

dempster day 4That was our best day, though. Egged on by some motor cyclists, we rode about 75 km. Which is not so far, really, but felt very far in the rain on gravel/mud.

dempster day 4 pondCampsite 4 was in the driveway to this little abandoned house. It was attached to a rope so it could be dragged — probably someone’s hunting camp.

campsite 4

And the view — the ferry crossing by Tsiigehtchic.

view of tsiigehtchicWe took the ferry the next morning, but the day was miserable.

dempster ferryCold, with a headwind, and something like 80 km to the next campsite and no where to camp along the road before that — only bog on either side.

leaving tsiigehtchicSo, we stuck out our thimbs, and got a ride all the way to Inuvik. There was a friendly campsite, with showers, and best of all a restaurant. It was heaven.

warm in InuvikWe made it! Not all officially — I would go back, actually. I would give myself three weeks and do the whole thing by bike, now that I know how to do it. And I am glad we did it unofficially, too.

We hung around Inuvik for a few days. M and I took a boat trip around the delta which was beautiful and informative. And then we flew back.

mckenzie delta




mom at lakecrestI’m back!

Here — let me drag you slowly and painfully through my vacation.

(I’m currently at work, but I can take a little break. I’m starving, though, and would really just like to go to the grocery store and buy some foodstuffs. K survived very well without me, but I don’t think there’s anything left to eat. All of which to say, having some trouble focusing.)

So — Minnesota.


I know I whined incessantly about how I did not want to go to Minnesota, but then I went, and I remembered how much I actually love it there. Some friends of my mother’s kindly hosted our memorial picnic for my grandmother at their cottage, and let us drive around in their boat.

lillies at melissaTheir cottage, and even more the cottage next door which my mother’s friend’s brother had recently bought, and which had not been remodeled, reminded me so much of my childhood. Here’s the thing — you go to the lake. You take your shoes off and never put them on again all summer long. You take boats out. You lounge around and read — possibly books like a Hardy Boys mystery you might have read 5 times before. That’s it — it’s perfect. Food is minimal — corn and ice cream. Occasionally you go to town, generally if it’s raining anyway. It’s still like that there, which I can’t really believe. But it is, if you find the right cottage and overlook the monstrous houses which are slowly replacing them. No air conditioning. Lots of windows.

melissa lakeshoreIt’s heaven.

k and m on boatWe were there for a few days. M and I rode our bikes around on the gravel roads of Ottertail County — the common theme this summer might be gravel roads. The cousins hung out. My grandmother was celebrated, which relieved my mother.

mom with cakeAnd then we left — I could easily have stayed months longer, especially if I’d had a boat, but it was just as well that we left, I think.

I would love to find a dinky little cottage there. My grandmother used to complain about being at the lake with small children and an outhouse and diapers boiling on the stove and skins. Even she liked it, though. But for anyone who grew up there  — like me, or my mother — it was heaven. It really was.

long lake

Some plans

So, apparently, and unbelievably, I am about to do this, on a bicycle.


I can’t really believe it either. I am happy it’s a couple weeks away, and believe me, I am enjoying the hell out of every night remaining that I get to sleep in my own bed.

Here’s the plan. K and M and I fly to Minnesota. We drive to North Dakota, where we have a small graveside ceremony for my grandmother (with the rest of my family), then drive back to Minnesota, to a lake resort near where I spent every summer as a kid. It’s not my lake, or my lake cottage, for that matter, but I am a little excited. I loved spending summers at the lake.

After a few days, M and I fly north to meet M’s boyfriend, A, and then we set out for points north.

I am having a hard time believing that this will really happen, but it seems, as we move forward, that it will.


Hey again!

The pins came out, and the hand’s in a splint now, which I can remove to shower or even just to look at my hand! I’m not supposed to use my pinky too much, so that’s a little weird, but I think in a week or so I can.

So that is pretty exciting. Right?

Reading Station Eleven, which I like a lot. Nearly done, and I don’t really know how it will all wrap up.

That is all.

(My hand is so happy to be able to feel things again! I think I am not a person who would enjoy a sensory deprivation tank very much.)


I was so looking forward to getting the stupid pins out of my hand today, but the doctor wasn’t in, so I have to go back tomorrow.

And that’s two hours out of my day, by the time I get there and back.

It’s a nuisance.

Nearly there, but I want my arm back. I feel like it’s going to take forever to use my arm, hand, and fingers again, and I want to get started.