Peru 2016!

Posted: July 1, 2016 in Uncategorized

I had always wanted to visit Machu Picchu and Peru. Once it came time to burn the last of my vacation days before I lost them, I decide to make the last minute trip. My wife couldn’t make it because she just started a new job, and my kids couldn’t make it because of the four day hike to Machu Pichu. I enlisted my good buddies, Nic and Jeremy, to join me on the adventure!

The first stop was Cusco, the staging center for all treks to Machu Picchu.

The old town square in Cusco delights!

A statue of the last Inca emperor points the way to the city in the clouds.

In this Peruvian depiction of the Last Supper, Jesus breaks bread with Machu Picchu in the background while the disciples feast on guinea pig, a traditional Peruvian delicacy.

But there are other Peruvian delicacies as well, like this ceviche served fresh in the local market.

The three amigos chilling with some llamas before the big hike to Machu Picchu. Nic is on the left, and Jeremy on the right.

Alpaca, the cousin of the llama, provides great yarn, but also makes an awesome burger. Peruvians don’t eat llamas.

The Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu is a four day and three night trek reaching altitudes over 15,000 feet and is an alternative to the traditional Inca Trail.

We awoke from camp after the first day of trekking to some stunning Andes scenery.

The Andes are the second highest mountains in the world, after the Himalayans, and people often get a touch of altitude sickness. In Jeremey’s case, the touch was severe. If he hadn’t been rushed to the hospital he would most likely have died within 48 hours of leaving the first day’s campsite.

After I escorted Jeremy back to Cusco so he could make his full recovery in the hospital, I took an alternate route to Machu Picchu that followed this river by train.

The end of the line is Aguascalientes, or Machu Picchu City, the small town (inaccessible by car) at the foot of Machu Picchu. I met up with Nic who completed the full trek here, and we enjoyed the hot springs.

Early the next morning, we made it to Machu Picchu! Weather wasn’t great, but after a long week, it felt good to have arrived at this iconic location.

Here’s an alternate view with my buddy Nic on the far right.

The bros pose at the entrance to the city. It was bittersweet that Jeremy couldn’t make it with us, be he fully recovered, and made it up himself by the end of his trip – and on a sunny day!

Machu Picchu is definitely one of the most photogenic places I’ve been, even in the rain and mist.

On our last night, we celebrated by sharing Peruvian Cuy, or guinea pig. Wikipedia says, “Traditionally, the animal was reserved for ceremonial meals by indigenous people in the Andean highlands, but since the 1960s, it has become more socially acceptable for consumption by all people. It continues to be a major part of the diet in Peru and Bolivia, particularly in the Andes Mountains highlands.”

Although little Princeton couldn’t make this trip, he helped daddy unpack, and was stoked on his Alpaca sneakers I brought back.

Christian and Zhenya took a quick adventure to Mexico City! Zhenya was on Spring break while Mom and Princeton took care of business at work and day care.

We rented a great little pad in the hip Condesa neighborhood.

Once again we used Airbnb, and found it to be a perfect value.

On our first day in the City, we attended an exhibition game of the San Diego Padres and the Houston Astros. Zhenya got a ball and cap from an up-and-coming Padre star!

Although daddy was working full time, I found time to stroll the tree-lined streets in our neighborhood during my lunch breaks.

The food was incredible!

We did take some time out to see some of the tourist spots. The National Anthropology Museum holds the Aztec Sun Disk!

The museum has the largest collection of Aztec, Toltec, Mayan, and other pre-Columbian artifacts in the world! Don’t touch!

The city definitely had lots of new modern buildings…

As well as some beautiful buildings that had seen better days.

I took Zhenya for her first salon visit and she added highlights to her hair!

The street art impressed!

As well as the architecture.

We were encouraged to eat Ruffles Potato Chips, because “You can’t Resist!” and “Eat Well.”

There was a lot of ground to cover in 8 days, so we did the touristy thing and rode atop a double-decker tour bus one afternoon to catch the major sites.

We saw the Angel of the Revolution watching over the busy city.

As well as other patrons standing guard.

Finally, it is the beautiful warmth of the people that makes this city so great. Zhenya spent time with her new friends on our last night.

Peace and Love to you!

2015 – Video Review

Posted: December 22, 2015 in Travel
Tags: , , ,

This year included a few fun trips – all within the USA.  While we await the American citizenship of my beloved wife, we kept this year within the States to ensure the red tape was in order.

IMG_8401 (4)

Once again we visited our island paradise of Maui.  Here Christian free dives just after dawn and has the spectacular dive spot, “Dumps”, all to himself.

The summer kicked off with a road trip to Sequoia National Park, Yosemite, Big Trees, Palo Alto, and Big Sur.

Christian continued the road trip theme in the fall with the purchase of a new car on the east coast that he had to road trip back to California.

Christian visited his high school buddy Mat in Tennessee and took the drone up over the location of the Civil War Battle of Spring Hill.

Finally, while filming an abandoned amusement park in Branson Missouri, the drone took a hard crash.

See you in 2016!  We have some great adventures planned!

 

This winter the Nommesens visited an American island of a different type – Puerto Rico!

We started in the Old San Juan as most do. Old San Juan is the oldest settlement within Puerto Rico and is the historic colonial section.

Baby Princeton digged all the stone fountains.

Our next stop was Luquillo on the east coast of the island. Craig’s List hooked us up with a sweet apartment on the 10th floor.

The views from the balcony were unreal.

To the North we looked down the beach to the town of Luquillo.

To the South we had unobstructed views of the National Park.

We ventured out into the park to frolic.

And to build sandcastles.

We met this green guy along the way.

Back in town, Inna relaxed by the shore.

And Zhenya got her glamor shot in as well.

We took some time out from the beach to explore the El Yunque Rain Forest.

We were rewarded by a waterfall at the end of our trail.

Fresh fish with plantains was a welcome treat.

And a little lobster never hurt anyone either.

Princeton wasn’t sure he agreed with the tropical fruit though.

Our next stop was the South of the island, Ponce!

We toured the old fire station.

And chilled in the hammock in our formalwear.

We couldn’t leave Puerto Rico without visiting the surfing capital on the West coast, Rincon.

Domes beach is named after the abandoned Thermal Nuclear Energy dome that can still be seen lurking in the jungle.

Warm water, and the best waves in all the Caribbean.

It’s hard to get tired of nice walks on beautiful beaches.

We watched the sun set over the water from the balcony of our Airbnb rental.

Daddy and Princeton even got their own glamor shot as well!

We couldn’t stay at the beach the whole time, so we ventured to the interior of the island to visit the Camuy River Cave Park, only discovered in 1958, and formed by the world’s third largest underground river.

One last day at the beach before returning the rental car with almost 600 miles added to the odometer.

Puerto Rico-20

Alas, all good things must come to an end, so we ventured back aboard the flying cylinder to land in the harsh California winter.

Maui 2014

Posted: December 31, 2014 in Travel
Tags: , , , , ,

Princeton Jonady Nommesen turned 5 months old… it was time for his first vacation! We decided to stay in the country this time, to make it a little easier traveling with an Infant. He did really well on his first flight. We were blessed to have all three seats to ourselves. Little Zhenya got to stay home with Uncle Torrey and Grandma and Grandpa this time around.

It is always nice to be back in Hawaii. Spending ten days on the white sand beaches and swimming in warm water helped the stress of work fade away…

The little man wasn’t always sure what to think of the ocean, but he was a good sport!

The first stop was Kihei. We stayed in this oceanfront condo for five nights.

Because of the well equipped kitchen, I taught myself how to make sushi by watching YouTube videos. I had never tried it before, but after a few attempts, we were pleased with the results.

Sushi for dinner and macadamia nut pancakes for breakfast – all with an ocean view and wonderful weather. No complaining here.

The view from the condo and the warm trade breezes lulled us…

Hard to beat the Hawaiian sunset!

We almost didn’t want to leave our balcony!

But of course we had to adventure out to some of the other beaches!

And no trip to Maui could be complete without traversing the Road to Hanna. Here we started on the back-side of the mountain instead of taking the traditional route.

Near Hana we enjoyed the black sand beaches and hiking to tropical waterfalls. No place for a stroller in these parts…

We found all types of friends in the jungle.

Baby did GREAT! He was usually a happy camper.

Eventually the little guy started getting used to all that sun and sand.

Mom and Dad tried stand up paddle boarding for the first time. We could get used to this!

Further up the North West Coast, we ended up staying near Lahaina for a few days.

Home of the world famous Maui Brewing Company. Can someone say coconut smoked porter?

In Lahaina they provided cribs, which baby seemed to enjoy!

We had to take some time out of hanging out to hang out.

Inna took some great shots of the floating lotuses.

For our last two nights on the island, we used rewards to stay at the Andaz in Wailea.

The ocean view room was great! Low-key Hawaiian luxury.

Happy boy!

Sunburned and happy at the infinity pools.

In all, a great, refreshing vacation.

We could see moving here someday!

We’d heard good things about Nicaragua, the largest country in Central America, and we were ready to experience it! So to kick off the new year, we headed to Nicaragua for our family vacation.

· Nicaragua is one of the most beautiful countries in all the Americas. Last January, the New York Times ranked Nicaragua as one of the top 3 places to go in the world.

· Nicaragua is among the safest in the world with a lower relative crime rate than the US, France, and Germany.

· Nicaragua is a peaceful and friendly land, but it is not wealthy. A long civil war sapped the economy, as well as various dictators, an earthquake that leveled the capital in ’72, and the devastating hurricane Mitch in 1998. Nicaragua is the second poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.

· There’s a lot of history concerning Sandinista guerrillas, US marines, Contras, and pirates, but I won’t be discussing those things in this blog.

We flew into the bustling capital, Managua, after many long hours of travel. We used our Hilton points to stay one night to rest and acclimate at the almost embarrassingly posh Hilton Princess before setting out on the real adventure!

The first day was spent getting over the jetlag and chilling by the pool…

The next day we were off to Granada! This lakeside city offers a taste of colonial Spain.

Cobblestone streets lead to the central park and cathedral.

Here the girls pose outside of Guadalupe Church. It was built in 1626 by the monk, Benito de Baltodano. The church was very important during the Colonial time because of its strategic position, at the entrance of the town from the lake.

The meals we had were fresh, simple, and delicious!

At night, the streets of Granada come alive. Here we witness traditional dancing in the street.

We took a great boat cruise in the Isletas, a collection of 365 islands in Lake Nicaragua.

Many of the hundreds of islands are inhabited.

Some were luxury affairs or hotels, while others are occupied by the local folk. Everyone has their own personal island.

After a teary-eyed start to the journey, Z gives the experience a thumbs up!

The horse-drawn carriage ride back into town also gets the coveted thumb and a wink.

Our hotel in Granada provided the perfect escape from the heat and activity of the city. A walled courtyard with a refreshing pool just outside our door made the experience top notch.

Z jumps for joy near Lake Nicaragua.

Inna makes a new friend.

On our way to our next destination, we viewed Ometepe Island, about 100% Volcano.

We were on our way to San Juan Del Sur, the hub for exploration for Nicaragua’s southern Pacific beaches.

We hiked up to the top of the hill overlooking the bay, where a statue of Jesus keeps watch.

Fresh squeezed juice with just caught seafood for lunch at a local eatery is hard to beat at $3.

Our hotel room was nothing to boast about, but the location and the beachfront pool were outstanding!

High above the town, Zhenya and daddy prepared for Z’s first zip line adventure!

Ziiiiiiiiiiiiiiip!

Sunset on the beach.

The end of another beautiful day in paradise.

Our final stop was the Hacienda Iguana, where we found our paradise.

Our beachfront condo from above.

The view from our patio. No complaints from this gringo. It was really time to relax.

And, in case you’re wondering, that is a baby bump! My lovely wife gave birth to Princeton Jonady Nommesen three months after this photo was taken!

Pool time, recharging the batteries.

Daddy getting his workout.

Mommy relax time!

We had to pause all this relaxing to eat another fresh fish taco meal.

We watched the Charger Bronco playoff game with some local expats. One prego in each fan club!

Zhenya jumping for joy!

Inna makes pregnancy look fun! And baby gets his first brush with tropical water.

Bodysurfing warm water in the middle of winter… To think I could’ve been sitting at a desk!

How could it get any better? Maybe a round of golf?

Inna looks as though she may actually drive this ball down the fairway!

Ball, meet Big Bertha!

Even crustaceans enjoy a day out on the course.

We thank God for a thoroughly awesome adventure in Nicaragua!

Now that we’re back home, we’ve been busy with our latest edition.

Expect this little guy to play some supporting roles in future blog posts! J

Peace and Love,

Christian, Inna, Zhenya, and baby Princeton!

For our one year anniversary, we decided to leave the little one with grandma and grandpa, and set sail on the world’s largest cruise ship, Allure of the Seas!

You can pay for the photo they take of you when you board, or you may be able to sneak a grainy watermarked snapshot of the screen that displays this option…

Undeniably, the Allure of the Seas is an impressive vessel.

It has many areas to explore, such as this olde time theme park section of the ship…

Or the Central Park with beautiful vegetation.

The fresh breezes on the balconies soothed the soul.

I found the best places are just for relaxing…

Although for the ambitious, there is a jogging track.

You’ll need to run a few miles with all the unlimited food available onboard. It was hard to resist the “make-your-own-pizza” bar. I brought along my own smoked ghost peppers to spice it up a bit more.

Our first port of call was in Haiti.

Inna went for a swim…

…while Christian just relaxed.

Next port of call, Jamaica!

Here we chilled with an old school reggae duo.

It’s obligatory to climb the famous Dunns River Falls in Ochos Rios.

Although super-imposed with (literally) boatloads of tourists, there’s still a chance to catch a good shot.

We went off the beaten path to find some authentic jerk chicken.

Although I’m not sure how it set with my stomach…

It was a bit rainy in Montego Bay, but we made the best of it.

And were rewarded by a beautiful rainbow.

Back onboard we tried our luck on the Flowrider wave machine.

Inna got the hang of it pretty quickly!

And even tried the zip-line!

One last stop in Cozumel, Mexico…

…where Inna rode horses…

…while Christian scuba dived the crystal clear waters.

Boarding the ship one last time, we made our way back to Florida.

Good bye Caribbean islands…

…we were on our way to the Florida Keys!

No trip down to the Keys could be made without the muscle to get you there. We were stoked to have the convertible SS Camaro for the journey.

The drive on the Overseas highway was exciting!

When we finally arrived in Key West, Christian sampled some of the world’s hottest hot sauces.

And then tagged base on the continental United States’ most Southern Point.

Finally, belly’s full, skin tanned, and work forgotten, it was time to return to reality… Farewell uncruel world!