Picking up from where we left off last week in our solo adventures! Read on for the "exciting" conclusion! : )
Taylor ~~~~~~ Los Angeles
I had a few extra days in my travel time and thought, well it’s cheaper to fly in to LA than San Diego (my next destination) so why not spend two nights there, visit my amazing college friends Brian and Trea, and spend a day at Universal Studios. That seems like a reasonable thing to do for a girl on a budget who travels all the time, right? I deserve a break! *insert any and all comments about me being a spoiled brat in to the comments below* But, when it turned out my sister would be in LA at the same time, it became a way to get to see her as well, so we goofed-off being tourists driving down Sunset Blvd, going to an escape room just the two of us (we totally kicked its ass!), and exploring Universal Studios and City Walk. I had a lovely meet up with Brian and Trea, and their adorable almost one-year-old Beatrice at arguably the best Mexican restaurant outside Mexico (Brian’s statement, but I do agree), and then it was time for another change of scenery.
KP ~~~~~~ Peru
After a short stay at the Huacachina oasis, slowly re-conditioning myself to human contact, I took the highway back to the North end of Paracas to generally live life as a beach bum and do a little kiteboarding.
The kite school had a great sandy lot close enough to the water I could watch the flamingos, and close enough to the neighboring resort I could get the wifi. I bought a big case of cheap beer and a couple steaks, then settled in for a week of awesome.
I quickly developed a slow routine: Wake up with the sun for a run along the beach. Read/Lounge in my camp chair. Beer and tuna sandwich for lunch. Read/lounge in a hammock. Kiteboard in the afternoon winds. Drink more beer and burn some food for dinner. Pisco sour sundowner. Fall asleep reading. Repeat.
Taylor ~~~~~~ San Diego
I don’t know why, but the world did not want me to board a train this trip… After my first mix-up with the not-a-train-bus, I was excited to take a nice trip down the California coastline on Amtrak. But, my ticket did not specify which of the two similarly named stations I should be at, nor did it provide an address, so after of course choosing the wrong one, I made it to the correct station with just enough time to watch the train arrive and promptly depart without me. Luckily the station was across from a Hertz, so $130 for a last-minute, fully-insured Prius and I had a nice “drive” down the California coastline instead. To be honest though, one of the things I miss most while traveling is time in the car by myself and this was the first time in almost 7 months I had driven myself anywhere, so it was pretty nice! I set the cruise control and turned up the Hamilton for the beautiful three hour drive!
I pulled up to Sunny and Karin’s adorable San Diego apartment mid-day and we blathered at each other non-stop, only breaking to make a couple rounds of margaritas, for about 5 hours. Sunny and Karin, otherwise known as The Vagabroads, are like KP and I if we were a super cool, gorgeous lesbian couple. We have spent only four days with these two in real life (we’d been internet friends for years), when we met up in El Salvador last June, and have kept in touch almost daily ever since. Mostly because us three ladies had the brainstorm to start our Facebook group Women Overlanding the World during this time together and it has now grown to a group of almost 1,300 women along with a growing Instagram account, a website, store, and much more on the way. We spent the three days I was there having long days of brainstorming sessions and long nights of drinking margaritas and eating so much great San Diego food! We also took one night to host what we hope will be the first of many Women Overlanding the World meet-ups!
KP ~~~~~~ Peru
Run. Lounge. Kite. Drink. Repeat.
April 20th-23rd… and also the 24th…
Taylor ~~~~~~ Phoenix
I reluctantly parted ways with Sunny and Karin (I seriously could have spent a week just talking and planning with these amazing ladies), and they dropped me off at the bus station (on purpose this time) for my trip to Phoenix. Being one person carrying three giant bags full of car parts and electronics to take back to Peru, I tried to pick the cheapest and simplest modes of transportation, and Greyhound was a surprisingly good option!
I made it to my old stomping ground of Scottsdale, where I had lived from ages 10-14 growing up, and I met up with my best friend Lauren at her Rehearsal Dinner. Lauren and I have known each other for almost 20 years at this point, but we hadn’t seen each other in about five so we had so much to catch up on. We chatted as much as possible at the rehearsal dinner and the next day at her beautiful wedding and reception, but it was so nice to really get to sit down and talk over breakfast on Monday before my flight. In the meantime, I got to do one other awesome meet-up with a girl I had been friends with for years, but actually never met in person, Lauren Sherwood. This awesome chick backpacked through Mexico for 7 months last year and wrote an amazing article about the experience. If you ever find yourself asking “Would it be safe for me to travel to Mexico?” just refer back to this story of a 22-year-old white girl doing it by herself and you’ll have your answer!
So back to breakfast with the other Lauren my friend who got married, and we maybe take a little too long to wrap things up because we’re having a great time catching up. We jump in her car to head to the airport, but it’s tricky and we take a wrong turn.. see where this is going? We still arrive with about 1-1/2 hours to spare before my flight and I head off to security with my carry-on, so ready to be heading back to my hubby and my little house on wheels. Well, security takes a little longer than usual, but within half an hour I am putting my bag through the scanner. The guy pulls it and says “hey miss, I’m sorry but you can’t take these car parts on the plane, you’ll have to check this bag.” Well, shit! Apparently tie rods for a heavy duty Chevy pick-up are considered a “club-like object that can be used as a weapon.” So I rush back to the counter only to find out that, I’m sorry it’s too late to check a bag on this flight (with 45 minutes still until take-off) so the only thing we can do is book you on a different flight for tomorrow. The hilarious irony which didn’t hit me until I’m sitting in the airport searching for airbnb’s, is that they had time to pull my two previously checked bags off the flight, but not add one small Osprey backpack to the flight… So yeah, that sucked. I booked a room, took myself to one of those fancy dine-in theatres for dinner and a movie (Black Panther, which was soooooo good) and then checked all three of my bags the next morning about two hours before my flight!
I made it in to Lima with no problems until I tried to do the right thing and declare some of our car parts (yes, only some because it’s a huge pain in the ass and super expensive to import parts), but these ladies were THOROUGH! I got there at 11:00pm after flying all day and watched two ladies pull every item out of my bag so they could tax anything that I was bringing in. Luckily they decided only the car parts were worth enough to worry about, so after we argued and haggled for another hour over their values, we settled on an amount that meant we paid a little over $200 in import tax. After the $150 to check all the bags, this $350 price tag was still less than the cost of shipping the parts to Peru and at least this way we were guaranteed to actually get them there. I have never been happier to roll 150 lbs. of luggage through an airport than the moment they gave me the receipt and I could head toward the exit where my sweet husband was waiting (for over an hour now) with a bottle of Prosecco and a smile!
KP ~~~~~~ Peru
I finally broke free of my Paracas cycle just in time to make my way back to Lima, sweep all the sand out of our camper, and uber to the airport to pick up all my glorious new truck parts!
And Taylor too, of course.