Tag Archives: mountains

Things I Did This Fall

Hello there! Long time, no write.

Work got busy. I basically stopped cooking. My project started to wind down, and I’ve traveled three times since October. And as I’ve expressed before, I spend enough time on the computer at work that I wasn’t always excited to get back on and write at the end of the day.

The weather cooled down- a little bit. The leaves started to turn color. And I got out of Amarillo for a weekend and headed up to Denver to see my friend J.

Obligatory photo of the airplane wing.

Obligatory photo of the airplane wing. On approach into Denver.

It was a whirlwind, but it was still a much needed break from the same old routine I’d fallen into in Amarillo. First, we went to Steuben’s and had some delicious comfort food and great cocktails. It’s also hipster central, and you sit in pretty close proximity to other tables. It’s awesome people watching!

Moscow Mules. Vodka, ginger beer, and lime. So refreshing!

Moscow Mules. Vodka, ginger beer, and lime. So refreshing!

These are gravy fries. You better come really hungry if you're gonna start a meal with these!

These are gravy fries. You better come really hungry if you’re gonna start a meal with these!

The next day, we went up to Idaho Springs, a gorgeous little mountain town less than an hour out of Denver. The weather was perfect, and it actually felt like fall. Also, it has been more than a year since I was up in actual mountains (ahem, Chile), so the altitude and terrain were wonderful.



We also got pizza at the original Beau Jo’s. This pizza is not a joke! Do as the locals do and cover that leftover crust in honey. It’s delicious!

Pizza for 1-2 people. Any bigger and we would have been taking back leftovers.

Pizza for 1-2 people. Any bigger and we would have been taking back leftovers.

Idaho Springs 1

Beautiful surprise waterfall in Idaho Springs.

On the way down from the mountains. Take a look at my Cajón de Maipo photos and tell me they're not alike.

On the way down from the mountains. Take a look at my Cajón de Maipo photos and tell me they’re not alike.


Later that night, we headed towards downtown for a classic Mexican dinner of tamales, and then over to the Punch Bowl for a drink and some games. The Punch Bowl is like Dave and Buster’s…but nothing like it because it’s really classy and sleek. No photos, because I was enjoying the company and didn’t think of it!

That Sunday, we went to brunch at Snooze. This is breakfast paradise. It’s all they do! You can find all kinds of eggs Benedict, French toast, and some of the most bonkers pancakes I’ve ever had.

J.'s breakfast.

J.’s breakfast. Some kind of delicious sausage gravy and puff pastry and egg situation.

Two words: pancake. flight. You can get a flight of three different pancakes. I had spiced pear, pineapple upside down (!!!), and sweet potato. I mean, come on.

Two words: pancake. flight. You can get a flight of three different pancakes. I had spiced pear, pineapple upside down (!!!), and sweet potato. I mean, come on.

I spent the rest of the day exploring downtown Denver, near the capital and along the 16th Street Mall. Denver is so eclectic. You can find all kinds of shops along the Mall, not far from the seat of government. It reminded me a lot of Madison, WI, but on a slightly bigger scale.

The Colorado State Capitol Building. It has a golden dome. Just like my alma mater!

The Colorado State Capitol Building. It has a golden dome. Just like my alma mater!

Steps of the Capitol Building, proving that the city is indeed one mile above sea level.

Steps of the Capitol Building, proving that the city is indeed one mile above sea level.

Buffalo figures on the 16th St. Mall.

Buffalo figures on the 16th St. Mall.

View of the skyline...from not very high up.

View of the skyline…from not very high up.

If I’d really gone to Denver to see the sights and get to know the city, I would have given myself more time and certainly done a lot more planning. I basically bought a plane ticket and told my friend I was coming. So really, I was there for the company. It had been a long four months in Amarillo without anyone besides the people I worked with, TV, Internet, and books. Simply getting to see some different scenery- i.e., MOUNTAINS and CITY- and be with someone who knows me was enough.

Thank you for an excellent weekend, J.! I hope I can get back to Denver and see more of it soon.

That was the middle of October. Suddenly it was Halloween, my project was quickly winding down, and I was headed home for a quick weekend.

Isn't this one cute?

Isn’t this one cute? It also kind of looks like the emoji.

I got back on Halloween, just in time to hand out candy to trick-or-treaters and remember that fall can actually be cold- it had been in the 80’s in Amarillo that week.

It was also around this time that I got news that I’m going to Chicago for my next project. True story: I’m actually writing this from my hotel on the Magnificent Mile. That’s a whole other blog post, though.

So, the Hotel Kitchen thing didn’t really work out as planned. I also didn’t do nearly as much sightseeing or getting around in Amarillo as I thought I would.

Here’s the deal- when I felt like laying around and doing nothing, I didn’t want to go do something just for the sake of blogging or Instagramming it. The rise of social media have changed how we perceive and approach experiences. Can we photograph it? Can we write about it and say something sexy or attractive or thought-provoking? Is it hypocritical or paradoxical to be writing this right now?

All of that is to say, if you were maybe expecting a little more life out of this blog while I was on my Texan adventure, I’m sorry if you were somehow disappointed.

But now I’m in Chicago. And I’m going to have a real apartment with a REAL KITCHEN. People. This is HUGE. I hope you’re as excited as I am! You’re going to see a whole new level of cooking and activity and just stuff on the blog soon, as I get to a place I can settle into for a while.

More about Texas to come.

With love,



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Two posts in one day. I feel like writing today.

As I mentioned previously, I’m back. And I am loving it. LOVING it. I had a wonderful week at home, don’t get me wrong. I certainly had my moments where I wondered if I just shouldn’t stay at home all summer and relax, enjoy the good weather, bake. And I’m sure there will be moments in the next ten weeks where I’ll get homesick, and frustrated with the metro, and livid with the micro (the bus), and be absolutely done with rain and cold and 5:00 PM sunsets.

But for now, I am living up this honeymoon phase. I’m eating palta with almost everything. Every cup of tea and even Nescafé is delicious. I love the hubbub and the smell of the centro. It’s so exciting to be walking around everywhere and know where things are. I walked to and from the metro yesterday almost without thinking (don’t worry, I was aware of my surroundings, I was not being unsafe). I remembered how to get to the mall from the metro! I even went to the park to work out yesterday! Certain words and phrases are coming back to me, so I’m sounding a little more Chilean as I get settled back in. All right, so I kind of sound like a gringa who’s seeing everything for the first time and anything that’s not United States means it’s AWESOME. But that’s not how I feel. I feel like someone who is really excited to be home.

There were moments during the first day that were surreal. One second I was in Milwaukee. The next I was on a plane. The next thing I knew, I was walking out of customs with my bags, I turned the corner, and there was my host mom! Then I was in the car and we’re flying down the carretera, and the sun wasn’t even up yet. Then we got home, and it blew my mind how everything smelled exactly the same, most everything was in the same place, and here I was, eating breakfast at the table, in the same seat I sat in at every meal. The sameness has been mind-boggling, but also incredibly comforting. I get to come back knowing everything I learned over five months! There’s almost no awkwardness this time. I’ve come home, to my other house, my other family.

I was making sandwiches last night for dinner, and my host mom suddenly looked up from her work and said, you know, it’s like no time has passed at all. It’s true! It is just like coming home from college at the end of a semester. And I’ve done it twice now, in two weeks. You know you belong somewhere when you can come back and it’s like you’ve never been gone at all. And I am blessed enough to be able to do that in two places.

Here is what the first couple of days have looked like. (I am sorry for the lack of gorgeous food photos. I have mostly been eating with my family, and my best, prettiest meal was shared with our extended family. I didn’t want to be the rude gringa photographing her meal.)

Guys! Look! MOUNTAINS! The world is not flat!

Guys! Look! MOUNTAINS! The world is not flat!

I wonder how many times the neighbors have seen me taking this picture...

I wonder how many times the neighbors have seen me taking this picture…

One of my favorite things about this house: laying around in bed all morning.

One of my favorite things about this house: laying around in bed all morning.

It is fall here. Which makes me want all things pumpkin and cinnamon. And Thanksgiving.

It is fall here. Which makes me want all things pumpkin and cinnamon. And Thanksgiving.

Can I just say that I missed out on fall last year, so the sight of fall leaves is pretty dang great.

And yet, the roses are still in bloom.

And yet, the roses are still in bloom. Makes up for missing the start of rose season at home.

I start my internship tomorrow- yes, my job, which is the real reason why I am here. I hope you are all having fabulous weeks, and thanks for following along so far!

With love,


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A couple of Fridays ago, I found myself crying in my host parents’ room. This was the result of multiple things: first, I was up to here with work. Second, I was starting to realize how little time I have left in Chile. And third, it was really hitting me that it’s been four whole months since I’d seen my real family. I guess a fourth cause could be that I hadn’t been sleeping well, as a result of the other three causes. Which just compounded everything and ended in tears. I’m very bad at hiding my crying. Host mom saw and pretty much sat me down on her bed to talk.

I’ll spare you more details, but the result of that much-needed heart-to-heart with my host parents was these realizations: I need to care a little less about some things. I need to say yes more. I need to stop dwelling on how much time I have until I get back on a plane to the States (1 month minus 4 days. Not that I’m really aware.). And if I can’t do anything about something right away, then I need to stop worrying about it until I can make it better. And if I can make it better, I should, as soon as possible!

Aprovechar means “to take advantage of.” “Hay que aprovechar” whatever good thing/free day/nice weather, etc. You have to take advantage of this. So that has become my motto for the rest of this semester. I have to take advantage of everything I can. Because who knows when I’ll be back again?

I started to aprovechar the very next day after that conversation. My host mom and I went up to the Cajón de Maipo, a region outside of Santiago that lies in the cordillera (the mountains). We spent the day there with friends picnicking, driving, and hiking around. It was needed. The friends were colleagues of my mom’s from work, many of whom attended my university in the States and with whom I have a lot in common. We got to talk about how they ended up in Santiago after graduation, what their experiences have been like, what it’s like to start growing up, and so on. Besides getting some good life advice/time with grown-ups (I like time with grown-ups. I always have.), it was more or less therapeutic to get out into the fresh air, into nature, four hours and yet so much farther away from the big city, from my homework, from my computer, from everything that had been nagging me lately.

Take a look at the pictures and maybe you can see how being out in the Andes for a day (you know, casual) would help me clear my mind:

The road and the mountains.

We got up to Baños Morales, 1850 meters high.

85 degrees and we were that close to snow!

Monumento Natural El Morado. It’s a trail up to the natural monument, but we got there too late to do the hike.

The colors in the mountains are unreal sometimes.

This was a good day. I needed that day.

Beautiful. I know this is something religious to say, but seriously, I can’t go out to all of these incredible places and not be constantly reminded of God’s works in the world. Look at how stunning it all is! And perfect! Someone who loves us had to have a hand in it, right?

The next week was very busy, but I went into it feeling refreshed and with a much clearer mind than before. And then I got to end that week by going horseback riding in the Andes. Note: school-sponsored field trips have never been so awesome.

We took a bus about 45 minutes outside of Santiago (seriously, we’re that close to the mountains) to a place called La Ermita. There we met up with arrieros (spanishdict.com tells me that means muleteer. How about horsehand? Is that a word?) who matched us up with horses and led us around the cordillera for the day.

There were two moments where I thought my horse and I were going to fall over- in one case, I thought we were going to fall off of a cliff. This is why you travel with arrieros, so you have someone who can pull your horse back on the path, away from the cliff, and almost literally save you. But besides those two moments, and the fact that everything from my shoulder blades to my calves was sore for two days afterwards, it was probably my favorite paseo this semester.

My pictures really don’t do justice to how gorgeous of a day it was. Full sun until the very end of the day. And there are actually pictures I don’t have, because I was a little preoccupied with going down a mountain on a horse. But imagine those pictures: just a huge landscape of mountains and valleys. One of my friends said it was like Lord of the Rings. I felt like a medieval queen surveying her territory, or looking upon her troops from afar before a battle. (Just in case you thought I was cool or something…no. Not at all.)

I took this while on top of a horse, one-handed, with the other hand on the reins. No, this is not how we almost fell off a cliff.

Here is my horse drinking water as we ford a stream. It was like Little House on the Prairie, or the Oregon Trail, where everyone had to take their horses and covered wagons through the river. (Just in case you doubted me when I said I’m not cool.)

The same stream, but from above.

A cactus! In Spanish: cactus. Plural in Spanish: catci OR cactuses. Because you know you were wondering if they have weird rules about plurals in Spanish too.

After 3-4 hours on the horses, we stopped for a long lunch, which consisted of anticuchos, or kabobs, and chorizo.

And that is what horseback riding in the Andes looks like.

Let’s be thankful for a minute. Agradezco mucho (I really appreciate/am thankful for):

The mountains. Clean sheets. Essay extensions. Visiting moms (thank you for bringing my birthday gifts, M.!). The air conditioned train. Washed feet. Agua de hierbas. Catching sweet moments out and about, like an elderly couple having fun on the playground in the park where I run, or when people get up right away on the train to give their seats to someone who really needs it. A really delicious birthday cake. People I can be myself with. Friends who come by for just ten minutes, even if they don’t live nearby. Longer days. Brighter mornings.

That’s life in Santiago right now! Lots more coming soon as we barrel on towards December.

Much love,



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