On our way!!!!!!

We are at the airport getting ready to board our flight! We will fly to Atlanta (Hi Bob and Greg) then to Lima.

I barely slept last night I was so incredibly excited! Although coming face to face with an 11 hour travel day has sobered me significantly. It’s a good thing I packed snacks and knitting, but don’t worry! I left enough room in my bag to bring back the equivalent of an entire alpaca in yarn form.

What’s in the bags you ask? Everything!

Our packing list for the hiking part of the trip is below. Packing for the rest of the trip was fairly basic. Nothing fancy.

We will post updates whenever possible!

Matt and Jill

*Trekking Packing list

Day pack

Sleeping bag

Sleeping pad

Hiking boots

Water reservoir

Spare water bottle

Trekking poles

7- hiking socks

7-hiking shirts

3-travel quick wash underwear

3-hiking pants

Hiking shorts

Wool hat


Sun hat

Rain coat


Rain pants

Wooo zip jacket

2-Long underwear shirt

2 -long underwear





2-rolls of toilet paper



Tumms / pepto



Wet wipes

Dry shampoo powder

Hand sanitizer keychains

*Trail food stuff

7 -Protein bars

Nuun tabs

Salt cap pills

7-Human gel

Hiking with My Dad and Other Emotions

I was very lucky to grow up in Missoula, MT. As a child I didn’t fully understand the gravity of my luck, but as an adult I can see what a magical place it is and be grateful for such an opportunity.
I am in Missoula this week to visit my parents, get some elevation training hikes in, and drop the dog off. There are very few people you can ask to dog-sit for an entire month. There are even fewer people you can ask to dog sit for an entire month, when the dog is an angry chihuahua with a lot of opinions. Parents. Parents are actually the only people who fit this category.


The smell of the Montana mountains and hiking with my dad brings back so many memories. He taught me all of life’s most important lessons while walking. There is something that happens during a hike that makes talking about the big topics easier.  My mom taught me her own lessons, of course, but they are not connected to the smell of the outdoors like the time spent with my dad is. My dad taught me about the beauty of nature and what it means to be in it. He taught me about direction, following your heart, and going your own pace. He taught me to be strong physically and emotionally. He taught me the art of not giving a single flying fuck about what anyone else thinks, says, or does. And most importantly he taught me to be loyal and to hold friendship in the highest regard.


He is retired now, and every morning he gets up with the sun, has a cup of coffee, breakfast, and then goes for a walk. He walks for a few hours each and every day. Some days he stays in town walking along the river, other days he heads for the woods. He has graciously altered his daily routine to match my training schedule. Riding his bike along with me on Saturday morning, and keeping me company while I ran for two hours and fifteen minutes. He’s super good at being a dad.


This morning we hiked up in Pattee Canyon to the top of one of the many peaks in order to gain as much elevation as possible.

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The other day we hiked up to the top of Mount Sentinel, Missoula’s famous “M trail”, but we went to the very top. We have logged many miles and many more hours in the last week.

Tomorrow we will go up to Flathead Lake and rest! Hopefully the smoke won’t be too terrible, and I will be able to get some good photos.  Until then keep chugging that protein powder!


The Food of PDX

I adore Portland! It is the land of artists, foodies, GF foodie options, food trucks, master gardeners, cute shops, Powell’s Books, and so much more!
I apologize up front for all of the photos of half eaten food. I get so excited by the meal in front of me that I dive right in, and forget to record the beauty for posterity.

Behold the food!

First up Killer Burger   – Peanut butter Pickle Bacon sounds odd, but damn it’s good! And they have a GF bun option! Winning!

I’m not a super wonderful food photographer, it’s me, greasy fingers, fumbling with my phone, trying to take a photo all the while continuing to eat! I am not a gracious or graceful woman.

Pastrami Zombie food truck by SAMMICH was to die for! Also with a GF bread option. Portland makes eating good food so easy, even when you have guts that aren’t down with gluten.


I’ve saved the best for last. Petunia’s. An entire GF bakery, and it’s good! So so so good! Not a bit of sawdust in sight, which is what most GF pastries taste like. I had my first piece of pie in such a long time. It was strawberry rhubarb, and I got a good photo because I was too busy crying tears of joy over the wonder of pie to actually eat it right away.


I think it goes without saying that I’ve been to Salt and Straw a few times now. There are no photos of ice cream, because it’s ice cream and it’s gone before any camera has a chance. Instead here is a selfie with me and a mostly empty cup. It was the seasonal GF Beet Red Velvet Cake with a swirl of ream cheese frosting.


Off to dinner now! More poorly lit, greasy food photos are on their way.

Protein Powder is Life

I arrived in Portland, Oregon on Monday evening, and I am staying with my most delightful friends John (JN) and Ella. You might remember Ella from my first post, she has mostly forgiven me for blatantly trying to use her as my personal guide to Peru. I am staying with them for two weeks, or until they start hinting wildly that it’s time for me and my little black dog to move along. When JN picked me up from the MAX line station his first question after our hellos and hugs, was – “Are you eating all healthy now that you are training, or do we still get to do our Portland food tour as per usual?”  I laughed and laughed and said, “JN have you met me!?! Of course, we are going to do our food tour! It’s why I’m here, it’s what I live for.” He was visibly relieved.  What you need to understand about JN is that he is man with an iron stomach and he loves to eat! As do I, but unfortunately my stomach is not bullet proof like his. First stop was ?Por Que No? a famous Portland taqueria that has the best tacos I’ve ever had in my entire life! Their tortilla chips are so crispy, crunchy, salty and oh so good! After fighting JN for the last few chips in the basket, I then stuffed down two Pescado #1 tacos, and the special taco of the day – I don’t remember the name, I just crammed it in my face. We mowed those tacos. Today’s destination will be Salt and Straw the best ice cream in the whole world! I love Portland.

Later that evening as I lay flopped on the couch, groaning in pain and massaging the taco baby in my belly I started thinking more about JN’s question.  I had to admit that yes, our eating habits had actually changed quite a bit in the last few months. For starters the amount of protein powder that is being consumed is off the charts! I feel hungry all day if I don’t have a protein shake after a workout. Nuun hydration tablets, and SaltStick pills are another new staple. Those were the first few changes. They didn’t feel major, but they were the gateway for the many changes to come.

Friday nights we used to cook a larger meal after a week of rushed slam-it-together dinners. Friday dinner was maybe steak and potatoes, pork chops, a hearty pasta dish, or something along these lines. Now that I am doing long runs on Saturday morning and getting up at the crack of dawn to do so, I can’t eat a heavy meal the night before. Our Friday night meal has become a grilled chicken breast, a side of veggies, and brace yourselves…no ice cream. I don’t know that this is “living my best life”. Who goes to bed without ice cream? And really when did a pint of ice cream last more than a week in our house?! I sincerely don’t recognize the people we’ve become.

Another change, that I don’t actually mind is breakfast. Matt used to skip it all together, now he eats every morning, generally eggs. I used to have a yogurt with a handful of granola for crunch, or a small bowl of oatmeal. Now I’m eating a double serving of plain Greek yogurt, with a whole sliced banana, a fistful of blueberries, a few strawberries -when they were in season, a fistful of mixed nuts, a tablespoon of chia seeds, and a swirl of honey. It actually takes a while to eat it all, but after a big workout I’m still hungry only a few hours later. That’s where an apple with mega schmears of peanut butter come into play. It’s fast, has lots of protein, and when I’m in that freak out hungry mode it goes down quick.

Lunch for me used to be frozen mac and cheese, or something equally as heavy and cheese laden. Now my go-to is salad greens with an entire avocado, a hard-boiled egg, a peach, sliced almonds, and goat cheese. Matt used to go out to eat for lunch most days, or skip it, and then come home ravenous and hangry. Now he is packing fruit, string cheese, nuts, and making lettuce wraps.

Snacks used to be an entire bag of popcorn, now snacks are an entire bag of popcorn and an apple with peanutbutter.

With all the fresh fruit and veggies and $27 cans of protein powder being consumed, you’d think our grocery bill would be sky rocketing right about now, but in reality it’s about the same. We aren’t buying thick cuts of meat, ice cream, organic frozen mac and cheese (which isn’t free, btw), or multiple bags of popcorn. I do miss ice cream and GF frozen donuts, but I don’t feel terrible. In fact, I feel pretty good, and my run time is getting faster.

Obviously, none of the above is going to stop me from stuffing myself silly with all of the wonderful things Portland food trucks offer, but everyone knew that. Please bear with me while this becomes a food blog for the next 10 days. I’ll do my best to post photos from the upcoming Mt. Hood hike we are planning in the midst of the feeding frenzy.

Panic Training, and Why Popcorn Isn’t Actually Dinner

Back in August / September of 2017 when we first began planning and saving to go to Peru, Matt got a gym membership at a Planet Fitness that opened up downtown, and has been going at least four or five days a week ever since.

I, on the other hand had an entirely different approach to training for this massive trip. I wrote down in my day-planner that I was going to train, and then totally blew it off.  I didn’t get a gym membership until two (maybe four) months after Matt had, and even then it was hit or miss as to whether I’d go, or not. Getting there is hard – it requires leaving the house, gah. I think part of me just didn’t believe that it was going to happen. I couldn’t fathom actually getting to go to Peru, and seeing Machu Picchu. I was so skeptical that such a magical trip could take place that I chose not to believe, or train. Matt was saintly quiet about my lack of training- he’s a super intelligent human. He bought plane tickets, started booking hotels, and sent a large deposit to the guide company for the 7 day / 51-mile hike through the Andes Mountains to Machu Picchu. Still, I did not train. Sure I went to the gym to make it look good, but even then it was only if Matt was going, or if it had been more than a few days – I was totally fooling him, and myself. Meanwhile, Matt is bench pressing small children and can crush a watermelon with his thighs. He was eating healthier, he had cut back on sweets, fast food for lunch, and booze. I was totally doing the same – I had gone from three bags of kettle corn popcorn a week to two – massive improvements were taking place across the board!
Then mid-June just twelve extra short weeks before we were due to fly to Peru t I woke up in the middle of the night in sheer panic. I was going to die in Peru if I didn’t get my shit together immediately! The next morning, I reached out to my friend and running partner in Anchorage, and she reminded me that we still had all of the training ..schedules from the half marathon training program that we did together a few years ago.  I spent a good hour going through all of the old emails from the training program coordinator and set out a 12-week plan. I had trained for a half marathon in 12 weeks, I could train for Peru too. Right?


Week 1 – Time to get serious!

My training plan is as follows:

Sunday – Rest (starting out on a high note!)
Monday – Run 30 -50 min. (week 1 – 30 min.; week 2- 35 min.; week 3 – 40 min. and so on)
Tuesday – Gym 30 min. stair climber; 40 min. lifting weights
Wednesday – Run 10 min. warm up; 10 min. stretches; 40 min. tempo training, hills, or strides
Thursday – Gym 30 min. stair climber; 40 min. lifting weights
Friday – REST -thank the sparkly lord and savior!
Saturday – long run (week 1- 45 min. increasing 10 min. each week until I get to two hours.)
At this point I am finishing up week 6 and tomorrow I will run for 1 hour and 45 minutes.
*it’s only fair to note here that not all six weeks have not looked like this, there have been a few extra rest days peppered in where needed, but I have actually been training.

Matt’s training plan has been, and continues to be:
Gym – stair climber for as long as humanly possible, he’s up to an hour at this point, and then weights for an hour. Watermelon crushing at noon each day.

Other than overall fitness, the other major factor we need to worry about is altitude. We live at sea level and have for the past 10 years. In 2015 I trained at sea level for a half marathon then ran the race at 3,200 feet of elevation and thought I was going to die. The elevations we will be hiking in will be all over the map – literally! On the day we start hiking we will wake up in Cusco at 10,990 feet take a bus 60 miles down the mountain to the trail head which is only 11,318 feet. Then we hike. In 6.8 miles we will have reached an elevation of 12,795. Did someone say headache? They did, and to that I say bring on the cocoa tea! It’s a thing. Here is a link to the guide company and our route with all of the elevations and miles of  each day. Alpaca Expeditions

In order to train for the elevation Matt is flying to Alaska for a work trip and then will be staying for a week to hike in Denali National Park. I will be traveling as well, because I have a sweet work from anywhere gig, and will be in Portland, OR doing some hiking on Mt. Hood. Then I will go to Montana where my dad has a number of elevation gaining hikes picked out for us.  I’m spending the two weeks prior to Peru with my parents because they won’t let me eat popcorn for each meal as is customary when Matt travels for work and I am left on my own. Apparently popcorn is not a super food, and if you eat an entire bag for dinner the night before a long run – your tummy is going to hurt. You can take my word on this.

Stay tuned for trip photos from both of those outrageously beautiful mountain states!

We’re Going to PERU!!!

I have wanted to go to Peru, specifically Machu Picchu, every since I first learned about it in art history class. I don’t remember what exactly drew me to it so immediately as it was 18 years ago, but best guess is the blood sacrifice – fascinating! Also the magnificence of an entire city, so far up in the mountains, it seemed, and still seems totally unreal. As far as daydreams go, getting to Machu Picchu seemed just that, a far off daydream. South America felt too intimidating and too expensive for college age me, and I never reevaluated that intimidation, so I let it hang out for the next eighteen years.  Then I met Ella! A world traveling, roller derby skating, bad ass who was fluent in East L.A. Spanish. She had been to Nepal, Vietnam, and Machu Picchu -several times! She was my golden ticket. I would go with her (she didn’t know this yet, by the way). I would slowly befriend her. First I got in good with her dogs, real good! The poodle still pines for me. Then I got closer and closer to her, until finally I could smell Machu Picchu!  It was about this time she snapped her ankle during a derby practice and after six years skating claimed her knees were too bad to make the climb again. I was devastated! All those years of friendship – wasted!  I joke. Ella is one of my closest friends and will always be. Machu Picchu or not, she won’t shake me anytime soon!

Enter my husband, my dear dear delightful husband. Winner of the “Best Husband of the Year” award three years and counting. He cooks, he cleans toilets, and he is a budgeting genius! I still don’t know why, and at this point I don’t care enough to ask, but one day he said, “Let’s go to Peru and hike to Machu Picchu,” I said, “YAAAAASSSSSSS!”

Side note: When he said hike to Machu Picchu – he didn’t mean take the train to the top of the mountains and hike the few hundred yards to the city. He meant start at the bottom of the Andes Mountains and spend the next SEVEN days hiking though Peru where eventually we will come over a crest and on the last day walk down the mountain ending our journey in Machu Picchu.  So, um yeah we are going to Peru!

Stay tuned for my next post titled “Panic Training -What Prepping for a 51 mile, 7 day Trek Looks Like, when Popcorn is a Food Group, and Walking to the Bus Stop Counts as Exercise!”