The Amazon Jungle Lodge

After the three day jungle river cruise, my friends and I hopped on a shuttle for a two-hour ride to the drop-off point to catch a speed boat that took us to our next stop, the Amazon jungle lodge, where we would spend the next five days. Words cannot accurately describe how magnificent and peaceful this place was, so I’ll just show you.

Arts, Crafts and Luru

On the last day of our Amazon jungle river cruise, we visited an indigenous community where they made arts and crafts for us to see how they were made. Many of these arts and crafts were available for purchase afterwards and we also saw them in the stores that we visited in the Amazon. It was so nice to see how those beautiful items were skillfully crafted and put on display. We also had the pleasure of meeting the parrot, Luru, who provided us with lots of great entertainment.

I want to give a special shout out to my friends Eduardo and Leigh of 1000 Treks for putting this trip together. I met Eduardo about 10 years ago in his hiking group and then began training with him in his fitness Boot Camp so that I could prepare to climb Kilimanjaro with his group. I ended up having to cancel on Kilimanjaro due to an injury, but I stayed in touch with Eduardo and went on some other adventures with his group over the years. I had always wanted to go on one of his trips abroad and was so happy I got this experience.

“Hey, Hey, We’re the Monkeys!”

On this day of our jungle river cruise, we started with a nice, healthy breakfast and went on a canoe to explore more of the Igapó, or flooded forest. When we arrived back at our boat dock, we saw a monkey playing nearby and checking us out, so we went to have a look. Suddenly, we found ourselves surrounded by monkeys and hilarity ensued!

Jungle Cruise – The Indian Village

On the second day of the Amazon jungle cruise, we went to visit an Indian village. Because their small dock couldn’t accommodate our large boat, we were shuttled to the community in a smaller boat in groups of 10 at a time. Once we arrived at the village, we were welcomed and treated to a ritual of music and dance.

Afterwards, we got to play with some of their pets, like a sweet little furry sloth. I had always wanted to meet a sloth. Those creatures are so huggable and lovable. They just latch onto you and make you feel all warm and fuzzy. We also had the opportunity to try some roasted termites, which I passed on, but the Brazilian nuts were great!

Swimming with Pink Dolphins

My first stop on the Amazon jungle river cruise was to meet snd swim with dolphins. But these weren’t just any dolphins, they were pink dolphins, and pretty magnificent albeit a little odd. These pink dolphins make their home in the Amazon River, so in this part of the world, it’s quite acceptable to see these beauties happily swimming in the river, eager to meet new human friends.

South America – Off to the Amazon

Well, hello. I’m back. It’s been a while, but I’m here again and will be posting more consistently because I have so much to share. I’ve been quite busy over the last year and have done quite a bit of traveling. I spent most of July in Brazil, my first ever trip to South America, and it was the adventure of a lifetime.

I realized I haven’t done anything with the more than 200 videos I recorded on that trip. I’ve posted a few short ones on other channels, but that was it. My intention of recording these videos was to put together a full documentary of the adventure, making it into a series. So here it is, the first episode, and the beginning of my adventures in the Amazon jungle, starting with a three-day jungle river cruise.

Titus Canyon Adventure

This is the longest video that I’ve ever uploaded to YouTube. The reason I uploaded this full version of the drive is because I know that there are some people out there who were like me initially, researching this drive to see what it’s really like before planning a trip.

I want to provide a very real time view of everything to expect on this drive. I want people to be prepared and know what they’re getting into. I also want to share the fun with those who may choose not to go and see this beautiful place, but would like to watch it from the comfort of their own home.

This road is 26 miles and it is a one-way drive. The road is very narrow and there are steep drop offs. One thing you can be certain of is that you will be awed and captivated by all of the scenery and the beauty in this place. This is perhaps one of the most beautiful canyons that I have ever visited. I love how the terrain changed throughout the drive and I was never bored with any of the features.

My friends and I stopped along the way to take pictures and explore some of the sites like the old mining town of Leadfield. We also saw some petroglyphs which I did not include in this video. It was just an amazing place all around and I would totally do it again. Thankfully, I did not have to drive this time. My car probably wouldn’t have made it on this road.

We had a caravan of three cars including a RAV4, a Subaru Crosstrek, and a Subaru Outback. All cars made it through with no issues and we had a fun time. I hope you enjoy this wonderful adventure.

Titus Canyon Adventure – Full Version

Chutes and Ladders

This video is about the Ladder Canyon hike that I did with friends. Located near Mecca, CA, about 2-1/2 hours east of Los Angeles. This stunning desert hike features slot canyons, ropes, chutes and ladders and tops out at a ridge that provides 360-degree views of the desert, including Joshua Tree and the Salton Sea.

This adventure is definitely not for the faint of heart as we often found ourselves maneuvering through lots of tight squeezes, rock scrambling up steep slopes and challenging our fear of heights on mysteriously placed ladders. This experience fostered a great spirit of camaraderie with friends and was definitely one for the books.

Hiking the Vasquez Rocks

Vasquez Rocks was my first ever hike almost ten years ago and provided a friendly introduction into the hiking world. So any time I get to hike out there, it’s always a special occasion for me. This time was even more special because I got to hike with my tribe AND experience flowing water in the creek among the beautiful rocks. It was the first time I had seen any sort of moisture out there. The place is typically dry and barren and you can even walk in the creek bed. This time we had many water crossings where it was hard not to get wet. Yes, this actually happened at Vasquez Rocks and the following pictures prove it.


One of the best things about this hike is that it provided a great opportunity for me to test out a pair of new insoles from SoleStar. Crafted 100% in Germany, these hiking/mountaineering insoles give comfort, stability and support while traversing some pretty tough terrain. I paired my insoles with my go-to hiking shoes I’ve worn over the past several years on shorter day hikes and they fit like a glove. My old insoles that came with the shoes were starting to wear out, so I had been looking for a new pair with better support.


The SolesStar insoles were good to go right out of the box. They were very sturdy to the touch and I could tell they had quite a bit of well-designed support to them as well. The minute I slipped my feet into the shoes, I knew I had a winner. Just walking around the house initially, I could feel my feet molding to the soles perfectly. I couldn’t wait to test them out on the trails.

 


We started off
 with a bit of rock climbing and climbed up the famous rock outcropping that you may have seen in movies like “Star Trek”, “Planet of the Apes” and many other films that have been shot out there. At a distance, the rock appears to be at a 90° angle, but it’s really more like 45°. Many people climb to the very top of it, but we didn’t venture quite that far up. We parked ourselves on a ledge about 15 feet from the very top and that was good enough for me. I already challenged my fear of heights. I didn’t want to challenge my safety as well.

 


After pushing our limits on the rock outcropping (caused by the shifting of plates beneath the San Andreas Fault), we hiked a short loop trail that took us into a rocky, yet green, wonderland. Near the end of that first trip, we topped out at an area that provides amazing views of Vasquez Rocks, the surrounding Agua Dulce area, the 14 Freeway, and the backside of the snow-covered San Gabriel Mountains.


After we finished the smaller loop, we hiked a section of the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) that took us along th
e creek and underneath the 14 Freeway via a rather lengthy tunnel. We stopped for a long break on the other side and then headed back the way we came. I had done that version of the hike with the Santa Clarita hiking group a couple of years ago, but it was completely dry and much warmer then.

 


The guys
 and I added on another mile to our hike by taking a larger loop around that had quite a bit of elevation gain, but eventually brought us back to the parking lot. It was such a gorgeous day out. The weather was perfect and it was so much fun to be on another great adventure with good friends.


As for my Solestar insoles, they are definitely keepers, and I highly recommend them for your outdoor adventures. The insoles are a high quality product that can take as much of a beating as you can give them witho
ut your feet absorbing the shock. If you are looking for stability and comfort while ascending great heights or traversing the deepest canyons, look no further than Solestar. I am happy to have found a pair of insoles that are crafted to go the distance.


Hike on!

~J

On the Road with Desert Dog

On Thanksgiving weekend, my boyfriend Bill and I took Cody on his first ever camping trip. From the moment we started packing up the car the night before, Cody was filled to the brim with excitement over what his new adventure had in store. He had no idea where we were going, but he knew we were going somewhere, and that was all it took. The next day, we were off to Death Valley for a weekend of camping and hiking with friends. Although this wasn’t my first visit to Death Valley, each experience is unique and special, and I was happy to share this one with Bill and Cody.

We weren’t sure how Cody was going to do on his first road trip, so Bill covered up the two large ice chests on the back seat with a comfy towel so he could relax and still be able to see the open road in front of us. First, he wanted to sit on my lap, but Bill nudged him to the back seat and he laid down on his towel. He looked so cute on his makeshift bed.

Death Valley is quite a drive from Long Beach. We decided to take the scenic route and drove in via the 190 from Olancha in the Eastern Sierra. It was a bit of a longer way in for us, but being that it was the more scenic route, we didn’t mind the extra time on the road. Plus, we got to see some of our beloved Eastern Sierra.

Upon our entrance into Death Valley, we stopped at our first vista point, Father Crowley Overlook. Bill, Cody and I got out to take a look and were instantly captivated by the majestic sight before us. I thought it looked like a mini grand canyon. Little did I know, we would see other places in Death Valley that were even more similar to the Grand Canyon. Cody was just as excited as Bill and I were.

Death Valley is on record as the hottest, driest and lowest place on Earth. The hottest rating doesn’t apply in November, though. However, the climate is so arid that it’s very important to stay hydrated, even if the cooler temperatures don’t make you “feel” thirsty. Bill and I made sure to bring plenty of water for ourselves and for little Cody.

I had been using this new Bubi Bottle and Bowl on some of my walks around town with Cody and was anxious to use them at Death Valley. Made from BPA Free Silicone, the Bubi bottle is ideal for kids, pets, work, travel, sports and adventures of all sorts. It was the perfect gear combo for our trip to Death Valley.

I’m so used to carrying plastic bottles of water on my adventures and they get to be pretty cumbersome after a while. When I’m out on the hiking trails, especially when doing long distance hikes, I drink a lot of water, and water sources along the trail are not always available. Carrying back empty bottles are quite a pain. Hydration bladders are more convenient, but they are hard to clean, as are the plastic 1-liter bottles. The Bubi Bottle is so soft and flexible that it can be cleaned inside-out.

When Cody and I took a break, I pulled out the Bubi Bottle and had a drink for myself, then attached his bowl to the top, unscrewed it and poured him some water. He gladly drank it as he was super thirsty from being exposed to such a dry climate. He loves his bowl so much. It wasn’t super warm or cold during the day, so we were fine drinking the water at air temperature. Since it cooled down overnight, the water had enough of a chill to keep us refreshed.

After we downed all the water, I scrunched the Bubi Bottle down, collapsed Cody’s cute little matching bowl and stuffed them into Bill’s pack. Even when the bottle was completely full, nothing spilled or leaked into the pack. The Bubi Bottle’s puncture-resistance withstood the beating that we gave it. I’m looking forward to using this bottle and bowl on future adventures. It’s so lightweight and portable that sometimes I forget I’m carrying it…until it’s time for a drink of water.

Cody enjoyed his first road trip/camping trip. There were so many sights and smells that he loved to explore and we had fun watching him. The smiles on his face were priceless. Cody did have a little scare the last night of our camping trip. He was sitting with Bill on a picnic bench near the campfire and a coyote approached. Neither of us saw it, but Cody did, and he freaked out and tried to go after it. Cody is a little dog, but very strong. It took Bill quite a bit of effort to restrain him. Thankfully, the coyote ran off into the night and we were all able to breathe a sigh of relief, but we remained on alert the rest of our time there.

On the drive home, we took a different route than the way we came in and stopped at the Trona Pinnacles, an area that sparked my curiosity a few years ago when passing through on the way to Death Valley. The Trona Pinnacles consist of an area of tufa formations, similar to those at Mono Lake near Mammoth Lakes, CA.

You have to drive five miles on a fairly well-graded dirt road to get to the Pinnacles. Then you arrive at the official entrance. Beyond that, you can drive in a loop around the Pinnacles or take the hiking trail and walk among them. There is a map posted at the entrance so you can easily familiarize yourself with the layout.

Bill drove us around, then we stopped for a break and had lunch. After walking around the Pinnacles and doing a bit of rock climbing, Bill, Cody and I headed home. What a fun weekend.