Story & Photo by Lisa Anderson
Angie Lewis grew up in rural Illinois. She spent her youth in the sleepy town of about 2,100 people, surrounded by farms. “I was such a dreamer. I was constantly writing about all of the places I wanted to go and things I wanted to do. I would go out on my horse for hours in the woods and talk to my horse about adventures.”
She married her childhood sweetheart right after high school, and her husband, Clint, had the same dreams of adventure. They come from a poor background, but those humble beginnings taught them about the important things in life. “When we got married, our bucket list really became about creating memories and experiences together and with our kids.”
Their first vacation fund was a change jar, and as their kids got older, they would ask if they wanted Christmas presents or a vacation. In fact, they spent Christmas Day climbing to new heights in 2017.
Angie and her family, which included Clint, their two children and their daughter in-law, headed for a week in Peru. “On Christmas Day, we went to Machu Picchu, and then we hiked Wanu Picchu. It’s a really challenging hike: One, because of the altitude, and then there’s nothing to hang on [to]. You’re doing this hike straight up a mountain.”
Angie had a few moments of “mommy anxiety,” even though her kids are grown. “It was just so beautiful to do this with [my family], but it was also scary.” She knew people had fallen and died, but she didn’t let those moments of fear stop her from enjoying the scenery and bonding experience.
“We started out in the morning, and it was really foggy. So, we’re coming up, and we’re seeing clouds. We’re seeing little peaks of mountains. Then, we’d [go] a little bit farther, and the clouds would separate, and it all just started opening up. Every twist and turn we’re thinking, ‘Oh, this is the perfect picture,’ but then we’d go a little higher.
“We got to the top of the mountain, and we all held hands. We were standing at the very top of this boulder looking out on this scene. It was such a joyful experience.”
Angie laid down on the rock and said a prayer. Though many people have told her it was just the altitude, for her, it felt like a spiritual event. It was an experience she and her family will never forget.
When they returned to their hotel, the family sat down and designed a tattoo. It consists of both Machu Piccu and Wanu Piccu sitting at the shores of a body of water, which was inspired by the family’s love of water and a favorite song. Angie and her family now have the same tattoo to memorialize their climb.
While this was certainly at the top of her bucket list experiences, Angie has also gone skydiving, crowd surfing, and rock climbing, and she would love to try hang-gliding. So, if she turns down an evening out, don’t take it personally. She just might be saving up for the family’s next memorable moment.