Isla Del Sol – Happy Birthday Tree

We headed out to Isla Del Sol for my 39th birthday, as noted in our last post, (remember here).

I have to admit, birthdays have always been a big deal to me. I’ve always taken them very seriously. They were a time to reflect on where I was in my life. What was I doing? Where was I going? Was I happy? And most importantly, how was it that time was going by so damn fast? I was always surprised that I actually made it another year. (Yes, I’ve had a near death experience about every year that I can remember. Here is this years, remember here).

Before I was with Stevie, I spent my birthdays alone. This was a solo day. It usually consisted of being alone, in the mountains, and almost always high on mushrooms. As I said, it was a time for reflection.

Throw back photo, self portrait, first time shared, birthday #31

On milestone birthday years, I always embarked on a solo mission. Por ejemplo, on my 14th I skipped school and biked across the Willamette Valley. On my 30th I soloed the Leaning Tower in Yosemite. Check out some more crazy throw back photos here… Leaning Tower Solo

Always searching for purpose. Always searching for meaning. I mean seriously, god damn, we only have one lap through this show. What’s the purpose? How do we measure it? What does it all mean? If you don’t stop to ask these questions, well then, you may as well just be dead right now.

Ever since I’ve been with Stevie, birthdays have changed.

Birthday… it’s a shared day now. It’s a different type of reflection. No longer do I spend the day alone, questioning. Where am I? Am I on track? Am I happy? Those questions are answered. The answer is in this photo below.

So, that’s probably more information than you needed. Let’s move on.

We arrived on the Island and rented this little hut for about $9 a night. It’s crazy how cheap Bolivia is, even compared to Peru. I could get stuck here.

Yeah, sure, the hut looks small in the photo, but check out the wicked view of Lake Titicaca and Llampu, the 4th highest mountain in Bolivia. Cha-Ching.

This island definitely has an Aegean feel with the aqua blue water and view of the Isla de Luna.

Not a bad hang for my big 39th! I really can’t think of a cooler spot to be, nor could I imagine being with three better beauties. Stevie, Sol, and Kiki…. thanks for an amazing day.

Although I was pretty content to just sit on our little deck and drink beers, there were some things to see. So we packed the family up and went to explore the island. Below Stevie puffs up the famous “Inca Stairs” (13,000 ft altitude).

It’s was pretty embarrassing to struggle up and down the island’s slopes while being passed by 90 year old locals carrying loads on their back. But hey, I’m 39 now. Those hills are steep!

Our main target for the big hike was the famous Inca ruins located on the southern tip of the Island. We were making really good time and enjoying the views.

That is until we got here. Some genius entrepreneur decided to put a single table with two chairs RIGHT on the trail to the ruins. And he was selling cold beer. This guy needs investors.

Ok, we didn’t make it to the ruins. The math was quite simple for me. In the last few years I’ve seen thousands of thousand year old piles of rocks. But this was the first trail-side-beer-stand-complete-with-stunning-view-hang that I’ve encountered. Game, set, match. Bring me another, Maestro. 

We didn’t really need to see another set of ruins anyway. We had way more fun getting to know the locals.

Side note: It’s pretty funny to be traveling in remote places like this. The morning we left people were looking at us all funny as we boarded the boat to the Island. I’m not sure what they were most shocked at, the fact that we had a tiny baby, the fact that I was carrying a fluffy groomed dog down the dock, or the fact that Stevie was wearing her high black leather boots and her fancy knee long Patagonia down coat. We seriously must look like a circus.

I love this photo of my three favorite ladies. How lucky am I?

This photo all but sums up Spinter Life these days. A sunset hang. A bottle of wine. And a dirty diaper.

It was a great couple days. We’re getting ready to head out on the road again. We’ll check out the mountains to the east before working our way to La Paz. We haven’t been able to get our GPS to work in Bolivia, so it should be an extra interesting drive. Nothing tests a relationship like navigating a 3rd world country with an outdated paper map. Trust me.




  1. Michelle Franco says:

    Beautiful, Happy Birthday to you!!!!!

  2. You guys have a beautiful family! Congrats and happy birthday to you.

  3. Mamatuyas says:

    You have so many things in life which we all seek- Beauty, Meaning, Freedom, Love. And I am so happy for you. But the greatest joy to me is that you recognize and cherish your blessings. A grateful heart is the foundation of happiness. May you always be so happy!

  4. Auntie Candy says:

    Tree, You make me proud to be your Auntie. What you do in your life sets an example for all of us. You help remind us that love and a belief in yourself and our human spirit is what makes our being matter.Your grandpa George traveled all over the world looking for meaning in life but it seemed to just drift by him. You have found meaning in each person that you meet, in the trees and the mountains, and in the cool beer on the side of the road. Happy Birthday Dear One… I love you.
    Auntie Candy

  5. I’m glad you’ve finally found peace in the transition of years. I must admit, we were all beginning to worry about your 40th.
    You are a fantastic writer. Always a pleasure and a chuckle to read.

    Love you little bro- Sis

  6. Richard Hallman says:

    I’m not sure which is more beautiful??? – The Baby, The View, Or You Tree – Happy Birthday – Love you Bro!!!

  7. Hugo Tello says:

    Hey bro……..a big hug. Pasa increíble tu cumpleaños. Espero estes muy bien. Slds.

  8. Ccana Huanca feliz cumpleaños????? linda sonrisa de su bebe

  9. Christian Petong says:

    Feliz día bro!!! pásalo mejor de la suertes para ti y tu familia
    un gran abrazo!!!

  10. Corbin Crimmins says:

    Looking Like a Rad Dad!

  11. Judy Shuman says:

    Happy Joyful Birthday Wishes Dear Tree and Big Rainbow Hugs! ~ My birthday is tomorrow! ~ Earth Day Birthday Girl ~

  12. Anonymous says:

    feliz cumpleaños , un poco tarde pero espero que hayas tenido un lindo dia . un abrazo amiga !!!!!!!!

  13. ¡feliz cumpleaños! amigo. For your birthday, how about a GPS map of Bolivia? BoliRut is back and works pretty well…

  14. Happy Birthday Tree, You both inspire so many. Mamatuyas said it all. Thank you for taking me along for the ride.Be safe and always stop to smell the roses …..In your case drink the beer!!

  15. Happy Birthday!
    Man, that beer looks cold! Awesome cabin, family, etc. Living the dream!!

  16. Those leaning tower pics are legit.. I once tried that wall.. made it a few pitches up, and decided aid climbing is too much work. Enjoying eating those cold raviolis and dumping out like 30 pounds of water though.. lol

  17. Good luck finding an “updated map” for Bolivia! We had a new Reisse map and it still didn’t show shit. GPS is the way to go, use the site BodesWell recommended. If you have problems installing it to your device, let me know and I can walk you thru it.

    Keep on rockin’ in the free world 🙂

  18. Great Aunt Debby and Great Uncle Barry says:

    Dear Tree, Wishing you a very Happy Birthday! The joy in your words and the contented look in your eyes speak volumes. What more could a person ask for than an appreciation for life and a wonderful family to share it with. What a perfect Birthday gift. We love you all lots!

  19. Your 39th birthday blog was so damn good man. I was smiling wide while reading your musings. Vicarious living has never been better and all of your Sprinter Life communiqués reinforcing while I need to get to SA and why I love Latin American countries and the people. Keep on enjoying the rest of your 39th birthdays. I’m on number 15. WTF!

  20. you’ll always be 24 to me. pop goes the weasel!

  21. LA Piper Are you kidding me right now? My B-Day is tomorrow, weird. Hey, I love this picture; it looks like your kicking it on the back patio of a Jumbo 747 airplane. That would be awesome

  22. I believe you have everything you have ever wished for right in front of you : ) enjoy your day!!!

  23. Seriously, I’ve seen thousands of babies…..but Sol…..she really is the most beautiful baby I’ve ever seen…..please
    understand it is not only her “perfect” features,….. but her angle of repose….her….i don’t know what to call it….
    I know you will protect and nurture her as “yours”….but I hope you also do it for what she can bring to the world….
    I know you think this may sound crazy….I am not prone to this drivel….but there is something there that is
    beyond you and Stevie.

    • Nonituyas says:

      Yes. I agree with you Anne. She has an “awareness”, a quiet intensity of consciousness.
      I call her the Buddha-Baby.

  24. Anonymous says:

    Happy Belated Birthday Tree! Great blog as
    always! Looks amazing……as always. Thanks

  25. Donna Clary says:

    Always look forward to your Sprinter news. I so envy your adventures. You are a wise man Tree, recognizing and loudly acknowledging how lucky you are with the three females in your life…you are. Happy Birthday…and…if you do so reflect thank your stars how your life has unfolded. You also had much to do with this and you have done it well. Thank you for sharing.

  26. Happy Birthday! I really enjoy your blog! I spent last weekend in the Gorge. It was really pretty, blossoms everywhere and good people. Enjoy your B-day! Your friend Peg

  27. Anonymous says:

    Happy Birthday from NY! I follow you guys religiously, and enjoy your blog tremendously!

  28. Sue and the Crew from DVR says:

    Wow-what a great way to spend your birthday! Love reading about you all’s adventures! We just bought a Sprinter and hope to have some (more tame) adventures with our 4 doggies. So awesome to see what an incredible life you have created for yourselves. Thanks for sharing it with us and Happy birthday!
    Sue (from Peru!) & the crew
    Ps-special scritches to beautiful Kiki!

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