Thursday, December 24, 2015

If you don't like the weather wait...

Uno momento.

Our three hour bus ride from Punta Arenas to Puerta Natales, featured a bleak landscape. Stunted trees raised up from the ground at a 70 degree angle in a partial surrender to the cold winds. Here the survival technique is to bend but not break.  

In Puerta Natales, residents and outsiders are decked out in North Face, Columbia and of course Patagonia winter wear. It's the third day of summer. So strange. 

I feel I'm at the end of the earth, which I am. The next stop is Antarctica. 

Our destination is Torres del Plaines National Park . Its the showcase of Chile's natural playgrounds. The scenery is supposed to be beyond awesome. I think we will earn the views the hard way.

I'm not a bit concerned about covering the 52 mile loop around the iconic towers in a week. I fear the wind, rain and cold. This might be the most challenging hike I have ever done. Once a cold weenie, always a cold weenie.

I hope you all enjoy the warmth of your family and friends this Holiday Season.

Hola Jenny. It's probably warmer in Windsor, Colorado than here! 

Feliz Navidad from 50.1 degrees South latitude.

The flowers aren't from around here. 

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

A not so tropical rain forest...

We hiked today in Pooey National Park. The name looked like that, sort of. As far as the weather went, the conditions were sort of Pooey. The park is jammed up against the Andes. The border of Argentina was a short distance further east. There's volcanoes nearby which we couldn't see due to the clouds. The region receives over thirteen feet of moisture per year. There is no dry season.

It was like hiking in Tucson, Arizona, only different. If we took too long a break, liverworts began to grow on our packs. Skin moisturizers wouldn't be needed here. It's a freaking wet place. 

Somehow it just didn't feel like the first day of summer.

Look at the photos. Isn't it amazing all the shades green can be? 

On the move to Patagonia manana. Come on summer!

Hola Jenny from Puerto Montt,

Buenas Tardes,

Monday, December 21, 2015

This ain't my idea of a summer....


Yesterday, we hiked along the undulating flanks of the Vallirrica Volcano. All was quiet except for the ever-present white plume of smoke emitting from the flat topped peak. Less than a year ago, it wasn't so quiet. An eruption  forced the evacuation of the nearby resort town of Pucon. 

Fortunately no one suffered the fate of the Vesuvius victims. There's plenty of seismic monitors  scattered about the moonscape and snow fields to alert the residents below. I thought about shaking the sensors to see if anyone would notice. If my scheme worked, it would have been free beer time in Pucon! 
The day was warm, sunny and mild.

Today en route to the more southern Puerto Montt, we find ourselves in a cloudy, clammy and chilly Chilean town. We see and smell gray smoke puffing from the chimneys of the wood burning stoves in this lakeside burg. It's 50 degrees here and that was the high. WTF! It's the summer solstice! 

In a few days, we will really be south in Patagonia hiking and hopefully dodging hypothermia. Check out the not so balmy 10 Day Forecast

Buenas Dias, Jenny (you wouldn't like this cold and damp either)

Weather for Puerto Natales, Chile

10-Day Forecast:
-- -- / 40°
Precip: 60%

AM Light Rain 54° / 37°
Precip: 10%

Showers / Wind 53° / 40°
Precip: 100%

Showers / Wind 51° / 39°
Precip: 20%

Rain 48° / 35°
Precip: 50%

Mostly Cloudy 57° / 40°
Precip: 50%

Partly Cloudy 57° / 43°
Precip: 20%

Mostly Cloudy 56° / 43°
Precip: 40%

Showers 56° / 42°
Precip: 20%

Mostly Cloudy 58° / 44°
Precip: 20%

I would be an untruthful politician if I said I wasn't concerned or worried about this.

Wish us luck.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

What a difference a...

day makes. 

Another sunrise, another National Park and the feel good warmth of summer once again. 

We're in the Lake District now. It's sort of a misnomer since there seems to be more temporarily inactive volcanoes occupying space than placid bodies of water. The region reminds me of the Cascade Range minus the coniferous forests. It's here where White Death covered peaks spread intermittently along a rough north to south axis. It's a lovely site to see. 

Outside of Pucon lies the Villarrica Volcano. It send forth a slight plume of white smoke on a 24/7 basis. According to the authorities, it's no problemo. They should know, after all they are from the government. I checked all the exit routes out of Pucon in case the volcano's tummy starts to rumble.

The last few days have been free of 4x4 road hiking. We pay our $10,000 Chilean Pesos (about $15.00 USD), have a Conaf gatekeeper remove a traffic cone or two and we are in a National Park. Maps (when the Conaf folks have them) seemed to be drawn out by an overstimulated eight year old boy with a box of crayons. The trails are clean and maintained for the most part, even though we aren't always sure if we are on the correct ones. ("We're lost but we are making good time" Yogi Berra).

As we travel south the forecast follows suit. Looks like a cooling trend and wet stuff starting manana. Enjoy these summer photos. It might be awhile before we see blue again.

Buenas Dias, Jenny

Cheers from Chile,

Friday, December 18, 2015

Negotiating Chile...

Yesterday was a driving day. It was also a "Back to School" day on how can we sustain our basic needs (food, shelter, beer and coffee) in a foreign country where shaking my head and smiling is my primary means of communication. 

After many kilometers of driving under the influence of hunger we discovered truck stops. They feature clean banos (bathrooms), good coffee and food we can identify. They even have showers and gas. One stop shopping for the road. If this trip goes south I'll just sleep in the Suzuki sedan in a Copec parking lot. 

As far as real shopping goes. Supermercados are the Super Targets of South America. We tried out a Jumbo store. I stocked up on toiletries, PB&J and loaves of bread. This is a country where when opportunity knocks, you better take advantage of it. 

The weather changed drastically over the course of heading due south. Gone are the days of tank tops and flip flops. Today's temperatures felt more like late fall than early summer. Fleece, tights and a Go-Lite jacket were the appropriate outdoor wear.

I'm going to freeze in Patagonia! 

Today we hiked in another National Park where the trails are ex-Jeep roads. This is the third Park and and the third rough road we trod upon. I'm beginning to see an emerging pattern. Maybe Conaf (the equivalent of the National Park Service) thinks "Hey we have these old logging and mining roads, let's make them trails. The Gringos won't know the difference!"

So far the only fellow Americans we've met are two Mormons on a two year Mission to convert the Catholics of Chile. I politely asked them to save their sale's pitch for the Chileans. 

Here's a few photos from today's National Park. We are on the northern edge of the Lake District

Hasta la tardes,

PS. Hola Jenny again
PSS. Wifi is iffy. 

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Chile today...

Hot tamale. 

Originally my winter getaway thoughts were warm and Gringo-user friendly Costa Rica. A country featuring tropical rain forests, belching volcanoes and balmy beaches where the locals "Habla ingles." 

Sounds easy, doesn't it?

That game plan got the boot after I received a phone call from Lisa.
"Want to spend Christmas and New Year's in Patagonia?"
She sent me links featuring Steven Spielberg-ist landscapes with oddly shaped mountains. I'm a sucker for pretty pictures. She might have failed to say the region's incessant winds plus eons of time made those peaks angular and spiked. Oh yeah, it rains a lot too. Glacier like winds plus wet equals hyperthermia. Wow! What a great winter escape! 

Now about Lisa: I met her on my 2013 Camino de Santiago walk across Spain. We had two things in common. We were both American Jews on a Christian Pilgrimage. I was there to drink beer with people from all over the world, while her Camino was more spiritual in nature. Typical men vs. women stuff.

We are friends who are quickly becoming a team of brother and sister with different last names.  I drive, while she calls out directions. Somehow we get to where we want to go by dead reckoning. 

We are now slowly making our way to our jump off point to Patagonia. We're seeing National Parks and beautifully warm places along our way. I like that. The Patagonia journey is a process of planes, buses and one catamaran. It's a logistical hazard just waiting for an unexpected tumble. The realist in me sees possible problems while Lisa plays Polly Anna and sees blue skies and toasty temperatures. 

So now you are caught up, sort of. I'll let the photos talk. 
BTW: The Chileans are extremely friendly people, although I haven't a clue to what they are saying. For all I know they might be calling us names, but they are smiling while they cuss us. 

I'll take this moment to say Hola Jenny. 

Cheers from Chile,

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

"It's beginning to look a lot...

Like Kwanhumas! Everywhere you go!"

Come on everybody! Let's sing! 

I believe in these sadly divided times it might be a good idea for everyone to lighten up! 

Turn off the Fox Network News or CNN channel, ignore the rants on Facebook, remove your finger from the trigger, take a deep breath and try to be polite and civil to each other. Is that too much to ask? 

I'll resurrect the 1967 Youngbloods classic song in the post. The lyrics are dated but very appropriate in the Season of Goodwill.

"Get Together"

Love is but a song to sing
Fear's the way we die
You can make the mountains ring
Or make the angels cry
Though the bird is on the wing
And you may not know why
Come on people now
Smile on your brother
Everybody get together
Try to love one another
Right now
Some may come and some may go
We shall surely pass
When the one that left us here
Returns for us at last
We are but a moment's sunlight
Fading in the grass
Come on people now
Smile on your brother
Everybody get together
Try to love one another
Right now
If you hear the song I sing
You will understand (listen!)
You hold the key to love and fear
All in your trembling hand
Just one key unlocks them both
It's there at your command
Come on people now
Smile on your brother
Everybody get together
Try to love one another
Right now
Right now
Right now
The last few pictures are of shore birds flicking their beaks at the "No nudity" on the beach laws in Pinellas County, Florida. 
Happy Kwanhanumas to all, and to all a goodnight.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Nope! Not Colorado, Not Arizona...

I'm  at Saint Pete Beach, Florida. It was too wet and wild on the Atlantic Ocean side of this sandy peninsula, so once again I took Horace Greeley's advice to "Go West. Young Man. Go West." I'm glad I did. 

I was beginning to get moldy from the constant wind driven drips on the sunrise side of Florida. 
Besides, I was running out of holiday movies to spend money and time on. 

Saint Pete Beach is a throw back town. It wouldn't surprise me to see Annette Funicello and Frankie Avalon frolicking in the salt water. "Beach Blanket Bingo" anyone?

I like it here so much I purchased a small fix-er-upper right on the Gulf side. I know the "salmon" color might be a bit showy.. 

Happy Hanukkah!

Thursday, November 26, 2015

I give Thanks...

To my family who puts up with my strange and wandering ways.

I give thanks to Wild Places and chocolate turkeys.

I give thanks to you folks who look into my blog.

Happy Thanksgiving from Boulder, Colorado 

Enjoy these special moments,

Saturday, November 21, 2015

SAD! SCHMAD! I'm in Scottsdale for the...

Fabulous Shopping! 

So what if I mentioned SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) drove me south to the deserts of  Arizona.

So untrue. The real reason is the plethora of art galleries, luxury auto dealerships and boutiques which reside amongst the new money wealth of Scottsdale. It can't be old money since Arizona is barely over a century old. I fit right in. 

OK. So it's not the shopping. 

It's the water. Phoenix and its booming Metropolis would not exist without the huge supplement of liquid from the Colorado River. This massive engineering scheme is called the Central Arizona Project. The Bureau of Reclamation provided the dams, the pumping stations and the canals to make it happen. Look at these photos: its a virtual Venice in the desert. 

So what if Coloradans are forced to go on water restrictions in drought years? Daily showers and brushing ones teeth are so overrated. We'll take one for the team! 
Coloradans will do our part so Phoenix can keep their golf courses green, the cotton? plantations productive (5,300 gallons to produce the equivalent of one shirt and pair of jeans) and their cars spic and span clean. 

Anyone who has lived in the dry part of the west knows these two maxims are spot on.
"Whiskey is for drinking, water is for fighting"
"Water flows to money." 

The second maxim is the truer of the two.

OK. So it's not the water rights.

America's Pastime and the toasty temps will bring me back to Scottsdale. Play Fall Ball!

Next to Last photo: I purchased a pocket pooch to fit in better with the locals. Fifi over Fido. 

Final Photo: Score! 


Tuesday, November 17, 2015

In the Arizona Desert the folks...

here call it "Fall Ball" However when an El NiƱo inspired cold front blew in with droopy clouds and wind chill breezes; it felt like winter. Finding a seat was no problemo when the Scottsdale Scorpions took on the Surprise Saguaros. In fact only the brave and or stupid (I lean toward the stupid side over brave) were on hand to see the cold contest. 

The ball players had to attend. There were MLB scouts on hand. The scouts came equipped with speed guns and stop watches to check out the local talent. This is where the long road to the "Biggies" begins. 

Today the weather was more muy buen. I had a toasty frolic among the rock formations and the cacti. 

This sure beats real winter.

Stay warm,