Getting Blown Away by El Chalten

When you ask my Dad where a particular place is, he will almost invariably tell you that it is right down the street. Dad, where’s Livermore? It’s just right down the street. Where’s Santa Rosa? Right down the street. Bakersfield? Right down the street. Bakersfield may be pushing it, but in a town like El Chalten, my Dad would be right 100 percent of the time because everything in El Chalten is literally right down the street. Continue reading “Getting Blown Away by El Chalten”

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Ice Ice Baby

The cabin that we checked into in El Calafate at 1:00 in the morning was something that I would have dreamed about living in as a child. It was a fairly tiny A-frame cabin, but it was so cute with its little dining area and loft bed and it was situated in a small neighborhood of similar cabins amidst a garden of lavender—I couldn’t help being charmed by it. Slightly less charming was the shower which was one of those that soaks the whole bathroom so that you have to squeegee the entire floor when you are done. But did I mention how cute it was? The owner was nice enough to speak English with us after we had been awake for almost 24 hours, but in the morning we told him that he could speak Spanish to us since we could actually process thoughts after a good night of sleep. He replied that he would go ahead and continue with the English because it was good practice for him. This seems to be a running theme. Continue reading “Ice Ice Baby”

A Doll, a Cow, and a Mink Walk into a Forest…

Our best day in Ushuaia by far was the day that we went to Tierra del Fuego National Park. I was still hurting a bit from our climb to the glacier, but once we got to the park I couldn’t have cared less about a few sore muscles. We traveled to the park in a mini-bus, and as we were the only passengers, the driver chattered away about everything that we passed. There was the river, the golf course (it is so damn windy in Ushuaia that I imagine yelling “Fore!” is a requirement every time your club makes contact with a ball), and the “train to the end of the world” which he scoffed at quite heartily to make it known that this was one of the greatest tourist traps of all time. After a brief drive he dropped us of at the coastal trail and we headed out along the coast of Beagle Channel through beautiful beech forest which was again reminiscent of New Zealand. Continue reading “A Doll, a Cow, and a Mink Walk into a Forest…”

Why I Never Got That Presidential Physical Fitness Award in Elementary School

One of more inexpensive things to do in Ushuaia is to climb up to the Martial Glacier that overlooks the town. Since we had not been hiking since Germany, I was concerned that my physical fitness level may have suffered during our time in Buenos Aires (I had packed on about five pounds of ass which is difficult to haul around). Of course Adam had nothing to worry about. He eats these kinds of day hikes for breakfast. I mean he seriously could have been up and down that trail before I could finish an Egg McMuffin and hash brown meal. He started up the steadily climbing trail in his usual nimble fashion, but as soon as I set foot on it, I knew that most of the gains that I had made in strength and stamina during our time in New Zealand, Australia, and Scotland, had been lost. This was an incredibly frustrating discovery, but what can you expect when you spend three months in cities doing nothing but walking over flat ground? Continue reading “Why I Never Got That Presidential Physical Fitness Award in Elementary School”

The End of the World

Being in Ushuaia, one tends to forget that it is in South America. The landscape is remarkably similar to what we saw on the west coast of the south island of New Zealand. Of course it was winter in New Zealand when we were there and in Ushuaia it was the height of summer. The town is situated right on the Beagle Channel and in front of a mountain range that is host to the Martial Glacier which is visible from most parts of the town. It is apparent that the town has become incredibly wealthy from tourism. It shows all of the signs of having enough wealth to be frivolously adorned: shining statues of prominent figures, immaculate public parks, painstakingly tended flower beds along the main streets (one in the whimsical shape of a whale). All the house fronts and businesses are clean and tidy and you get a bit of a storybook feeling as you pass through some parts of town. Just by looking around at the tourists who frequent Ushuaia, you can tell where all of the money comes from. One day as we walked along the waterfront, Adam went on a tirade about the type of tourist who comes to Ushuaia in the middle of summer decked out in outrageously expensive clothes that were made less for taking a stroll in slightly inclement weather and more for an Antarctic ice climbing expedition. Shaking his head in disbelief he said, “It’s like putting on a costume to go shopping. Jesus Christ, we’re not even that far south.” He continued in the voice that you use when mocking the dunderheaded: “Oh, I’m going to Ushuaia, I better put on my crampon compatible stiff boots and my waterproof Gore-Tex in case we get hit with a blizzard between the gift shop and the restaurant. Watch out Stella! I’m going through this puddle!” Continue reading “The End of the World”

Paradise by the Dashboard Light

Our first problem with leaving Puerto Madryn was knowing what time the bus was going to arrive. Since the little daylight savings debacle, we were unsure whether the tickets that we had bought in Buenos Aires stated the earlier or later time. Rather than trying to puzzle it out in Spanish, we just went to the bus station an hour early. What’s another hour of waiting when you have 36 hours of bus travel coming up? Continue reading “Paradise by the Dashboard Light”