The Galápagos Islands derive their name from the giant tortoise, there are 11 species. We saw them on our first day, a rainy first day.
Also unique to the Galápagos is the Blue Footed Boobie,
the Magnificent Frigatebird,
the Galapagos Hawk,
the Swallow-tailed Gull,
the Red-billed Tropicbird,
and the Yellow Warbler.
We also saw numerous other birds including, the northern most penguin in the world, the Galapagos Penguin.
The Sally Lightfoot Crab was everywhere.
As were Land Iguanas
and sea lions,
One year after my ablation, Marsha and I continued our travel adventures sans bike. There were several firsts on this trip:
- it was the first time we had been to Alaska
- it was the first time that our iPhones were our primary cameras
- and it was the first time we were in such a large group (30)
Flying from Des Moines is always an adventure and this adventure took us from Des Moines, Iowa to Phoenix, Arizona, then through Los Angeles, California, before arriving around midnight in Anchorage, Alaska. Why we had to fly south to end up in our northern destination was a mystery. On our return flight home from Vancouver, BC to Des Moines we flew through Dallas – again south but two flights rather than three.
We have made it our philosophy to travel as a twosome, controlling our destiny and insuring that we meet local people. We have held that if you go in a group you don’t meet locals but instead come home having only met the members of your group. True, but in this case our group was comprised of some very interesting people; people worth meeting; people who were fun to be around.
The tour was eleven days on land followed by four days on ship. Starting in Anchorage, stops included Denali, Fairbanks, Dawson City, Whitehorse, Skagway, Glacier Bay, and Ketchikan, ending in Vancouver . We traveled by train, plane, bus, and cruise ship.
I dream of getting back to bicycle touring, but this trip was exceptional, giving me glimpses of places I wouldn’t see from a bike saddle and introducing me to people I now consider friends.
The Parana River empties into the Rio de la Plata on its way to the Atlantic. The sediment rich waters are chocolate brown and form a delta of multiple islands. Our group took a tour boat through this maze of waterways. The houses are on stilts to protect from flooding. The residents are serviced by boat, as the photo of the floating grocery store exhibits.
After lunch and a return to our hotel half of the group took a shuttle to the airport, while the rest of us took a walking tour of the city prior to our evening shuttle to the airport. We toured a railway museum and walked Florida Street, a pedestrian shopping area.
We flew back to Buenos Aires and enjoyed reminiscing with group members over a farwell Argeninian steak dinner. The empanadas, our first course, were the best of the trip. The group took an evening river walk during which Naveen bought all of the women roses for Valentines Day.
Our group from earlier in the trip.
Calafate, the isolated village where the sheep stations gathered to begin their annual trek to the Atlantic, is the closest village to Los Glaciares National Park. Out here distnaces don’t mean much so close is still quite a bus ride to the entrance of the park. Los Glaciares is 1,700 square miles and has 50 glaciers. The ice cap feeding the glaciers occupies a third of the park. We drove to the Perito Moreno Glacier to walk a metal board walk opposite this 200 foot behemoth. It calves into Lake Argentina. The calving we were able to observe were sporadic and localized. Without a frame of reference the glacier doesn’t appear to be twenty stories high even when you are this close, but look for the tourist boat in one of the photos to get a perspective. We ended our viewing with Calafaté liquor in glacial ice our local guide retrieved from the lake.
Calfate gets its name from the Calafaté bush, a low thorny blueberry style of bush. The berry is used to make liquor, jams, and jellies. Locals say that eating the berries ensures your return to the area.
Our hosteria, hotel, used to be an estancia, or ranch. The ladies were given a bouquet of fresh cut flowers from the gardens, and we all were given a Calfate cordial.
2/10/15 Lago Grey’s terminus was just outside our hosteria. Our navigation of the lake to the glacial source was exhilarating. The blue emanating from the ice changed when the viewing angle or the light source changed.
That afternoon we trekked beyond Salto Grande, a waterfall, to an outlook affording us magnificent views.
We were lucky. The weather in Torres del Paine can be unpredictable. All four seasons can be experience in one day. Our weather has been accommodating, though this day ranged from cold and wet during the navigation to windy during the hike (so windy that a couple of our group fell and decided not to hike).
“This isn’t windy,” our local leader exclaimed. It was nearing 60 mph.
Hosteria Lago Grey has a notice that there is no gas for 120 miles. Guanaco, a cousin to the camel, were in abundance during our trek.