Our current time zone: GMT +8 (We're home in Singapore!)

Monday, November 30, 2009

Buenos Aires Starts Off Sizzlingly Hot!

The last time we felt truly warm was when we were in Vieques, Puerto Rico. That was also where my Olympus camera, Oly, died.

And since Oly died, we have been feeling cold. Sometimes it was due to the altitude. Or the winds. Once or twice, the snow. Occasionally, the rains. And any other combination of the above. It felt as if Oly was giving us a 'gentle' rebuke for letting it die.

Look at our pasty white faces from months and months of cold!

Well, I guess our penance has finally been paid. We arrived in hot and humid Buenos Aires from Barriloche and were immediately perspiring. It really feels strange to feel beads of sweat trickle from our foreheads to our necks, down our backs and nestle in a growing patch of wetness in our ass cracks. But then again, it's an astonishingly welcome sensation!

Unused to the heat and humidity, we stayed indoors for the entire afternoon, only emerging for dinner in the evening. And along the way, we finally saw what my sister-in-law has been hoping we'd see - dancing in the streets!

Great, isn't it? We told ourselves that we had to learn a few tango moves while we were here. Keeping our fingers crossed!

Friday, November 27, 2009

It's All About The View (Or Not)

There are basically two ways to enjoy views of Bariloche's numerous interlocking lakes: either by gazing down upon them from an elevated point or getting so close to the water's edge that you can stick a couple of toes into it.

A ski destination in winter, Bariloche's peaks are accessible not only by cable car, but also by chairlifts. Outside of the ski season, the chairlifts continue to operate, bringing eager tourists to elevated observation decks where they can revel in a gorgeous endless panorama of the surrounding lakes.

Excited by the appearance of the sun, we hopped onto a local bus which deposited us at Cerro Campanero, where we were scooped up by a moving line of cold metal chairs hanging precariously from a wire.

As we looked back towards the town centre from our sky escalator, the lakes put their bluest faces forward and looked pretty for the camera.

See, nice, isn't it?

The skies on the other side of the mountain, however, were in the foulest of moods. The lakes caught on to the heavens' dark vibes and scowled back at us, sullen and cranky.

Okaaaay, some lakes don't feel like having their picture taken today

Those grumpy party-poopers literally turned a cold shoulder on us and our cameras, and sent a strong gust of wind to bite at our heels (and everything above them.) They succeeded in chasing us back down the mountain pronto. And that's the tale of our short visit to Cerro Campanero. Humph.

We had booked a rental car for the much-anticipated Seven Lakes Drive the next day. We had been hoping that another couple who might be interested in doing the drive would show up at the hostel after we checked in. No such luck though. We invited Lai Fun, a girl from Hong Kong and Paulo, a guy from Dunnowhere (we asked, but he said "it's complicated") to come along with us. But Lai Fun managed to secure a coveted spot (the tours were very full) on a horseback riding excursion on the same day, and Paulo dumped us soon after in favour of a special local lunch available only on that day of the week. So it was just our army of two for this side trip.

The rented Fiat was pretty much crap - scratched, dented and skewed axles. As with our rental car in Puerto Madryn, the car didn't have power locking and automated windows, which was okay. But woe was us - the cigarette lighter wasn't working.

Huh? Since when did we pick up the smoking habit? Or have we been closet smokers all along?

Heh, neither. The cigarette lighter is for powering our RoadTrip - an iPod dock that transmits the music through the car radio and charges our music players at the same time. Very handy for long trips. And very important too. It's a big deal because it lets Dannie sing along to his favourite tunes. And as long as Dannie can sing, Dannie will not get sleepy. And as long as Dannie does not fall asleep, Dannie can drive. For hours straight. As long as he gets to stop for a pee break in the bushes.

As for me, sure, I can drive too. But it's a stressful experience for both driver and passenger. I'm much more talented at being the all-in-one navigator, music deejay, hospitality tent (chips, chocolate, water, tissue, anyone?) and sightseer. This way, both of us get to relax on a long drive and no one gets physically hurt (say, sharp potato chip in eye - just an example) in any in-vehicle arguments that might surface.

The catches in the cigarette lighter were broken, so we couldn't lock our RoadTrip in the holder, without it falling to the floor with a loud "thunk!" every time the car went over anything bigger than a pebble - which was pretty often on an unpaved gravel road. But it's absolutely necessary to feed Dannie a continuous bout of the King of Pop, Queen, Prince (his royal family), soundtracks from musicals and quirky originals from our favourite local a Capella group Budak Pantai (whose year-end performance and new CD we are missing! Boo!) So I gallantly held my left arm out at an awkward angle for a good part of the trip to support the RoadTrip properly, so that it could play non-stop music *cramp*

Bariloche isn't named Argentina's Lake District for nothing. Sure, there are lakes. There is also the cold wet omnipresent gloom similarly abound in it's English counterpart in the Lake District of Cumbria.

The scenery along the route is beautiful. But does it have to be so wet?

It's funny how as kids, we would find rainy days still good (in fact, more fun) for playing outdoors. But once we became boring old stick-in-the-mud adults, we get so bogged down by the slightest hint of wet weather. When the sky sulks, so do we, over inconveniences like waterlogged shoes, icky feet, damp hair, wet clothes, etc.

I was ten when my family was staying in England and that year, for my sister's birthday, we drove to the Lake District and spent a week at Lake Windermere. It was November. It was autumn. It must have been cold. It must have been wet. But all I remember is us kids squeezing our feet into our shiny, patent, plasticky Wellington boots ("wellies", just like Paddington Bear!) - yellow for me, red for my sister and blue for my brother. Donning raincoats, we stomped through piles of red, orange and yellow leaves to the lake, in search of ducks to feed.

Yet under the same drizzly conditions in Argentina, I spent the initial part of the Seven Lakes Drive in a "bah! humbug!" mood under the relentless rainy assault, bemoaning how difficult it was to take good photos under such challenging lighting conditions. But after a while, I learnt to embrace the weather conditions that lent the Lake District it's moist misty beauty and accepted that my photos weren't going to be great, but that I would enjoy the experience anyway. Good views, or none.

Serene, not dull. Introspective, not gloomy. Subtle, not colourless. (At least that's what I tried to tell myself)

My alpaca comes out of the car to pose amidst the reflections in the lake (and throw pebbles to mar the perfect stillness.)

Wildflowers add a touch of sunshine to the scene

The Seven Lakes Drive is so named because it snakes it's way through a mountain route adorned with, well, seven lakes. Honestly, we couldn't tell where one lake ended and another started. At times, it felt like we were just driving along one big lake! We gave up counting after (what we think was) Lake No.2.

Perfect stillness in Lake No. Idontknowwhat.

Whole trees reflected in the lake

Traveling north, the road brings visitors to the lovely alpine-like village (I don't think it's correct to call it "alpine" since it was located in the Andes?) of San Martin de los Andes (see what I mean!)

We scurried into a pizzeria for shelter and food. But not before I walked into a tree while getting out of the car and trying to avoid the huge kerbside puddle, because I couldn't see very clearly from under my hood :-/ The staff at the pizza place were so nice as to light the furnace specially for us (there was no one else in the cafe) when they saw me rubbing my hands together for warmth *beam* Service like this warms the cockles of your heart, doesn't it? (Actually no - not as much as the hot pizza warmed the insides of my tummy.)

With a happy warm gooey mixture of ham, cheese and crust bouncing inside us, we u-turned and bumped along the gravel road to the remaining lakes and back towards Bariloche.

It's not all about the lakes only - there are pretty rivers to stop for too

Lush lakeside foliage (even though it was limited to just one side of the lake - the other side looked rather bald)

A scene so dark that it is better expressed in monochrome

Not helping to brighten up the picture in my black ensemble. Except maybe for the shoes.

We took a different road back to town, climbing a mountain pass and finding ourselves in some unlikely scenery for the gentle Lake District. The rolling hills and lush slopes were replaced by steep vertical cliffs and a craggy mesa-and-butte skyline, more fitting for dry desert environments than this wet soppy one.

The seemingly endless road where somebody kept whining, "Baby! Where are you bringing me to?!?!?!"

A face sticks out from the crowd

Back in Bariloche, we still had the use of the car for another 2 hours, so we drove into the town centre for helado at Jauja's cafe. You are never too cold (nor too old!) for ice-cream!

Half a kilo of gelato makes Dannie a happy manny. Clockwise from top: white chocolate, "fruits of the woods", peanut butter, calafate with goat's milk, and my favourite - chocolate profundo.

Yes, whether it's about perfect lake views or not, the Lake District is one of Argentina's most beautiful places.

Even though it can be such a wet blanket.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Nature Calls

San Carlos de Bariloche in the Argentinian Lake District is known as the Little Switzerland of Patagonia - beautiful calm lakes, cosy cabins made of wood and stone, ice-cream shop counters showcasing a rainbow of mouth-watering flavours and rows of gourmet chocolate shops.

Nestled at the foot of the Andes, Bariloche is a popular winter wonderland with plenty of skiing opportunities in the nearby mountain tops. In summer, the sapphire-blue lakes offer boating adventures and people head to the lush green mountains for treks and picnics.

But what has the place to offer on a dreary drizzly cloudy day in November?

The perfect setting for photographing waterfalls!

We had planned to take a local bus to one of the lakes lying south of our hostel to visit a small set of cascades, which we were told were accessible by a short trek though the woods along the lake. Contrary to our usual prayers for sunny days, clear skies and NO rain, we were quite pleased to wake up to a wet morning resplendent with thick grey clouds.

Reason being, to get good photos of waterfalls, you need low light, either in the form of cloudy skies or tree cover. Sunny days don't make for good pictures, as the strong sunlight bounces off the white waters of the falls. Coupled with the fact that you need to lower the camera's shutter speed to create that silky smooth texture of the flowing water, overly strong lighting results in overexposed pictures.

Rain, however, doesn't feature in the formula. In fact, it tends to splatter a few irritating droplets on the camera lense just as you've composed your photo, gotten it in focus and are about to press the shutter. But in the Lakes District, rain makes a frequent appearance, so with our hoods on and our picnic lunch packed in waterproof bags, we made our way to the lake and into the woods.

The natural scenery in Bariloche is beautiful. But on a rainy day, the whole place just looks wet and grey. So this entry is about getting up close with nature on the trail that we took in the woods. It was nice to linger and take our time to examine water, wood, leaves and flowers in close detail, instead of trying to get that perfect postcard shot of the lakes.

We came across a gurgling shallow stream, the water just skimming over the stony bed

The divinity stick lead us to more water...

... in the form of a small waterfall

Examining some wet wood along the way. Quite taken by the ripples on this one.

This trunk was knobbly. A few of the bumps look like little eyes peering out from the tree.

Made of many thin layers on the inside

Going for the wet look

Following the stream, we got to the main attraction - a two tiered cascade - after about an hour. Or maybe two hours? It was not a long trail but we were really taking our time, absorbed in capturing details in our photos - I didn't once glance at my watch.

Treading carefully on slippery stones to get to the foot of the lower cascade

My camera lense got totally wet from the spray even though I tried to shield it with my hand. The result - a lovely dreamy watercolour effect.

Downstream from the falls - trying to capture a spot of sunshine that managed to creep to the stream through the cloud cover and tree canopy

Once or twice, during our stay in Bariloche, the sun decided to make a brief appearance. Unfortunately, we weren't on the much anticipated Seven Lakes Drive, nor on a mountain peak with an expansive view of the surrounding lakes when the sun showed it's face. On one rare sunny occasion, we had just alighted from the bus after a quick visit downtown and were actually on the way back to our hostel!

While there weren't spectacular vistas to capture along the dusty road in our quiet residential neighbourhood, there was still beauty all around us to enjoy.

Peachy pink buds just waiting to blossom

Fresh green leaves with delicate veins

Turning translucent in the sunlight

Rain or shine, it's nice to lose oneself in nature once in awhile. If not all the time.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

It Was All A Blur...

We've been traveling for 8 months now and almost every single day, we take our cameras out with us and photograph our journey along the way.

Back home, I'm not one who totes around a small digicam in my handbag. So this is the longest time that I've had a camera stuck on me almost 24/7. (Who knows, I might just get addicted to having a camera on hand, even when I revert to my real life and clockwork routine *yawn*) Many times a day, I find myself assessing the environment and wondering whether to whip out the camera (which is in reality, a rather cumbersome combination of neck straps, bag straps, clips and zips) to snap a photo.

The natural scenery that we come across on our trip is simply awe-inspiring and magical - it really doesn't take much to capture the beauty of a place. We try to do more than just snap a conventional photo, which really doesn't convey more than "been there, done that". We explore new angles, toggle with shutter speeds, tweak exposure settings. But fatigue and boredom do set in. I get bored with the photos I take when they start looking the same - same style, same angle, same textures, same feel. Sometimes, I literally cannot tell the difference between one lake photo and another. It's the same with photos of mountains.

That's when you start losing inspiration, thinking "it's just another lake", "it's just a building", "it's just the city". Then you get lazy and find all sorts of excuses not make the effort to get a good photo. Too crowded. Too hot. Too troublesome. Too dangerous. Too rainy. Too dark. Too bright. Too tired. The sun is not in the right position. My camera sucks. My lens is too wide. My lens can't zoom so far. And so on.

And sometimes, in trying to get that perfect photo, we forget to have fun with the camera!

While in Ushuaia, Dan recalled taking a picture of a porcupine fish while diving in Lembeh (Indonesia) a couple of years ago. Trying desperately to focus on the puffer, which was merrily sailing past his eyes while the current was sweeping us forward, he trained his camera on the subject and snapped - while both man and fish were still moving. The result - a small wide-eyed ball of spikes looking as if it was high on Speed and blasting light years into space!

Our friend Sue Anne commented on Facebook: "Oh i like this! A little lone fish struggling to keep up in the mad rush hour...kinda like me in HK!"

With this thought in mind, we re-discovered our cameras - by thinking of them as new toys, rather than fragile digital machines. We didn't bother with getting the "correct" settings, or framing the subject spot-on, or calculating the perfect composition, or nailing that prized waterfall photo (which nobody looks at after a while anyway. Images are short-lived.) We didn't moan about needing more sophisticated cameras or new expensive equipment to get better photos. It didn't matter that the skies were drab and rainy.

And look what we came up with!

First experiment: twisting the camera as you press the shutter.

When used on a human subject, this technique creates a surreal time-warp effect, as if a person is stepping out from another world through a portal.

"My name is Purple Peter, from Mars they don't come sweeter, I've come to see what's going on on Earth."

To achieve the effect, you need to slow down the shutter speed. This can be done even on some good quality point-and-shoot cameras, like Dan's Canon SX200 IS.

Greetings from the future *deep bow* Take me to your leader

Trying to keep the image clear and sharp at a specific focal point, while the rest is a whirling blur, can be a bit more challenging. You have to hold the camera super steady. It's fun trying till you get it right though!

Still a little off focus. But good enough for William Tell to aim and spear that apple (and, gulp, me)

No humans were involved or shot in the following experiments:

Making a plant look like a windmill

Swirling some leaves around

Sometimes, I didn't even have a specific subject in mind. The results? Abstract art! And very nice art too, with lovely natural colours and soothing wispy textures. I would decorate my walls at home with it!

Forest colours take on a whimsical twist

Of course, you don't have to do the twist all the time. Instead of turning the whole camera, I tried shifting my zoom lens back and forth as I pressed the shutter. That simple move added a whole new dimension to the photo!

Taken while zooming out: Dan getting vacuumed out of this world and into another

Taken while zooming in: Dan being surrounded by a quivering energy field

When I tried it on moving streams and waterfalls, it made the water movements incredibly powerful and dynamic. Poweerrrrr up!

A small unimpressive waterfall is transformed into a powerful gushing terror

An ordinary pebble-filled stream now commands your attention

These are only a couple of fun techniques that we accidentally discovered while moving our cameras around while snapping a shot, instead of being so fixated all the time on keeping them still.

Intrigued and inspired to play around more with my camera, I surfed around and found a couple of websites with some tips on how to take creative photos. While some of them do require a special type of lens, or high-quality equipment, there's no harm trying out some of the methods and seeing what results we can get with the tools we have on hand.

After all, photography is meant to be fun and experimental. It doesn't have to be perfect.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Right One For You!

Magella the Magellanic Penguin
Peninsula Valdes

Thank you for your mail dated 19 November. We are glad to assist in your search for your soul-mate.

In fact, we have a few very eligible guys on file, and would be glad to link them up with you once we get your profile testing done.

But, seeing that you are my first client from Argentina, I am more than happy to give you a little preview...

You may be aware that there is a huge colony of penguins in Punta Tombo, which is near to you. Well, not near enough to walk, certainly, if someone were to drive north for an hour from Puerto Madryn, they would reach your place, right? Well, if they were to drive south for 2 hours from Puerto Madryn, they would reach Punta Tombo!

Punta Tombo is home to the biggest colony of Magellanic penguins. You really should check it out! Even if you don't find a mate immediately, it is always nice to penguin-watch.

Penguins exploring, exchanging and entertaining. And there are many more in the suburbs incubating their eggs too!

The guy I have in mind for you is currently in between jobs, but have no fear! He is relatively well-of after his performance in the hit movie 'Happy Feet'. A smart penguin, he put his income to good use by investing shrewdly, so he does have enough to keep his tuxedo on.

I'm attaching a few videos of Penguin Nice for your reference. Oh, do take note that his name is pronounced 'Neese', like that city in France, not 'Naice'.

Pen Nice is a lover of nature. He especially loves the sea.

Nice is also a natural leader amongst his mates, always the first to dive right in!

Pen Nice is one of those penguins who knows his rights, but is fairly non-confrontational. He bides his time till the right moment, then he makes his move.

Of course, I would be doing you a great disservice if I did not first highlight to you one of his greatest faults. Nice, while a truly nice penguin, does sometimes let his mind wander just a little too much. And that is why sometimes accidents happen.

But, Magella, even without the profile-testing we usually do, even without having to put both of you together in one of our gala dating events, I know deep in my heart that you and Nice will hit it off perfectly.

Eyeing the next big wave...

You two will make a wonderful couple. I just know it!

Yours Sincerely,
Ada Wong
The Dating Loft

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Mate Wanted!

Ms Ada Wong
The Dating Loft

Greetings from the Peninsula Valdés in Argentina! I met these two visitors from Singapore last week when they visited my colony. I told them that I was having trouble finding a mate, and they referred me to you; said you are the premier dating agency in Singapore!

I hope you can find me somebody to love. For each morning I get up I die a little, can barely stand on my feet. Take a look in the mirror, and I cry, "Lord what are you doing to me?"

Okay, okay... I'm not really that big a drama Queen... I just like that song, you know?

Anyway, I am searching for someone who would instinctively know which is the right pebble to give me. Quick. Because time passes so quickly, and I am so not a spring chicken anymore...

Here's a picture of me.

Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou, my Romeo?

I live in a nature reserve on Peninsula Valdés, which is about an hour's drive from Puerto Madryn in Argentina. It's a little like a condo in Singapore, actually, except our guards will let you in if you pay them some money. Put 45 Argentinean pesos in their hands and they will gladly let you in. That being said, our 'condo' is huge! It covers an area of 3,625 km² - I understand Singapore is only something like 710 km²?

My doctor says I am a healthy specimen of my species, and am expected to live slightly beyond the average age of 25 years.

BUT! My species is being threatened with extinction due to climate change. With rising temperatures, the cuttlefish, krill and other food I normally eat is going further away from shore. So I must quickly find my mate to lay my two eggs, and hope they grow up fast and strong.

I hope the mate you send me will have good genes, because life here is quite harsh for us penguins. Danger abounds everywhere, and we are unfortunately quite far down the food chain.

Fur seals are just as plentiful here, and they have been known to attack us. Fortunately, they tend not to bother us too much, because these chickens are so scared that we will poke our beaks into their eyes. Wussies.

Fur seals can be quite licentious in nature. They don't mind rubbing themselves even when others are present

A more dangerous foe is the elephant seal. They are bigger and faster than the fur seals, and numerous especially in the northern part of the peninsula. That's why we steer clear of them by establishing our colony on the eastern edge. These buggers are generally lazy though - spend their whole day sleeping. So we still manage to make do.

The elephant seal plays dead as well as a possum

Our 3rd natural predator in these parts are the orcas. While the orcas are mostly at sea, there are times when they will zoom right up to shore, and eat anything they find, whether penguin, elephant seals or fur seals. These are the really scary predators, top of the food chain here!

The fin of an orca. Let it come too close and you are 'fin-ished'!

But, I don't want all these talk of predators to make you think that I am a morbid bird. Or a moor bird. I have some excellent character references too!

One of my best friends is Elizardbeth, or Beth for short. She's a gecko. Keeps an eye out for me every now and then. If I get all moody or depressive, she gives me quite a tongue-lashing too!

Elizardbeth also gives great makeup tips! Her sense of color schemes is fantastic!

Oh, and there's also Armold Schwarzenegger the armadillo. Another good friend whom I can always count on for help. I would go, "Hey Armold, could you help me get some food on your way back?" And he'd say in that funny accent of his, "Sure. I'll be bahhk."

I think Armold is destined for great things. He's even planning to get into politics! I would so vote for him to be my governator!

Armold, off looking for a John around the Connor...

Miss Ada, I do so hope you can shortlist some eligible bachelors for me. If there is anyone on your database who is financially secure, loves the beach and doesn't mind sharing some household chores (guys who are willing to share the chores are sooooo manly and full of character! *swoon*), please do let me know.

Please please please please pleasepleasepleasepleaseplease?

Yours Sincerely,
Magella the Magellanic Penguin

P.S Ooooh! A 2D1N relaxing getaway sounds nice! So here's my promo code - TDL Getaway!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

I Just Snow We'll Have A Good Time


So now that we had reached the end of the world, what were we actually going to do here? We poured over a handful of tour brochures in a bid to find out more about activities in Ushuaia. Agencies in town proffered cruises along the Beagle Channel, mailing a postcard home from the southernmost letter box, trekking in the Tierra del Fuego national park, kayaking in glacial lakes, horseback riding.... SO many things to do out here. We narrowed the list down to 2 choices - both of which we had yet to experience on this trip:

(1) beaver-watching

(2) a full-day tour comprising riding in a 4WD jeep through the forest and into a lake, followed by a traditional Argentinian asado or barbecue on the lakeshore, and then canoeing.

I thought it would be interesting to watch beavers pottering around their dams, gnawing at trees and patting down mud with their flat tails. I've always thought they were cute. A few years back when I first entered university, (okay, so it was more than a decade ago... my math isn't that bad, it's just that time really flies!) ICQ was just gaining popularity and I signed up for an account (for the benefit our really young blog-readers, ICQ is an online chat programme that has since been overtaken by MSN, Gmail and Facebook chats.)

innocently decided on AngryBeaver, the title of my favourite cartoon The Angry Beavers, as my ICQ nickname. It was only after I had added alot of new classmates from school and neighbours from Temasek Hall to my contact list, did someone finally decide to kindly enlighten me on the pornographic and unsavoury meaning of the word "beaver". I don't want to imagine the nature of the thoughts conjured in the minds of my new male friends as they chatted online with the Angry Beaver late into the night.

Well, the tour agent offering beaver-watching was honest enough to warn us that there was a low chance of spotting these creatures at work in the daytime, as beavers are nocturnal and only go about their busy business at *ahem* night. Bummer. I had really wanted to see some giant beavers. The beavers in Ushuaia are reportedly huge - 1.5m long and weighing up to 60kg - double the size of beavers found elsewhere, which average around the size of a microwave oven. Beavers from Canada were introduced to Tierra del Fuego in the 1946 in a bid to breed them for their fur. Unfortunately, the fur provided insufficient protection against the island's harsh climate, turning hard in the freezing temperatures. Without any natural predators, the original founding stock of 25 male and 25 female beavers ballooned into an unmanageable population of close to 100,000. They are considered a pest on the island, cos they dam up the rivers and flood the forest floor, drowning tree roots and killing acres of forests. Beavers apparently taste quite bad, so the island's inhabitants (man and animals alike) are unwilling to hunt them for food.

We accepted that we weren't going to see any beavers in the forests or on the menu and thus signed up for the second option. At 340 Argentinian pesos (USD85 per person), the tour wasn't cheap but it was still immensely popular and almost fully booked. We managed to get the last 2 spots for a tour leaving a day later.

Dan has created a wonderful video documenting the day's activities at the end of this post, so I'm not going to write too much about the tour. Just a few photos to summarise the itinerary:

First up: a visit to the sledding park to kick off the morning. Dog-sledding only takes place in winter when there's lots of snow (really now... then what's all that white stuff around us?) Outside of the ski season, the dogs relax and train. We visited the huskies on their training grounds, where we saw the strong Siberian huskies who haul like trucks and the Alaskan huskies who have the speed of athletes.

This husky was especially big - his ancestors were from the South Pole.

Worming our way through the Andes, we made a stop at the highest point of the snowy road for a glimpse at the lakes we would be driving along and canoeing in.

Could hardly see any lakes out there!

Then we went off the road! Whoo hoo! The snowy forests made the rough muddy experience seem almost magical.


Is he going to make it?

Dashing through the lake


The roaring fire you need to grill that perfect Argentinian steak

Juicy sausages

The perfect steak - medium on the inside, lightly charred on the outside

Tummies full, we donned life-vests, grabbed our paddles and headed for the lake.

I couldn't believe that we were dressed like this for canoeing

Our canoes buried in snow. One of them was named "Bahamas". What a joke.

Out on the water - cold, but magical

Rowing a boat under falling snow

Packing up and getting ready to head back into town

Whatever the weather, I just knew we'd have a good time :)

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