roblog - Official Blog of Rob Hurvitz

27 Feb 2009 - 11:04:59 AM
Catching up #1 -- Coyhaique

All right, I've started the photo upload process. It's taking a while here in El Chaltén, so I'll just start the post and hope for the best. Let's see... Took the bus from Puerto Puyuhuapi to Coyhaique. It was cloudy and periodically drizzly, which hid most of the mountains from view. Ah well. Here is one I did see, though:

a mountain
View from the bus -- Coyhaique, Chile

The next day was sunny and gorgeous -- yay! Went for a hike in the nearby Nature Reserve. Some nice views of the town and valley, some nice lakes, and a lot of hiking in the trees. I think the highlight was the short loop hike around Laguna Verde -- there were some pretty cool views of the lake.

View of the town from Reserva Nacional Coyhaique -- Coyhaique, Chile

dead trees
Bunch of dead-looking trees in the marshy side of Laguna Verde -- Coyhaique, Chile

Laguna Verde
I liked this view of Laguna Verde -- Coyhaique, Chile

Laguna Verde
I liked this view of Laguna Verde, as well -- Coyhaique, Chile

On the way back from the hike I spotted a couple signs I thought were amusing. What year were the Olympics held in Coyhaique? I forget.

Coyhaique services
An interesting assortment of available services. Bull riding? Yup. Dancing? Yup. Fish and booze? Yup. Stand-up bass playing? Yup. And apparently the Olympics are available all year round. Coyhaique, Chile

Pepe le Pub
It's the bottom part of the sign I liked -- Pepe le Pub -- Coyhaique, Chile

And the next catch up post will have to wait. I'm having some ftp issues at the moment and can't get more pictures uploaded. Maybe I should just wait until I get to El Calafate and a better internet connection.

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26 Feb 2009 - 3:47:20 PM
El Chaltén

Just a quick post to let you know that I have a whole lot of pictures I'm going to upload. I'm falling behind on my blogging -- oh no! Right now it's raining a bit here, and if it rains tomorrow, then I'll have a whole lot of time to catch up on the blog. So many random things to write about, so many pictures to post, so little time. Speaking of my little blog, lately I've been thinking of it as more of a South American travel brochure: pretty pictures, places to go, things to do. Oh well. If anyone decides to travel down here because of my blog, well, that's great. If you come down in the next few months, we can even meet up.

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22 Feb 2009 - 8:43:30 AM
Puerto Puyuhuapi

Yeah, say that name five times fast. Puyuhuapi is a very small town, but it's right in the middle of Queulat National Park, and that makes it a very handy place. Spent yesterday checking out the Ventisquero Colgante glacier, which is a fairly dramatic glacier, even when you can't see it because of clouds. Every half hour or so bits and pieces calve off it and crash down the cliffs to the rocks below, making very loud noises indeed. And when you can see it, it's all the more impressive -- you're a kilometer or two away and it's still a deep, frigid blue, all broken up and wedged into a gash in the middle of steep, black cliffs with a large waterfall dropping down from its terminus. Beautiful.

Oh, so between Esquel and Puyuhuapi I spent a two nights in Futuleufú. Had an awesome time rafting the first day, and had an awesome time engulfed in volcanic ash the second day. Well, maybe not so awesome. The Chaitén volcano erupted again and sent a big cloud of ash through Futa, completely blotting out the sun for a short period of time. Very interesting. I'd only heard about that sort of thing before, but now I can say I've experienced it firsthand. Unfortunately, I left my souvenir breating mask behind at the secret hostel in Futa, figuring the folks there could use it more than me since I was leaving.

More pictures! None from the rafting yet. I still need to go through the cd the rafting company gave me and pick out a few pics. But here are a couple from Ash Storm 2009 and Queulat National Park.

futa impressionism
A previously unknown Renoir, "Futa in Ash" -- Futaleufú, Chile

ash me no questions
Me covered in volcanic ash -- Futaleufú, Chile

Puerto Puyuhuapi
Puerto Puyuhuapi, Chile

Boat docked in Puyuhuapi, Chile

Bridge to the trail to a coule of Colgante glacier viewpoints -- Queulat National Park, Chile

Ventisquero Colgant glacier -- Queulat National Park, Chile

Fierce-looking beetle on the trail to the lake below the glacier -- Queulat National Park, Chile

Can't wait to get to Coyhaique and do some laundry, get all the ash out of my clothes. I'm leaving there this afternoon whenever the bus shows up in town, and then it's another six or so hours on a dirt road. Woo hoo!

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17 Feb 2009 - 12:10:27 PM
La Trochita

I'm in Esquel at the moment. Arrived yesterday and although it would be nice to spend another day here, I think I'm going to hop on a bus tomorrow morning and head to Chile, where a spend several days working my way south some more before crossing back into Argentina. Should be an interesting side trip.

This morning I went for a little train ride on what I think is the last steam train that is still in use. La Trochita, or El Trencito, or the Old Patagonian Express (made somewhat famous by Paul Theroux's travel memoir of the same name). I didn't do the full nine hour ride from Esquel to El Maitén, just the brief tourist ride to the next stop out of town and back. Fun little ride, if you don't mind all the tourism that's been pumped into it. But hey, at least it's running. Here are some of the pics:

The Old Patagonian Express -- Esquel, Argentina

belly of the beast
The belly of the beast -- Esquel, Argentina

economy class
Train car that's seen better days -- Esquel, Argentina

dining car
Inside the dining car -- Esquel, Argentina

pretty view
View from the train -- Esquel, Argentina

turning around
Moving the engine for the return ride -- Esquel, Argentina

curves are good for pictures
The grand curve -- Esquel, Argentina

I'm missing out on Los Alerces National Park by skipping town tomorrow, but so it goes. Gotta leave something to come back to, right?

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14 Feb 2009 - 9:17:08 AM
From Argentina with Love

Hey, happy Valentine's Day, everybody. I'm in El Bolsón, where it has turned into a sunny day, and I'm sitting inside a little shop in front of a computer. Soon, though, I'll wander around the Feria, checking out all the arts n crafts and other assorted booths. Supposedly there's live music, too, and a few microbrew booths scattered about. El Bolsón takes me back to my Berkeley days, actually -- all sorts of hippy types strolling around, which is quite different from pretty much everywhere else I've been on this trip. And then tomorrow I'll leave for Esquel, if I manage to get a bus ticket -- need to that before the microbrews...

Got back last night from a three day trek in the mountains just west of El Bolsón around Cerro Hielo Azul (Mt Blue Ice). Appropriately enough, the Cerro has a very photogenic glacier on its southeastern flank, and I would post some of those pictures here, but they're on my infected memory card. Still need to take care of that. But yeah, it was a good little trek. Several enchanting forests, a couple of marshy green meadows (one with wild horses), the glacier, and lots of home-made beer. The refugios around here all brew their own cerveza -- they do a quick brewing, so it's mostly light and cidery, but they're mostly refreshing, and they get the job done. So yeah, the refugios here rock. One even makes its own wine. It was tempting to extend the trek out longer, but there were too many dark clouds up the valley, and too many cervezas caseras downriver waiting to be sampled. One interesting thing I learned is that after a cerveza the rickety Indiana Jones-esque bridges spanning the river get a little more challenging. The key is to drink just enough so that your swaying matches that of the bridge.

My first night here I had dinner at the Otto Tip cerveceria, and it was a mixed bag. Their trigo (wheat) beer wasn't very good (tasted like they'd added lemon), but the roja was quite nice. Had the trout ravioli, which started off great, but then quickly deteriorated as I discovered that they hadn't bothered to remove any bones from the fish. So, yeah, it was fresh, but picking bones out of my mouth as I'm eating ravioli is not something I like to do. Ugh.

Anyway, for Valentine's Day, I'm giving all of you flowers. Enjoy!

Roses from the Santa Catalina convent -- Arequipa, Perú.

red flowers
Red flowers from my Cerro Hielo Azul trek. El Bolsón, Argentina

yellow flowers
Yellow flowers from my Cerro Hielo Azul trek. El Bolsón, Argentina

orange flower
Orange flower from my Cerro Hielo Azul trek. El Bolsón, Argentina

What a lovely assortment! Now you can't say that I never give you flowers.

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9 Feb 2009 - 8:00:18 PM
Last night in Bariloche

The days tick by... I went for a what I though would be a couple days around Refugio Frey, where I hoped to hook up with some folks and get some climbing in, but the weather did not cooperate, and instead I tagged along with some other folks who were doing the Nahuel Huapi circuit. At first I thought I would just go to Refugio San Martin, but then the next morning was gorgeous, perfect weather, and so I tagged along to Refugio Italia. Spectacular but difficult hike. And then I tagged along on the last day out via Refugio Lopez. I have to say it was one of the most beautiful hikes I have ever done, and I am very glad I went along. The refugios made it possible -- I am now a firm believer in the mountain hut system, especially when you have a habit of not planning anything.

I was going to upload a bunch of pictures from the trek, but the memory card in my camera seems to have caught a bit of a virus from one of the random internet cafe computers I have been using. The camera still takes and stores pictures just fine, but it is difficult to re-size them before the upload. Blah blah blah. I will have to track down an internet place that has virus protection software. I know they exist.

Let me see... I was going to leave Bariloche today and go to El Bolsón, but I met another climber during breakfast at the hostel, and we decided to head out to Piedras Blancas in the afternoon to get in a little climbing. Turned out to be a great day. Got in six short routes, most of them fun. Makes me want to climb more, but tomorrow I will almost definitely leave for El Bolsón, unless I meet another climber...

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2 Feb 2009 - 8:26:16 AM

I have to say that the change from intense desert heat to a more alpine temperature here in Bariloche is quite nice. I'm on the verge of Patagonia and can't wait to reach the end of the world, but in the mean time, I'll probably head up to a mountain hut tomorrow and spend a couple days up there, maybe get some climbing in. The 20 hour bus ride from Mendoza wasn't too bad, although my ipod battery ran out half-way through it. Bariloche seems to be all about outdoor activities: hiking, biking, climbing, kayaking, zip-lining, you name it. Chocolate, too. Yeah, I like Bariloche.

I got a little behind on my pictures, but finally took the time to upload a few more. They're mostly from Mendoza, but the last two are from the little bike ride I did yesterday afternoon. The Circúito Chico is a very popular, scenic ride, with all sorts of great viewpoints and lake access along the way. I did the detour to Colonia Suisa to check out the weekend arts fair and had an amazingly excellent lunch at the Restaurant Aire Sur. If you ever find yourself in Colonia Suisa, I highly recommend going there. Yum! It's tempting to rent a bike today, too, and go back there for another lunch...

wine snob
Rob the wine connoisseur at the Don Arturo winery -- Maipú, Argentina

very rustic
The quaintly rustic tasting room at the Casa Cecchina winery -- Maipú, Argentina

The wine tour also included a stop at an olive farm. I managed to resist the temptation to buy a big bottle of olive oil, even though that's just what I need in my pack while traveling. Maipú, Argentina.

Aconcagua, the highest mountain in the Americas -- Aconcagua, Argentina

scenic hotel
The old spa/hotel at these natural springs has been closed for quite some time -- Puente del Inca, Argentina

The Plaza España is chock full of colorful tiles -- Mendoza, Argentina

After a couple hours of climbing at El Vertedero, I wandered down to a nearby bridge where the locals have bolted up one of its stone supports, and got a couple of leads in. Buildering at its finest, except for all the graffiti and broken glass... Cacheuta, Argentina

circuito chico viewpoint
One of the viewpoints along the Circúito Chico. The big building is the Hotel Llao Llao. Bariloche, Argentina

lake escondido
A stop along the Cicúito Chico at Lake Escondido -- Bariloche, Argentina

Ah, that feels better, getting these pictures up. Now I need to go deal with some mortgage payment paperwork. Ugh. Don't they know I'm on vacation?

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