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We are doing our best to post a brief summary of our quarterly happenings for those of our friends and family who are interested. Enjoy!

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May-June 2015

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My goodness it has been a toasty spring and early summer! Our garden in about 3-4 weeks early which has been surprising, but quite a bit of fun! We’ve made several pies with rhubarb, strawberries, raspberries, and a few blueberries. We’re working on our pickling skills with our abundance of cucumbers, peas, and carrots.

We’ve been out for a few hikes, but honestly, it’s been a bit hot for us and Flint, so we’ve been pretty choosy about our trips and trails. The tent is set up in the backyard for the nights we can’t get the house cool enough.

Spent Memorial Day weekend in Bend and Deschutes National Forest. Enjoyed some beautiful scenery. We found a terrific dog park that Flint loved! There was a neat water feature where water misted out of a red fire hydrant.. and he loved it! He’s not a water boy, so that surprised us.

We’ve had some wonderful visitors in the last little while. Started out with Dave and PD. They got to enjoy some rare perfect May weather. Went to Mt Rainier, remnants of the tulip fields, out to Bainbridge Island, and some Seattle sites. Enjoyed a delicious meal that PD put together.

Next up were Tim and Anita. Visited the North Cascades which were unfortunately a little snowier than we’d hoped. Celebrated John’s birthday with everyone.

Josh came out for a few days. John and Josh did some hiking down at Rainier and up at Mt Baker. Looked like they had a great time!

Ran a 5K together with Flint. It benefited the Humane Society where we fell in love with him a little over a year ago.

We’re so glad we’ve been in town to enjoy this amazing weather, to work hard in our garden, relax in our new hammock, start bike riding again, and to explore.

Very belated Jan-Apr 2015

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We just wrote this whole blog… and then it disappeared, so we’ll try and recreate it..

This year has just gotten away from us! Months are rolling on by.

We rang in the new year with Shantanu and Rita by going out to dinner at a Tom Douglas restaurant. We’ve been here for a few years, but hadn’t checked out one of his many places here in town.  We snuck away from our grey gloomy days to visit friends and see some sun in Honolulu over MLK Jr weekend. It was a bit toasty, but it was so nice to be outside in shorts and to get out and do a little hiking. We had a chance to visit part of the Pearl Harbor National Historic Sites. It was also wonderful to see Fayez, Joel, and Matt, folks we hadn’t seen in years. Later in the month, Pooja and Rita went to see Grease, The Musical which wasn’t quite what we had expected, but was still a fun night out.

February was mostly spent prepping for our upcoming trip. We did go down to Olympia to watch Pooja’s good friend Caitlin perform as a viola soloist with the Olympia Symphony. She was amazing! And it was wonderful to see her family as well. Another fun thing we are trying to do this year is to take cooking lessons from Rita so that we can expand on the very basic understanding we have of Indian cooking. Our first lesson was in February, and we had a ball cooking up a storm. Turned out to be a delicious meal!

The majority of March was spent in Argentina. Lots of posts and photos about that on the site if you’re interested. Highlights were Iguazu Falls, the Salta Province, and Torres del Paine in Chile. Overall, it was a wonderful trip, but by the end, we were missing Flint and were ready to come home!

Settled back into a routine at home in April. Work was particularly trying for Pooja when she got back, making it a tough transition. Spring has been unusually warm and dry for us, and the blooms came up much earlier than normal. We made our annual trek up to the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival which was beautiful as always. The fields weren’t quite as muddy as usual since it hasn’t been as wet. Duke won the National Championship title for men’s basketball which was fun! The last weekend in April, we did a hike to Annette Lake in the Cascades. Still a bit of ice/snow on the trail, but Flint had a great time!

Looking forward to the remainder of spring and more sun and hours of daylight!

3/28/15 – Ushuaia

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We debated a bit about what to do today. Our legs are tired.. so we weren’t too excited about another big hike, but we couldn’t really think of anything else to do. The weather wasn’t perfect, so we scratched a few things off the list.

We decided to head up to Laguna de los Témpanos. On our way to the trailhead, we stopped and asked for directions. A man that lives at the bottom of the mountain pointed us in the right direction… and we also got to meet his litter of adorable puppies. They were just over 40 days old… and he was planning to take them into town to sell them soon.

The hike up was just as all of our Patagonian hikes have been – very steep and quite muddy. This time though they actually did a very nice job of placing logs and bridges. This hike isn’t even part of a park, so we were surprised that the trail was that nice. We essentially hiked up into a cloud, and it drizzled a little bit. The fall colors were spectacular. We reached the glacial lagoon and were unfortunately not able to see the majority of the mountain and glacier behind it, but we got a little taste at least.

Last night in Ushuaia tonight. Heading back to Buenos Aires tomorrow for a day before heading home.

3/26-3/27/15 – Parque Nacional Tierra del Fuego

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Took the bus in to national park this morning. We set up our tent, and then started on the trail. We did a hike up Cerro Guanaco, but got stuck in the mud… didn’t get to finish the hike after putting in a lot of sweat equity into a very, very steep trail. There was a decent overlook along the way. Did a hike along Lago Roca, a large lake that lies between Argentina and Chile.

Turned in early and finished up a book on cd that we’d been listening to on our drives.

Slept in late so that we could drop our bag off with the campground host and their office didn’t open until 10. Went to the Visitors Center with very low expectations. All of the visitors centers we have visited here have been quite lacking compared to what we are used to in our national parks. This one surprised us with great exhibits, dioramas, and information boards. We spent quite a bit of time here… and all the while we were hoping that the clouds and drizzle would stop (it didn’t). Then, we did a few short trails that turned out to be well worth it! Maybe better than the longer trails we did yesterday! Good views of the bay and nearby islands, a peat bog, and some pretty fall colors. It was so funny to be seeing the trees change… knowing that when we left home, our spring bulbs were coming up.  We walked to the end of Ruta 3, the southernmost highway in the world.

The park reminded us quite a bit of home. West Seattle, San Juan Islands, a little bit of the Olympic National Park. It’s been a good trip, but we’re looking forward to being home in a few days.

3/25/15 – Ushuaia

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Had a relaxing morning. It was grey, rainy morning. Good day for a museum! We headed to the Museo Marítimo y del Presideo de Ushuaia, a large museum housed in the old prison. Each wing had a different theme e.g. maritime history, Antarctica, Ushuaia, and of course, the prison. There were also some art exhibits, but we were pretty exhausted after exploring the rest of the museum. Ushuaia became a prominent town in Argentina with the establishment of the penal colony. There’s also a life-size replica of the lighthouse located at the beginning of the Beagle Channel on Isla de los Estados. The only remaining parts of the original prison railroad and engine  are also here.

In the middle of our museum exploration, we took a break to go eat lunch and do a walking tour of the city. The weather had cleared up a little bit. We went into a couple of smaller museums. One was located in a prominent historic home and housed a modern art exhibit. There was also a nice outdoor memorial to the Guerra de las Malvinas (Falkland Islands war). We ended our city tour with a walk around the harbor watching a few seals and  waterfowl. An Antarctic cruise also set sail.

We finished up at the Prison Museum and then headed to dinner. You guessed it… pizza. But it was actually really good!

Planning to go to Tierra del Fuego National Park tomorrow. Crossing our fingers for good weather!

3/24/15 – Ushuaia

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Nice flight from Calafate to Ushuaia today. It was a perfectly clear day and we could see all the way to Torres del Paine! We could also see Mt Fitz Roy… so at least we got to see it from a far. It was clouded in when we were up close.

The day was absolutely gorgeous in Ushuaia when we arrived. All of the locals seemed to be buzzing about it. We decided to take advantage of what appeared to be an unseasonably good day, and joined a boat ride of the Beagle Channel for the afternoon. We boarded a small boat with 10 other people and set off for a 4 hour tour through a few of the islands. The water was very still and the scenery was quite stunning! It was interesting to hear a bit more about the development of the channel, the native Yámana who used to live here, and the founding of Ushuaia, the southernmost city in the world! We even got our passports stamped at the visitors center with “El Fin del Mundo” or “the end of the world”.

We decided to cook ourselves dinner at our hostel as we are getting a bit tired of pizza, pizza, pizza. Had a great chat with a girl at our hostel from Germany about traveling.

 

3/23/15 – Glaciar Perito Moreno

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Drove out to Lago Roca to do part of a hike to an overlook of the glacier we planned to visit in the afternoon. We only hiked the first portion of Cerro Cristal because we got some good views of the glacier, surrounding mountains and lakes.

Next we headed to Glaciar Perito Moreno. It’s actually still growing in size. It’s expansiveness was quite breathtaking. We walked around the boardwalks and listened to the cracking and calving of ice for several hours. The top of it looks a bit like a blue cream pie with very peaked points. The small pieces of ice falling into the lake sounded like firecrackers or gunshots while the larger ones sounded like thunder. It was really fun to watch!

Dinner was so good last night at Pura Vida that we returned to the same restaurant again tonight. Had a great veggie lasagna and a fun dessert.

Heading off to Ushuaia for the last leg of our trip tomorrow!

3/22 – Back to El Calafate

Our last view of Torres del Paine

Our last view of Torres del Paine

Relaxing morning drive back to El Calafate. Lots faster coming back then it was going. We arrived several hours earlier than we’d expected. We debated about heading onward to our next stop, but decided to just take a day to relax. We found a much better campground than the last one we stayed at here. Enjoying the electricity, wifi, and nice facilities!

Had a nice lunch by the water and are planning to get a bite to eat for dinner.

Have been doing a little bit of trip planning for the last leg of our trip.

Nice quiet day.

3/21/15: Torres del Paine

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We had a slightly warmer night than the prior few… so that was nice.

Woke up quite early to pack up the tent and head down the road. We stopped a few times along the way as it was another beautiful sunrise. We arrived at our next trailhead around 9 or 9:30, set up our tent, and then got started on our hike up to Mirador las Torres. It was a beautiful day, but that made it quite toasty for all of the elevation gain. Not complaining though.. we got down to shorts and t-shirts!

The hike was primarily on ridges that followed a river. The last bit was like hiking through a steep river bed with lots of large rocks. Thankfully not nearly as muddy as our hike yesterday. The trail peaked at a field of large glacial scree that we scrambled through. We finally made it to the top and the towers and glacial lagoon were just gorgeous! We overheard one of the guides say that the towers have been clouded in for the last week… so we felt very lucky! We spent about an hour resting and staring… and then started to head back.

18km and a fair amount of elevation. Pooja got her first foot blister! Our feet are very much looking forward to a driving day tomorrow!

We were starving at the end of our hike and walked into a resort restaurant. It was rather quiet and we asked if we could sit down. We were asked to come back in an hour because they were having an event. We thought that meant it would be mellower in an hour. We went back to our tent and finished setting up.. munched on a few cookies.. and then went back. There were disco lights, loud music, and a packed house and we were scratching our heads about why were asked to come back at this time. We were pretty frustrated! We actually left and then came back to see if we could order food to go. Just after we ordered, a spot on a couch opened up so we snagged it. We ended up getting a bit of free food and drinks that were being offered for the event, and we had a delicious pizza (yes.. another pizza..) and got to watch a cocktail making contest between the different lodging companies. Turned out to be a better night than we’d expected after the run around.

3/20/15: Torres del Paine

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Our hopes came true! John poked his head out of the tent just before sunrise and he said he thought it would be an amazing one… which meant Pooja got ready instead of sleeping in. It really was a beautiful morning with a nearly the entire range in view, and a few pink clouds. John thinks it was one of the most beautiful sunrises he has ever seen.

Then, we hopped in the car and headed toward the catamaran ride which took us across Lake Péhoe. This boat ride circumvents about a day’s worth of hiking which we didn’t have time for in our schedule. We hiked up into Valle del Francés and enjoyed the intimate views of the mountains. The weather was perfect apart from spurts of high winds. We weren’t able to hike the entire valley because of a snow closure, but we put in somewhere around 17 or 18km. Filled up our water bottles from the glacial rivers… which is encouraged in the park. Most of the hike was quite muddy… like 5-6 inches of wet mud. Could have used some gaiters! We did our best to dance around the mud pools. Sort of a bummer… there’s a lot of foot traffic on this particular trail and they could really use some cheap bridges!

Along the way, Pooja stopped dead in her tracks when she came face to face with a coworker! They were allowing each other to pass on the trail… and then realized they knew each other! Pooja had no idea Anne was going to be in Chile with her family, so it was quite the surprise.

With very tired feet, we returned to the catamaran. The whole day had been so wonderful… but we did have one hiccup. We were one of the first ones on the boat, and they load all the backpacks in a stack. Ours was on the very bottom… and somebody’s bag above leaked red wine ALL OVER the bags below. Yuck.

Had a quiet dinner at the small restaurant at our campground. We had the same sweet waiter as our prior meal at the restaurant. He remembered our order from a day ago (there’s basically only one or two veggie options…) which is impressive because he sees a lot of faces in one day with all of the tour groups that come through and have lunch there.

Another long day of hiking ahead tomorrow…

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