Tuesday, November 27, 2012

A new beginning

If anyone out there is still reading this blog after more than two years, shame on you! Go out and get yourself a life. Do not continue reading . . . seriously don't. It isn't worth your time.

I am taking this blog back up as an outlet. Grad school has created a vast chasm in my soul or perhaps just brought its existence to my attention. In either case, something must be done and so yet another self important blog begins . . . again . . . for the second time. Maybe it will turn into something but it is far more likely that I will never post again after today. Nevertheless, there is something freeing about writing about inner turmoil and then sending out into the ether via the far reaching fingers of the internet so I am going to do it.

This blog will now be a compilation of whatever I want to write about for the day. I am hoping that just forcing myself to write a little bit of non-academic non-jargon realpeoplespeak will help me learn to write faster when I do have to sit down and punch out a draft in a couple of hours. Also, this may be just the thing I need to keep from turning into a scholar robot. Therefore I make no promises of spelling or grammar as this is my "no thinking" time. A distraction. A breath. Freedom.

I will include the occasional photo, video, or link to a noteworthy article that I want to rant about.


oh wait . . .

Red pandas are the best.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

NOT DEAD . . . Again

Greetings Readers,

Yes, there were more earthquakes in Chile today. No, we are not in Chile. Yes, we did feel them. Yes, we are all okay. Worry not dear ones! More info to come soon.


Morgan and Doug and Cynthia

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Ushuaia Trek

For simplicity's sake I am going to pretty much transcribe my moleskin notes, with some minor changes, for you here so that you can catch up with what's been going down so far. This means that this entry will be both poorly written and unfunny. Please bear with me. Now the set up is thus: I am waiting alone in the Rio Gallegos bus station to catch my 36 hour bus ride to Cordoba so that I can hop on a plane to Chicago and hopefully charm my way into Northwestern. Without further ado I present idiot ramblings:

Sitting in the bus terminal if Rio Gallegos again. A lot has changed since my first night here. We left Bariloche with the intention of heading all the way south to Ushuaia and then working our way back north. And that's what we did . . . kind of.

We did make it all the way down to Ushuaia and did a few days of sitting around before getting our act together enough to begin our trek, Paso del Oveja. It was supposed to be a three day trek through the high valley behind Ushuaia. We opted to add on a trip to Glacier Vinciguerra on the first day. The Glacier and lake below it were beautiful. I think that was my first real glacier experience, that I can remember anyway. Unfortunately, it rained most of the first day and even though we dropped our packs in the bushes before we made our final ascent to the glacier, everything we had was wet. After the glacier we had to make a decision as to whether to try the harrowing pass over the next ridge and down to Laguna Encantada where we thought we would camp or to try and go back the way we came. Now, I should tell you the trail up was very muddy and slippery on our way up. And after all this rain it was very apparent that trying to go back down would be some sort of mucky mayhem I was not interested in. So after some initial hesitation and waffling on my part, we decided to go up and over.

The pass was without a trail and really consisted of us spreading out and looking for footprints or other signs of human life. Eventually we made it down into the forest although we were all already soaked. We continued towards the lake but when we came to the edge of the protection of the trees, Cyndi and I said NO. Doug dropped his pack and went ahead to check out the campsites at the lake. His report was dismal and we decided to continue down towards the path we would need to take tomorrow to continue the trek. Along the way we decided to camp on the side of the trail, not really kosher but it was a necessity.

We were all soaking wet and freezing so someone had the brilliant idea to try and start a small fire. We were not in an official park area so there was no clear direction as to the legality of this action. Cyndi was put in charge of fire making. Her skills up until this point were untested . . . except for a failed venture at the camp ground in Puerto Madryn. This time, she was a little too good at her job and she got a tad overzealous with the fuel. The fire she had manages to start in a dry patch under a large fallen tree got too big for its small space and began to catch the log above it. It was quickly decided that as nice as the fire had been for the first few minutes, we needed to put it out. We dumped out most of our water putting out the fire and had to roll the tree over to assure Cyndi that she would not be responsible for some sort of major forest fire incident. In retrospect, I'm not sure what we were thinking but at least we know Cyndi has some mad skills when it comes to starting fires is wet conditions.

While Cyndi was managing el fuego, Doug and I were preparing dinner. We ate hamburger patties, bread, cucumber, cilantro, and tomato with mustard and salsa de golf (a ketchup mayo combination that ends up tasting a little like thousand islands). Although, not in any hamburger like style, more piecemeal. It tasted amazing, probably not because of the actual quality but more because we were starving. It rained all through dinner and we decided that due to the weather and the untested quality of Cyndi’s new second hand sleeping bag the night would be better spent sharing a tent the three of us. We then delegated Cyndi’s tent as the stuff tent and began to make preparations for bed.

All wet clothes had to be removed prior to entering the sleeping tent so the protocol for entry became something like this: crouch down in entry way of tent, strip to underwear (maybe long, maybe not), fall over at least one to two times, try to scrape off mud and twigs accumulating on your butt, hand clothes out to someone who would run them to the stuff tent, stumble clumsily into the tent leaving all manner of wetness and dirt outside. Due to a situation with sleeping pads and a number of other factors, we decided that Doug should sleep in the middle. This worked out well for him in the end as you will soon see. We stayed up for a while playing guessing games and talking. It was so much fun, like your first sleep over away from home with no parents to tell you to go to bed. Unfortunately, it rained all night and because we were three people in a two person tent, Cyndi and I’s sleeping bags were pressed against the wall, and the condensation on the tent dripped through and got our bags pretty wet. Lucky Doug managed to stay dry.

During our slumber party powwow we decided to bag the rest of the trek since the rain wasn’t letting up and we had no way of getting our stuff to dry out. The hike out that morning wasn’t too bad but we had to walk a good part of the way back down the road towards Ushuaia. Waiting for the cab to come, we could smell the Sunday asados (large family bbq’s) being prepared along the way. The scent of roasting meats wafting across the way is pretty torturous when you are crawling out of the wilderness after a cold night but we continued on with visions of tenedor libre (literally, “free fork” or all you can eat steakhouses) in our heads.

So ends the story of our Ushuaia trek. More entries to come!

Friday, February 26, 2010

Follow-up videos.

I wanted to include this video of Doug Cliff Jumping in Mindo. enjoy

Strait of Magellan through Torres del Paine

Click here to view these pictures larger

Bariloche and Trekking

Click here to view these pictures larger

Bariloche Trek: The end of Day 2 and Day 3

Note: For Day 1 and Day 2 of this trek please see Cyndi's blog and Doug's blog.

Day 2: After a very long day with two arduous climbs and slippery descents we are all more than a little tuckered out. We were also suffering from grunger (grumpy-hunger) so severe we were functioning at the level of four year olds which should have precluded us from using matches let alone a temperamental and wholly unreliable camping stove . . . but it didn't. After fumbling with the stove for a while, and by a while I mean at least an hour, we finally got some water boiling.

Our plan was to make what we fondly refer to as "Sh** in a pot" or "stuff in a pot" depending on who is saying it. What this means is we probably collected a number of different canned items (in this case lentils and peas) some sort of carbohydrate (brown rice), meat (tuna), and some form of seasoning (a chicken and vegetable bullion cube) and cook it all up together in the pot. Well, the other times we have tried it, this has actually turned out pretty good. Unfortunately, the can of tuna we used was about the fishiest thing I have ever experienced, and I've spent countless hours at aquariums and gone scuba diving on the Great Barrier Reef so that's really saying something.

It pretty much single handedly ruined dinner and if it weren't for the fear of starvation I think we probably would have thrown it out. In order to try and make it edible we doused it in chimichuri seasoning which didn't make it tasted good but it did make it swallowable. I ate only enough to stop the pain in my stomach. Doug and Cyndi tried to eat a second serving just to get rid of it and both gave up part way through. At least it was enough to let us fall asleep.

Day 3: There are only a few photos from this day. Mostly because we just wanted to get out of there and find some food. This is sad because it really was a beautiful day. Our exit included lovely waterfalls, a river crossing with rope and rock hopping, and leapfrogging with another group that included some of our friends from Hostel Patagonia. We walked down through a lovely valley along a clear blue river carrying the glacial waters down to the lakes of Bariloche. Some of the forest was beautiful thick pine and some was light bamboo with paper thin leaves (no pandas). Our bad attitudes and need to complain kept bringing us down and we really weren't enjoying our hike down. Everything we did was about getting us out of there and were losing sight of the experience.

It was getting extremely hot and we were becoming very uncomfortable. At one point, climbing
slowly down a sandy and dangerous slope Cyndi glanced over the edge down towards the river and said "Let's jump in." Now some of you may not know this but Cliff Jumping is becoming a clan tradition among the three of us so as soon as she said it we knew we had to do it. Our first jump (to right, that little pink blot in the waterfall is me) was the summer we met in Ecuador, during our visit to the cloud forest town of Mindo. Our most recent was this last summer when we took an expedition to Emerald Pools near Truckee off I-80 outside Sac-town. As usual, Doug went first after I headed down to scope out the depth of the jump zone (that's right, I'm the safety inspector. Yes, we have one of those. We're not entirely crazy). There are no photos of this jump because we had no bathing suits so we jumped in our skivvies. Needless to say, this family tradition never fails to bring us closer together and wake us up to the amazing world around us. And that water is soooooo cold!!!!

The rest of the hike was much more manageable after being cooled off by the river. This did not prevent us from getting lost at the end of the day when we could not find the town where we were supposed to come out. Tensions rose as we became more confused after happening upon an unmarked road. We reverted to our hot and whiny state. Luckily, we were able to hitch a ride in the back of a pick up to the nearest bus station back to Bariloche proper. While waiting for the bus we made a daring road crossing to get to a little Kiosko that sold cold water and Popsicles and we felt better after that.

All in all it was a very successful trek. You can check out my photos in the Bariloche and Trekking album on my shutterfly account through the slide shows I post every now and then. Another post coming soon regarding all the goodness that has gone on since that first trek . . . including a trip to the end of the earth, a failed trek, what is possibly the most beautiful park in South America, and a whirlwind adventure back to the Windy City, Chicago, my first grad school acceptance (woohoo!!!), and my first grad school rejection (UCLA can kiss my bum).