Monday, February 8, 2016

On Crying

From about age 15-30 I don't think I cried. And I kind of noticed it near the end of that time frame, but didn't really think anything of it. I noticed how people who did cry seemed to be different from me. I just wasn't an emotional guy.

In the past few years I have been crying noticeably more - usually weekly or a few times per month. I have actually cried 4 times in the past 8 days -- yes, I started keeping track (via the Way of Life app). 

Note: when I say "crying" I mean getting teary-eyed. Sometimes it's a bit more than that but I've yet to reach the point of all-out bawler.

Why the emotional evolution?

My mom died from ovarian cancer fifteen years ago when I was 31. It was a sad time for our family and it seems to have acted as a lever that cracked me open emotionally, if only just a sliver at first. In the decade that followed I noticed myself tearing up a couple times a year and I remember it as always being around a memory of her. Usually I'd be alone, maybe driving along a lonesome country road and something, a song or the landscape, would trigger a memory of her. I'd think of all the things in the lives of myself and my sister that she didn't get to experience with us. It was a sense of loss.

That level of emotion lasted about a decade for me.

Between five and ten years ago the only other thing that would moisten my eyes was hearing a story of sacrifice -- like perhaps a story of someone in the Army who gave their life to save the lives of his fellow soldiers. For me it was not about the patriotism or about America, it was about the personal sacrifice for others.

Loss. Sacrifice.

More recently, as an example, I got emotional reading about the Save the BWCA people -- a couple who is spending a year living in the majestic Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness of Minnesota in order to help protect the ecosystem from mining and the pollution it inevitably brings. It's such a beautiful place that made a tremendous impression on me as a teenager and I'm thankful for those who are fighting for it. I'm so thankful, in fact, that I might get an odd stare from a stranger while wiping my eyes in some Argentinian hostel.

Traveling through Patagonia provided me with so many moments of terrific natural beauty, and the fact that I was able to experience it meant that it was inevitably intertwined with my gratitude for the ability to do so.

Beauty. Gratitude.

But I think the more interesting point is that I am also appreciating it. I cry because I finally got to a point in life where I appreciate that these things -- loss, sacrifice, beauty, gratitude -- are special to me. I cry because my emotions now have a clear path for their cleansing message.  I see it as personal growth, perhaps as a barometer of comfort with myself.

I will leave you with this bit of Lebowski wisdom...


Friday, February 5, 2016

Bicycle Touring Chilean Patagonia

I spent the past 3 weeks or so bicycle touring through Chilean Patagonia along the Caretera Austral. The Caretera Austral is a mostly gravel road that is the only link from around the middle of Chile down to the south.

This was the first time I'd bike toured for more than 2 nights and it was filled with magical moments as well as a lot of sweat and dust and one stinky cyclist.

The trip began in El Chalten, Argentina which is where I purchased this bike from a Spanish gentleman who had been cycling around South America for more than a year. The Casa de Ciclistas you see in this photo is part of a network of people around the world who open their home or backyard to touring cyclists for merely a donation.

This next photo is typical of the route. Gorgeous scenery -- mountains, rivers, waterfalls, forests, lakes, glaciers. Patagonia. It looks like I'm on a fairly decent stretch of gravel here. No washboards and it isn't too loose. Many parts of the road involved very steep hills, soft gravel, washboards or buses kicking up lots of dust.


The first few days were quite difficult riding and also involved a couple ferry crossings and a remote border crossing from Argentina to Chile where I pushed the bike uphill for 6km through some steep and deeply gorged singletrack. This campsite was while waiting for a thrice weekly ferry across Lago O'Higgins. When I put up the tent I didn't realize that there were horses around who like to nuzzle there.


Doug Tompkins is the founder of The North Face and he and his wife are great conservationists in Patagonia. They have been buying up land, building infrastructure, and then donating it back to Chile as new national parks. The first one they did is called Parque Pumalin and it is quite gorgeous. Like many places around the globe, large resource extraction companies would love to get their hands on this land to strip it of minerals and build dams. The Tompkins' are heroes of conservation.

Unfortunately, but also somewhat heroically, Mr. Tompkins died a few months ago at age 77 while kayaking on a lake in Patagonia when large waves capsized his boat and he became hypothermic. But what a way to go: kayaking in Patagonia at age 77 amidst beautiful land that you preserved for future generations. The nice campsite pictured to the right in Parque Pumalin cost me $3 for the night.

Earlier that day I had the pleasure of one of the coolest hikes of my life. The luscious flora in this region is like nothing I've seen before. Some of the trees are massive 1,000-year old redwoods that are clothed in all sorts of mosses and lichens and ferns growing on their trunk and branches. And the trail itself, less than 2 miles long, is made mostly of wooden boardwalks and stair/ladders that make every step a grand adventure.

In the leftmost photo in this first collage, the left part of the photo is a tree.

It felt like something out of Raiders of the Lost Ark and you can bet your bottom dollar I was keeping my eyes peeled for massive, perfectly spherical, rolling boulders.

The next day was partially spent at this gorgeous black sand beach that seriously had dolphins flipping and playing not 100' offshore. It was just me and the dolphins with no other people in sight. Heavenly...except...it was also swarming with these demon-red horseflies. I took out a squadron or two, but they just kept coming. This whole area is full of volcanoes and in 2008 one about 10km from this beach (and inside Parque Pumalin) erupted and covered the area in ash. The local port town of Chaiten had 4,000 residents before the blast and less than 1,000 today, 90% of whom seem to own hostels or travel guide agencies for travelers like me.


A few days later on the island of Chiloe, I encountered another of the reasons that I love travel -- the surprise community event of personal interest. I turned off the main (recently paved) road back onto gravel to access a small town and a place to throw down my tent for the night. Down the road a piece and across a field I spied a collection of about 100 people, a number of pick'em up trucks and some horses. As I got closer I realized there was a horse race going on tonight. The track was 3 lanes wide and about 100m long. The sun was setting and photos were difficult, but these two turned out pretty well.

This is the championship race and the only race I caught. Apparently there were 3 or 4 more qualifying heats earlier in the evening. The jockeys are young men and they're essentially bareback, using only a thin foam pad and no stirrups. I had a couple beers and by far the best empanadas I've had on this trip. Stumbling upon situations like this is one of the things I absolutely love about travel.

My bike trip wound down in the town of Castro. Castro is a charming seaside village full of houses built right on the water and a number of nice wooden churches.

I've decided that this was a great bike adventure but that I do not wish to continue by bike all over South America. Not that I'm in a rush or anything, but the travel is quite slow and Chile is such a long nation that it really takes awhile to travel between sights of interest. Now I've settled down in a nice little hostel in Puerto Montt and I'm trying to sell the bicycle. I wish it were easy to just take the bike with me and ride it or not whenever I please, but the logistics of bus travel with bicycle make that difficult. I do love bicycles, though, and expect to do more bicycle touring elsewhere in my travels.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Bucket List

I'm taking a few years to travel the world and hope to continue to live a life of consistent wonder and discovery. I've been reading the blogs of other world travelers in order to learn about places to visit and gather wisdom on the lifestyle. Some of them have their bucket list displayed on their website and we can follow along as they check them off: go skydiving. check. see the Taj Mahal. check. swim with dolphins. check.

Last year I decided to write down my bucket list and I will share it here:

1. Fall in love. Mutually. With, you know, a woman. 

Aside from youthful puppy love with my first girlfriend, I have never been in love. It is the one void in my life that I would really like to fill. This is the one area of my life that I really feel like I'm missing out on something special (perhaps along with being one of those people who actually enjoys their work/job). One of the reasons I'm traveling the world is because it was extremely difficult for me to mutually connect with a woman over the course of many dates in the last 15 years. I'm hoping that if I better understand myself and lead a life that is more close to my authentic self that it will be easier to meet the right person who also understands herself and is living authentically. And when I say "understand myself" and "live authentically", I really mean being able to go beyond what society deems as normal or expected of us. I mean digging deep to understand who we truly are and what we truly believe when unfettered by the pressures of society or our parents or the Joneses next door.

When I was going on countless first dates, there was always this barrier for me of: she has a career she likes or she has two dogs or she just bought a house. These are all signs of someone who does not appear to be compatible with the abnormal life I'm interested in living. At the time, however, I could not have articulated it as such. It was buried down in my subconscious and only recently have I been able to bring that part of me to the surface where I really understand it. It took me more than 20 years after college to unlearn much of what I was taught (read more about that here).

Love. It has eluded me. I hope I'm getting closer to experiencing it. It is #1 on my bucket list.

2. Achieve pretty good mindfulness

TV's "Brain Games"
What I mean by this is that I want to have a clear head. I want to quiet my monkey mind that's always chattering in my head about stuff that really doesn't matter. I want to be able to thoughtfully respond to potentially challenging or shocking comments instead of just immediately reacting, without thought, often in a negative or unhelpful manner.

I wrote a little about this when I was hiking the Pacific Crest Trail in 2014. Being alone on the trail with nothing to do but walk for 8-10 hours a day for weeks allowed me to better understand what my brain is doing. Mostly, it's doing a lot of worthless crap. I plan to write more about this in the future, about what science understands about our brain and how the brain is not the perfectly evolved instrument that we sometimes believe it to be. For more see Daniel Kahneman's book "Thinking Fast and Slow" or the TV show "Brain Games" that is available on Netflix.

Bottom line: our brain is not always our friend (it likes to take shortcuts) and it behooves us to better understand how it really works.

3. Spend regular, quality time with a couple close friends

Friends are fun. 
Relationships are vitally important to happiness. 
As I've matured, however, the number of good friends I spend time with on a day-to-day basis has drastically declined. In grade school and high school and college I was always surrounded by friends. In my twenties I lived with roommate friends. In my later twenties many of my friends were getting married. Some were moving to different cities. In my thirties it felt like time to buy my own home because we all knew that (1) professional adults own homes and (2) renting is like throwing your money away. My thirties were spent living alone in a condominium while my few remaining single friends also bought homes of their own. At this point gatherings of friends were the occasional happy hour after work or going to a bar at night, perhaps to see live music, or to a hockey game. The gatherings always involved alcohol.

In recent years I've been (1) at a stage in life where most potential friends have a life partner or children, and (2) not spending much time in any one place. As a forty-something vagabond introvert it is not easy to make deep, lasting friendships. Pretty much all the new friends I made in the past 15 years I made in Bozeman, MT and some of them don't live there anymore either.

This bucket list item appears to clash with my current lifestyle. It might need to wait until I either settle down somewhere for awhile, fall in love with a new best friend (see #1 above) or until my lifestyle re-aligns with other long-term friends.

4. Help a friend accomplish something on their bucket list

I think this one is pretty self-explanatory. It would be great to help a friend accomplish something important in their life. This sort of action would deepen a friendship and make me feel good, both of which are desirable things. Plus I'm sure I would learn something either about my friend or about a new place or activity that would also enrich my life.

5. Work to help something I believe in

This is another one of those items that falls under the category of both loving and selfish. I won't get into whether true selflessness actually exists or not. Did Mother Theresa devote her life to helping people because she was completely selfless, or did she do it because it made her feel good? It doesn't really matter. It helps us feel worthy as a human being to think that we are making the world a better place, whatever our definition of "better" is. So maybe it's worthiness I'm looking for. If I had children of my own then I imagine I would devote much of my life to encouraging them to be full of love and generosity. I don't have children but I still want to make some sort of positive impression on the world. It probably stems from a selfish place, but I'm okay with that.

During my travels, I'm hoping to find a new passion -- a cause or a place or a woman (hopefully more than one at the same time) -- that will force me to change any plans I had made. For the cause, I could see it being something related to the conservation of nature or education. I dunno, but I think I'll know it when I see it.


So that's my bucket list. If your bucket list also includes "help someone accomplish something on their bucket list", then by all means feel free to introduce me to your cute, single female friend who enjoys a life of consistent discovery and wonder.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Torres del Paine National Park

The past 5 days were spent trekking through Torres del Paine National Park in Patagonian Chile. Here's a quick photo dump while I have a moment online.

Puerto Natales is the town from which one departs for Torres del Paine. There used to be giant sloths here like my new friend...

Approaching the mountains of Torres del Paine via trail from the south...


At camp one morning. The hiking here is quite popular in the peak season of Jan-Feb. The trails were actually fairly crowded, which feels weird when traveling so far from home. A reminder that the middle of nowhere is always somebody's home.

Jamee is a friend from Denver and she and I did this trip together. We spent 5 days in the park with the Torres (below) being one of the highlights. 



Another highlight included seeing many natural avalanches coming down this mountain, some of which were quite large. It was super cool. I don't believe I've ever seen a completely natural avalanche before, only ones that were triggered by humans for safety at or around ski areas. This is the mountain that was dropping avalanches all day long.

And finally, this little video was shot on Day 3 after hiking up the middle tine of the W trek to this amazing 360-degree cathedral atop Britannico valley. I call it "Patafuckingonia!"


In red is the hike we did from east to west, with the tail to the south on the final day. 





Thursday, January 7, 2016

Perito Moreno, Big Ass Glacier

About 80 km outside of El Calafate, Argentina sits Perito Moreno glacier and it's pretty amazing and huge. I had the pleasure of visiting the other day.

Some stats:

  • 97 sq. miles of surface area ice
  • 19 miles long
  • 3 miles wide
  • 150' high (and 4x that height below water) 
  • It's actually growing, proving that global warming is just another liberal plot to destroy successful businesses.


It was calving a little bit, but not as frequently as the glacier I visited in Alaska some years back. Most of the action was way around the right edge of this picture, out of site of the viewing platforms.



Plans From The Tail of the Americas

Here's a quick status update on where I am and where I'm going.

For the last couple days I've been in Punta Arenas, Chile, where I am now gazing out over the Magellan Strait. As you'll recall from 8th grade world history class, Ferdinand Magellan was the first to sail around dangerous Cape Horn and he did so in 1520, dodging sea monsters all the while. Understandably, they love Magellan around here. Here he is along with his namesake Strait which is right outside my window.

I've met my friend Jamee here. Jamee works in Antarctica for a few months each year and I know her from Denver, CO. She works on a research boat and I took a tour of the boat this morning. Pretty cool, though most of the science was way over my head. Mostly stuff about water and microbes and fish and core samples of mud.

Tomorrow Jamee and I head north on a bus for 3 hours to Puerto Natales, Chile. From Puerto Natales we will access Torres del Paine National Park, another amazing spectacle of rock, ice and water. Hoping for good weather and more great photos to follow.

After 3 nights camping in the park I am heading back to El Chalten, Argentina where I was last week accessing Cerro Torre and Fitz Roy. For that is where my new bicycle awaits me!
I bought this bike last week from The Adventure Junkies Antonio and Amanda. They are a Spanish gentleman and California woman who have been biking around Latin America for over a year. I found them because I follow their website and they recently mentioned that they were biking around Bariloche, Argentina where I was a couple weeks ago. I reached out to ask if they or any of their readers knew how I could score a bicycle down here. It turned out that they are wrapping up the bicycle portion of their journey and that we were going to be in El Chalten at the same time. Pretty cool. So I am now the proud owner of a Koga Signature World Traveler bicycle. Koga is a Dutch manufacturer of quality bicycles. The bike has been well taken care of and I was able to acquire it with everything -- panniers, tools, spare tubes, etc.

With the bicycle my plan is to ride north at least to Santiago (about 2000 km). If I like it I will keep going. If I don't like it I will stop. I will ride along the Carretera Austral which is, for much of Chile, the only north-south road. It is 1200 kilometers of gravel, and if you know me then you know I couldn't be much more excited about that. And it'll begin, for me, with a 6k hike-a-bike up and over the border pass from Argentina into Chile and a couple ferry boat rides to get to Villa O'Higgins (as shown on map below).
As a result of its epic coolness, it sees a fair amount of long-distance cyclists and it sounds like most days I will see another. There are also plenty of small towns or villages along the way, so most days I will be able to buy food, and there are endless places to camp in my tent, which is what I'll be doing most nights.

Fun!

Majestic Fitz Roy or Gratitude, Part Deux

As I hiked closer and closer to majestic Fitz Roy I was overcome with emotion around how lucky I was to be there and how grateful I am for the people that helped make it possible. 

I've met many Europeans whose discussion of Syrian refugees helps me understand the fortune, good or bad, that is bestowed upon us by something as fundamental and out of our control as our birthplace. For those refugees, it will likely be generations before any of their descendants have the opportunity to travel to a place like Patagonia. For me, I'm benefiting from the fact that my grandparents and great-grandparents endured the struggle of emigration decades ago. For this I am extremely grateful.

 I am also grateful for the rest of my family, friends and mentors who each helped guide my development in their own way, whether they are actually proud of the results or not. As a race we are still figuring out parenting, but each generation does a little better than the prior. My parents did their best and I wish I would have been able to learn more before they died about their experience of parenting.  
The hike to Fitz Roy was amazing. It is only about 6 miles from the town of El Chalten, Argentina and is accessible for almost all hikers on a moderately easy trail. The peak is visible from town and beckons one closer. It is also visible for much of the hike, enriching the whole experience by lengthening the wonder.

I have much to be thankful for.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Gratitude

As I hiked closer and closer to legendary Cerro Torre I was overcome with emotion around how lucky I was to be there and how grateful I am for the people that helped make it possible. I've met many Europeans whose discussion of Syrian refugees helps me understand the fortune, good or bad, that is bestowed upon us by something as fundamental and out of our control as our birthplace. For those refugees, it will likely be generations before any of their descendants have the opportunity to travel to a place like Patagonia. For me, I'm benefiting from the fact that my grandparents and great-grandparents endured the struggle of emigration decades ago. For this I am extremely grateful.


I am also grateful for the rest of my family, friends and mentors who each helped guide my development in their own way, whether they are actually proud of the results or not. As a race we are still figuring out parenting, but each generation does a little better than the prior. My parents did their best and I wish I would have been able to learn more before they died about their experience of parenting. 

The hike to Cerro Torre was magical. It is only about 6 miles from the town of El Chalten, Argentina and is accessible for almost all hikers on a moderately easy trail. The spire is visible from town and beckons one closer. It is also visible for much of the hike, enriching the whole experience by lengthening the wonder.

I have much to be thankful for.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

In Patagonia

Never did I think that a 20-hour bus ride could be so enjoyable. I'm staring out of a moving picture window in my front row seat on the upper deck of a double decker luxury coach. There are guanacos (similar to llama or alpaca) and jackrabbits and rheas (similar to ostrich or emu) darting across the road as we wind our way east and west and south toward the epic peaks of Cerros Torre and Fitz Roy. Next to me sits a young beach blonde couple from San Diego and several rows behind me is my new German friend whose extraversion is being severely tested as my introversion celebrates.


I'm in Big Sky Patagonia, a landscape that feels like eastern Montana but with guanacos and rheas instead of pronghorn and goshawks. The guanacos leap easily over the fences that must be meant for only the sheep. I assume they are free-range and are owned by some rancher who gathers them regularly for shearing, but I hope they are more like the antelope of Paradise Valley near Yellowstone National Park and are free to live their own lives. The sky is so big that last night I was looking down on the clouds at the horizon from my elevated perch in the bus. 

The tangerine dawn rustled me awake at 4:40am after a short night that allowed me just enough sleep to enjoy today's views. I put Morphine's album Cure For Pain on my headphones because the first song is "Dawna" and this is a gorgeous dawn. I'd forgotten that on the third track Morphine would sing to me "I'm free now / free to look out the window / free to live my story / free to sing along". I listened again and again on repeat as I wept with pride and joy and a love of life.

The road is dirt for a stretch, now gravel. It used to be paved back when it was closer to where I came from. It is always thin and lonely, like the shy girl in the back of class who doesn't talk much, but when she does it is clear she is smarter than you.

This part of the world has always fascinated me. But, like the Himalaya, it always seemed so far away and so remote. I'm now in El Chalten, a cute access town just an easy day hike from legendary Fitz Roy. It's awesome. I'm in love.


Monday, December 21, 2015

Buenos Aires & Bariloche Photo Dump

Here are some more photos from my final days in Buenos Aires and a couple days in Bariloche. Bariloche is in northern Patagonia in the Andes mountains about a 2 hour plane ride from Buenos Aires.

This is the town of Tigre, about 30 miles north of Buenos Aires. It is on the delta of the Rio Plata and has a cool network of river channels. There are many boats, rowboats, and kayaks plying the river.

Flor was my Spanish teacher in Buenos Aires and Daniel is my Austrian buddy who was in class with me for four weeks. Three people told me yesterday that they were impressed with my Espanol after only a month of studying. Kudos to Flor!


My final night in Buenos Aires was a late on. This photo was taken around 4am, I believe. Left to Right is yours truly, Daniel, Sandra (German) and Peter (Swiss). They are all friends from the Spanish school.


This photo was taken at the Hard Rock Cafe at the smaller of two airports in Buenos Aires. It is clear by the axe that this establishment falls lower on the Hard Rock totem pole. The plaque reads: Adrian Vandenberg, Whitesnake. Apparently David Coverdale's flowing locks and Tawny Kitaen's dress from the "Here I Go Again" video were unavailable.


On to Bariloche, Argentina in the mountains. Feels more comfortable than being in the big city for a month. Went on an awesome bike ride yesterday along the roads that twist near some amazing lakes and mountains. It felt a lot like Banff or Glacier N.P. but with about 1/20th the people. I also finally found quality craft beer in Argentina. Some of the brews in Buenos Aires were seriously gag-inducing, but Gilbert Cerveceria has a kickass IPA that suits my American taste for some bitter hoppiness.

Beauty. Not me...try to tear your eyes away from me and see beyond...

Tomorrow I'm heading to El Bolson which is a small town of about 10,000 just about two hours south of here by bus. It started as a hippie commune in the '60s so it'll be a good place to relax for a bit. I'll stay there through Christmas, do some hiking, and chill out. Need to work on my book, too. After that I'll head to El Chalten where I have a line on a used touring bicycle that I will be able to ride up through Chile to Santiago. Hopefully the bike fits me alright. But before heading north I'm meeting a friend from Denver who works on a research ship in Antarctica. She'll be in Punta Arenas, Chile and we are going to go backpacking in Torres del Paine national park for a few days. Epic pics to follow.





Thursday, December 17, 2015

Hasta Luego, Buenos Aires

Time sure flies when you're studying Spanish in a foreign nation. Can it be that I've already spent a month in Buenos Aires? This is now officially the longest term travel I've ever made, and sorry United States, but I just don't miss you enough to come back yet.

Initial Goals of Beginning Long-Term Travel Adventure With One Month in Buenos Aires, Argentina

  1. Learn enough of the Spanish language to travel more comfortably throughout Latin America
  2. Get to know Buenos Aires, which I had heard many good things about
  3. Meet other travelers
  4. Get my feet wet in the most Europeanized city in Latin America

Goal 1: Learn some basic Spanish

Mission accomplished. 
Four weeks was enough to get me through the semi-complicated different present tenses and through the fairly simple past tense. I definitely learned plenty to get around comfortably and hold simple conversations, but still my sentence formulation comes quite slowly, too slowly for practical use with strangers who aren't complete saints or have lost their sense of time. That will just take more practice and I might study again for a few weeks in Santiago, Chile or Medellin, Colombia in the new year.

Goal 2: Get to know Buenos Aires

Mission accomplished, at least at the level of someone who isn't living here long term. Buenos Aires is a friendly, large, loud, beautiful, stately night owl. It is not too dissimilar from most other cities around the world of 8-10 million people. It is thoughtful enough to have wonderful parks and plazas. It is friendly enough so that people are quite comfortable being in close contact with each other. The people, Portenos, are very considerate of others and work well in their density. Like, I think, most Latin or Spanish nations, it is a place where people eat lunch at 2:30, dinner at 10pm and don't show up at the nightclub until 2am where they party until past dawn.


Goal 3: Meet other travelers

Mission accomplished. Through the Spanish school I met a handful of terrific new friends that I hope to keep in touch with. I know it can be difficult, however, when everyone moves on to different parts of the world and next steps in life. But at least I plan on coming through their hometowns at some point in the coming years, so we will do our best.

Goal 4: Get my traveling feet wet

Mission accomplished. Buenos Aires is plenty different from Denver or Bozeman or St. Paul, but still similar enough to Chicago or New York that it is fairly easy for the American traveler to feel comfortable here. I am very much looking forward to visiting smaller cities, though, and doing some hiking in the Andes mountains. It seems the more I mature in life the more comfortable I am in smaller cities or just living in a cabin in the woods (with internet connection, of course, for I am not a savage). So the massive city experience is becoming something that I crave less and less.


Miscellaneous Buenos Aires Photos

This is Puerto Madero, the old port part of town that has recently been renovated into classy high-rise condominiums, an artsy pedestrian bridge and touristy restaurants.


This is the obelisk in the center of town two blocks from my hostel. It's a great landmark to help find my way home after a long and wandering walk.

Sean from Chicago reflecting the liquor cabinet at my favorite bar in town.


Funny story. The other night Sean and I were coming back to the hostel after a night out drinking. I was surprised to see that the OPEN 25 HOURS convenience store was closed. See the locked gate in photo. As I took the photo I noticed the guy in the back who I though was the overnight stockboy or something. He looked at me like I was crazy for taking his photo and walked up and asked to help me. It was then that I noticed an open gap in the locked gate to allow transactions. It is simply a late night precaution. I still can't find photographic evidence to disprove the notion of being open 25 hours a day, however.

Next Up: Patagonia

I'm completely psyched to be traveling next to mythic Patagonia, land of majestic mountain peaks, gauchos, and penguins. Here's my planned route after flying to Bariloche.

I'll try to take more pictures along this part of the route as I expect it to be spectacular. Here's one I stole off the interwebs as a teaser...