Tuesday, May 05, 2009

usa part one: Michigan

We flew into Detroit, arriving on Thursday morning April 23rd. As soon as we dropped off our luggage and got cleaned up, we headed out for thai food! which was the number one thing we'd been looking forward to eating on this trip. We spent a few lovely days visiting with all kinds of family. My parents had driven out from Maine for the wedding, and we also got to meet up with my uncle David and his girlfriend Liz, who live in Grand Rapids. Then we spent time with Mike's dad Sandy and his wife Cheri and all their lovely family, and we met Mike's adorable new niece Riley (three months old!) and of course we spent time with Mike's mom Bonnie and her now-husband Les, whose wedding was the reason for our whole trip! and all of their families.
Bubi Goldie and little Riley Sarah and Mike with Riley Aunt Carol entertaining Riley

There were so many delicious and fun family dinners, it's impossible to recount them all, hopefully it is sufficient to say that we were hospitably received and very well fed.

The wedding was lovely, it was held at an old arts club in downtown Detroit, called the Scarab Club, right next to the Detroit Institute of Arts. The upstairs club room is absolutely beautiful, an arts & crafts style lounge with awesome architectural details. The wooden beams have been signed by hundreds of artists who've come to visit Detroit since the club was opened in the 1920's.

the Scarab Club guests
signing the ketubah the ceremony bonnie and gela cellist cellist Bonnie and Les Judy flowers

after the ceremony we had a delicious meal and a musical performance by two cello players.

Then we killed a few hours wandering around downtown Detroit (yikes!) in our wedding togs, until it was time to meet Sandy and Cheri and Robin for some delicious BBQ at the famous Slow's Barbeque. It was totally awesome and delicious, as promised. (this was the other top food we'd been looking forward to eating in the USA!)
Slow's Barbecue

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April 2009: 6 days in the deep south of Argentina. Parque Nacional Los Glaciares, El Calafate, Glaciar Perito Moreno, El Chalten, Cerro Fitz Roy...

Day 1: it took us most of the day to get from Buenos Aires to El Calafate; we finally arrived at our hostel around 4:00 and then explored El Calafate. It's a lot like Bariloche or any other Argentine touristy town; lots of fake-alpine architecture and chocolate shops and souvenirs. The view from our hostel was awesome, out over Lago Argentino to the mountains beyond.
view from the hostel view from the hostel. El Calafate.

Day 2: a visit to Perito Moreno Glacier and Parque Nacional Los Glaciares. We woke up bright & early and had a scenic two-hour bus ride through foothills and pastures and lakes, out from El Calafate to get to the park.
driving out from El Calafate first glimpse of Glaciar Perito Moreno

There's an impressive series of boardwalks and platforms from which to admire the front edge of the glacier, watch little icebergs calving off from the icy mass and crashing into the lake below.
Eliza in front of Glaciar Perito Moreno Mike, Glaciar Perito Moreno Glaciar Perito Moreno

this ice is 400 years old! These spires of ice began as humid air moving east over the Pacific ocean and over Chile they condensed to clouds and then over the Andes they became snowflakes which fell on the Patagonian continental ice field and slowly made their way down to Argentina a few hundred years later. This is one of the only glaciers in the world that's not receding. Between the melting and the giant icebergs constantly crumbling off the front end, it's not really advancing either, but it's more or less holding its own and neither advancing nor retreating.
Eliza in front of Glaciar Perito Moreno

After an hour or two of admiring the glacial action, we went to the tourist center and had a hot chocolate, then headed out for our hike across the glacier! We took a boat across the lake, then hiked along the lakeshore and up alongside the edge of the glacier.

Our herd of tourists split into smaller groups and we all strapped on crampons over our boots and gingerly marched, single-file, up onto the side of the glacier. From across the lake you see how massively wide it is, but from this vantage you realize how tall it is, like a giant ice mountain and all of the climbers are little tiny ants on its side.
tiny ants. Glaciar Perito Moreno

The ice was all pebbly, just like crushed ice. Every now and then we came across crevasses where you could see deep into the ice, and it glows bright blue inside. The sun was surprisingly warm and there were rivers and lakes of melted glacier-water running all over the place.
into the blue. Glaciar Perito Moreno view from the glacier. Glaciar Perito Moreno

Our guide told us to fill up our water bottles and drink from the puddles, it's the purest water in the world! With the crampons it was really easy to climb up and down the ice. We had sweet views of the lake and mountains from atop the glacier. After clambering around for a while, we arrived at a little wooden chest nestled inbetween two great ice-drifts. Inside: a pile of hand-made chocolates, a bottle of whiskey and a dozen glasses; the guide scooped up glasses full of glacier ice and we each had a whiskey on the rocks and a tasty chocolate.
ice. Glaciar Perito Moreno whiskey on the rocks. Glaciar Perito Moreno

We were sleepy on the bus ride back to El Calafate but I was glad I stayed awake because it was the best colored sunset I have ever seen.
sunset over Lago Argentina

Day 3: bus ride to El Chalten and an afternoon hike to Laguna Capri brings us face-to-face with the mighty Cerro Fitz Roy.
Pedro the guanaco first glimpse of Fitz Roy chillin in El Chalten flowers, El Chalten Laguna Capri, El Chalten Cerro Fitz Roy, El Chalten

Day 4: Blustery buckets of rain. Stayed inside the hostel knitting a scarf and cooked a pot of pea soup.
hostel cat knitting a scarf on a rainy day. El Chalten.

Day 5: hiked the Laguna Torre trail, a long but easy trail through amazingly bright fall foliage, and at the end a spectacular view of the laguna, Glaciar Torre, and the cloud-covered Cerro Torre. Snow flurry at the summit.
Mike hiking. El Chalten trees and mountains. El Chalten. leaves. El Chalten. hiking to Lago Torre. El Chalten. Lago Torre panorama. El Chalten. Lago Torre. El Chalten. Cerro Torre. El Chalten. El Chalten. A-Frames. El Chalten.

Day 6: bus back to El Calafate, had a few hours to relax in Calafate and then flew back home to Buenos Aires.
flying out from El Calafate

here are more pictures!!!

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