Ushuaia, Argentina

If you wish to know the Divine, feel the wind on your face and the warm sun on your hand.    Buddha

Well it has been an interesting week.  Arrived at airport here in Ushuaia about 7 pm last Thursday (today is Wednesday), I believe more dead than alive.  We were to say the least, exhausted.  Concerned about our airbnb as unable to contact them due to no phone, wifi, etc., but on arrival the owner was out front and gave us hugs on arrival.  Her brother said lets go get a SIM card and we hopped in car to drive several places to obtain a SIM card so I could have phone access and such, when no wifi available.  Finally got it although a few days later when I got around to putting it in phone turns out did not work.  Only 50 pesos though about $3.00 so not worrying.  Seems card had been cut wrong.

As we arrived late and had planned on thursday arranging trips about Tierra Del Fuego and up to Punta Arenas, Chile we found a room for another night.  The airbnb was booked but found a hotel nearby although only room was a triple for $130.  OK for one night.
Went out to eat at first restaurant we found which by now was 9 pm and mostly empty, with a couple of tables busy.  By the time we finished at 10:30 every table full.  I forgot they eat late here.  Most restaurants do not even open until 8 pm.  But excellent food.  Then we slept, oh sweet sleep.

In the morning we  walked to new hotel 6 blocks away and apparently a double room was always available just not via, hence we would get a reimbursement.  And off to make arrangements for the next 5 days.  Information booths, tour companies, bus companies, etc.   More difficult than anticipated.  Had tried to do on line from home, but proved difficult without any answers.  Ferry boat ride between Punta Arenas and Puerto Williams (near here) was something we really wanted, as it was 35 hours on inside passage as a local ferry.  Tourists ferries were too long and expensive.  But the schedule was exact opposite of what we could do.  Then we heard there is strike at Chilean border which no-one seemed to have much information on, except borders blocked most of time except maybe 10 minutes an hour or two or three.  The bus ride from here to Punta Arenas is 12 hours thus it did not seem inviting having just finished a horrendous travel experience.  Flying an option but over a thousand dollars for us.  Also could go to Rio Gallegos in Chile which was far cheaper and easier to get to but would mean hours there and an overnight and everyone said a boring town.  Seems traveling about Tierra Del Fuego was not going to happen.  We would stay in Ushuaia and see what it has to offer.  5 days now and 3 on return.

Ushuaia end of the world

At hotel we walked up to the lounge area on third floor and as we passed second floor there was a Deborah Green, who I had gone to nursing school with me in 1982.  I had seen her a few times since but not much.  Jeanne came up the stairs and recognized her as she had worked with her in hospital years before, but took a bit to recognize as way out of context.  Small world!  They are leaving for Antarctica on a different cruise, but we made arrangements to have dinner.  They were going hiking and we were trying to find out options for next days.

Another great dinner again beginning at 9 pm, and we four decided to rent a car the next day to explore tierra el Fuego national park, which was one of the reasons I had wanted to spend time here.  Two years ago I rode through the park on bicycle and it looked great for further explorations.

Oh boy the next day we rented a car.  A superb day but the renting of car was the adventure.  The rental company a block from hotel and they did not speak English and rental agreement was in spanish.  Although paying in cash the deposit was on a credit card.  Many have told us the credit card charge here is 10% so often cheaper to use cash.  But the deposit required a call to credit card company and that was an adventure. The rental guy was getting very frustrated with the incomprehensible questions from the credit card company.  They needed to verify it was me, thus by the end we had a slip of paper on desk with passwords, social security #, mothers maiden name, etc.  All the things you never give out.  We watched that paper closely.  Was a problem as the bank said social # was wrong because it should only be four numbers.  Finally realized they only wanted the last four digits.  Anyway when we finished the paper was fully shredded placed in my pocket and I considered swallowing it.  Again we laughed. It took over two hours to get the paperwork and simpler than the paperwork at home.

Finally finished and we drove the 30 kilometers to the end of the road.

End of the road,  the other end is either Homer Spit or Deadhorse or maybe Inuvik


Finally after  when we reached the end of road, parked, explored, and on return to car none of us could figure out how to put the car in reverse.  20 minutes later and almost getting out and pushing it back, Deborah discovers you lift up on the handle.  More laughter.

Bird watching Tierra del Fuego national park

The park was great with lots of new birds and photograph potential.  Striated caracara, rufous collared sparrow, upland goose, rufous goose, kelp geese, flightless steamer ducks, and once we looked up and not at the ground found a bunch of parrots which I figured were Austral parakeets.  Had not expected to see parrots here.  Amazing wildlife.  A superb hike to the coast amongst the beech trees.

Austral parakeets

Returned to Ushuaia and wanted to avoid driving San Martin street due to busy, but ended up on it not once, but twice when roads we turned on dead ended forcing us to navigate San Martin, finally climbing back to the rental place where the fellow had driven from home to meet us.  Very nice. Quite an adventure and it worked out well.  

Sunday was pleasant without wind and we suddenly decided to do a Beagle channel tour, to view cormorants, fur seals, light houses, petrels, terns, and another continuous onslaught of critters sights and sounds.

Antarctic giant petrel
Antarctic fur seals. They are as sluggish as California sea lions and stellar sea lions

Did some walks about town visiting the monument to immigrants covering a big section of hillside  and memorial to those who died in the falklands war (Malvinas)

Monument to immigrants. 3 sections of maybe twenty total



Today a bus tour about town and found out about the native inhabitants.  When Fitzroy and Darwin came here in early 1800’s they asked what the Indians called themselves.  They said “tualkin”. For 50 years that is what people called them until someone translated that to mean “I do not understand”.  As of 2010 only one native remained, the rest had died off from diseases and such they had no immunity to.  

And thus tomorrow we board the ship to travel to falklands, South Georgia island, and Antarctic peninsula.  Jeanne, Geoff and myself are very excited.  23 days aboard ship with excursions ashore.  New sights.   

Thus I will leave it at this.  Apparently wifi is available but limited and I am not planning on connecting thus if no word here it means I am successful in disconnecting.  This afternoon has reinforced my desire to disconnect. As this $230 per night hotel has wifi which marginally works slowly.  The hotel earlier at $60 night worked good, and some what consistent.  This writing has taken 6 hours of fits and starts and frustration.  

Against  I apologize for the lack of coherency or length but am frustrated with the technology. 

Air travel  (Anchorage to Ushuaia in 94 hours)

The only value we have as humansIs the risks we are willing to take 
Ernest Hemingway in movie seen on airplane trip “papa Hemingway in Cuba”

Currently sitting in Santiago Chile airport on a 5 hour layover. Arrived here at 3:30 pm after boarding in Los Angeles at 8 pm last night. 13.5 hours on the Boeing 787 “Dreamliner” on a full flight. Now Jeanne is asleep on chair here in transit lounge.  (The transit lounge allows us to not go through immigration control). 

We are asking ourselves how did we do this to ourselves.  We know we do not do night flights.  And the past years I have tried to break up long flights.  One can fly across the United States in one day but when you arrive you are so exhausted it negates any benefit of having more days at destination.  When flying now to east coast I try and spend a night in Seattle.  Makes life easier.  

Hence our layover in Los Angeles.  We kept asking ourselves why we did the night flight leaving Sunday night at 11 pm arriving Los Angeles at 6 am.  My second cousin Vickie, who  we realized we had not seen each other since teen agers, picked us up at 6 am as she claimed, and it was true, lives 10 minutes from airport. We promptly fell asleep for 3 hours before beginning our visit to the city of angels, although did stop at an outdoor restaurant for breakfast enroute to her house.  Coming from a more rural background and Alaska I do not consider LA a wondrous place having not having been there for any time in decades.  Not that I would want to live there but it was a stupendous visit.  First day after waking up Vickie asked what we wanted to do in the area.  My family used to go there as kids every summer to visit relatives and for three weeks we were busy with something new every day, and ever year.  Amazing the things there are to do.  But all we wanted was to walk, hence we walked about the neighborhood.  I was entranced with the surfboard carriers for bicycles, and folks just walking to the beach a few blocks away.  Great just seeing the community of El Segundo.  (LA seems to comprise not only the city, but numerous small towns one never knows are distinct as their borders are just the streets). 

Manhatten beach pier
El segundo beach

Next day (yesterday) did the same only this time drove about 2 miles to a beach walk.  Their is a paved bike path which apparently goes for about 25 miles and is not a great place to walk as bikers ride like me.  But the pedestrian path is great with numerous multimillion dollars small condo, houses on one side and beach with surfers, volleyball nets, players, and several just beach sitters.  (The town of Manhatten Beach is the world capital of beach volleyball, so they say).  Wondrous to not do anything like Griffith park or Disneyland or whatever but just visit the local habitats.  Breakfast lunch at another superb outdoor restaurant.  Then back to car and a wondrous afternoon solving world problems.  (Once again no one else cares for our  solutions and I have forgotten the answers already). 


Peruvian Andes 6000 plus meter peaks

And the journey continues.  Currently in the air an hour south of Buenos Aires on theoretically the last flight of this section.  24 hours ago we arrived in Santiago  and had a somewhat pleasant 6 hour stay in transit area.  An hour late departing but for us it just meant less time on the Buenos Aires layover which was to be an allnighter.  We were not looking forward to it as already a bit sleep deprived, and not enough time for a hotel.   That was the reason I believe we did this version. 

Seems all flights to Ushuaia depart early morning and most require a change of airports in Buenos Aires.  It was difficult to arrange, enough so that we went to a travel agent who worked through the intricacies.  But I believe we were so intent on not staying in a hotel that one night, we forgot the miseries to ensue of the schedule we created.  But it was supposed to be a 5-6 hour layover with a 5 am departure in Buenos Aires.  Best laid plans and such.  

The layover began to go bad on arrival when we had to retrieve our bags which were checked through to Ushuaia, to clear customs.  At other places where this is done, you go through customs and Then put bags back on carousel and they continue on.  Here though it meant going out and to check in, which on our arrival was closing at 11 pm. They said too early to check in for 5 am flight and we had to keep bags.  Asked where best place to sleep in airport was and workers did not know.  We roamed a bit in the somewhat large 2 terminal airport, getting kicked out of a few places as would upset cleaning regimen.  Finally found a place in hall where one could snake yourself around the armrests and lie down a bit.  Airports love armrests!  I chose the floor.  A marble floor but managed about 3 fitful hours of pseudo sleep, locking my bags together to prevent theft with the straps and computer bag as a pillow.  Luckily I can sleep most any place.  There were mayb 50 others doing similar attempts.  A 4 year old well behaved boy played most of the night with his toy airplane while one parent or the other took turns watching him.  

About 4 am finally said enough and we went to check in getting the maze of people also in line at the maybe 15 check in stands wit) only 2 working.  Seemed a supervisor was there doing whatever supervisors do, when after about 15 minutes inline he began to inquire everyone’s destination.  He had the folks heading to Ushuaia go form a separate line of which Jeanne and I were first.  The line behind us grew to a long length winding out the hall and into hallway out of our sight, while the original line became much shorter.  The supervisor then began rearranging the maze of webbing directing the people going to other locations.  Jeanne and I were laughing as he seemed to be having such fun removing the webbing from one  poles and fitting in another.  But then that line was soon short and those who had come after us were checking in.  No explanation, but when we moved to a check in counter we were told to return to the Ushuaia line.  Finally someone who could speak Spanish went up and a possible answer was given our flight was cancelled, but no one was really sure if that was true, including the counter people.  

Not sure how it all began or started but soon there were people chanting and clapping in the area.  One fellow was going around insisting everyone totally block the check in area until answers were found.  The police were called in as the scene was developing.  Jeanne and I were not exactly happy but did not want to give up our place in line, which was beside the folks growing angry.  Check ins for everyone was halted as the mob was blocking the kiosks, not to block them but searching for answers.  Jeanne got on a chat session with Latam airlines but seemed they knew nothing, but did say they could not rebook us as our bags were already checked from Los Angeles to Ushuaia.  The counter people now said they had contacted headquarters in Chile and they were working on solution.  ​

​Finally were told there would be an answer about 8 am. It was now 6 am. The crowd  had quieted somewhat.  The airline gave us vouchers for breakfast and told to return at 8.  Numerous people said it was a ruse but Jeanne and I took the vouchers and were reassured by people next to us they would hold our place in line.  They would wait.  I got a note on my airline scheduling app on phone that we were rescheduled for 3 pm flight, and off we went to find only one restaurant took the voucher and it was only for coffee and a croissant.  

On return to counter our place in line remained and when we told the counter people about how voucher did not work, they gave us a lunch voucher.  But our bags were checked although we were wondering if it was another ruse.  Several people including counter personnel told us this all was common.  Someone said the flight was cancelled because the pilot called in sick, but no one seemed to really know.  

Most airports are designed to transfer people from one connection to another and often there is little thought given to the time one spends between flights.  Airports are getting better but this airport (the smaller regional airport of Buenos Aires) although) nice does not have a lot of attraction.  But when all the excitement settled we looked out window and viewed what we thought was the ocean, but were informed it is the river and one said it is here 250 kilometers across.  Whew that seems to be the ocean, but whatever, we found our way across the 7 lanes of traffic and began walking the delightful escalade with bikers, walkers, fishermen, venders and such.  We soon discovered though that we were exhausted and did not feel like walking.  Returning to the airport worked our way through security and into departure area, where we fought off unsuccessfully sleep, sitting in the uncomfortable chairs.  Reading was impossible due to sleep deprivation.  The web was slow, email would not work for us, I could not contact the Airbnb of change in arrival time.  No SIM cards were available in airport, and our phone carrier, ATT was having computer problems, hence many times we had to find a recharging area as going through batteries.  

Buenos Aries airport front
Basically I guess I could have shortened the last bit by summarizing the day as it was not fun, and we remain even more sleep deprived than yesterday.  Our hopes of getting to Ushuaia and making arrangements for the next week were shot down.  Did manage a second night, at a different place than tonight, as most places sold out.  

I remember a conversation that we exclaimed Jeanne and I like to travel pretty much on the fly, without a set schedule, which often ties one down to a particular trip, without potential for changing circumstances or happenings.  This has led us on some very special times, adventures, and meeting amazing people.  But one must be prepared as there are ups and downs.  Sometimes things like today happen.  Seems to work out and after numerous days and sleep we will probably reminisce about it letting memories erase the bad parts.  

South Atlantic Ocean coastline Argentina

Hence if you have made it this far you realize we are enroute to Ushuaia and on to t)3 next section.  Let the fun begin.


The human heart and the environment are inseparably linked together. If you think only of yourself, ultimately you will lose.

The heart of compassion

The XIV Dalai Lama


Well back in Anchorage for a couple of weeks.  Was a long flight home:

Guangzhou, China was not a bad airport.  Had couches to sleep on and places to walk.  Spent 6 hours there, just in the transit area hence did not have to go through immigration which is nice.

12 hour flight to Los Angeles where global entry came in handy as in and out of immigration in minutes whereas the regular line was very long.  But had to go out of terminal and walk a long way between terminals in a crowded pickup area.  then I was told could not check in to next flight as 7 hours early and 4 hours was max  for security.  No place to wait but on the curb beside the traffic. Alaska airlines though checked and checked me in and I was allowed to go through the security, luckily I have the recheck and again a short line.  But the airport was crowded and I was ready to go back to Asia.  Finally was able to get a chair next to window which I could use as a headrest and fell asleep.  My find friend Joe called and woke me in time to catch the next plane.

Took about 5 days to convince my body to wake and sleep at the correct times.  Time zones and jet lag are good for letting you know you are a physical being subject to biological systems, hormones, schedules and such.  Difficult to just power through it, although one can fake it.

And currently here in Anchorage the sun rises officially at 08:53 am and sets at 16:32 for 7 hours and 39 minutes of daylight.  decreasing at 5 minutes a day.  Have brought out the SAD light and taking vitamin D.  (SAD light for those unfamiliar are bright lights (10000 lux) which you sit in front of for 30-45 minutes a day and it simulates the sunlight)  The sun now at its highest point is only 11 degrees above the horizon.  In the middle of day I will stop somewhere in the sun and just stare at it eyes wide open.

Try and get out every day but today it was pouring rain and just seemed futile on the snow which was transforming to ice.  And I do not have studded tires on my bike.img_9200

Then today I checked on the insurance claim as have been going back and forth getting all the documents in.  Today they let me know that there is no coverage for “mountain climbing or any other high altitude activities”.  Fine print on page 15.  alas..  Well it was a great trip and although it cost an extra $1000 dollars for the time I spent on my own having departed the intended trip, it was a very enjoyable time.  They would not even cover the $100 for the doctor which they required me to go to before realizing it was altitude sickness.  So much for travel insurance.  I would not recommend Allianz travel insurance.

Am still a bit confused as to why I got sick.  Guess I just went up to fast but only 14700 feet.  Not that high and have been there numerous times before. It still is one of the greatest disappointments I have ever had.  But perhaps I can go back to the mustang area another time.  There are alternatives, but I missed being with an incredible group and bike riding through an incredible area.  Fortunately I do not regret coming down when I was sick.  I would not have made the pass.

And now have gone through the election of a xenophobic, sexist, racist president elect.  Am I so far I am off in my ideas,  that I consider him to be totally opposite of my views.  Half of the population of the United States felt he will be good for us.  Now he is trying to destroy our health care insurance which was unavailable before the so called Obama care, wants to pull us out of Paris climate treating, open the environment for total degradation, cut education to unsustainable levels.  Where is the good?  What am I missing?????  But as noted half the population feels he is for the best.  I am trying to understand.  He says he is going to get jobs back but unemployment is at 4.9% considered full employment.  Stock market is at record levels.

Perhaps it is education: as “they ” say it was less than college educated people which voted him in.  I guess decreasing education is working for him.

Again I am trying to be positive about this, but as someone noted, “It’s OK to freak out, grieve, and vent for a while. Then we can get back to work, as always, for the good..  Just because 1/2 the population voted him in does not mean his ideas are right.  One still has to argue for the right.

Apparently this is the first time since the period of 1921 to 1929 that Republicans have totally controlled the presidency, both house the legislature, and the supreme court.  (The triad creating balance of powers preventing  the oppression of the majority over the minority and vice versa)  Hmm, there was an event in 1929 called the Great Depression, which took many years to recover and even today people recall it as a very dark time in our recent history.  I guess I say, “well the republicans have the power now, let’s see if their ideas work.”  I am skeptical.

A friend who is a Trump supporter says give it a year.  He listed some ideas to watch and I agree.  He said “Muslims will be welcome in the U. S., African Americans will have access to more education and be involved in less violence. Women will still be allowed to choose abortion and have free access to birth control. Immigrants will still be allowed to legally enter into the country, and  the homeless and unemployed citizens of America will have more access to jobs that have been taken away from them.”   Seems quite a stretch from todays attitudes and in a years time, but I have no choice but to hope.   I believe he sincerely believes Trump will make this happen.

And getting ready for the next trip.  Exciting as heading south again.  Back to Ushuaia in South America and on to Antarctica.  Exciting.  As per usual as I have noted before one should be ready for departure anywhere on 5 minutes notice, but seems there is a lot to do.  Maps, what gear, money, cameras,
Now in Los Angeles again. Layover enroute south. Couple days here