Lago Nahuel Huapi, Argentina – December 2019 – Tour of the Lake

When we arrived in Bariloche numerous people insisted we take a lake tour. We were fortunate enough to get some tickets as we were leaving town for the North Loop tour, but they were for that afternoon.

After arriving back in town, we headed straight for Puerto PaƱuelo to catch the ship Modesta Victoria for our extended tour of Lago Nahuel Huapi. The Modesta Victoria is over 80 years old!










The warm, but somewhat windy day, was perfect for the cruise.




As we left the port we passed by some very impressive buildings.







As a glacial lake, it is completely surrounded by mountains.







Not long after leaving the port a flock of seagulls started to trail the boat. People quickly realized if they threw bread or crackers they would follow.

Some were able to get the seagulls to take the crackers directly from their hands, but this poor lady tried forever and was never able to.








After an hour we arrived at our first stop, the Arrayanes National Park. An Arrayane is the type of tree seen here. The slow growing tree is not native to this location, but a property owner in the early 1900s introduced them. Sadly many of them are dying off.













Our second stop was on Isla Victoria.







We returned to the port in the late afternoon sun.









Neuquen Province, Argentina – December 2019 – The North Lakes Loop

With so much to see in the area the tourist bureau has identified a number of loops, or circuits, to hike, bike or drive. The North Lakes Loop leaves Bariloche and goes into Neuquen Province.

Not long after leaving Bariloche and going around the end of Lago Nahuel Huapi, the road splits with Highway 237 continuing due north along the Rio Limay.













After about an hour drive you come to ‘Highway’ 65 – a 40 kilometer long dirt road.










This route runs along Lago Traful.














Eventually we made it to another paved road – the famed Ruta 40!

Turning south we passed another beautiful mountain lake view – Lago Correntoso.







Finally we arrived back at Lago Nahuel Huapi – where we had a view across the lake to Bariloche.







Even the wildflowers along the highway are picturesque. We would’ve like to spent more time, but we had a busy afternoon planned (next posting).






Bariloche, Argentina – December 2019 – Going to Great Heights for the Photo

With all of the hills and mountains surrounding Bariloche it is easy to get great views. We had the opportunity to go up three different lifts to get an amazing overview of the area.

The first was a chairlift to Cerro (Hill) Capanario.













Sometimes just driving to the next stop provides great views (and lunch!)



















Our next stop was Cerro Otto – where a gondola takes you from the middle of town to the top of a mountain. At the top was a revolving restaurant and other overlooks.













Our final ascent was up the 3000′ high Cerro Catedral – the largest ski resort south of the equator. Despite it being the middle of summer, a cold front had come through and we saw a bit of snow fall on us!












Bariloche, Argentina – December 2019 – A Bit of Switzerland in Argentina

Welcome to Bariloche! The town and region is known for it’s Swiss alpine architecture, beautiful lakes and mountains and chocolate (more on that in a later post).

The lake has been a center of population for the native Mapuche’s long before European settlers arrived. Their culture is celebrated with wooden statues throughout town.




While one of the more famed tours is to drive the ‘Seven Lakes Road’, there are far more than 7 – all of them contain amazingly clear water.







The town itself is hilly – as represented by their take on San Francisco’s Lombard Street.





Every Argentine town of any size has an impressive cathedral, and Baraloche’s is no different. Built in the Neogothic style, it was completed in the 1940s.




As previously noted, much of the architecture is alpine in style.




Somehow a Dutch windmill snuck in.







We spent many kilometers on small dirt roads, but the dust and effort was well worth it.




Outdoor activities abound.










Back in town – the Civic Center is a National Historic Monument. Completed in 1940, it is built in the similar alpine style. With Christmas just a couple of days away it was decorated for the season.






















Barre, Vermont – August 2019 – Rockin’ Out in Vermont

While New Hampshire may be known as the Granite State, Vermont has their fair share. Their statehouse is a great example of Vermont granite.



Just outside the nearby town of Barre is the Rock of Ages Granite Company.



It is like many of the old company towns I grew up seeing in Pennsylvania and Ohio, only instead of coal it is granite – everywhere.



When you arrive at the top of the mountain and look down you see this massive pit. It is 600′ deep, but 300′ of it is under water.



Everything is super sized here, as they cut away giant chunks of granite for processing.



This quarry has been used for over 100 years. Their tools today are much better than the early days, which have been left behind. In the early days they climbed down these sketchy looking ladders to use drilling and dynamite to break the granite apart.



The years of removal have left interesting patterns on the quarry walls.



The tall yellow tower was used to bring the multi ton pieces up to the surface.



It was dangerous work.



As we made our way back down the mountain we passed their stockyard. Nothing was behind fences as the threat of something carrying away a rock weighing thousands of pounds without getting noticed is fairly low.



It wouldn’t even fit in their pickup truck.



We arrived while the factory was on lunch, so we spent some time bowling on the granite bowling lane, with granite pins. They claim that they used to use real bowling balls, but the pins would break the balls, so now they use foam.



The factory is quiet…. for the moment.



The crew has returned. With the weight everything is moved with cranes.



The granite business has gone down tremendously over the years. In the early years much was used in the construction industry (all those cool Art Deco buildings), but now it is relegated to mostly head stones. Even those aren’t used as much as in the past.



This day all the work we saw was on the aforementioned headstones.







Artisans still do the detail work.


And someone named David is about to get his headstone.





Toronto – July 2019 – Sunrise at the Palace of Purification

The drive out of Toronto featured a stop along Lake Ontario as the sun rose. Our stop is the ‘Palace of Purification’ – the R C Harris Water Treatment Plant.

The sunrise was fantastic, as are the art deco buildings. All you have to do to get there is take the streetcar to the very end of the line near Scarborough (but we drove!)

























New Orleans – May 2019 – Getting Around The Big Easy

Getting to and around New Orleans has always been an adventure. Situated near the mouth of the Mississippi, the city is essentially surrounded by water and swamps.

While most people likely fly into the airport, or take I-10 from Mobile or Baton Route, the best route into the city by car is from the north across Lake Pontchartrain.



The Lake Pntchartrain Causeway is a 24 mile long bridge. Completed in the 1950s it is to this day the longest bridge in the world over water.



Which results in a funny looking navigation system – we are in the middle of the lake, still 14 miles from shore.



Eventually you get close enough to see the skyline of the city off in the distance.



Once you make it to town you see plenty of the ride share bicycles.



Although this person chose his own unique ride.



The Port of New Orleans is one of the busiest ports in the country, with constant ships coming in off the Gulf of Mexico and up the Mississippi River.



The tugboats stay busy all day.



At the base of Canal Street is the tourist ship The Natchez, a faux stern-wheeler.



The best transportation however are the streetcars.





New Orleans turned out to be a fairly easy city to navigate.