There are about 10 flights a day from Buenos Aires to Bariloche. During the Christmas holiday it is packed with Porteno’s from the city headed to the mountains. A flight back on Christmas eve – not so much – Our 737 had 12 passengers and 5 crew.
With nobody on the plane, and fairly clear skies for much of the trip, I took the opportunity to get some shots from up high. The late afternoon sun gave some challenges to lighting, but the terrain below was very interesting.
We arrived to a nearly empty terminal
When we were checking in at the terminal in Bariloche they insisted on weighing our carry on bags, then pronounced them overweight so we had to check them (despite the fact we could have 10 overhead bins to ourselves).
When we arrived in BA they were easy to find, since they were the only 2 bags! Because there were only 12 people on the plane, and everybody including the crew wanted to get home we left as soon as the arriving passengers deplaned – leaving 45 minutes before scheduled time and arriving about an hour before our scheduled time!
Tronador is an 11,000 foot high extinct volcanic mountain just south of Bariloche, containing numerous glaciers. It’s name is Spanish for Thunder, the sound of the ice cracking in the glaciers.
It is in all day effort to drive up, and hike around, the mountain and the glaciers. We started by heading south on Ruta 40 – passing the ever present hitchhikers seen in the area.
A few miles south of Bariloche you make the turn to the road leading up the mountain. It is a narrow dirt road, so narrow that it is one way up the mountain from 10 AM until 4 PM, then one way back down the mountain until 7 PM.
The initial part of the road passes through a valley floor and Lago Mascardi.
It is a 48 kilometer drive up this road, but about 1/2 way you begin to get some amazing views.
Eventually we made our way to the National Park where we were surrounded by towering walls and waterfalls. The area to the right is known as the Black Glacier due to the amount of debris it picks up off the mountain as it comes down.
Eventually it was time to head back down the mountain and our funky little rental car (which we named La Cucaracha – the cockroach – it was a no frills, nasty little car but no matter what we did to it you couldn’t kill it) hung on through the now wet, curvy downhill.
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!
In Southern New Hampshire there is a small mountain (but high enough!) that is the home of the Andres Institute of Art. So put on your hiking shoes/boots and head up the hill – you will be rewarded with a higher pulse rate, and some great sculptures.
When you get to the top you get rewarded with a great view too!
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.