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Magallanes, Torres del Paine, and Patagonia

I will write up a full post once I get home since this is going up from airport in Santiago but in short, for my first time in Patagonia this was amazing experience. The park is beautiful and awe inspiring, the people I met on the way were all very interesting, the food and accommodation all get high praise and the guides we had were among the best I have experienced world wide.

IMG_8593 Miladon Cave

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IMG_8685 Day 1 Ecocamp and Cuernos

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IMG_9011 Largo Grey and Grey Glacier

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IMG_9062 Views of the park and back to camp

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IMG_9159 Ascension Valley and Torres

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IMG_9316 Sunrise, sunset, and some penguins since if they are around I have to go see them.

All in all the photos came out okay for another trip across the globe with just a phone for a camera. I have a couple flights to look through them more carefully and see what I want to post and think of the right way to describe this magnificent place. Thinking about coming back in January but would have to make it to Antartica, guess I need to plan a bit more. Also, if anyone knows of any great books about Patagonia I have been looking for my next read and already read Chatwin’s book. I enjoyed it but didn’t really get the meaning and really want to understand more about this part of the world.

Signing off for now ending my first and definitely not last trip almost as far south as a person can go.

Brief swing through Argentina

The Carnival crowds were collapsing around the hotel in Copacabana beach as I left. Place was an absolute zoo and the streets were all backing up, granted I was still early to the airport just in time for a flight delay pushing my departure until well after midnight.

The transit to El Calafate was a bit brutal and I think my biggest miss was thinking I couldn’t sit down to a steak dinner in Buenos Aires at 3am. As I was arriving at the domestic airport I saw a number of places that looked good that were clearly still serving.

After a run along a beautiful boardwalk was a visit to Los Glaciares National Park which was really neat. As well done as any in the US and likely deals with just as many visitors.

Would likely say glaciers are like life ever moving and making noise then sudden significant changes, a feat of Mother Nature shown in so many different ways.

Below are some pictures since they are certainly better than any words.

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Seeing the Perito Moreno Glacier as my introduction to Patagonia was amazing, beautiful country and just a taste of what was to come next after crossing into Chile below the southern ice fields.

30 Hours in Rio de Janeiro

On my way to Patagonia I figured was a good stop to see Rio. First time in Brasil and is a wonderful place, friendly people, beautiful weather and scenery and spirit like no other place. As I write I’m waiting for a lift back to the airport and the Carnival street parties are on full swing with drums everywhere and traffic ground to a halt. I came to see the parades and they were so worth it even if I caught the preliminary and not the largest of them. I did see last nights winner who will go again Sunday for the primary event. I also got to see famous beaches, Christ the Redeemer, Sugar Loaf, and some street parties so all in all not bad for a long day.

Having seen so many marathon signs saying “worst parade ever” this just made me think wow this is the best parade ever and that is all that went through my head as I watched the floats and all the dancing. Thinking about the spring celebration that is held before lent in so many places I wondered what some of the differences were? Venice, New Orleans, Sydney, Munich, the celebration is held in so many countries and all are so different. In Germany it’s starkbierziet with strong beers before the fast, in New Orleans Mardi Gras is debauchery, in Italy the celebration and the beautiful masks.

Here to me it’s all about the dance and the energy. Despite my concerns that South America is usually disorganized and chaotic this is anything but. The parades at the Sambadoromo are organized and amazing. The coordination it must take for the thousands of people in each samba school is phenomenal, hundreds of drummers, dancers of every stripe. I would include singers but the crowd fulfills that roll more than the floats often times which is what makes the energy so cool. I understand each Samba school has between 3000 and 5000 people making this the largest show on earth. People in the stands are all singing and dancing the night away in revelry from young to old alike.

This spirit and passion is something akin to the most intense sports fans at the biggest match of their season. The pictures cannot do justice to this place and these people but want to post a few before I leave for the next place.

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Yes there is a man in the mouth of the monster over the kettle ……

And on to beaches and tourism.

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Departing shortly after a bit more dancing in the street.

Not bad for 30 hours…..

Life at a frenetic pace and traveling solo

I’ve been away a bit recently and sometimes feel the constant rushing is catching up, but then cannot seem to unwind and relax. After a fast weekend of races and fun in Dallas still managed a few hours in Vegas before heading to work in San Diego. For most I imagine this would be a bad way to start a week of meetings and a big work function, for me worked quite well despite the breakneck pace.

Feeling like a sloth when I have nothing going on requires me to stay “full on” whenever I can, then go narcoleptic when the downtime comes, case in point barely stayed awake through dinner on my current overnight flight. For some reason this seems like the best way to pack a full month into a week and I don’t understand why this shouldn’t be the norm for other people as well.

Everyone I know seems to enjoy downtime and many people tell me I should learn how to also stop and smell the roses but it has not worked for me so far. I feel like we could all throw out the TV and just see and experience as much of the world as possible. As someone who has been searching for new challenges for a long time I wonder what’s next? Is another Ironman in order or a mountain or two? IM not booked yet but Go Ruck Ascent is and lottery entry for a couple of our national parks for the summer should work. I will soon be down visiting Patagonia and hiking the W trek in Torres del Paines national park in Chile but what after that?

Sitting on my flight this evening waiting to take off for Rio the person next to me is also going to Carnival, spending a month in Rio compared to my 30+ hours, not sure if that’s just because vacation works differently in Canada or because they slow down more but that gives me pause to think if I’m doing something wrong. They were also surprised to hear I’m traveling solo. This is my forth or fifth multi country solo journey around the world and I think it is also likely my last one.

Guess I will see how it goes but there is something changing as I get older that makes seeing far away places a little less fun, not sharing the experience with family or friends makes for good stories but lacks shared experience.

Thinking about plans for the remainder of the year I need to focus on making sure other people come along on some of these poorly contrived adventures. I’ll start by recruiting for work on the house Maine, any takers for the 4th of July weekend? Let me know, lodging is free if you don’t mind working and we can spend evenings on the beach with a bonfire.

One more time solo is just getting started guess this isn’t a bad way to begin on the roof of my hotel over looking Copacabana beach. Seeing Rio is next.

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Visiting the BRIC Countries

As I finalize the details of my up coming trip it makes me nervous to think I am trying to cram so much into such a short trip.  Guess this is sort of the status quo for how I have traveled but for this one it seems pretty aggressive even for me.  Guess the benefit to going solo is if something goes horribly sideways have only myself to blame and to solve any problem that may arise.

Brazil will be my first stop on this trip and will complete my tour of the developing BRIC countries.  Seeing Carnival will be amazing but I wonder if the severe drought plaguing Brazil will temper the atmosphere that is supposed to be so amazing.  All four BRICs will have been solo trips and the first three were all worth the challenge, whirlwind tour in India, wandering Beijing in China, and across most Russia by train. Just thinking back to some of these made me dig up some pictures from my visits to the other 3 so I went ahead and posted them below since they were all amazing experiences and never made my previous blog entries.

Couple days in India included my last long training run preceding my first marathon in 2010, I do not recommend running 20 miles in the crowded street of Delhi.

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Beijing was so amazing despite not much time there I was in awe of the Chinese heritage and history along with the beauty of the country side surrounding the city.

 

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Lake Baikal is the largest fresh water lake in the world

Lake Baikal is the largest fresh water lake in the world

After spending a week by train through China, Mongolia, and Siberia it was nice to reach suburban Moscow.

St Basil's Domes St Basil Justin in Front of St Basil Evening in Red Square

Getting pretty excited to head off again and will post pictures and stories of Patagonia soon.

Kikulu Crew 140

We hope you had a wonderful holiday season! Now that the new year is in full swing, it’s time to plan how you will give back in 2015.
Joining the Kikulu Crew140 is a great way to make an impact and start off your new year right. The Crew140 is a group of 140 individuals working together to support education for 140 children in rural Uganda through a recurring monthly donation of $20.00 that sponsors a primary or secondary school scholarship for one of these bright young minds. Consider the impact you can make:
  • Provides school fees, books and supplies to a child in one of the most resource starved parts of the world.
  • Enables a student to receive a quality education and build the foundation for a promising future.
  • Allows you to join the global community working together to ensure every child, across the globe, is in school.
We ask you to join us in the fight to support global education by joining Crew140 today, and share with friends and colleagues the opportunity to jump onboard and join the crew as well!
With deep gratitude,
The Kikulu Team
Gift a $20/Monthly Recurring Donation Today!

As some of you know I try and spend time giving back as often as I can and one of those ways is by serving non-profits both here in North Texas and abroad.  As part of that initiative I serve on the board for the Kikulu Foundation. Above is our first communication for the year seeking assistance in funding scholarships in Uganda, please take some time and consider what the impact of $20 a month is too you and what it could mean for a child who otherwise may not get the chance at receiving a quality education.  As we know, education and literacy are the paths to a better life, so please assist us if you can in providing some assistance those less fortunate than ourselves.

Justin

Palo Duro Canyon State Park – A visit in pictures

Plenty of people who spend their whole life in Texas never get out to see it, I do not fall in this category thanks for my father taking us all over by car when we were very young.  The “grand canyon” of Texas is Palo Duro Canyon just south of Amarillo and well worth the drive.  I would highly encourage anyone with the time and the love of our beautiful state to visit, it is a toss up for me which is better, Palo Duro State Park or Big Bend National Park.  This weekend was Palo Duro and was a perfect weekend to visit the panhandle.

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Lighthouse

Lighthouse

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Texas attempt at Red Rocks

Texas attempt at Red Rocks

The Texas Parks & Wildlife page is a great resource but I need to find some more reviews and information on what the various parks have to offer to pick the next break from mortgage land.

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