Monday, May 25, 2015

Monday, May 25, 2015: Santiago, Chile

We both slept well last night!  Today they have arranged for an English guided tour of Santiago.  We first went to a lookout area on a mountainside where we could see a lot of the city of Santiago in the valley below.  To get there we drove by many up-upscale home!!  The next four hours we spent driving to sights around the city, from “uptown” to “downtown”, the government building, the National Cathedral, important plazas, sculptures of important people, learning about Chilean history along the way, ending at the old fish market house.  There we went to a lovely restaurant for our midday meal. We tried foods that we had seen and did not sample yesterday.

Our Host and her Daughter overlooking Santiago

Aloe Vera Plant - Flowering

Presidential Palace

National Cathedral

Ceiling of Cathedral

High Alter in the Cathedral

The Fish Market

More Food at the Fish Market - Very tasty
We had a great day, with our co-host and her daughter.  The daughter also speaks great English, interpreting for her Mom.   Our tour guide had lived in Miami when she was in Jr Hi & High school. She is an asset to the Tourist industry here in Chile.

We returned to the apartment about 4:00 and took a short nap, as we do not know what the rest of the day holds!       

Sunday, May 24, 2015: Santiago, Chile

The 9 hour flight went well and in fact we arrived a few minutes early into Santiago.  Surprisingly both Cal & I slept more on flight than we have ever slept on an overnight flight – don’t ask me why.  The temperature in Santiago when we landed was 40oF.  What a surprised, as we left the plane we felt A blast of very cool air. It’s winter time in Chile!
Our Rotarian friend was waiting for us when we left Customs at the airport - it was good to see someone we knew.  We came back to his apartment for a brief rest, shower, coffee and a light snack.  On our way to a restaurant for our midday meal, we had a brief tour of the city.  Santiago if located in a valley between the high Andes Mountians on the east and a lower coastal range on the west. Today it was extremely hazy, we hope tomorrow is clear.  
By 2:00 we arrived at a wonderful restaurant where we dined and visited until after 5:00pm.  Yes they dine! We sampled a lot of different foods - from seafood to beef- everything was very good. We also saw other dished we want to try sometime along the way.  We were joined at the restaurant by the son of our co-host and his fiancĂ©. They are both lawyers and will be having their wedding this summer – first a civil wedding in June and later a traditional church wedding.  We had a great visit - their English was GREAT! – they learned it in school.
The Restaurant where we had dinner

Our host, Son and Finance

Delicious Dinner
After dinner we went to the courtyard outside a church where there was a large number of artisans who are selling their creations.  Many of the shops were displaying and selling local and indigenous works.  It was very interesting to see the type of things that are made locally.  Because of our space confinements we resisted purchasing anything! If you are in the sun the temperature was great, but in the shade it was chilly and you wanted a jacket.
Folkloric Handcraft Fair - Los Dominicos

Rachel and our Host
Before returning to the apartment, we continued a short tour of Santiago.
By 8:00 we were tired and ready for bed!  We have a big day planned for tomorrow touring Santiago.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

South America Adventure - May 23 - June 24

Another adventure is nearly upon us! This time to South America!  Cal & I have not been on this Continent so everything will be new.  Our Spanish & Portuguese language skill are basically nil! So communication could be/will be interesting, but there are more and more people speaking English.   

The idea for this adventure all began about a year ago, when a gal in one of the Iowa City Rotary Clubs was asking for support for a water project in Paraguay, just across the border from Argentina.   This gal, Argentinian by birth, also said she wanted to plan a trip for Iowa Rotarians to go visit the project upon completion.  Well that time is now!  Plus the Rotary International Convention is being held in Brazil this June and our organizing gal wanted to attend the Convention.  In actuality of the total group from Iowa going to visit the Water Project, she is the only one attending the International Convention. (It is expensive event and we decided to not go this year).  When we travel this distance, we prefer to stay for a period of time, thus the plans for a total of 4 weeks.

When thinking of South America we thought our connections.  First, on the list was the Brazilian Exchange student who lived with us in 1994-95, plus an Argentinian Exchange student for whom I was her counselor (however we had lost contact with her – but after persistence we did locate her in her home town –thank goodness we still had her business card from 1999-00). Also 2 years ago we hosted a Rotarian from Chile who insisted we must visit Chile if we ever get to South America.  So we began planning and scheduling!  Along the way we learned that one of Cal’s former students lives in Buenos Aires, Argentina.  We will be having dinner with her and her husband one of the nights we are in Buenos Aires.  

We are leaving Mt Pleasant Saturday, May 23, 2015, flying from Cedar Rapids, Iowa to Santiago, Chile via Dallas/Ft Worth, arriving there Sunday morning.  It will be one of those dreaded overnight flights!!  On this trip we will not be dealing with the time zone changes which will be nice, however   we will be leaving warmer spring/summer weather in Iowa for cooler fall/winter weather in South America, as well as leaving the longer daylight hours of spring and summer days for the shorter fall and winter days in South America.  The cooler weather was taken into consideration while packing our bags.  Regarding luggage, we have restricted limits on our in country flights of 33 pounds! 

For us to be gone a month we not only plan the trip, but it takes planning to be gone for a month from our responsibilities here at home.  Things have fallen together and tomorrow after giving the lawn a final mow, we will be heading to the airport for this next adventure. 

Friday, September 19, 2014

Wednesday, Sept 17, 2014: Orr, MN to International Falls, MN

The bike ride is complete!!  Cal dipped the front wheels of his bike into Rainy River, the boundary between the US and Canada at this point in Minnesota. He has ridden from the Gulf of Mexico to Canada!   Cal rode a total of 1015 miles this summer from Carlyle, Illinois to International Falls, MN.  Last summer the ride from Grand Isle, Louisiana to Carlyle, Illinois was a 1000 mile. So for the route he used, he traveled 2015 miles from south to north.  We cannot believe it is finished! 

Tomorrow when he wakes up he doesn’t have to think about getting on a bike!  At this point don’t mention another bike ride!  However it is kind of like child birth - at the time, there will be “No More”, but then after a while the thoughts of pain subside!!!  So who knows!!!! No commitments!!
Fall Colors in Northern Minnesota

Today as Cal approached the boat access at the river I snapped several photos of him, as well as when he was dipping the wheels of the bike, but Cal wanted a photo of us together.  Just then a car drove to where we were located.  I asked the gal if she would be willing to take a photo of us.  She wondered about this funny looking bike!  Plus she wanted to know what we were doing!  We briefly explained. She immediately said we need to follow them to the newspaper office for an interview.  Other people along the way have mentioned doing interviews, but Cal has declined most of them. However in this climatic situation Cal agreed.  We followed them across town to the news office. The news reporter seemed pleased that we stopped by to share our story.  It will be interesting to read the article she will write about the ride.

Approaching the end of the ride!!!

Rainy River and Canada Ahead!!

The end of the ride at last!!!  Dipping the front wheel in the river RAGBRAI Style!!
The last 55 miles today were fairly level, with only a few long slow grades.  Early this morning there was minor wind, but later there were intermittent headwinds which slowed him down.  At one point there was enough rain for Cal to change into his rain jacket, but then it stopped.  It was not a warm day (high of 55), but the sun did shine this afternoon. Really we have been extremely fortunate to have encountered very little rain during this ride.
The farther north we drove, the more colors there were in the leaves.  The Aspens are turning a beautiful golden yellow, but we are too early for the peak of colors. 
We are now on our way home to Iowa. I do not know when or from where I will be blogging next. There are no final plans on the table! 

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Tuesday, September 16, 2014: South of Virginia, MN to Orr, MN.

This morning we lingered over breakfast with our friends, enjoying their view of the lake and the early morning sun.  So until Cal began riding where we stopped yesterday, it was 10:00.  Today the terrain was flatter than yesterday, allowing Cal to ride 65 miles by the time we arrived in Orr, MN. It was 4:30 and time to stop for the day.   This morning when Cal began riding, the wind was coming out of the south, but during the course of the day, it turned so that by late this afternoon it was coming from the north!  Directly in his face!!  That wind!     

We are seeing more colors in the trees each day, so we know autumn is here! This has been an interesting year – we also went through autumn while in Australian and New Zealand in May & June!

Autumn Colors are appearing

We are enjoying the beauty of the lakes.  There are tranquil feelings when you see lovely shorelines (some rocky, some with reeds), or you see boats or canoes at docks, or even empty docks.  They all give you a calming laid back feeling.     
The wildlife we have been seeing the last several days - Canadian geese, and deer, but numerous mature bald eagles have been flying over us.  Today one sat in a tree top right in front of Cal – his photo is out of focus. 
Today we crossed the Laurentian Divide – we had never heard of this.  This is the divide where the watershed of streams flows north to the Arctic Ocean, and the watershed of streams that go southeast goes to the Atlantic Ocean via Lake Superior and St Lawrence Seaway.  Interesting!  There is also a divide for the watershed that flows to the Gulf of Mexico via the Mississippi River.  This is stuff that we simply do not think about.
Tomorrow will be the last day!  Cal is ready to reach International Falls, MN.  He had approximately 55 miles to go, but he will have a head wind!!
Lodging in Orr, Minnesota - Pelican Lake

Pelican Lake from the Lodge

Monday, Sept 15, 2014: Duluth, MN to near Virginia, MN

Cal knew that this morning would be a tough ride.  He had to peddle up out of the river bottom at Duluth.  It seemed like continuous hills.  Thank goodness the shoulders of the roads were wide.  He finally arrived at Hwy #53.  We will be on Hwy #53 until we arrive at our destination, International Falls, MN, approximately 162 miles. The end is almost in sight!

Hills and scenery near Duluth

Country Church

Cal Bundled up to stay warm
Tonight we are staying with Rotary friends on Lake Vermillion so around 3:30 Cal stopped riding and we drove to our friends beautiful lakeside home.  Cal had hoped to ride a little farther today, but due to the hills he was short of his goal.  He rode 53 miles today.
I need to say a bit about the Rotarians we stayed with tonight.  Both of us couples were in Australia for the International Convention.  We were waiting for Registration to open when we met – a long way to go to meet someone!!  You never know who you will meet around the Rotary Wheel!  They definitely have a piece of Paradise on Lake Vermillion, MN where they live the year around.  He has a company that deals with the production of rubber lining for pipes that are involved in transporting iron ore.  We had no idea of the extent of the iron ore resources in this area.
Being on a Lake meant a boat ride before going to dinner at the lovely Fountain Bay Casino Country Club.    Lake Vermillion covers a large area and there are many lovely homes facing the waterfront.  Fountain Bay Casino is on Native American grounds.  We had a lovely meal and evening.
Boat Ride on Lake Vermillion

Boat and Dock

Our Friends Lake Front Home

View of the Lake from the Deck

Morning View of the Lake

Sunday, September 14, 2014: Siren, WI to Superior, WI (Duluth, MN)

It was another chilly morning.  The temperature was actually a little warmer than Saturday morning, but the wind was much stronger, so that it felt colder.  We drove back to Siren to the location by the lake where Cal stopped yesterday - one of the many Wisconsin lakes, and Cal began riding.   It was a sunny day, thank goodness, so it did warm up to be comfortable with a jacket. The topography is rolling with a few steep grades. At one point we left the Gulf of Mexico watershed and entered the Lake Superior watershed which in the end flows to the North Atlantic.  So when we crossed that watershed line it was in reality “downhill” to Superior!!!! 

Wisconsin has a series of roads called “Rustic roads”.  I don’t remember how, but we have a “Rustic Roads” guide book, however I don’t have it with me.  Along the way I have seen signage for several Rustic roads, but I have not driven on them.  This morning Cal would remain on the same road for hours so I decided to drive on two of the “Rustic Roads”.  These actually are just “back roads” that are very nice.  The one road went between two lakes whereas the other wound through a forest.  They were lovely drives.  The whole drive today was lovely – birch, aspen and pine forests surrounding lakes and marshes. The leaves are just beginning to change.  Every once in a while there is a bright red tree, but very few.
Siren - Lake along the road

Serene dock along the lake

Birch Forest
For lunch we stopped at a little gas station/bar and grill along the road (nothing else around).  We have been riding/driving in very rural Wisconsin today.  No major towns! This place the “Dry Dock” was also a DNR point where hunters bring their game to be weighed and tagged. Bear hunting season in Wisconsin began last Wednesday.  They were telling me there are approximately 40,000 black bear in northern Wisconsin.  Hunters in Wisconsin can use dogs, whereas across the line in Minnesota they cannot - we were approximately 8 miles from Minnesota. Last Friday this DNR point weighed and tagged 2 bear.  One weighed 142 lbs and the other 202 lbs.   
Local Scene at the Gar Station

Yellow River - Flowing North

Path in the Woods

High Trestle Bridge

After this lunch stop we came to an area where a high trestle bridge spanned a river gorge.  I stopped to take a photo of the bridge when I saw something black swimming in the water.  By the time I was in position for a photo, it was to the other side of the river – I think it was a black bear – if not, a large black dog, but since there are bear in the area I am certain it was a bear. 
We made it to Superior WI.  We loaded the bike and drove to a hotel in Duluth, MN. On our way we stopped at a Visitors Center at the top of a hill.  What a view of the whole area, the St Louis River, St Louis Bay, Superior Bay, Duluth harbor, Superior harbor, ships in the harbor, large grain elevators, an iron ore depot where they were loading ships, and the city. Duluth, MN and Superior, WI area is very busy (maybe not as busy as in its heyday).  In the hills above the city of Duluth there is a Skyline Drive. After dinner tonight in the refurbished Clyde Machinery Works, we drove on the Skyline Drive.  This is a beautiful way to see the city. It was just at dusk so the city lights were shinning.  
Another Scenic Lake along the road

Rail Cars loaded with Iron Ore

Docks where Iron Ore is loaded onto Ships
We had learned about iron ore being shipped out of Duluth when we visited the Upper Peninsula of Michigan several years ago, as most of the shipwrecks on Lake Superior were ships loaded with iron ore coming out of Duluth. The Edmund Fitzgerald was the last major ship wreck on Lake Superior in 1975.  While at the restaurant tonight we inquired about where iron ore is mined.  There are mountain ranges about an hour from Duluth (that we will be going near) that has underground and open pit iron ore mines.  
Due to the natural resource of iron ore in the area there were steel mills.  The Clyde Machinery Works made all sorts of machinery that was used to build the Panama Canal, San Francisco Bay Bridge, Hoover Dam, etc.  At one point Duluth was a very industrial city, including ship building during both World Wars.  Clyde Machinery Works is no longer in existence, so they have converted part of the complex into a great restaurant, bar, and event center, while keeping its history.  We are glad for the recommendation to eat there. 
Duluth at Night
Lift Bridge between Lake Superior and the Duluth Harbor