We decided to start off our first trip to Argentina “Carmen and Andy style” with a few days of trekking in southern Patagonia! After riding on five planes, 2 taxis, a van, and a bus we arrived 7,000 miles from Grand Rapids, MI in El Chaltén, a tiny town at the 49th parallel nestled just inside the Los Glaciares National Park on the border of southern Chile. For the North American folks, we are as far south as Vancouver, B.C is north. However, the only land mass below us is Antarctica. We are even further south than the southern island of New Zealand.
It is cold here, between 15 and 35 degrees F depending on the sunshine. We are staying in a little cabin that allows us to walk out our doorstep into the park. In our first two days here we have already trekked 24 miles!
The peaks, glaciers and lakes are obviously amazing as you will see in the photos. The elevation change between the town and the highest peak, “Fitz Roy,” is about 3,000 meters or 9,800 feet. The mountains stick out like giant needles, much more jagged than the 10,000 foot peaks in the U.S.
So far we’ve managed to stay warm in this chilly May.
This month, we decided to take a break from the city with a journey to Michigan’s Jordan River, an 80% spring fed waterway that was the first to be Federally designated as a “wild and scenic” river in Michigan . The river valley is a 160 mile drive straight north of Grand Rapids, so it made for an easy escape from the city. We hiked an 18 mile loop trail which encircles the Jordan river and stayed at the half-way point called Pinney Bridge, a well developed set of hike in campsites.
Along the trail we were surrounded by ramps, also known as wild leeks. We added them to our pasta dinner at the campground. Last time we hiked the loop we were fortunate to find wild blackberries and this time we were also fed with the ramps.
After the hike we drove to the best brewery in northern Michigan, Shorts Brewing, and had a sandwich and some great beers. We returned to the city refreshed and tired at the same time.
4TBS olive oil
3 oz lamb bacon, chopped
1 cup of frozen kale thawed
1 oz dried shitake mushrooms reconstituted in warm water
10 wild ramps chopped
Boil pasta and mix with saute and a little bit of the cooking water. Salt to taste.
A few weekends ago we backpacked at the Nordhouse Dunes Wilderness Area in Northern Michigan with our friends Avik and Bridget. Besides the amazing weather, exercise and relaxation, we ate Andy’s coconut milk goat curry with couscous, a dish that would have been amazing at home but was even better on the beach. Recipe follows….
Andy’s Coconut Milk Goat Curry Stew
One of the recipes we encountered this summer after traveling in the Yukon was for a Dal Sheep curry stew.
We saw goat from S&S Lamb at the farmers market and this made a nice substitute for the basis of the recipe.
Meat and Marinade
1 pound chopped goat meat
1 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tsp each whole cumin, coriander, peppercorns, ajwain, cloves
1/2 cinnamon stick
1 tsp tumeric
3 dried hot chilies
1 tsp salt
3 shallots, diced
5 small carrots, chopped
5 small potatoes, chopped
1 jalapeno, diced
1 TBS olive oil
8 oz coconut milk (unsweetened)
1. Dry roast the whole spices then grind with the chilies and cinnamon stick in a coffee grinder. Add tumeric and salt then combine with the white wine and olive oil. Toss with the meat and let set 2-8 hours in the refridgerator.
2. Saute the shallot 2-3 min then add the carrots, potatoes, and jalapenos. Cook until soft. Add the meat and marinade and saute the meant until browned. Add the coconut milk and simmer for 15 min (if camping) or up to 2 hours on low at home.
Serve over couscous.
32 days, 31 nights (16 in Canada, 15 in the U.S)
8,671 driving miles (Andy,8561; Carmen, 110; Dad, 0)
140 hours in the car
100 miles driven on dirt roads
60 miles driven on “roller coaster” permafrost damaged pavement
29 gas fill ups (we made around 30 MPG in our station wagon)
12 states and provinces (MI, IN, IL, WI, MN, ND, MB, SK, AB, BC, YT, AK)
17 nights camping in a tent
6 hotel stays
4 rustic cabin stays
4 home stays
3 hot spring stops
4 laundrymat stops
10 days WITHOUT rain
4 days WITHOUT driving
64 miles hiked
2, 60 min sets of music memorized for the tour
10 original pieces performed
12 original arrangements performed
1 Piazzolla composition memorized: Tango of Today (last mvt. from History of Tango)
16 music rehearsals (…a miracle amount for a tour!…looks like we’re still classical musicians after all…)
8 different musicians jammed/performed with
3 tango workshops taught
5 dance rehearsals
3 stage dance performances (1 milonga, 2 tangos)
12 grocery store stops
17 camp dinners
15 meals out to eat
15 tea and oatmeal breakfasts by Andy
15 car lunches by Carmen
27 meals with fish
10 gas station purchases of Minute Maid 100% apple juice
1 fast food stop (in Illinois…on the way home)
4 kinds of regional wine sampled (all from BC)
38 kinds of local beers sampled: (2 from WI, 2 from MN, 2 from BC, 3 from SK, 4 from AB, 11 from YT, 14 from AK)
lowest temp: 35 degrees F, dawn at Wonder Lake, Denali NP
highest temp: 90 degrees F, Minneapolis, MN
lowest gas price: $3.55/gallon, Woodbury, MN
highest gas price: $1.42/liter ($5.40/gallon), Fort Nelson, BC
number of times the low fuel light came on in the car: 3
number of cops we saw between Edmonton and Fairbanks: 1
Fairbanks to Alaska according to Google: 3518 miles in 71 hours
Fairbanks to Alaska driving miles and time done by Andy: 3775 miles in 64 hours
Best Gig Decor: Prospectors Pizzeria and Alehouse Denali, AK
Best Gig Attendance: Tango at the Westmark Hotel Fairbanks, AK
Best Gig Venue: Ballroom at the Wood Center UA Fairbanks
Best Audience: Off The Road House Tok, AK
Best Gig View: Tie: Atlin Music Festival Atlin, BC with Village Bakery Haines Junction, YT
Best Organization/Tech/Sound Crew: Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival, Thanks Judy and Jeff!
Perseverance Award: Arts in the Park Whitehorse, YT. It poured rain for an outdoor gig and we still had a nice audience. Thanks Steve!
Best Restaurant Food: Lemongrass Fairbanks, AK. Smoking hot Thai food!!!
Best Fish:1st Place: Open fire grilled lingcod on a bed of veggie udon, homemade at Kathleen Lake, Kluane NP
2nd Place: Bouillabaisse from The Pumphouse Fairbanks, AK
3rd place: Halibut topped with melted Brie and Saskatoon berries from The Klondike Barbeque Whitehorse, YT
Best Beer: Silver Gulch Brewery Fox, AK, northern most brewery in North America. Order the 40 below NITRO imperial stout!
Best Water: Roadside spring water tap in Fox, AK
Best Coffee: Chocolate Claim Whitehorse, YT
Best Lodging: Chena Hot Springs Resort
Best Bed: Mary’s place in Fairbanks
Best Host/Organizer: Bob Barnes in Minneapolis, MN
Best Hiking: King’s Throne Summit, Kluane National Park, YT
Best Camping: Wonder Lake, Denali NP, AK
Best weather: mostly sunny, 70s, and no wind in Kluane National Park gave us view of Mt. Logan from King’s Throne Summit
Worst weather: lower 40s and raining, first day travel to Wonder Lake Denali
Best bathroom: Bobby’s in Fairbanks, poshed out individual rooms, and next to the mirrors, inside a white leather booth seat….a fire engine red rotary phone (that works!)
Worst bathroom: Alaska highway pit toilet rest stop mile 664.1, don’t ask
Best Gas Stations: Wisconsin, affordable gas, good “food selection,” New Glarus beer….
Must Have Book for the Alcan (Alaska-Canada Highway): The Milepost
We know that when we return to Michigan we will be asked at least 100 times, “did you see any bears!?”
For the record, here is a list with the numbers of wildlife we counted on the trip.
8 Black Bears (all from the car)
10 Grizzly Bears (9 from the car, 1 on foot, 50 feet away on the trail-which terminated our hike that day…)
2 Grey Wolves (one each alpha male and female seen from the bus on different days in Denali-both radio collared)
Groups of: Caribou, Dall Sheep, Stone Sheep, Bison
Birds: snowy white owl, barn owl, white throated sparrow, arctic terns, tanager, grey jay, jagger, rock ptarmigan, spruce ptarmigan, scaup, white winged scooter, falcons, a merlin, golden eagles, ravens, crows, great white herons, arctic swans, bald eagle, loons, ducks….
Other Appearances: arctic ground squirrels and a pesky weasel in the Yukon that knew how to open RV doors!