Friday, February 27, 2015

february...at home and abroad

We were away most of the month...and returned home last weekend to find that spring had arrived in our valley!


The magnolia that always blooms at the beginning of April...is blooming.  As are the daffodils...the crocuses...the Easter rose and the heather.  And the snow has been rapidly disappearing from our favorite peaks.

Let me give you a brief overview of our most excellent adventure...and then I'll take you back to some of the ports of call over the the coming weeks.  We took a cruise around the Cape Horn of South America...a cruise that began in Buenos Aires, Argentina and ended in Santiago, Chile.  We added on a week-long land tour in Peru at the end...and were so glad we did.  Let's start at the beginning.

It seems there is no simple way to get from Vancouver to Buenos Aires...and after trying unsuccessfully to book our flights, I finally gave up and opted for the flights that were made available through the cruise line.  The price was right...though I was a little leery about flying via Toronto and JFK at the end of January.  For good reason!  We barely made our connecting flight in Toronto...and then sat on the tarmac for an hour while the plane was de-iced.  In New York, we ran to our boarding gate and arrived just as the last of the passengers were loading.  Whew!  Had we flown a day or two earlier, we would have had to re-book our flights, since JFK was shut down due to the storm of the century (the one that never lived up to its name!).  From there on, it was smooth sailing to Argentina.  We left Vancouver at 8 AM and arrived at our hotel in Buenos Aires the following afternoon at 3:30. We had a full day before the scheduled cruise...and we were ready to explore!


We stayed right in the heart of the city and had a wonderful time walking everywhere!  The city felt like Paris to us.  Once we were on the cruise ship...we learned that Buenos Aires is known as the 'Paris of South America'. 


Our first port of call was Montevideo...the capital of Uruguay and home to almost half of the population of the country. I have a good friend who was born in this country...so I took notes.


Next stop...Puerto Madryn, a Welsh settlement in the Patagonian region of Argentina.  We checked out the sea lions lazing in the sun on the beautiful beaches.  In the distance a storm was brewing!



In the Falkland Islands (comprised of East Falkland, West Falkland and some 776 small islands about 300 miles from the Argentine coast) we docked at Stanley and rode a 4x4 SUV across the island to see the rockhopper penguins.  How well I recall the conflict for control of these islands between Britain and Argentina in 1982.  The islands remain a United Kingdom Overseas Territory...and all the locals that we met were very proud to be British (and huge fans of Margaret Thatcher!).



They were most charming!


And then...we sailed around Cape Horn!  It was a cool day...but relatively calm when we navigated around the cape. Cape Horn is the southernmost tip of South America...where wild seas and strong winds are the norm and have kept human settlement away.  The only inhabitants are the 'lighthouse keeper' and his family...who belongs to the Chilean Navy. Just south of Cape Horn is the Drake Passage...once the only way for ships to move from the Atlantic to Pacific Ocean. 



Ushuaia...the gateway to Antarctica, is the southernmost city in the world.  We drove to the very end of the Pan-American Highway...which put us some 17,848 kms. from Alaska.  As I recall...it was much warmer in Alaska!

We saw many glaciers from our ship as we sailed by...though we missed the big one in Chile (the Amalia Glacier) as we had very rough seas that day and the captain stayed away from the shoreline to be on the safe side.  I wasn't much in the mood for viewing glaciers that day anyhow...I felt more like feeding the fish, if you know what I mean!



We spent some time in Punta Arenas, Chile...where we drove for hours across the Patagonian steppes and checked out the penguins at Otway Sound.  It may be summer over there...but the wind never stops blowing and winter jackets are the norm.


Puerto Montt, Chile was one of our favorite shore excursions. We walked off the ship and met a tour guide whose scheduled tour for the day had fallen through...and he offered to take us out on a private tour.  He spoke English well, taught tourism at the university and was  storehouse of knowledge.  We drove to the Osorno volcano (pictured above), checked out the farms...and the German villages and took note of the beautiful flowers growing everywhere.

Our cruise ended in Valparaiso, Chile...a large seaport just an hours drive from Santiago.  From there...we flew to Lima, Peru for a one-week land tour.  That landed up being the highlight of our trip! We spent one night in Lima and then flew to Cusco...elevation 11,150 feet above sea level.  Yes, altitude sickness is for real! Thankfully it was short-lived for us.


It was Carnival time in Peru and we enjoyed the parades and celebrations happening in every city square.


Driving through the Peruvian countryside...with farming happening on terraced mountaintops...was a treat!

The highlight?  Machu Picchu!


We met two other couples on our cruise who were also doing the land tour in Peru...and we became fast friends.  Tim and Julie were from El Paso, Texas and Bob and Brenda live in Arizona.  They were the best of travel mates on our Peru adventure and we had a lot of laughs!


We happened to be in Peruvian Andes during the rainy season...which means it rains pretty much every day!  We came prepared with rain gear...but actually enjoyed amazing weather.  The river flowing by our hotel at Macchu Picchu was muddy and angry!  Scary...actually!



We ended our time in Peru with a tour of Lima...the capital city that is known for its sunless, gray skies.  Really?  It was lovely when we were there. Being in a desert area...the city only gets 2.4 inches of rain per year (that's half of what Palm Springs gets). 

After three weeks of exploring South America...it was high time to fly home!


Oh what a treat for the eyes...this window view as we flew into Vancouver on a sunny February afternoon. 


There really is no place like home!

As I unpack my photos...I'll share our adventures at the various ports of call...tell you about the people we met along the way...the places we visited and the foods we ate (and those we were not brave enough to try!). 


This week, we caught up with all the kids, and the grands...visited Dad and Marge...and mostly 'took care of business'.  It seems I have spent much of the week in the office...and hubby has been working out in the fields.  Who knew spring would come so early this year?

Thanks for stopping by!






Wednesday, January 28, 2015

january in the rear-view mirror...

I know.  
January is not yet quite done...
but I'm posting my month-in-review a few days early.

Though this should have been the month for winter weather...
it mostly passed us by.


We had a lot of sunshine...
and balmy temperatures.
The sheep down the road were sorry they couldn't shed their winter coats!
 

Just for the record...
let me share a few pic's that prove we did have a touch of winter.
First came a dusting of snow.
That part was great!
Then came the freezing rain.
That we could have done without!
Though it was pretty...
it wreaked havoc with trees.
Branches soon broke off and many homes were without power.

We also had some good family times this January...
from celebration dinners to visitors from afar.
Earlier this month...
my brother and his wife flew out from Iowa for a week.
My sister came from Manitoba at the same time...
so we had a bit of a family reunion.
And they had a bit of reprieve from winter.

Though 'the roses' may not be blooming in the Midwest just yet...
it seems they think it is spring over here.
The camellia pictured above was photographed on January 12th.

We had some good sisterly times together...
including a little outing to Harrison Hot Springs Resort.


We soaked in the outdoor pools...
ate good food...
played some games...
and enjoyed the views across the lake.
 

We weren't the only ones soaking in the view!

The sunny January days were great for getting off the treadmill...
and walking outside.

Let me take you along on a January walk.
A January 20, 2015 walk...to be exact.


I left home for a walk just as the morning fog was lifting.
I took a photo...
to the west.

Half a mile down the road...
I took a photo facing east.

One mile from home...
a photo facing north.

Almost home now...
a photo to the south.



January is also a good month for watching the eagles that are hanging out in our trees.


They are a beautiful and majestic bird!
Just keep your kittens and wee puppies under lock and key. :)

My birthday came and went once more as well this month...
and it was well celebrated!

I ate much...
and cooked little.

On my birthday...
it rained a little.
 Then the sun shone bright.
A double rainbow formed across the sky.

I had to think of God's promise in Romans 8:28...
that He will make something good out of the storms that bring devastation to your life.

I love that verse.

This last weekend...
the January precipitation arrived in full force.
Huge rainfalls and record temperatures were brought on by a pineapple express weather pattern (think warm)...
caused flooding in many parts of our valley.
 All is well on the home front!


Let me end with a January sunset photo. 

All will be silent here on My Front Porch for the next while...
as I take my camera with me and set sail on a South American adventure.

Thank-you for stopping by!


Wednesday, December 31, 2014

the year that was...

As the sun sets on 2014...
let me gather a few memories of the 'year that was'.

 

We had springlike January...
one that had us hiking the local trails rather than shoveling snow!


Valentine's Day was celebrated with a grand chocolate fondue!

 

March found us in our favorite oasis in the desert. 


April ~ Easter.
Eggs, treasure hunts, paska, daffodils.

And above all...
a risen Savior.


The merry, merry month of May...
was mostly about making 'hay' and planting the crops.


June brought showers, flowers, rainbows...
and a trip to Barkerville with friends. 

 

Highlights of July included ...
picnics, bike rides,  camping trips with the grands, and a family reunion in Manitoba.


We began August at Halcyon Hot Springs in BC's Kootenay Rockies...
and spent the rest of the month close to home...
taking care of business.


We celebrated his milestone birthday on September 11th by hiking the Grouse Grind.

We also enjoyed a wonderful little RV getaway to Vancouver Island's west coast...
early in the month.

And on the farm...
the bumper crop of corn came off the fields.


October ~ a quick trip to Whistler gave us our fix of fall colour.


November...
we watched the sun set and the moon rise over the palm trees of  Palm Springs.


 December.
It began with picture perfect winter weather..


...and left us with memories of Christmas
...and family gathered together.


It ended with frigid temperatures...
creating beautiful snow-capped peaks all around.

2014.
A year of the good and the bad...
the everyday and the extra-ordinary...
the easy and the difficult...
the beautiful and the ugly...
the peaks and the valleys.
That is life!


As the year comes to a close...
I thank God for His faithfulness.
His mercies are new every morning.
Though I know not what tomorrow may hold...
I know He holds tomorrow!

Wishing you all a Happy New Year.

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