After experiencing so many beautiful and colourful birds in Costa Rica, Mandrew got a bit obsessed with his feathered friends. Here's a collection of his favourite bird photos from our wanderings around the Americas. Enjoy!
To check out the album in Flickr, click here.
The highlight of my summer was definitely our incredible two week canoe trip down the Teslin and Yukon Rivers. Unlike last year’s trip, this time Chelsea and I had some company – both our dads (Doug and Jim) came along for the ride, and Chelsea’s brother Shawn & his friend Sarah joined us for the second half. As much as we enjoy each other’s company, it was a nice change to have some other people around to mix things up (and allow more options for the evening card games!). One of the best parts for me was being able to share such an awesome trip with my dad, who’s the main reason I’m into all this outdoorsy nature stuff to begin with. Thanks everyone for helping pack the trip with so many unforgettable moments! =)
Since it’s taken me such a long time to put together this post (I’ve been busy, get off my back!), I’ll skip the nitty gritty details and stick to some of the more memorable moments. If you’re interested in the practical details on the trip, I stuck those at the end. So, with no further doo-doo, I present to you "Stories from the River". Enjoy!
Who needs bear spray when you’ve got Mandrew Musk™?
One morning before we’d all gotten up, Doug was lying awake in his tent when he heard something moving around beside him. He peeked out and saw a black bear sniffing about. Not wanting to alarm anyone (or the bear) he quietly watched as it made its way around our camp and over to our tent. Just as it reached us I happened to rip out a nice loud fart, startling the bear and causing it to flee for its life. Yup, I've got skills.
Not to toot our own horns or anything, but we've got some really awesome photos. For a limited time (i.e. as long as the internet has yet to implode), we're sharing a collection of some of our personal favourites that we think will look darn good on your desktop backgrounds! Hooray!
Take a look in the slideshow below, or click here to download the full set in high resolution. Wow!
For instructions on adding them to your desktop background, click here.
To open photo slideshow in another window, click here.
I'd like to present our latest video, a photo-based guide sharing some advice on how to best appreciate nature. I had a lot of fun putting this one together, looking over our vast and ever-growing collection of photos from our adventures in the wild. Hope you all enjoy! - Mandrew
As we’ve stressed many times before (with such claims as “La Paz Sucks”), we’re not city people, and so weren’t really looking forward to passing through Santiago. In this case, however, we were pleasantly surprised! I’m not saying we loved it, but we did spend a couple enjoyable days walking around the relatively clean and attractive city, wandering the parks and admiring the colourful street murals.
For me, the most enjoyable part by far was our afternoon at the huge and attraction-packed Metropolitan Park, located on atop a forested hill overlooking the city. One of the largest urban parks in the world, within its over 700 hectares it contains multiple botanical gardens, a zoo, a religious sanctuary, and by far the best part, a long funicular saving you from the hour or more uphill walk. Just what is a funicular, you ask? Well, it’s something between an elevator and a trolley, using cables to pull cars along tracks up the side of a hill. Why the absurd name, you ask? Well, it’s because FUN + SPECTACULAR = FUNICULAR!! Wouldn’t that make “funacular" or “funtacular”, you ask? Well, why don’t you just shut up!
After our amazing ride up, we decided to make our way over to the botanical gardens in order to appease our nature cravings. From atop the hill were some great views of the city skyline, and because we were lucky enough to be there on a relatively smog-free day we could actually see across the valley to the mountains behind (kind of). Being located in a valley as it is, air pollution is a huge problem in Santiago. We were both pretty disturbed by the brownish hue looming over the city, and to think that this was a good day is pretty disturbing. While admiring the view at a lookout, we ran into Eleanor, a technical writer from Seattle who’s been solo-traveling her way through Chile. We ended up hanging out with her for a few hours, sharing travel-stories and getting some great advice for our upcoming trip to Patagonia. In the late afternoon we parted ways so Chelsea and I could make it to opera. Yeah, we do stuff like go to the opera, because we’re fancy people.
After a couple days in Santiago, we were ready to move on to the much more highly-anticipated Valparaiso, a port city about an hour bus ride from Santiago. A beautiful and hilly city made up of arsty-fartsy bohemian-types and sketchy port-workers, Valparaiso took all the things we liked about Santiago and somehow made them ten zillion times better; where Santiago has one funicular, for example, Valparaiso has FIFTEEN. Booya! We stayed in the cafe-packed neighbourhood atop Cerro Alegre (happy hill), and from the minute we arrived we were amazed by just how picturesque the city really is. From atop the hill, everywhere we looked was packed full of colourful buildings, elaborate graffiti and murals, and it was almost impossible to walk anywhere without stopping every few steps to take another photo.
As luck would have it, our new friend Eleanor was staying at an hospedaje just down the street from us, so we met up with her the next day to explore. In search of fun-icular times, we decided to try and tackle as many of the badboys as we could, an interesting goal that promised some scenic views of the city. We reviewed our maps, put together a rough route and hit the road with a skip in our steps. Things quickly ground to a halt, however, when we reached the top of our first funicular, ascensor San Augustín, and were warned by the operator that it wasn't safe to leave the tiny building. Apparently we were about to stroll into the sketchy neighbourhood atop Cerro Cordillera, where walking around as tourists with our day packs and cameras would surely get us mugged. We asked if it was safe to at least pop our heads out for a look, but were warned that someone may catch a glimpse of us and end up following us down! WTF?! This caught us completely off guard, since we'd already walked around Cerro Alegre and the downtown core the previous night and felt completely comfortable. To be safe, though, we resignedly rode back down and modified our plans.
Valparaiso is an awesome city to explore by foot (avoiding the sketchy parts...), guaranteed to bring out the photographer in anyone. We wandered the streets taking in the breathtaking coastal views and admiring the variety of colourful graffiti, ranging from small but detailed characters to multi-storey murals on the sides of apartment buildings. We wandered all over town, checked out the large cemetery overlooking the city (Eleanor seems to be fascinated by monuments to dead people), stopped for a delicious fish almuerzo (an affordable two or three-course lunch typical in Chile), and managed to ride four of the fun-tacular elevators (last time, I promise). We wrapped up the day at our hostel, sharing some of Chelsea’s home-cooked Thai curry, a couple bottles of delicious Chilean wine, and an action-packed Jenga tournament. Thanks, Eleanor, for the awesome day!
After stumbling on countless teenagers rolling and smoking doobies in the many secluded stairways and alleys on the previous day’s wanderings, temptation kicked in and we managed to score some of the good stuff from one of the guys working reception at our hostel. Needless to say, our second day in Valparaiso consisted of much more bein’ chili, relaxing, listening to music, watching movies... when in Rome!
Our next stop is Puerto Montt, where we hope to rent a car and spend a couple weeks exploring Patagonia!
Until then, keep eating your beans!
To open Santiago photos in another window, click here.
To open Valparaiso photos in another window, click here.