Everyday Champagne | Chile
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Patagonia Sur

We had already driven nearly three hours when we hit the rough gravel outside of El Chalten. Ugh, we have to almost be there. Gonzo (a nickname), our driver, turned around and said, “It’s about another hour, and I’m sorry, but the road is really bumpy.”

 

Now we were getting a bit crabby, but hey, it’s the start of our vacation adventure. Bumpy, however, was not the right word. It was like driving through a tank trap. But we finally arrived at the boat dock, to the smiling faces of our awaiting boat. Then Gonzo promptly threw my luggage in the lake (accidentally) while trying to heave it on the boat. (It was retrieved after a minute or so.)

 

After a 10-minute boat ride, we arrived at our lodge’s boat dock on the other side of Lago Desierto as it started to spit rain. We walked quickly up the hill to be greeted by more smiling faces for a quick tour of the beautiful lodge.

 

We then started to hear things like eco-friendly, no power these hours, no hot water these hours, put all trash (even bathroom and toilet trash) in garbage, blah, blah, blah, and, oh, yeah, no WiFi.

 

“Wait, what?” we both said.

 

Following came an explanation about location, access, power, blah, blah, blah. Come on, they get WiFi on the moon.

 

We got to our room, looked at each other and I said, “We just drove 110 hours and feel like we just got out of a clothes dryer, arrived here to find limited power, water and no WiFi, and they threw my luggage in the water. What the hell did we book? Are we camping?”

 

Guess what? It was one of the best hotel experiences of our extensive travels. Typical spoiled Americans.

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sky bar 2

2017 Highlights and Prancers

We began and ended 2017 in a similar fashion: on a hiking/biking trip on the California coast. Are we in a rut? Maybe—but it’s cold in Minnesota at the beginning and ending of the year, and in California, it’s… Not.

 

Granted, the two trips were a bit different. 2017 started in Montecito, with more hiking and hills than biking and ocean. And, of course, the tiny prancing dogs that populate the streets of Montecito (with accompanying owners) are a bit more pretentious, with a tad more Botox.

 

2017 ended in Carmel, with more biking and ocean than hiking. The Carmel dogs are more laid back, relaxed, friendly and comfortable in their skin—eschewing the Botox and the covering of grays.

(Yes, it’s true that dogs do look like their owners.)

 

And then there was everything in between the prancer parades bookending the year:

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morning valley

Chile’s Wine Country

The best gin and tonic I’ve ever had was in Santiago, Chile.

 

It wasn’t that special (Hendrick’s and Fever Tree), but after more than a week of wine for breakfast, lunch, happy hour, and dinner, it tasted like springtime.

 

It surprised us to know you can get tired of wine. Of course, it was momentary. After the gin, we had wine with dinner.

 

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