Caleta Valdez and Puerto Norte-Valdez Peninsula

Trip Start Feb 17, 2010
Trip End Apr 15, 2010

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Where I stayed

Flag of Argentina  , Patagonia,
Sunday, March 14, 2010

Today was

fantastic!  At 8:30 am, Lucretia our guide met us at the hostel to go to the National Park on Valdez Peninsula.  We went to Caleta Valdez and Puerto Norte.  First we went to the little museum at park headquarters.  There was a huge right whale skeleton inside and huge elephant seals molting outside.  The elephant seals were pretty inert and blobby-looking.  They were exhausted after mating and molting so they just looked like slugs lying on the beach.  The elephant seals can stay underwater for over

2 hrs and go very deep--I can't remember if it was 1500 feet or more than that.

Anyway, very impressive.

We saw a little gray fox and armadillos around the visitor

center-restaurant-- scavanging I guess.  Of course, the animals are always by their source of food.  We also saw a small group of Magellanic penguins.  They were adorable.

Since we seem to have an obsession for food, I got confused about lunch.  We were supposed to have lunch off the truck.  Some people were eating in the headquarters cafe, so I borrowed money  from Anki and got some spinach quiche and flan with a blob of dulce de leche that I mistakenly thought was sauce for the flan until I noticed it was priced separately.  After eating, I found out we were preparing lunch on the truck.  Oh well, one lunch was enough.

After lunch we headed out to the North point where we saw sea lions.  Sea lions are not true seals like the elephant seals.

There were also more penguins.  It was here that Lou fell and sprained her ankle.  We interspersed sightseeing with getting ice and attending to poor Lou. 

Then as a final piece of good luck, we saw orca fins...even I did!  Lucretia told us how the orcas come to this beach to steal baby seals.  It is one of the few places in the world with conditions suitable for this.  Even though we were afraid that this point in the season may not yield us any sightings, we saw sea lions and I actually saw the fins of four orcas swimming near the shore.  I was so excited.  Hilary worked extremely hard to help me find them with my binoculars.  I couldn't see them with my eyes or camera lens and therefore didn't get a photo, but sometimes the unphotographed scene stays with you much longer.

I found out a lot about Patagonia when Lucretia sat next to me on the
truck.  She adores geology and loves the Patagonian landscapes,
especially here on the coast.  The deposits in Patagonia are
sedimentary.  The caleta is a product
of deposits formed by erosion.  The area between the land and this bar of sand fills in with water and then the salt flats dry out and fill
in.  Patagonia is slowly growing outward. 

Since we hit

Patagonia we have seen a lot of great skies, flat landscape with scrubby brush

-mostly browns, yellows, grayish-greens.  One piece was particularly beautiful

in the early morning light with the yellow a lemonish hue with seafoam greens.

We saw a few guanacos and sheep along the way.  Lucretia said that the pampas have grass and grazing cows.  In contrast, Patagonia has the scrubby brush with thorns that can only be eaten by sheep and guanacos.. Related to llamas and

camels with split lips, guanaco can eat the thorny brush.  When it rains, the almost non-existent grass in Patagonia grows very quickly and the
landscape looks green.  We benefited from this as it was now greener
than usual.

Some of the others saw other Patagonian wildlife:  the local

ostrich-like bird Nandu and the Patagonia hare, named mara, but I haven't seen them yet.

We got dropped off at the market and ran around.  We were not so organized but bought our meat and veggies, fruit and lunch stuff.  We started dinner at 8, by 9 pm, we served Deb's special mustard stir-fry.  We then worked on the fruit salad and a pasta salad.  A little kitten got into the leftover rice, so no rice salad.  Poor Mel did all the dishes. 

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