Sunday, March 10, 2013

Circuito Chico

The clouds are orange at dawn and the skies are clear; the air is crisp and clear.  What a beautiful sight!  I immediately head down to the lake to take pictures and we decide to drive back up to the panoramic point.  How different it looks from last night!  You can see out past several lakes toward Chile.  Below is the Lao Lao hotel.  The blue of the sky matches the crystal blue waters.  The hotel manager encourages us to take the gondola at Cerre Otto which takes you up to 4,600 ft. and we spend several hours up there, me taking photos and Ray taking photos for other people.  He makes many people happy today.  From the top, the 360 degree view is breathtaking.  The lake district is a favorite vacation spot for skiers in the winter and tourists in the summer.

We then drive to the National Park office for Parquet Nacional Nahuei Huapi in Bariloche proper.  It is closed-yes it is sunday.  We head to Villa Los Angostura, 50 miles NW of Bariloche on route 231 and check in at the Hosteria El Establo before going exploring. The Hosteria El Establo is a tranquil bed and breakfast on the edge of town built of logs and with a huge great room where breakfast is served. Thinking about going to Villa Traful, we decide it is too far down an unpaved road and opt instead to drive west in the direction of Chile.  Further down the road we see more and more evidence of the Chilean Puyehue volcanic eruption of 2011 that left 3-4 ft of ash in places, wiping out homes and roads.  The river is a gray landscape, stopped in time, with dead trees and no signs of life.  On the lakeshore, we come across an unusual sight.  The rocks are as light as paper and the surface is a sheet of floating pebbles.  At first sight, you would think it was mud or sand, but upon closer examination, you see it is a solid mass of pebbles sitting above 2-3 ft of water.  As the wind blows, the mass moves, breaking up in spots.  It is such a curious and fascinating phenomenon that we spend hours there.  We then drive over to the guardhouse, not sure if it is a park entrance or border checkpoint, and turn around.

It is dark by the time we return to Villa Los Angostura and our restaurant choice is poor, as it is the worst pizza ever.  We end with pretty good gelato, "helado", which is piled high on a cone, and buy enough chocolate to take home. At the chocolate store, we meet a couple from San Leandro also buying chocolate.  Bay area residents are everywhere.


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