desert

Pan-American Roadtrip

Pan-American Roadtrip

That very afternoon, Chewie plowed–in one six-hour-long breath­–a heroic 500km on the Pan-American Highway (Ruta 5) from Santiago to Vicuña. We arrived at Alfa Aldea, a sort of basic but charming hostel in the back of a vineyard, with… a giant telescope. And that’s part of the reason we came here: The Elqui Valley, mostly known for growing Pisco grapes, has for whatever reason also collected a critical mass of entrepreneurial stargazers. Having hardly dropped off our bags, we jumped into a guided, outdoor tour of the Southern Skies. The many, many photos (yet to be deciphered) on Chewie’s camera will be a testament to his newfound enthusiasm for stargazing.

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LA side trips

LA side trips

While in town for the wedding, we took the opportunity to explore LA. Some googling later we found this nice patch of wilderness called Upper Las Virgenes Canyon Open Space just a short drive northwest of Santa Monica. In the summer it's mostly a rolling sea of grass flecked with shrubs and the occasional oak, but atop one of the many smallish hills is a locally well-known grotto by the name of Cave of Munitz. The climb is steep and a bit precarious at places but nothing beyond the skills of a determined lay excursionist, and in fact, slightly piqued our interest in bouldering.

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