Thursday, February 23, 2012

Photo of the Day: Multnomah Falls, Oregon, USA

Multnomah Falls, Oregon, USA (photo by Luis Bastardo)

Last July, one of our friends decided to cycle from Seattle, WA to Portland, OR in the annual STP race. Luis and I promised to meet her at the finish line and decided to make a long weekend of the trip. We drove the four hours down to Portland, Oregon, stopping on the way to explore the area. One of our stops was the stunningly beautiful Columbia River Gorge, a 4,000 foot (1219 meters) deep section of the Columbia River, the largest river in the Pacific Northwest region of North America. The area is under federal protection as the Columbia Gorge National Scenic Area, which spans two states, Washington and Oregon and encompasses 292,500 acres.   

Multnomah Falls, a double cascade on the Historic Columbia River Highway, is the second highest year-round waterfall in the United States at 620 feet (189 meters). One of the most popular attractions in Oregon, the falls receive almost 2 million visitors a year. Although the falls can be seen from below, they are even more impressive up close. Luis and I hiked up to Benson Bridge, which sits atop the first tier, then continued the hike up to the top of the falls, which has a lookout that allows visitors to experience a dizzying look at the entire cascade, as well as spectacular views of the gorge.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Photo of the Day: Lupin and Bee, Junin de Los Andes, Argentina

Lupin and bee, Junin de los Andes, Argentina (photo by Luis Bastardo)

In the summer of 2010, after living for almost five years in Buenos Aires, Luis and I decided that it was time to return to the United States the following spring, so decided to spend our last months exploring as much of Argentina and Chile as we could. We bought our first tent together, deciding to go for the smallest, lightest two-person version since we would be backpacking and would need to carry all of our supplies and gear on our backs while potentially hiking for hours or wandering around new towns trying to find an available campsite. With only the loosest of travel plans (as usual), we took a series of long-distance buses first to the west, then to the south of Argentina, with the objective of crossing paths at the beginning of January with our fellow globe-trotting friends from New York, who, at that very moment, were making their own way down through Bolivia and Chile to arrive at Torres del Paine National Park in the southern end of Patagonia.

On the way to our rendezvous, we found ourselves in the lovely town of Junin de los Andes on Christmas Day. Junin (pronounced hoo-NEEN) is a cozy community of tidy, colorful homes with flower-filled cottage gardens, a leafy central square bordered by cafes and crystal clear, frigid, fast-running rivers swimming with fat, shimmering trout. Our campsite was carpeted with roses of every variety and we woke each morning to the lovely perfumed air and the hypnotic collective hum of buzzing bees. Every home and storefront was edged with flowerbeds of every variety, scent and color; especially prevalent were the lupins, usually deep royal blue or purple, but also seen in lemon yellow, pale pink or deep fuchsia. Luis caught one of the bees in action pollinating a lupin one afternoon and snapped this lovely photo which, even in its simplicity (or perhaps, especially), captures the mood of Junin exactly.