Tag Archives: Tierra del Fuego

CGL 125 Mini-Motorcycle Diaries: The Lonely Death of a Penguin

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Walking down the beach at dusk in Peninsula de Valdez, a bundle lay motionless in the sand. Curious, I walked up to it and found a little penguin with eyes closed. I thought it was dead, but it opened its eyes and gazed at me calmly. It didn’t look injured or afraid. I got the strong impression it was waiting for something. This little creature that lived its whole life in a colony amongst its own kind, lay all alone, waiting for death. In the next couple of days, we saw two more penguins like this one, tired, alone, chest raised to the setting sun, waiting. For your last moments of this life, at least it’s a beautiful place to go.

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The next day we found another penguin on these rocks

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Sea meadow
Foals walk by.
Foals walk by

A few happy pictures of penguins in Tierra del Fuego and mainland Patagonia.

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The long march from the nest to the sea

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King Penguins: Some have their fluffy babies in front of them, others are still sitting on eggs.

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CGL 125 Mini-Motorcycle Diaries: Blubber Hogs the Beach

My brain felt like it was going to implode on the long haul from Ushuaia to Peninsula de Valdéz. The monotonous, desolate and curveless nearly two thousand kilometers of empty tundra on Ruta 3 caused near hallucinations and frequent attacks of fatigue cured only by naps along the highway and blaring ‘high quality’ pop through tinny sounding headphones. I couldn’t hear the music through the noise of the wind, so I made up words for songs, singing like a crazed maniac into the amphitheater of my helmet. “This is ground control to major Tom! Nuh nuh nuh nuuuuh nuuh nuh. This is ground control to major Tom! Dah duh deeh nuh nuh take your pills and nuh nuuuuh, tin can above the wooorld” (Thanks for keeping me awake, David Bowie).

Other times, I’d look down a long stretch of road seeking signs of life, and would see a section of the road just in front start stretching itself out in front of my eyes like I was in some kind of trippy vortex, getting further and further away while the land directly next to me rushed by, expanding infinitely into the distance. A strange trick of the landscape, or was this road actually expanding, gaining speed, like the expansion of the Universe itself? Sometimes I’d see glimmering mirages in the distance, dancing waves of fog, or clouds at the horizon that looked to be bending with the curve of the Earth.

The mind numbing ride was broken every now and then by totally unexpected wildlife in this desert like landscape. Detours took us down sandy tracks to “Loberías” and the coast, where blubbery beach bodies lay strewn along the pebbles by the hundreds.

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Big, fat, slobbering, burping sea monsters snooze on the beach. He’s not dead as I first feared, as indicated by the gaping, coughing mouth.
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Tom didn’t want me to get too close, but I couldn’t resist.
Looking tough.
But they let me know when I was close enough! Suddenly alert and heads up, all eyes turned on the intruder.
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They do look pretty tough. Hmm, maybe Tom had a point…
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But as I was about to step back a few paces (deciding Death by Beached Sea Lion would be an embarrassing way to go), thousands of pounds of blubber and muscle fled surprisingly fast down the beach a few meters. At 1/4 of their body weight, I’m apparently still more frightening.

When animals weren’t around to gawk at (or to gawk at you), we frolicked in pebble dunes, played in the sand, and generally tried to keep our bikes upright.

Steady... Steady...
Steady… Steady…
Doh!
Doh!
A looky-loo coming to survey the situation.
A looky-loo coming to survey the situation.
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Or we just took pictures of the empty landscape.

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Again, surprised by the life that thrives in this harsh environment.
Again, surprised by the life that thrives in this harsh environment. This fox is much, much smaller than Fat Fox, but seems just as inquisitive.
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An armadillo comes to investigate my bike.
And then there was this little baby. I definitely couldn't resist picking this little guy up!
And a while ago there was this baby-dillo. who I couldn’t resist picking up.

Finally arriving at a national reserve on the Peninsula de Valdez near Puerto Madryn, it was time to take a few days off to relax and do some bike maintenance.

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