Iguazu Falls

03/13/2023 Iguazu Falls

We gamely set our alarm clocks for 04:30 AM and went to bed early the night before our next to last day in Argentina. It was all worth it not to miss the day in Iguazu Falls!  The day started early, like way early, like really early! Unfortunately, while we were eagerly anticipating the early disembarkation from the boat and the journey to our next stop, we did not leave the boat until almost six am. While many groused about the late start, Kathy was so eager to see the falls that she was like a kid on Christmas morning.  Nothing was going to get her down. We soon were deposited at the airport where we were rushed through security and onto the plane. The plane was delayed as it was waiting for the 50 guests to arrive from Norwegian Cruise Lines – glad they waited! Luckily, we all made it and many of us closed our eyes during the 1.5 hour Flight to the Iguazu. We were soon shepherded off the plane and into the magical rain forest of Iguazu Falls National Park. We delighted in the many sights and sounds that greeted us.

We were soon hiking down a trail to visit the upper falls.  We were presented with the panoramic view of cascading falls, with the rain forest serving as a beautiful backdrop. The cascading falls were further complimented by the beautiful rainbows that were created by the mists of the falls and the beautiful sun shining down.  We then went back up to the visitor area where we had our “free” lunch and relaxed for a bit before hiking down to the lower falls.

During the hikes we were treated to a beautiful landscape that was colored by the vast amounts of butterflies in every color. Kathy was even visited by one who rested on the back of her hand until it gently flew away to visit one of the many flowers that abounded in the area.  The butterflies competed with the brightly colored birds, including a Toucan (just like what you see on the Fruit Loops box) and birds such as Plush-crested Jays and Surucua Trogons. We saw quite a few South American Coatis (that look like long-nosed raccoons) stalking the tourist areas hoping for a bit of food to be “dropped” or left unintended by an unwary tourist.  As we waited for the bus to take us to dinner and then back to the airport, we were delighted to see some capuchin monkeys including a baby. The monkeys were going up a tree and then hanging out above an old building in the area. The baby peeped out from the top of the metal roof and shyly spied on us. I am sure she was wondering what these strange things were that were so fascinated with her. Our last stop was dinner where, as we sat to have our meal, we were surprised to see a deluge of rain descend upon the street. We all sighed in relief as the day had been sunny and beautiful and, like the rest of the trip, we had really lucked out in the weather and the wildlife we were able to see.

Soon we head back home to see the (not so) wild life in the Bauer household, Tipsy and Navin.

Enjoy the photo album from the last 20 days!

March 5-8, 2023 Adventures in Ice

The adventures have continued on our journey into the last continent on our bucket list. We enjoyed the time cruising through the islands of Antarctica, icebergs bobbing gently in the waves as we watched the scenery. The beginning and end of the last four days started quietly with us cruising at sea and finding our rhythm and living the shipboard life. As usual the day started out in the gym after a leisurely breakfast, followed by some onboard entertainment: a game of Yahtzee, and some dominos/cards.  This was followed by more laps around the decks which usually rounds out our days at sea. We have had an enjoyable time getting to know many of our shipmates and have enjoyed interacting with Barbara from CA. We find her easy-going, fun nature a good complement to Dave’s constant wise cracking. Another interesting person we have made friends with is Cosmin Birsan who sells jewelry on the ship.  Even though we declined to purchase the $180,000 ring he tried to sell to us, we have made friends with this large, but affable Romanian gentleman who won a Bronze Medal in Greco-Roman wrestling at the 2012 Athens Olympics.  After much consternation, Dave had to admit that Cosmin could probably take him in a fight (if you call bending someone in half and snapping them like a twig a “fight”.)  He gave us some good tips on places to visit in Romania and his cell number in case he is back home if we get to visit his country.

The first day inside the Antarctic Circle had Kathy wide awake at 4 am in anticipation of the first sightings of the area. Expecting to arrive at Snow Island at 06:30, she wanted to make sure she was fed, showered, and bundled up in order to claim her spot on the promenade deck.  This was where we would watch the penguins, birds, and whales on the outer islands which were expected to show up. While Snow Island lived up to its name with a lot of snow, we figured out why it was not called Penguin, Bird, or Whale Island. Oh well, maybe the next stop. The next stop was Deception Island where it did not deceive us at ALL!! We saw “porpoising” penguins frolicking in the ocean, a finback whale, a mom and baby humpback whale, and oh, and did we mention lots of penguins, and lots of lots of birds?? Success!! It was amazing seeing colonies of penguins nesting on land along with the multitudes of them swimming in the ocean. The afternoon saw us playing Yahtzee with Barbara, Kyle, and Henry where Kathy won both games. Next stop was Admiralty Bay where we saw some of the research stations, a glimpse of another whale, and some more penguins and birds. An interesting explanation of the glaciers in the area and the difference between glaciers in Alaska and Antarctica capped off a great day. Our last stop was dinner, where again the waiters hovered over Kathy to make sure no shellfish contaminated her meal. Insistent, they asked her to pre-order tomorrow’s dinner so that they could prepare her meal in advance and make sure there was no cross contamination. Kathy was presented with the next day’s menu, she ordered her meal, and they quickly adapted it and gave her a little something special.  It is nice being special, thought Kathy, although she was not willing to voice it out loud to the group in case Dave had a quip to add to quotation marks to “special”.  Of course, telling Dave later gave him ample opportunity to add his own comments!

The second day in the Antarctica was Odin’s birthday and boy did we get some presents! Not so much for Odin, though! The presents given to us as we passed Elephant Island included tons and tons of fin whales!  The whales not only weigh a ton as they are the second largest whale in the world, but the numbers of them were so high we lost count and we saw the l’ennui (boredom) increase as people started trickling into the ship from the promenade deck. (*Yawn*  Oh, another whale…) One fin whale surfaced so close to the ship that Kathy and Dave got sprayed by his blow hole!  Along with the large fin whales we were treated to more birds, including Antarctic shags, several types of petrels, terns and albatrosses, and some more Chinstrap, Adelie, and Gentoo penguins. We saw the beach in which Captain Shackelford shipwrecked and was subsequently rescued four months later and now named after him. As we were freezing on deck and feeling the cold wind and snow (while completely bundled up since it was about 31 degrees and windy) one has to wonder how the crew and captain survived in such an inhospitable land. The last evening in Antarctica was capped off by a lovely meal and brief acoustic guitar concert. A hasty retreat to our room came next where we chilled out and watched TV.  It was a great way to round out a nice day.  Tomorrow is a full day at sea, where we will follow a tried and true rhythm of workouts, strolls, and interacting with the variety of guests from around the world.

The sad end to this three day posting is that that Dave is no longer undefeated in air hockey.  It had been decades since he was last beaten. Unfortunately, he was thoroughly trounced by the 15-year old Christopher, from exit 93 in New Jersey who had already beaten Dave at basketball. Not only was he bested and injured in basketball, but has lost in air hockey and in a video car race game. Dave went to bed that night feeling his age! But, he valiantly passed the torch to a new generation.

March 2-4, 2023 A Walk in the Woods

The first of these three days started out quietly with us sailing on the Magellan Strait with no scheduled landings on the South American Coast. Since we had no excursions scheduled for today, we started out the day with a workout in the gym after a leisurely breakfast. We spent the day wandering the ship and capped off the day watching the Tom Hanks movie, “In the neighborhood.”

The second Friday of Lent dawned and it was dark, gray and very, very stormy.  The day started out with us eagerly getting up, showering, and hurriedly eating breakfast in order to be out the door by 9 am for our excursion to Fort Bulnes and Magellan Park.  In due course, the disembodied voice from over the loud speaker informed us there would be no tenders to shore today. Due to the high waves, the port in Chile would not allow us to tender over to the mainland, which, of course, meant another day of NOTHING! Well, almost nothing…okay maybe more than nothing.  Now what?????

We were showered and fed, so what now? A stroll around the deck as the wind buffeted us from side to side made a fun workout and we, like others, took pictures of us with our hair being swept sideways as the wind tried to carry us away. That soon grew old, or was it cold? Coming inside Dave, Kyle and Henry got involved with a rousing game of dominos while Kathy braved the outside.  She did a few laps while listening to her book and came in to periodically check the status of the game. The high score went to Dave, but apparently (much to his chagrin) high score is bad and he was thoroughly trounced on his first try at dominos. Dave and Kathy then visited the library where we picked up a game of Yahtzee.  Dave managed to redeem himself and wrested out the best two out of three games from Kathy. Feeling victorious Dave decided three games was enough and we decided to head to dinner.

Dinner was its own adventure!  We decided to go to the “Ginza”, a Chinese restaurant, assuming that would be a great place to get some meatless meals in observance of Friday in Lent. This ended up not being the wisest of courses. Taking every precaution, registering with NCL that Kathy is allergic to shellfish, informing the wait staff at each restaurant, and ordering the vegetarian fried rice, she still managed to test Dave’s EMT skills.  Towards the middle of the meal Kathy started coughing.  It became more of a chronic cough towards the end of her meal. Suddenly standing up, she said to Dave, “I have got to go.” Racing out of the restaurant she and Dave raced to the room to get to her EPI pen. Dave, calm as always, shoved some Benadryl down Kathy’s throat and primed the albuterol inhaler as she was now wheezing. Two puffs of the inhaler helped open up the airway and after a few minutes for the Benadryl to start working, she was on her way to recovery.  No need for the EPI pen…..phew!! It took about thirty minutes for a resolution of the coughing and wheezing. A quick trip to the infirmary on board ship and a conversation with the restaurant manager ended the drama for the time being with the dreaded shellfish moment. Feeling drained but alive they decided to “chill” the rest of the evening and went to watch a show. Kathy, feeling nauseous, ordered a couple of Shirley Temples thinking that the Sprite in the alcohol-free drink would ease the rumblings of her stomach.  To calm Dave’s nerves after having to perform EMS on his wife, he ordered a double (Diet Coke on the rocks, with a lemon twist!)  Deciding that she was not fully recovered, Kathy beat a hasty retreat to the room and lay down. Sometime later during the night, the offending Oyster Sauce was summarily ejected from Kathy’s stomach and the nausea and vomiting came to its conclusion.  She was now back to normal, hungry and energetic!!

It was perfect timing to start our day with the Walk in the Woods, not quite like the movie or the book, but still fun time tromping through the woods heading towards the end of the world.  Kyle opted to stay on board and sleep in while Kathy, Dave, and Henry headed out to go on a tour of “Tierra del Fuego National Park,” near the farthest city in the Southern Hemisphere, Ushuaia, Argentina. We were delighted to see a variety of birds including parrot (originally thought to be a woodpecker), a Patagonia Finch, the national bird of Ushuaia , the Kelp goose, Chalked-bowed mockingbirds, a bunch of Chimanga Caracaras, and a Red fox. The day could not have been more perfect with a beautiful sunny sky, the winds calm, and the temperature perfect for a four mile walk through the woods. We were soon headed back to the pier where we strolled through the streets and Kathy bought her first souvenir, a hand carved woodpecker that she hopes she can adapt as a Christmas ornament.

Deciding to be safe, we decided upon a steak house for our dinner meal. Amused, Kathy was surprised to find that all of the appetizers were of the “no no” shellfish variety  Fortunately, the staff and been “warned” ahead of time that Kathy had a reaction to the shellfish which required treatments and they took special care of Kathy – including plying her with two desserts!! She was on Cloud 9. While the rest of the group went to watch a game show in one of the theatres, Kathy opted for the tranquil feel of the bed being gently rocked by the waves of the ocean. Asleep at eight was a perfect end to the last three days. The next few days see us at sea heading to and spending time around Antarctica. We have high hopes of maybe seeing the Southern lights at night, or the Southern Cross, maybe a whale or two, and of course maybe a penguin.  After Antarctica, we head towards the Falkland Islands to learn about the battles that took place there.  We continue to get excited as we approach Antarctica (which means “no bears”- really!  Arctica means “bears” and Antarctica means “no bears”) and are excited to experience our seventh, and final, continent in the last 3 years!

February 24, 2023 The Best Laid Plans :)

The best laid plans are usually those that are well thought out and planned to prepare for the worst and hope for the best. Traveling during COVID has always been fraught with our best laid plans that went suddenly astray.  Well, in this case – so far so good!  The week started out not so good as we watched an ice storm decimate the area leaving people without power and flights cancelled or delayed across the country, As Dave chipped away at the driveway trying to break up the ice rink in what used to be the area that masqueraded as our driveway, Kathy tried to get some last minute work caught up. (…or, that was her excuse anyway)  Anxiously watching the flights, we figured we were safe to embark on our trip to the airport. We drove Kathy’s car to Dave’s brother’s house for the ride to the airport, even though its dashboard was awash with blinking lights and warning signals reminding us that we had an expensive car repair to come home to.  Why did we take this car when it was so obviously sick?  Dave’s car caught the dreaded “car” disease from Kathy’s car being so close to it in the garage.  At least we had taken Kathy’s car to the shop and knew what needed to be fixed when we returned.  Kathy held her breath as we drove to get to the airport.  Fortunately, we arrived safely at the next stop. With a warning to George not to worry about the colorful display on the dashboard, we were soon off to get our flight.

So far so good……oh, no! The first delay!! Luckily it was a short delay and soon we were on our way to JFK, and then from JFK to Buenos Aires.  After the 10-hour flight, we had a quick exit through Argentinian customs, where we were waved through with no baggage check.  We were soon in the heat of the South American summer, quickly shedding our layers.  We basked in the warmth of the bright yellow sun hitting our faces, and the ice rink we called our driveway was a distant memory. Checking into the hotel we were soon up in our room where we deposited our luggage and set off exploring the capital of Argentina, Buenos Aires.  Even though we had been up for 24 hours, we needed to keep going to stave off jet lag and sleep only at night. We walked and walked, discovering a museum where we learned about the history of the presidents of Argentina and visited Metropolitan Cathedral where we stood where Pope Francis once preached. We wandered through older sections where we admired the classical architecture and remarked upon the juxtaposition of old classical stone buildings that butted up against sleek glass and metal modern structures.  Next step to meet with Kyle and Henry where we had scheduled a “food pizza” tour (which really was going to two different pizza shops where we  had an opportunity to try the same pizza) and then an ice-cream shop where the “scoopers ”dazzled us with their artistic rendering of scoops of ice-cream.  Eating our ice-cream we were entertained with some transgender entertainers who were trying to cajole the local pedestrians to come see their show. (PS.  Dave was not so entertained…) We enjoyed watching the reactions of the people who walked by, some who gave the entertainers a wide berth and some who enjoyed interacting with them. The tour, while okay, did not wow us and Henry questioned the difference between the pizzas?? Different shops maybe?

The 2-mile walk back to the hotel was a gauntlet of people and, as we dodged and weaved, we were surrounded with a cacophony of noises from music, to people laughing and the ever present sound of traffic. It was a skillful test of Dave’s ability to map out our route while simultaneously scanning the crowd for potential issues. Safely back in our room we collapsed exhausted from the last 36 hours and slept until the late hour of 5 am when Kathy woke up wondering why the cats had not woken her up as yet.

Morning saw us head towards the boat where we met with Kyle and Henry.  Kyle is an experienced “cruiser” and whipped us through the check-in process. Soon we were on deck, enjoying a leisurely lunch where we again got to people watch. The rest of the day was spent recovering and relaxing and we ended it with an evening show of dancers who fluidly swung their legs around, in, out and above showing us the agility and skill of South American Tango dancers. Dave swears their legs had to be made of rubber, as nimble as the moved.  Next stop was our bed where Dave promptly fell asleep.  During the night, Kathy noticed Dave was very hot, and innocently decided to “help” Dave sleep better by throwing the covers off the bed. Unfortunately, Dave then started shivering after going from sweating to being in the air-conditioned room air.  He started blindly grasping for wherever the covers may be.  Sometimes the best laid plans don’t work out and, in this case, all planning should be left to Dave.