Argentina page 6

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I hopped on a tour to see the famous glacier Perito Moreno. The drive, although only about 80kms, takes about two hours because most of the road is nowhere near as nice as this.

A goucho - cowboy, out for an early morning ride.

Eagles pounce on roadkill. The one in front is less than two years old (you can tell by the colour of its feathers).

Apologies for all the landscape shots... I just bought a circular polarizing filter for my camera and, in my experimenting, many of the landscape shots have come out swimmingly... and so I felt I had to include them.

The famous Ruta 40 which zigzags down Patagonia through the arid steppe-land, connecting all the touristy towns...

We can now see it in the distance... no, that isn't a funky effect of the polarizer, one of the first things that one notices is just how blue the glacier really is. There are two main reasons for the strange colour. First of all, the glacier is formed by snow in the mountains, so there is alot of air trapped inside which slowly gets compressed. As it slowly gets released, some kind of chemical reaction occurs which makes the glacier look bluer than it should... or so I'm told. The other reason is that, as it slowly moves over the rocks and such, it grinds them down and occasionally absorbs minerals from the pulverized rock-dust. This is where, I guess, the minerals in mineral water come from...?

I don't know why I opted to do this... I really don't like boats. But I also wanted to get really close to the glacier..

How close? Well... not close enough to touch it... but close enough to... smell it.

I think I'm getting better at this whole panoramic shot business. This is a panoramic shot of the glacier from just above lake-level. Click on the photo (warning: the panoramic shot is quite big, I hope you have broadband!)

Afterwards, we headed up to the walkways... specially constructed so that we wouldn't disturb the wildlife in any way.

The views from the walkways were spectacular... and not just in the direction of the glacier.

Now... where did I leave that glacier? I put it down here somewhere just a minute ago...

Yet another panoramic shot (I can't seem to get enough can I?). This one isn't as big, I promise. But it is still of a non-trvial size. Click the photo! (I used to think I was sooo rude, walking past postcard stands, looking at postcards of this thing and thinking to myself "ha! I can take a better photo than that". Well... I guess it turns out that I can. Maybe I should get into the postcard business)

I'm not sure why, but I always thought that the tops of glaciers were flat... well... they're not.

It takes about 10 minutes to walk the length of all the walkways. 20 if you're an overweight american tourist. Anyway... we were given two hours of "free time". Why? So that we would have the opportunity to see a few bits of glacier breaking off. I waited, concentrating, in the blistering cold (though not as cold as Ushuaia) for just over an hour... then I finally saw it. 3 frames-per-second, 10 megapixels, 67mm diameter circular polarizing filter, 17-85mm zoom with image stabilizer and ultrasonic auto-focus motor... I really put my camera through its paces, and it did good, really good.

I thought myself extremely unlucky for only seeing one significant bit of ice breaking off the glacier. However, I later found out that the piece that I saw was unusally large, and that bits that big break off about two to three times a week... guess I was pretty lucky then. I took this sequence of photos... click on the picture above to see them. This is a big file, it might take a while to load... be patient. (c'mon, I waited over an hour to get these shots, you can wait for a few minutes to see them). There are 21 frames in this set! The last one was taken about 20 minutes after the initial break. The other 20 frames span about seven seconds. Just for an indication of scale - the bit of ice that broke off was about twice as big as my apartment block in Melbourne (20 floors). The sound that those things make when they crash is both frightening and very impressive at the same time.

"...beneath our radiant southern cross, we've boundless plains to share..." (just above the trees and slightly to the left)

The southern cross is not only very pretty, but also very useful. The five stars of the cross are each good examples of magnitude 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 stars (1 being the brightest, 5 the dimmest).

If you're girlfriend starts smoking... slow down and use lubricant... but what if your mountain starts to smoke?

I went back to the glacier to take a closer look... lucky I did because I wouldn't have noticed this sign otherwise.


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