Author Archives: Anne Finch

About Anne Finch

Anne Finch lives in Idyllwild, California. She and her husband Barnaby love to travel. They also love their hometown.

The Norton Simon Museum, Pasadena

Barnaby and I are on our way to New York, but we stopped in L.A. to see a concert at Disney Hall. We left Idyllwild early enough to miss rush hour traffic so we had a couple of hours to visit the Norton Simon Museum. Their current special exhibit is prints, but no photography allowed. The sculpture garden is wonderful, even in winter.

MOUNTAIN by Aristide Maillol, 1937. Isn’t she fabulous? Can you see those Henry Moores in the background? And the pond?

This is a Henry Moore, KING & QUEEN, 1938.

All of these sculptures are larger than life-size. It was so hard to not touch them.

I’m going to make a point of visiting this beautiful garden in the spring when everything is in bloom. I’m including this Bird of Paradise because it took me right back to my childhood in Dayton, Ohio. My Mom had an artificial Bird of Paradise plant that she adored it because it reminded her of California — the place she loved more than anywhere else. Wish I’d had my big camera, close-ups are where the iPhone camera falls short. But you get the idea.

I think when we come back to L.A. next week we’ll visit the Huntington Library and Gardens — I’ll bring out the real camera for that one.


Patagonia — a great place to visit, especially in January

It’s Saturday and we’re in El Calafate, Argentina. Still in Patagonia. Still having extraordinarily beautiful weather. Our guide reminds us at least three times a day how lucky we’ve been. We had sunshine in a Chiloe Island, where our guide said it rains “366 days a year”. The volcano took a little rest when we were close to it and allowed the sky to clear so we could see the Andes. The forest fire is Torres Del Paine quieted so the national park and hotels were able to open. We did see a lot of burned area, but it’s a big park and a fire can’t ruin it. The jagged peaks are so magnificent they take your breath away.

When we arrived in Torres Del Paine we had more typical weather — cool, rainy, and most of the peaks hidden in clouds. But the next morning we woke up to glorious blue skies and were able to have a very full day of hiking.

We began the day on Lago Gray and got a close up view of the glacier. You know how happy icebergs make me! I could hardly contain myself in that crisp blue air.

I actually got to wear my sheepskin hat (I’ve packed so badly — it’s really warm down here!).

After our boat ride, we hiked with our lunch. This fox sat and watched us for several minutes before making his exit. We soon saw why he was in the neighborhood:

We rounded a bend and there were dozens of guanacos. As long as we moved slowly and stayed in single file, they didn’t seem to be bothered by our presence.

It was hard to keep moving — I could have spent the afternoon watching them.

Sorry to jump around but I took this one the day before from the road between Punta Arenas and Torres Del Paine. There were hundreds of sheep and all controlled by two guys on horseback, one on foot and about six dogs. I felt a little guilty when we stopped because it seemed like we were stressing the sheep — but you don’t get to see working dogs every day.

We’ve had some very long bus rides. Patagonia is a huge place and the roads aren’t always good. None of the roads in the Torres Del Paine National Park are paved. I’m not complaining — it is so beautiful here it’s worth the effort.

That’s Barn on the trail. Today we spent the morning at the largest glacier in Argentina. I have to go download my photos. Will try to get something together so I can make another post before we leave.

It was so windy — and Barnaby has taken so many pictures of me…. his phone has gotten a lot of use. More later.

Buenos tardes!

 

 


Leaving the Lake District — next stop Punta Arenas

We’re flying out in about an hour so I thought I’d upload a couple of photos while I still have internet. One can never count on having fast internet.

Yesterday we visited the oldest national park in Chile — rapids (horizontal waterfalls) and volcanos. It was another gorgeous, hot, sunny day. Yeah — I’m coming home with a suntan whether I like it or not. Geographically we’re in the center of Chile, at about the same latitude as the Washington Oregon border. This area is much wetter though, as it is considered a rain forest (about 75 inches annual rainfall). It doesn’t feel humid though, probably because of its western location (or maybe it’s just drier than Buenos Aires).

After our short hike and fast boat ride on the rapids, we visited a nearby family for lunch. This is the view from their front lawn (you can’t see the volcano from this shot, but it’s there). They live on a lake and ferried us across in their boat. We ate fresh trout (they were caught the day before), potatoes, beets, salad, rice, biscuits and homemade raspberry jam.

This is Tony making friends with one of the couple’s dogs. It seems like all the dogs in Chile are very friendly (if they’re awake).

This is the volcano — also from the couple’s property. They let people pitch tents — talk about idyllic!


Chiloe Island, Patagonia

In my last post I mentioned visiting a family in the country. Several of us rode horses, while others hiked. Afterward we had a traditional barbecue — really a feast. Here’s the family’s stallion coming to the door of the dining room to say hello. It was my kind of place!

This is at the border of Chile. The ground is covered with several inches of ash blown over the past several months from the volcano in the distance. We passed many dead trees as this was relatively close. This border crossing had been closed until recently. We’ve been very lucky to be able to travel to this area at all. And we’ve had incredible weather.

Here we are about to board a ferry for Chiloe Island. This is the place our guide said in a pre-trip email that “rains 366 days a year”. I am happy to say she was wrong. Not only did we have fabulous weather all day (and night) yesterday, it was so sunny and warm today we both got sunburned. Our guide travels with postcards of the volcanos in the background because they are so rarely visible.

Castro, Chiloe Island — this is the poor section. There are no property taxes on buildings that hang out over the water so it’s the complete opposite of home.

These guys were pushed out of the house by a big shepherd dog.

We visited the market.

We bought chocolates.

We visited a school then drove across the island to this lovely house for another home cooked meal.

This is a traditional barbecue on Chiloe Island. A pit had been dug and filled with hot coals, then layers of potatoes, clam, oysters, chicken, and sausages were heaped on top. Leaves were used to divide the sections. The whole thing was then covered with a tarp and turf and left to cook for about an hour.

It was delicious!

The Darwin fox was hanging out hoping for some scraps.

After dinner we spent time in the family’s garden and watched the fog roll in. By the time we got back to our hotel it was quite cool. No stars tonight — but we’re still feeling so grateful to have had so many perfect days. Tomorrow we’ll visit a penguin colony. Ciao! (They don’t use adios in this part of the world — they say ciao — but they don’t spell it like the Italians as I have, but I can’t remember their spelling.) C’est la vie!


Patagonia, January 2012

Barnaby and I arrived in Argentina on Sunday and have been too busy to even think about posting. This morning we skipped a lecture and slept in, so I have a little time. Patagonia isn’t the easiest place to get to — especially when a nearby volcano has been erupting since June. The airport in Bariloche has been closed since June so we had to fly to the nearest town with an airport and take a bus for seven hours. We have an even longer bus ride tomorrow to Chiloe Island — four hours to the border of Chile, then another 6 hours ride. I think we may be on a ferry at some point but it’s become so complicated I don’t even try to keep up. 

We spent the first day in Buenos Aires which is a beautiful city. These photos are from one of the oldest areas — La Boca — which is very colorful.

Barnaby and I wondered around one of the famous shopping streets — Florida Ave (just a little different from the Florida Ave in Hemet).

The Buenos Aires gallería is not so unlike our malls — though the architecture is stunning.

We visited the grave of Eva Peron…..

and learned how to tango.

 

We have been so lucky in Bariloche. First of all, even though the sky was pretty ashy south of town, it’s been sunny and clear our two and a half days here. Summer is gorgeous here. We have the place to ourselves — the usual Argentine tourists are staying away because of the volcano. It was cool yesterday morning when we rode the lift up to one of the most beautiful panoramas in the world.

We went on a short hike after having a choco-bailey (Bailey’s Irish Cream and hot chocolate). Yes, we are suffering. Some days we don’t even get three square meals! Last night we had fondue at a cute little restaurant “La Alpina”.  Patagonia (and Argentina) have a large immigrant population — the Germans brought beer and the Swiss fondue.

A view from our hike in the Nahuel Huapi National Park

After our hike we toured a local micro brewery (you know how I hated that!!!), had lunch, then went for a float down the Rio Limay. We have been so lucky with weather — we didn’t even have any wind on our float.

This afternoon we visited a family on their ranch about an hour out of Bariloche. We hiked, rode horses, played with their dogs and feasted on a barbecue of beef and lamb accompanied by fresh vegetables, salad, homemade bread and flan. Our best meal yet. I’ll include photos with my next effort — now I have to pack for our early morning call.

We’re keeping our fingers crossed that the forest fire is getting under control in Torres Del Paine National Park, but we will be happy regardless. Here’s a little bathroom wall philosophy that we can all benefit from:

Yes — only this moment! Chow.


Baja whale camp & beyond

We arrived in Mulegè yesterday afternoon after spending several days at Kuyimà Whale Camp on the San Ignacio Lagoon. We were there specifically to see the grey whales who spend a few months a year in the lagoon giving birth, raising their young, and perhaps to participate in a little sexual activity. We drove from Loreto on the Sea of Cortez, or east coast of Baja, spent a couple of nights in the little town of San Ignacio, then on to the whale camp on the Pacific coast. Though it was very windy, we had a couple very productive visits with the whales.

Mission San Ignacio Kadakaaman

During our stay in San Ignacio, we spent a day visiting the cave paintings in the Sierra de San Francisco mountains nearby. Most of us rode a mule up the steep trail.

As you can see, the whales have been around for a long time. These paintings were recently dated and have been around for perhaps 7,500 years. The climate, and their protected and difficult to reach location, has certainly aided their longevity.

Touching a baby grey whale. No one really knows why the whales come alongside the boats and allow themselves to be touched. The guides only explanation “they’re friendly whales!”.

Sunset at the whale camp

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rio Mulegè

 

My new pal at our rental house in Mulegè

 


Loreto, Mexico

Thursday, March 3, 2011
Ahh Mexico.


Barnaby and I arrived in Loreto, Mexico on Tuesday afternoon. Located on the Sea of Cortez, (or as some of us like to refer to it — the Gulf of California, since Cortez was such a butcher), about 2/3s of the way down Baja. Loreto is the oldest settlement in the Californias, including present day Baja California and California to the border of Oregon. The date of settlement — October 5, 1697 is commemorated all over town. The first mission was built here, and though it has been rebuilt many times due to earthquakes and hurricanes, it still stands.


Ahh Mexico — where time really does move slower.

 
Dinners take hours, even when the hostess includes all of her guests in the food preparation. Our first dinner (which may end up being our most memorable) was at Sophia’s cafe next to the old mission. A sort of outdoor affair with a wood burning brick stove and tables covered with handmade pottery, she served up delicious margaritas, cold beer, chile rellenos, the best mole I’ve ever eaten and blue corn and bean tamales that we all helped prepare. It was three hours long and delicious. All meals have paled since.


Ahh Mexico — where the people are very friendly and the beer is cold.

 
Loreto is very clean, smallish — only 12,000 people, and hopefully they are all aware that they need to protect this beautiful ocean and the amazing wildlife that inhabit it. Barn and I hope it doesn’t ever end up like Cabo.

 

The wild fig tree grows in rock

 

Ahh Mexico.


Sunrise over Harlem, thinking about Egypt

This jet lag thing isn’t so bad: I’ve managed to stay awake until a reasonable hour of 9:30 or 10 pm local time for the past two nights, even though I’ve just left a time zone that’s 7 hours ahead. But I’m not going there — it’s a mistake to constantly clutter the brain with negative energy, and yes, thinking about what time your body might really think it’s in is counter productive. I’ve learned through the years that it’s best to go with the flow, take naps, and embrace the dawn (this coming from someone who is decidedly NOT a morning person). So at 4 am, wide awake, I started thinking about the coming day’s plans and my beautiful niece who’s driving into the city to visit us, from New Jersey. And worrying. Even though it’s cold, icy and may be snowing, Keeley will probably NOT drive her full-size 4-wheel drive truck that has enough metal to protect her and her two children from the outside world, she’ll pick her tiny Mini Cooper — a car that offers about as much protection as a, well, you know what I mean. (Okay I admit I suffer from claustrophobia.) Keeley, like a lot of young people, feels invincible. She is so brave — there is no journey she shies away from. My next thought is this is why we have wars: if youth didn’t feel invincible they would opt to work out problems over a couple of beers, or at least just talk trash about their enemies with their girlfriends and be done with it.

Then I thought about Egypt. Every day the news reports seem to get worse. When I heard about demonstrators breaking into the Cairo Museum and tearing the heads off mummies I have to wonder if these were the same people who wouldn’t let me bring my camera into that very museum a week ago — they were so fearful I might sneak a flash photo. What is wrong with this world that people feel compelled to destroy their heritage — one that many Egyptians are very proud of and depend on for their livelihood?  It makes me very sad to think of all the damage this current crisis will do to Egyptian tourism — Americans unfortunately have long memories for negativity. Even if the individuals don’t, the media certainly does.

So I thought I’d put some positive energy out there about my recent experience in Egypt. Other than a couple of pushy salesmen (who always left me alone when I said “No, thank you” in Arabic), the Egyptian people were considerate, patient, welcoming, often very handsome, and kind. A few words of Arabic ALWAYS brought a smile. I always felt safe. Our guide was lovely — very intelligent, well-educated, efficient at all the details of her job, and utterly adorable in her skinny jeans! She also practices a rare form of Christianity: compassion and consideration for ALL people, not just those who practice her faith. She considered her answers to our often too personal questions about religion, social norms, and veils very carefully — a trait I could learn from: think before speaking. I am very sad because I know that Egypt will lose people like her to Canada, the US, or anywhere she can raise her children with clean air and water, religious freedom, and a future that isn’t filled with oppression. Can Egypt afford that? Who will be their future — the idiots that broke into the museum? What good could possibly have come from that vandalism?

Tomorrow we’ll go back to Idyllwild — our beautiful little town in the woods, where I won’t have to worry about the world — only if there’s enough Happy Dog food in the fridge. But I’ll be a little different — I’ll hang my Horus painting (yes Whit — that’s the Egyptian god of protection that I sometimes like to spell H-O-R-A-C-E because I’m a rebel) and hope that he’ll protect us all.

Be patient. Be kind. Think before speaking. Peace be with you. Salaam alaikum. Shalom.

At the Islamic school in Luxor


Our last day in lovely Alexandria

 

Along the sea in Alexandria

 

All is quiet in Alexandria tonight while Barnaby and I spend our last night here enjoying the gorgeous weather and getting ready to drive to Cairo tomorrow morning. We’ll be flying back to New York on Friday morning — sad to be leaving Egypt but happy to be on our way home.

Some highlights of our day:

 

The interior of the new Alexandria Library

Exterior of the Alexandria Library

The Alexandria Museum

Our hotel in Alexandria

The view from our hotel room

 

Yeah — we’ve been roughing it! Better run — gotta pack up my tee shirts and get out my parka.

Salaam alikom — Peace be with you!


Hubbly bubbly in Rashid — smokin’ the sheesha!

 

Egyptian breakfast

 

Barnaby and I have had another wonderful day in Alexandria. I started out the Egyptian way: smoking the sheesha. We left our hotel at 8 and drove to Rosetta — Rashid in Arabic, a small town of 60,000 about 45 miles east of Alexandria, where the Nile meets the Mediterranean. In the 18th and 19th centuries, it was the most important port in Egypt, but fell into obscurity when Alexandria took over. There are no tourist markets, no aggressive salesmen, and no tourists, so we had a grand time wandering through the bustling town without the usual throngs.

The Rosetta Stone was found here in 1799 by a French soldier. If you don’t remember your history: the Rosetta Stone is a slate of granite that has a legal decree carved in three languages — Egyptian hieroglyphics, Egyptian demotic (shorthand) and Greek. It took scholars until 1822 to decode it and therefore unlocking the key to reading hieroglyphics. And let me tell you — those Egyptians had a lot to say. I’m sure they kept legions of scribes busy.

 

Gotta rest when you can...

 

Rashid also has many fine examples of 18th century architecture, so we visited several houses. But our favorite stop was at a brick factory. Don’t laugh — it was fascinating. We were welcomed in, given the grand tour, even though our guide had never stopped there before. The Egyptian people are very friendly. Barnaby has learned a few phases in Arabic and it’s amazing the response he gets for his efforts.

 

Women work hard everywhere

If you’ve been watching CNN you’ve probably heard about the protests in Cairo today. Don’t worry — we’re far away and the protests are against the Egyptian government, nothing to do with tourists. Plus — you couldn’t get near us if you tried. We had a convoy of tourist police with us all day. There must have been 30 armed men along. I felt like a princess! I know, I know — I feel like that everyday.

 

Mas salaam!