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i finished this one super-quick :: i found the photos while i was cleaning up my desk so i decided to find a two-photo layout in a sb magazine and scraplift it. this one came from creating keepsakes (september 07 issue, pg. 51). it's from my friend's J's birthday.

my dear

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i started this layout at my friend J's crop last weekend. i realized i've done a lot of anniversary layouts ... more than the kids' birthday layouts! the "my dear" letterpress card is from hello lucky and it looks really yellow in the scan, but it's actually green.

i don't know if i should add more journaling ... i was trying to layer stickers but i'm not sure i accomplished the right amount of layering; it looks a little skimpy to me. what do you think?


why my children are just like their father ...

they can't find anything even when it's right in front of their faces.

maya :: "where baby (her doll) go?" --> it's sitting on the couch right in front of her face.

ian :: "i can't find my french homework." --> after 10 minutes of looking through all the crap in his room, and rupert going to the car to look for it, it was right next to his french folder right in front of his face. i found it in less than 10 seconds.

rupert :: "where's _______ [fill in the blank here because there are too many things he can't find that are right in front of his face.]?"

my first time surfing

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cardstock :: bazzill basics
patterned paper :: flair designs, scenic route
letter rubons :: reminisce
letter stickers :: ek success
journaling stamp :: autumn leaves
other :: stamping ink

the last thing i have to add to this layout is the location (san onofre) and date (summer of 1995 or '96 ... anybody have an idea??).


argentina day 3 :: puerto piramides + peninsula valdes :: august 26, 2007

we both slept better (we must've been really tired), and i even woke up before our wake-up call (which we've had to rely on since the hotels here don't have clocks in the rooms). breakfast at the hotel was buffet style with what we've come to recognize as very argentinian morning staples :: coffee, tea, yogurt, fruit salad, ham + cheese, medialunas + assorted pastries. i, of course, had the medialunas. this buffet also had scrambled eggs and bacon, which i filled up on. i also found yerba mate in a tea bag, which i took as a souvenir. (i found out later it's not real mate.)

the village of puerto pirámides as seen from the water
the tour bus picked us up at 8.30am (with a bunch of other spanish-speaking tourists), and we drove quite a long distance to puerto pirámides at the end of the isthmus right before the actual peninsula. it's a very cute village known for whale-watching and diving. there are only six authorized whale-watching boat operatores and they are only allowed to have one of their boats out at a time. this helps to protect the whales and it's never crowded out in the water.

our whale-watching boat tractors to haul the boats in + out of the water

our one-hour whale-watching boar ride was another thrilling experience. the boat itself is not very large and sits fairly low in the water, so when the whales come up to the boat -- and they come really close -- you could almost reach out and touch them (but you're not allowed to).

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like yesterday we saw lots of moms and calves, sometimes a couple of sets together. carina, our guide, had told us they were very curious, and sure enough, if we stopped the boat for awhile they whales would come up to us. once again i couldn't stop taking pictures. and i think the whales like getting their picture taken.
they would show us their wide tails, glide by the boat over and over, stick out their heads high, and swim under the boat.
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the water is fairly clear so you could see the white of their bellies and their tails underwater as they swam next to us. i was amazed by their size and gentleness the entire time.

after we left puerto pirámides it was another long ride to punta delgada at the southeastern point of península valdés, where the elephant seals and our hotel are. Y and i were glad our tour included a night's stay here because everyone else on our bus was returning to puerto madryn that day. península valdés is larger and farther than we had expected; because of the road conditions it's a good two-hour drive back to the city.


we first had lnch at the hotel. the lamb i ordered was really good; we saw it being grilled over an open fire right in the restaurant. we ordered a side of mashed potatoes but we probably should've orderd a salad since we were not eating a lot of veggies on this trip.

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afterwards we trekked down the cliff for the main attraction :: the elephant seals. the males were just arriving on shore to wait for the females, but it wasn't high season yet so we were able to walk near them. needless to say, they are gigantic! we saw some females and they are considerably smaller than the males.

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you can only get so close to these huge animals; the rule is to stay at least 20 meters away. most of the time the males are quite still to preserve energy, so they don't pose a huge threat to us. but you could kind of see that they were weary of our presence. (when a larger tour group came down they were getting really close to one of the males and he moved away into the water.)

some of the large males cried out really loudly; it almost sounded like a lion roaring. the ones in the water would also blow bubbles with their large noses. although these males were just lying there you could see they had bloody scratch marks from fighting.

the elephant seals weren't the only animals we saw. some sea lions were sunbathing on a rock nearby. according to roxana, our guide from the hotel, elephant seals and sea lions coexist quite peacefully. (we saw this later at a different beach where the two were swimming side by side.) sadly, we also saw a beached whale and a couple of dead penguins.

during high season the beach is covered with elephant seals and the males are much more aggressive because they are trying to mate. had we come then we wouldn't have been able to walk so close to them.

our hotel is the faro punta delgada, an old navy building and still-used lighthouse. it turns out we are the only guests staying at the hotel that night! we have the whole place to ourselves, which is almost a very odd feeling. roxana also said that they've only had a handful of americans stay here since she started working here. the guest registry showed that most guests are from europe. that was very weird to us because this is such a tranquil place and there is so much nature to admire. instead of rushing through on a day trip i'm really glad we have extra time to explore and relax.

roxana took us on a drive to the edge of the property at sundown (after Y and i saw the top of the lighthouse). the employees and people from nearby estancias were happy beachse they had just caught and killed a feral dog that had been terrorizing sheep. carina had mentioned this dog on our drive over, saying it had killed 60 sheep just for the sake of killing. roxana said that number had gone up to 100.

the owner and some employees were on horseback when we happened upon them on our drive. they were the ones who had found and captured the dog. the horse the owner was riding was a beautiful reddish brown; its build was stockier and thicker than other horses i'd seen before. we're supposed to go horseback riding in the morning so we'll have to see if we can ride the patagonian way.

dinner wasn't going to be served until 8pm so we stuck around the main building to wait. after browsing the gift shop, alejandra, an employee, showed us the pub, which is also the game room. we played pool and alejandra and martin, another employee, asked if they could join us. with so few guests they probably didn't have a lot to do. it was really fun playing with the locals and becoming friendly with them.

dinner was also strange because there was only one table set ... just for us. the rest of the dining room was empty. they even built a fire in the wood burning stove behind us.

i had a risoto de mariscos with local seafood and Y had spinach ravioli. the homemade flan i had afterwards was also really good. as we walked to our room we could see the night sky filled with stars we can't see in the northern hemisphere.

argentina day 3 :: puerto madryn :: august 25, 2007

it was indeed difficult to get up at 4am, especially after a night of restless sleep and a runny nose. but we got ready in plenty of time and went to the 24-hour farmacia around the corner from the hotel so Y could get something to calm her nerves. i only mention this because the pharmacy is not actually open.

after 1am you have to buzz the night service button. the pharmacist comes out with what you need after you tell her through the intercom. there's a tiny window that she can pass the item through. the pharmacist must've been sleeping because she came out kinda grouchy and seemed annoyed when we left without buying anything.

anyway, we go to jorge newbery airport, which looks new and modern. it was still dark out but as we drove by the airport there were little foodstands open along the road. it looked like they were cooking meat and there were some people waiting in line already.

the check-in area at the airport was a little chaotic (argentines don't seem to care much for lines) but the waiting area in the terminal is very nice. we ate our breakfast (medialunas and juice we bought the night before at a little bakery) and then i totally conked out before the plane even left the ground. i woke up just as we landed in trelew.
welcome penguin @ the trelew airport

the drive to puerto madryn was on a two-lane highway through vast deserty low hills. the scenery reminded us of driving through some of california's deserts. the city itself is much larger than we expected and the residential outskirts reminded Y of mexico.

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our hotel, the bahia nueva, is on the main street (av. julio a. roca) along the beach of golfo nuevo. we did a little exploring along this stretch and got our first glimpse of the whales in the gulf from the shore.

lunch @ the lizard cafe

because we'd been traveling since so early in the day we were quite hungry, but it was still around 11am, waaaaay too early for an argentine lunch. but, thankfully, the lizard cafe was open. this is where i begin to notice that argentines like their ham + cheese sandwiches! in my opinion, the sandwich we had here was a bit better because it had chopped hard boiled egg in it.

our driver (from ryans travel, our local tour agency) told us there were optional tours in the afternoon, so we made our way back to the hotel after lunch. we quickly peeked into the local mall (where i later bought a hat because it's colder (i.e., windier) than expected) and got a map at the tourist office.

our two optional tours were to punta loma and el doradillo beach. luckily there were no other tourists booked and we got a private tour.

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punta loma is south of the city, and most of the way you have to drive on an unpaved sandy/gravely road. it's a nature reserve (admission is 20 pesos ) where you can see the sea lions year-round. i had the impression that we could get pretty close to the colony but the viewing deck is actually on top of a cliff and you look down on them in the cove. we also saw a large flock of cormorants on the cliffs and one lone penguin in the water (it was still too early to see the thousands of penguins that descend on this area in september). maybe because we were so far away these sea lions weren't as loud as the ones at san francisco bay.

wild flamingoes

we also saw wild flamingos on the beach on the way back towards town.

el doradillo beach is north of town just as the road heads toward península valdés. it was truly an amazing experience watching the whales swimming right off the beach. the southern right whales are in this area from june to december.

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you don't need a boat or even binoculars to see them. they come so close to the beach that you're tempted to wade out and touch them; the closest ones aren't even 50 feet away from where you're standing! and it's not just one or two whales, but like ten in your immediate vicinity.

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the ones close to shore show their fins while rolling over in the water (these fins are often mistaken for orca dorsal fins), and spout water and air out of their blowholes (loudly!).


the ones farther out show their tails for long periods of time, sometimes staying really still and other times sort of swaying back and forth as if they were waving.

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we went to several different spots along this stretch of beach and everywhere we went the whales were doing something worthy of 100 pictures :: moms and calves were frolicking and nuzzling; a playful young whale breached multiple times; and lone whales would roll and swim in circles. i know my pictures won't do the experience justice, but i couldn't stop pushing the shutter.

PICT0152 in the observation shack :: el doradillo beach

there's an observation platform (and shack) up on the cliff near the northern end where biologists observe and count the whales. from here you can see the long stretch of beach and the many whales in the water (and human observers standing on the sand). when we were there a biologist was listening for the whales via an underwater microphone.

i'm not really much of a nature person but this was one of the most incredible experiences of my life. i was in a state of excitement the whole time we were watching the whales. i just wanted to sit there all day and marvel at them.

fast food @ the mall

in the evening we were starving but (once again) disappointed to find out that restaurants don't open for dinner until 8pm. i wanted to try local seafood but the only restaurant really open (besides the cafes) was the hamburger joint at the mall. so, my first fast food experience here was a chicken sandwich at "mostaza."

the far end of puerto madryn sunset from the puerto madryn pier

the sunset we saw from the pier was really tranquil and it was kinda odd to see the sun set into the hills, rather than into the ocean.


argentina day 2 :: buenos aires :: august 24, 2007

a fairly typical argentine breakfast medialunas

getting up at 8am wasn't the easiest thing to do btu we managed to get to breakfast at pilar, a cafe down the street, and eat a hearty breakfast. i instantly fell in love with the small, croissant-like medialunas and loved that they made my café con leche to order. at that instant i knew what i would be eating every morning of this trip.

metal flower

we were met back at the hotel by carolina (our guide) and gaston (the driver) for our city tour of BsAs. we hopped into the little car and drove around recoleta and palermo. we stopped at the huge metal flower sculpture next to the law school. it was donated by an engineer to show his thanks to the city for educating him for free. the flower was made somewhere else (i think in the u.s. since the engineer now lives in miami) and rebuilt in BsAs; it cost five million dollars. the cool thing about it is that it opens and closes depending on the amount of sunlight.


to get to plaza de mayo we drove along av. 9 de julio, which is kind of a crazy street because it's so wide and cars are crossing every which way and going around the circle around the obelisk.

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we got out at at plaza de mayo where people were feedings tons of pigeons. mass was going on at catedral metropolitana so we couldn't take pictures inside. the outside is built in a very neo-classical style with columns in the front; you wouldn't think it was a catholic church. inside we saw the tomb of general josé de san martín, the national hero.

PICT0067 evita's balcony

next, we made our way across the plaza to look at the casa rosada, which is currently a very unattractive salmon pink. the little flag was flying, indicating the president (néstor kirchner) was in the building. we also saw the balcony where evita often addressed the people of argentina.

symbol of las madres de la plaza de mayo

it appeared the riot police were preparing for a demonstration, which carolina said were common on thursday and friday. she also informed us that the madres de plaza de mayo haven't demonstrated here for about a year.

san telmo and la boca were next. they're two of the oldest neighborhoods in the city. san telmo had cobblestone streets and la boca was pretty dingy. even the boca juniors stadium was graffitied.

boca juniors stadium

the boca juniors futbol team was started early in the 20th century by italian immigrants. they couldn't decide on team colors so they agreed to use the colors of the next ship that came into port. that turned out to be a swedish ship and the team colors became blue and gold.


the caminito is a famous alleyway in la boca. it's a total tourist trap but the colorfully painted homes are bright and cheery, unlike some of the neighboring blocks, which were pretty grungy.

Y took pictures with a tango dancer since la boca is one of the birthplaces of tango. she also bought a painting of tango dancers by a local artist. i bought a boca juniors hat for ian since the jerseys, which was what i wanted to get originally, were too expensive.

la boca

gaston drove us along the old waterfront (even though we weren't "authorized") so we could see the boca (mouth) of the la plata river, where it meets the riachuelo canal (the water changes color here because of the sediment in the la plata and the lack of oxygen in the riachuelo).

puerto madero bridge

our last stop was puerto madero, where we said good-bye to carolina and gaston. Y and i walked along the waterfront, which is redeveloped and full of businesspeople. since we were in the area we stopped at buquebus and bought our tickets to colonia for next friday. that'll be three countries we visit on this trip.

off of av. florida

after walking to florida street we took our first cab back to the hotel. we couldn't give the cabbie the address but we managed to get back by pointing this way and that way. cabs are really cheap here, just a few dollars for a ride across town.

lunch was empanadas at a cafe around the corner from the hotel, with a view of the back of the cemetary. this was a really cheap lunch; i think the empanadas cost a peso each.

since it was still fairly early in the afternoon we walked towards the fine arts museum again, hoping it was open this time. along the way vendors had already set up shop along the front of the cemetary and design fair for the weekly weekend craft fair. we "window shopped" for gift ideas because we plan to get our gifts next weekend when we're back in town. but i did buy two little finger puppets for the kids.

the museum was fine, nothing fancy. admission's free, there are no maps, and you just sort of wander around. i liked the exhibit they had about alejandro sirio's illustrations.

subte linea A subte linea A

having figured out there's no subte (subway) access in recoleta, we took a cab back to plaza de mayo. (the "E" symbol i kept seeing was not for the E line but for parking, estacionar.) from casa rosada we took the A line, which has old wooden cars. the cars are probably the oldest in south america; so old, in fact, that the doors don't close automatically, so a subway employee stands in each car to open and close the doors manually. it costs 70 centavos to ride the subte ... that's less than a quarter! we took it a few stops to congreso, which is a huge ornate building.
congreso congreso

el ateneo bookstore el ateneo bookstore

from there we walked with tons of other porteños leaving work on av. callao. our destination :: el ateneo bookstore on av. santa fe. i originally saw this bookstore on flickr and was mesmorized that it was built inside an old theater. i love bookstores to begin with but this one was like nothing i'd seen before. and it really is a cool bookstore with a huge mural on the ceiling and a cafe where the stage would've been. the front private balcony seats have been converted to reading nooks and shelves lined each balcony. i held off on buying anything but it was fun to browse the spanish childrens books.

it was a nice cool evening so we walked the rest of the way back to the hotel. i'm beginning to recognize certain street corners and i'm feel comfortable around our immediate neighborhood.

but tomorrow we're off to puerto madryn bright and early (our wake-up call is at 4am and we're leaving the hotel at 5:30!), so no more exploring until we get back to BsAs on thursday.