On the Road is a weekday feature spotlighting reader photo submissions. From the exotic to the familiar, whether you’re traveling or in your own backyard, we would love to see the world through your eyes.
On the Road will continue, but it will be forever Alain’s.
Greetings and salutations everyone,
Ensure your preparations are in full swing; ordering from Amazon or in-store pickup from your grocer, Target, WalMart, etc. can be a good way to get what you need while avoiding the crowds and fighting for the last box of spaghetti. It’s going to get a whole heck of a lot worse before it gets better, but stores being supplied with goods should be only an intermittent problem, and this is day 2 of that being an issue. By midweek, most stores will be restocked if only partially. In a few weeks things will be different so complete your preparations during times of good supply – once sufficient truckers and stevedores and warehouse workers get sick, things will slow down a bit until logistics adapt so shortages will come.
There is no need to panic, but a week from now, things will be self-evidently going to hell as many health care facilities will become overwhelmed. Plan and be patient.
We can get through this together, but safely apart. The time to spend as little time around others as possible is here – hurrah! for some folks, no doubt. But seriously, we need to be anti-social hermits for the next weeks to months. It looks like we could be talking into the deep summer before that changes if things go semi-bad. Crazy.
Take care and do follow the now-all-important advice: Don’t act like you’re worried about getting infected, act like you’re infected and don’t infect anyone else. Anything that comes in your house should be set aside into a safe closet or room with a door (or a secondary vehicle’s trunk) so that no person or pet comes into contact with it for 72 hours. Alternatively you can sanitize it, but that takes 10 minutes of being “wet” for most surfaces and cleaners so that can burn through a lot of cleaner quickly.
They won’t tell you that one reason that this didn’t spread as easily in South Korea and Japan and Hong Kong and Singapore is that the general population wear masks when they feel sick when out in public and this is such a fundamental of good public health. Even healthy folks will wear them if something’s going around, and it does seem to work. There are many other reasons about the limited spread, but there are many who are convinced that this wholesale embrace of masks reduces community spread.
As for being sick and spreading it when in public, I remember my junior year high school mid-terms, one kid was very sick in the year below me and got 1/2 of his class sick on Monday; by Wednesday, they were home and the entire set of exams had to be redone for that grade. It was a grave lesson to me, as was the history I studied which talked of plagues and flues spreading unchecked until isolation and herd resistance provided a solution.
Take care of yourselves, we’re so blessed with this community and its resources for so many things we’ll need over the next few weeks and months.
As I said Friday, find some new hobbies or projects because life is going to be VERY different for the next month and a half (miracle scenario) to 4 months (realistic good) to 8 months (realistic slightly bad) to over a year (realistic very bad). Some changes, such as not shaking hands, will likely be permanent, as in, we will not do that physical contact with strangers thing and movies and TV shows showing that interaction will seem foreign and weirdly naive in the future.
To that I say: “Be well, fellow citizen and try to have some joy-joy feelings in your day!”
My wife and I went to Chile around Thanksgiving-time last year. We spent time in three areas of the country and went from Santiago (a city of 8 million people) in the center to Tierra del Feugo at the southern tip of the Continent of South America.
I have way too many pictures from our trip to share more than a tiny bit at a time as I took almost 4K photos of birds, scenery, flowers/trees and of course more spectacular scenery.
We saw Santiago and the nearby Andes Mountains, which remind me of Southern California, The Lake Region which reminded me alternately of the Pacific Northwest or home here in Pennsylvania with all the dairy cows and Patagonia which is so much like the western US in many ways but with strange animals!
The one place we went to with didn’t really feel like anywhere else I’ve ever been was a private park on Isla Grande de Chiloé (Chile’s largest island). Chiloé is in the Region of Los Lagos and has many spots that remind one of New England but the climate is mild-temperate and the native forests are moss-filled rainforests with a mix of broad-leaf and coniferous trees.
We spent 3 days in the wild area of Parque Tepuhueico a large private wilderness on the western side of the island. To get there we drove to the edge of the park and then because the one lane road bridge had washed out a few years ago we had to walk across a swinging pedestrian bridge and then ride in their 4-wheel drive van more than a mile to the lodge. Some of us got out and walked the last quarter mile as it was sunny and the fantastic plants and flowers beckoned. It was the only real sunny period we had there, but the place was still amazing when even when is was cool and drizzling.
We stayed in the one lodge building and our group of 8 took up most of their rooms. It is a very interesting looking building, to say the least. There were interesting birds and I did get one brief 15-minute period to see the full southern night sky without light pollution (before the clouds came back in) but the most amazing thing to me were the plants and also seeing pudú, the world’s smallest deer!
Chile is a wonderful country and while we worried a little beforehand about the protests and rioting, that had little impact on us because our guides used routes that avoided the scheduled protests and changed a few of our locations to protests that disrupted traffic. I hope they succeed in ”de-Milton Friedmanizing” the country and providing good free education, affordable medicine and real retirement security to the people in this economically strong, but very skewed country.
Our group walking out to look for birds in the temperate rainforest.
The distinctive “Fire Bush” (Embothrium coccinium) is Endemic to Southern Chile and adjacent Argentina. It is the Proteaceae family which also has representatives in Australia and Southern Africa.
Another amazing plant here is Gunnera tinctoria or Chilean Rhubarb one of the larger members of this genus of South American plants noted for it’s big leaves on this species they can be six feet across. (There are ones in Brazil and Paraguay with slightly biiger leaves!)Here I got this pic of a member of our group showing how they could be used as an umbrella. There stems are very rough spiny and scaly but when peeled they are used like rhubarb even though it is a completely different plant family. Later, one person bought a jar of Chilean rhubarb jelly at a gift shop to compare to our familar kind and said it was much milder in flavor. Gunneras are very popular in English gardens and it even becoming invasive there.
The rather strange but mostly comfortable (and the only) Lodge building in the park. The food here was excellent as it was everywhere we stayed in Chile. This 3 story building gave us great views of the parks rolling forested hills.
One of our goals was to see the elusive pudú, the worlds smallest deer. They come out to graze and browse on the lodges’s lawn and we aslo saw this doe crossing a trail. She’s about the size of a German shepard.
The largest conifer in Tepuhueico’s forests was the Mañio Hembra (Saxegothaea conspicua), called Prince Alberts Yew, did remind me of trees in Oregon and Washingtons rain forests. This tree has also been reduced in numbers by heavy logging.
There were many fascinating mosses and lichens in this lovely rainforest. My favorite was this parasol-shaped moss which I’ve nicknamed “Leprechaun’s umbrella”.
The fire bush flowers were being visited by a number of species of birds seeking nectar. One was the sole species of hummingbird in this part of Chile, the green-backed firecrown, which is fast moving and hard to photograph. But several unexpected birds were sipping nectar too, including this white-crowned elaenia (a flycatcher) which migrates here from Equatorial South America where it eats mainly insects and Patagonian Sierra Finches which eat mainly seeds like other finches except when the fire bushes are in bloom.