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Monday February 20, 2012. In Transit to our Final Location

February 23, 2012

Group 4: The Bilologists (Scientificus comicus. Linnaeus)
Dante Diotallevi, Heidi Geyer, Howard Kuang, Ron Lau

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Monday (Feb. 20th) was a travel day.  After eating our final breakfast at Los Rapidos, we packed our bags and filled 2 buses en route to our next destination.  We drove into S.C. Bariloche to spend an hour picking up food and drinks from a supermarket along with whatever else we needed for the next few days.  The centre square of Bariloche was bustling with activity because of a local carnival holiday.  A large Argentina flag waves in the middle of the square as tourists, buskers and vendors cover the streets.  We will be spending a full day in the city on Thursday (Feb. 23rd)

After finishing our business in town, we headed off on a beautiful 1 hour drive down a busy highway cutting through the Patagonian mountains.  Coming from the wet, temperate forest of Los Rapidos, it was obvious that the vegetation and humidity were resembling the steppes we visited earlier in our field course.  Instead of dense forests and muddy soil, many small, dry shrubs and prickly plants dot a very dry landscape.  Patches of native cedar and pine (introduced) forest thrive at the base of rocky outcrops and in sweeping patterns at higher altitudes.  A large river of glacier water runs along the highway, cutting a path through the sandy valley.

Our new lodging is a small but well furnished restaurant/motel situated above the highway.  Once we arrived, we went on a hike down a nearby road which ran along the river.  Our group was paying special attention to the vegetation in this area, since we are working on measuring plant diversity in relation to river proximity.  Below is a shot of Ron during our hike.

This new location is a wonderful mix of the arid steppes of our first location and the temperate forests of our second location.  The mountains are grand but are covered by only a sparse distribution of trees, shrubs and grasses.  This leaves the topography of the landscape quite visible with many boulders, cliffs and caves adding interesting textures to the land.  The glacial river is the final touch on this pristine, rustic part of Patagonia.

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