Retirement Speech - August 20, 2023
Thank you to Sheila, Mary, and Carol for putting together this retirement party! Their friendship and deep devotion to this parish has sustained me over the years; it’s no surprise that they’re here to administer my last rites.
Last weekend we attended Mass at Holy Rosary Catholic Church in downtown Bozeman, MT. The music served the people well; the cantor stood in front of the assembly with the organist and console off to the side. Other aspects of the liturgy that stood out were the single adult server wearing a suit, Eucharist offered under both species, a young family bringing up the gifts, and the passing of baskets during the Preparation of the Gifts. Everyone sang, and aside from the exclusive use of the organ, it felt like Roncalli Newman Parish. It reminded me of why I love church.
Even though I have always loved church, I had several reasons why I never wanted to work for a church:
1.I didn’t want to be tied down every weekend.
2.I had never studied the organ because I didn’t think I’d ever need the skill.
3.I had never taken a course in sacred scripture or liturgy and most of the bible studies that I tried in college were narrowly focused. At a time when I was searching for deeper meaning, I found that these groups seemed to be making it up as they went along…and I had better things to do.
4.I didn’t find the music very challenging. Even though I was part of a small group of musicians who supplied music every weekend at the Newman Center at Wash U, I didn’t want to plan, prepare, and play that music exclusively.
5.All the church music directors that I knew were rather odd, and I didn’t want to be one of them.
What was going through my head when Tom Walter called and said, “We are looking for a Director of Music at the Newman Center. Do you know anyone who might be interested?” After submitting an application, I remember Fr. Mark asking me if I really wanted the job. I could only answer that “I had an inexplicable feeling in my gut that it was the right thing to do,” and who says “no” to the Holy Spirit?
What I learned was that…
1.I enjoyed playing for Mass and didn’t mind the Saturday/Sunday work schedule.
2.I was no longer afraid of the organ.
3.I worked on a Masters in Theology at St. Mary’s University for three years – taking courses focused on liturgy, ecclesiology, theology, spirituality, and scripture, to name a few. The Diocesan School of Biblical Studies was another avenue of growth for me.
4.The music in my fingers seemed to beckon for more, and before I knew it, I was improvising for the first time in my life; I also exercised arranging and conducting skills which would have gone unused in my teaching job; and I have loved working with Liturgy Committee on Advent, Christmas, Lent, Easter, and Ordinary Time liturgies.
5.As for church music directors being odd… They are odd because they love their assemblies and the music ministers who either participate for a time, or stick it out indefinitely. They are also odd because they have moments of panic – wondering if choirs were going to learn all the music thrown at them for high seasons, or trying to remember names of parishioners as they come to Mass. Yes, I have been happily odd for 25 years because knowing all of you has been one of my greatest joys.
After 25 years, I regret:
1. …that I didn’t take a few organ lessons, mainly because it would have added variety to our worship. Organ blends better with brass than the piano, and hearing it from time to time wouldn’t have been such a bad thing.
2. …that I would have had the energy to keep reminding the staff that Roncalli Newman is a parish and not just a center. I know the terms “parish” and “center” have been used interchangeably over the years, but a distinction is imperative now more than ever.
3. I really regret putting a VHS of “What Cantors Should Never Do” (starring Peg Manson) into our VHS player at home. It was promptly eaten…and I cried.
But those regrets are small when compared with 25 years of memories firmly embedded in my memory:
If you have worked with me as a cantor, please stand. (Thank you!)
If you have worked with me as an instrumentalist or choir member, please stand. (Thank you!)
If you have served on Liturgy Committee, please stand. (Thank you!)
If you are a member of Roncalli Newman Parish and cherish our liturgies, please stand.
You are why I love church. Thank you!
On the Trail with Louise – Montana 2023 (August 8 – 14, 2023)
We checked into our garage-top cabin between Livingston and Bozeman and are quite happy with the accommodations. There are two large bedrooms, a generous living and dining area, and functional kitchen with everything we might need for the week. I also like the patio and grill in the back yard and would be very happy nesting here on my own.
Louise seems happy and relieved to be done with her summer work, most of which was in South Dakota. She described the two dudes that she was assigned to work with all summer, and it was clearer why she was happy to have this behind her. One of them was very sloppy and continually dragged the accuracy of their stats down. She said that it was extremely frustrating because as hard as the other two tried, this dolt's laziness poisoned the pot.
Nature was also challenging. She shared her sleepless night in a tent as a buffalo herd meandered their grazing outside of her tent in Teddy Roosevelt National Park. One of the them got spooked and tripped on her rain fly. Last week, the winds and rain were so extreme that her tent collapsed and soaked her to the bone. Even so, she was positive overall. She rented a room in Bozeman from a friend she met in her study abroad program in Botswana, and really enjoyed spending time with her Americorps ERT friends from STL, who spent a month in Montana this summer. She can put a positive spin on just about anything.
We hiked three miles of the South Cottonwood Trail while hearing all these stories. Louise was distracted because she forgot to bring her bear spray. She said that no one hikes without it. I had given my bear spray to Carolyn, which Louise thought was rather silly, "Mom, black bears aren't a problem; grizzlies live in these mountains." She clearly is the more experienced outdoors person. We will make sure that the spray is with Louise on future hikes...and not get separated.
We drove to Big Sky today on Sheila's recommendation and found it to be very touristy and commercial. We parked at the resort because there was a recommended trail on the ALLTRAILS app we've been using - Moose Tracks Trail. We had to walk through the resort and ski lifts to get to the trail and kept hoping that both trail and views would improve. It was all very well marked but half of the trail was a gravel service road! Imagine walking uphill for 2 hours, hearing the groaning of construction in the distance and the roar of a helicopter flying back and forth (probably part of the construction). You hope that you will be rewarded with a spectacular view at the top, but we learned that the destination was the top of a ski lift! There was nothing scenic about today's trail; it stunk of big money and development.
After a much quicker descent (1.5 hours down), we shook the dust from our feet and drove to the town of Big Sky. We parked the car and walked through the Farmer's Market, which was larger than yesterday's market in Bozeman. We had great fun checking out all the vendors and capped the evening with dinner at a Thai place - The Lotus Pad.
We entered Yellowstone for the second day of our vacation-within-a-vacation. Yesterday we walked through all the hydrothermal geysers and hot springs. There were scads of people at the most popular sites (especially places with wheelchair access) but thinned out the farther in we would trek. (Fairy Falls was a lengthy walk which was more satisfying because there were so few people at the end admiring the falls.) Old Faithful had chairs for folks who waited to see regular eruptions. We were lucky enough to see Old Faithful erupt twice and Lion Geyer erupt right as we passed it on the boardwalk! Nature at its best.
We stayed in Island Park, ID last night at a redneck hotel that advertised free muffins and coffee this morning. We assumed it was the large cabin next to our motel-lodge but found out that it was a single-family cabin when we tried to get in. (The family was just pulling out of the driveway and politely told us it was their place. Whoops.)
I was sad to learn that I left my travel thermos behind and contacted the owner of the lodge on the off-chance s/he might send it to me. “Jay” was happy to oblige and sent a very nice note saying that he also has a mug that has traveled with that he would want back if forgotten. I take back comment about it being a redneck place.
Day One in Yellowstone was great, but Day Two was even better. Our plan was to drive east toward Lake Yellowstone, then catch as many sites as possible before exiting the North Entrance/Exit. Lake Yellowstone is pristine, while having a crusty, sandy shoreline with geysers that jut out of the water. The lake may have had just one section with hydrothermal activity, which would make sense given its size, and we were glad to be part of its admiring crowd.
Our next site was to view the gorges and canyon cut by the Yellowstone River. We hiked along the south rim of the river for about 2 hours before driving north to catch views at lookouts along the way. I was surprised to see how quickly the landscape changed; thick ponderosa pines gave way to a stony canyon in 10 miles. Louise really wanted to hike to the suspension bridge over a gorge cut by the Yellowstone River, so who were we to say no to such enthusiasm? It wasn't well advertised (she found it in one of the guidebooks available at our Airbnb), and the marking for the turnoff was a very small sign off the road from the canyon. The trail wasn't long, but it was a steep descent and even more challenging climb back to the parking lot. I really thought Mike was going to have a heart attack. Given the difficulty of the trail, there weren't many people around...making a rescue more difficult! All that worry and he huffed and puffed it back to the parking lot.
We didn't see much wildlife yesterday but were luckier today. We passed a herd of bison enroute to Yellowstone Lake, cornered a woodchuck on the south rim trail, killed a chipmunk crossing the road, and freaked out a fox near the suspension bridge. I was sorry that Louise and I missed seeing elk, especially when Mike said that he saw one laying down near the bridge where we parked our car! (He went back to retrieve while Louise ascended steps at Mammoth Hot Springs.) Well, after dinner at the Wonderful Cafe in Gardiner, MT, we walked back to our car and nearly bumped into an elk doe eating petunias from a planter on the corner! I saw three more just outside of town! I'm sure that they're pests in the same way that deer are in La Crosse.
What I have seen of both Livingston and Bozeman is an explosion of housing and commerce - all which will look dated in another 20 years. Bozeman has a very trendy downtown area with outfitters, coffee shops, mountain bike shops, trendy bookstores, restaurants, and TWO co-ops. You can see it as a pocket of blue - attracting earth-conscious young adults who want peace and organic produce; drive into Utah or the Montana countryside and you'll see plenty of gun-slinging conservatives. It's a curious part of the country.
We visited the Grizzly Rescue Center today and saw "Max the Grizzly" in action. They had a very helpful guide who gave us some great tips on what to do if we met a bear in the wild: "If it's black, fight back; if it's brown, lay down." The advice seemed sound until she explained that black bears can be brown, and grizzlies can be almost black. Her explanation of their respective physiologies made more sense. I can give you a lesson when we get back, if you'd like, as well as what to do if you ever encounter a bear in the wild.
The remainder of the day was spent at downtown bookstores and the Museum of the Rockies. The natural history museum is managed by Montana State University and contains exciting dinosaur fossils. We also bought tickets for 5000 Eyes: Mapping the Universe with DESI. Fascinating. Knowing that 5000 computers compiling data on galaxies on the other side of the Milky Way still need a human being for analysis gives me hope that AI won't take over the world.
We had dinner at the Ugly Onion, which is owned and operated by Louise's roommates, Greta and Max. They have a fancy portable pizza oven that they transport from venue to venue. It was truly delicious.
Our last day in Bozeman started with Mass at Holy Rosary Church on Main Street. The music was OK; the cantor stood in front with the organist (console and pipes were behind the altar). I thought it refreshing that the single adult server was wearing a suit! We also had communion under both species, which was almost novel in our post-COVID world! I know that Montana had looser restrictions during COVID, so I wasn't surprised to a return to the common cup. Everyone sang. It felt normal.
We picked up Louise after Mass and had lunch at Feed Café, followed by an afternoon at Fairy Lake, which is a short drive from Bozeman. The gravel road was in horrid condition - so bad that it took us 30 minutes to drive a mere 6 miles. The setting was worth the hassle of getting there; others must have felt the same way because the parking lot was packed!
We are leaving tomorrow and will stay in Chamberlain, SD tomorrow evening. We are hoping to have time to stop and see Mt. Rushmore tomorrow and Blue Mound State Park on Tuesday. We plan to be back in La Crosse by dinnertime on Tuesday, August 15, 2023!
Getting Our Feet Wet in the BWCA – June 26-28, 2023
I have dreamt of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area all my life. Well, at least since I was in junior high. Grand Rapids Middle School hosted BWCA trips for adolescents - $10 for 10 days of pure wilderness. Unfortunately, my mother, a devout Catholic, didn’t think that pure wilderness was a proper replacement for attending Sunday Mass. Every summer I watched my friends come and go from these trips, piling up stories that made me envious.
Years went by. I got married and raised four beautiful children. I got older and older, never completely giving up the dream of canoe camping in the BWCA. After our epic adventure to Patagonia, my daughter Carolyn began making plans that would finally make my dream a reality. Despite having hip replacement surgery in February, our trip from Grand Marais > Clearwater Outfitters > Clearwater Lake > West Pike Lake > Pine Lake > Little Caribou Lake > Caribou Lake was soooo real. A little rain, loon calls, quiet lakes, rocky shores, tent giggles, mosquito latrines, and yummy camp meals with Madeline, Carolyn, and Brandon are no longer a dream but a very sweet memory.
Patagonia, December 25, 2022 – January 4, 2023
By Mary Ellen Haupert
From the time that Louise decided she wanted to work in Patagonia, Chile, I began plotting our own trip to visit her. We began our epic trip to Patagonia on Christmas Day 2022. We drove to Chicago and stayed the night in the crown plaza hotel so that we could leave our car in the airport parking lot for free. There was nothing open at the hotel but one restaurant, The Fly Zone, where we ate something greasy and then retired to our room to watch the remainder of a ridiculously stupid movie, The Mean Girls. It wasn’t Christmas appropriate, but it was all that was on the television in the hotel.
The next day we flew to Atlanta > Santiago > Balmaceda, Chile where we met Madeline and Chaz. Madeline and I had received an email from Tania (Patagonia Frontiers coordinator), with the name of our driver, Juan Veas; Madeline contacted him and he agreed to pick us up and take us to our Airbnb outside of Coyhaique. The place was in the scenic countryside and had a handmade wood-stoked hot tub! The owner was extremely enthusiastic and had logs lit so that we could soak both before and after dinner. Madeline lent me one of her swimsuits, which allowed me to enjoy the incredible view with my daughter and her partner, Chaz.
Our driver Juan lives in Coyhaique, so had some excellent recommendations on where we should have dinner. We were thankful when he pulled up outside of Casa Cipres to see if there was room, and then asked the proprietors to set a table for the four of us. The restaurant had a lovely back patio, exceptional entrées, tasty hors d’oeuvres, and excellent Chilean wine. After dinner, we thought we’d explore the town center. It was completely dead except for a lot of stray dogs roaming in packs. A homeless man threw a chair at one of the dogs, instigating some barking and fighting between human and beasts. Not wanting to be part of the dog fight, we kept walking until Juan eventually picked us up; he was kind enough to show us a few other places where we snapped pictures and had some laughs. We were glad that the hot tub was still quite warm and lovely when we got back.
Juan picked us up in the morning and made sure that we had several stops along the way to experience the beauty of Patagonia. Chaz sat in the front seat (because he could converse in Spanish with Juan) and got to see several photos of Juan’s climbing achievements! He showed us the Cerro Castillo peak, drove us through a hairpin road (camino diablo a Villa cerro Castillo), and made sure that we had enough coffee and potty breaks.
We stopped at Puerto Tranquillo where we viewed the islands, mountains, and white caps on Lago General Carreras. Juan really wanted to show us the best of Chile and tried to make arrangements for us to see the Marble Caves on Lagos General Carreras, but the water was too rough to access them. I mistakenly made a video saying we were waiting until the waves died down before we could cross to see Louise. Little did I know that we had hours left in our travel to Patagonia Frontiers.
Lupin flowers caught our eyes in the ditches along the roadside and near rivers all over southern Chile. We stopped at Parque El Sombrero to wander in fields of Lupin. We took pictures by the river, picked calafate berries, and watched Madeline do handstands.
The trek to Patagonia Frontiers started to get long when the paved road turned to gravel. It was bumpy for what felt like hours and I couldn’t believe that we didn’t get a flat tire or even go off the road. The scenery and all of the lakes made up for it. General Carreras Lake is massive with many islands bordered by towering mountains. We saw rivers, waterfalls, and a diminishing population the farther south we traveled.
After seven hours we reached Puerto Bertand, where John was scheduled to pick us up. John and Don Luis were kind enough to bring Louise along for the ride and it was great seeing her looking so healthy and strong. The boat trip lasted a little over an hour, probably because the waves were whitecapped, making the crossing a bit of a splash. The lakes in Patagonia are pure and unpolluted; the colors are exotic. Lago Bertrand’s bright blue gave way to greenish Lago Plomo almost instantly. The mountains on each the border the lakes have glaciers, which carry sediment coloring the lakes deep and bright blues, sea green, or a brackish-whitish green. Did I mention that there are no docks on these lakes? Welcome to wilderness Patagonia!
As we neared the ranch, we could see the crew lining up on the dock. Louise said it was customary to make way for the dock when they heard a boat coming. Sometimes they heard a boat and there were no visitors. That didn’t matter; they still had to be hospitable. We were glad to meet Michael (Blade) Bonaducci, Ryan Crawford, Cora, Ari, Nadia, and Hayes. Louise took us to the guest cabin where she had hung Madeline‘s handmade birthday gift from the door knob. I could tell the girls were thrilled to be together; this sweet gift was evidence of that.
The guest cabin was very nice. They had a little bit of whiskey for us, two glasses, some bubbly water, towels, and plenty of warm blankets. There are three separate rooms in the guest cabin and we occupied two rooms, while Louise slept in her tent. (It wasn’t immediately clear to me why she couldn’t stay in the third room.) There is no running water on the ranch; an outhouse and a washing station (w/bucket with a spigot hanging from a tree) served us well. The long drop, which the outhouse is called, has two picture windows so that you can view the horses grazing in the pasture while taking a dump.
Louise showed us the Palazzo, which is the kitchen and eating quarters for the crew. The guests eat in the new-new barn’s loft situated above their wood-milling station and storage area. It’s a comfortable space with a table, chairs, serving area, and a comfortable living space furnished with some of John Hough’s handmade furniture. We used it for games and conversation. Louise also gave us a tour of their greenhouse, the crew’s long drop, and the pasture where they pitched their tents. Their living conditions (for a full six months) are intense, evidenced by tents that are slowly falling apart due to wind and sun, “but nothing that a little duct tape can’t fix.”
We had a bit of time to kill before supper, so we went back to the guest cabin to open some of the gifts that I brought for Louise, Madeline, and Chaz. They laughed at the silly buttons and socks that I brought, as well as the dorky handmade pajamas that they changed into before supper (and wore any time we had down time at the ranch).
Louise planned all of the meals, as well as assigning cooks and serving crews, and our first meal at the ranch didn’t disappoint. We joked about the role of designated water/drink carrier. I would be lying if I said that I thought some of the rules were a little over the top, but the more I heard of John Hough and the near-death experiences that he survived, the more I understood his need for control, discipline, and order.
The first hike began at the entrance of Lago Plomo, on land that belongs to one of John‘s neighbors. He asked permission for us to hike the ridge from the beach access all the way back to his ranch. When Louise described the hike on the boat ride the day before, I didn’t imagine it to be challenging, but I wasn’t prepared for the overgrown brush, wild and thorny rosebushes, and uphill/downhill slopes. The hike was challenging on many levels and stretched our physical capabilities. Ryan Crawford was an excellent guide and pointed out places where there was loose gravel or alternate routes that might be easier for Mike and me. We didn’t see anyone else on the trail, which was surprising at first. I wasn’t prepared for the rugged wilderness that we experienced, but appreciated its raw beauty from high vistas that overlooked the lakes, valleys, and glacial-capped peaks. While we were losing our breath climbing some of the slopes, we had our breath taken away by nature.
Mike broke out his water shoes (which were a hit) on our first river crossing, which Ryan said was substantial. Ryan, Michael, and Louise were hardcore and walked through the rivers in their hiking boots; I was glad that Chaz changed into sandals first so the rest of us didn’t look like wimps. (This was sort of a relief for the remainder of our adventure in Patagonia.)
At the end of the hike, we were received by John and the other crew members. John doubted that we would finish and I didn’t realize what we had accomplished until after it was all done. Having John there to shake our hands and give us congratulatory beers was testament to the difficulty of the trail. Following another delicious meal and games, For Sale and 10, we went to bed and prepared for the next few days of hiking.
That first day we trekked along the river bed into a valley that is owned by Patagonia Frontiers. The valley was cut by the Soler River, which has several glacial tributaries into the main channel. The Soler River is lighter green in color, flowing with potable water. We didn’t have to worry about filtering because Ryan, Louise, and Michael reassured us that it was safe to drink. The trekking was flat in the river valley, extremely muddy, and requiring several stream crossings. Our final cross of Cacho River toward the Cacho Ranch Camp was met by Don Mancho sitting by the fire and tending the horses.
Don Mancho has lived in the valley all of his life and owned much of the property that surrounds Lago Plomo; he developed a friendly relationship years ago with John – to whom he sold most of his property. Don Mancho continues to live in a small cabin on the property and manages all of the horses. Louise said that he is the most knowledgeable person in the valley, especially regarding horses and general geography.
The crew was expected to cook for us, set up our tents, and keep us safe and happy. I especially appreciated Ryan and Michael on this trek; they were funny, and joked continuously with Louise. It was great to see her so happy in this wild Chilean environment.
Back to Cacho Ranch Camp. The tents were set up in a lower patch of grass, while the main part of the camp sits on a hill that overlooks the Cacho River and surrounding mountains. The main building is a storage unit with wood, food items, and other necessities. The fire pit has a giant boulder which shields the fire from the wind. There is a corral down by the river for the horses, and there’s a “short drop” for visitors to use whenever Nature calls. It was an experience to sit and have a view while taking care of your bodily needs; I had to laugh when I turned around one day to see the two horses staring at me from behind!
We had lots of jokes at Cacho Ranch Camp. Ryan and Michael quickly learned that we were a joking family who were more interested in enjoying one another than telling tall tales about ourselves. They started making up stories, including a rule of John’s that controls toilet paper use. Louise said that she was only allowed four little squares for each bathroom visit, but Michael said that he had permission to use six. They had me believing it until the story developed the necessity for wearing diapers. We had many laughs.
At the end of the meal Michael introduced us to a project. He had cut small conical pieces of wood that he wanted us to hollow out for shot “glasses.” In order to hollow out the cylindrical pieces of wood, he asked that we grab an amber from the fire and burn through the center of the wood. This kept us entertained for most of the evening. Some of our cups cracked but they were still usable the following New Year’s Eve.
Before getting into New Year’s Eve, there needs to be an explanation of the trek on the second day. Our goal was to follow the river for a view of the glacial fields, and the hiking predicted to be messier than the first. There was a considerable amount of marshy land that we encountered, as well as scrubby trees. The glacier was recognized by locating the receding tree line from the valley. As we got closer to the glacier, the river seemed stronger as it rushed past banks of stunted bush and rocks. Ryan said that he has crossed the river to get to the glacial fields, and also explained that there has been quite a bit of research in that particular area. We could see different colors of glacial crevices, as places where the glacier had cracked and broke free from the mass. As much as we wanted to get close enough to touch, it would have been too risky for us to cross the river because of its depth and the force of the current. Instead, we sat on top of the moraine snapping photos of the valley and the glacier beyond.
The walk back was punctuated by some singing; Madeline and Chaz contributed songs they learned in their Zambia village; I added a few folk songs of my own. In the distance we could see a herd of wild horses. When the stand of horses spotted us, they performed a show by galloping across the green pasture at top speed, and then circled back only to stop and look at us before continuing their afternoon grazing. Cora said to look out for a baby which had been born recently.
Our New Year’s Eve started with rock skipping along the Cacho River, and continued with a meal near the campfire. Madeline made a cake using a Dutch oven that she found in the cookhouse, using a bread baking technique that she perfected when they were in the Peace Corps. She was annoyed because the hot fire burned the bottom of the cake; she and Louise were able to cut off the top and roll it up into a tasty treat for all of us. So sweet!
We sang some songs and played song captain while tasting Michael’s whiskey from our carved out wooden shot glasses. I turned in before the sun went down, which was about 10:30 PM. I had a hard time getting to sleep in the tent; the pads were a little thin for the old folks. I enjoyed listening to the young people laughing and telling stories, and finally their cheers ringing in the New Year.
On New Year’s Day, we had a few more river crossings before reaching camp the ranch the next day. The group was steadily getting closer via easy conversation on the trail, the singing, and our attempts to dodge mud, cow manure, and other obstacles in our path. It didn’t dampen our spirits; we seemed all genuinely grateful for the rare experience that we were having together.
My birthday on the next day was as perfect as it could be. Madeline got up early and met Louise at the Palazzo where they made a cake and decorated it with hiking figurines that looked like each one in our group. They went out to pick crow berries from the property and use them to make a little stream in the frosting. It was delightful to see the cake and try to guess which caricatures matched our personalities. We had a slower day with a hike up one of the Louise’s favorite mountains and some time on the dock. They planned an outdoor campfire meal on John’s property as a special treat; it was the third time that I celebrated my birthday on a different continent and this was one to remember fondly. Louise spent two weeks making pottery utensils out of wood from the ranch; Ryan helped her design them. I look forward to putting them to use!
I had a hard time saying goodbye to Louise. We learned how much she can withstand, and left with admiration for her strength, determination, and fortitude. There is no doubt in my mind that she has grown both physically and spiritually stronger for living this austere lifestyle. We parted with teary eyes fixed on the Patagonia Frontiers’ dock, until we could no longer see Louise. Don Luis had no trouble getting us to Bertrand, because the lake was smooth and void of the wind and waves that we experienced on the way to the ranch. Juan was there to meet us and the trip back went fairly quickly. Madeline booked an Airbnb in Coyhaique, this time within walking distance of the town center. We had dinner at an outdoor venue that featured a disgustingly oversized meat tower, which Mike and Chaz devoured.
Juan took us to Balmaceda Airport where we caught our plane to Santiago. We had a long layover, so used the opportunity to explore the city. A cab driver dropped us off in the Italian neighborhood of Santiago. We walked a long stretch of restaurants, shops, and several malls that contained tourist souvenirs. I couldn’t resist a pair of bright, red patent leather shoes that I may Don at the next chamber music concert. Dinner that night was at Silvester’s, a restaurant off the beaten track, but posted a different menu each day. Our waiter had a bit of an accent, and we were foolish enough to think it was from Australia. When asked, he said he was an actor who experimented with accents. The food was great! Our remaining time was a walk-through a neighborhood near San Cristobal. The time flew by, and before we could catch our breath, we were shedding tears as we said goodbye to Madeline and Chaz. It is an understatement to say that this was a most fabulous adventure.