18 April, 2012

This One Hurt!

We finally got the coordinates for Felipe's roost late in the day on Tuesday at Bahia Iglesa and immediately headed for the area. 

                          Fresh Tomatoes At Bahia

It was just a short distance north of us and inland 7 miles or so. We found a PAVED road right to the site. We could have parked right below him last night had our signals made it in time. Oh well. This is what we are here to learn.

                   The Road Into The Roost

He slept on a typical dry desert mountainside above a broad valley on the way to Oro de los Incas.
Felipe does not seem to like the coastline much, at least so far.

                         Felipes Roost On Upper Right Ridge

Close-up Showing The Arid Terrain at the Roost Site on Ridge

The Chilean highways are really nice, all new from Vallenar to Caldera with four lane divided highway, side fencing, new signs. This country is really growing rapidly. It is amazing to see how far they have come. What energy here.

                                      Atacama Highway

We headed up the coast to Taltal and kept going, then took the winding road inland and up, up and up to the high desert. As it was getting dark, we drove onto a side mining road, climbed another thousand feet and camped out in the pristine rocky desert hills at nearly 7,000 feet.

                Lula Belle at Atacama Camp Site Near 7,000 Feet Elevation

Absolute silence except a vicuna calling. No moon. I was transfixed all night at the absolutely clear sky. All night long, I woke and slept, woke and slept, looking at the Milky Way wheeling around overhead and orienting our planet (and me) with the center of the galaxy. You can get such a good sense of the proximity of our neighboring stars out here on our arm of the great disc.

Under these conditions, you can see the massive dust clouds that obscure the bright center on our spiral galaxy. It was so clear, it seemed three dimensional.

Then Don called me with Felipes location at 1:30 AM. WOW! We were at almost the same latitude but we were too far west. Back to sleep, willing myself up at 0500.

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