DEPP STILL TALKIN’ TONTO










Johnny Depp, soon to be seen – actually heard -- in the animated pseudo-western Rango, is talking again about Jerry Bruckheimer’s many-years-in-the-planning remake of The Lone Ranger, in which Depp will play Tonto. The Disney film is planned for a 2012 release, and it’s coming from the same team that brought you the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise: director Gore Verbinski, and writers Ted Elliot and Terry Rossio.

Depp told Entertainment Weekly, “I think it’s going to be good, when we have a chance to put it up on its feet. What we’ve got so far screenplay-wise is really great, really funny.” Depp, who is part Cherokee, adds, “I always felt Native Americans were badly portrayed in Hollywood films over the decades. It’s a real opportunity for me to give a salute to them. Tonto was a sidekick in all the Lone Ranger series. [This film] is a very different approach to that partnership. And a funny one I think.”

Says producer Bruckheimer (from an earlier interview) about the screenplay, “They’re creating something that has a true-to-the-western feel, but adding other additional elements like we did in Pirates so it won’t be just a straight-ahead western.” Hopefully the recent Green Hornet debacle (not to mention Jonah Hex) will deter them going too far afield from the beloved Fran Striker stories. Incidentally, few moviegoers of today are aware that Striker created both The Green Hornet and The Lone Ranger, and that the Hornet character, Britt Reid, is the great nephew of John Reid, the Lone Ranger. If you’d like to read an in-depth chronology of the masked Reid family – and who wouldn’t – go here: http://www.pjfarmer.com/woldnewton/Reid.htm

Incidentally, no definitive word yet on who will play Tonto’s faithful masked companion.

(Photos top to bottom: artist rendering of Johnny Depp as Tonto, George Clooney as Lone Ranger; title card from Wanted:Dead or Alive; Trigger and Bullet pose with kids; posters from the movies whose names are on them; two more Indian Chiefs from the Allen & Ginter cigarette insert card series)

MEMORIES OF MCQUEEN: DEAD OR ALIVE

The excellent Steve McQueen western series Wanted: Dead or Alive is available on home video – I got seasons one and two in a package at Target for under twenty dollars -- and if you shop around you can get a set with the final season as well. If you’d like to know what making the series, and working with McQueen, was like, click HERE http://www.caucus.org/archives/10win_cowboy.html to read Cowboy by Norman S. Powell, from the Caucus Journal. Powell started as 2nd Assistant Director on Wanted, and graduated to production manager and eventually producer, working on, among many others, The Westerner, The Big Valley, several Gunsmoke TV movies, and was recently Emmy-nominated for producing ‘24’.

PIONEERS OF TELEVISON FOLLOW-UP

If you haven’t had a chance to catch the Western segment of Pioneers of Television on PBS, check your listings, because it’ll probably be shown again, and it’s well-worth catching. Focusing on just a few series rather than trying to tell the whole story of TV Westerns in one hour, you’ll learn a lot about Gunsmoke, Bonanza, The Big Valley and Daniel Boone from an impressive array of actor interviews. Either they’ve been working on this project for a long time, or they have many sources for their interviews, because several of their subjects – Robert Culp, Fess Parker – have passed away, and a few, like Buddy Ebsen, have been gone quite some time. A PBS website HERE http://www.pbs.org/opb/pioneersoftelevision/pioneering-programs/westerns/ has several interview clips, and to my surprise, most or all of them are outtakes from the show. So if you want to hear William Shatner tell how Timothy Carey tried to strangle him on camera in Gunsmoke, you’ll have to go there. Incidentally, I’ve also watched the sci-fi episode of this series, and it was equally entertaining. The upcoming episodes, a new one every Tuesday, will examine crime stories, kiddie tv, late night shows, sitcoms, variety shows and game shows.

TRIGGER AND BULLET AT THE CATTLE INDUSTRY ANNUAL CONVENTION IN DENVER

If you’re going to be in Denver from February 2nd to the 5th, stop at the RFD-TV booth and have your picture taken with Trigger and Bullet! And on the 2nd through the 4th, Dusty Rogers and the High Riders will be performing at 5:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.

SCREENINGS

IN NEW YORK

THE FILM FORUM – FRITZ LANG IN HOLLYWOOD


On Wednesday, February 2nd, as part of their Fritz Lang In Hollywood series, the Film Forum will present a double bill of The Return of Frank James (1940), with Henry Fonda as Frank, John Carradine as dirty little coward Bob Ford, and Gene Tierney; and Western Union (1941) from the Zane Grey tale, starring Robert Young, Randolph Scott and John Carradine – both with brand spankin’ new 35 MM prints!

On Sunday and Monday, February 6th and 7th, they’ll present Clash By Night (1952), starring Barbara Stanwyck, Robert Ryan and Marilyn Monroe, and Rancho Notorious (1952), starring Marlene Detreich, Arthur Kennedy and Mel Ferrer.

IN LOS ANGELES

GENE AUTRY DOUBLE FEATURE SATURDAY FEB. 5TH AT THE AUTRY


Starting at noon, the Autry will screen Shooting High (1940), costarring Jane Withers, Jack Carson and Charles “Ming The Merciless” Middleton; and Sioux City Sue (1946), costarring Sterling “Winnie the Pooh” Holloway. It’s scheduled to be screened in the tiny Imagination Gallery’s Western Legacy Theater, but last time they had such a big turnout that they had to move it to the Wells Fargo Theatre. And on Saturday February 12th they’ll be showing The Searchers – and the Magnificent Seven is coming in April!

AND ON THE TUBE

On Saturday, February 5th , RFD-TV will show Roy Rogers in UNDER CALIFORNIA STARS (1948), with direction by action whiz William Whitney and script by the excellent Sloan Nibley. The plot involves the theft of Trigger (!), and costars Jane Frazee, young Michael Chapin, not-so-young Andy Devine, and the singers by which all other western groups are measured, Bob Nolan and the Sons Of The Pioneers.

WESTERN EVENTS ON THE HORIZON

FEB. 18TH-21ST – WHISKEY FLAT DAYS IN KERNVILLE

Events include a parade, rodeo, frog-jumping contest, food, music and melodramas. For more info, call 760-376-2629, or visit kernvillechamber.org.


FEB. 19TH-20TH – CIVIL WAR WEEKEND AT CALICO GHOST TOWN


Events include Civil War reenactments, authentic encampments, drills, music, living history displays, period fashion shows, and a reading of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. To learn more, call 800-86-CALICO (862-2542) or visit calicotown.com.

THE AUTRY NATIONAL CENTER

Built by cowboy actor, singer, baseball and TV entrepeneur Gene Autry, and designed by the Disney Imagineering team, the Autry is a world-class museum housing a fascinating collection of items related to the fact, fiction, film, history and art of the American West. In addition to their permenant galleries (to which new items are frequently added), they have temporary shows. The Autry has many special programs every week -- sometimes several in a day. To check their daily calendar, CLICK HERE. And they always have gold panning for kids every weekend. For directions, hours, admission prices, and all other information, CLICK HERE.

HOLLYWOOD HERITAGE MUSEUM

Across the street from the Hollywood Bowl, this building, once the headquarters of Lasky-Famous Players (later Paramount Pictures) was the original DeMille Barn, where Cecil B. DeMille made the first Hollywood western, The Squaw Man. They have a permanent display of movie props, documents and other items related to early, especially silent, film production. They also have occasional special programs. 2100 Highland Ave., L.A. CA 323-874-2276. Thursday – Sunday 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. $5 for adults, $3 for senior, $1 for children.

WELLS FARGO HISTORY MUSEUM

This small but entertaining museum gives a detailed history of Wells Fargo when the name suggested stage-coaches rather than ATMS. There’s a historically accurate reproduction of an agent’s office, an original Concord Coach, and other historical displays. Open Monday through Friday, from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 a.m. Admission is free. 213-253-7166. 333 S. Grand Street, L.A. CA.


FREE WESTERNS ON YOUR COMPUTER AT HULU


A staggering number of western TV episodes and movies are available, entirely free, for viewing on your computer at HULU. You do have to sit through the commercials, but that seems like a small price to pay. The series available -- often several entire seasons to choose from -- include THE RIFLEMAN, THE CISCO KID, THE LONE RANGER, BAT MASTERSON, THE BIG VALLEY, ALIAS SMITH AND JONES, and one I missed from 2003 called PEACEMAKERS starring Tom Berenger. Because they are linked up with the TV LAND website, you can also see BONANZA and GUNSMOKE episodes, but only the ones that are running on the network that week.

The features include a dozen Zane Grey adaptations, and many or most of the others are public domain features. To visit HULU on their western page, CLICK HERE.

TV LAND - BONANZA and GUNSMOKE

Every weekday, TV LAND airs a three-hour block of BONANZA episodes from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. They run a GUNSMOKE Monday through Thursday at 10:00 a.m., and on Friday they show two, from 6:00 to 8:00 a.m.. They're not currently running either series on weekends, but that could change at any time.

NEED YOUR BLACK & WHITE TV FIX?

Check out your cable system for WHT, which stands for World Harvest Television. It's a religious network that runs a lot of good western programming. Your times may vary, depending on where you live, but weekdays in Los Angeles they run DANIEL BOONE at 1:00 p.m., and two episodes of THE RIFLEMAN from 2:00 to 3:00 p.m.. On Saturdays at 2:00 p.m. it's THE RIFLEMAN again, followed at 2:30 by BAT MASTERSON. And unlike many stations in the re-run business, they run the shows in the original airing order. There's an afternoon movie on weekdays at noon, often a western, and they show western films on the weekend, but the schedule is sporadic.

It's almost eleven Monday night, and I've still got to outline about a dozen episodes for the first season of my proposed series, so I'd better get at it -- I'll post some pictures to go along with the above on Tuesday.

Have a great week!

Adios,

Henry

All Contents Copyright January 31st, 2011 by Henry C. Parke -- All Rights Reserved

Pillowcases and the Snowmaggedon

We've just received word that we are about to be pounded with two feet of snow.  This makes me a little sad as I open the office in the morning and must go in no matter what.

In preparation for the cold wait at the bus stop tomorrow, I found another stray pillowcase and made it into a tank top.  A bit see through, but it's flannel and is very warm.  It is also not too noticeable under blouses and whatnot.





Bring it, snow...you don't scare me...much.

Sew Weekly Challenge: Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery

Since I cannot seem to post the actual picture, here is the link to what I would like to "imitate": corduroy belted trench.

I love this coat and DESPERATELY want it.  I am still listening to that voice in the back of my head that says I am not buying any clothing this year and so I have managed to hold off...but the price keeps dropping...and the colors are soooooo pretty....

but at least I have this to comfort me:




A corduroy trench coat that I managed to snag in a clothing swap two years ago.  I snagged it because I really wanted a long brown coat, a la David Tennant:

 

My goal for this challenge is to make this long, shapeless trench coat into a belted fashion statement.  I think this project may involve some tears and some wine, but I hope to come out victorious in the end!

On Being Afraid

Having long accepted the sad, boring truth that most Asians are not expert in any marital arts, I was never afraid of anything going wrong on the first leg of our trip. Not even hearing a former colleague's tale of being stabbed in the chest while in Malaysia (nor his near-fatal tussle with an orang-utan – seriously, he fought that bastard for ages) frightened me. Put simply, that's because if it came down to it, I would fancy my chances against someone shorter, lighter and eminently headbuttable.
Not so in South America. Firstly, most people are my size or bigger. Secondly, they're far more likely to carry a knife or gun, both of which trump a headbutt, even with a cranium as weighty as mine.
But having spent a month in the rural south of Chile and Argentina, we've not had much occasion to feel afraid. All over the world country folk are largely affable types, and surrounded by such gorgeous scenery, these particular bumpkins don't have much to be angry about.
In tourist towns like Pucon, they're comparatively rich too, so even when following folk up a smoking volcano, for example, we felt far from danger.
But our road from now until August stretches ever north, inexorably through some of the continent's most notorious cities and alongside an unquantifiable number of bandits.
Ahead of arriving in Santiago, we looked to the reliably bland Lonely Planet for advice. As usual, their ladie-da attitude wasn't much help. I wonder if they give out anti-depressants at the Lonely Planet HQ? Things are never that good, nor that bad. It reminds me of Stephen Fry's excellent, uncomfortable documentary about manic depressives. It featured famous faces – and more memorably some deeply disturbed plebs – who, having had their peaks and troughs levelled out by a narcotic saw, described looking at life through a letterbox. Thus the Lonely Planet – afraid to criticise or eulogise, content with the mealy-mouthed middle ground.
They describe Santiago as “generally safe” and flag up one or two areas in which to be more cautious. In reality, most hostels are full with horror stories about life on the mean streets. One guy was victim of misdirection and lost his day-bag containing his passport and camera; a girl was extorted by a cab driver; the squares are full of marauding Peruvians... And so on.
Photo: Wee Mo
People prattle on about it so much that by the time we leave the hostel for an extensive photography day, we're both a little unnerved. And I hate myself for being like that because of course nothing happened. Yes people stared at our cameras, but then I would have done the same in Glasgow – it's unusual to see a big SLR camera and lens, let alone two of them.
Speaking of the Dear Green Place, many people we meet seem to be a little wary of it, afraid that violence and skulduggery could pop up at a moment's notice. For the most part it's just lazy English types bleating out-dated stereotypes in lieu of having anything interesting to say; other times it's foreigners who believe Braveheart is the greatest documentary ever made.
Photo: Wee Mo
But in all cases, it seems ridiculous to me – I know Glasgow, I love it, and it never frightens me. Yes I may once have had a half-brick bounced off my shoulder by a scallywag. And OK, so maybe I did once bite someone in the head. And yes, I did see a woman get booted square in the fud on Sauchiehall Street that time. And so what if my cruciate ligament was ripped asunder, and a visiting friend's nose unceremoniously relocated to his cheek during a street fight with strangers?
Glasgow is safe, it really is no mean city. Most likely, most Santiagoans feel the same about their city too and, by the time we left, we did too. Kind of.
However, on moving out to Valparaiso on the coast, the threat level rose considerably. Home to the country's highest level of unemployment, and a quite staggering number of subsequent jakies, Valpo is dirty, dangerous and – inexplicably – reeks of piss.
Incongruously, it is also home to a sprawling UNESCO World Heritage site and the most jaw-dropping graffiti we have ever seen. I've been places where the street art is lauded before, but nothing compares to Chile. The work is detailed, vibrant and unquestionably bonefide art and – scary or not – makes travelling to Valparaiso worthwhile.
Photo: Wee Mo

Unfortunately, it was quite hard to enjoy all that because within 10 minutes of stepping off the bus downtown, alarm bells were ringing. Cameras out, we had just started to take pictures when a man made a grab for mine. Turns out he was just trying to warn me – beware in case people try to swipe that. Reassuring, it was not.
Next, having seen a couple of shady figures doing something up an alleyway, elaborately disguised as bin men, tinkering with an actual bin, we decided to head up into the lauded UNESCO are of the town. A few steps uphill and another man approached me, waving a badge and proclaiming to be a policeman.
“HA!” Thought I, “I can see your game.”
“Please,” said the man, “I am an undercover policeman.”
“Pfft!” Thought I, while wittering something about not being interested and trying to walk away.
“That is my partner,” he replied, pointing at a policeman on a bike.
“Um...” Thought I, realising that perhaps I was in the process of being rescued from mortal danger.
“I am a good man, but it is not safe for you to go up there. Please, your cameras are very expensive and it will not be safe.”
“Oh.” I said. And we walked back down.
That, as you might imagine, royally fucked our day. In fact, it ruined the rest of our time in Valparaiso. We still took pictures – hundreds of them – but everything, every moment, was tainted by fear. Simple things started to carry menace and we became endlessly burdened with foreboding.
A teenager whistling up a hill to his friends suddenly became a secret signal for them to attack.
They didn't.
A businessman asking for the time was a ruse to separate us from our wallets.
It wasn't.
A tramp asking for change would lash out with a dirty needle if we said no.
We did; he didn't.
Photo: Wee Mo
“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”
Fuck up, Franklin, you don't know what you're on about.

When Boredom and Pillowcases Meet...

Two months ago, I started making a tank top out of a stray Martha Stewart pillowcase that had been floating around the apartment.  I was "meh" about it, I did not feel like the lack of shape was helping me any, and it just wasn't comfortable.  Back into the pile of refashions it went.

After all the dressmaking that has been happening around here, it seemed awfully quiet once those were completed.  So I whipped this navy baby back out, put some darts in, stitched on some lace and voila!

 

I rather like it, and I think the back is fun...

I love de-stashing :)  I also love that I have something fun to put over all of my boring (but highly necessary in this weather) long sleeve shirts. 

Sew Weekly Challenge: Blue Floral Fabric

For many years, I have been wanting to make the dress for this challenge.  I had the fabric, I had the pattern...but I was scared and did not want to mess up my one chance with this beautiful fabric.

I didn't want to back down on the challenge, so I got out the pattern...

 

And made the dress at last...


 I am in love with this dress, even if it is see through and I had to shorten a slip specifically for it.


It's really fun to spin in as well!

Before I made the blue floral dress, I created this lovely number from the same pattern...

I call it my "Mad Men" dress, because I think Joan Holloway would rock this color.


I put on my sassy face for this picture.

And I finally finished another dress that had been hanging onto my mannequin, Emmy, for far too long...


And it came out something like this...I don't know why it looks like I am in pain because the dress is actually very comfortable!


The back neck needs fixing, but I may wait until closer to summer for that...

And now, for a much needed break and a treat of popcorn and m&ms!

Yo-Yo Challenge. Wanna Join Us?



Blame it on a bunch of crafters being bored and uninspired because of the snow. Here's an idea that came about when I posted this photo onto Pinterest and then Facebook. We now have an "official" challenge. Make something using yo-yos. It doesn't have to be as crazy fun as this. It can be a re-purposed skirt, a greeting card, a purse decorated with a few yo-yos. Whatever suits your fancy. We are just trying to give ourselves a creative challenge. Minimum of 3 yo-yos in the project. Are you up for the challenge? I have a business deadline but I will post the details in the next little while.

Deadline for the challenge is March 5. That is you will have post your photograph on a site that I will set up soon. I'll have a little drawing for some goodies too. This will be our own little talent show! Go crazy, go wild! Show us your stuff!!

Comment here, on FB, send me an e-mail or post on Pinterest. Let me know you're interested.

xo, L

Whirlwind Sewing!

I have been sewing like a madwoman, which has been a lovely experience!  I finished two dresses this past weekend, one using the pattern below...


and am now making the version seen above in yellow for the Sew Weekly Blue Floral challenge!  My dress is turning out a little more...ahem...see through than I had originally anticipated.  I am thinking a slip would be handy right about now. 

Pictures to come soon for all three dresses (fingers crossed)!

Breakfast #35: Raisin Bread French Toast with Maple Butter Apples

title
In my foresight, I wisely did not promise to avoid posting recipes similar to each other this year. After all, having resolved to make more breakfasts and use more leftovers, I knew I would be spending many a morning with French toast. Not that I am complaining. Buttery-crisp on the outside, pillowy-soft on the inside, bathed in the syrup/compote/coulis/et al of your choice, topped with cream and/or fruits, smeared with nut butter or Nutella…It’s just the thing to have in the morning to set you right and make you believe in the intrinsic goodness of mankind. And it is the best way ever to breathe new and vibrant life into old, stale, depressed bread.

I never throw bread away. Aside from being loathe to throw any food away (even writing “throw food away” makes me cringe), there are so many uses for those retiring loaves that there is really no need to. You can cube them and turn them into croutons for soups or salads. You can toast the bread, break it apart, and stick them in your food processor to make bread crumbs. You can make bread soup (sopa seca to my mum). You can make bread pudding (still have to try my abuelita’s delicious recipe…soon!). And if it’s a dreary little morning that has you in need of a little cheering, and not much time or energy, you can make French toast.

Raisin Bread French Toast with Maple Butter Apples
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 apple, peeled, cored, and chopped into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 2-8 slices old raisin bread*
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • A generous pat of butter for the pan
- Make the maple butter apples. In a skillet that will fit all the apples in one layer, melt the butter. Add the maple syrup and stir. Add the apples and simmer until the apples are soft and the sauce is sticky, stirring occasionally. This will take about 15-20 minutes. Set aside to cool.
- Whisk the egg and milk together until they are fully combined.
- Soak your bread slices in the milk/egg mixture for a half a minute on each side (I did mine in two batches).
- While your bread is soaking, melt a pat of butter in a non-stick skillet. When the bubbles subside, place your bread on the hot butter. Cook until golden brown and toasty then flip and repeat with the other side. Remove from pan.
- If your maple butter has separated just stir it vigorously until it becomes homogenous. Pour on top of your French toast with joy and abandon.

Not much time? Yes! French toast is ridiculously easy to make, and provided you keep the accoutrements simple, can even be whipped up on a workday morning. Here’s what you do: the night before, have your bread sliced and ready in a flattish bowl in the fridge. Measure the milk out in a jar. The next morning, crack the egg into the jar, twist the lid on, and shake until incorporated (like making a salad dressing). Pour egg mixture into the bowl with the bread, heat a pat of butter in a pan, and you will be ready to get down with some French toast in minutes!

Now, this recipe is not a work-week recipe. This is a Sunday morning recipe. A Sunday morning when you can take the time to enjoy the slow simmering of apples in butter and maple. When you can watch the glossy golden bubbles and smell the irresistible fragrance of melted butter, without worrying about unanswered emails and eye-numbing statistics. When you can nudge the apples into soft submission while reflecting on what is right in the world. The intrinsic goodness of mankind? Oh it does exist…especially over breakfasts like these. I think we could all benefit from a quiet morning with bread, butter and maple syrup don’t you?

*I love using raisin bread for French toast! With no extra effort on my part, I have a ready-flavored French toast infused with raisins and cinnamon. The amount of slices will depend on the size/diameter of your loaf. Mine was small, a jelly roll shaped loaf of about 3 inches in diameter and 2 inches in height and I could make 8 slices with this recipe. If your using a big loaf with extra thick slices (as my aunt likes to do) this will probably be good for 2 slices. Anything in between would make, well, anything in between.

Ruta 40

Over the next few months, I'll give you dozens of reasons why South America is fucking great, but none of them will be the cost of living in Patagonia. In places like Ushuaia, it's no surprise that people are held to ransom – it's not like there's an alternative. But it's disappointing when the cost of things like a simple bus ride spins out of control. Take Ruta 40 for example, the world's longest highway. It costs the best part of a hundred quid to bump along a boring road for 24 hours, with a night in a dusty nowhere town in the middle. In every other part of the country, long-distance buses are surprisingly comfy, with movies, hot scran - steak, no less - and pleasant air-conditioning. For Ruta 40, they use their old, knackered buses, including none of the above. The fucking road isn't even paved.
On the plus side, we now get to wear the chocolate medal that says we have ridden along the longest highway in the world – or at least part of it. And though the bus journey itself was tedious and travelled through some of the most sterile countryside we've yet seen on the continent, some of the stops along the way were OK.
Maybe better than OK.

El Calafate
Ironically, there's something about how obviously manufactured Calafate is that I don't like. There's a faux-Wild West feel to it, all wooden shop-fa├žades and “authentic” handicrafts from “indigenous” peoples, none of which is genuine. I say that's ironic because the reason Calafate has risen to prominence is absolutely not man-made. Enough of my prattle - watch this.

If anything, though, the three-mile wide, 19-mile long, Perito Moreno Glacier is a work in progress. One of the world's last advancing glaciers, it's enormity – like some of the sights in Antarctica – was quite hard to capture in a camera lens. Still, between my shoddy video and Wee Mo's reliably excellent photography, I think we did a decent job.
But trying to take pictures of the beast as it cracks and smashes is like playing catch with an invisible ball. By the time the noise – and what a noise! – of a rupture reached our stupid human ears, the ice had already fallen. Curse stupid, slow sound. Despite being hindered by physics, we spent six hours on Christmas Eve staring at the glacier, trying to capture what we could of its awesome force.

El Chalten
In the Chilean part of Patagonia, the town of Puerto Natales is famous because of its proximity to the stunning Torres Del Paine National Park. This, to us, is false advertising – the bastard is almost two hours drive away.
So on arriving to El Chalten, which also purports to be close to a national park, we were a little worried that the situation would repeat itself.
It felt good to be wrong: Chalten is actually in the park, and its best treks were only a couple of minutes walk away from our shit hostel.
We spent our first day getting battered by the strongest winds I can ever remember experiencing. Walking anywhere was difficult – walking uphill sometimes felt impossible – but it was a helluva lot of fun too. The afternoon whipped past, watching clouds speed across vast plains and literally having the spit blown out of our mouths.
It was all just a warm-up for the following day's nine-hour Los Tres hike, a trek to the very feet of the impossibly Mordorian Fitz Roy range. We've been lucky to see many of the world's most famous mountains – Wee Mo has seen considerably more than me – but nothing has ever looked so dramatic as these. If you asked an excitable three-year-old to draw mountains, they might look a bit like the Fitz Roy range.
Photo: Wee Mo
Photo: Wee Mo

Perito Moreno
OK, so not everywhere was spectacular. We stopped in this dusty little town overnight to break up the journey through the non-paved section of the road north. It was shit.

San Carlos de Bariloche
Neither of us much liked Bariloche on arrival. The most tourist-driven town in the Argentinian Lake District, it was also the most populated place we'd been since leaving Buenos Aires almost a month before. Coming back to all those folk, and the colossal, rank tip unfortunately placed on the edge of town, left us feeling quite uneasy.
Still, this is where we were to spend New Year, so folk would almost certainly be a good thing. Before that, though, we decided to get outdoors again. Our current lifestyle means that its beneficial to be reasonably fit. Alas we are not – although we do have a degree of bloodymindedness and not a great deal else to do, so we found ourselves embarking on another extreme physical challenge.
In Bariloche, that took the form of mountain-biking, over and around the feet of Actual Mountains. However, because of our masochistic love of photography (there's a phrase you have to proof-read) before we started our 27km bike ride, we scambled up a virtually vertical hike for a couple of hours.
The 360 degree view from the top was undeniably excellent, and some of the macro-shots we got were pretty dainty, but the price for seeing it was being drunk on fatigue and powering through our water supply before our feet even touched a pedal.
Trek or no, the cycling was a virtual impossibility. The bikes had a few dozen gears to choose from, but, in truth, we almost walked as much as we cycled. A hot day, questionable stamina, dwindling water and some demonic horse flies, meant that we also spent about as much time loathing the trip as we did enjoying it.
But we only had to stop and look around in the glorious sunshine to see how sickeningly beautiful it all was. 
Fate led us to take a break next to a Swiss guy who was cycling the same demented route as us. "This looks a bit like Switzerland, though, right?" I panted.
"Well, a little," he said, "but we don't have this many lakes."
Photo: Wee Mo