The End of the World

Fin del Mundo. Not a political statement, not the second coming, no, just Fin del Mundo, is what they call it here. The end of the world. The most southern most road in the world and we made it to the end. It is a loooonnnng way down, trust me.

Fresh from a day off the bikes we headed south from El Calafate to the end of the world. I knew it would be two days, I didn’t know how long those days would be. Good thing it stays light out until 10:30PM.

Right away it was windy, a strong cross wind from the right had our bikes tilted over on what seemed like a 45 degree angle. I will say it was beautiful scenery see the wind in this picture? 

Maybe a turn to the right will give the idea….

Nothing to do about it so we rode. Seriously, the wind was so strong we couldn’t stop along the road without getting blown over, it was that bad. Pee stop? Forget it, need to plan ahead because it is impossible to get off the bikes.

Here is a map of our route, according to my GPS is was 431 miles with an elapsed time of 14 hours and 37 minutes. Hmmm, didn’t expect that but here is the story…

It’s a little hard to see on this map but as the road cuts south the route cuts through a little section of Chile and then crosses an inlet. All of that took some time. The boarder crossings here are much more organized than in Central America but still take some time. All was well until we got to the ferry crossing the Straights of Magellan. Cool, the famous southern most passage from the Atlantic to Pacific sometimes known as “The Dragon’s Tail.” Click on the link to read more, interesting stuff. When we arrived the dragon was breathing in full force, the wind was so strong that guess what…. even in this part of the world where strong winds are normal the wind was too strong for the ferries to run. We arrived at 3:00 and just waited. Fortunately motorcycles always skip to the front of the line and after passing a mile or so of parked cars we parked in with a group of about 20 motorcycles experiencing the same fate.

Glad to be in the front of the line. 

This guy was in line with his ubiquitous Honda 250, he had the best points for pannier style with these handmade leather bags.

Our new best friends for Mexico on the loaded V-Strom!

Finally after about 4 hours, at 7:00 PM the ferry arrived, as far as I could tell the wind hand not let up at all but it seemed like we were going for it. 

We loaded and started our crossing, the waves were insane. It was imperative that we held onto our bikes or they would just crash over. At one point I had to go inside to pay our passage and had to enlist two guys to hold on to my bike, they thought it was hilarious. 

Took this picture out the window when I went to pay.

Here is a short video, sort of gives some perspective. The hallway is where I had to wait in the tossing ship to pay our fare.

Once across we just hit it for the border crossing, after about another 2 hours of high wind riding the road cut due east and the pavement ended. Now it was getting late, my gas light came on and we were back on the loose gravel. Finally as it was getting dark we came to the second border crossing. Thankfully there was a gas station just beyond the crossing.

I took this picture, 10:50 PM, 190 miles since gas, the gas gauge at empty and the gas light on. This was starting to get to be the normal routine. An hour later we were into the city of Rio Grande, exhausted and looking for a hotel. Same deal, hotel 1- full, hotel – 2 full, finally sent to hotel 3, the Grand Hotel and they had a room. Expensive but didn’t care, nice to have a good bed after a long day.

Wednesday January 11, 2017

Not too early we were off for the final push to the end of the world. The road started out flat and boring  with wind but more normal (maybe we are getting used to riding sideways). Closer to Ushuaia we come into a mountain range and the road get’s interesting. 

Still too windy to stop we keep riding until we get to the famous Ushuaia sign and the entrance o the city. Burrr, cold and sideways wind but we made it!

 

 

Whooo hoooo. Off we went to check into our hotel, Hosteria Mi Vida. A nice place we found online. Hotels are expensive and in short supply so we were glad to find this place on the edge of town.

We still had some hours of daylight and since we are used to riding into the night we decided to get back on the bikes. We had one more thing to do….. The road continues and we wanted to ride the famous Ruta 3 all the way to the true end, the farthest south someone can go on a motor vehicle. It was only about 20Km more so off we went.

We rode into the national park and meet two riders from Poland, nice guys. I gave them my camera and asked one of them to take our picture at the end of the end of the road. My Polish must not very good because the other guy thought I wanted him in the picture, oh well. Good photo bomb. 

But wait, there’s more. A board walk that goes further to the end of the world, off we go. Here we are as far as a person can go at the end of the world. This is it, no more, then end. 

A momentous occasion for sure. I expected some kind of landmark, sign, something significant but alas, only the small sign you see next to me…. don’t sit on the fence.

 

I turned to Deby and said, “that’s it – I’ve had enough with trip, I’m turning around and going home!”

More adventure ahead – it’s a long way home…..

Donn and Deby

Glaciers Galore

Ok, it’s been a few days without internet so I will try to get caught up. We are truly in the remote parts of southern Patagonia. It seems like Alaska with long stretches of nothing at all. We need to carefully plan out fuel stops and we are glad to now be carrying extra fuel containers. When I left off we recovered Deby’s bag and were in the city of Gobernador Gregores. Bag in hand (on bike) and full fuel we got an early start back to the most difficult part of the route, now for the third time. It seemed like the third time was a charm. The wind wasn’t too bad, the weather was nice and when we arrived at Tres Lagos there was actually fuel. All was well with the world. In Tres Lagos we met these two local guys on their way back from Ushuaia, they were amazing, I wish I would have thought to take their picture. They were both easily in their 70’s, were riding 250cc motorcycles and camping the whole way. Neither spoke a word of English but as is typical lately we had an enthusiastic conversation looking at maps and discussing he best routes south. I did get a few pictures of their bikes.

I love the pannier system, really neat and tidy. This is one of the Honda Tornado bikes that we see a lot of here.

The other guy had some cool cases attached to his bike.

Who needs all that fancy Touratech stuff??? These guys were just fine.

We were just in a hurry to finally get to El Calafate so I didn’t take many pictures but managed to stop for this green lake full of glacier water along the road. 

We arrived early in El Calafate and treated ourselves to a really nice hotel. Hotel Imago. It is an expensive tourist city with many people flying in to check out the nearby National Park, Los Glaciares (The Glaciers). You can probably guess what’s there. We ended getting a really good rate off the internet so we booked two nights. Yea.

We arranged to park the bikes and be tourists for a day. The hotel arranged a bus to pick us up at 9:00 and go on an all day tour, first to an estancia (ranch) for a tour and lunch and then to the Los Glaciares where we would catch a boat to see the glacier close up and finally a walking tour.

Read this next part carefully – pretty amazing. First I have to backtrack to the lost bag…..

After we noticed the bag was lost, it was getting late and we were low on fuel we were riding north on the loose gravel road. I decided that if I saw any motorcycles I would wave them down and ask if they saw a motorcycle bag. We saw exactly three motorcycles, one guy on a Honda 250 (of course) and a father son duo on bigger bikes. I stopped them and asked in my lousy Spanish if they saw a bag, nothing, nada, no-go.

Now jump forward two days to our all day tour of the Glacier. At 9:00 the tour bus showed up at the hotel and the guide stepped out and asked if we were Donn and Deby. Yes…… Then he asked if we ever found our bag!!!??? What? HE was the guy on the Honda 250 we randomly stopped in the middle of nowhere. He was on his way back from a two week motorcycle vacation. We spent the next 9 hours having a great time with our new best friend Pablo. 

On to the tour, I’ll keep it shout since this is a blog about motorcycle travel not touristy stuff. You can click on any of the pictures to jump to my SmugMug account where there are even more pictures if you really want to see them.

First we stopped at the estancia where we watched them sheer a sheep (which as it turns out is really difficult for someone with English as a second language to say).  

This was done by a real gaucho, or at least one for the tourists with the authentic gaucho hat. Interesting thing…. driving along the road on the tour bus we saw a real gaucho stopped along the road, not the romantic image you might think. This one was tending his heard while sitting on a motorcycle, at least he had the traditional hat. Pablo pointed out the modern gaucho sin horse. As we got closer we noticed the reason he was stopped is he was busy texting on his cell phone. Ahhhh, the wonders of the modern world and the end of an era for the lonely gaucho of the Patagonia pampa.

Guess what we had for lunch…..

At the glacier we all loaded onto this boat. 

And off for a close up look at the glaciers. This park has over 350 glaciers and they are HUGE. 

Of course the pictures don’t come close to doing them justice. The color was amazing. 

The boat tour was nice but we both enjoyed walking on boardwalks along the shore. These gave a better view and without the noise of the boat motors we could hear the creaking, groaning and loud cracking sounds the glaciers made. Some were so loud they sounded like gun shots going off. 

The best thing was to just stay put and listen and watch, we saw some really big hunks of ice fall into the lake, awesome!

Next to where the boat loads was this rather large iceberg. I was surprised it was that close to the loading area, I thought maybe they push it in at night for the tourists. 

You can see the ramp to the boat ramp. When we returned we were just off the ramp and the whole thing tipped over crashing into the water and sending rather large waves towards the boat and ramp. Here is an after picture, I was standing in almost the exact same spot. 

Safety third I guess, people were a little freaked out to say the least.

Here is your bird picture of the day. The elusive black winged greater  grate clinger. 

A nice lady on the boat took this picture of us. Cheese!

More to come as we attempt to make the final leg to the most southern point in the world.

Donn and Deby

 

 

High Adventure on Argentina’s Loneliest Highway

Excerpt from the Moon travel book Patagonia Trip of A Lifetime:

From the Bolivian border near La Quiaca to it’s terminus near Rio Gallegos, RN 40 has been Argentina’s great, unfinished interior highway. Some segments have been smoothly paved while others remain rough and rugged. None of those has enjoyed the notoriety of the segment between the El Calafate junction and the town of Pertio Moreno, on the cusp between the Patagonian steppe and the icy southern Andes. 

January 7, 2017, our plan was the route above going from north to south, from Perito Moreno to El Calafate. We never made it…..

A trip on La Cuarenta (Spanish for the 40) still requires preparation. With accommodations and supplies few and far between bicyclists and motorcyclists MUST carry tents and cold weather gear, even in midsummer, and plenty of food. A GPS and maps, are essential. Motorists might feel more comfortable with two spare tires. Also carry extra fuel – between El Calafate and Perito Moreno the only reliable supplies are at EL Chalten, Tres Lagos, Gobernador Gregores (which sometimes runs out) and Bajo Caracoles (which sometimes also runs out). 

Reading this excerpt the night before we attempt this leg gave me some pause. Tents? No. Cold weather gear? Hmmm, I suppose so given our heavy riding outfits. Plenty of food? “Hey Deby, save those leftover sandwiches for lunch tomorrow on the road.” Two spare tires? Really? Well I do have a spare tire but it’s permanently attached to my body. Extra fuel, check. We bought 5L containers and strapped them to our already overloaded bikes for good measure. Probably enough fuel for an extra 50 miles. The commentary about stations running out were in the book as above. We found out both of those places indeed did run out.

Hazards remain. Powerful winds can knock cyclists down in an instant. Deep gravel adds to the danger in some spots. Even high clearance vehicles are vulnerable to flipping on loose gravel, especially when braking suddenly. Chipped, cracked and even shattered windshields are par for the course. 

We arrived in Perito Moreno relatively early and stayed at a rather nondescript but inexpensive hotel. Strange place really, here is pic of the luxury we were becoming used to. 

The window had some storm blinds on the outside that were permanently fixed in that position. When we arrived we found a place and had some really great Lomo sandwiches, they were huge, you get the idea below. We cut them in half and saved half for the next day. We would need it. I’m really starting to like fried eggs on my sandwiches.

In the evening I heard some motorcycles pulling into the parking lot. “Call of the wild”, our friend Carrie calls it, so of course I had to check it out. I found out I could climb out the window under the shutters and onto the roof to see into the parking lot.

Sure enough 4 more adventure bikes getting ready to tackle La Cuarenta. We met them in the lobby, 3 guys from Paraguay on a KTM 1190, Triumph Tiger and a BMW. Another guy on a GS1200 from California joined in a little later. Just about all the brands were represented in this picture.

We decided it would be best to get an early start on the 40. In honestly it is mostly paved except for a 50 mile gravel section. What makes it tough is the unpredictable gas situation and high winds.

For perspective here is how far we’ve gone.

And this was our route for Friday January 7th.

The yellow section is the “challenging” gravel part.

Like most hotels there was free breakfast in the morning, except breakfast in most cases means coffee, juice and leftover bread from the night before with some butter and jam. That was the case when we scoped out the situation while getting our first cup of coffee. At least it wasn’t instant.  We took the cups to our room and decided to have our leftover meat and egg Lomo sandwiches for breakfast. So much for spare food.

According to my GPS log we hit the road at exactly 8:00 AM with full tanks heading south out of town. It wasn’t long before the wind starting picking up but we were getting used to this. After about 80 miles we came to the first gas stop. A small place with a big sign, 15 liter limit. Fortunately that was well above what we needed but maybe a warning sign. It was apparent that all motorcycle travelers make this stop to top off before the next long stretch. 

Of course, we had to add our sticker. Right on the lower part of the pump. “X” marks the spot.

Our new amigos from the hotel were all there so we took time to take a few pictures and hang out. This guy was there on a totally loaded down V-Strom 1000.

Martin Romero and Margarita Quintero from Jasisco, Mexico on their way to Ushuaia after riding all the way to Alaska. Amazing. This is them in the orange.

The next stop would be Gobernador Gregores 120 miles away. Gas would be necessary there unless someone wanted to chance the even smaller town of Tres Lagos another 100 miles down the road. My range on a good day is 200 miles and with the extra gas maybe 50 more. It didn’t seem like a chance I wanted to take and it might not be that good a day.

On the way the wind really started picking up. Patagonia is known for it’s fierce winds and as the book said it’s capable of blowing over trucks. Great. There was a couple of times where the road twisted and turned and the wind was actually at out backs. Ahhhh, how good that felt. We were going 65 mph in an absolute cone of silence, flying with the wind. Hmmm, wait, think about that. I let go of the handlebar and stuck my hand straight out into the slipstream off my windscreen. Nothing…. nothing at all. No air flow. Ummmm, ok, it didn’t take my engineering degree to tell me that the only way this could be possible is if the tail wind was equal to my speed….. 65mph! Oh ooooo. Then the road curved back to the right and the full force of the 65mph cross wind hit us with renewed vengeance. We were tipped sideways holding on for dear life. Deby said here helmet was crushing her face so hard it was pushing her cheek into her teeth and causing a sore on the inside of her mouth. Yes, it was that strong. All day…

Here is a picture of the wind… doesn’t really work but you get the idea.

While we were riding with our heads permanently tilted at 30 degrees we had a good view of the side of the road where we saw hundreds of these animals. I can’t believe I got a good picture with one hand while going 60 mph in a stiff cross wind. Probably not the safest thing.

These are Guanaco’s. An amazing animal that is related to lamas and native to South America. Click on this link to learn more, it’s really amazing.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guanaco

The other crazy thing we saw was these big birds called Lesser Rhea or Darwin’s rhea. Below is from Wikipedia, link HERE. We saw a lot of them but I couldn’t get a really good picture. Here is the one from Wikipedia.

Darwin’s rhea (Rhea pennata), also known as the lesser rhea, is a large flightless bird, but the smaller of the two extant species of rheas. It is found in the Altiplano and Patagonia in South America.

Windblown and tired we arrive at  Gobernador Gregores at noon. (What kind of a name is that for a city? I got tired of saying it and started calling the city Governor Greigoire after a recent governor of WA state) We get to the YPF station and there is a huge line, onto the street, down the block and around the corner. Everyone is waiting, we find out there is no gas and there hasn’t been any since yesterday. Some of these people had been waiting all night in cars and hotels. The good news, the truck would be there in one hour. Right, but it did finally arrive at almost 4:00 PM.

The line was turning into a party, these guys were in the car in front of us.

Yes, beer, wine, home made ham and bread. That was just the start. Soon it turned into loud music, card playing and much more drinking. What a crew.

Shared chips with this cute kid. His parents are from Mexico but currently are in NYC working on a MBA.

He seemed to like the Honda. 

It was a long line.

We met this guy in line from Germany. He just graduated from college and was traveling for a few months before getting a real job. He flew to Santiago Chile and bought this Honda 125 for $1200 USD. He is riding it to Ushuaia. All kinds of bikes….

Finally to the cheers of all the people waiting the YPF truck shows up. 

By 4:30 PM we were on the road, only a 4 and a half hour wait, not too bad and fun too boot. On to the rough part. Sure enough, right outside the city the tarmac turned to gravel. I actually stopped for a picture, right here. 

The wind was howling, it was getting late, we hadn’t eaten much more than chips and water. 110 miles to the next gas stop and half that on wind blown gravel. We made it, but it was challenging hanging on to the bikes as the wind wipped us sideways over the rough roads “ripio” is the word in Spanish for gravel roads. We had lots of ripio. “Viento” is the word for wind, we became very familiar with that word. Fuerte is the word for strong, we learned that in our Spanish class. Never thought I would use it. Today the words Viento Fuerte were used often.

At 7:30 we arrived at Tres Lagos, last gas stop before out destination of El Calafate. If we pushed and used our extra gas I thought we could make it to El Calafate, another couple hours ride away, without filling up here. It would be getting dark but no worries, right?

Sure enough at the gas station there was a line, nobody was pumping gas… a bad sign. Yes, they were out of gas. Ok, we go for it, making the run to El Calafate and hope out gas holds out. First thing and short rest and bano stop so we cut to the front of the line to park by the building. I’m getting off my bike when I hear Deby in my helmet communicator with a panic in her voice “my pannier is missing”!!!

What? The? Oh no, sure enough it’s gone. This is not good, not at all. In it is all her warm clothes including her Gerbing heated liner and other necessary stuff. Now what? It’s getting late, we are low on gas, what? Think, think. First thing first I head to the bano, a good place to clear my head, bladder and try to think more clearly. What to do.

I come out and there is Deby have a big conversation with a group of guys in Spanish, she’s really getting good at this… I walked up and she said one of the guys saw the bag in the road about 50 KM back. We tried to get a more exact location but that was it. 50KM from where we were? 50KM from where the gravel started? Not sure….

Split up and I look for it with both gas cans? Stick together and hope we find it not too far away? We go with sticking together and riding back north on the gravel. It’s 110 miles back to the governor city, we are tired, it’s getting late and mostly all we had to eat all day was some chips. So we ride, and ride and ride looking and looking. After 80 miles my gas light comes on, we ride. An indicator that says how much gas I have clicks down from 0.7 gallons to zero and goes blank. The bike keeps running, it’s past 10:00, it’s getting pretty dark, we keep looking, nothing. Deby’s gas light comes on, mine starts flashing warning of imminent fuel starvation. It’s getting cold. Deby doesn’t have anything warm to wear. Somehow with 222 miles on my odometer since filling up and exceeding my 200 mile range we arrive at governor city. No bag but we didn’t run out of gas and reach the only city (if you would call it that) for 100 miles any direction.

There is a line at the gas station, nobody is pumping gas. We know from experience this is a bad sign. There is a hotel next to the gas station it’s full, nada, nothing, go away. We walk out to our bikes feeling somewhat depressed, it’s late, it’s totaly dark,  were out of gas, the bag is missing, were tired, hungry and cold.   We’re getting on the bikes and a red pickup stops next to Deby. Some guys get out and are talking to her in rapid Spanish. I’m just watching from my bike not sure what to make of the exchange when Deby turns to me and says “I think they found my bag!” Really?

She talks with them some more in Spanish (how did she get so good at this) and they drive off. She said they want us to wait here and they will bring it to us. I’m amazed… wow. We decide to get in line at the gas station next door assuming they will just see us there waiting. As soon as we get in line the guy comes out and moves the cones and starts pumping gas! What? Ok, this is some kind of intervention. By the time it is our turn at the pump the truck returns with Deby’s bag. What a turn of events, didn’t see this coming. Deby thanks them profusely and offers to fill their gas tank, they refuse and eventually are on their way. It’s not exactly clear how they got it and how they found us or anything. How did they know we would return north? Were they watching for bikes coming back on the road? It was 10:30 at night, how long did they wait. Crazy!

With the bag back on the bike we look for a hotel, hotel 1, nothing. Hotel 2, nothing, Hotel 3 recommends Hotel 4 that has one room left. We’ll take it! We went inside the otherwise dingy room and booth said “this is the best room ever!” It had two small beds we just pushed together. 

A giant TV we never turned on. 

And a restaurant next door that served us a platter of meat that we couldn’t chew no matter how hard we tried. Deby took most of it outside and fed some of the stray dogs on the street.

No, we never made it for El Calafate, that would be for the next day. At midnight we crashed into he bed straddling the crack between the mattresses and held each other thankful for another amazing day.

Sorry for the long post but I thought it was interesting. Thanks for following, more to come.

Donn and Deby.

Northern Patagonia

We are slowly making our way west and south, the first few days after leaving Buenos Aires it was just HOT, near 100 degrees F. The terrain is flat and not much to really see or do except put on some miles.

I do like that motorcycles pass through the toll booths for free, just go around to the right and there is usually a small track for bikes. Obviously, they are made for smaller motos but we squeeze through.

In true MotoRaid form we stopped at a gas station for lunch, this picture is for Dave, Keith, Michael and Jim. Yes, that is freezer ice-cream. Brought back memories….

After a stay over in Azul we continued to Rio Colorado where we found a great B&B, La Maison. We had a great couple of days with our host. 

Our Spanish was good enough to learn about her family (8 children) and the history of the place. Nice stay. She took a picture of us before leaving. 

Did I mention it was hot? This was in the shade during a short water stop. 111 degrees, wow. 

We met this woman at a gas stop, Gabby. She is yet another woman travelling solo in South America on a G650GS. This is the third woman solo motorcycle traveler we have come across. Now that I think of it – so far, it’s only been women travelers we have come across. 

On the outskirts of Neuquen we came across this guy, juggling for spare change. It’s actually a nice change that people down here don’t just beg for money, they either entertain or try to sell something. So far we have supported people selling bandages, pens, flowers and yes, the juggler. 

Nothing but the great wide open here….

Interesting; wide road and then a long narrow bridge.

The further west the famous Patagonia wind started picking up. Had to hang on for most of the afternoon with 35 mph crosswinds. Yikes.

Finally we arrived in the resort/ski town of San Martin de los Andes. With the wind and elevation the temperatures finally dropped into the 70’s. Ahhhh, even cooler in the evenings.

We checked into the Plaza Mayor Inn where we decided to hang out for a few days and explore the area. The owners are motorcycle people and we were given the private tour of their collection of newer and vintage motorcycles. Thanks Abel, Maxi, Mercedes and Lucas for all your hospitality.

Since we arrived on New Year’s eve we set out on our usual walkabout exploring the town. We came across something that smelled really good so we walked through a gate behind a building to find this. 

We talked to the guy tending the fire in our broken Spanish and found out this was for a big party in the adjoining restaurant. Deby and I walked in to see if we could get a reservation. I’m pretty sure the answer was no, they were full for the night. Of course, Deby didn’t want to take no for an answer so she went into a really long explanation in her best Spanish as to why they should let us join them. After some time and discussions among the staff about what to do with the crazy gringo lady the told us to return at 9:00. At least I’m pretty sure that’s what they said.

We returned and sure enough they had a table for us…. ok, it was outside in the courtyard and everyone else was inside but there was a table. After a few minutes a couple other outside tables filled up so we weren’t the only ones who didn’t plan ahead for the big New Years Eve fiesta.  The courses started coming at 9:15 and continued all night, salad, meat, cheese, sweets, wine, …. on and on. They had it timed out perfect at midnight they brought out the desert plate and glasses of champagne. It took some time after that to decline the final pastries and ask for our bill. That was probably the longest I ever sat at a dinner table but it was fun.

For those who want to know the details we saw this on the window of the restaurant as we walked by the next day. 

Yes, that says $850 per person. Wow! (Except that is in pesos… ) The restaurant was El Bodegon de los Andes.

We heard there was going to be a party in the main square so we walked over there at 1:00 in the morning, a really late night for us. People were just starting to arrive, I assume because all the restaurants were just finishing up their meals. 

There was a stage and when we walked over we saw the drummer just starting to carry his drums to the stage. Not even a sign of the bass player so I knew there wasn’t going to be any music for a while. Deby and I walked around for a while checking out the festive atmosphere but by 1:30 decided to make the trek back to the hotel, our old age catching up with us.

The next day we went for a hike in the mountains and saw some of these birds. 

I’m calling this the pointy beak bug slurping land bird. 

They must be popular here because later we came across this mural.

The hike was about 5 miles to a series of miradors’s, or viewpoints. I didn’t realize the most of the hike was steep climbing, but it was worth it.

Here is the view looking back into the valley that holds San Martin.

The land is actually on property belonging to the native people who live there. We had to pay 20 pesos at a gate to a most friendly person who seemed genuinely glad to have us there. The best two bucks yet on this trip. The native people are known for raising horses, we came across a few loose ones on the trail.

The next day we decided to go for a day ride into the Lanin National Park.  Click on the link, it’s pretty cool. This was our chance to get back our rusty off road riding skills. The roads were easy gravel.

This is one of my favorite pictures, nice switchbacks and pretty girl in my rear view mirror. 

Cool rock formations. 

I think that most people that visit this part of Argentina just blast down ruta 40 and skip this park. Too bad because the route we took actually parallels the 7 lakes route and makes a nice side trip. Because it was a day trip for us we could make a loop and ride both roads.

We stopped at this place for lunch and learned it is owned by a gringo from Seattle. He wasn’t there but they told us he was a long haired musician and left the rat race to move here in the middle of nowhere.

The lunch was good, cured ham and cheese on homemade bread. Deby wanted a picture of our “plates” which were wood planks. 

More interesting rock formations. 

I like this picture. It was nice riding the bikes when they were not so loaded down. 

I love the winding road in the distance, what a fun day.

We probably crossed a half dozen of these bridges, some better and some worse than this one.

More twisty road.

So we are still in San Martin, we thought about leaving today but the forecast called for rain all day so we decided to stay put. Yes, the weather is changing and getting much cooler. Here is a snapshot of the temperatures.

Our location on the map is the blue dot about in the middle f the map. Cooler to the south for sure, still hot in the upper right.

Hopefully I can get some more frequent updates.

Having fun: Donn and Deby

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We have Motorcycles! On with the ride.

I received word that after even more problems with customs the bikes were finally released. Somehow, the crates were delivered to the air freight company but the original titles were in an envelope with the Miami shipping company. Do I need those to import the bikes into Argentina? After a couple of frantic calls and e-mails the response was an emphatic “maybe.” Our Seattle agent said not to worry and said they would send it overnight by FedEx to our hotel. When I got the tracking number the expected delivery date said December 30th, which happens to be today as I write this. Sure enough I just got a notice on my phone that the package was delivered today. Obviously I ended up not needing the original titles and I’m now far away from Buenos Aires.

Back to Christmas….

The bikes were scheduled to fly on Christmas Day with Atlas Air, a freight only company that I learned has maybe less than a stellar reputation making on time deliveries. I was told by one person that if they don’t have enough freight on the plane they just wait until the next scheduled trip. They fly to BA every Wednesday and Sunday. I was hoping the Sunday flight took off.

It took some time but I found out the flight number and used my cell phone flight tracking App to check on Atlas Air’s progress. Here is what I saw:

Hey, how about that! Not only was the flight on it’s way but it was being delivered by Santa himself. I suppose I really was good all year.

In preparation for the imminent arrival of the bikes we moved from our San Telmo hotel back to the international airport Holiday Inn. We had been there off and on for what seems like many days and while it was nice spending time at the pool reading books we were restless and starting to get a little depressed every time we thought about the situation. The whole time this billboard was staring down at us. I took this picture out our hotel room window, but it was just as visible from the pool.

It cheered us up every time we looked up. Basically it says “They’re happy so should you.” I love it, yes we should be happy.

Before I finish about the motorcycles I want to share a little bit about our time back in the San Telmo district of Buenos Aires. We spent a few days at a soccer themed hotel The Hotel Boca. It was just ok so we went online and found another hotel a few blocks away, The Babel Suites. We liked that place better because it had a rooftop pool and bar for snacks, a good place to spend some time. 

Great views of the area. 

By 7:00 as the temperatures started to moderate people started coming out to their rooftop decks, cooking food and children playing, it was a small glimpse into the private lives of these Pprtenos (what they call residents of BA). 

We did another really fun thing. Hache who we had beers with in the last post invited us to a wine tasting at a local wine store. Sure, why not? Of course like most things here, as in Europe, it started at 10:00 PM. Easy for me but a little past the normal shut eye time for Deby. Still, looking forward to a diversion, some fun and a little wine we gladly accepted the invitation. Wine is a really big deal in Argentina and we wanted to check it out.

Hache and Marrana met us at our hotel and we shared a cab to a more upscale part of town. By 10:30 we found ourselves in the wine store cellar with about 30 other people. It all started very orderly. 

Everyone was on the best wine tasting behavior sampling little bits of food. Then our hostess started explaining in rapid Spanish about the wines for the night…. 36 bottles would be sampled. Yes, even with sips that is a lot of wine. Hache did a fantastic job helping with bits of interpreting but as we sampled more and more wine my Spanish suddenly started improving and I knew the general vibe of what was going on. Amazing how that works. Most of the wine was variations of Malbecs, I didn’t know you can have white and rose Malbec but yes you can in Argentina.

Here is a picture of me and Hache with a bottle of wine called Demento. It means in Spanish just what you would think. 

So… you probably get the idea how that night turned out. It was going on 2:00 AM when we finally made it back to the hotel. Thanks Hache… we owe you.

One more thing and I promise to get back to the bikes….. really, this is a motorcycle blog isn’t it?

We had one more day in San Telmo so, as we usually do, went for a walk. Deby is interested in the birds here so she got a few pictures. I like this guy with the red beak and green legs. 

Here is a mean looking pigeon. Not afraid of people at all, he was really this close. 

I really like this picture, how many ducklings can you count?

These green parrots were everywhere. 

We don’t really know the proper names of any of these so I’ll make stuff up. Here is the red headed black bird. 

And finally the brown bird with orange wings or Orange Winged Brown Bird. 

While Deby was taking bird pictures I took a picture of this motorcycle. Makes sense to me. I love the headlight that seems to have the purpose of illuminating the tree tops. 

Here is a tree with pointy stuff….. don’t run into one of these. 

Oh, and here is a bug picture for my niece Sophia. 

And back to the bikes……

So, the day after Christmas we met Sandra and Javier at the airport at 9:00 sharp. Along with our bikes was a motorcycle from Germany for a woman that was also just starting her trip in South America. In typical fashion we started going from building to building collection documents, here, making payments there, collecting more documents somewhere else, getting copies somewhere else and then more payments at another place. Some places only took cash, other credit cards. Eventually we were ushered into the secure cargo area of the airport. First we needed pictures taken, passports checked and official name badges made.

Interspersed with all this was a lot of waiting. Here is Leah from Germany and Deby.

Lea is riding for a year solo on a great big Triumph Tiger. She is a journalist and has traveled through much of Europe and Asia already. More about her here on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/got2go.de/?ref=br_rs Nice to meet you Lea.

Once we were in the secure area we weren’t supposed to take pictures but I snuck  a few anyhow (sorry Santa). Here is Lea’s motorcycle crate, notice the size and lightweight construction? 

Us? A little different!

Geesh! Really! A big part of the delay is because the crates were 6 inches too tall. Nobody thought to tell me that, would have been nice to know. Think we could have squeezed out 6 inches here? 

Deby’s had even more room. 

So we learned a lesson and had a great time exploring Buenos Aires and the area. Six hours after we arrived we were riding out of the airport back to the hotel to gather our things. By 4:00 we were on the road. There was a chance of rain, we didn’t care we just wanted to ride as far as we could get as fast as we could get there.

Here’s how far we are, it’s been hot and long days. Tomorrow we hope to get to the mountains where it’s cooler and a little more scenic. 

Ok, there you go. Sorry for the delay for this one. I had hoped to get it out yesterday but there was an internet outage throughout this whole part of town for most of the day yesterday into this morning. Ahh, no worries was the general attitude about it. Mine too.

Thanks for following.

Donn and Deby

 

All I want for Christmas —- A Motorcycle

December 22, 2016, Buenos Aires San Telmo district.

We’ve been in Argentina three weeks today waiting for the motorcycles. Not the worst place to be but it’s getting old. Since this is a blog about motorcycle riding and since there are no motorcycles to ride I haven’t posted lately. We have been doing things, some of them interesting and I’ll share some of that further below. First, the short version about the motorcycles. Continue reading

Let’s Go Chasing Waterfalls!

If this isn’t one of the wonders of the world it should be, Iguazu Falls. According to Wikipedia (Click HERE for more)

“Upon seeing Iguazu, the United States First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt reportedly exclaimed “Poor Niagara!”[3] (which, at 50 m or 165 feet, are a third shorter). Often Iguazu also is compared with Victoria Falls in Southern Africa, which separates Zambia and Zimbabwe. Iguazu is wider, but because it is split into approximately 275 discrete falls and large islands, Victoria has the largest curtain of water in the world, at more than 1,600 m (5,249 ft) wide and over 100 m (328 ft) in height (in low flow Victoria is split into five by islands; in high flow it may be uninterrupted). The only wider falls are extremely large rapid-like falls, such as the Boyoma Falls (Stanley Falls).” Continue reading

Adventure Travel Buenos Aires – By Foot

Saturday and Sunday were spent as touristas, on foot. According to the app on my iPhone we walked 7.3 miles on Saturday equating to 21,552 steps (for you Patty).  We started with a walk along the malecon of Puerto Madero under the warming sun. It eventually got close to 90 degrees so we were trying to drink plenty of water. I was the only person I saw wearing a Camelbak hydration pack. Dorkey – yes, but I didn’t care. With the bright sun Deby needed to buy a pair of sunglasses. Hey, lucky for her there was a vendor on the waterfront selling Ray Ban sunglasses for only $5.00 USD. Wow, what great deals you can get here.

Continue reading

Buenos Aires – Jumping Right In

In April of 2013 Deby and I ended our MotoRaid II trip here in Buenos Aires after 4 months of riding from Seattle. Yesterday we returned by air and are even staying in the same hotel, the Amerian in downtown Buenos Aires. We had plenty of adventure on our journey here last time and even though this trip was shorter we still had some adventure. Continue reading