The End

Let’s ride south! Back into Argentina the roads flattened and the wind picked up. Our destination was the booming (not) town of Gobernador Gregores, 257 miles to the south. When Deby and I were there last time there was no gas at the only gas station and we participated in a big party in line. For some reason this is a recurring problem in this part of Argentina so we were sure to keep out tanks full. Nothing but big wide open spaces in this part of Patagonia.

About halfway down we stopped at the even smaller town of Bajo Caracoles where there is an even smaller gas stop.

A popular stop with motorcycle travelers, everyone seems to leave behind a sticker. Hey – here’s mine from 2017.

Ruta 40 is the only road paved road in the area so it’s kind of hard to get lost. Because of that, we didn’t always ride within sight of each other. Somehow, Deby and I lost track of both Chris and Michael. When we got to Bajo Caracols we waited and Chris showed up. Strange, we thought he was behind Michael, so did Chris. Hmmm, where’s Michael? We waited and waited and eventually were wondering if we should send out a search party to cover the last 150 miles since we last saw him. Flat tire? Accident? Lost?

As I was about to go back, we saw him riding down the road. At the last gas stop Deby and I took off following the signs for Ruta 40 which seemed pretty obvious. Michael also followed signs for Ruta 40 but it took him a while to figure out he was riding NORTH.

Soon we were back together and riding the correct direction. By this time the wind was really kicking up and we spent the afternoon doing battle with mother nature and trying to keep our bikes on the road. All too soon we were in Gobernador Gregores and checked into the Hosteria Lago Cardiel.

Deby and I were in the lobby drinking a beer and talking with another rider when someone came in gesturing towards us and saying something in rapid Spanish. It was so windy that Deby’s motorcycle, which was parked on the side, stand blew over and was on the ground! Wow. The owners of the hotel then recommended we move all the bikes to the walkway where they were a little more protected. Good idea.

Wednesday morning we decided to get an early start for what everyone said was the most “dangerous” part of the ride. Bad roads, loose gravel, high winds and whatever else. Ok, it was windy enough to blow over a parked 600 pound motorcycle the day before so possibly with an early start we would beat some of the wind. It turns out we were right.

This was one of the better sections of road.

Long, straight, loose in sections and high wind, but we made it. The next stop was Tres Lagos where there was another small gas station that is well known for not having gas. Deby and I had been there twice before and they were out. If Tres Lagos is without fuel it would be possible to make it to our destination of El Calafate but we would need our extra fuel bottles and even that might not be enough depending on the wind.

Hey look… another one of our stickers from our last trip!

We were in luck, they had gas! That meant we had plenty to get to El Calafate but even better… we would have enough gas to make the 100 mile in-and-out side trip to El Chalten a small city that is the launching point for trekking to Mt. Fitz Roy, one of the most iconic mountains in South America.

After filling our tanks we were taking a break from the wind and watched the locals use a dump truck to break the bead on a truck tire. Just drive back and forth over it a few times and it worked. I suppose that’s one way to do it.

Below is an iconic picture of Mt. Fitz Roy from Wikipedia

Photo By Todor Bozhinov

It was a rare combination of events that made this side trip possible, relatively clear weather so we had a chance to see the mountain and the ability to procure fuel at all three stops. Off we went to the west to check it out.

We rode along the north shore of Lago Viedma and had fantastic views of this sunning green lake.

Peak-a-boo views of the mountain as we rode into the park.

We rode into the small town and as we entered the main street we were waved to the side of the road by two women that looked like police. Not sure what they wanted, everyone pointed to me, the closest thing we had to a Spanish speaker. Geesh. They handed out an orange safety strap thing for each of us, that looked like something a crossing guard would wear. We were supposed to wear them while riding our motorcycles in the town? Hmmm, it seemed strange but who was I to argue. We couldn’t figure how to strap the things on over our jackets and helmets so we just threw them over our helmets and rode off. I took a picture of Chris with his on.

On the way out on the only exit point to the town the women were gone and we wondered what to do with the blaze orange straps. We stopped at a visitor center/museum and handed them to the park rangers who were manning the office. They laughed and didn’t know what the whole thing was about either. As we left I saw one of the rangers proudly wearing one.

Finally caught a pretty good glimpse of the mountain on our way out.

We were battling a pretty fierce head wind for much of the way and we knew our gas mileage was suffering by looking at our fuel gauges. It was soon apparent we weren’t going to make our destination without using our spare fuel.

Here is a video, it was so windy we had a hard time pouring gas in the bikes. Ha.

It was close, but we made it into El Calafate where we would stay for two nights, another layover day. We used our day off to be tourists and visit the Perito Moreno Glacier.

It’s one of those places that everyone should add to a South America trip. There are a series of walkways that get pretty close to the glacier wall where you can watch, and listen, to the giant chunks of ice “calving” into the water. Having another day off was kind of nice but we were getting a little restless with the short riding days of the tour.

Friday morning and we were off for the last real day of riding into Torres del Paine National Park.

Checking the forecast… not very good. “Steady soaking rain”, wind and cool temps.

It would also be our last border crossing of the trip. They say when you go from Argentina into Chile you trade the wind for the rain. It didn’t work that way for us. We had strong wind in Argentina that stayed with us on the loose gravel road that took us to the border crossing. It was tough riding getting to the Argentina side of the border. We were battling to keep the bikes on the road with the strong crosswind sliding our tires across the unpredictable and deep dirt and rocks. It’s hard to take a picture of the wind but Michael tried to capture it with this one.

Suddenly we came to this.

A nice new section of road as far as we could see.

We were wind whipped and tired when we reached the border. It was another relatively easy crossing with only a short line and we were glad to be in the warm building for a short break. When we left the border, Michael and Chris decided to stop at the only restaurant in the tiny town for some food. Deby and I opted to eat a protein bar from our stash and get to the hotel early.

We were glad to find a nice paved road on the Chile side which made riding in the rain easier until we rounded a corner and the pavement suddenly ended about the same time the rain started pounding down. Now Deby and I were riding on mud in a construction zone with a relentless cross wind.

This was essentially the last day riding for us and I was thinking about how lucky we had been during the last 3,000 miles with no crashes or mishaps. As I navigated the gravel and mud with only limited visibility due to rain on my face shield and fog on my glasses I thought of our trip in 2012 in South America with Dave and Keith. On that trip Dave had a crash on the second to last day resulting in an ambulance ride and flight home. I told Deby in our helmet radio that I didn’t want that to happen to us and we both rode a little more carefully. We were cold, wet, miserable, tired and just a little bit lost. Somehow we missed a turn in the construction because the sign was gone and I was watching the road more than my GPS. Even after we circled back, it wasn’t clear we were on the right road into the remote Torres del Paine park. The new road took us out of the construction zone but this road was little more than two ruts through the mountains. Where were the other cars? Isn’t this a National Park? Shouldn’t there be buses? Campers? Other tourists. I stopped a few times and convinced myself we were on the most direct road to our destination so we slogged along with our spirits as damp as our jackets.

The park is supposed to be spectacular and one of the top tourist spots in all of Patagonia. Deby and I skipped it in the past because of bad weather and might have this time except for our hotel reservations in the park. I didn’t take any pictures during this section because there wasn’t much to see but gray clouds and wet roads. As you might guess we made it to the hotel where they had our now favorite beer waiting for us.

Maybe the hotel operators felt sorry for us, after bringing us beers in the lodge they built a huge wood fire in the fireplace next to some comfy sofas. Deby and I sunk into the soft cushions soaking up the warmth of the fire and toasted to another successful day of riding. It was so wet outside that some local free range horses moved under the overhang of the lodge and were eating flowers planted next to the building. Nobody seemed to care.

We were a little worried about Michael and Chris who preferred to navigate without a GPS and instead rely on old fashioned paper maps. After a few hours I wondered what I would do if they didn’t show up? Go looking? Get back on the bike in the rain after a few beers? I discussed it with Deby and we concluded they were grown up men and highly skilled motorcycle riders so they could figure it out. She was right. Michael and Chris found their way and were soon joining us at the fire.

I thought the hotel was a bust. It had a nice lodge style main building where we spent most of our time but our room was in a separate building that was not much better than a average motel. The real problem started when the tour buses started arriving. Suddenly the large cafeteria was full of noisy and rude tourists. I couldn’t tell for sure where they were from but I suspected somewhere in Europe. I nearly had an altercation with one of them in the coffee line. I think we were tired and ready to wrap up the trip.

Saturday would be the last day. We needed to cover a whopping 53 miles out of the park to the city of Puerto Natales where we would drop off the bikes at the hotel. There was no reason to leave early but there was no reason to stay late either. Of course it was raining.

We learned the road out of the park to the south was the main route in that the tour buses took instead of our back route from the east. That meant the road was only slightly better and now we would have to pass trucks and buses along the way. There were long stretches of construction.

We arrived in Puerto Natales plenty early and said goodbye to the bikes. Deby’s Honda 500X was a great motorcycle for her despite having a blown rear shock for most of the trip. Good thing Deby doesn’t weigh much and it didn’t bother her much.

The mighty Honda Africa Twin was perfect as would be expected from a Honda. I did leave it a little dirtier than when I picked it up.

Here is the route for the whole trip. Altogether it was about 3,000+ miles over three weeks.

The trip home was long. A 3 hour van ride to the airport in Punta Arenas. A 3 hour flight to Santiago where we had a 6 hour layover. At least we had a nice balcony restaurant to hang out and wait.

We caught a glimpse of Torres del Paines park from the airplane. It looked like the clouds were clearing. You can see the snow capped mountains and the lake we rode along in the rain.

Nine hours to Houston and five more hours to home where we landed in near blizzard conditions.

Ok, seriously, this is very unusual for Seattle. Our son picked us up in my 4×4 truck and we made it home as the snow kept accumulating. It snowed 24 inches that night! Welcome home!

I took the above picture when I woke up in the morning. I was thinking it’s a good thing the power is still on when just then, the lights went out. Ha! Back to real life.

So this concludes the 2019 Donn and Deby Adventure trip to Patagonia. Thanks Michael for winning the trip so we all had a good excuse to return. It was fantastic riding with Dr. Science on his first out of the country motorcycle trip.

What’s next??? We are sick of the snow…. Deby made reservations online for a cabana on the beach in Mexico. Nice! And… were going to ride our motorcycles down. A hmmm, one problem…. we leave in four days!

This morning I took this picture of my shop that houses our motorcycles. That’s about three feet of snow and ice blocking the doors.

The adventure continues….

Donn and Deby

Luxury rides again

We enjoyed a warm lazy morning at the Puyuhuapi Lodge before catching the 12:30 boat back to the parked motorcycles. The prescribed route had us going only 140 miles for the day to Coyhaique. It was an easy day of riding on mostly paved roads south through the southern reaches of the Andes mountain range.

Beautiful roads and nice weather. We stopped at this overlook with a look back at Ruta 7 hanging on the side of the mountain as it snaked along the rio Maniguales.

We made a short stop at the Cascadia Virgen, one of many waterfalls along the way.

All too soon we were at the Dreams Hotel & Casino in Coyhaique, Chile. The hotel seemed rather new and was in the style of any casino hotel in the US. Nice, but… I don’t know, it wouldn’t be my first choice of a hotel. The four of us went into the casino to get a beer and snack since we didn’t have lunch. Security was really tight, we needed special passes from the front desk that needed to be scanned, it didn’t work. We waited and the hotel manager had to come over but he couldn’t get it to work either. The armed guards weren’t going to let us in but eventually the scanner beeped green and then we could go through the airport style metal detector. Even with everything out of my pockets it kept beeping. Finally they wanded me down and let me in. We repeated this for all four of us and eventually we found a seat away from the clanging machines and managed to order beers and some snacks.

Lucky for us we had entertainment – sort of. The evening’s headliner was a group of three girls that sing along with music tracks. They came in to do their sound check. I checked… yes, it was really loud. (oh my – I’m turning into that guy… ) One of the girls was recording herself selfie style the whole time, I thought it was funny so I took this picture.

We finished our beers and decided to walk into town, we should have done that first. Across the street from the hotel was a cool outdoor restaurant with a small jazz band playing some standards. We listened as we walked by mentally contrasting the two styles of music. I vote for the live music.

The town was really nice, as is typical there was a lively el centro with a closed off street turned into a pedestrian mall with lots of shops and restaurants. There was what appeared to be a local high school dance team performing on the street with proud parents all around taking pictures with cell phones. On a regular basis little kids would run and join in for a few of the moves. Probably little brothers and sisters. We sat on a bench and just watched the activity for about a half hour before going back to browsing shops and eventually making our way back to the uninspiring hotel for the night.

Well rested and getting a little restless from the short days riding on the guided route we left Coihaique plenty early. Again, the weather was beautiful which is highly unusual for this part of Chile. The construction Deby and I had endured two years prior was mostly finished and we had fun riding the perfectly paved new road surface. With clear sky we could enjoy the surrounding mountain views.

Nice, nice riding. I knew how rare it was for us to have clear weather and was enjoying every minute of it. I just had to pull over to take this next picture. Pretty much sums up the morning ride.

We didn’t see any of this last time with the low clouds and rain.

One thing Deby and I have learned is that when the road is too nice or too new or you come to a place where it’s so new the lines haven’t even been painted….beware… that means the good is about to end.

Sure enough that was the end of the nice road and into construction. Come-on through, just go around the loader coming towards you.

The rest of the day was loose gravel requiring full concentration and lots of dust with the dry weather. Despite the tricky riding I managed to ride with one hand so I could take some pictures with my left hand.

Deby is still right behind me.

Beautiful scenery, clear blue lakes, wow.

The carretera austral must be one of those bucket list things for bicycle riders, we saw a lot of them along the way. I tried to get a few photos as I rode by.

Seems kind of crazy to me.

We stopped for lunch in Puerto Rio Tranquilo home of the famous marble cave boat tours. Deby and I stayed there two years ago, it was cold and wet and seemed almost deserted. This time the city was packed full of people and it was sunny and HOT. We chatted up the young lady pumping gas and she said they expect the road to be paved all the way to their city by the end of the year. Wow, I’m sure that will be a huge change for their town. I could just imagine the lines of tour buses that would then have access to the natural marvel of the marble caves. We didn’t take the time to visit the caves but here is a picture from the last trip.

It was another 45 miles to our destination for the night, Hacienda Tres Lagos. The gravel seemed even deeper and dustier while the afternoon temperatures kept climbing, I’m sure we were into the 90 degree range. Still, the scenery was stunning and we were enjoying the day. I took this picture as we dropped into the last valley before our stop for the night.

Overall it was a relatively short day at 166 miles but it seemed longer because of the construction stops and long gravel stretches. For some reason Deby likes to follow me which has it’s pros and cons. On the positive side I can call out road conditions in our helmet radios, potholes, loose sand, tight turns and oncoming traffic around corners. The downside is that during dusty conditions she ends up with a cake of dust on her and the bike. I took this picture when we arrived at the hacienda.

What does Deby say? “The one with the dirtiest face had the most fun?” Ok, no question here.

Hacienda Tres Lagos more than made up for the uninspired lodging the previous night. Since the cost was included in our tour package I don’t know how expensive it would be to stay there but it was nice. And, this was one of two pre-planned layover days on the trip. Even better, we would be there for two nights. Cool. The only downside is the long and dusty ride back to Rio Tranquilo if we wanted to tour the caves. Deby and I had already been there and Michael and Chris didn’t want to tackle the tricky road so we stayed put. No complaints from me. Deby and I had a whole cabin to ourselves. These are buildings with four units but we were the only ones in our building.

Here is the view from our deck.

Michael concluded the cost of beer was too expensive at the resort so he jumped on his bike to the next small town for a beer run. After some adventure and maybe a wrong turn or two (even though he doesn’t like to admit it), he came back with cervezas and we were glad he was willing to share. Here is his makeshift cooler in the bathroom sink.

I was glad for two nights in the same place for the first time in our trip. I realized that the tour company includes these as catch-up days in case anyone is delayed for mechanical or weather reasons. Seems to make sense. Luckily we didn’t need it for that reason and used the time to rest, wash some clothes and read books. Nice.

After the day of rest we were glad to get back on the bikes and tackle the route ahead of us. The ride-book showed us the next night was in Los Antiguos, Argentina which meant another border crossing. Total mileage for the day…. 85. Really? Geesh, Ok, there was a border crossing that would take some time but that was short. The route took us along the southern shore of General Carrera Lake as it is called on the Chilean side or Lake Buenos Aires on the Argentine side. It’s the biggest lake in Chile and the fourth largest in Argentina. We would be spending the whole day riding the gravel road along this lake.

Deby and I had ridden this section on our previous trip and despite the short day we knew it was a fantastic road with stunning views. The weather held with no rain and not as hot as we headed east towards Argentina.

No complaints from anyone on this beautiful day.

Managed this mirror shot while riding with one hand – fun!

The road ahead….

The road behind…

We stopped at a scenic overlook spot and a van full of teenage girls on a road trip took our picture, one of the only ones with all four of us.

All too soon we were in the town of Los Antiguos, Argentina where we had to take a taxi from the hotel into town and find something cool to drink.

Los Antiguos is a small town and out hotel was a nondescript place just far enough out of town to require a cab ride. We had a nice meal in town and walked around watching as the city was getting ready for a celebration of some sort. I asked the cab driver who didn’t speak English and I thought it sounded like the anniversary of the city. I presume because of the heat they were waiting until night fall to get the party started which in this part of the country was after 10:00, too late for us old people. The city had a stairway to a viewpoint that we hiked up for something to do. I took this picture of what is probably most of the city.

Back at the hotel I was looking at the map questioning why the tour had such a short day and stopped in Los Antiguos. After some thought it made sense. The next few days would be tough. We were entering the part of Argentina where Ruta 40 has long stretches between gas stops and famously the gas stations don’t always have gas. In addition, the route would be subject to dangerously high cross winds and a gravel stretch that is well known for sending people to the hospital. Deby and I had rode that route in 2017 and experienced it all, closed gas stations, dangerous high winds and the famous gravel section where Deby lost her bag and we had to go back looking for it. (Read about it by clicking HERE, I thought it was an amazing story)

How would we fare this time? We meet some riders on the ferry in Chile that were so spooked they were not even going to attempt this route and he was an ER doctor from California. Other riders warned us to be careful and regaled us with antidotes of friends who were seriously injured in this stretch. Huh? I’m thinking how hard can it be? Did something change since the last time we rode it.. three times? I didn’t want to get cocky about it so I felt it my duty to warn Michael and Chris about the potential danger ahead. They are two of the most competent motorcycle riders I know so I wasn’t too worried but still. What does the Bible say in Proverbs? – “Pride cometh before the fall.” It seems appropriate to remember that on a motorcycle trip.

More to come!

Donn and Deby

Dr. Science Rides South

This is officially Part 2 of the trip, the “guided” trip that Michael won in the drawing. For this part of the journey, the company, Ride Adventures, organized the route and made all the hotel reservations. This was a new thing for us. For the first half of the trip we had a few hotel reservations but mostly played it by ear and made reservations as we entered a city or maybe the day before. We were generally content with more “economical” accommodations that were nice but not necessarily the most expensive places in town. The day we took Dee Dee to the airport we moved from our nice but… cozy.. airbnb in downtown Pucon to a swank resort hotel 15 km west of town on the shores of Lago Villarrica. Hmmm, nice for Deby and I but I’m sure not as romantic for Michael and his new room mate Chris a.k.a Dr. Science.

Dr. Science and his first ham and cheese sandwich in Chile

I have to interject here…. Michael corrected me and said he refers to Chris as Mister Science and not Doctor Science. However, I found the science moniker is well deserved because of Chris’ technical career at Boeing and his general interest in technology and vast knowledge. So – for the purpose of this blog, I’m staying with Doctor Science. We had great fun discussing all manner of esoteric technical topics during the trip especially about center of mass and its importance to the physics of motorcycle maneuvering among other things.

We picked up Chris’ motorcycle, a Honda 500X just like the one Deby was riding. Even though Chris is six plus feet in height he said he really liked the smaller 500cc twin and was quickly riding it like the pro rider he is. We pointed the bikes east for our first stop, the border crossing into Argentina. This border crossing was easy like they all have been on this trip. While we were waiting in the short line with our paperwork someone called out to Chris and invited him to another window. Cool, they opened another window to speed us through faster. I thought that was nice until I noticed the blue placard on the window above Chris’ head. We didn’t say anything but I snuck a picture.

The road turned to gravel when we left Chile and rode a mile or so in the no mans land between exiting Chile and entering Argentina. We had to stop for a picture at the welcome sign. Wait, who put a Norton and a Dos Motos sticker on the sign?

Not these people… I’m sure of that.

The tour-route took us back down the seven lakes route to San Carlos de Bariloche, the same route and city we visited with Dee Dee only a week ago. I’m sure it was fun and new riding for Chris but for us the traffic seemed almost as bad as last time and the big touristy city of Bariloche even more crowded. We did stay in a nicer hotel but were glad to get up early and leave the big city for some more rural routes. The paved road south was getting less crowded and we were enjoying the warm weather and nice riding. On the advice of Ride Adventures we stopped in El Bolson at the Patio Cervecero restaurant. It was outdoor dining with a live band to entertain us. They were called the Boogie Makers. They sang all familiar songs in accented English which was nice for us but the chatter between songs was in Spanish except when they kept calling out their name, Boogie Makers! I wanted to talk to them between sets but it didn’t work out. I wonder if they knew the name of their band in English would too easily sound like Booger Makers… oh well.

Well fed and watered and having avoided the great temptation to have a beer in the beer garden we were off to the south. Just out of town the road split and we choose the more adventurous western route through the Parque Nacional Los Alerces . It was a great gravel road with lots of view points.

Deby was loving the Honda 500X.

Winding roads, sunshine, warm weather, lake views, all the makings of a fantastic day riding.

We ended up in Trevelin, another city we stayed only a week ago with Dee Dee. After checking into another nice family run hotel we waited until the appropriate late time to look for a restaurant. Since none of them open until 8:30 we didn’t want to look too much like the gringos we were and waited until 8:45 before we went into a classic Argentina Parilla restaurant. We ordered a platter of meat for four and were not disappointed by the quantity of food.

The quality?? Well, not as good as we hoped. Deby and I had these dishes before in Argentina with good results but this meat was too chewy and some of the parts were obviously intestines that none of us could get past more than a bite. The night was saved by some most excellent Argentine wine that was only $15 a bottle. A few bottles later all was well and we cautiously walked back to the hotel.

Thursday January 31, 2019

We had been having really excellent weather but as we left Trevelin the sky was overcast and threatening rain. The route took us back west over the Andes mountain range yet again into Chile. By this time we knew the route, being the same route we did with Michael and Dee Dee. After we crossed the border we were on the same gravel road as Dee Dee’s happy dance video a few posts back.

Soon we intersected with the famous Ruta 7 a.k.a the Carreterra Austral. At that point we turned south and left the route we had been on with Dee Dee for good. This was new territory for Michael and Chris, Deby and I rode this route south to north in 2017. Back then the road was mostly mud and a series of construction stops, now much of it was nicely paved and the rain held off to make for enjoyable riding. For the first time we started seeing a lot of other big adventure motorcycles. We all seemed to converge at the only gas stop along the way in La Junta.

As much fun as we were having it was a relatively short day at 161 miles to the next pre-arranged hotel. But this next hotel was a good one, oh boy.

I know this is supposed to be a motorcycle blog about motorcycle travelling and the trials and tribulations involved in remote adventure travel over rough terrain. You know, man and machine, blood and guts, triumph over adversity, facing the raw elements of nature. Taking what the road givith and through sheer determination surviving the daily challenges and adversity. Ummm forget all that. This was luxury.

We had to be at the boat launch for the Puyuhuapi Lodge in time to catch the 3:30 boat to the lodge. We left our motorcycles in a locked parking lot and squished into the boat for the 15 minute ride to the lodge.

Deby and I were immediately in luxury mode, Michael and Chris.. who?

It was just a little cool outside so we were forced to sit in our room with a private deck and sip wine and look at the view. This is what it looked like from my chair.

Here is a picture of one of the hot springs from the hotel website:

I like this one better – same spot.

In the morning the sun came out so we choose to take the 12:30 ferry back to the bikes, plenty of time for more relaxing.

Took this picture of Deby with the big plants.

But, all too soon it was time to leave.

And, back on the bikes for points south.

This sounds like a good place for a break. More to come! Mountains, glaciers, wind, wild animals and um…. maybe more luxury.

Remember this picture from our 2017 trip?

Right… should I be glad there was no more of that???

Donn and Deby

Northern Patagonia

I’m not really sure where Patagonia starts but for the next few days we would be riding towards the top of my Patagonia map, so I’m calling it Northern Patagonia. Here is a map of the whole route with Dee Dee.

North of San Martin the countryside is a little less traveled and more remote. Almost as soon as we left town the road turned to gravel with some deep and loose sections.

We were heading to a section of Argentina and Chile we had never been to before called Araucania home of the famous Araucania or as we say Monkey Puzzle Tree. This is a strange shaped tree that is so slow growing that they get really old and are described as living fossils. Click HERE for the Wikipedia page about these amazing trees. Here is a picture.

There are some of these trees in the Pacific Northwest, my own sister has a fantastic one in her yard. Here are a few along the road.

And then we came to huge forests of these trees.

Overall, a fine day of riding although a bit dusty but we were now away from the traffic and tourists of the main routes.

Around mid-day we started looking for something to eat without much luck. I still had a few pastries in my pannier but after three days of cooking in heat we thought the best thing to do was to throw them away. Not finding a restaurant we decided on the next best thing – Ice Cream!

It was hot so we had to eat it fast but who cares.

We didn’t really have a destination for the day other than to cross the border back into Chile where we would make our way back to Pucon. Here is a picture of the bikes at the border.

These are easy crossings, we park the bikes and go inside with our paper work going from window to window collecting stamps in our passports and paperwork for the motorcycles. Generally, everyone is really polite and helpful, way different from many of the other borders we encountered further north.

Once back in Chile we were riding towards the steaming Lonquimay Volcano Click on the link to read about it on Wikipedia. Not sure where to stay and without cell service I pulled over to the side of the road to confer with Michael and Dee Dee. Just when I stopped I looked up and there was a giant billboard for the Corralco Resort and Spa, definitely a classy space. I didn’t even get off my bike but turned around and pointed to the billboard. Deby was saying yes in my helmet, Michael just stared at me through his helmet, I could read his mind but it didn’t matter. Dee Dee was almost jumping up and down on the back of the bike, waving her hands with big thumbs up. Ok, that settles it and off we went 10Km down a dirt road towards the resort.

I always wonder what people think when we pull into a nice resort in our filthy riding gear and stop in their nice lobbies with our big boots with caked on dirt. Oh well. We didn’t get run off from the lobby but they could only find two rooms and they each had two single beds. Ok, could be worse so we booked it, unloaded, changed and were sitting outside looking at the volcano within minutes.

Not much else to say, we were tired after a long day’s ride and this place was super relaxing.

Sunday January 27, 2019

The last day of riding with Dee Dee. Here is a map of our actual GPS track for the day.

We rode from the top of the map south to Pucon. We (actually I) decided we should ride 5Km up a gravel road towards the volcano and visit a place called Crater Navidad. It is the little in and out spike on the top of the map circled in red. The road started on smooth volcanic sand up the side of the mountain.

But soon turned into really loose volcanic sand that was grabbing the front tires on our loaded down bikes. It was tricky but I got to the crater and decided not to continue any further.

I turned around and saw Michael stopped on the side of the road. They got caught in some sand and had a slow speed tilt over. Nothing bad but his pannier popped off. I started stopping to help and when I pulled over my front wheel got stuck in the deep sand at the side of the road and just slid out from under me. It was a classic slow speed tip over. Very slow in the sand… I’mmmm goooing dowwwwwwn. thump. My forward motion was less than walking speed so the tip over only hurt my pride and nothing else. Michael helped me pick up the loaded Honda and soon we were down the mountain and back on the pavement riding West.

We needed to be back in Pucon by 5:00 to meet Chris (Dr. Science) who was flying in from Seattle. If you look at the map you might notice there is a main road that goes west and then connects to a highway south to Pucon. You might also notice that is not the route we took. We decided to take a “shortcut” through Parque Nacional Conguillo. Partway down the road going south we came to the proverbial fork in the road. Looking at our paper maps, the big map on the road sign and my GPS we decided to take what looked like an even shorter shortcut although a much smaller road. Yes, the road was definitely less traveled. Eventually the road became less and less traveled, skinnier and skinnier and steeper and steeper until finally it disintegrated into some steep uphill ruts. Michael was in the lead and came to a complete stop. I was behind him and no discussion was needed, we were going back.

Time was running sort as we backtracked to the main road that in itself was challenging in spots and has sections of construction and loose gravel. After some miles we came to the entrance to the park. It was on a steep gravel road and manned by a guard. There was an entrance fee of about $10.00. We asked about the road conditions in the park and was told the road we were on was “typical.” Michael seriously debated going back to the paved road to the highway. Deby and I decided we would continue and meet back in Pucon. That tipped the decision scale for Michael and Dee Dee because soon we were entering the park.

I didn’t take too many pictures because the road was tricky with very narrow sections and plenty of oncoming traffic that we would need to stop for.

We did stop at a beautiful viewpoint along a lake.

That’s where I took this picture of Deby – yes, she gets the Dirty Face Award for the day.

After what seemed like a few hours we came out of the tight part of the park and crossed this huge expanse of a lava flow. We rode on this for probably 10 miles, it was huge.

Finally we came to the end of the park.

It was still over an hour to Pucon but we arrived just after 5:00. Chris’ flight was delayed so we had plenty of time to meet his shuttle at our Pucon Airbnb.

So… in the next installment we exchange Dee Dee for Chris who will be riding a Honda 500X like the one Deby is on. Michael trades his Africa Twin for a nice new BMW F700GS and we embark on the second half of the journey that will take us much further south into much more remote places and tougher roads.

More to come as the internet allows. Thanks for following.

Donn and Deby

Gravel Travel and Dancing

Wow, sorry for the delay. Finally….. bandwidth. I’m writing this from Colhaique, Chile. We are here, and so far, safe and sound and having too much fun. Our route is the bottom magenta line.

I’ll pick up where I left off with Michael and his wife Dee Dee riding two up on the Africa Twin. We left Chiaten for the south along the northern part of the famous Carretera Austral. It was another beautiful day for riding with nice roads and views behind.

And nice views looking forward.

Eventually we came to the cutoff to the east where we would cross the Andes at the low pass of Futaleufu, it’s only about 1,000 feet in elevation. I found the road and the pass listed on Ha, it didn’t seem that dangerous to us…

Of course in some of the construction sites there were no flaggers and we just needed to dodge the construction vehicles. I should be riding with both hands but I wanted to get a picture using my camera in my left hand.

Still, great riding with spectacular views and challenging but fun roads.

We stopped along the way for a short break and to check on Dee Dee on the back of Michael’s bike. She was having a great time didn’t know I had my camera on while she shook out the stiffness in her legs. Go Dee Dee!

More nice views along the road.

We rolled into Trevelin about 4:30 and found a nice Cabana to rent with two bedrooms. As usual, one room had a double bed and the other had two singles. It was our turn for the single beds. I tried setting up on the picnic table outside to write a blog post but the internet was so bad I couldn’t even upload pictures so I gave up and we went into town to look for some food. It was recommended that we checkout a place called Mikamor on the edge of town so we walked there and it looked not only closed but really abandoned.

We walked back towards the hotel and asked about food at a few other small places we passed and were told they don’t open until 8:30. Hmm, dumb gringos wanting to eat at 6:30, what’s up with that?

Hungary, we stopped into a Casa de Te, or tea house. We figured we could get a cup of tea or coffee and maybe a pastry to hold us over. Immediately we recognized this was a proper tea house and rather formal with cloth tablecloths and nice place settings.

Somehow in the translation we determined they serve a plate of pastries for four with our coffee. Ok, sounds good, so we ordered that. A few minutes later this is what showed up.

Wow, that was a small snack? We did our best but only put a dent in that plate and took the rest away carefully wrapped in a plastic bag. The brownies, apple kuchen, cream bars, some kind of raspberry bread lived in my pannier for the next few days and we snacked on them at gas stops. Needless to say we didn’t care about the restaurant any more.

Before we got back to the hotel Michael and I went to the ATM at the bank to get some Argentinian pesos. Michael was busy looking at the receipt and didn’t pull his debit card out fast enough and it got sucked back into the machine. One card down.

Thursday January 24, 2019

We got a relatively early start on another beautiful day. It was clear but a little cool so I started with my heated liner on low. No one else had theirs on so I guess I’m just the wimp of the bunch. Our first stop was the bank to see if we could get Michael’s card back. I didn’t think it was possible but went inside to help in case my slightly better Spanish skills would help. To our surprise after we took a number and waited a few minutes the teller reached in a drawer and pulled out his card. All Michael had to do is show his passport and we were on our way. Hmm, didn’t expect that, but glad it worked out.

It was a easy day riding north to our destination of the resort city of San Carlos Bariloche.

Easy paved roads all day and beautiful views of the jagged peaks of the Andes along with crystal blue water.

We stopped int eh small town of El Bolson and found a great place for lunch.

We rode into Bariloche and stopped with the bikes along the waterfront in the center of town. I pulled out my phone and the app and located the closest hotel to where we randomly stopped. It was the Tres Reys hotel across the street. $75 USD, not a bad deal.

Bariloche is one of the biggest tourist towns in Argentina but we had never been there so we changed and walked about town. There was plenty of shopping opportunities.

Yea, yea, touristy stuff. I wasn’t that impressed but we wandered until 9:30 when it was appropriate to seek a restaurant for dinner. Somehow we stumbled into a fantastic place where we got one of the last tables. By the time we were done it was late so we wandered back and called it a night.

Friday January 25, 2019

Bariloche is crowded. I wasn’t loving the traffic and was looking forward to getting out of town.

We eventually made it out and found our way north towards another touristy city, but one of my favorites, San Martin de los Andes. The route I picked was the famous Seven Lakes route. A beautiful section of twisty road through mountains and many lakes. Deby and I had gone this way twice before, in 2016 and in 2013 on the original MotoRaid trip. Both times we loved it, not this time. The end of January was the peak of the tourist season and the word was out about the grandeur of this route. We spent all day passing, dodging and avoiding cars, trucks and more cars towing campers than I ever remembered seeing in Argentina. I don’t know, it wasn’t that much fun.

We did stop for a nice lunch of …… guess what…

Yes, day two of the pastries for the Casa de Te.

We arrived in San Martin and without reservations, took a chance on getting rooms at the Plaza Mayor Hosteria. This was a special place for us. When Deby and I were there two years ago we needed to stay for a few days while we waited for a part for her motorcycle. The owners of Plaza Mayor, Mercedes and Able along with their son were very helpful with anything we needed and helped us getting the part when it finally arrived at the bus station. Able is a motorcycle rider and when we were there the first time proudly showed me his collection of motorcycles. I wasn’t sure they would remember us but they immediately did and gave us a warm welcome. Yes, they had two rooms left and before we knew it we were checked in and sitting by the pool with cool beers, on the house!

We spent the evening enjoying the much cooler vibe of this smaller tourist town and enjoyed music in the park, walking through the craft fair and another fantastic dinner.

In the morning we said goodbye to our hosts. Abel brought out his BMW F800GS that he recently bought for us to admire. It is a perfect motorcycle, I know because I used to have one exactly like it, even the same year. That was the motorcycle I rode from Seattle to South America in 2013. I gave Abel one our our stickers and he immediately stuck it onto his windscreen! A true place of honor, indeed I felt honored.

We said our goodbyes and I took a picture of Abel, Mercedes and Deby.

What great people and an excellent place to stay if you are ever in San Martin de los Andes.

I’ll pause here. Here is the route so far and we only have a few more days before we have to send Dee Dee home and pick up Dr. Science.

I’ll try to post more soon.

Thanks for following, Donn and Deby

Good days in the sun

Bandwidth, bandwidth, bandwidth….. Ok, that’s my excuse for not posting more often. Yes, it’s easy to upload the text of my posts but who really wants to spend time reading my blah, blah, blah?? The bandwidth intensive part of the post is uploading the pictures which just wasn’t happening in the last few stops. In a way it’s nice not having much connection with the outside world and we can enjoy the ride.

So far the trip has been amazing and all good. Yes, I know that travel trials and tribulations make for interesting and exciting reading in a motorcycle travel blog but so far it’s just been all good. I’ll try to recap a little here and add a bunch of pictures. The map below shows our days, each day in a different color.

GPS Route – Each color change is a day

From Valdivia we rode easy twisting roads into the foothills of the Andes where we took a circuitous route around Lago Ranco. We made a stop at a small waterfall and immediately were approached by a young family, could their children sit on our bikes? Sure!

I have to admit, cute kids and really nice people.

Stop for a quick lunch in the small city of Lago Rancho.

Healthy helping of Salmon for Dee Dee

After rounding the lake we rode south into Puerto Varas where we booked an Airbnb in a apartment building right on Lago Llanaquihue, the second largest lake in Chile. Our hosts Gerta and Gustavo owned a few units in the building and lived above the unit we rented. They were extremely helpful and had people waiting for us outside to show us to the underground parking garage. Once in the apartment we had a thorough tour of the amenities and when Gerta saw there wasn’t any coffee she ran to the store to get us a fresh bag of the local brew. After settling in we walked a few blocks down the beach to a brew pub for a few beers and some typical pub burgers. Before returning to the apartment we decided to Uber to the supermercado for some breakfast bananas, water and snacks for the next day. The Uber was super easy, as always, and cost $2.40 for a one way trip. We thought about making the half hour walk back but we came out of the store and it was dumping rain. I was about to call the Uber back when we spotted a cab parked at the street. A small tiny compact car with the driver’s daughter and her dog in the front seat. No problem, the driver insisted we could all fit in the back seat. Ha, with the women on our laps with bags of groceries we somehow fit and with suspension bottoming we made it back to the Airbnb.

Monday January 21

We woke to morning clouds but the overnight rain stopped before we loaded up and were on our way south. Up to this point we had reservations for the nights but the next section of the trip was full of uncertainty, we knew the pavement would end somewhere and to expect a lot of construction. It would be impossible to know when we would arrive at the next city or where we would stay.

It wasn’t long and the clouds parted and exposed some of the stunning mountain views of the Andes.

We were advised to take a little detour off the route to check out a local waterfalls.

It was nice but not the most spectacular thing we’ve ever seen. I would say we were all just a little underwhelmed. Maybe because the falls were on road that is the main tour bus route east over the Andes to the tourist town of Bariloche de los Andes. We had to pay for parking and an entrance fee and after going through the gift shop could make the short walk to the falls. Us and everyone else.

Try to pick out the gringos in this picture

South of the falls we took a smaller two lane road to the east that would save us an extra ferry crossing on the Carreterra Austral highway 7. It was a great road but soon turned into gravel with off and on construction work. Our first gravel roads of the trip. We were a little concerned how Michael’s Honda Africa Twin would do on the dirt with a passenger. We managed without issue in no small part due to Michael’s riding ability and his lightweight passenger (…. inside joke).

Nice roads to start and beautiful small towns.

Here is one of many construction stops, you can just see the “flagger” sitting in the little booth. When it is clear he would come out and turn the sign to green.

Motorcycles always go to the front of the line at construction backups which is really nice and makes sense. Since we travel much faster than the cars and trucks on the gravel roads we are well ahead of traffic and not slowing anybody down. In addition, we are not stuck behind smokey trucks eating dust and gravel and attempting dangerous passing maneuvers. This should be a standard procedure in the US like it is in Europe and almost everywhere else in the world.

Here is Deby at one of the stops, the Honda 500X is a good fit and seems to be an excellent motorcycle for her so far.

We reached the port city of Hornopiren about 3:00 in the afternoon after riding for 229 miles for the day. Hornopiren is the port city where we would catch the ferry for points south. I knew we were too late for that day’s afternoon ferry but stopped at the ferry office to purchase our tickets for the 9:00 AM ferry the next day. We parked in lot of the empty ferry office and went to procure our tickets. Michael went first and managed to buy two passenger tickets and one for the bike, easy. I was next and was told the ferry was full. What?? How could that be? They didn’t speak any English and so I plead my case in my best Spanish. It must have worked because they told me to return at 7:45 in the morning and there would be no problem getting us on the ferry. Umm, I’m pretty sure that’s what he said.

We went in search of a hotel and the first place we stopped was full. He recommended some cabanas down the road and we successfully negotiated a cabana for the night.

They let us park on the grass right in front which was nice for unloading our gear and watching the bikes. There were two bedrooms which we found out was the normal arrangement. One with a double bed and a second floor apartment with no fewer than three bunk beds. Michael and Dee Dee managed to get the double bed and Deby and I went upstairs to our bunks.

We took some time to walk around the small town and take a few pictures. It is a beautiful place.

Downtown Hornopiren

Classic Patagonia scenery.

You can see the morning ferry better in this picture.

For dinner we were directed to a part of town where they have all of these little food booths lined up in a row. Each booth has a separate meal. You go to each booth to see what they have and order what you want.

Not everything on the signs on the wall were actually available but you could get the general idea.

We walked one particular booth and saw a cooler with beer in it. When Michael went to ask if he could buy a beer, the kind Chilean woman politely told him no with a smile. This kind of thing seems to happen to Michael from time to time. We still laugh about an incident 6 years ago in Chile where a grocery story wouldn’t sell Michael beer but would for Deby! We never exactly figured that one out but here we were again. I was standing next to Michael and tried to help with my improved but limited Spanish. We learned that even though there was beer in the cooler she didn’t have a license to sell beer…. however…. if we wanted a “cup of coffee” she could pour the beer in a big coffee mug and serve him that. Ha, problem solved – una cafe por favor!

Michael and Dee Dee met some travelers who spoke English and were familiar with the local dishes. They recommended Michael and Dee Dee try a meal of various meats placed in a net and boiled in water.

Michael doesn’t seem too sure in this picture but assured us it was pretty good.

Inside the Cabana

Tuesday January 22

I actually had to set my alarm for 6:30 Am so I could be sure to have enough time for coffee, breakfast (oatmeal we brought) and get the bikes ready to be at the ferry terminal at 7:45. It started raining in the night so we had a short but wet ride to the ticket office where I waited in a short line. When it was my turn I was told they only had room for ONE bike. What? Ok, my Spanish really kicked in (actually Spanglish) and somehow or another they typed into their computer some more and produced two tickets. In ten minutes we were loading the bikes onto the big ferry for a 4 hour ride to the minuscule town of Caleta Gonzalo.

Here are the bikes safely tucked in out of the rain.

It was interesting to me that many, but not all, of the cars and trucks were secured to the deck but none of the motorcycles.

We settled into the seating area in a spot with 4 chairs facing 4 chairs. Deby and I sat side by side with Michael and Dee Dee across from us. After a while a couple from Santiago sat across from each other and next to us. Eventually we learned their names were Pia and Christobal (hope I spelled that right) they spoke English and had studied in the US. We spent much of the trip learning about each other and great conversation.

I took some time to wander around the ship and met a US couple that were travelling on motorcycles from Arizona to Ushuaia. They were on a pair of DR650s and were getting ready for the last leg of their trip. We traded stories and encouragement (Yikes, if you’re reading this I forgot your names… leave a message below, I want to know how you did). On deck was another American from Oakland, CA. Rob. Rob was an experienced motorcycle traveler and had been many of the same places as us and more. This time he was on a bicycle riding the Carretera Austral. Wow, good luck Rob.

The rain eventually ended and the views were stunning.

Here is a picture looking back at the ferry after unloading.

No more pavement for us, the road would be mostly gravel for the rest of the way to Chaiten.

Because of our ticket mixup Deby and I ended up getting on at the front of the ferry. Michael and Dee Dee came later and ended up at the back so when we unloaded Deby and I waited for our friends. Once on the road it was a narrow winding gravel road. It wasn’t raining but the road surface was wet. There was a long and very slow line of cars in trucks from the ferry inching down the road. When Michael and Dee Dee came off the ferry we fell in behind them and immediately Michael cut into the oncoming traffic lane and hit the afterburners. We fell in behind and soon we were passing dozens of cars and trucks at a time only tucking in when there was an especially blind curve, hill or the road was too narrow for us to pass. After about an hour we made it to the front of the line, whew!!!

We rolled into Chiaten before any of the ferry traffic and went directly to a hotel Deby and I had stayed at two years ago. Good timing, they had two rooms left… you guessed it… one with a double bed and another with two single beds. Cash only. No problem. This time it was out turn for the double bed and Dee Dee and Michael checked into the room with the two singles.

Chiaten is a very interesting city. A nearby volcano erupted in 2008 and buried much of the city. Locals told us that they didn’t even know there was a volcano much less an active one so close to them until it blew. Read more about it here:

We went for a short walk about and went to a section of town that the preserved with buried houses.

I took a picture nearby with Deby and the huge gunnera plants that are everywhere here. Many are much bigger than this.

One of the staff at the hotel rode this motorcycle. Wow, you could carry a family in the trunk!

Ok, I’m going to break here but hope to have another post soon. Remember you can follow our progress HERE.

And if you want to look through more pictures click HERE.

Thanks for following!

Donn and Deby

Day 1 Riding!

On our last trip to Patagonia we had to wait one month in Buenos Aires for our motorcycles to be delivered. This time…. one day! Oh, yea. Of course, we were not waiting for OUR bikes all we had to do was take a cab to the offices of Ride Adventures in Pucon where they had our bikes shined up and waiting.

But first….. the trip down. Wow, it is a Looooooonnnnnggg Waaaaaay Doooooown. Deby and I arrived at the Seattle airport at 10:00 AM on Wednesday January 16 for a flight to Houston. We arrived in Houston with just enough time to meet Michael and Dee Dee who flew from Idaho, drink a beer and jump on the all night plane to Santiago, Chile. From there we negotiated the organized chaos of retrieving our luggage (a lot of it) and getting through customs in time to make a local flight to Temuco, Chile. We landed in Temuco about 3:00 PM where we jumped on a shuttle van for an hour and a half ride to our Airbnb in Pucon. We arrived there about 5:00 PM on Thursday. So, how many hours was that travelling? How many hours sitting on planes? What ever that adds up to it was many many more hours than the number of sleep hours I had during that time. I could hardly sleep at all. In Pucon we managed to stay awake enough to get a couple of beers and some food at a corner restaurant and crash at 10:00 PM local time. We made it.

Dee Dee made a friend at the airport in Temuco. They really don’t see many tall women with blond hair around here.

Friday was a day off. We spend the day being tourists walking around town and hanging out at the beach.

Michael’s first order of business was to find the beer. He’s a professional.

We walked around town and took touristy pictures. Here is Deby and I with Volcan Villarrica in the background. This volcano is always steaming and is the most active volcano in South America. We were told at night you can sometimes see a red glow at the top. We went to check out the black sand beach along lago villarrica.

Deby went for a quick dip… it was really cold.

Here’s a good picture of Michael with Dee Dee and Deby

It was an amazing day, the weather was perfect, about 90 degrees and lots of sun. It’s the peak of the summer season here so the city was crowded with vacationers. It seems like everyone was from Chile, we didn’t hear any English spoken at all.

At 4:00 we took a cab to pick up the bikes about 20Km east of town. Here is where we first saw the motorcycles we would be on for the rest of the trip.

Two Honda Africa Twins for me and Michael and a Honda 500x for Deby.

We couldn’t believe the beautiful location Ride Adventures has for their shop, wow, look at this view from the parking lot.

It took a couple of hours to inspect the bikes, complete the paperwork and make some small adjustments. We then reviewed the route and Ulli, from Ride Adventures had some great alternate route suggestions. Thanks Ulli.

Here we are, almost ready to ride!

We managed to ride the 20Km back to Pucon with no incidents. Strange, bikes, strange city, lots of weekend traffic. Yes, we were on high alert but arrived safely by about 7:00 PM and tucked the bikes away safely in the secure underground parking of the Airbnb (muchas gracias Monica!). We poked around with some re-packing on the bikes but eventually needed to get out for a walk in the warm evening. We ended up at a rather nice restaurant very close to the Airbnb and sat down for dinner at 10:00 PM which is definitely the appropriate time to arrive at a restaurant in Pucon. It was packed and we got one of the last tables right next to the road.

Here is a page from the menus, I circled what I thought was interesting. For sure, you want to order off of this page if you want to Maintain Your Figure.

But if you want real adventure in dining you want to order the “Tabla de Carnes.” There is a translation in English.

If your wondering about the prices, they use a period instead of a comma to delineate thousands. Tabla de carnes is $15,900. That’s pesos…. so around $20 USD.

Here’s Deby’s plate, brazed brisket… she said it was really good.

We had an outstanding night. The outdoor section was loud and boisterous. We were as loud and rowdy as the best of them. To add to the fun these drummers entertained the crowd from the street.

Finally, at midnight the restaurant started thinning out. I had one last bit of business to take care of inside but needed to find the correct door for “men.” Let’s see…. oh yea, this must be it…..

With that we carefully walked the block to the Airbnb and called it a night.

Saturday January 19.

Hmmm, I didn’t take too many pictures. I was busy navigating (since I’m the one with the GPS) and getting used to the bike. We took off bright and early to beat the heat at 10:30 am. Oh, well, with the late night and packing the bikes I thought that was pretty good. Here was our route.

A total of 176 miles to Valdivia. We took the long route recommended by Ulli which took us along the coast. The temperatures that were in the 90’s in Pucon dropped into the 60’s with fog as we neared the Pacific Ocean. I felt like we were descending into the fog of the Oregon coast which would make sense since we are at about the same latitude south as Oregon is north.

Here is Deby with her Honda 500X, so far she really likes it. Below is my Honda Africa Twin, Michael and Dee Dee are two up on a bike just like it.

We had a nice lunch stop at the Mobydick restaurant in the small port town of Queule Mehuin.

We ended up at the Hotel Entre Tilos in Valdivia. A real nice place, Deby and I stayed there last time we were here in 2017. It was a great wrap to a perfect first day of riding.

So far so good. The bikes are working perfectly, the weather is ideal and the roads and scenery are beautiful. Ahhhh….

So here we go. I hope to post as often as possible. Remember you can click the “follow us” tab at the top to see our real time location. Thanks for all the comments, we love them. I want to answer them all but if I start I’ll be spending my evenings on my computer instead of out exploring this great part of the world.

Hasta Pronto amigos!

Donn and Deby

We leave in a week

Wow, thanks for all the comments here and on Deby’s Facebook page. I hope this is an adventure worthy of everyone’s time. You just never know….

So, what’s the plan? Well, like most things it started out simple and became more complex. That’s OK, I’ll start at the beginning.

Because of Michael’s “win” of a free tour we are going with an outfit called Ride Adventures – Tours and Rentals. They specialize in adventure motorcycle tours around the world taking people on grand adventures in amazing places. But…. they have one, select, very special tour in the United States. Guess where???? WISCONSIN! What? Most of you probably know Deby and I grew up in Wisconsin where we met and moved to Seattle after college. We learned Eric Lange, the founder of Ride Adventures is also from Wisconsin, small world.

Michael’s free tour was one of the more basic self guided Patagonia tours they offer so Michael decided it would be worthwhile to pay for an upgrade to what they call “The Patagonia Experience“, a 14 day motorcycle tour.

Deby and I have been to some of these places and so has Michael on our first Motoraid trip in 2013, we are really excited to go back and further explore the area. But there is more…. besides me and Deby, Michael invited his friend Chris. We’ve met Chris a few times and rode together on enough trips that I can say he will be a fun riding partner. He is a very interesting person, Michael calls him Dr. Science because of his technical background prior to retiring from Boeing.

Chris and Michael on our September 2018 trip

Dr. Chris Science has a full blown race car simulator that he hand built in his basement. Michael and I went to check it out this past spring and it is amazing!!

Michael in the simulator

Chris can describe it in more detail but all I know is that it’s really realistic and I could never make it as a race car driver. Chris is pretty good at it.

OK, that sounds like a reasonable plan, two weeks on a prescribed tour complete with reservations at really nice hotels along the way. Then I get a call….. it’s Michael. “Hey Donn, what do you say we fly down a little early and just rent some bikes?” Ummm, sure! So now we are flying down 10 days before the “official” tour begins and Michael’s wife Dee Dee is coming with us on the back of Michael’s bike for this part of the trip. This will be fun. We first met Dee Dee when she flew to Cusco, Peru in 2013 to meet us on our first South America trip. We took nearly a week and explored the area and did the 4 day hike to Machu Picchu. We’ve all been good friends ever since.

Donn, Deby, guide, Michael, Dee Dee
At Machu Picchu, Peru

“Oh Donn…,” Michael says, “since you’ve been there before could you plan our route?” Well, I suppose that makes sense in a way.. So, I made a rough plan.

Route with Dee Dee

I have this mostly (sort of) planned out, at least the first few days. We leave Seattle on January 16 and arrive in Santiago, Chile on Wednesday the 17th. From there we take a small plane to Temuco and then a shuttle to Pucon, Chile where we pick up the motorcycles.

Coincidence #1: We randomly sign up with a company founded by a guy from my home town in Wisconsin.

Cocindence #2: Ride Adventures tour company’s South America base is in Pucon Chile. Pucon is the city that became the sister city of Lake Oswego Oregon in the early 60’s and for that reason became the destination of the 1963 Motoraid trip by Keith Thye and David Yaden. When we re-created that trip its 50th anniversary with Keith and Dave, Pucon was our ultimate destination. What does that mean????

From Pucon, the trip with Dee Dee will take us to Valdivia, Puerto Varas and then points south on the famed Carretera Austrel. At some point we will cross the Andes and ride north to San Carlos de Bariloche, San Martin de los Andes and then a new route north before cutting east over the Andes and back down to Pucon. What could go wrong?

For those of you who want to know, and I know who you are…, Michael and I are both renting the Honda Africa Twin 1000cc, Deby will be on a Honda 500x and Chris (I think) is on a BMW F700GS. These are all pretty reliable motorcycles but for the most part we will be responsible for breakdowns. I’m packing my own tool kit.

I’ll try to get another post out before we leave with our preparations. Thanks for the notes and for following along.

Donn and Deby

January 2019 -Were Back!

What the? Where have we been? I’m continually amazed at how many people I run into that mention how much they enjoyed following our blog. Sure, mostly people are just nice, but it does mean a lot to us and those comments are truly appreciated.

I’ll skip to the good part. We are leaving in less than two weeks for a return to South America! So many people have asked to follow along via this blog that I decided to dust off my WordPress skills and give it a shot.

As you may recall the whole thing started with our original MotoRaid trip in 2013 with Keith Thye and David Yaden. That trip was documented in this blog (Click HERE or the tab on top). Keith immortalized both his 1963 trip and our 50th anniversary trip in the book, The Whole Story, that can be purchased from his website here:

There is a back story to our return and it’s probably worth telling…..

It started with this guy…

Mr. Michael Hansen in 2013

We met Michael Hansen on the original MotoRaid trip in 2013. Over the years we’ve kept in touch, and without our meaning to, became good friends with Michael and his wife Dee Dee. Michael and Dee Dee live in Idaho but we’ve managed to schedule numerous visits and motorcycle trips together.

Last June (2018) we attended the Touratech Motorcycle Rally together in Plain Washington with a small group that attends almost every year. We camp in a back corner and keep a little bit to ourselves but have a huge amount of fun.

Scenic stop at the 2018 Touratech Rally

When we checked into the rally we were each given 4 raffle tickets, over the course of the event we had the opportunity to visit the variety of vendors onsite and if we liked their product we could drop off a ticket with that vendor. I like this idea because if your ticket does get drawn at least you end up with something you might like. One of the vendors was an outfit offering tours of Patagonia, Deby and I immediately dropped all eight of our combined tickets into that bucket. Hey, we had been back less than a year from our last trip there but why not try!

Michael, who is very well known for being, um.. let’s say, frugal, decided to drop in only ONE ticket and save the others for who knows what… a t-shirt? Ok, you can guess what happened. It’s towards the end of the night and we’re standing around with some cool beverages not far from the fire. On stage there are a couple of the organizers picking tickets out of a big bucket. They save the big Patagonia trip for last…. out of our whole group and a combination of probably 20 tickets we haven’t won anything yet. With way too much drama (just like this paragraph) they draw a ticket and call our Michael’s name! Holy Buckets! We’re all jumping around laughing and slapping high fives. Suddenly it struck me… I turned to Deby and said in my most calm and serious voice, “this is gonna really cost us”.

The End of the Ride

I’m writing this from the comforts of the USA. It’s good to be back and ride roads that are mostly in pretty good condition, speak in my native tongue and slip into the easy travelling mode that will describe the rest of out trip home.

I’m concluding the blog at the Mexican border although we still have some weeks before we are home. The rest of the trip will be easy, mostly paved and take a roundabout route visiting family along the way. Fun for us but maybe not up to the level of adventure the readers of this blog are used to (really big grin here…). Continue reading