Seattle to South America 2013

Seattle to Buenos Aries 2013 (Scroll down for links to the blog posts in chronological order)

50 years ago Keith Thye and his friend Dave Yaden dropped out of college and rode BMW motorcycles to Pucon Chile, the sister city of their home town, Lake Oswego Oregon. Their epic journey was chronicled in the book MotoRaid published in 2000. Click HERE to order a copy from Amazon.

In 2013 Deby and I joined Keith and Dave as they reenacted their journey through Central and South America, this time on modern motorcycles, on better roads, without  camping in a canvas tent or getting thrown in jail.

In honor of their 1963 visit the residents of Pucon Chile gave Keith and Dave a hand carved wooden plaque. I took a picture of the plaque that hung on Keith’s office wall for nearly half a century

In commemoration of the trip I created stickers based on the original design

Joining us were veteran motorcycle travelers Michael Hansen and Jim Balz for a total of 6 riders. We met January 10, 2013 at the BMW dealer in San Diego California for our launch.

The route was  through Baja to LaPaz where we took the ferry to Mazatlan and rode through Mexico along the Pacific Coast. From Mexico we  explored Central America working our way to Panama where we will shipped our bikes to Columbia by air to get around the Darien Gap.

Side note: Evidently there have been a few people who have ridden motorcycles through the Darien Gap between Panama and Columbia. My favorite story is told in the book Obsessions Die Hard by Ed Culberson. I’m told Helge Pedersen also navigated the Darian Gap as told in his book 10 years on 2 Wheels. I haven’t read his book (yet).

From Columbia we rode south through Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia and into Chile where we visited  Pucon, the sister city of Lake Oswego. From Pucon we rode east through Argentina to Buenos Aries where we arranged for the bikes, and us,  to be shipped home.

Click HERE for an overview map of our route

The following links are my Motoraid II Blog posts in chronological order.

The first section of posts documents just Deby and I riding from Seattle to San Diego in January (burrrrr!) to meet the Motoraid crew.

First Post of Motoraid II
T – 37 Days
T minus 35 Days
December is here
Planning for Disaster
T-minus 16 days
Leaving in a few days
On our way!
Cold, Rain, Wind, Hail, Fog
Happy New Year!
The Lost Coast and Avenue of the Giants
California Highway 1
Elephant Seals
Tomorrow Mexico

The following links are for riding through Mexico

Bahia de los Angeles
Watching Seahawks in Loreto
The LaPaz Ferry
A Nice Day Riding
Twisting the Day Away
The Road of Life
Dumb Stuff


Checking in
Lake Atitlan and Santiago
The Guatemala Cloud Forest

Central America Posts

El Salvador
Nicaragua – Part II
Costa Rica
Costa Rica Part II
Watch for Cops! (Panama)
Chill’n in Panama

South America – Columbia

Jumping the Darian Gap
Tourists in Bogota
Bogota Part II
Adventure Riding in Columbia Part 1
Adventure Riding in Columbia


Into Equador


Into Peru!
The Flats of Peru
Peru – Chan Chan
High Adventure in Peru
All about Michael – Three Days in Hell
Machu Picchu
Machu Picchu Part 2
Machu Picchu – The Final Ascent
Deby’s Birthday Ride
Peru to Chile to Argentina


Into Chile – the longest crossing yet
Pucon at last


East to Argentina
“The Crash”
Last Stop: Buenos Aries
Motorcycles: It’s a Wrap!




28 thoughts on “Seattle to South America 2013

    • Jeff, I don’t know, Denver was pretty epic! I’ve been thinking about all those New Year Days we rode in the snow in Wisconsin. I’ll keep you in mind as we ride tomorrow.

  1. hi,
    You are almost here !! (Mexico) let me know if you need anything I am in Ensenada and will like to meet you.

    Anyway have a great journey and be safe!


  2. It sounds like an epic adventure. I wish I could join you. If I might make a suggestion, the coast road below Mazatlan is one small town after another and they are all full of topes (speed breakers.) I would suggest going east to Durango then heading south. From Mazatlan to Durango you’re on the famous (or infamous) El Espino el Diablo, the Devil’s backbone, one of the greatest motorcycle roads in the world. You’ll be in high desert with almost always good weather this time of year. Also, there’s a bypass around Mexico City now. You turn off the main road (MX 57) and it takes you directly to Pueblo. There are many beautiful old colonial cities along this route. One is San Miguel de Allende GTO where I live. I and other members of our club, MotoClasico, would love to meet your group and host you for a few days in SMA.
    I don’t know what your schedule is like but if you can spare a few days to “smell the tacos” this would be a much more interesting route IMHO.

    Art Bone

  3. Oh, I should have mentioned, MotoClasico is the southernmost chapter of the INOA. And for Deby, SMA is a really arty town. GIs could study art here on the GI Bill. They could live and study on $50 a month, the thanks of a grateful nation, and many stayed. There’s many artists, galleries, and studios to visit.

    MotoClasico meets every week at the LongHorn Barbecue at 5 PM. Would love to see you all there. It’s sure to make the NN.


      • Thanks Deby! I look forward to meeting you on your return! It sounds like we have a mutual friend…Carla Fike! Your son also graduated with my daughter, Corri! Enjoy your adventure and…YOU go girl!

  4. Just discovered your blog and I’m subscribed. Looking forward to following your journey. Will you also be posting on an Advrider RR?

    • Hi, I did start an ADV RR but I’m trying to decide if I will have time to maintain it. I might just try cutting and pasting HTML to save time. Thanks for following.

  5. I’ve been watching SPOT and enjoying; can’t find any current BLOG posts however.
    In Tepic, you are now about 1.5hr north of one of my Oregon riding buddies living in Rincon de Guiabitos until May (FJR rider), about 1/2 mi south of La Penita……nice “real” mexican town. I’ll be curious where you stop for the night. Also enjoyed watching you cross into Mazatlan…….Gary Thye says Hi…….

  6. Hi Donn and Deby. What an amazing adventure! Thanks for sharing it. I love the pictures and details about the trip. Be safe and enjoy the locals. I love the traditions and crafts from other cultures.

  7. Hey Dave, saw your bride at Janice Wilson memorial today. Says you’re in Panama.
    You guys are inspiring…just like 1963. (I’m sure the roads have improved even if the border BS hasn’t) Maybe Tuck & I will hop into a Jeep and head south behind you! Good luck and keep me posted. Say Hi to Keith.

    Cap Hedges

  8. Hey Donn & Deb, I’ve been viewing the blog via FB but found out I can subscribe as well.
    Really enjoying reading about your adventures & viewing your pics. AMAZING!
    So when will you return?
    FYI I have a 1st & 3rd Wednesday gig at the Raging River.
    Looking forward to seeing you & hearing more details about your great adventure of a lifetime!

  9. Hey Donn & Deby!

    Looking forward to following your adventure while I slave away at work. Wishing you a safe and fun trip with good weather.

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