glaciers are natures swamp coolers

ok, much delayed post about patagonia – great (cold) ride up and through from  Ushuaia, clear weather, mountains, wind but NO RAIN!!!! unfortuneatly at one point my hydration pack busted a gut on a hike and soaked my camera – leaving some of the best shots stuck on a card i can’t access until i find a camera it fits to download, and just my tiny pocket point and shoot for some of the most beautiful stuff ever – the day i soaked the camera was also the most stunning hike i went on and sadly had no camera….

first, glacier perito moreno – which is still growing and calving

on the way to the glacier

glacier

glacier and mountains

ice - close up

calving!

glacier and lake, with cubes - you can buy a scotch with glacier ice but peaty flavor aside i draw the line at actual dirt in my drink

after this it was of to fitz roy, beautiful torres north of the glacier – this is where I killed the camera, and some stunning shots of the road coming in are trapped on my camera memory card….bummer, cause the road in was awesome

the view from the microbrew in town

fitz roy from afar - i hiked up to the torres the day before with a broken camera - bummer as it was stunning

after this down south to torres del paine – beautiful riding, no need to hike (with 40,000 of my new best friends as it’s a crowded crowded park)

cool bird on the way in

rheas

riding in to torres del paine

nice road....

bike at the camping spot

cool geese

after this it was on to a ferry through the fjords for 3 days – sharing a bunk with 2 80 year old chilean ladies who could not shut up in the morning (at like 6am) – after 2 days i asked if there was another bed free, they were told to shut up, and so the following morning went into the corridor/bunk area and woke everyone there up – ironically 4 of the people in that bunk corridor were people i was hanging with on the boat and so knew immediately who the old girls were – and Francis speaks spanish well, so she understood every word of them complaining (loudly) about not being able to make noise in the cabin at 6:30….they made bad hostel bunk mates look good

2 of 3 days the weather was great on this trip – a rarity…..more mountains, more glaciers, then more rain and wind…….

glacier off in the distance - the captain pulled the ferry pretty close to it then proceeded to turn this big big ferry in a complete 360 degree priouette

day 3 - wet and windy, looks just like home

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Ushuaia! and cigars at the end of the world

ok, first things first – got the bike sorted in Punta Arenas by this super cool little mechanic with some Honda seals that I found a mere 200 miles aways so 700 miles of pissing fork oil i was back on the road and so close to Ushuaia I thought I’d just get there and knock it off the list: here’s a picture of  baby girl at the end of the world

I have met almost no bikers on this trip but keep running into Tyler, the guy on the ural – who I ran into in Ushuaia as we both arrived the same day so we celebrated with another biker from Australia – meat, beer, wine, and cigars on a balmy summer evening

Chilean patagonia is nothing but the occasional sheep, dry grass and wind with some of the most amazing colors – this is what blue looks like

i was bombing along a road that looked something like this

when i saw these flamingos! hanging out in a pond

Ushuaia itself is a bit of tourist hell but the area around it is quite nice – took a boat ride with the guys and saw more birds and seals, took a hike in the national park, then started heading north to try and hit all the good stuff i missed due to the fork seals – in no particular order….

 

more birds....

pretty killers - these guys hang around the cormerant colonies and try to eat the babies

 

these guys are actually flightless for some reason

 

more comorants

some cool patagonian colors

so after Ushuaia it was time to head north again – 2 border crossings, 1 ferry ride and a 60 mile detour due to a wrong sign and 13 lovely hours later I hit the not so lovely town of Rio Galegnos, my second visit as this is where I came to buy seals. Booked out of there early and after a couple more hours turned a corner and saw this – which is just where I was heading so I’m hoping I have luck the next few days for some glacier and mountain views….

now i have a tendency to lose things so after i took these shots i put my camera away like a good girl, then pulled out my apple, took 2 bites and a friggin’ condor came cruising by just below me, about 30′ away – wings expanded, i could see all the markings…..and no %$**&%*&$#@ camera – i will never again put away my camera until i’m ready to leave

it’s just amazing down here, windy as hell, great gravel roads, mountains……cowboys in berets….good thing i guess considering how long it took me to get here

 

xom

 

 

 

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birds, birds, and more birds

on a trip like this the line between bad luck and good luck gets very blurred on a trip like this – the blown fork seal forced me to re-route south where i was lucky enough to find new seals in stock that would fit and a mechanic to put them in, who no longer runs his business, is out of town half time working on the family estancia, and who i just caught – where i then found out the seal was probably ok and a few weeks ago when the bike was serviced (and washed beforehand as it was covered in mud) the kid who washed it probably forced dirt into the seal with the high pressure spray and so just pulling the forks apart, cleaning, and reassembling would have worked – but the bike is fixed (and i have spare used seals) and i find myself much farther south than planned at this point so i’m going to do things a little backwards, ride south to tierra del fuego, the ‘end’ of the trip, then ride back north to go south to the ferry terminal where i catch a boat back to chile in 2 weeks – so much for the triumphant end of the road drink at the end of the trip, but as i’m traveling alone it would have been rather anti-climatic anyway – anyone who knows me well, and my tendency for target lock, will appreciate doing things out of order is making me slightly crazy but what can you do?

OK, now on to the birds – while I was stuck in Puerto Descansado waiting for the mechanic to open I went on a little boat trip to look at birds…..so here they are – this bay is on the atlantic, and in sun brilliant blue against the red/brown dessert – tons of different types of penguins nest all along the coast here for about 1000 miles – I went for the quick boat ride so I could try and get parts and find a mechanic but still saw penguins, dolphins, cormorants, seals, terns, gulls…..in the desert proper are these little ostriches which are not real bright, they run in front of you and then trip over their own feet…..

ok, here’s the birds

i like how these guys are always facing the same direction

these guys are total rebels

hanging out on the rocks

ok, when you're taking fotos from a boat you miss a lot of them in one way or another but i'm including this one because check out the brid's eye - you may have to zoom in but do

guano hang out spot

dinner time - yum, regurgitation

how cute is this little guy

i think they actually posed for the shot

penguin beach

little sleepy guys

i'm not sure if these guys were playing or learning to swim but they were paddling around near shore having what looked like a blast - when i've seen penguins in the water near the ferries i've been on they've been all business

feed me feed me feed me !!!!!

seal rock - don't get downwind, these guys are NOT fresh

they're also bad tempered - they were growling and yelling at each other, and quite a few had big boo boos

and check out big daddy here - he's about the size of a bear and not what you want coming after you in the water - those are full grown females near him, not juviniles

ok, this guy is not a bird but i've seen a few of them for a second - this little guy however has figured out if you hang out at the border you will get fed so he hung around while i foto'd him - he's still wearing half his winter coat, which by the way i will never complain about a seattle summer again - it is frigging freezing down here, and WINDY

i wanted to scoop this guy up and take him with me, i miss my dog….

there are more bird pics on the picassa link, although it’s amazing how many are slightly out of focus when you take them from aboat – i took almost 200…

all right, it’s on to end of the world, then starting back on up north……

ciao, xom

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Rain Rain Go Away

well, the title pretty much says it all – it’s been a wet few weeks – tried waiting out the rain to hike, finally gave up and headed south to a cool little island called chiloe before (finally) getting a ferry over to patagonia, land of rain

here’s a few shots of chiloe – it’s rural with fishing villages and known for bright shingled houses on stilts over the water – got lucky here and got a day of sun (mas o menos)

looks kinda familiar huh?

chiloe is also where the pan american ends, so here’s the official sign – yet another sign i’m getting close to the end

the ferrys here are small and carry trucks mostly – here’s a fuel truck having to back on to the ferry, in the dark, down a ramp while taking a more or less right angle with the loading ramp and boat ramp not being at the same angle

here’s the ramp without the truck so you can see just how hard this would be

after a very boring overnight ride it was all patagonia – had my first flat! i’ve been waiting, with the thought in the back of my mind that i might actually make it without a flat….

patagonia is beautiful although most of the time the mountains were shrouded in fog mist and rain….the one day of sun though was amazing

amazing huh? now here’s what it looked like most of the time

cold cold wet day - there's a glacier apparently behind those clouds

that big beautiful lake up there, the very blue one, has a road going around it and is surrounded by mountains – supposed to be an amazing ride – i of course did the ride in the rain

it was still nice, but to add insult to injury the next day it cleared up and so i got to see all the mountains in my rear view mirrors….

these cool birds are everywhere – they’re stunning when they fly because they’re black tan and red in the air – here they’re walking around poking at the ground

that's a beak!

this is my favorite rider so far i’ve met – he’s been living in bolivia and just bought himself this little honda 125, tied the pack on the back, and is going for it – note the riding gear, the fancy panniers, and the gas tank tied on the back – his extra tank had leaks so i gave him some water weld, hoped it worked…

now i’m back in argentina, came to the atlantic coast to see penguins (wonder what the next post will be) – when i got here though i realized that i blew a fork seal so now it’s down back to chile to get that fixed- i’m in nowheresville, did find a good mechanic but he didn’t have a seal to fit and it’s 1-2 weeks to get things here –  so all the dirt coastal roads i picked out are a no go i think – except the one to the penguin beach….why did i decide NOT to bring fork seals? what a dumbass…..but boy does the bike look swell with a bright yellow rag zip tied to the fork to catch the oil.

ok, next post will be birds, birds, and more birds…..

 

xom

 

 

 

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First, a few words about dogs….

There are dogs all over Latin America – in Mexico and Central America they were poor starved street dogs, in Colombia and Ecuador better fed, in Bolivia and Peru they were biting you but here in Chile the dogs are everywhere and oh so chill – they live in their own parallel universe that occupys the same space as people but has nothing to do with them. These fotos I snapped in about 15 blocks in a busy city on a busy Saturday, dog just chilling out where they please.

and the occasional cat

After Valpariso it was off the moutains then the ocean….right now I’m waiting out some rain to hopefully do more hiking although the sucking sound you hear is Chile taking all my money – it is EXPENSIVE here, although after 6 months on the road to get here I suppose a few more days and a couple hundred more bucks isn’t that big a deal ….then it’s on to the end of the world i hope as I’m getting sick of hotels, hostels, and bad food….

This guy came running down a tree right next to my tent

Cool bird, there are also these dark green brown parrots here but despite having about 100 fly in front of me on the moto saw none here at the park

blue blue sky - it really was that blue

cool flower

more lizards

lichen lichen lichen

Carpentero! these guys were everywhere, you could hear them but not see them then all of a sudden there are 2 in front of me in the woods - and they are shy, move and they fly.....

red head!

big big beach of cold cold water

lots of hawks and falcons on the coast - not sure what this is, vulture maybe?

typical beach.....

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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the problem with ‘civilized’ borders – you can’t bribe your way out of the line

spent some time in the desert in Argentina – saw a bunch of foxes, super cool but none would hang around for a foto, lots of hawks and falcons, and what I think was a pecary (like a javalina). lot’s of hot driving, lots of straight roads, lots of brush and sand

green leafy plants in the desert.....who knew

this is a desert with a rainy season, which we were in ( i went to this big canyon, you have to go on a tour, and you actually drive on the stream bed in the canyon – the week before it was covered with water from the last rain storm).

petroglyphs - i think this is saying aliens landed here

 

 

 

this is actually a condor, i know the foto sucks but hey, it’s a condor – in real life you could actually see the ruff around the neck and tell it’s a condor but they fly very high and by the time you see it, get the camera up, zoom in….it’s in the next county

Guanaco just hanging out on the hill

your basic wind carved chimneys

 

 

from here it was on to Chile, for what i thought was going to be a quick hop of a few hours over to the ocean – what i got was 100 miles in 10 hours……the first problem was leaving Argentina, which took 4 hours……it’s holiday time in Argentina and little did i know the ‘remote’ border i was taking was the main road between northern argentina and the beaches of Chile . Argentinians are at least good natured and funny so if you’ve got to be stuck for 4 hours in the sun on the road in a line Argentina isn’t a bad place to do it. after getting through the first border was 100 miles of dirt road that climbed up to almost 5000m – a splendid ride all in all, although slow in places because although a major road it still narrowed to less than 2 lanes, a fact which doesn’t stop people in Toyota Hiluxs driving straight at you at about 40mph.

the main road to Chile open 2 to 3 months a year

i’ll be climbing to just about the top of that mountain……

after 4 hours to get 100 miles it’s another couple hours at the Chilean border – they’re very big on not letting you bring in foodstuffs, they actually search everyones vehicle with food sniffing dogs.  from there it was down to the Chilean coast for some sun and beach time – i got one day of good weather where i got some sunburn, normally not a big deal unless you’ve broken your leg and had it screwed back together……then it’s a problem because you’re leg swells even more than normal and as you’re wandering around Valpariso looking for a place to stay with motorcycle parking you wonder why you’re leg hurts so much, then you take off (peel off since you’re leg has swollen so much you’re pants barely fit) your pants and you find this – giant blisters where you’re boot ends, bigger than half dollars. So I’m in Valpariso for a few days trying to get the leg swelling down some and the blisters to start to heal before i put the boot back on because i’m afraid it’s just going to turn into a giant raw infeceted mess, finally getting to use shit i brought in the first aid kit though – pretty much sucks although Valpariso is cool – the city is a thin strip along the coast then hills and a crazy jumble of buildings, multicolored, graffiti’d, hanging onto hillsides, stairways, pathways, verniculars going up and down……here’s a few fotos I took earlier today of the area just around my hotel

street a few blocks above the harbor

pedestrian way down the hillside

there's lots of urban renewal here, lofts, but lots of nice old wrecks as well, they tend to be my favorites

lots of good graffiti

grafitti street

cool building

graffiti

there's also a splendid crumbling graveyard (or series of 3) right in the center of town, you need to sneak fotos though, it's a no foto zone with a lot of groundskeepers around - lots of giant tombs in disrepair, angels missing wings, heads, and noses......tombs sealed with piles of bricks

as a working port city Valpariso is everything Seattle could be if it didn’t have such a major stick up it’s ass…..guess that’s the difference between the latin and scandanavian heritage….would sure hate to be here in an earthquake though, i’m not sure how the whole place didn’t fall down in the last earthquake here, which did major damage in Santiago, only about 120 klicks away….

so after this it’s into the last leg of the trip as i’m halfway down chile right now, the lake district then patagonia….my goal is to slow back down and do some hiking/camping weather permiting, still it’s weird to be getting close to the end, i keep having dreams i’ve gone back home but didn’t finish, left the bike behind by mistake….in one i came back and my roommate had put a tap system in, we had 3 types of beer on tap when i got home…that was nice anyway…….

ok, my ugly gimpy leg and i bid you all ciao for now, sorry i missed the snow

xom

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Bolivia=Total bust……

Where to start with Boliva……my lasting memories will be of rubble, mud, trash, people kicking dogs…..rain, more rain, more rain…….I rode through all of Bolivia with someone else and I don’t think we went through one town without getting to the other end, looking at each other and going ‘that was a dump, huh?’. Seriously people, put the rubble in the holes in the road, it will help with the mud pits and solve the rubble pile problem all in one go.

To get into Bolivia you pay if you’re American, it’s the $135 gringa tax…..OK, we do it to them so fair is fair. The newest thing is gas pricing – foreigners pay 3x at the pump because fuel is cheap in Boliva (and fucking crappy, low octane and leaded) so people load up and go over the border – i’m even OK with that – Bolivia’s a poor country with a socialist president (former campiseno and cocoa farmer) but what’s hard is you can’t buy gas just anywhere which means sometimes you just can’t get gas in a pueblo at all – if there are no camera’s at the station you may get gas with an informal gringo tax or you may get it for local prices……not being able to buy gas though is a pain if you’re on a bike so it’s like mexico, fill up at every station you can.

Here’s a picture you see everywhere, the man himself – he’s quite popular in Bolivia, the guy I was traveling with was livid about the gas and kept complaining to people about the government – last election he got almost 70%…….

a bolivian gas station sign (that would be the containers of fuel stacked in the road), you use this in a pinch…….god only knows what you’re actually buying – gas here is about 2X at the pump, the informal gringo tax at the pump is best, I never paid more than a couple extra bucks.

bolivian gas station sign......

so i had high hopes for Bolivia, the mountains (hidden in rain and clouds) the road of death (didn’t do it, it was in fog when i got there) – the town at the end of the road of death was like out of a fellini film or the bad people town in a western scored by serggio leone – everyone was in the town square and drunk at 2 in the afternoon – we left…..the southwest of the country is supposed to be one of the most beautiful places on earth with the salar de uyuni and desert – after days of driving south staying in some of the weirdest places i’ve stayed – places with tiny doors, weird drying animal parts, mattresses made of plastic bags and grass….

Tyler modeling the hobbit door into our room for the nite, this would be the place with grass box springs....

we bumped over the worst washboarded road i’ve ever been on for 3 hours, got 1/2 way to salar and realized it was 5 o’clock and we weren’t gonna make it and actually found a hotel in this lovely hamlet (this would be the one with drying meat – we won’t discuss the toilets….)

next day it was back on the road for another 3 hours of taking a thumping – on the pegs the whole time before we hit the town next to the salar to find out that the salar was closed and under water……the roads south were either mud or closed due to snow……so any hope of driving across the salar and south to chile was dashed……Tyler went south anyway with some overlanders in a landcruiser, I headed back north and east to a town called Potosi – a “quaint colonial town” according to lonely planet – do NOT believe anything lonely planet says……the place was a dump, and under water as it was pouring but a day’s ride south from it on good road and i was in argentina, land of steak, wine, and HOT WATER!!!!!!!!!!! After 10 or 11 days i actually washed my hair…..

Argentina is stunning, i actually pulled out the good camera and have it on me when riding because it’s been so nice…..this area is dessert with a rainy season (now) so you ride on a combination of gravel, dirt road, mud, washouts, and stream beds – my off asphalt skills are starting to come back a bit thank god  – the week riding with Tyler was good for me because we had to go through/over some shit that I’m not sure I would have done on my own but rather than appear a pussy of course i did it…..now it’s becoming fun to go through scary shit (when it’s not too scary)

So here are some pics of the countryside i’ve been going thru….

going south before heading east for Ruta 40

the plush stripped hills

gas station at the junction of Ruta 40 - just a few overlanders coming through here

the start (for me) of Ruta 40 - this is the wide gravel part where I was still under the illusion I would make good time

Ruta 40 mountains

you come around a corner and it's just red hills and there is bright green from the plants because of all the rain

the road is getting narrower and narrower - this is just a car wide and after this it continues to narrow and turn into as much stream bed as road......i think 20K took me an hour....can't wait 'til i do this enough that I don't have to stop and think at the hard parts...

so this is a little out of order but on the way to Ruta 40 were some salt flats, sort of a poor man’s salar de uyani……when covered with water they reflect everything around them

salt flats on the way to R40

salt flats

dry salt flats - this is what we would have been driving on had the Salar de Uyuani been dry - the salt there is feet thick

mountain along Ruta 40

this little guy ran across my path - it's sort of like a rabbit but with long bushy tail, and it ran straight up a rock super fast......right along this bit of road i also saw a big bright green lizard and a bird that was so iradescent green it made a parrot look drab

my goal was to go there......

this guy did NOT appreciate me stopping to take pics - he's standing there braying at me

when i got to the fork in the road - cerrado......snow - there were some national guard troops manning a checkpoint at the other branch, usually in Latin America when you ask about something people are like 'oh, for a motorcycle no problem, go through' but even they said the road was closed so big detour around the pass (4970m, it would have been my highest i think, one road in ecuador came close)

the view from the detour down wasn't too bad

climbing back up the next morning

look mom - twisties!

I cut all my hair off today, couldn’t stand it anymore – the girl started in but was leaving it really long so I told her she could go a little shorter – things went a little Mia Farrow from there but boy I gotta say rinse and go is nice…….and it will grow back out…..now it’s on thru the valley of the moon and some more desert before hitting Chile and starting south along the coast. Ruta 40 goes all the way south to Ushuaia just about (eventually everything becomes the same road) so the whole time I’ve been on it there has been this countdown – km 4978, km 4868……it’s like 3000 miles is far, but then again nothing compared to the 17,000 I’ve put on the bike since I started. Can’t wait to see what mile (or km) marker I’m at when I join back up with R40 way down south. OK, time to hit the maps and figure out the next move…..

later,

xom

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