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To the End of the World

jfink

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Bajo Caracoles

We are noticing that as we get further away from the equator and the satellite that processes the SPOT signals, that the spot is becoming more and more erratic. Mine has the additional problem of me breaking the electrical wire used to power it while removing the glove case to fix the fuel filter. We are just trying to let people know through e-mail and posting where we are and that we are ok.

Based on the map we had, when we left Rio Mayo we expected the road to be almost all gravel (ripio) from there to Tres Lagos or about 300 miles. However, the hotel proprietor had said, “no, asphalt 90k y ripio 30k to Caracoles.” We’ll see. He was right it was three quarters paved.

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All distances indicated in Kilometers, these are NOT major towns. :-)

Bajo Caracoles had gas, a hotel and restaurant all in one. When we arrived there was a fellow from Spain who was riding north from Punta Arenas. We asked him about the roads and he said they were fine and gave us a little more information about the pavement. Again about half of what we thought was going to be gravel turned out to be paved. He also said there was little gasoline until we got to El Calafate about 300 miles.

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Rider from Spain on Rented BMW

We took a room, filled up the bikes up and parked them behind the hotel. A little while later a couple guys from Italy showed up, Roberto and Doriano, sorry about the spelling guys. They took a room as well and parked their bikes next to ours.

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Parking behind Hotel Bajo Caracoles – our room is the window on the right.

We communicated as much as we could and actually had dinner and breakfast the next day with them at the hostel. They were also going to try to make El Calafate the next day. They were ready and left before us, but we filled our extra gas containers for the ride to El Calafate. Our plan was to make it to El Calafate without having to take a detour to Gobernador Gregores for gas. The Italians were going to have to go the longer way.

Most the way to Gobernador Gregores was paved, and except for the wind it was very easy ride. Once we got to the turn off the road turned to ripio, but not difficult. We took the gas out of our side cans and filled up the tanks. Then we inched our way closer to El Calafate.

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Expecting Chuck any minute.

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Right on time.
 

jfink

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El Calafate

Is a tourist town, like most tourist towns. And like most tourist towns it is expensive. We shopped a little for a place to stay after getting gas and settled for the Hostel Calafate. It is pretty nice for the price in this town. Heated floors which means it is TOO HOT. So we sleep with the window open.

While we were moving the bikes and checking in, Roberto and Doriano show up. I thought they might stay here but they moved on. We do expect to see them when we get to Ushuaia so hopefully I can remember to get a picture.

Also, while parking the bikes Peter introduced himself to us and asked about the road north and the need for extra gasoline. Peter and his wife Rosemarie are traveling on a rented BMW from Punta Arenas up into Chile where they will then return home. Peter invited us to dinner that night and we had a great time getting acquainted, sharing information and telling stories. Again no picture! ARRRRG!

We signed up for a tour of the glaciers and woke early the next morning to catch the bus. We had a great time! May it was the free beer, wine and whiskey they served in the captain’s cabin.

Here are a few photos taken on the tour:

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An Iceberg from one of the Glaciers

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Looking some of the Tourists at the Perito Moreno Glacier

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The Ice is older then the Whiskey. The pulled the ice from the lake.

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We met Ian on the trip. He and his friends are from South Korea and work for Samsung in Brazil.

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It was easier than riding a motorcycle.

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The Perito Moreno Glacier

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Evan was our tour guide and a journalist from Buenos Aires.

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Captain Juan

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Would you let this fellow steer your boat. Can you say the SS Minnow?

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Nice Scarf

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A little breezy.

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Some of the icebergs that we had to navigate through.

We have stayed an extra day in El Calafate because we had a few errands to run and we wanted to update our blog. Chuck is still hacking away over there and has only had a few meltdowns due to computer errors and lost internet connections. Sorry we haven't been as prompt on keeping the blog up, but we just haven't found the nack yet to make it easy.

Tomorrow we may try to make it to Punta Arenas or may be only Puerto Natales depending on how late we get started.
 
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jfink

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Punta Arenas

We left El Calafate headed for the Argentina / Chile border.
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Preparing to leave El Calafate and Hostal El Calafate

It was a rather cool 55 degrees when we left and the temperature dropped to the high forties. But all in all it wasn’t all that terrible, the wind had let up a little and the ride was fine. There was another 30 miles of dirt on this leg.

I wish I could say I enjoy this riding, but the roads are just so rough. They have taken rocks the size of a human head and mushed them down into the road, apparently when it was muddy. So the tops of all these rocks stick up. There is NOTHING difficult about riding these roads, but the rattling and jarring is awful. It’s like riding cobble stone roads, like we did in Ollantaytombu in Peru.
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Hard to tell but the base is all rocks the size of turtles.

We crossed into Chile at a town called Rio Turbo. I recalled meeting Chuck last February in Hunt, Texas to begin planning our trip route. We talked about coming back into Chile from Argentina at Rio Turbo. At the time it was all theoretical, now it has become real. Rio Turbo was bigger than I thought, but pretty much an industrial town dedicated to some type of mining. We rode through without stopping.
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Rio Turbio, pretty much an industrial town at the border

The border crossing was a little different than other crossings. First there were at least two tour buses and a bunch of other cars. But for some reason the guard took pity on us and took us around to the front of the line … score! We were processed and out of Argentina with our bikes, very quickly, probably fifteen minutes.

Then we had to ride about 3 or 4 miles to the Aduna / Migracione for Chile. Here’s where I made a grievous mistake. I passed a line including a bus and some other cars and the border guard got all bent out of shape at me. Came out and started waving me back. He instructed me to pull in behind the bus and a car, but still well ahead of some other vehicles that were there.

We were processed and got the bikes processed and then they wanted to check our luggage. So both Chuck and I had to pull off our top case and side case. They checked for tomatoes, oranges and any other fruit or vegetable, kinda like California does. When we left the border guard that was so irritated at me, gave me a thumbs up. I just stared at him. I didn’t take any pictures of this because I didn’t want him to get angry again.
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Entering Punta Arenas

We rode into Punta Arenas, another city we had talked about in our planning session in February. Again, a large city, but nothing special. We did spend two hours looking for a place to stay, who knew that there were at least for Hostels named Patagonia. The first one was obviously not the five star rating we read about. The second one was Very nice but full (at least for a couple of bikers).

We didn’t find the third and the forth until the next day. We settled on Hotel Chalet Las Violetas, at Waldo Seguel N 480. The proprietor is a nice fellow that helped us put the bikes in the side area for security. We rented a room with three beds because he didn’t have a two bed available. We have some time so we are spending three days here before heading to Ushuaia.
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Hostel Chalet Las Violetas

The next morning I woke up intending on getting some laundry done at the lavanderia and getting the elbow patched on my sweater that was damaged during my accident. I also wanted to tighten the gas container holder because it had come loose AGAIN! Chuck was going to have his back tire changed, so I pulled my bike out.

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Narrow secure parking area

In the process of pulling the bike back in, I bumped the gate with my gasoline container. The rack had cracked again, for the third time. We should have brought a welding machine with us. So today I spent most the day walking through Punta Arenas with my gas rack looking for a welder (soldare). Eventually I found a welder at a muffler shop who fixed did the job quickly and well. When I asked “quantis”, his reply was “nada”. I left him $20 US equivalent.

So, I heard about the shootings the other day in Oregon and just today in Connecticut. The news seems to be filled with these things. What is going on in the US? I am very sorry for all the victims, especially the children. I am angry but there is no one to be mad at.

When talking about South America, everyone mentions how unsafe it may be traveling in these countries with banditos waiting to kidnap you at every opportunity. Yet, it seems the things we hear about are all the crazies in the US. The news as I write this in Argentina was headlined by Madonna’s visit to Buenos Aires, no kidnappings, no murders, no crazies. Something is not right in the US.

End of soapbox.

While walking to dinner last night we heard someone yell out hola! It was Roberto and Doriano again. We had thought they were headed directly for Ushuaia but here they were in the square in Punta Arenas. I finally remember to grab a picture in front of the statue of Magellan and Terra del Fuego in the Punta Arenas town square. We will overlap a little in Ushuaia before they head back to Italy, so we agreed to have dinner and some beers before they left.
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L to R: Joe, Chuck, Roberto, Doriano

We catch the ferry tomorrow crossing the Strait of Magellan and head towards our destination; Ushuaia. We could be there tomorrow if we rode long and hard, but we have some extra time. We will probably stop in San Sebastian or Rio Grande for one night.
 
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jfink

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Thanks for the feedback guys, sometimes it is the only way I know that someone is actually reading these. :-)
 

jmn

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"We were processed and got the bikes processed and then they wanted to check our luggage. So both Chuck and I had to pull off our top case and side case"


I was wondering if this inspection included a critique of CHUCKS packing habits :haha:
 

jfink

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"We were processed and got the bikes processed and then they wanted to check our luggage. So both Chuck and I had to pull off our top case and side case"


I was wondering if this inspection included a critique of CHUCKS packing habits :haha:
They haven't gotten any better, even though we have had lots of practice! :-)
 

jfink

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San Sebastian, Argentina

We left Punta Arenas in the rain. It was good to be on the move again. Originally we planned to get gas in Povenir, the town on the other side of the Strait of Magellan, when we got off the ferry. But we had enough time to fill up in Punta Arenas and avoid any possible lines on the other side.

We got to the ferry around 8:00a, got our tickets with no problem and waited on the bikes in the rain for the instruction to load. When the time came, they began loading trucks and cars first, finally signaling us to come. They had left a little hole for us between a car and a truck. Why they didn’t just have us come on before the truck behind us, I have no idea, but it made it a struggle with the long wheel base on the KTM to get mine into the hole.
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Ferry Parking and work area.

The trip over took about two and a half hours and was smooth, but I understand it isn’t always like that. Sometimes because of the roughness and the wind they cancel the ferry. While I was getting the straps and ropes secured, I noticed that one of the bolts holding the rear sub-frame had come loose, very loose. This meant we would have to stop when leaving the ferry to tighten it.

But, I got the idea that may be I could tighten it while on the ferry. So I proceeded stealthily out the door, down to the bike and began dismantling stuff to get to my tools. Notice the strap over my seat; I had to work to get that off.

While screwing around with my bike, the alarm went off. That’s crazy because it wasn’t even set. I just shut it off and went about my business. Eventually after much cussing I finally got the bolt tightened and tools put away, avoiding the need to stop when we left the ferry.

While on the ferry we were surprised to run into several English speaking folks. First, a doctor on a hiking trip from Portland Oregon and then these two. He has been in Punta Arenas for a year; I believe working on moving a gasification plant from Chile to Louisiana.

He was from Louisiana and she was from Mobile, Alabama. It was amazing to hear a southern drawl this far away from home.
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L to R: Alabama and Louisiana :-)

Once off the ferry we found the road out of town. It began as dirt but was a good and fast for about thirty kilometers. But after hitting a few bumps leaving town my security alarm began going off again. Finally, I just disconnected it and left it as is. I have been having little gremlin electrical problems for some time now.
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Smooth and Fast

After this good stretch the road began to deteriorate, there was about ten kilometers of mud, lots of mud. The tires would load up. So much so between the front tire and fender that it would stop rolling. I had to back the bike forward and back just to free the wheel.

Below is a picture of Chuck coming down a hill. It is deceptively muddy. You can see the path I took. I think my front tire loaded up, stopped rolling and put me into the ditch on my left. You can see my path from about where Chuck is, that takes me down into the ditch and then back out again, with mud strung out on both sides. It’s a wonder neither of us went down. There were places where ascending that the bike would get sideways and there was some thought that maybe there was not enough traction to actually make it up the hill.
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Mud may be fun for some, but not for me or Chuck

Eventually we made it through the mud and the trip from there on was pretty good gravel and no mud. We traveled about a hundred thirty miles of gravel / mud roads, of which about six or seven was this muddy mess. Had it all been mud like this, we would still be there now.
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Mud caked up on the rear tire of my KTM.

Eventually we went through the Chilean border at San Sebastian, Chile then rode about four or five miles to San Sabastian, Argentina. After quickly clearing migracion and aduna we found a little hotel / restaurant right off the main road that Peter and Rosemarie had told us about. We checked in, gassed up next door at the filling station, hosed down then parked the bikes.

We ordered a steak and papa fritas (french fies) and sat down with a beer. Wine with dinner, another beer for Chuck and by this time the cook and the owner had come into the restaurant to watch TV and decided to join us for a drink. The owner complimentarily provided a bottle of Champagne and we proceeded to toast the “end of the world … in Terra del Fuego!” By the way, I’m not really as tall as the picture would indicate! :-)
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Owner, me and the cook

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The sign at the entrance of the Hotel and Gas Station

We woke to rain and cold, but we had agreed that we would try to get to Ushuaia today. But it was still a little difficult to leave in such ugly weather.
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Looking out our back window.

Tomorrow, USHUAIA!
 
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Rsquared

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Thanks for the feedback guys, sometimes it is the only way I know that someone is actually reading these. :-)
Thanks for sharing Joe, I'm really enjoying your ride report!
 

jfink

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Ushuaia: WE MADE IT!

The ride from San Sebastian to Ushuaia was on a nicely paved road.
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Stretch of pavement from San Sebastian to Ushuaia

The only difficulty we experienced was the temperature began to drop and we traveled through bands of rain. The terrain and environment changes several times during the trip. Here is the bike overlooking lago Fagnano as the road turns to head over the pass.
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Lago Fagnano, the pass to Ushuaia is actually in this picture on the left.

The reserve gas light came on about 40 miles from Ushuaia, which seemed a little early because we had only traveled about 150 miles. No problem though, the reserve is worth about 50 miles.
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WE MADE IT!!!

I took this picture of Chuck as we arrived in Ushuaia. We found the hostel were we staying and in the process of driving the bike up into park area, it ran out of gas. Only 40 miles, we are getting terrible mileage. Chuck had a little left in his side cans so we put some in my bike to get it into the parking area.

There was a gas line at the filling station so we decided today wasn’t the day to fill up. We left that for a couple days later. Come to find out Ushuaia only has two gas stations and when they run out of gas they are out. When a new shipment arrives, there is a run on the station.

The next day we took a tour of the Beagle Channel. This is a picture looking at Ushuaia across a small bay in the Beagle Channel. Ushuaia got its name from the joining of the indigenous words “Ushu” meaning at the back and “Wuaia” which means bay, cove or port.
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Looking back at Ushuaia

While the tour was not as up close as the one in the Galapagos, it was none the less enjoyable. We saw some islands which had a pleathora of sea lions and cormorants and a couple penguins in the water.

Also, at the entrance to the bay where Ushuaia sits there is a light house that marks the way that ships use to navigate the Straight of Magellan.
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Light house guarding Ushuaia and the Strait of Magellan

Below is a picture of the boat we toured on; Chuck and I called it the SS Minnow. We were scheduled for four hours but because some of the passengers were late it was more of a “three hour tour!” (some of you older guys may get that!)
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SS Minnow :-)

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Our Tour Guide explaining where we are and what we are seeing

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Some of the group looking at a several hundred year old fungus ... no not Chuck :-)

At the end of the tour they had a drawing for an Argentinian flag that the winner is supposed to take home and send a photo back to the tour company. Guess who won???
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I never win anything!

Tonight we hope to meet Roberto and Doriano, the Italians in the city for a couple beers.

Tomorrow the “world ends!” If it does, that means no more blogs from me. Since we are three hours ahead of Houston, we will be gone before most of you, I will try to send a warning. If the world doesn’t end, we plan to ride to the park in Lapataia, to take a picture of the bikes at the end of the road.
 
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jfink

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Ushuaia: The End of the Road

We have lived through the apparent Apocalypse and we have been in Ushuaia for five days. It has rained every day since we got here and today was no different. When we got up it was raining. We had decided that today is the last full day in Ushuaia, so we needed to ride to the end of Ruta 3. This road ends in the National Park Bahia Lapataia.

We rode about 25 kilometers of wet, but not slippery, mud, stopping to pay our entry fee of about $17 US. That’s a lot of money just to drive down a road and take a picture. So here it is, the “end of the road” at “the end of the world” on “the end of the world.”
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Us at the end of the road, at the end of the world on the end of the world

About the time this one was taken the park ranger showed up and swished us away. I think he understood though, because before he swished me away, I asked for his and his assistant’s picture and they were more than happy to pose.
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The map of the Province of Tierra del Fuego

From the tour we took the other day, we found out that the reason this is called Tierra del Fuego, is when Magellan arrived in the straight, the native habitants had then shores on both sides lit by fires. If you ask me this should be called Tierra del Viento (land of wind). We took the short stroll to along the path to the top of a deck overlooking the bay. Here are a few photos I took.
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A map view from the south pole centric point of view

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Looking out into the bay beyond the walkway

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Looking back on the plank walkway to the parking lot

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Me with the Argentinian Flag I won on the tour the other day


Tomorrow we turn and head for home. It has been a long three months and a lot of miles, but there are plenty more miles and numbers of months that lie ahead.
 
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jfink

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We are in Cerro Sombrero, Chile about 250 miles north of Ushuaia. We find ourselves in a bit of dilemma, we have found that our chains have basically worn to the point where we can't adjust them anymore. We are going to try to find a chain tomorrow in Puerto Natales. If not there then we will be looking for one in every town we stop in.
 
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T'orndale!
We are in Cerro Sombrero, Chile about 250 miles north of Ushuaia. We find ourselves in a bit of dilemma, we have found that our chains have basically worn to the point where we can't adjust them anymore. We are going to try to find a chain tomorrow in Puerto Natales. If not there then we will be looking for one in every town we stop in.
How many miles on the current chains?
 
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Congratulations! Glad you guys made it.

I remember that ride between Provenir and San Sebastian, it rained on me for about 4 hours. That ride over the pass and into Ushuaia was beautiful.

For parts in Chile, try contacting Motoaventura. They are based in Santiago and Osorno, but run tours down in the Patagonia thru Puerto Natales and Punta Arenas. They are super nice and speak english.

http://www.motoaventurachile.cl/index.php?route=information/contact
 

jfink

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Thanks for the help everyone. We are in a little town called "9 de Julio" (Argentina's independence day). From Cerro Sombrero, we rode to the ferry and from the ferry rode to Osorno.

Troy: we did indeed stop at Motoadventura for Chains. Not only that they had latches for my side case I destroyed in the accident! Score!!!! Great place.

Gravel G: I had almost 19,000 miles on this chain and it was toast. The mechanic we saw in Puerto Natales, said I would be lucky to get another 100 kilometers on it.

Rob: A belated Merry Christmas and happy New Year.

After Osorno, we crossed into Argentina, heading to Buenos Aires and are making some time. Central Argentina isn't very scenic. The day before yesterday we rode over 600 miles. Yesterday, we did have another problem. My bike (it seems I must have the lemon of the two) started coughing and spitting again, like it did in Santiago. We spent three and a half hours on the side of the road changing out the fuel filter.

But the silver lining was that we found this great hotel, called Cla Lauquen in 9 de Julio, about 160 miles from Buenos Aires. The hotel is owned and run by a father and son, and has only been open for a couple months. For $50 each, we got a great room, a GREAT steak dinner, a bottle of wine and two beers, eat your hearts out.

I will try to post more, but as many of you know, posting conflicts with riding. :-)
 
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jmn

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Watching your SPOTs, Y'all made a quick trip of that global landmass crossing!:eek2: When's the next vacation from vacation?
 

jfink

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From Ushuaia to The Ferry

Saturday morning (12/22) we were up and packing. Leaving Ushuaia and Villa de Valejos Su, was like leaving home all over again. We had made some real friends. First Lucas, the proprietor, who let us put our bikes in front of his office blocking his view. Try that in the states.
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L to R Charlie ILucas's brother) and Lucas

Christian a representative of Johnny Walker in Patagonia from Bariloche (where we had the great steak), working in Ushuaia for a week. And we met a great couple from Boseman Montana. Dave (a research professor in Boseman), Sandra (a nurse in Boseman) and Aldo their son.
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Aldo and Sandra
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L to R: Dave, Sandra, Lucas and Christian bidding us farewell as we left

Our destination was Cerro Sombrero which is after the last stretch of dirt we will ride for quite some time. And then from Cerro Sombrero, we will push on to Puerto Natales where we will catch the ferry, for the ride to Puerto Montt, about a third the way up the Chilean coast.

The ride back through the mountain pass from Ushuaia, was quite beautiful, but chilly. It had snowed, while we were in Ushuaia, and the snow in the mountains actually extended at some points all the way to the road we were riding. It was also quite chilly, I saw 35 deg F.
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Snow Down to the Road

Sometimes, I envy Chuck knowing he was wearing his electric vest, all warm and toasty. All it would take would be for me to stop and put mine on, but I guess I am just too lazy.

We rode to Rio Grande about a 130 miles and stopped to fill up with gas. While I was sitting at the pump a british fellow came up and began talking to me. He had had a flat tire on the dirt road between San Sebastian and Cerro Sombrero and was stranded there for two days. This is the stretch of road we were are getting ready to ride ourselves. Finally, someone stopped and took the tube out of a tire on a motorcycle that they had on a trailer they were towing. I don’t believe the roads are that untraveled, I am sure there is more to this story, but I didn’t have time. We gassed up and we were on our way again.

No issues crossing the border again. We are getting pretty good at this, just a few minutes at each side and we are on our way, riding on dirt and gravel.
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Road to Cerro Sombrero

We made good time into Cerro Sombrero and actually arrived before 5pm. That was good, because at my last stop the electrical for my heated grips, cruise control and GPS had gone out. To figure out what was going on, involved removing the glove box again, there in the parking lot. Turns out, with all the shaking, the solenoid that I installed to regulate the power had become disconnected. Problem solved, and another half hour to reassemble.

In the meantime, I took a look at my chain. I had just brought it to the right tension the day before and today it was very loose again. Something is not right. As I tried to tighten the chain, I could no longer bring the wheel back, it had reached the maximum extension.

Oh, this is not good!!!! The chain was gone. I was not going to get much more out of this. And Chucks was not much better. We had to find chain. We felt we could make it to Puerto Natales, a fairly large town, but how much further? The next morning we left Cerro Sombrero for the ride to the ferry.

So, some things don’t always make sense here. The paved road from Cerro Sombrero extends 8 or 10 kilometers west to the main artery running north and south. The other paved road from Cerro Sombrero extends north and then turns west again for 6 or 7 kilometers to connect with the same main artery running north and south. So we had come in on the north road so we decide to take the west road to connect to the main artery for the ferry.

When we get to the main artery, the part of the road extending south is a beautiful paved road, but the part heading north is gravel and deep too in places. Why would you not pave the whole road. We rode the 7 or 8 kilometers of gravel and when we reached the other alternative route out of Cerro Sombrero, the road again turn to pavement.

No issues, just questions why things are done the way they are done here.

We rode pavement the rest of the way to the ferry. The ride across the ferry was very uneventful, in fact the bikes weren’t even strapped down. Chuck watched the bikes while I went and paid the fee and took a few pictures of the crossing.
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Chuck Guarding the Bikes

Once off the ferry, it was only a couple hundred miles to Puerto Natales. During our ride to Puerto Natales we crossed several rain showers, nothing large but enough to get us wet. When we arrived at the Hostel and I removed my boots, they showed signs of leaking. Great, just what I need leaky boots. I had spent good money at REI for these things. They have a gore-tex liner and are guaranteed to not leak. I will have to deal with this when I get back to the states, but it is no fun having leaky boots.

At the Hostel the first question we asked was; where is there a motorcycle mechanic. Right up the street and they took us there. We worked with him a little and he confirmed, the chain is shot, may be another 1,000 kilometers. Unfortunately, there are no chains the size we need in Puerto Natales. He helped quite a bit, but in the end we have found two chain sets in Osorno about 100 kilometers north of where we get off the ferry.

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Chuck checking out his bike at the Hostel

Everywhere we go the bikes draw a crowd. We had to check in for the ferry at the hotel near the dock. While Chuck waited in line (FOR TWO HOURS!!!!), I watched the bikes. Inevitably, people stop, take pictures of the bikes, talk about our journey and once in a while one of them wants a picture on the bike.

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Her, her boyfriend and her father were curious about our journey

After a chase around worse than any border crossing at the dock to get registered and our passport stamped, we waited and finally loaded the bikes on the ferry.

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This is the first time I had to turn sideways and put it on the center stand

I don’t know how I got the camera set on Sepia but in this picture, the owner of the truck (a Hilux) to the left, for some apparent reason set his car alarm. I have been listening to it beep for almost a day now.

The scenery through the Magellan Straight is beautiful. Just a few pictures from the ferry.
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Sunset

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We are headed for the little gap on the left between the island and the land

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Close Up

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Looking Back

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Looking North

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A cruise ship heading the other way (we actually met people from this cruise later in Buenos Aires)

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A couple shady characters

Sometimes things are lost in the translation. Somewhere there is a gap between the sewage system and the sea wage system.
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So what is a decent Sea Wage? :-)

During the trip, there were a group of us English speaking guys who had kind of hung together. John and I spent a lot of time discussing arguing philosophy, politics and general perceptions of cultures and in particular the US culture. Apparently, the perception of many outside countries (according to John) is that the US is a very violent culture, and uncaring of the environment. The rest of the guys would get tired and wander away after a while.

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L to R: me (US), Carl (Germany/Belize), John (Australia/France), Chuck (US), Angle (Argentina)

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Chain at maximum adjustment is still a "little" bit loose.
 
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I call BS! That picture of the alledged "Road to Cerro Sombrero" is definitely Oklahoma.. I've been there. Also, Chuck is coming to breakfast tomorrow, so unless you cloned him (and who in their right mind would do such a thing), those are obviously faked pictures. Pleeeaaaase! Scenery sure is pretty though, and how come you only let the cute girl sit on your bike? :eek2:

Sucks about the chains. Looks like your chain guide might be just about worn through too? Probably add to the lack of tension. Hope you guys find some replacements soon.
 

jfink

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I call BS! That picture of the alledged "Road to Cerro Sombrero" is definitely Oklahoma.. I've been there. Also, Chuck is coming to breakfast tomorrow, so unless you cloned him (and who in their right mind would do such a thing), those are obviously faked pictures. Pleeeaaaase! Scenery sure is pretty though, and how come you only let the cute girl sit on your bike? :eek2:

Sucks about the chains. Looks like your chain guide might be just about worn through too? Probably add to the lack of tension. Hope you guys find some replacements soon.
The magic of the blog. It takes a while to get the new stuff posted. I was watching them come in on the motorcycles at the Dakar today. I will go watch them leave tomorrow. I will try to post some pictures. Chains are fine, and all the other problems seemed to be fixed too. Got some real dirt riding in today, about 40 miles, fast, fun.

How much to keep Chuck there??!! :trust::lol2: No, I need him to come back, it is just too expensive without him.
 

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Jumping ahead a little, I made it to the Dakar yesterday. Here is a picture of Berrada Bort (the first rider through):
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Cyril Despres goes by:


Under the title of "c-mon man", what were they thinking? It is like we named a bike "ca-ca":
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jfink

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I am going to just start posting randomly in order to get caught up. I will also try to include some appropriate pictures, but it will take some thoughtful examination first! :doh: First let me tell you a little story about Chuck. He will not like this! :-)

We were in Trinidad and a HUGE frog had come into our room. I cornered it and was looking for a way to get it out of the room. He said; "here, wait, let me go get the woman!" I said, shocked "No! we aren't going to get woman!" and picked up my boot, loaded the frog and threw him outside. Now, when there is any trouble of course the first comment is; "here, wait, let me go get the woman!"

I am sure he will have something to say ... stay tuned.

The following are excerpts from notes to my wife:

Cordoba: I made it to Rosario, Argentina and found a hotel with a little help from local folks who were very nice. My Garmin picked today to give up the ghost again, not sure why it does this. Anyway, it could not find satellites and therefore could not tell me where the hotels were that I had picked this morning. Oh well, I met some very nice people.

I hope to get on the road tomorrow but not too early. It is about a 3 hour ride to Cordoba so leaving early will probably do me no good. I have some work to do before the Bronco game, I will probably not get on Skype tonight, unless there is something you would like to talk about.

Dakar: I sent a check in when I got back, but apparently it did not go through. It was a good day, went out and watched some of the bikers go by. I stopped at a Shell station to get some gas, and you would have thought that I was a participant. People crowded around, I let one guy with his kid get on and take pictures while I went to check the gas situation. When I came back he handed me his kid so he could get a picture of the baby and me on the bike. Isn't that funny? At the event, I got my exercise; the parking lot was at least 2 miles from the viewing area, including climbing over two wire fences.

I came back and got a shower and went and got something to eat, a dried ham and cheese, not so good! But they had wine and a couple bottles of water, good! Sorry about no phone call, I came back and crashed.

Today, I am going today to watch the bikes leave. I don't know if I have a room tonight here or not, just yet. They said they were full when I asked to extend one more night, but that they expect to have a cancellation. I don't know, maybe there is something lost in that translation. :-)

Brazil: Well, we had planned to stop earlier but the town Cascavel was huge and there wasn’t a clear choice on where to stay, so we just went on. After a little trouble with Chuck’s bike, we made it to a little town called Corbelia in Brazil last night. Chuck had the same problem as I had a while back where the fuel filter clogged and we spent about two and a half hours on the side of the road (under a shade tree at least!), changing it out. The internet is pretty good although the power keeps going off and on which brings everything down. We are going to try to make some longer distances the next few days.

The country here is very pretty, very pastoral, but after you have seen a few nice green crops and fields, the road just goes on and on. We don’t see much sense in stopping, there isn’t a lot here to stop and see. The small towns are much nicer than the big towns in my opinion. The people seem more friendly and in less of a hurry. We are running into more police, yesterday right as we came into this town we are, the local policia were on the side of the road and a very impressive electronic system of cameras and radar was mounted on a tripod catching scofflaws. Fortunately they missed us!
 
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jfink

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Iguazu Falls (Again) / Rinopolis (pronouced "E" nop o lis)

Because of changes in plans and direction we were passing by Iguazu Falls. Laura, my beautiful bride and I had already visited Iguazu a week earlier. But, since we had the time, I thought it was only right to actually stop and let Chuck see this magnificent work of nature. Here are some pictures from that visit.
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Looking into the Devils Throat

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The Devils Throat from the power launch


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Looking down river from the Devils Throat. If you could see the boats would be down there.

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Chuck getting ready to Jump???

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From the Power Launch

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Pretty isn't it?

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These boats would actually drive right into the water fall, but those pictures don't usually turn out :-)

After Iguazu, we had little adventure with the frog that I mentioned earlier. Now, whenever there is something that may be a little difficult or scary, we all call for the woman! J

We crossed into Brasil with little trouble. The border crossing guard did say that when we originally crossed into Brasil from Uraguay that they didn’t give us the right papers. There should be four different sheets and not one, like what we had. But that was quickly cleared up with no problem. We are getting somewhat cavalier about crossing borders. When we went into Iguazu we had to go from Paraguay, to Brasil, back into Argentina. We didn’t even stop at the exit to Brasil and didn’t get much paperwork at the Argentina border. This proved to be no problem, as the Brasilian police officer said; “we don’t care about that!”

Rinopolis (pronounced “e” nopolis)
First let me say, that if you are traveling through Brasil, STOP IN RINOPOLIS. Our visit in Rinopolis is what I was thinking of when I thought about a good experience in South America. Rinopolis is a small town of about 10,000 people, who treated us like dignitaries. We stopped in Rinopolis after a couple days travel into Brasil. We were told of a nice hotel by the attendant at the gas station, but what we found looked like an alley entrance about 2 feet wide. But, like so many South American surprises this small entrance opened into a very nicely remodeled hotel, which was just put in service, with nice rooms and facilities. We did good!
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The owners of the Central Hotel with the Bikes. The Entrance is the tiny alley way under the Hotel Central sign.

We talked briefly with the owner until he finally raised a finger and took off. He was gone for five or ten minutes and returned with a young man named Eduardo. Eduardo is the teacher for a locally operated English school in Rinopolis. Eduardo was very bright and articulate young man who fortunately had a little time to spend with us Gringo’s because it was summer vacation.
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From L to R: me, Alan, Eduardo, Jorgie, a supervisor from Yamasa and Chuck
Eduardo told us Jorge (pronounced Jor’ gie) and Alan who wanted to do a story and pictures for city newspapers.

They apparently don’t get a lot of Gringos there. We took photos and had conversation with Jorge and Alan while sitting and having a couple Cervaja (it’s Sir-Vay-Ja in Portuguese).

That night we had dinner at a local restaurant called Cana’a, Brazilian for Canaan I believe. While we were there a very nice man came in who spoke great English. He talked a while and then paid for our dinner and invited us to drive around town with him. Here is a sequence of e-mail from my phone that what I wrote to my wife about this:

From Joe to Laura;
We are being chauffeured around thus little town of Rainopolis Brazil by somebody named Joseph Robert. Its been interesting so far.

Sent from my Motorola ATRIX™ 4G on AT&T

From Laura to Joe;
Hello? Imagine if you were me receiving this rather um, barely-intelligible message from South America.
What is your middle name?
La Senora no esta aqui, no tengo dinero ;)
From Joe to Laura;
Sorey

Sent from my Motorola ATRIX™ 4G on AT&T

From Joe to Laura;
Sorry, I must say I was a little bit nervous and typing on my phone in the back seat
as someone we didn't even know was driving us around in the dark. I just wanted somebody to know where to start looking for the body. All is well now; we are back in the room.

By the way your Spanish won't work very well in Brazil, it's Portuguese.

Sent from my Motorola ATRIX™ 4G on AT&T

It turns out that my fears were totally unfounded. Joseph was the town welcoming agent, very friendly and known by everyone. We had a very enjoyable tour with Joseph and invited him to join us the following day. Turns out he had other commitments and could not make it, which I felt was very unfortunate. I liked Joseph.

The next day we visited the Mayor and the vice Mayor, then a local egg farm, a company (Yamasa) which makes egg washing and sorting machines and sells them worldwide. We then visited Eduardo’s Fisk language school, he was busy upgrading and adding additional capability for computer training. Finally we were invited to a traditional Brasilian BBQ dinner at the home of one of the local families. During dinner the mayor dropped by with his wife to deliver two shirts from the city. Chuck and I stayed late and ended up leaving the shirts on the counter. Eduardo promises to send them too us.
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L to R: The Mayor, Eduardo, Chuck, The Vice Mayor and me

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L to R: Chuck, The Vice Mayor, The Mayor and me

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Chuck and me in front of an Ariel picture of Rinopolis

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One of what will 16 "chicken coups" that hold 160,000 chickens each

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Alan pointing out one of Chucks relatives?

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L to R: me, the owner of Yamasa and Chuck

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Daughters, Son and a few of us at the home where the Brazilian BBQ was held.

Jorge was the organizer for all of this. He was in touch with everyone, the Mayor and vice Mayor, Alan, the family who hosted the BBQ and Joseph. Jorgie has a passion for Rinopolis. It is nice to see someone who is so involved in promoting his community. If anyone ever had a question about one person making a difference, needs to visit Rinopolis and meet Jorgie.

*** If you pass by Rinopolis without spending a night at the Hotel Central, you are missing a great experience. ***
 
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jfink

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This is more or less a place holder for more information and pictures later. As I write this we are in Belem, making arrangements for the ferry to cross the Amazon. We are on our return trip home. We have been through this drill before, once we turn the corner to head back we are like old stable horses, heading toward the barn. We have traveled over 18,000 miles and have less 7,000 more to do. We have been on the road since September 21st, 2012 with a respite of about 2 months to attend to personal matters from February to April..

This time would probably be different if we didn't have people at home, or a home to return too. But we have things to do, and it seems we have reached a point where we have grown tired of "seeing things". There are few sites we want to see as we return, but in general, we are trying to get home as fast as we can. For this reason, blog entries may be fewer and less complete. When I get home, I can come back and edit and add; it will give me something to do.

Santo Amaro
After we left Rinopolis we traveled some of the worst roads of the whole trip. We choose this route to avoid Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro and all the traffic. On a back road to avoid even this road we ran into Nino riding a CB600. He stopped us to see what we were riding and where we were going. He did not speak much English and we spoke no Portuguese. But somehow we conveyed that we were looking for a hotel.

Santo Amaro was essentially closed for celebration. But, Nino led us through the streets and talked some of the police into letting us through to a hotel that was the best in the city at the city center. The hotel staff told us the hotel was full, but again Nino talked them into extending us a room somehow. We have been very fortunate.

After getting settled, we invited Nino to dinner. After food and drink and meeting some of Nino's friends while we sat watching the celebration, there was sudden commotion, someone yelled 'pistola' and Nino and his friends scurried us away to the back of the restaurant for safety. We are gringo's and very large targets! Later we heard it was only a fight. The kind of thing in the states everyone rushes towards instead of away from.

The next day we rode with Nino to Fiera de Santana to met Geraldo. Geraldo is a professor teaching English literature at one of the colleges. Geraldo is part of a motorcycle club that Nino belongs too and thinks of Nino as his son. Geraldo and I have become good friends since meeting and share e-mail on almost a daily basis. Some day I will try to get back to see Geraldo again.

Geraldo is restoring a 1979 Yamaha RD350. He has many parts acquired from sources all over the world to rebuild his bike. He isn't quite sure where he will find the time to finish this lengthy project, since he is still working and has many other interests to pursue as well. I will post some pictures when I have a little more time.

Aracaju / Penedo / Maceio
We left Santo Amaro and headed for the beach town of Aracaju. Our plan was to spend a week or so there relaxing and enjoyng the beach, the sun and the culture. But frankly after a little of all that, it became boring, so we left after five days. We took some small trips up the coast and stopped at some small communities which was more interesting in one day than everything we did in Aracaju in five.

We started by traveling to Neopolis to catch the ferry across to Penedo. We were amazed to watch what was probably a 5 ton delivery truck get stuck while trying to board the ferry. It took two hours of re positioning the ferry, jacking the truck and using wood and stones for leverage to get it unstuck. This is something I suspect you would never see in the US. Then it was a wild scramble to get onboard. Moto's last because they had to get the cars on first. We were barely able to get a spot on the ferry even though we were first in line, because all the locals knew the process and were scrambling before we got a clue.

Penedo is what you think of when you think of small South American towns on the coastline. Lots of church steeples, beach side bars and restaurants. We were there on one day but we had to keep moving on.

North of Maceio we then stopped at a pousada called Arco-Iris. If you are passing by way of Maceio, I would highly recommend this place. Clean, not far from the beach, a pool and good food.

The last day we made it to Jaoa Passoa. This is where Chuck's friend Marc lives. We spent a few days there getting our bikes serviced. Chuck's wife Karen came down and I returned to Houston. During the time I was in Houston, there was a death in Karen's family. Chuck and Karen returned home and I changed my return flight to Brazil to be as late as possible and still get the bikes out on time. Vehicles are only allowed to stay in Brazil for 90 days maximum.
 
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Epic gentlemen Epic! :clap:

Don't ride home too fast. :rider: The more slowly you ride, the more stories we'll hear.

Que te vaya bien.
 

jfink

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So below is a note I wrote to my wife. It fairly well explains what has happened, except that our plan was to divide the ride from Campina Grande to Belem (1,360 miles) into three equidistant days. But on the second day my bike developed a deep loud sound that I thought sounded kinda cool. But there was something obviously wrong. The KTM had blown an exhaust gasket between the header and the muffler.

Why it would do this can only be faulty assembly. We tried a make shift gasket with tin cans but we apparently didn't have enough cans on the wrap. It was a good temporary fix, but still leaking exhaust. It needed something more. In the next sizable town Alto Algre we actually found a motorcycle shop that had many different exhaust gaskets sizes and who did the repair there in their shop. All in all, they charged my 30 real or $15 US for about 2 hours of work and parts. I threw in an addition 20 real for Cerveja (beer). So this necessitated a longer third day.

We made it to Belem, but not without trials and tribulations. It was about 600 miles we rode in 13 hours, to make up for the day before when my bike broke down. We went through at least four separate rain storms and I think one of them messed up my cruise control because it stopped engaging. I had to shut it off, turn it back on, reset the speed and every time I hit the brake for a truck or speed bump (lambada) I had to go through it again. After a while, even shutting it off stopped working. The problem with that on a motorcycle, especially on long days like yesterday is my right hand starts hurting from holding the throttle open. BUT, THE GOOD NEWS … another rain storm came along and fixed it. Ha! Well for the time being anyway.

Belem, for being a city I had never heard of is remarkably large. We had bumper to bumper traffic for the last hour into the city. It was dark by the time we got to a hotel Chuck had found the day before. Fortunately, it wasn’t like most of our searches for hotels; go here “we’re full”, go there “we’re full too”, end up in some little hotel at the side of the road. They actually had a room with two beds. SCORRRRRRRRRE!

Tomorrow we will board the ferry for travel north across the Amazon to Macapa (pronounced “ma ca Pa’” emphasis on the P). The trip is supposed to be a day and half. We are going into the downtown area today, to the ferry building. We need to find out what we will need to bring with us on the ferry; food, water, and of course beer (or what passes for beer here). Fortunately we have an air conditioned cabin because no matter what time of day it is here, it is HOT and HUMID! This is like what people think of when they think of the Amazon. Once we arrive in Macapa we have 400 miles of mostly dirt north to the border with French Guiana. We have to be at the border by April 22nd when the bikes need to be out of Brazil.

In Macapa, we will cross the equator for the second time. The first time was in Ecuador, but we were late getting into Quito, it was dark and we didn’t realize we were crossing the Equator. This time we plan on stopping and taking the perfunctory pictures.
 
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jfink

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Epic gentlemen Epic! :clap:

Don't ride home too fast. :rider: The more slowly you ride, the more stories we'll hear.

Que te vaya bien.
Thanks Troy, I am sorry our paths didn't cross during your epic adventure. But I very much enjoyed your ride report. One of the best I have read. Hopefully, when we are back, we can get together sometime over a couple beers and swap lies ... errrrh ... stories.
 
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