Saturday, March 31, 2018

I've Got Good News and Bad News - 21 March 2018

21 March 2018 – Yesterday I sent about thirty-five pictures to Mary. I started sending pictures again today about 8:00 a.m. and continued sending them till about 5:00 p.m. It was a real thrill once all those pictures were sent. The wi-fi here in Hosteria America is marginal. It seems like the wi-fi signal is strong and then it suddenly gets weak. It’s always a mystery. I’ve been in way cheaper hotels where the wi-fi was excellent. Anyway, Mary e-mailed me back saying she received all 100 pictures and the Word document talking about my travels. It was a good day until I went downstairs to eat supper and the restaurant was closed. No joy here.

Ring Around The Collar - 20 March 2018

20 March 2018 – I worked on sending my pictures to Mary and had my clothes washed. I had 100 pictures to e-mail to Mary and the wi-fi was not working that well or didn’t have a strong signal. Sometimes I had to send some pictures 3 times before they were sent. This was time consuming so I never left the hotel. My whiter clothes were grayer when I got them back. I hate that. The overall appearance of the clothes suggested they were washed with other extremely dirty clothes or washed in dirty water that was used at least twice before my clothes were washed. Then of course you scent them to make them smell fresh. I was not happy with the outcome of my washed clothes.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

I Got The Boot - 19 March 2018

19 March 2018 – I was booted out of my upstairs suite because I didn’t book another night soon enough, and took a cheaper room on the first floor. I lost my view of the city but this is my kind of room. I didn’t need a jacuzzi, a shower, a walkout balcony with a skyline view of the snowcapped mountains and sky lights. It’s nice, but I’m used to a much simpler room and this room is just fine. I decided to stay another two days to see if I can get this blog sent to Mary. I’m almost up to 17,000 words. I now have to keep in constant contact with my Brazilian friends so they know my whereabouts. I don’t want to just drop in on them unexpectedly. It might not be appreciated. It’s getting time for supper. A cooking smell is wafting through my open window and it’s making me hungry. So, I think it’s time to go eat.

Man About Town - 18 March 2018

18 March 2018 – It was a kind of a lazy day. I spent two or three hours e-mailing people who think I’m lost or have died. Russ and Neil went on a penguin watching tour. I needed to get downtown and find an ATM machine and shore up my Pesos for the run North to Brazil. I can’t get caught short of money in those non-tourist areas. They more than likely won’t have ATM’s that will accept my cards.

After I finished with e-mailing the different people, I walked downtown and kept a closer eye on where I was going so I could get back home. I also put Blanche into my pocket just in case I got lost. After a long walk I did find two ATM machines and was able to withdraw Argentine pesos with my cards. I also walked around looking for commemorative pins. I would like to get an Argentine Flag and Ruta 3 pin. All the best souvenir shops were closed because it was Sunday, so shopping for pins proved to be a waste of time. They’ll be my prized possessions.

As I was walking on San Martin / Main Street I spotted a hamburger place. I went in and ordered up a hamburger with fries. It was just the right size. Not too big and not too small. Like Goldilocks, I walked out feeling just right.

I kept walking toward my hotel and I Spotted Russ’s and Neil’s motorcycles. I thought they were parked in an odd spot, but whatever. I kept walking and I spotted Russ working on his computer through his hotel window. I sat and stared at him till he looked up. I was being weird. I walked in, sat down and talked a little. I went upstairs and talked some with Neil because I had some info on storing a motorcycle in Uruguay and I wanted to get it to him by e-mail. I got his e-mail address and gave him one of my cards with my e-mail address. We went downstairs and talked some more. Well, it was getting later in the day and those guys were leaving in the morning for Buenos Aires, Argentina. They had a rather short timeframe to get there and I know the road they have to travel. Not all portions of it are so great. They will work to make a 620 Miles / 1000 Kilometer day. I said my goodbyes, shook everybody’s hand and was off to my hotel. I stopped in the grocery store / Mercado again and got another pint of ice cream. You guessed it, it was the same slow, friendly lady at the cash register and it was a repeat of two days ago. It only made the ice cream taste better.

Ushuaia Photo Ops - 17 March 2018

17 March 2018 – It’s my brother Rick’s birthday today. I’m wondering if he’s enjoying his 70th birthday. Sometimes racking up those years are some pretty tough apples to eat. Happy Birthday Rick.

I was eating breakfast and it was 9:30 / 10:00 in the morning and I get a texted from Russ. It said they’re ready to ride out into Parque Nacional – Tierra del Fuego  - Bahia Lapataia to take pictures by the sign. This sign is the Holy Grail or the Brass Ring of riding to the tip of Argentina. It’s the sign you want to show all your friends and your grandchildren when you’re bragging up your motorcycle travels. I asked if they could give me a minute or two I so can get myself together and I would text them back when I was ready. They said they could wait and drink another cup of coffee. I got myself and my motorcycle put together and texted them back and said “I’m ready to ride.”

They showed up at my hotel and I asked who wants to lead. I had my GPS programmed to go to the end of the road in the park. I told them that and they said “lead the way.” I told them I’m slow and sometimes miss turns, and they said they were ok with that too. So off we go. I never missed a turn on the way out there. When we arrived, I drove right up into the area of the sign. I wanted to get a picture of me, my motorcycle and the sign. That was my mission. We had to wait through many tour bus people to get our turn at the sign but we eventually got our photo session at the sign with very little interference. We even took pictures for people and they just loved us for it.

Russ had a Cuban woman chew his ear off because she really liked his motorcycle. Had he wanted to pursue it I’m sure he could have had a date for the night. Every one of us got all the pictures taken we could want, and we left for the Green lake. Neil and Russ wanted to see this lake. I’m not sure why the water is green. It could be caused by the minerals in the soil, trees or the vegetation in the area. I’ve seen a green river like that farther North that I took a picture of.

Neil and I were standing on the observation deck talking and this tall woman was standing there looking around. I don’t know if she was with a tour or with a boyfriend and Neil said “She’s an American.” I asked him how he knew. He said only American / U.S.A. people have white teeth. So we asked her if she was American and she said yes. I asked her where she was from and she said, Chicago, Illinois. I about fell over dead. I told her I was from St Paul / Minneapolis, Minnesota. We also told her one of the guys with us who was out taking in the views was from Chicago. It just goes to show you just how small this world really is.
I asked Neil where he heard about only Americans having white teeth. He said he was watching an interview with Russel Crowe the Australian Actor, who told the individual who was interviewing him that the only people in the world who have white teeth are Americans. I noticed some women in Central and South America who had white teeth: maybe they were from the USA and I didn’t know it.

From there we stopped once more to take some more photos and then we were off to the hotel. We got back to my hotel and then Russ and Neil split off to their hotel. I sent out some quick e-mails and then went to look up some motorcycle shops in Ushuaia. The Kawasaki shop was closed, the second shop was closed and Moto Pablo’s was open. I knocked on the window and someone opened the door. I walked in and everyone was wondering “Who is this Gringo?” And I was thinking “This is my kind of place.” We translated through our cell phones. I got the oil I wanted, I was able to change my own oil and they disposed of my old oil. I was happy. It was a Gomer Pyle kind of place. People came to talk and shoot the bull. I worked away with an occasional observer checking out my motorcycle. Nobody was an ass. I paid up, everybody was happy and they helped me to jump a 3.0 Inch / 8 CM step to get my bike out the door. 

Before I left, I showed Moto Pablo that I found his place on the internet and he gave me some stickers to put on my motorcycle. I was really glad I got that job done. It was a rainy trip back to the hotel. One thing for sure I was glad I had Blanche doing the navigating, otherwise I would have never found the hotel. I sat down and was eating at my hotel and texted Russ I had changed my oil. Boy I was glad it was done.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Success! - 16 March 2018

16 March 2018 – Today is Mary’s birthday. I have to get a text off to her before I leave.

I took my first load down to my bike. It wasn’t raining but it was pretty cold. I pulled off the cover off and stuffed it into its sack. I love that cover especially in the rain. It sheds all the water off the motorcycle, electrical instruments and speedometer. Anyway, I loaded my top box, my saddle bag, and put my GPS in its docking station before going in and eating breakfast. While I was at breakfast I wished Mary a Happy Birthday from the South End of the World as best I could.

As I was loading my second and third load on my motorcycle an Italian lady came out of the hotel and wanted to take my picture. I said sure, no problem. She asked me why I didn’t have an Italian sticker / oval on my saddle bags / pannier. She asked if I didn’t like Italy / Italia? I told her I rode motorcycle in Italy / Italia in September 1986 and that I liked Italy / Italia. She was happy about that. She went back into the hotel.

The most important thing about loading my motorcycle is not working up a sweat. If you’re sweating when you put that rain suit on your perspiration stays inside the rain suit and will freeze you up. I was able to get myself dressed outside in the cold without working up a sweat. One of the Italian ladies was watching me get dressed and came out to help me get the rain suit over my shoulder pads. Sometimes that is a little tough. While I was putting on my rain suit I had my Kawasaki idling to get it warmed up before I left. I finally got my rain suit all zipped up and gloves on. I jumped on my motorcycle and pulled out my sticks supporting and stashed them. I had some problem getting my kickstand board out from under my kickstand. One of the Italian ladies got out her vehicle and came over and pulled it out. I thanked her and they were off.

I now had everything stashed away and was ready to go. I stopped in and filled up with gas and followed Blanche out of town. I don’t always follow Blanche’s way of thinking but she sure picked a weird route out of Rio Grande. I was zig zagging in some of the poorer neighborhoods and then drove up a roadside ramp out of the ditch to get on Hwy 3 to Ushuaia. I was baffled by that route.

Anyway, I was on my way to Ushuaia and was starting to get excited about finally getting to my final destination. It has been a long haul. About 60 Miles / 100 Kilometers into my trip my fingers got really cold. I stopped along side the road and worked them back and forth to warm them up. It also allowed my motorcycle to get some heat into it. After fingers were working again I continued on into the mountains before I arrived in Ushuaia. It was snowing in the mountains but none of the snow was sticking to the highway. It was a pretty slow ride through the mountains as they had some pretty tight switchbacks and I was just being cautious.

When I came out of the mountains and started driving into the city of Ushuaia it started raining. It wasn’t too bad, actually, when I drove by the large orange vertical Ushuaia signs as you’re entering the city. I pulled over and typed in the GPS address of the hotel I wanted to stay at. Then it started raining heavier and the wheel tracks are full of water and the water is running down the hills toward the ocean. Cars were passing me because I was driving too slow and didn’t know for sure where I was going.

After a few missed turns I eventually ended up at the hotel I was looking for. I had the drowned rat looking going on when I walked in. I thought they were going to throw me out. I asked for a room and they said they were booked up. I keep getting that and it’s annoying. I’m almost being forced to reserve hotel rooms ahead of time. That is not a pleasant thought to me. So, I leave some of my stuff in the hotel and check with Blanche if she knows where the American Hotel is. She does………..good old Blanche! I go inside, get my gloves, my stuff and off I go.

I arrive and walk in the hotel. I didn’t take anything off, but walked up to reception and asked if they had a room. They checked their computer and they had one suite available for 3 nights and I said I’d like to stay for 4 nights. Then I asked if I could get a reduced price because of the length of my stayed. They reduced the price some but not much.

I took my time unloading my motorcycle and sent a SPOT message to Mary. I was basking in the happiness of finally having reached my destination. It was a long haul fraught with many challenges. I also got in contact with Russ from Chicago and we agreed to hook up for a steak sometime after 4:00 p.m.

Russ showed up in timely fashion and it was great to see him. We talked a bit and headed down to Main Street / San Martin and back to his hotel. Russ introduced me to a friend he had just met. Neil is from Scotland and has been traveling for some time. He has traveled from Alaska, U.S.A. all the way down here to Ushuaia, Argentina. A hike to put it mildly. A great achievement. We talked probably for an hour before we left the hotel and went out to eat. Russ has a discriminating palate and loves to eat a lot of different food. He can’t get enough steak or lamb and it must be topped off with a cigar. Neil ate a steak with a glass of wine and I ate a steak with a salad and a bottle of water. My steak was rather large and required some time to eat because of all the talking. A great time was had by all. We walked back to Russ and Neil’s hotel and parted ways.

I continued on and made a stop at the local grocery store / Mercado. I picked up some apples and a pint of ice cream. This is kind of interesting: I could only check out in the line where you had less than 20 items. I know there were 15 to 20 people in this check out line. The lady operating the cash register would talk to each of the customers 3 to 5 minutes even if they had only one item. This is the truth… exaggeration. I stood in that line for over 35 minutes as I watched this over and over. Even the Argentine people were getting annoyed. People were looking at their watches. If you used a credit card it even took longer. I eventually got through the line and went home to eat my ice cream.

I kind of got lost on the way home. I didn’t know what street the hotel was on so the only way I found my way back was remembering landmarks. The next time I go walking I will put my GPS in my pocket so I can find my way back to the hotel without a struggle. That ice cream had some time to soften as I walked home which made it doubly good. I went to bed.

Rain, Rain, Go Away! - 15 March 2018

15 March 2018 – I woke up to the sound of rain on the roof of the hotel. Oh, that didn’t make me happy. I went to eat breakfast at 9:00 a.m. and it was still raining a might smartly. My weather app said it was going to rain all day and it was 37 F Degrees / 3 C Degrees. Oh, that doesn’t sound like fun at all to ride in. Then for some reason my weather app just disappeared off my home page on my cell phone. I texted Mary and asked her if she knew how to get it back. She researched it online and found the answer. It took about an hour of texting back and forth till she found the answer to my problem. Mary is my technical consultant when it comes to my electrical devices. It was quite simple if you know how to do it.

I tried to send Mary a SPOT again. No luck. So, I went back to the hotel and worked on my blog. My battery ran down on my computer so I had to shut it down and charge it. The only electrical plug in that I can use is in the bathroom. I plugged it in there and then left the hotel to attempt to send Mary a SPOT. I tried three different locations and only one worked.

I stopped in the gas station and bought some water and cookies for the road tomorrow. I drank all my water containers empty in this hot room I’m staying in. The floor is like 80 / 85 F Degrees -  27 / 30 C Degrees. I made sure all my bags were in order before I went to bed. I know I will be wearing my long underwear, my muffler, rain suit, and rain gloves to keep warm. Tomorrow, rain or shine, I will ride to Ushuaia. I went to bed.

By Land and Sea - 14 March 2018

14 March 2018 –  To get to Ushuaia I will cross into Chile, then back into Argentina, and plan to stay in Rio Grande tonight. I rose pretty early and had all my bags organized the night before. I returned to my room to start loading my bike. I heard one of the BMWs start up and he was leaving. I gathered up my first load to go down to the bike. I put SPOT out, put my computer and paperwork in the top box, my shaving kit in one of the saddle bags and my GPS in its mount on the handle bars. SPOT sends me the same e-mail that it sends to Mary. I came back in and sat down for breakfast.

I gathered up my second load for my motorcycle and I saw the three other BMWs leaving. I took my bag down to my motorcycle and bungeed it on. I gathered up my third load and took it down to my bike. My fourth load I took my tires and cleaned out the room.

The fifth BMW was still setting there with its rider. I bungeed on my tires and walked over and said hi. Carlos was from San Paulo, Brasilia. He just returned from Ushuaia and so I pumped him for information about crossing from Argentina to Chile and back to Argentina. He told me all good roads except 20 Miles / 32 Kilometers of gravel. He said the gravel wasn’t bad…..just take it easy. Otherwise black top all the way. He was driving one of those new BMW 6 Cylinder Motorcycles. They are expensive in the United States so they must be really expensive in Brasilia. I never asked that question though. I asked him what he did for a living and he said he works for Honeywell as a project manager. He also spoke excellent English and we had a great conversation. We took a few pictures of us with our motorcycles and then left. He rides motorcycle with some club and I took a picture of the patch on the back of his vest. Carlos invited me to his home in San Paulo but pretty much knew it wouldn’t happen with my route and plans.

I finished bungee-cording my stuff on my motorcycle and pulled out. I needed gas and found a gas station but it wasn’t pumping gas for some reason. I was redirect to another gas station.I filled up there and the wind was picking up. I wanted to get something to eat but was afraid to let my bike sit by itself in the wind. I rode off a little hungry. If I got real hungry I could always eat one of my Snickers bars and an apple.

The wind was strong as I left town and never really let up much. If you got a reprieve from the wind it was in the mountainous area. The mountains broke up the wind. I can tell you straight up the wind was the worst in that flat desert that had nothing to slow it down or break up. That’s when you were pummeled the worst.

I arrived at the Argentine Border at Paso Integracion Austral 164 and there sat a newer Kawasaki KLR650 with smaller saddle bags / panniers and top box. It’s the first one I saw on the road. They seem to be pretty few and far between. I know they’re out there but you just don’t see them. I put my three supports under my Kawasaki to keep the wind from tipping it over. Anyway, I walked in and worked my way through Migrations / Aduana successfully. A young Aduana lad wanted to see if I had any fruit or the like in my top box. I took the tires off and unlocked the boxes to let him look in. He came up empty and looked a little disappointed because he didn’t find any contraband. Now if he had looked in one of my bags he would have found apples and I would have probably been fined.

I pushed my bike out of the way so other traffic could get through as I put my bike back together. As I was doing that it started raining with BB size hail or sleet. That was depressing. It only lasted 3 minutes and it was done. I looked down the road and it was all blue sky. I took a chance and did not put on my rain suit. So off I go to the Chile Border. When I arrived I had a heck of time getting my bike standing so it wouldn’t blow over. Eventually, I was able to get it stabilized with my three points of contact. I walked off hoping I didn’t find it laying on its side when I came out from Migrations / Aduana.

This border went pretty smooth and I was off to the ferry. True to form, Blanche tried to drag me off on a gravel road. I wasn’t hearing any of it and bullied her back on the black top. This short distance to the ferry was pretty much wind free. However, when I arrived at the ferry the wind was just a howling. It was blowing between the building and the car which speeded it up and it was cold. I couldn’t leave my bike standing alone. She would have blown over. So, I mostly sat or stood up with her between my legs. I was also parked alongside of the Kawasaki again. He didn’t speak any English and I didn’t speak Spanish so not much was said. Although he was an Argentinian.

When I arrived, a ferry was unloading and I thought man I got here just in time. Well, the ferry unloaded, backed out and was gone. Well, that sucks. A second ferry pulled in, unloaded, backed out and was gone. There we sat wondering what’s going on. We figured the crew must be eating or refueling. In an hour they returned. We loaded and let me tell you that ferry was bouncing up and down in the waves and wind. I didn’t drive down the ramp till everybody cleared it. I didn’t want to get stuck on it and bounced into the lake. I think that lake or bay is part of the Atlantic Ocean. The waves were 5 Feet / 1-1/2 Meters high with white caps. The wind was blowing it sideways so they used bow and stern throughsters to keep it lined up with the ramp. To keep the ferry lined up on the off ramp the captain had to adjust the bow and stern throughster by how hard the wind was blowing. It was a constant juggle and mother nature won most of the time.

We had to pay to use the ferry. Once I got on the ferry I never left my motorcycle for fear the constant bouncing of the ferry would work my stick loose and allow my motorcycle to fall over. The other Kawasaki didn’t have any problems with parking in the wind or bouncing inside the ferry. Once I got off the ferry it was on the gas and get to the next border crossing in Paso San Sabastian as fast as possible.

In this route we had to drive about 20 Miles / 32 Kilometers of gravel. It wasn’t too bad. There wasn’t excessive wash board or anything like that. The other Kawasaki rode a lot faster on gravel than I did but he always waited down the road to see if I was coming along ok. That was nice of him.

By the time I arrived at the border he had already cleared it and was gone. I went in and went through Migrations and Aduana fairly smoothly. There were no problems with the wind at this border. Once I got through the border it was black top all the way to Rio Grande. It was also after 6:00 p.m. and the drive from the border is about 62 Miles / 100 Kilometers. It starts getting dark about 7:30 p.m. and so I was on the gas. I never drove slower that 62 Mph / 100 Kph. I don’t like driving in these towns in the dark if at all possible. I arrived at the Hostel I was hoping to stay at just as it got dark. I walked inside and asked if they had a room. They were booked up. Now I’m in a bucket of doo doo. The receptionist checked around and found an apartment I could rent. The problem was how can I find it? I can’t. She then found a hotel that had a room and I checked in Blanche to see if it was in her maps. It was. So, I had Blanche program a route to the hotel and it turns out the hotel was about 3/8 Mile / .40 Kilometer from the Hostel. I went back inside to gather up my helmet and gloves and made sure I left nothing behind.

It was a poky drive to the hotel because I can’t look and drive at the same time. I found the hotel and to my amazement the receptionist spoke English. She told me she worked in the United States. She offered to carry my bags to my room and order me a 6” diameter hamburger. It was all I could eat. I saved the french fries for later. I parked my motorcycle in front of the hotel propped up with my two sticks to keep it from tipping over and covered it. The receptionist told me the night security guard would keep an eye on for me. I went upstairs to my room and ate my hamburger. Another tough day and I went to bed.

Patagonian Winds - 13 March 2018

13 March 2018 – I woke up to howling winds at 6:30 a.m. The windows and roof were rattling from the wind. It scared me bad enough I went out and checked my motorcycle to see that it was still standing, securely anchored and then came back and went to bed. I added a 2nd support stick / board for just a little more support against the wind. I didn’t ride today. I wanted to see how these winds kind of worked. It seems the winds die down during the night and then pickup about 5:00 a.m. in the morning. Then about 9:00 or 10:00 a.m. the winds die down but don’t go away. Starting about 6:00 p.m. the winds start back up some until dark. That my best scientific wild ass opinion.

The rest of the day I worked on my blog and searched out hotels in Rio Grande and Ushuaia, Argentina. I also removed my saddle bags to see if I could get my motorcycle on the center stand if I need to do that. With both saddle bags removed and the top box pretty much empty I could get my bike on the center stand. I was pretty happy about that. It takes two people with the saddle bags on to get it on the center stand.

I never did get out to eat anything and that didn’t make me happy. That means I will be pretty much hungry all day tomorrow. I looked out the window before I went to bed and saw five BMW motorcycles setting in secure parking all of them caring spare gas containers. I went to bed.

Motorcycle vs. Wind - 12 March 2018

12 March 2018 - Another day of flat desert with well-worn down mountains.  I saw more llamas and emus today than I saw yesterday.  I say a herd as large as 40 animals all grazing in the ditch.  I also saw a flock of emus as large as twenty birds walking and eating in the ditches.  There were also more dead llamas in the ditches today than any other day.  I think they tangled with the semi-trucks and lost.

I got a good taste of the Patagonia Winds today. Two hundred miles of nonstop side gusts ranging from mild South Dakota winds to hard hits about 40 / 50 Mph gusts. The old Kawasaki got slapped around right smartly, to say nothing about the operator. I got buzzed in that wind by some jerk driver. When you were hit by one of those hard gusts you instantly moved sideways 4 feet+ depending on how fast you could react and correct the side movement. I was blown twice into oncoming traffic. I always hugged the shoulder of the road when I met oncoming traffic as a precaution.

When I arrived at the outskirts of Rio Gallegos I saw a sign which had an arrow to Ushuaia, my destination. I decided I had to get a picture of that sign. The sign was plastered full of stickers from people who rode their motorcycle or drove their cars to Ushuaia. It is the first sign I’ve seen that points in the direction of Ushuaia. It gave me an excited feeling like “God I’m nearly there.” I parked my motorcycle in front of the sign and there was no or very little wind. In less than two minutes the wind was blowing in 40 Mph wind gusts. I couldn’t get off my bike for fear it would blow over and it was facing into the wind. The wind died down briefly and I got off my bike holding onto the handle bars just in case the wind started up.

I was just about to take a picture and my bike shook from a wind gust. The support stick from under the right foot peg fell out and the bike slowly started leaned to the right. I tried to hold it upright but couldn’t hold the weight of it slowly falling to the ground. So, there it laid on its side like an upside down dead cockroach. Now I have a shit situation on my hands. I took a picture of it laying on the ground. I then removed all the tires, bags, and emptied the top box. It was still too heavy for me to pick up. About 20 cars drove by and no one offered to help set up my bike. Bear in mind this is taking place in 40 Mph winds. Everything I took off my bike wanted to blow away. Eventually a guy stopped and helped me pick up my bike. I got it started, luckily. We faced my bike into the wind again and he held my bike while I reloaded it. I offered him 200 Pesos for helping me but he declined it. He watched till I got rolling again and took off. I was eternally grateful for his help.

I rode into the city of Rio Gallegos. It was four lane all the way from the sign to the city limits. I stopped and reprogrammed Blanche and she took me to my hotel. As I drove toward the hotel the Police / Policia had some of my streets blocked off with burning tires. That mystified me. The weirdest part of all of that was they were standing in and breathing that black smoke. That just slayed me. Because of the tire burning I had to deviate from my route to get to the hotel.

I went to check in and it was booked up. The receptionist recommended another hotel that had secure parking. I walked over there to make sure I could find the hotel. I found it and checked in. I then returned for my motorcycle. This city has a lot of one way streets so I had to figure out how to get from the first hotel to second hotel using one way streets. I actually drove around one block three times because I took the wrong street twice. What a dope.

Unfortunately the lady gave me a room on the 3rd floor and all the way in the back of the hotel. This hotel has no elevator. It was going to be a hike to get all my stuff up to my room. I parked my bike in front of the hotel, off loaded all my stuff and left it in reception. I rode my bike into secure parking, oiled my chain, parked it and covered it for the night. I made sure that it was securely propped up so that it wouldn’t blow over during the night. I went back in the hotel and moved all my luggage to my room and went out to eat. The receptionist recommended a restaurant which I could order a hamburger or a pizza. I went to bed thinking this was a tough day and I hope I don’t have to deal with wind any worse than today.

Good Samaritan - 11 March 2018

11 March 2018 – I gassed up, ate a light bite, and asked where ATMs were. I found out where they were. The first ATM didn’t accept my card and the second one did. I was happy about that. I needed a better supply of Argentine Pesos. A man came up to me speaking Spanish, something I totally didn’t understand. Something about Police / Policia and Hwy 3 to Ushuaia, exactly where I was headed. Then he left.

I went and made my withdrawal from the ATM. Blanche directed me out of town and can you believe it right past this guy’s house. He asked me to wait. He ran over to his garage and got his motorcycle out. It didn’t start too well. Obviously it had been sitting too long to just start up. While I was waiting for him to get his motorcycle started an older lady came out of her house and wanted her picture taken with me. She really liked me for some reason. Her daughter took the picture. After the picture taking season, the man with his motorcycle guided me through the back streets to Highway 3 to Ushuaia. Apparently by doing this, I avoided all the road construction and the police. He told me what road to take after the scenic route and Blanche bought into his route. We were off. I thanked him immensely for his help and left smiling.

I was on Hwy 3 out of Caleta Olivia. The road was great the first half of the trip. The second half of the day the black top roads were rutted up from the heavy semi-truck use. I saw many llamas and emus. I saw an adult male llama jump a five foot fence and female and her young llama clear a three foot fence easily. I was amazed. I frequently encountered the Emus and Llamas walking on the road. You have to watch out for them just like Wisconsin and Minnesota deer. It could be pretty scary at times.

The scenery was mostly flat desert and worn down mountains.  The Andes are a really old mountain range. Plenty of shrub brush. I didn’t have any real wind problems, mostly a slight cross wind which wasn’t any worse than riding across South Dakota.

I called it quits for day and stayed the night in Puerto San Julian. I didn’t make it to Puerto San Cruz or Rio Gallegos. That was a letdown. The first hotel I stopped at was too expensive, so I left. The second hotel didn’t have any secure parking, so I left. The third hotel was recommended by the receptionist in the second hotel. I had huge communication problem with the staff, so I left.  On the way over to the 4th hotel, a dog ran out and bit me in the knee of my riding suite. He chomped into the knee pad and no harm done. However, had I been able to get off that motorcycle and with a stick in my hand I would have beat that dog senseless. No dog that takes a chomp out of me and gets away with it. He wouldn’t make that mistake again.

At the 4th hotel I paid $600 Pesos and gave them my passport, and check in was done in 5 minutes. My kind of hotel with secure parking. I found a buddy while unloading my motorcycle. A little black puppy who wanted to play. We had a lot of fun for a while. I didn’t want to tell the little fella he had a rough life ahead of him. That’s a statement based on dogs in general in Mexico, Central America and South America. I went to bed hoping I’d see the little hound again.

Banditos? - 10 March 2018

10 March 2018 – When I got up it was 39 degrees and sunny. I left Gobernator Costa and hoped to arrive in Sarmiento, Comodoro Rivadavia or Caleta Olivia. The road was beautiful. I drove mostly 62 Mph / 100 Kph. A lot of brown flat desert with scrub brush and mountains in the background. I saw three Emus and four or five llamas alongside the road. I stopped for gas in Sarmiento and checked to see if they had ATMs in the town. They had two Banks with ATMs but none of them would accept my cards. I think the reason they didn’t have a bank that accepted my credit and debit cards was because there is no tourist traffic from other countries.

When I got to Comodoro Rivadavia I went to the same bank (different branch) that refused my credit cards in the other town, and it accepted it. This town is on the Atlantic Ocean and is more or less a tourist area and of course full of foreign tourists. So, my card worked just fine. I was happy about that.

I left that town and continued on to Caleta Olivia. I stopped to take a picture of the Atlantic Ocean because it was the first time I’ve seen it down here in Argentina. While I was stopped, a guy came up to me and asked if I would help him load his motorcycle. Apparently, something was wrong with it. We drove about 5/8’s of a mile / 1 Kilometer to his motorcycle and he showed it to me. He went and got his company’s small pickup a short distance away. I was wondering if I was going to get robbed when he and his buddies showed up. But that didn’t happen. We backed the pickup into a shallow ditch so the tailgate was lower to the ground and we both hoisted the bike together into the pickup. I took his picture and said goodbye.

I then continued driving on to Caleta Olivia and got a hotel. The hotel was nice but I like my dumpier hotel I stayed in the night before. Again, all the rules and they wanted way to much information just to rent a room for the night. I finally told them if you want more information I’m leaving. The receptionist became a little more friendly after I threatened to leave. The money was laying the counter and I was about to walk out the door. They chose the money. The information wasn’t so important anymore. Mary Skyped me as I had really good wi-fi to night. I went to bed.

I'm Never Eating Again - 9 March 2018

9 March 2018 – The french fries went to waste. I was going to eat them in the morning but I was still too full from the hamburgers from the night before to want to eat them or anything. I left them in the trash in the secure parking area. If I could have found a dog I would have given them to the hound. I’m sure they would have enjoyed them.

I left the hotel in El Bolson about 11:00 a.m. in the rain and was going to ride to Gobernador Costa today. I was out of the rain within 10 miles and then the rest of the day was cloudy and cold. It never got above 57 degrees. I rode with my rain suit on to help keep me warm. I rode out of the mountains and pine trees into a semi-arid desert which was brown with shrubs and mountains. Again, the road was mostly good. One section the road was under construction. I had to ride 8 kilometers of gravel and then the pavement was great. I got gas in Tecka and ate a small lunch and headed off.

It was about 4:30 when I found a small hotel in Gobernador Costa. The original structure dated back to the early 1900’s and they had a picture of the hotel in the restaurant from back then. I oiled my chain and warmed up from the day of cold riding. The food in the restaurant was good but suffered because of bad communication.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Boobytrap - 8 March 2018

8 March 2018 – As far as I can tell my foot is coming along quite well. It’s still sore but no significant redness or swelling. I woke up out of my sleep and realized the brick pile was intentionally boobytrapped. Just like the Mexicans raking their driveways and parking lots checking for late night human foot prints in the morning. The nail was there just in case a thief came during the night to steal some or all the bricks. More than likely they would step on it as they walked around the brick pile carrying off the bricks. The next day they would be limping around like me. If they went to a doctor to get a tetanus shot or treatment the clinic or hospital would know the individual’s name. The doctor could then be a witness in a court of law against the thief or thieves because he treated the injury. No one could be sued claiming it was an intentional booby trap because the hotel owner would just say it was accidentally left there when the brick pile was put there. And I know he would lie and keep lying about it. I could see it in his face.

Do you know how I know it was a boobytrap? 85% of the board was covered with dirt. Only 4.0 inches of the board was exposed with the nail pointing up. The exposed end was 12.0” to 18.0” away from the bricks and the brick pile was there a minimum of two years. So, for minimum of two years somebody walked and mowed around those bricks. This lawn was manicured…..the best I’ve seen in South America. That’s why I walked back there just to walk around in the green grass and look at the rabbit running around. For a small hotel this hotel was pretty well kept up inside and out. Guess what? No one had stepped on the nail and no lawn mower had gotten a flat tire or bent the nail over with a plastic wheel. Had the owner or lawn maintenance person stepped on that nail, that board would have been thrown in the trash. Hospital visits cost money and no one wants to give up hard earned money to a hospital. So how could that nail be there so long without being bent over? Simple. The owner put it there and whoever did the lawn work also knew it was there and worked around it. That kind of answered why the hotel owner always acted weirdly. He planted the nail and he caught the wrong person, me. They both knew I wasn’t a thief. What could I do with a brick or a pile of bricks? I’m on a motorcycle from another country.

The wife knew about the boobytrap / nail and was always concerned about my foot. She asked me about it every day. They also knew that they made money off of me because I stepped on their boobytrapped nail. I’m sure they felt a little guilty about that. Maybe. I got the feeling the owner wished I’d just go away. I know the owner and his wife both breathed a sigh of relief when they saw me leave. I think I could have stunk up their lives had I wanted to. I was just glad to get the hell out of there. It was awkward situation.

I drove from San Carlos de Bariloche to El Bolson. The roads were mostly curvy and good with an occasional pot hole. It was like driving through a park. Pine trees, lakes and mountains on both sides of the road. I didn’t make it to Esquel because of the inevitable rain. You could see the clouds forming ahead in the mountains, getting darker and darker. I was watching to see when the first car drove by with the windshield wipers going. It’s the first good indication it’s time to put on my rain suit.

By the time I arrived at El Bolson city limits it was raining. I had Blanche quickly find me a hotel. She found a fancy one with a fancy price. I was hoping she could have done better pricewise than that……but the reception door had roof over my head while I unloaded my bike in the rain and it also had secure parking.

After unloading my motorcycle, I set SPOT out to mark my location. Anytime I do that I always get people wondering “what is this guy is up to?” This particular time it was the manager of the hotel catching me on his security cameras performing this suspicious activity. He came out to see what I was up to. He never said anything just sat nearby watching. When SPOT finished sending its message, I picked it up and went to my room. He then went back to his office.

I asked the receptionist to order me two hamburgers. I was starving to death and I didn’t think one would be enough. When they arrived, they were six inches in diameter! The largest hamburgers I had ever seen. They were all I could eat. I couldn’t even touch the french fries. It rained all night.

Card and Tiime Woes - 7 March 2018

7 March 2018 – I got up and checked my foot out. There was no significant redness or swelling. I will be leaving today. I still limp when I step on my foot, but otherwise I’m going to try it out and see how it holds up walking on it.

I took the cover off my motorcycle and there were all kinds of little critter footprints on the seat. The critter probably needed a place out of the cold and wind for the night. I was happy he / she didn’t chew up the seat. I loaded my motorcycle, then had some breakfast and left.

I stopped at the bank in Town Junin de Los Andes and attempted to purchase some Argentine Pesos. No Luck, the ATM did not like either my debit or credit card. I even had one of the bank employees give me a little assistance. I went back to my motorcycle and texted Mary about the problems with my debit and credit cards so she could check to see if there had been an unauthorized withdrawl from my account that locked it up. I also told her that my phone jumped 3 hours ahead for no reason at all. Another something to annoy me. We thought maybe I was setting right on a time zone line and the phone didn’t know which time zone it was in. I told her I would check it again once I arrived in San Martin de Los Andes and left the bank.

When I got into the city, I had Blanche help me find an ATM. I walked in and none of the ATMs had Master Card, Visa, American Express stickers on them. Not a good sign. I held my breath when I put my card in that it wasn’t going to be rejected or blocked. It worked and I withdrew the money I needed. I went outside and checked my phone and the time was still 3 hours ahead. Mary and I texted back and forth for a while about what might be wrong. We finally gave up and I told her that I would check it again when I reached San Carlos de Bariloche.

I stopped and filled up with gas before I left. I met a VW Bus full of young people in the gas station, probably 7 or 8 of them traveling in South America. I didn’t get any details because none of them spoke English. They gave me one of their stickers and I gave them one of my blog cards. I left out of there heading to San Carlos de Bariloche. It was pretty much a walk in the park, so to speak, with mountains and some huge beautiful lakes. It was pavement all the way with limited truck traffic.

I arrived in San Carlos de Bariloche about 6:30 p.m. I passed through 2 police / policia checkpoints and held my breath that they didn’t wave me over for a papers check. Once I got within the city limits I stopped and typed in the Hostal location and Blanche calculated it. I wasn’t more than 300 Yards / 300 Meters from it. I drove down the street, hooked a u-turn in the roundabout and went back up the street. I was there.

I checked in and then carried my bags to the 2nd floor. My foot wasn’t digging all that punishment. All my luggage made it to the 2nd floor just fine but at slightly slower pace. I had to pay for secure parking next to the hostal for my motorcycle. At least it wasn’t setting out on the street. While I was unloading my motorcycle, I met a Ukrainian Couple. They stopped and talked to me because they recognized the abbreviation for their country on my saddle bags / panniers. The husband's name was Alex and his wife’s name I forgot. My apologies to you. They asked what route I took through Ukraine when I drove through. I told them the exact route I couldn’t remember because it was almost nine years since I rode my motorcycle around the world. We also talked some about the people I met. It was a nice short conversation. They spoke really good English. I helped the receptionist with the pronunciation of some English words on the way to my room.  When I got there, I opened up this word document to do more updates, and it was blank. I just about turned white and passed out.  Luckily I was able to recover it.