Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Hoping For Blue Skies - 30 March 2018

30 March 2018 – I worked on my blog most of the day and will attempt to send this smaller blog and pictures to Mary before I go to bed. I think the Wi-Fi signal at this hotel is fairly strong and it will allow me to do this quite quickly. Let’s hope, anyway. I took a short break to go out and get something to eat. Of course, I’m eating out of the gas station. They had some decent size sandwiches which filled me up along with some cookies.

When I got back to the hotel I took three pictures. Two of the pictures are of my motorcycle and the other one is a picture of the hotel. The reason I took pictures of my motorcycle is to show you how I have it jammed in the corner to keep it secure so the wind doesn’t blow it over. If I haven’t mentioned it…but…….my bike has been blown over twice. So far, no real damage except for scratches and bruises. If you look at the right rear saddle bag / pannier you’ll see the bottom of the bag is pushed in toward the wheel. The bracket which supports the saddle bag is bent. That’s something I can’t straighten out here. The bottom of the saddle bag / pannier takes the brunt of the fall whenever the bike falls over. Hence the reason why its bent in on the bottom. 

The other is a picture of the hotel, and the window below the Hotel Argentina sign is my room. It’s a no hassle hotel. You walk in, give them your name, passport number and money, and you’re done. Less than 5 minutes. It has secure parking and no stairs to climb. It has hot water, clean sheets and the bed is good enough for me. The wind has been howling outside my window all day. I hope it goes away during the night so I can leave on a calm and sunny day tomorrow.
That's it for this set of posts; more to come.  On to more adventures!

How To Get From Here To There - 29 March 2018

29 March 2018 – Today I stayed in the hotel room and did some forward thinking. I have 3000 Miles / 5000 Kilometers to ride to get to my friend's place, and need to start planning strategy on my route and where I’m going to leave Argentina. I mostly want to get out of this howling wind. I can’t trust to leave my motorcycle set for fear it will be blown over. When that Patagonia wind blows it doesn’t mess around. I’ve been blown over twice and don’t want it happen again. I also have to nail down a shipper to fly my motorcycle back to the U.S. I really want to ship it out of Brazil, that way I don’t have to leave Brazil and return Buenos Aires, Argentina and ship it from there. It’s the time factor and another border crossing.

I’m presently working with my friends in Brazil and Mary trying to find an International shipper to fly my motorcycle back to the U.S. I also planned out my route for 31 March 2018 and got my hotels all lined up. For those that are not in Blanche’s memory, I have the GPS coordinates written down so I can enter them when I’m near the hotel. I just found out this Sunday is Easter / Pascua de Resurreccion. Where has January, February and March gone? I went to bed.

I'll Huff And I'll Puff..... - 28 March 2018

28 March 2018 I left Rio Gallegos, Argentina about 10:30 a.m., give or take a little. It was a nice day: very little wind and sunny. I pulled over in a panic. I thought I forgot and left my cell phone in the hotel. Whew, I did put it in my coat pocket. Hooray for habit. Before I leave I always check that I have my two wallets, passport and cell phone. Today I forgot to check that I had put my cell phone in my jacket. When I stopped there was a young lad looking at his motorcycle’s rear wheel. Whatever he was checking apparently, he fixed it or it went away by itself. He was riding a Honda 650cc bike very similar to my Kawasaki KLR 650 with a lot less baggage. His name was Immanuel and he was from New Brunswick, Canada. Imagine that. I’m sure he was under 30 years old. He asked if we could ride together. I said we can, but I ride 62 Mph / 100 Kph. So, we were off. I think he was a little unsure with whatever was going on with his motorcycle. Having company is always comforting in that situation.

We rode directly into rain. It wasn’t a heavy rain because I didn’t get wet inside my AeroStich riding suit. We stopped once and he put on more clothes. I was wishing I had put on my rain suit when it started raining. There was only one place out of the wind that would have worked because it had buildings to get out of the wind. The rain eventually slowly came to an end, and then bright blue sky with sun. Two areas on Hwy 3 had high wind warning signs. Believe me, the wind was blowing. The wind gusts were in the range of 40 to 50+ Mph / 65 to 80 Kph.

In one of those high wind areas I had to cross a bridge. The reason I had to slow down was because the approach to the bridge was all broken up. It was an area the width of the bridge and about 2 yards wide on each end. I slowed down to 20 Mph / 35 Kph. The roughness of broken up area and the high winds blowing across the bridge started my front wheel swiping back and forth violently, and I mean violently. Anything I tried to do to stop the handlebars from swiping back and forth only amplified the swiping. At the same time the wind was trying to blow me into the bridge railing. I was being beat up by the wind and front wheel swiping back and forth. It was just nuts. I knew for sure that wind was going to cause me to crash and I was hanging on for dear life. I was almost pitched off by the swiping of the handlebars. It was some real scary shit. The cars behind me want to pass but were scared because of all craziness with my motorcycle.

I eventually got off the bridge and Immanuel was there waiting. I wanted to take a second to regain my composure, but he was off. This all took place somewhere near Puerto Santa Cruz, Argentina. Thank God I made it through with only my nerves frayed. There was another part of the highway that was a high wind area. It was announced with yellow signs that had palm trees blown over at 60 degrees. They also have some flags on the side of the road showing the direction of the wind. These flags were shredded by the snapping in the wind. It was about a 5 Mile / 8 Kilometer length of Hwy. I slowed down to about 50 Mph / 80 Kph. That gives you some reaction time to adjust your motorcycle to the wind. I never slow down below 45 Mph / 72 Kph because your wheels act like gyro’s. Below 40 Mph / 65 Kph your wheels lose the gyro effect and you’re back at the mercy of the wind. You want the gyro effect. I rode through that area ok, but it was a constant reminder of the bridge crossing.

Immanuel and I stopped at the intersection where I turn into Puerto San Julian. He was going to gas up at YPF gas station, get something to eat and then continue on. I had enough for today. I was going to stay in my favorite cheap hotel, Hotel Argentina, for two reasons………It’s cheap and has good wi-fi. The receptionist recognized me and gave me the same room I had the first time I was here. One of the residents of the hotel is a black puppy who is just fun to play with. I don’t think the owner likes me playing with his hound. It’s his guard dog and me being his buddy is probably destroying all his training. The room is the same price; $25 Dollars / 500 Pesos. I got my motorcycle wedged in a corner where it won’t blow over and carried everything inside. I walked down to the YPF gas station and bought a sandwich for tonight’s supper. It wasn’t bad. I wasn’t in the mood for anything serious so I just watched TV and went to bed.

Minimal Damage? - 27 March 2018

27 March 2018 – I woke up in the middle of the night worrying about my motorcycle. I should have thought to have shut off the gas valve because if I had a full tank of gas and it fell over, I could have leaked a lot of gasoline into the cylinder and had a hydraulic lock. Plus, that gas could have gotten into the crankcase. That would have been a mess to straighten out. That would have required removing the gas tank and an oil change. The gas in the cylinder would have to be removed. That would have been at least a day’s work.

I got up after 8:00 a.m. and ate breakfast before going out to look at my motorcycle. It was still standing and no one came to my door asking that I move my motorcycle so they could get out. I unlocked it and backed it out of the doorway. I then put it in 5th gear and pushed it to see if the engine could be rotated 360 degrees twice to make sure it wasn’t hydraulically locked with gasoline. It rotated twice and I parked in a new spot. Then I did some checks on it. I finally deducted that the most gas that could have gotten into my engine was whatever the carburetor bowl held, and here’s why. The motorcycle fell to the right side. I had almost 250 Miles / 400 Kilometer on this tank of gas, which means I used about 4-1/2 Gallons / 17 Liters of fuel. When it was laying on its side, the fuel on / off valve was above the fuel in the tank. I also smelled the ground where the gas cap would have leaked and there was no raw smell of gasoline. The was no raw smell of gasoline on the bike itself. So, when the bike was laying on its side the gasoline in the tank was lower than the fuel valve and the gas gap. I know my gas gap leaks gas and it leaks a stream of gas, not just a dribble.

I decided to start it, feeling safe that the piston wasn’t hydraulically locked with gasoline. I started turning it over and it let out a bang when the gas in the exhaust system lit off and with a little choke, the bike was running. That exhaust backfire woke up all the dogs in the neighborhood, which then started barking. There must have been four of them. I let the bike idle till it warmed up and then shut it off.

I want to look at the right side saddle bag / pannier bracket. It looks bent to me. I also am going to change the air filter as long as I have access to the right side panel. I removed both bags and set my bike on its center stand. I believe this is as stable as I can make it. I know I can get it on the center stand without the bags on it. I changed the air filter but I cannot straighten the saddle bag / pannier bracket. So, I clean up everything as best I could and put everything back together. I will call it good and tomorrow I hope the engine has no unusual hiccups from laying on the ground for probably four hours.

I went up to my room and continued to work on my blog. I got two messages from my friends in Brazil, who welcomed me into their home. I will check my motorcycle again and probably remove my cover to stop it from acting as a sail as the wind is picking up again, to try to keep it from falling over.

Monday, April 2, 2018

The Kwak Took a Nap - 26 March 2018

26 March 2018 – I went and ate breakfast today. While I was eating I sorted through all my pictures and picked the one I was going to put into my blog. I Started working on my Blog 11 document. I’m only roughing in the last 5 or 6 days. Just so I don’t forget what has transpired. After a week of not writing anything down bits and pieces start to be forgotten or the blend into another day. As I was working on my blog I noticed the wind was picking up. Pretty soon the wind was howling and the trees were taking a beating. I started to worry about my motorcycle. I thought it should be safe tucked away in the corner where I had it. Pretty soon the windows and the roof was rattling. Ever so occasionally, the building would shake some. You could feel it. I decided to walk down and check my motorcycle. I checked my supports to make sure they were tightly in place. The cover was flapping wilding in the wind. I thought that would be all right. The wind came in gusts. I estimate the gust were in the range of 40 / 50 Mph to 65 / 80 Kph.

Eventually, I decided I would stay another day just to run a fine tooth comb through the text looking for grammar errors and adding bits and pieces to improve the story. The wind continued to howl and then it started raining. I continued working on my blog and watching the weather. By 8:00 p.m. the wind had died down and rain stopped. I pretty much had everything typed in that I wanted and decided to go out and eat.

As I left the hotel I decided to look in on my motorcycle, the Kwak-a-saki. I rounded the corner of the hotel and there laid my motorcycle on its side. Damn is all I could say. I ran over and removed the cover, which was still flapping in the wind. I shifted it into 1st gear and, like they taught in the motorcycle class, I lifted my motorcycle back onto two wheels. The steering was locked so I couldn’t really move it. So, I put my supports back under it to steady it, grabbed my cover and went upstairs to get my keys. The receptionist looked at me suspiciously like something was up. She may have known my bike was tipped over by seeing it on the hotel security cameras. The best I can figure it, the wind must have been really turbulent in the corner where I thought it would be protected from the strongest winds. Well, mother nature out smarted me again.

I pushed my bike into a doorway that was about 4 Feet / 1.5 Meters deep. I push the front wheel into one of the corners for stability, put it in 1st gear, put my two support uprights in place and blocked in the rear wheel. That was the best protection I could give it for the night. I locked it up and went to eat supper. I checked it again before I went to bed thinking I might get hollered at because of where I had my bike parked. No one said anything and anybody parked in secure parking still could get out. I thought I would get up about 8:00 a.m. and move my bike. We’ll see……….I hope no one comes a-hollering.

Don't Kick Me Out! - 25 March 2018

25 March 2018 – I slept in late and didn’t eat breakfast. The hotel lady came knocking on my door about 11:30 a.m. and said it’s time to leave the hotel. I told her I was staying two days. She accepted that and left. I grabbed my credit card slip and saw that nope, I only paid for one day. So, I went downstairs and paid for another two days. That settled that problem.

I e-mailed a bunch of people who have written me and I just let them know where I am. Most have been wondering why my blog hasn’t been updated in a month. I kind of touched on that subject once or twice before. It takes time to put this all together it’s just that simple. Tomorrow I will work on my blog and pictures. I went out to a restaurant I ate at before when I was riding down to Ushuaia. They serve a variety of food and with a little effort I could order it. I usually order a hamburger, french fries and water. I walked back and stopped at a small grocery story to pick up apples, bananas and ice cream.  After a relaxing day, I went to bed.

They're Not Llamas - 24 March 2018

24 March 2018 – I woke up and looked out the window. The cars and my motorcycle had a nice coating of frost on them. I went and ate breakfast. I saw a couple of cats setting outside shivering away. When I finished breakfast, I brought two small cubes of butter out for each of them. I hope it helped warm them up some. I packed my motorcycle and put on my rain suit just for warmth. I had Mary make a reservation for the hotel I will stay in again tonight.

I had a ferry ride and one more border crossing. I then was back in Argentina. There were six other motorcycle riders like myself on the ferry. Three from Argentina, Two from Nicaragua, one from California, and myself. You had to pay a fee to make the ferry crossing and I was checked to make sure I had the current receipt. I was thinking if you saved your earlier slip, you could flash it and not have to pay the fee. Well, had I done that I would have been caught because the ferry dude actually checked the date and time on my receipt. I was glad I didn’t pull a fast one and then get caught.

I went thru another border and had an opportunity to talk to the guy from California. He was a school teacher who taught History. He didn’t say what grade level. He was traveling with the Australian couple who lived in Nicaragua. While we were talking my helmet fell off my seat to the ground. Thankfully it didn’t scratch up the face shield.

I walked in to Customs and Immigration and watched the different windows the other motorcycle riders went to. That way I would know where to go without a big hassle. I could flow smoothly through with no problems. It was one of my best border crossing I ever had. Not a lot of questions and everything went smoothly. The California guy had a dual citizenship. His parents were from Argentina and he was born in California. He had the best of two worlds. Anyway, they left and I had to spend more time in line waiting. I eventually finished up and left.

I was following this car thru the border and they were dragging butt. I was following them knowing they would speed up and be gone. They started speeding up and I noticed my visor was flapping in the wind. I immediately pulled over, took my helmet off and saw that the plastic cap holding my visor hinge together was missing. I didn’t know if it came lose when my helmet fell to the ground or came loose when I flipped down my sun visor in the helmet. I turned around and drove slowly down the road scanning back and forth looking for any sign of the cap. I rode about 500 Yards / 500 Meters and there it lay on the centerline and nobody as of yet has run over it. Thank God. I reached down to the pavement to pick up that cap.  Let me tell you that’s a stretch when you’re on a KLR 650. If it was 1/2 Inch / 1 Centimeter farther away I would never have been able to pick it up. I moved off to the shoulder of the road and re-installed the cap. My visor was now back functioning as normal. Let me tell you when I found it I was about on my knees thanking God in the middle of that highway. Again, my helmet would have been worthless without my visor. I need it to protect my glasses.

I’m now off to Rio Gallegos, Argentina to my hotel. I saw a lot of the Emu’s and Llama’s that I had seen on my way to Ushuaia. I actually learned that I have been calling these critters by the wrong name.  The Llamas are actually Guanacos, and the Emus are Rheas.I saw another Guanaco leap a 5-foot fence again. It’s amazing how graceful that big critter does that.

Finding my hotel was uneventful and the price of the room was cheaper than the first time I stayed there. When I arrived, I was surprised they had received my reservation. Mary said she was having problems sending the e-mail to make the reservations. Everything went smoothly there. I told them I would be staying two days. I unpacked my bike, then oiled and adjusted the chain. I would really like to wash my motorcycle. The roads are full of dirt and when they get wet, this dirt and water really mess up your motorcycle. If you get caught behind a vehicle this road spray will cover you and your motorcycle with this mud / dirt. It’s a mess.

Sad Goodbye - 23 March 2018

23 March 2018 – I ate breakfast and packed my motorcycle. I was leaving Ushuaia, Argentina. It was kind of a sad feeling. It took a lot of work and planning to get here and now I’m leaving. I filled up with gas which took a half hour. Gas lines……there were six cars in front of me. I put my rain suit on just in case of rain and also to keep warm.

When I finally left the city limits I passed the Ushuaia signs announcing the city. I stopped and took some pictures. As I continued into the mountains I noticed that all the road construction I passed through on the way into the city was mostly completed. That kind of tells you how long I stayed in Ushuaia. I arrived on the 16th of March and departed today the 23rd of March. I stayed 7 nights in Ushuaia. The time went really fast.

I rode into some rain thru the mountains and I was very glad I had my rain suit on. I rode past the city of Rio Grande and crossed the border in to Chile. For whatever it’s worth……..I sure wished all the borders worked like that. Fast and simple.
I then rode about 32 Kilometers of dirt road and stopped for the night in Cerro Sombrero. It was a very expensive hotel and their restaurant was equally as expensive. Besides pumping sunshine into the place I guess all their food has to be trucked in. It was a nice hotel. I can’t complain, but I didn’t need a key to get in and out of my locked door. Pull it closed and push it open. I know management knows about the problem and just figures the tourists are here for one night, complain, and are gone the next day. I watched a good show in English on TV. It’s been a long time since I did that. I could tell by the weather it was going to be a cold night. It was a clear sky with a bright crescent of a moon and already in the low 40’s.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Ushuaia Prison - 22 March 2018

I took a tour of the prison.  Personally, not a place I would like to be locked up in. Some pretty basic latrine facilities if you look at my pictures. The little guy with the big ears was pretty nasty from a young age. He was beaten to death by his fellow inmates for throwing their pet cat into a burning stove. He got what he deserved.

Another picture I thought was interesting was the wrought iron work on the railings. Look at the picture with the railing. Look how the round bar passes thru the eyelet. Then look at how this 1” Inch diameter / 25.4 Millimeter rod is wrapped around the 2nd lower bar. All this work was very nice, neat and close fitting. Not bad blacksmithing.

Playing Tourist in Ushuaia - 22 March 2018

22 March 2018 – I had to switch hotels today. I was booted out of Hosteria America when I asked to stay another night. I waited too long to tell them and they gave my room to an incoming bus load of Koreans. I was out. There was no happiness about this. They recommend another Hostel about 500 Yards / 500 Meters away. I packed up my stuff and moved to the other hotel.

After I was moved in I walked downtown to do tourist things. I found an ATM and shored up my pesos for my trip North to Brazil. I took a tour of the prison. I’ll put those photos on a separate blog post because there are so many. Personally, not a place I would like to be locked up in. Some pretty basic latrine facilities if you look at my pictures. The little guy with the big ears was pretty nasty from a young age. He was beaten to death by his fellow inmates for throwing their pet cat into a burning stove. He got what he deserved.

Another picture I thought was interesting was the wrought iron work on the railings. Look at the picture with the railing. Look how the round bar passes thru the eyelet. Then look at how this 1” Inch diameter / 25.4 Millimeter rod is wrapped around the 2nd lower bar. All this work was very nice, neat and close fitting. Not bad blacksmithing.

I took a walk into the souvenir shop and bought my usual commemorative pin. I left the prison and walked down to the water front. A nice place to walk around and to sign up for tours. You also can check out the Argentine Navy Ships and the different cargo ships dropping off their cargo. I asked one tour person to take my picture by the Ushuaia sign. When I opened her booth, her hound escaped. It wasn’t a big deal that he wanted to get out of that small booth and she really didn’t care.

I took more pictures of a monument about the people who settled Ushuaia. It mentioned all the ethnicities who settled in this new land and called it home. They are listed on the round object in one of the pictures. I was finished with that tourist area and walked back to a hamburger joint for supper. It was the 3rd time I had eaten there. I stopped by another store and purchased water for on my motorcycle. I didn’t want to go to the grocery store, find my water, then wait in line for 30 minutes again to get checked out.

When I got back to the hotel the wind was picking up again. I moved my motorcycle off the street because I was afraid the strong winds would blow it over. I wedged the front tire into a corner so the bike virtually couldn’t be blown over and put my supports sticks under it and covered it. It was good for the night. I asked Mary to make a reservation for my hotel tomorrow night. It went to bed knowing I would be leaving tomorrow.