Wednesday, May 16, 2018

World Travelers - 19 April 2018

19 April 2018 – I got up early and ate breakfast. I talked to a Korean girl who has been traveling for a year. She’s off to Moscow, Russia and will ride the train east across Russia to Mongolia and then ride a train to south to Korea somehow. Her English wasn’t that clear so I don’t how she will change trains to get back to South Korea.
I took it easy for a while and then in the afternoon I walked to the 3 corners region of Argentina where the borders of Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay meet. It was the farthest I had walked since I started this trip. I took some pictures of a de-commissioned tourist ship, some retaining wall murals and pictures around the 3 corners area. You could also see the car ferry which shuttled cars, trucks and freight to Paraguay. I’m not sure why this ferry service operates because there is a bridge to Paraguay. Maybe the bridge is from Brazil to Paraguay. Maybe by using the ferry you can avoid one border crossing. For example, Argentina to Paraguay instead of Argentina, Brazil and then Paraguay.
I sent Mary a selfie of me from in front of the 3 corners monument. I walked back to hostel and spent the rest of the night getting ready to cross the border in the morning to avoid the heat and humidity of the day. Tomorrow will be my first day having to navigate the Portuguese language. It’s going to be a challenge.

Not Popular With the Police - 18 April 2018

18 April 2018 – I will leave Jardin America and ride to Puerto Iguazu, Agentina and hopefully the hotel I’m looking for is available. When I got there I found out the Marco Polo Inn is still open but has changed its name. That caused me some difficulty. I stopped in a tourist information building and found it’s location, then found the location in Blanche my GPS. I go to the location and can’t find the Marco Polo Inn because it has changed its name. I asked in another tourist information center near the bus station and they told me it was across the street. I walk across the street and check out the Tango Inn. Sure enough, it was the Marco Polo Inn with a new name. It’s a hostel.

I went back to the bus station to get my motorcycle and the Parking Police Man hollered at me because I parked too long at the bus station. Then he blew his whistle at me again when I drove up a one way street to get on the sidewalk because someone parked in front of the driveway into the Tango Inn.

I drove up the driveway into the hostel and parked in front of my room. I unloaded my bike and two Norwegian guys came over and wanted to talk to me about my travels. It was 85 degrees and really humid. I sweat profusely inside of my red AeroStitch riding suit. It was dried out when I started this morning and now it was soaking wet with perspiration again. I was almost dehydrated. I drank a litre of water and ate a pizza for supper.

Tough Concrete Work - 17 April 2018

17 April 2018 – Before I left I took the Monarch Butterfly outside and put it on a branch in one of the trees. Hopefully, he likes the tree better than the hotel room. This hotel I found not to be user friendly. I paid more money for less than the hotel a day earlier. I will leave Santa Rosa, Corrienties, Argentina and drive to Jardin America, Misiones, Argentina. I’m hoping to have good luck finding a hotel.

Once I arrived in town, I couldn’t find my hotel of choice so I asked a couple of young lads if they knew where it was. One of the guys jumped on his motorcycle and guided me over to it. It was on the opposite side of the road. It wasn’t that visible to me. I pulled up and parked. I looked around and it kind of looked closed. I rang the doorbell a couple of times and no one answered. I walked over to the lumber business next door to the hotel. I asked one of the guys about the hotel. He said it was closed. I really liked this hotel and its layout.

I’m off to my second choice……..Hotel America. It wasn’t brand new but you couldn’t beat the price and it was clean. It also had secure parking which I wasn’t sure about when I was checking it out online. I carried all my bags upstairs and then was oiling my chain. A couple of friendly guys curious about motorcycle stopped by and started asking questions. I told them about my motorcycle travels and whatever else they wanted to know about my motorcycle. I gave them a card with my blog addresses on and showed them how to look them up in Google. We took some pictures and they left. They told me that they had to get going because their mothers or girlfriends were getting tired of standing around. We talked for more than 30 minutes.

I continued oiling my chain and emptied the can of spray of chain oil. It was brand new when I left Minnesota. I also washed my head light, tail light and signal lights. They were still dirty from the rain and muddy wet road down near Ushuaia, Argentina. I rode my motorcycle over to the secure parking. It was maybe 100 Yards / 100 Meters away. I found a safe spot out of the way of car parking and covered it up. The usual routine.

The secure parking area was inside a new addition they’re putting on the hotel. There will be rooms with showers, beds etc. The inside concrete work is maybe 1/8 to 1/4 completed. That’s not a big deal but how it was being completed totally blew me away. The crew was working on the 3rd floor and all concrete was mixed there. The bags of concrete were carried on their backs up 6 flights of stairs. They did that about twice an hour. All the sand was pulled up to the 3rd floor. They had a tripod built with a single pulley, rope and a 5 gallon pail. The guy on the ground floor filled the 5 gallon bucket, set the bucket under the pulley, took the slack out the rope, then took a run and pulled the pail up about 5 yard / 5 meters and then hand over hand pulled it to the 3rd floor. When it got to the 3rd floor the guy would grab it, unhook it, dump the pail and send it down the empty. This went on till the pile of sand was on the 3rd floor or they went home for the day. I believe they had one cubic yard / one cubic meter of sand on the floor when I was watching. I’m sure it was 2 cubic yards / 2 cubic meters of sand when they started. I had to check and see how much that pail of sand weighed. I guessed it weighed between 35 and 45 pounds / 16 and 20 Kilograms. I saw the guy on the rope pull up over 10 buckets of sand. Is there anybody out there who wants to volunteer to hoist sand for a day? That young guy on the rope was in pretty good shape.

I went back to the hotel. After 8:00 p.m. I came down stairs and went to the restaurant. Mary told me it was a Brazilian Steak House. They had a salad buffet and then they came around with steak, pork and chicken on a skewer. They slice off any quantity of meat you desired. I will tell you I ate my fill of salad and all three meats. That hands down was the best meal I had eaten since I left the United States.

Poor Butterfly - 16 April 2018

16 April 2018 – I took the day off in Santa Rosa. I worked with Blanche and planned my route through her because I didn’t have the internet. I walked through town and later in the evening went shopping for food. I stopped in an ice cream shop and bought some ice cream. It was a true test of my communication skills. Even with my cell phone translator the guy couldn’t understand what I wanted. I tried to ask him if he had Neapolitan Ice Cream. I told him I wanted strawberry, vanilla and chocolate. No way could he grasp that. I finally bought a single flavor and left. I know he tried hard to give me what I wanted but somehow that combination of flavors was totally foreign to him.
When I got back to the hotel the internet was up and for some reason the air conditioner started up. All were not working when I left. Mysteries. A Monarch Butterfly was pinched in between my computer and paperwork folder. It had lost one antennae otherwise it looked in good shape. I’m afraid he’s doomed. I felt bad for him. I was able to Skype Mary since the internet was up.

Farm Talk - 15 April 2018

15 April 2018 – I got up and looked out the window. Partly cloudy with some sun. I carried down my first load to my motorcycle. I put out my Spot to send a message to Mary and they removed the bungee cords holding my motorcycle from being blown over. When I arrived at the otel it was windy enough to make me think my motorcycle could be blown over. That’s a real unpleasant thought. That’s why I had it bungee corded to the hotel water tank out of the way of other hotel cars. Once the Spot message was sent I moved my motorcycle to the front of hotel and finished loading it. I then ate breakfast, put on my riding clothes and then departed.

It seemed like most of the land I drove thru was low land and swampish. The beef cattle, white face and black angus looked like they had wet feet most of the time. There also seemed like there were a lot of pools of water about an acre in size and shallow, maybe 1 yard / 1 meter deep. I saw a lot of beef cattle knee deep in these ponds. I wonder how many of these critters got stuck in the mud, fell over and drowned. More and more horses have started showing up. It used to be one or two horses ever so occasionally but now you see them in group of six to ten. These horses have nice shiny coats, whereas the earlier horses had much rougher coats of hair and didn’t look as well fed.
I took a couple of picture of some of the combines they use down here. Massey-Ferguson and John Deere seem to be the machine of choice if you can afford them. For the size of the fields they have down here I would have thought you’d see wider headers. They kind of looked 15 feet wide. Maybe they were harvesting soy beans instead of wheat, I don’t know.

I was pulled over by the police in check point and asked to check papers on my motorcycle. I had to take the tires off the top box to get to my documents. This is not a pleasant task and time consuming. The police officer was standing there looking in my box like he expected to see gold or money. He was disappointed. I gave him my title and border paper work. He looked at it like he didn’t know what he was looking at and then gave them back to me. I loaded up my tires and got out of there.

Blanche once again tried to drag me in a direction other than the way I was going. I had to bully her back on my route. When I arrived at the hotel I got checked in OK but their internet wasn’t working. I wanted to do research on upcoming hotels and border crossings. I was not happy about this. So I went to bed mad.

Where Did They Hide the Grocery Store? - 14 April 2018

14 April 2018 – I got up and went downstairs for breakfast. I noticed a bit of a different mood in the place. Then I looked at the TV screen and all over it is newscasters talking about how the U.S.A., Great Britain and France were launching missiles strikes against Syria. So, I’m wondering how that will affect me down here. I’ll just have to watch and see how it plays out. Trump is not well liked down here. So, tomorrow is my blast off date…….I can stay no longer. I plan on traveling up Hwy 12 and Hwy 118 to Santa Rosa, Argentina. Another small town and small hotel. I’ve got to go the grocery store and resupply my food and water again. The hotel seems pretty quiet today for some reason. Anyway, off to oil the chain on my motorcycle and get my shopping done.

This is kind of funny. So, I off to go grocery shopping. I’m on this street which is a street at a 45 degree angle to the city plaza and all the other streets in the city. Each of the 4 corners of the city plaza has a street which projects out at 45 degree angle like this. This town is not the only town to lay out its streets like that. I get down to the plaza and I’m getting myself orientated. I have to walk back to the hotel and I don’t want to get lost. It’s not impossible to do. Anyway, I walk past an ice cream place and a small restaurant. I arrive at the corner where I know where I’m at. I keep looking for familiar land marks because I was at this grocery store before. I walking and I’m not seeing it and I’m getting ticked off because I can’t find it. I should be able to reach out and touch it. I keep walking on all 4 sides of the plaza. The grocery store just disappeared.

I walked by a museum on the outside of the plaza square and you’ll never guess what was setting there. It was an old 10-20. Most everyone in my family knows what the 10-20 is / was. It’s an old tractor which we had on the farm. It’s a McCormick-Deering Tractor. Manufactured sometime around 1927. 3 speeds forward and 1 reverse. 10 horsepower on the draw bar and 20 on the pulley. This one still had the steel wheels on it. I almost jumped the fence to pet it. It had a lot of parts missing and it made me sad to see that.

Anyway, I decided it’s time to ask directions to the grocery store. I have to be near it. So there stands a guy my age and I stopped to ask him where it was. He does a great job of telling where it is in Spanish which I only understand two words of. He also is using hand gestures to show me were to go. I thanked him and off I go. I was going in the right direction but then I veered off track and didn’t know it.

All of a sudden someone was hollering but I didn’t know it was at me. Pretty soon same guy catches up to me and tells me I am going the wrong direction. He’s huffing and puffing. I don’t think he was more than 100 yards / 100meters from me when he decided to catch me. He points in the direction I should be going all the while he catching his breath. I thought that was nice of him. He keeps walking with me till I’m about 50 yards / 50 meters from the store and makes sure I see the store before he leaves. I thanked him and shook his hand as he departed. I took one street to soon that’s why I missed the store.

On the way back to the hotel I stopped in the restaurant I passed on the way to the store and ordered up a hamburger and fries. This hamburger was better than the other two hamburgers I purchased in another restaurant. I have done a fair amount of walking during my stay here in this town. On three occasions I was almost attacked by different dogs. I mean they were serious about taking a chomp out of my leg. If I would have made an aggressive move these dogs would have bitten me. They’re not rabbit dogs, they’re dogs wandering around the city. Every city and gas station have them. I was wishing I had some of that bear spray / mace. I would have gassed them on the spot. I just kept on walking and tried to ignore them. One of them rushed me in an attempt to scare me and I thought for sure I was going to get bitten. I know if they’d had latch on to my leg it would have been a trip to the hospital. Thankfully that didn’t happen. I made it the hotel without incident.

Slacker! - 13 April 2018

13 April 2018 – I worked on my blog all day again. For some reason it just seemed difficult to work on this blog. Anything seemed more interesting than typing this blog. It was very easy to get distracted. I plugged away at it. I somehow managed to type about 3000 words. If you haven’t noticed I’ve been here in Cerrito for 3 days and tomorrow will be the 4th night. It seems like a long time. The hotel costs $25.00 USD a night which is fairly cheap. This same hotel in a tourist area would cost between $80.00 and $120.00 USD a night. The price difference is huge when this hotel is in a small town in the middle of a wheat field. The other difference is this hotel is new but not older than 5 years old. A pretty nice place. Guess what I just decided to stay another night. I still need to tweak on this blog some more.

Why is Brazil so Complicated? - 12 April 2018

12 April 2018 – I spoke with my Brazilian friends James Sr. and James Jr today. I needed to touch base with these people to let them know I’m still alive and moving in their direction. I’m presently 375 Miles / 600 Kilometers South of Foz do Iguacu, Parana, Brazil. James Jr. gave me a name of an Insurance Company that sells insurance for my motorcycle. I looked them up on the internet to get their address and then I can get their GPS coordinates. Once I have their GPS coordinates I can drive to their address or business. I sure hope purchasing this insurance isn’t difficult. All I have to do is think of the difficulty of getting the Brazilian Visa and that makes me worry about purchasing this insurance. I also planned my next day of travel and where I will stay.

For My Mental Health - 11 April 2018

11 April 2018 – Today I did absolutely nothing. I took a mental health day. I watched television and checked out the news on the internet. I also start researching the Argentine and Brazil border crossing at Foz do Iguacu, Parana, Brazil. That will be my point of entry into Brazil. I hope it will be an easy border crossing. It still amazes me how I can check out the border ahead of arriving there. In the Ukraine and Russia, you just showed up at the border. No preparation and worked your way thru it. Now I can look at the buildings and almost tell what buildings I will be entering. That was not the case in the Ukraine and Russia.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Clean Motorcycle - 10 April 2018

10 April 2018 – I got up early and loaded my motorcycle. I wanted to get an early start. I almost needed a flash light to load it. Once I got it loaded I went and ate breakfast. Every time I leave a hotel now, I know I’m getting closer and closer to leaving South America. So, it’s like I need to take a 2nd look to remember it. I got dressed in my AeroStitch Suit, returned the key and I was off. I forgot to fill up with gas before I left town and the gas station was right there. I drove right by it. I know I was thinking about my routes and whether they were going to lead me to Casilda, Argentina.

I was about 15 Miles / 40 Kilometers South of Rosario. I stopped on my way for gas and then got on the bypass route. My first bypass route work flawlessly. I crossed one set of railroad tracks that were dangerous, and unbelievable was an understatement. There was a 1 Foot / 35 Centimeter deep ditch on the outside of the tracks on both sides. The cars cross at an angle so as not to get hung up. The semi-trucks just drove straight across bouncing along. You could not cross those tracks at 5 Mph / 8 Kph. I’m pretty sure if you tried crossing those tracks straight on at 20 Mph / 32 Kph your suspension would be trashed. You would think that a road hazard like that would be repaired instantly. All the traffic has to stop to cross it. Guess what the street vendors don’t want it fixed because when the traffic stops they can sell candies and cold drinks to the truckers and cars. To add insult to injury….the road is an Autopista / Interstate in our language.

The 2nd route around Santa Fe worked flawlessly. Of course, Blanche is always trying to find a shorter route. To get a shorter route she navigates down the off ramp and then navigates up the on ramp and back on the Autopista / Interstate. I fell for it once but she tried it 2 more times. I just followed the route which irritated her but we made it around the cities just fine. The 3rd route worked flawlessly. I took the wrong exit once. That was my fault. It wasn’t a bad thing because the exit I should have taken was under construction. I took a break once to get something to eat and then continued on.

I made it to Cerrito, Entre Rios, Argentina about 1:00 p.m. I paid for two nights because I need to work on my blog. After I got settled in my room I walked down to the nearest gas station to see if that had any decent food to eat. I asked if there were any car washes where I could wash my motorcycle. After a bunch of talk someone said there was a place called “Two Brothers” that washed cars and motorcycles. One of the people in the conversation offer to drive me over there and to check the place out. The place also changed tires, washed vehicles and god knows what else. The guy gave me a ride back to the hotel and I had to figure out how to get back to the car wash. That was a bit challenging because we probably turned 5 or 6 six different corners and then came back a different way than we went.

I did eventually find my way back to the car wash or “Two Brothers”. I sprayed the wheels and engine with degreaser. My bike sat for a while because they were busy so they didn’t get to it right away. They wanted to use a pressure washer and start blasting with it. That didn’t set too well with me. I didn’t want to get water in my wheel bearings, speedometer and tachometer flooded. We then pressure washed the bike. The pressure washer never got near my wheel bearing or my instrumentation. When that was over we talked some about my travels and what I did for a living. I told them I was machinist for 37 years and showed them pictures of some different types of work I done. I gave them copies of my blog which they could look at if they wanted.

I then drove back to the hotel. I checked the town out on the internet to see if they had any restaurants. They did. The receptionist had a small city map and showed me how to get to the restaurant. I ordered the usual……a hamburger and french fries. I came back, skyped home and went to bed.

Clean Clothes And New Pens - 9 April 2018

9 April 2018 – I ate breakfast and delivered my clothing down to reception to have everything washed. I then set about building my 3rd custom route around Parana, Argentina. This custom route had 12 way points. It was pretty straight forward. It actually didn’t take me very long to build this route. Sometimes depending how complex the route is I can spend a whole afternoon building a route. After I finished it I wrote on my gas tank tape all the route endings and name of highways and road numbers to help guide me through these cities. I then started getting all my bags packed up. My clothing was returned about 6:00 p.m. I packed all my cold weather gear and only kept out my clothing I wear in warmer climates. I got my rain suit and boots packed up. If the weather predictions are correct it shouldn’t rain tomorrow. I went out to the restaurant and ordered another hamburger for supper. After supper I walked around the plaza to check it out. How these town are laid out is sometimes pretty interesting. I also purchased two Bic pens because one of my pens fell to the concrete and wrecked the point. The other I let someone use and left it behind. Believe me nobody carries or has a pen in their possession in these countries.

Watch Out For The Ruts! - 8 April 2018

8 April 2018 – I got up and cautiously looked out the door. Another cloudy day with the possibility of rain. I loaded my bike and went and ate breakfast. Coffee or Tea and croissants. I ate my croissants and then went and got dressed to ride in the rain. I was all dressed, dropped my key off at reception and departed the hotel. I went downtown to a bank which has an ATM and purchased some Pesos. I talked with a taxi driver who wanted to know more about my motorcycle and travels. He eventually had to leave because someone needed a ride. I hated to see him go but was kind of glad. I was in that rain suit and I had my own personal sauna going on. I needed to get some wind blowing on me.

I was off, heading toward Casilda, Argentina. It’s about 40 Kilometers South of Rosario, Argentina. I ran into some rain on the way. Again, it was mostly agricultural. The small towns I passed thru the heavy trucks rutted up the roads severely. It was raining for a short stretch and these deep ruts fill with water. I believe the water depth was 2 Inch / 6 centimeters. I was worried about hydroplaning and crashing into the ditch. Scary stuff. I came up behind a semi-truck and followed him till the rain stopped. When he drove thru the ruts he cleared the water out of them. When the water was ejected out of the ruts it flew higher than the truck at a 45 degree angle.

Eventually, the rain and water-filled ruts went away and I arrived in Casilda. I set Blanche to get me to the hotel which she did nicely. With all the rain and now sun the humidity was high and I was dying inside my rain suit. I checked into the hotel and like it said, in the comments online……It’s an old hotel that could use some updating but the price was right. I had no complaints. I had a first floor room and secure parking. I was happy. The first thing I did was remove my rain suit. I also removed my AeroStitch Suit to cool down. Then I carried my bags into the room.  I ate a good hamburger in a nearby restaurant and later Skyped Mary before going to bed.

Scheming With Blanche - 7 April 2018

7 April 2018 – I got up and there was still a light rain. Also the weather report north to Rosario shows me nothing but rain. I decided to stay at the hotel another day. I’m going to drive around Rosario and Santa Fe, Argentina. I’m going to build Custom Routes around these cities and that’s what will entertain me today. I researched a route around Rosario and it required 8 waypoints and was quite easy. This route didn’t have any glitches that I had to repair. The 2nd route I built to Santa Fe, around Santa Fe and the departing Santa Fe required 17-waypoints. It had two glitches in this route I had to repair. Both of the glitches I picked my waypoint in the wrong lane which caused Blanche to get extremely stupid. I repaired both of those way points and the route preformed flawlessly. I still need to build the custom route around Parana but I’m out of battery on Blanche. I’ll have to build that when Blanche’s battery is charged up again. I also planned out my route for the next day.

Rain, Rain, Go Away - 6 April 2018

 Today I will ride around Bahia Blanca on Highway 33 and then continue North to General Villegas. The day started out cloudy and pretty much stayed that way all day. I was going to put on my rain suit just in case it rained but thought I would take a chance it wouldn’t. Mostly hoping the sky would brighten up and get sunny. The countryside was mostly rural and again with wide open spaces that always make you hope your car or motorcycle don’t develop mechanical issues. All day looking forward it was clouds and getting darker clouds. I’m setting on my bike saying to myself can you just hold off on the rain for another 20 Miles / 32 Kilometers. All the signs were there that I was going to get wet, the shoulder of the road was wet with standing water. A few Miles / Kilometers down the road my hopes were dashed. I met a car with their windshield wipers on intermittent and then a truck with its windshield wipers going. I less than a minute I had rain drops on my helmet visor. Of course, there is a positive side to all this. The earlier rain and traffic had washed all the field mud off the road. That greasy mud makes the road surface slippery as ice and very hazardous. Especially if the mud is packed .375 Inch / .393 Centimeter thick. At least for me anyway.

So, I ride off and on rain as I continue north. The rain is continuing to get heavier as I drive north. I hate when my AeroStitch Riding Suit gets wet. Its not the getting wet part that’s irritating……but how to dry it out without air conditioning. I kept counting down the kilometers till I reached the town of General Villegas where I was planning on staying. I knew from looking at it online the night before what the hotel looked like and it was easy to find. The hotel wasn’t more than 400 Yards / 400 meters off High Way 33 on the road into the town. I whipped in there and got out of the rain. They had a room at a reasonable rate and I checked in. I got my bike under the roof next to my room so the bags wouldn’t get any wetter. This was my kind of a hotel. You give them the money and the deal is done.

I unloaded my bike. I got my AeroStitch hung up so it could dry. I turned on the fan to help the drying process. I ate supper at the gas station because they sold hamburgers and french fries. It must have really rained earlier in the day because some of the mud puddles were 6 Inch / 15 Centimeters deep and 2 Yards / 2 Meters in diameter. I have been watching the weather forecast for Rosario, Argentina. For the last two days it was rain and thunder showers. From all indications I think the weather forcast was correct. I Skyped Mary and then went to bed.

Monday, May 14, 2018

I Freaked Her Out - 5 April 2018

5 April 2018 – Today I am leaving Sierra Grande and my comfortable cheap hotel at about 9:00 a.m. I fill up with gas, eat a light snack and I’m off. They talk about the loneliest roads: this one rates right up there. Endless wide-open expanses and flat. Thank goodness no wind. There is nothing to slow it down or break it up. It was mostly desert with scrub brush. I’m sure I saw my last of the guanacos / Llamas. I saw three of them alongside the road. I didn’t see a single rhea.

 I stopped for gas and a light snack about half way to my destination. A guy stopped for gas and was all excited about seeing my motorcycle. He rushed off to his car to get his cell phone and showed me his motorcycle. It was a newer blue Kawasaki KLR 650. It was newer than 2007. I gave him one of my cards so he could look at my blogs and see the different changes I made to mine.

The farther North I went, the more it began to look like I was riding thru North Dakota and Northern Minnesota. The desert turned into large green fields with shelter belts with farm equipment. The shelter belts had different trees and not the usual cottonwood trees you see in North Dakota. I saw one large herd of cattle and then random smaller groups.

It then turned urban when I started entering Bahia Blanca. I found a nice hotel alongside the road. That was convenient so I didn’t have to ride into the city. This hotel was perfect. It was right alongside of Highway 33, which I was going to take north to Rosario, Argentina. I wanted to avoid Buenos Aires. I checked into the hotel and then continued working on my blog. I decided to eat in the restaurant sometime after 8:00 p.m.

The waitress brought over the menu and started talking Spanish to me like I was a native. I told her I didn’t speak Spanish and she freaked out. She went and complained to the management that she wasn’t serving me. Another younger waiter came in and took my order. Everything went smoothly. I used my cell phone to translate the menu. The older waitress brought my food and forgot to bring my french fries. I had to remind her to bring them. It was a meal of raw ham and some type of pasta. The pasta was good but I wouldn’t reorder the raw ham again. I ate everything despite that I didn’t really care for the ham. I skyped with Mary and then went to bed.

Holed Up Again - 4 April 2018

4 April 2018 – I didn’t travel again today. I needed more time to get more work done on my blog, figure out how far I was going to travel tomorrow, finding hotels for the night and getting Blanche on board with all the routes. I spent most of the afternoon working on that. I’m set pretty good now.

All day today Patagonia Winds were blowing and I mean blowing. I put the wind gust in the area of 40, 50 and 60 Mph / 65, 80, and 100 Kph. If those winds blew in BLOWING. In Minnesota and Wisconsin most of the trees would be on the ground. The biggest fear I have is it blowing over my motorcycle. All the curtains in the rooms were wiggling from the wind blowing in around the window frames. The front door would continually blow open from the wind gusts. The worst part of it all was the blowing dust. It sifted in under the doors, through the window frames and any little crack it could find. I sat by the window in the reception area and could feel the dust settle on my arms. The tables were covered with dust. My keys on my laptop were getting dusty. I moved when I could feel dust on the key board. I hope that wind isn’t blowing tomorrow morning and the weather front has passed through. As it stands I’m in pretty good shape to ride out of this town to bigger and better things. I think the hotel staff is wondering when is this gringo going to leave.

Hanging With the Locals - 3 April 2018

3 April 2018 – I decided not to travel today. I should have and I would have like myself better if I had. I wasn’t prepared. I found an ATM and resupplied my Pesos. I should be in good shape for a couple of days. I walked over to the grocery store and refreshed my stash of food I carry with me. On the way back from grocery store I stopped in the gas station and asked if they knew where there was a motorcycle shop. They gave me directions and come to find out it was no more than 100 yards / 100 meters from my hotel. The hotel guy told me the shop didn’t open up until 6:00 p.m. I went and found the place and then returned again at 6:30 p.m. I got lucky and they had the oil I like. They also said I could go ahead and change my oil there. I thought that was a nice gesture. I had to pay the last time I changed my oil.

I went back to the hotel, got my motorcycle, and took it out for a short ride to warm it up so the oil would drain out of it. I parked on the side walk in front of the shop and changed my oil. What has amazed me on several occasions is that the motorcycle shops don’t have drain pans. They mostly use 4 liter plastic bottles as drain pans. It’s the same old story cutting corners trying to save a few Pesos.

I got my oil changed and was packing things up when the young guy started talking to me. He asked me how old I was and How I could afford to take a motorcycle ride like this. I told him what he wanted know and two other guys were there who had questions. One guy asked if I did any machining on diesel engines. I told him I mostly worked on airplanes and aerospace. It’s really hard to get technical when you can’t communicate.

I showed them my 1941 Chopper. That set them back in their chairs. They were so interested I got their e-mails addresses and sent them a set of pictures that I e-mail to people who are interested. I gave them a card with my blog addresses on it. They gave me some stickers to put on my motorcycle. This town and hotel was the perfect place to do that type of work. Small town and friendly. I sure wished I could have communicated better with those guys. They were so interested. I rode my bike back to the hotel and put it to bed. I went inside and proceeded to e-mail those guys all my 1941 Harley-Davidson pictures. I didn’t get to bed till after 1:00 p.m.

I MacGyvered It - 2 April 2018

2 April 2018 – I got up about 8:30 a.m. and went and ate breakfast. Breakfast consisted of Coffee, Tea, Water with toast and crackers. The toast came with jelly and butter. That’s it. In the big scheme of thing for a 500 Pesos hotel to provide any kind of breakfast is really surprising.

I ate everything and set about trying to figure out something for this broken gas tank bracket. Initially I thought if I could stretch the bracket enough I could sandwich the bracket between two washers. Well that didn’t work worth a darn. I tried bending the bracket but that wasn’t happening. I saw this plastic water pipe sticking out of a rectangular hole at the bottom of the wall. I thought I could use it to keep the bracket from wearing a hole into the gas tank. I cut a chunk off maybe 3 Inches / 8 Centimeters. I whittled on it till it fit over the broken bracket. While I was doing the whittling, it occurred to me that if I put two radiator hose clamps around the plastic pipe I could collapse the pipe around the bracket holding it tight. I went over to the truck repair shop nearby and asked the mechanics if they knew where I could purchase radiator hose clamps and showed him a picture of the type of clamp I was looking for. He pointed to a store across the street that was a parts house. I walked over there and showed the desk guy a picture of the radiator hose clamps I was looking for. He finished something and then went and got me two clamps exactly what I was looking for. I was really happy to see that they had the clamps I wanted. I was in and out of there in 5 minutes.

I came back and did some more whittling on the plastic pipe till I got what I think I wanted. I bored a hole in it with my trusty Swiss Army Knife. I bolted it in position and used the two hose clamps to collapse the plastic pipe around the broken bracket till the two were tight together. I tightened up the bolt and my temporary fix was complete. It was probably one of the best less than desirable fixes I ever did and will be changed when I get home. I believe the plastic pipe should be able to absorb the vibrations of the gas tank without breaking. At least that’s the hope. It has to last 3000 Miles / 4828 Kilometers. I cut off a spare chunk of pipe as a backup incase my first one breaks for some reason. I put away all my tools which takes longer than to make the repair. I then pretty much worked on this blog and started preparing for my next days travel. I could be knocking Buenos Aires, Argentina door tomorrow or the next day. I’ll wait and see what shakes out here at the hotel. I have a lot of loose ends that need to be tied up.

No More Food! - 1 April 2018

1 April 2018 – I started leaving about 8:00 a.m. I had a full day of riding ahead of me and I wanted an earlier start. I was loaded up and departing by 9:30 a.m. I plan on riding from Comodoro Rivadavia, Argentina to Sierra Grande, Argentina. When I left the wind was hardly blowing and it was another beautiful day. As far as the scenery goes and animals, it was pretty much the same as yesterday. Same critters with a little more wind. I passed thru a wind farm. It was windy there but nothing like what I experienced further south in Argentina. I stopped in a city called Trelew and got gas, ate a sandwich, drank some water and ate a candy bar. While I was stopped I discovered that one of my gas tank brackets had broken. One more thing to think about. It was back on the road until I arrived in Sierra Grande, Argentina about 5:00 p.m.

I checked out a cheap hotel on the edge of town which was perfect for me. Good Wi-Fi, good secure parking and no stairs at a reasonable rate. 500 Pesos a night. I unloaded my bike, locked up the room and was off to get something to eat at the local gas station. I ate two hamburgers and fries. By the time I was finished I couldn’t eat another french fry. Another thing that is becoming more and more apparent is the temperature is going up. I have been so used to the colder temperatures down south that when I got into the 70 Fahrenheit / 21 Celsius degree temperatures I was dying. I had too many clothes on. When I leave Sierra Grande I won’t be wearing my long johns. I will have to check out the broken gas tank bracket tomorrow. I not sure how I will fix that and it may require some pondering. I fell asleep during some movie on tv.

Blow Over - 31 March 2018

Blow Over - 31 March 2018 – I got up this morning and walked outside to see what the wind situation was like. I opened the door and it squeaked like usual and I was instantly attacked by my buddy the little hound. He knew when he heard the door squeak it was probably me. He wanted to play so I had to rough him up some so he would be happy. The weather was a calm beautiful sunny day. Just the way I like them. The temperature was probably 43 Fahrenheit / 6 Celsius degree. I backed my motorcycle out of the corner of the building where I had it parked. I had it parked in the corner so if it got windy it didn’t blow over. I noticed by my second trip out as I was loading my motorcycle the little hound was gone. He’s back inside with his owner. I always had the feeling he didn’t like me being a buddy to his future guard dog. I hated to tell the little fella he probably was going to have a hard life ahead of him.

I returned the key, checked all my wallets and stuff and I’m off to the gas station for gas and drinking water. I will be leaving Puerto San Julian, Argentina and riding up to Comodoro Rivadavia, Argentina. The road was in good shape. With some worn down mountains and mostly flat land. Other than seeing all the likely suspects, skunks, birds of prey, rabbits, rheas and guanacos (llamas), it was mostly a boring day. This was rare of the guanacos. There was one standing in the middle of the road just looking. I was approaching while beeping my horn. For some reason they respond to my beeping horn and they run off in the direction they’re facing. This one particular guanacos did a slow 180 degree turn and walked back in the ditch. By doing the 180 degree turn I could have hit the darn thing. I was all over my brakes to slow down so I didn’t hit the critter. Like I said, when the guanacos hear my horn they start moving but this particular fella took his time. He / she may have had a death wish. The ditches are littered with dead guanacos. I saw one dead in the last 24 hours. It was the only one I saw like that.

As I passed thru Caleta Olivia I stopped in a bank and purchased some Pesos. The first ATM wouldn’t accept my credit card, or it was out of money. The 2nd one utterly refused the card and the 3rd one I hit pay dirt. I stayed in this town on the way down to Ushuaia. I didn’t care for Hotel Robert or just maybe their staff. I drove by the hotel as I continued on to Comodoro Rivadavia. The road from Caleta Olivia to Comodora Rivadavia was the most horrible black top road. It was all broken up and what wasn’t broken up was rutted up black top by the semi-trucks. If I owned a small car which there are many here like Fiat, Peugot and multitude of others etc. etc. I would be scared to drive these roads for fear of dragging or bouncing the bottom of my car off the raised center of those roads. The road or lane looks like a W. The center of the W is the highest part of the road. That’s the part you would scrap with your small car.

I stopped again once I arrived in Comodora Rivadavia to see if I could purchase more Pesos. It was the same bank, just a different town. It said I exceed the limit for the day. So, no more Pesos till tomorrow. I continued to drive thru town till I spotted a gas station. I stopped, filled up and bought a hamburger to eat. I continued on to the hostel. I rolled up on the hostel and it looked closed or out of business. There was one car setting alongside one end of the building and I decided to see if anybody was home. I knocked on the door and nobody answered. I saw a door bell button but it looked broken. I was about to leave and I said I’ll just push the doorbell once. I rang it and in a couple of seconds someone answered the door. I handed him my card which asked if he had a room for the night. He did. He took me in and showed me the room. It was small with 4 beds and no bathroom. Bunk beds and two single beds. It was crowded. The latrine was separate and shared with all the rest of the men in the hostel. The women also had a shared latrine together. I told him I would take it. $400 Pesos, a good deal with some inconvenience.

I rode my bike behind the Hostel and parked it. It was a bugger because all the ground was uneven. I got all my bags unloaded and I decided I was going to oil my chain on my bike. Because of the unevenness of the ground and the problem with the Patagonia Winds I decided to put it on the center stand. It took three of us to put that bike on the center stand. Remember, it now has 10 gallons / 38 litres of gas in the gas tank. Well we get the bike on the center stand. I put a board underneath the center stand so doesn’t sink into the dirt. There are no concrete pads around this hostel, it’s all gravel. I couldn’t turn the rear wheel so I put a short stick under the end of swing arm to get the wheel off the ground. I now can spin the wheel. I go to open my saddle bag / pannier with my chain oil in it. I get the lid half ways open and I feel my bike start moving. It rotated on the center stand and slid off the board it was setting on. The next thing I see is my bike crashing to the ground. It must have crashed loud enough because the owner of the hostel came out to see what was going on. We tried to lift the bike together and couldn’t budge it. He goes in to the hostel and gets the third guy again and three us get the motorcycle back on it wheels. I get my bike started and drive it off that spot. I drove it over to a shady spot with trees and tie the bloody thing to a tree so it wouldn’t fall over again if the winds came up during the night. I was fed up with the motorcycle for today and I never did oil my chain. I had that little blue cloud floating over my head again and there was no need to make it get any darker blue. I went in the hostel, planned out my next day, talked to Mary and went to bed.