The last 10 days
It hasn't been busy, exactly, but somehow time just slips by and I don't notice it happening. Somehow we're already only one week away from our trip ending. I'm not sure how it's possible.
Anyway, for those who are curious here's the summary of the last 10 days or so.
We left Puerto Ibanez and made it to Puerto Tranquilo. Great dirt road, ok-ish weather, and met lots of riders along the way including Nick (the guy who posted the "DR fist bump" and a KLR rider from Australia who we ended up spending the next few days with, and a couple of other riders waved to or spoke with briefly in passing. It was definitely the road for adventure riders!
Puerto Tranquilo was beautiful. It's right on the 2nd largest lake in South America and it's name is well suited as it's a very tranquil place to be. We did a few tourist things while there (someday we might get pictures posted) like hiking around on Exploradores Glacier and taking a boat to visit the Marble Caves. We were in Puerto Tranquilo for New Years and really, nothing even remotely exciting happened. We made dinner in our cabana and toasted happy new year to each other but it was about as quiet and calm as a new years can be -- no complaint, just an observation.
From Puerto Tranquilo we road to Chile Chico which included one of the most beautiful roads I've ever been on. For days leading up to it folks had been telling me it was incredibly dangerous and incredibly gravelly. Honestly, I was pretty terrified. They were all wrong. It was wonderful! It was beautiful. It wasn't dangerous or scary. I suppose we were lucky as it wasn't particularly windy but that road should be a must for adventure riders!
About 20 miles from Chile Chico Poodle noticed that my panniers were riding off center. Turns out a bolt had sheared off and a part of the welded frame had snapped. Big Bummer! Poodle took one of my panniers and Nivs took the other for the last 20 miles of the day. Luckily a) We found a Welder in Chile Chico b) we found a drill bit and borrowed a drill c) We found replacement bolts and washers and d) Poodle is awesome and managed to creatively fix the frame to be as good or better than new and by mid-day we were able to be on our way.
The next day was miserable. We rode from Chile Chico (think beautiful town) to the Argentine Coast (think ugly and boring). The road was boring, it was windy, the towns we drove through probably couldn't have been much uglier. We camped in Rada Tilly and took off the next morning for Trelew.
Riding from Rada Tilly to Trelew was pretty awesome. Poodle found a great dirt road that went along the coast for about 130 miles. It was in great condition and although wasn't the majestic views of the Andes it was still very beautiful with tiny coastal towns and crashing waves and hilly Argentne Campo. On this ride we even made a stop to see penguins! (Penguins are always fun, right?) The only bad thing about this day was it was too long. We got on the bikes around 10 a.m. and by the time we found a hotel in Trelew it was 11 p.m. (we took our time, rode over 350 miles on dirt/pavement combo, stopped several times and one of us even ran out of gas along the way). That was way too long of a day for me. However, I probably wouldn't have done it any differently either.
After the long day to Trelew we decided we needed a down day and to get some laundry done so we made it a short day of riding to Puerto Madryn and spent two nights there. What a cute beach town that is! It wasn't too busy but it was lively. It was small enough we could walk everywhere. In the evening a well known Argentine band entertained the city with a 2 hour long concert in the park. It was a very cool stop!
I forget exactly what the next day was but I think it was the most miserable day with riding 320 miles or so on straight, borning pavement with an incredibly strong side wind. Our tires now show significant wear on one side. Ugh. Miserable. Oh, and it was hot. Double Ugh. We camped again that night at a crappy little camp site near the beach not far from Viedma / Carmen de los Patagones. On this day of riding we were all wishing we had planned the trip differently -- but we needed to get to Buenos Aires so we kept pushing on!
The next day was a lovely day. Poodle found an alternative to the hellish highway 3 which took us on some beautiful two-lane non-busy roads through gorgeous field of sunflowers. We were out of the wind and all three thoroughly enjoying our ride. It wasn't a road that would go on the list of "must rides" but it made for a really pleasant and happy day for us. We stayed that night in Bahia Blanca which is a very skipable city, in my opinion. I appreciated the nice, cheap hotel we found but not only is Bahia Blanca not very interesting but it was also SUnday and the city sleeps and no shops open on Sunday. One highlight though was finding some very delcious, freshly made Empanadas. Yummo!
After Bahia Blanca we made it to Las Flores, just 125 miles from Buenos Aires. There was nothing special about this riding day. It wasn't as miserable as the worst day but also nothing to write home about. The little hotel we found in Las Flores was a bit of an oasis, except for the ants that got into all of our stuff.
Finally, we only had one more short day of riding to reach Buenos Aires. It was only 125 miles or so but it ended up being really intense because of all the huge trucks driving so close to one another and often not a safe way to get around them. Also, navigating through Buenos Aires on a motorcycle when you don't know the city at all is a bit intimidating. But we did it, and we found a palce to stay and have been enjoying the city for the last 3 or 4 days. We've been seeing lots of tourist sites, I was able to meet up with an old college friend and his family from back when I lived here, we've been soaking up the sunshine, the heat and a relaxed pace for when we return to our cold bustling lives. Today especially was quite nice with many hours sitting in the shade in beautiful plazas or under umbrellas at cafes. We'll catch a Tango show tonight and then will be off tomorrow again on the bikes, making our way back to Santiago through Mendoza.
Although I'm glad we chose to do the trip this way I would certainly make changes for a future trip. I do love Buenos Aires but the ride to get here just sucks. There's no two ways about it. I would love to have stayed on the Austral all the way down to Punta Arenas and ship the bikes home from there and then catch a flight to Buenos Aires to spend a few days vs. riding here. At least that's how i feel today -- but I always reserve the right to change my mind. :)