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Old 02-15-2011, 05:17 AM   #31
chevaliernoir OP
Le Chevalier Noir
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Location: Toulouse (France)
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The last time I told you I was stuck in Punta Arenas, but I was confident because ministers resigned, and the increase of gas decreased from 17% to 3%.

I expected this would bring calm, but the unity has disappeared for now : there are those who want to tighten the strike and those who are willing to accept the government proposal. Tensions rise ...

It's time to go to Puerto Natales which is also a city blocked. I am a little afraid to get out of town and could not get in the next, 250km away, with nothing in between. The city no longer replenished with fuel, I still find the last gas station that seems to have. At least one station that has gasoline is easily recognized: it is one that has a queue of cars ahead.
And away! 6 dams to go to find myself free. I use the same weapons as the go: the innocence and the pellet. And generally it works pretty well.
There are passages for pedestrians, and obviously the strikers are not sure whether or not to let me pass. I take advantage of their confusion and their search one-who-knows to be already on the other side.
Once the striker appears to be the leader when the dam will stop even more vindictive, saying that the move is forbidden to all motorized vehicles, and it therefore includes motorcycles. I said no, arguing that the 4 previous dams are well-informed them, and left me without a problem because they know that tourists can spend motorcycles. She confirms that she is awaiting further instructions, and if this has changed, she does not know ... I told him I'm sure of myself ... and suddenly it shifts to let me pass. Phew.
Another time, two dogs playing on the passage. I advance smoothly, and one of them rushes on the bike and ciolementr bangs against the corner of the luggage. He collapsed, then stood up, staggering. It's not killing a dog of a srtiker that will generate new friends. But no, a guy show me to thumb that all is well ... So I'm off.
Last dam. I gained confidence. Passage for pedestrians seems to me very close to me tack it when there is space on the bottom side of the road. I ask nothing, and slowly, so I start to get around the truck. There, I hear cries that are obviously addressed to me. And the bonhomie and benevolence of previous contacts are replaced by violence and nervousness. I hesitate to turn a deaf ear and push through, but I changed my mind. A short guy in fact at me with big gestures, defeat the mine, and he explains that there is a big ravine in the passage where I commit myself and that I would rather bypass the dam by the other side. Gracias amigo! And say that I hesitate to give a boost to go fast!
The 250km separating the two cities are nice, but I do not have too much head to enjoy it or take pictures because it will have to go well in Puerto Natales. Dam Puerto Matale closely resembles those of Punta Arenas (they had to follow the same school of dams), except that there is only one dam this time to reach the village. Whew, here I am come in nice pension Nancy awakens memories of Uruguay.
Although less agitation here, no horn concert, people find a quiet fishing village.

I feel good. With already looking for the next horizon to tickle.

The panic is especially for the hundreds of tourists stranded there, and have a plane to catch or other constraints of time or money. Suddenly, the gym is requisitioned by the army and the Red Cross, a collection of mattresses is organized in the village and hundreds of tourists are sleeping there. Atmosphere "refugee camps" realistic enough.
Me? No, I am here. I have my ticket for the next boat to go north, so I expect to be here in all cases. Remains whether the boat will really come and if we can embark. I take this opportunity to visit the village and surrounding ...

... and above all to spend an evening with my buddy Aurel who braved the cold, a border post being announced and closed the roadblock to see me! Everything about his coming is very well told here.

Following are starting, I take time off for cleaning the pre-air filter very dirty later in the breeze of Patagomnie and probably the cause of my excessive consumption of gasoline. And there is the drama: I discovered that the motorcycle frame is broken at the attachment of the subframe.

Everything is closed here, but I will find a welder soon as possible. It does not prevent me from rolling to port.
On the evening of departure by boat arrives ... the port is filled with more and more protesters ... The boat advanced to horrizon then passes behind an island and not return ... disperse the protesters a bit ... Police blocked the area ... réaparait boat when there are two new dams, but this time it was the police which is across the road to prevent demonstrators from blocking the area. We will be able to mount, but boarding is always delayed ... because most of the passengers who arrive by boat reffusent down at midnight in a city you can not escape. After much discussion, we can finally embark. The cars were banned from cons, and the boat will be relatively empty and the bikes (we are 2!) Will be able to pick up passengers through gateways.
At 8:30 am, the ship is sailing amares ... That the cruise fun!
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Old 02-15-2011, 05:18 AM   #32
chevaliernoir OP
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So the nose and the noses of demonstrators as the ship leaves port, for 3 days and 4 nights traveling through the fjords of southern Chile. Anyway, it's very simple, there are no roads, Chile, on the 1200km.
... and it is beautiful!

The first day, we were spoiled by the nice weather ...

Because of the strikes, most tourists have canceled their tickets. We end up to 90 people instead of 250! So some of us received a much better cabin that expected : "¿A cabin for 4 with a porthole and shower, it would suit you sir?"
The strike has rightly led to closer ties between travelers and we now form a hearty Franco-Argentine team. The atmosphere is excellent, and I even find myself enjoying myself like crazy at the ball of the commander Bingo!
Admittedly, the crew is especially nice too!

We remade the world, rule of white balance, tackles the inexhaustible subject of the disastrous influence of the charming prince on female psychology ...

The purpose of this transport by boat is also just as tourist and practical.
Every day, are offered presentations and explanations about the fauna, flora, formation of glaciers, etc. .... Spanish and English, by two passionate experts.
The cockpit is open to the public and there is every opportunity to ask lots of questions ...

The passengers are almost all foreigners, and the boat don t try to take the shortest way, and prefer to show us the gems of nature, as this gigantic glacier that flows into the sea and is just as magnificent as the Perito Moreno.

This line of boat can serve as a small harbor, midway, cut off from everything.

The next two days are covered in mist and washed by rain.

I also want to go in search of a welder on the ship for maybe resolder my motorcycle frame before arrival. Smart, isn't it? The small maintenance is done during the trips, and I find precisely the right person on the deserted deck vehicles. After inspection of the framework, he explains that he willingly resolder, but his welding machine delivers too much power and so it is not properly equipped to help. Too bad!

Navigating the fjords, it is safe from the bad sea is only a dozen hours of navigation at sea, in this ocean falsy called Pacific. When not used to, dips 4 to 6 meters, it makes you feel like ... remain horizontal and not to the sly devils!

But good things come to an end. We landed in Puerto
Back on the road!

Will I find a welder to get back in the bike good condition?
Do Chilean eat fish or meat as the Argentines?
What is the meaning of life?
You'll (almost) all this in the next article!
Le Chevalier Noir
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Old 02-15-2011, 05:19 AM   #33
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As soon as I touch the ground, I search a welder. The boats are made of steel, so the harbours should be good places to find them. 200m from the jetty, I came across this workshop ... the good one?

When I ask if there is a welder, I was a young man present at all happy to exercise his art on my bike.
Looking at the fracture of steel more closely, the boss suggests the use a TIG rather than the conventional arc welding.

So, I encourage them in that direction. So we finally decide to use a TIG, but the hardware is not there, so the boss goes to research it in vessels and other workshops in the city.

This leaves me time to socialize with some shop employees, especially with Jose that tells me in detail of life in Chile, his children to university and work on boats. I will of course think about Giovani, I mentioned a few weeks ago.

The time that TIG arrives, I go to eat on the harbor. In the middle of the fish market all cute, full of small restaurants challenging customers to come and eat.

They offer me something by default that I do not know. Like this must be the dish of the corner, I accept and find myself with a soup, a big plate of shellfish, and a piece of chicken and sausage. Here we mix all, and contrary to Argentina there is not ONLY meat. Owl.Hence the title of this article.

It was finally the boss himself who welds the frame carefully and 6 liters of argon per minute.

That looks fine. I am confident in any case, even if the frame chrome molybdenum does not weld as easily as the standard steel.
Therefore towards the island of Chiloe.

I arrived in the rain, and the next day is not much better, so, the trip around the island will wait. Meanwhile, I watch the few rays of sunshine.

Luckily, in the village, it seems there is a traditional festival. The first ray of sunshine, we'll check it out with 2 other tourists staying in the same place. And I re-passed the following day, failing to visit the island.

Again, seafood and meat rubs the same plates. Cool!
Folk dance groups and singing.

So good, here is beautiful, but even if I find really very well to highlight the local culture, history that it does not become obsolete, I'm bored quickly.

I still prefer to go to meet Ana, the simple lady who cuts tomatoes ...

... and make friends with her girlfriends.

On the way home at night, we hear music in a barn. We'll see and there is indeed a band playing, a row of deserted tables, and a few couples dancing, face to face, all lined up. A few hours later, the barn is full and so are we. We will dance in abundance, and we will go with a new cowboy friend who invited us the next day at a competition...
Indeed, I've found a club like no other:

The next day, we are assists to demonstrations where 2 riders must frame a livestock animal still wild, to follow a course very special.

The calf, however, does not necessarily want to play the same game

The decor is very nice ...

Another meeting with Francis, a French worked on the same professional projects that I, and which is now around the world by motorcycle. He travels few weeks with a clarinet in the saddle passenger;). Logically, we will meet again soon, but you can now enjoy his blog to continue the trip!

Me, I plan to go to the capital as soon as possible, to buy the ordered KTM parts and to do the maintenance of the motorcycle ...

Psalm 131.2 3: My mind is calm and quiet, like a weaned child close to his mother.
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Old 02-15-2011, 05:20 AM   #34
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There is a long way I have a oil leakage, and I think it's time to act. The oil comes from the gear sensor. This sensor indicates when I am in neutral, but also in 2nd and 3rd gear, in order to adapt the injection system, in order to pass the homologation tests, wich happen at these gears. This sensor is easy to access when you use the kickstand. This sensor is hold by 2 screws going on 2 "ears", and a O ring is used to avoid the oil going ou. In south Africa, we ordered many O rings, so I should have the good one. No problem ot remove the sensor, place a new O ring, and screw again... hum... it becomes hard ... glups, it's very loose now... I did't use the right O ring, and I broke one ear of the sensor! That's not funny. And it's all just MY fault. No worries, there is no big force at this point, so I try to glue it, and I screw again... The glue does nothing, but the sensor is in place, and I put some pate thate will help to avoid the oil going out, even with the original o ring. It should be OK at least until Santiago where I will order a new sensor. An I have other ideas in case of... So let's go to North and Santiago where all the parts needed are ordered for the big maintenance, and where new tires are waiting for me. Thanks Continental! On the way, I stop for 2 nights at Claudia and Diego who welcome me with open arms and nice simplicity. We don t know each other, but we have a commn friend in France that made the link between us. Thanks Olivier, and Thank you to Claudia and Diego of course! Then I ride again on the Panamercan road... so boring... until ... the motor stops suddenly.I'm still at 200km from Santiago, facing a long downhill. As there is no shadow where I am, I let the bike going down without engine... by chance there is a highway exit there... I take it ... by chance again there is a garage just there... the moto is still running by itself, and I can park it, 500 meters after the engine stop, without pushing 1 meter! Am I lucky? As the engine starts if I'm in neutral gear, and stops when I engage the first gear, I find out that the problem comes from the lateral stand switch. It's not a switch in fact, but an electronic sensor, so you cannot just short circuit 2 wires. And then, as a magician finding a white rabit in his hat, I extract from my toolbox a home made lateral stand switch simulator! Life is beautifull! I mount it, and the bike works as the first day. Less than 5 minutes to find out the problem and solve it. Very proud of me, I hit the road again. I will not meet the people from the garage. Is it good or bad? I don t know. As Françis says here : "finding problems brings finding people". Finally Santiago. KTM dealer prepared a small bag with all what I need. Thank you Leo to order everything for me! It was great to see the bag waiting for me!. Thank you also Jenny for the welcome and to have prepared my order with care and smile. In addition to classical things, I have a new petrol tank tap and a rear brake Brembo master cylinder. But no gear sensor, or lateral stand sensor. OK, my upgrade will work many kilometers... (I think) Continental offers me new set of excellent TKC80, and I have to go to Carlos to get them. By email the contact is excellent. When we meet it's even better. Carlos is very enthousiast respect to the trip. He asks me many details about the Africa crossing before telling me that he was also crossig Africa at the same period, but from South to North, on his DR650. Finally I used his garage to make all the maintenance of my bike, and enjoy his advises. I learnt to change the cylinder lock of a locker, and make O ring at the custom size... A great moment of life. Carlos was working close to me on the bikes (mainly BMW) of his customers. I hardly give confidence to motorcycle workshop, but here I have 100% of trust in the quality of the job done. So I recomand it for any mechanical or maintenance job : MOTOuring, GPS : S33º 23.752' W70º 33.205' So here I am again on the road, with new tires, balanced wheel (for the first time since the beguning of the trip), fuel tap closing without ductape, rear brake, new rivets on the exhaust, oil and filters new, and spark plugs that celebrate their firsts sparks. The bike works perfectly, and is smooth... I'm ready to cross the Andes mountains. But this will be the next episode! I simply join the picture of a couple of english riders crossing also america with their BMW. They asked me "why do you ride KTM?". I answered : "Look where is your bike" There is no small pleasure...
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Old 03-03-2011, 02:27 AM   #35
chevaliernoir OP
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Crossing the Andes could be a technical challenge, but it could be also just an emotional adventure because it's so beautiful.
I suggest to listen the music below, because this is the song I had in my head during this trip. It says : "Oh God, the mountain is so beautiful" :
Here, the road that links Santiago (Chile) to Mendoza (Argentina).

The bike workd perfectly. So am I.

Just take care to not nput the front wheel in a hole...

Puente del Inca

Mountains with incredible colors...

From now, I'm going North, on Argentin side. But not alone!
Le Chevalier Noir
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Old 03-03-2011, 05:59 AM   #36
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After crossing the Andes I arrive in Mendoza. Here I meet again Francis, travelling around the world on his motorcycle.

But Mendoza is also the capital of argentin wine. So I taste many, buy finally, even if I already drank good argentin wine, thesze ones are really not exceptional...

Hey! We know each other, right? You really look similar to my nice debtist of Buenos Aires...

But as always, after 3 days at the same place, the wish to ride becomes stronger than the comfort of a known city, so the KTM starts again. Direction North, mainly on Road 40, but not only...

Because many times, it's better to find an other way. I highly recomand to people on this area to go slightly west from Road 40, after San Juan, goint to Flores, and then find back the R40.
It's one of the most amaizing road I rode. Curves, mountains, river, canyons, rocks...

We feel very small in this big landscape :

Hudge distance everyday, just because I don t want to stop. Even to take picture...

What a good feeling to Live!

A small stoip in the Moon valley under the strong sun.

Camping in teh wild, where Guacanos seem as curious as I am :

Back on the Road 40, we have sometimes to take dificult decision : straight on 20 km of straight line, or left ... on 20km of straight line?

Finally, as a storm is on the left, we go straight.
Even if everything looks dry, the storms can be very violents. Hopefully, the rivers have generally a bed of concrete, and not too much rocks. Just enough to refresh the legs.

And find again nice landscapes.

Some parts remind me the Soudan, but trhis time there are some trees for a nice siesta in the shadow.

A stop in a village, looking for a sandwich, and I discover the nicest baby foot I've ever seen.

Stop again in Cafayate. I meet pit, from US, travelling every February on motorcycle in a different part of the world. So we take a luch together ... than arrive an other rider on KTM 950 Supoer Enduro. He comes straight to me and tells me : "Hey, you are the chevalier noir. We met on advrider, I'm Mark". Internet forums make really the world smaller!

We exchage our comments about the roads, itinaries, borders, gaz stations... Go on Road 40 is n ot possible because of a river, so we cannot go to Cachi. I decide to go direct to Salta by a wonderfull road full of surprises. Do you find me in this picture?

Salta, the first big city where I feel well. The atmosphere is peacefull, but latin...

Salome take her flight back to Buenos Aires, and I congratulate my medical insurance to be so carefull with me, sending me my favorite dentist for these few days.

The stop is welcome after 2000km in teh Andes, but it's exactly at this moment that everything goes fast :
I find back a contact with an old friend not seen for 13 years. I write him proudly that I'm in North West of Argentina. He answers me "I'm here too"! So we meet the next day in Jujuy. Great pleasure to see you again Hervé. No, even after 13 years, we didn't changed!

Francis, is at the moment in Chile. He tried to enter Bolivia from San Pedro, but had to turn back because of the snow. Tomorrow he will try by an other border. Thius is a very nice oiportunity to join him, mainly if the condition and the road are really difficult. So I have to go very fast to Chile to meet him.
Anyway, if this article seems to perfect and easy, it's because I don't speak of the terrible finding on the way. This will be the purpose of the next article soon.
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Old 03-03-2011, 03:05 PM   #37
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Envidia de la buena!

Que buen reporte, algun dia seguire esos pasos.
Great report, some day I hope to follow that rute!
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Old 03-03-2011, 06:51 PM   #38
chevaliernoir OP
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South Bolivia is fantastic, but I ve been there yet, and there is no road, just tracks coming from south. The problem is it s still the rain season, ans the rains, wind, snow and mud are waiting for us. Francis tried the way from San Pedro de Atacama, but had to come back because of the snow. He will try tomorrow an other way from Calama. That s a good oportunity to join him to find the way together. The only problem at this time : I'm at 600km from here, on the optyher side of the Andes. This is a good riding day!
I start from Jujuy under the rain, and see on the way the 7 colors mountains.
It s reallt amaizing, but I didn't want to stop to take pictures. I have more and more the impression that stpping on the way, is like looking for a great movie, and stop on pictures every 3 minutes. I would be boring. There are some moments when the pleasure is just to see the movie, the landscape moving around you, toi feel to be part of the landscape.
*Maybe I will regret to not have pictures of this road, but what is important is to remember the colors of the mountains, or just to remember how well I felt at this moment?
After 2 hours riding the road comes out of the clouds...

The GPS indicates 4833m height1. Higher than any mountain in Europe!
The bike is not as powerfull as usually, but works poerfectly. Finally, I like the injection system that adapts all parameters perfectly!
Between 2 hills, a salt lake :

A piece of local cheese, and I start again...

It's again one of the best road I've seen, and I encourage to ride there!

Border without any problem. I even don t realize that there is the Argentinian border but not the Chilean one. I heard after that I would have to go by myself in imigration and custom offices in San Pedro de Atacama to register. But As I don t know it, I'm in illegal situation in Chile.
I have a fast look of San Pedro de Atacama. This name was a dream for me and I imagined a small city in the desert. Finally, it's very nice, but not authentic at all. 90% people I see are tourists, and all the city is just an attraction park. So no regeret to not stay here, because a couchsurfing girl is waiting for me 100km further in Calama to spend the night.

Few pictures ... but it's also a way to encourage tyou to go and see by yourself!
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Old 03-05-2011, 05:07 AM   #39
Coming in Hot.....
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Awesome adventure.

Thank you
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Old 03-05-2011, 08:26 AM   #40
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Great RR

Really enjoying your RR.
Excellent pictures, great thoughts, good memories.
Keep them coming. Thanks for sharing.
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Old 03-05-2011, 09:29 AM   #41
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Grear RR
Thanks for sharing
71 -10 -21 Ν.
"Maybe Tomorrow I'll Find My Way Home..."
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Old 03-05-2011, 12:03 PM   #42
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Really, really good stuff. Thanks for taking us with you.
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Old 03-05-2011, 06:06 PM   #43
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Closer to the stars

I meet Francis as planned to enter in Bolivia by the south. He failed few days before from San Pedro de Atacama because of the snow, so we will try an other path from Calama. The border is 200km far (road and track), then 150km on Bolivian side to reach the first gas station of San Cristobal. The bike should have 400km range, but with the altitude, and if we have mud or sand or if we get lost, it could be difficult to reach.
We have different maps. They all give different information. We will see... We just take care to have fuel, food and water for 2-3 days, just in case, then we have fun on this wonderfull track around the volcanos!

Breakfast at 1200 feet high!

As we are travelling together, we use this oportunity for some action shots, because when we travel alone, this kind of picture is not easy to get!

But the weather becomes bad. The lightnigs are very frequents now...

As there is no tree to protect from the rain, there is no other choice to go on...

... and the storm will finally go just behind us. Ouch!
The problem is not really the rain itself, beut to have a wet track, with mud, and holes without possibility to know how deep they are.

Finally we reach the border. A small village isolated. We ask where we could buy few litters of fuel, but no positive answer.We have to try with what we have in the tanks.
At 12000 feet high, this border also take care of train crossing between Bolivia and Chile.

I told you I forgot to go to the imigration office when I entered in Chile. Now the problem is they cannot put the stamp of "exit" if I don t have the "enter" in Chile. They explain me also that I am on illegal situation in Chile at the moment. So finally they suggest that I go fast to Bolivia, and they wikll do as if Chile never saw me.
We ask about the track to the Bolivian custom officer, and how to reach San Cristobal. They explain us tghat there is a new track that goes directly to San Cristobal. I looks so simple. About the condition of the road, it depends a lot of the water falling in the previous days or hours. We will see. let's go!
The track is wonderfull Ñ Some sand but not too muchñ mud but not stickyñ rocks but we like itñ and always altitude ladscape and light... with dark clouds...

We go slow to enjoy the track and the lansdcape, and because "teuf teuf", the Yam 600TT of Francis, don t like the altitude.

As I don t want to ride by night, and we are still quite far from San Cristobal, we decide to camp in the wild, behind a big rock to avoid the wind.

It s cold. The GPS writes 14500 feet high.

We are as curious as they are!

14500 feet high.
A little bit close to the stars, and a special thought for Gael, Val, Glop, Bilou and Eric : relative and friends left one day on motorcycle and that never came back. "Hi buddies!"

Tonight (as the other) : pasta! But not easy to use a lighter with so few oxygen! By the way I start to feel a headache, and it will be worse in the night.

Finally the night is almost warm because of the clouds...

... and it s the rain that wake up us. When we go out of the tent we discover that it was snowing 500 feet higher this night.

So we start again the trip on a wet track. The mud is here, but without coregation it s not a problem.

We enjoy a moment of sun to dry the tent.

... and we finally reach San Cristobal, where fuel, lunch and church are waiting for us :

Just 60 miles more to reach Uyuni.

But just before entering in the city, I bring Francis to the train cemetary where UI ve been already 7 years agos.

I tried to give life to this train, but without success.

On this one is written : "Experimented mecanician wanted..."

Uyuni, the mythic city of South Bolivia is finally reached. It s time to enjoy it ... in the next article!

This article is dedicated to Gaël, Val, Glop, Bilou and Eric.
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Old 03-07-2011, 10:02 PM   #44
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Bon chance!
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Old 03-08-2011, 12:15 AM   #45
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Location: was Kununurra, now Carnarvon, Australia
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Fantastic pics What a great adventure!
Some men like the fish'n,
Some men like the foul'n,
Some men like to hear........
to hear the cannonball a roar'n!
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