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Old 05-10-2012, 07:50 PM   #121
troyfromtexas OP
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The Adventure Begins... Into The Wind

Punta Arenas was a stopover. My real intention was to reach Puerto Natales. In Puerto Natales I was going to meet my friend Sarka (Chech Republic) and we were going to trek in the Torres Del Paine Park.

The road from Punta Arenas to Puerto Natales was pretty straight and all smooth asphalt.

But, the wind was tremendous.

I believe the wind gusts were probably the strongest that I have encountered... somewhere between 40 to 50 mph. Strong consistent wind is not hard to ride against... it is predictable. However, wind gusts hit you at variable times and with variable strength. Usually when you least expect it.

On occasion the gusts were blowing me 3 to 4 feet across the road. Thankfully, the wind was blowing left to right. Thus, I was being blown toward the shoulder of the road and not into oncoming traffic.

I typically ride at 60 to 70 mph. Because of the gusts I thought that it would be prudent to slow down... 45 was about right. Luckily there wasn't much traffic, just Emi and I and open space.

I clutched my handlebars a little firmer, crouched down, grinned and bared it.

Into the wind!
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Old 05-10-2012, 07:56 PM   #122
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The Adventure Begins... Torres Del Paine - Trekking The W

I met my friend Sarka in Puerto Natales.

I first met Sarka in San Augustine, Colombia and we went horseback riding. I saw her again in Quito, Ecuador and we shared a meal. Once again in Banos, Ecuador and we went out for a drink. Then in Ushuaia, we connected again. It's a small world.

It was in Ushuaia that we discussed that we were both heading to Torres del Paine and we decided to try to meet up and trek together.

Torres del Paine National Park is a park encompassing mountains, a glacier, a lake, and river-rich areas in the southern Chilean Patagonia. The park is located 112 km (70 mi) north of Puerto Natales. The landscape of the park is dominated by the Paine massif, which is an eastern spur of the Andes located on the east side of the Grey Glacier. Small valleys separate the spectacular granite spires and mountains of the massif.

Sarka and I met at the Eratic Rock Hostel which hosts a briefing every day with good info about trekking in the Torres del Paine Park. After the briefing, we assembled our gear, bought groceries and purchased bus tickets to the park. The next day we would start our trek.

Our objective was to hike the W.

Here is a satellite image of what the terrain really looks like...lakes, valleys and mountains.

Hopefully as we trekked the W we would have a chance to see the Torres del Paine, French Valley and Grey Glacier.

For the full story see Torres del Paine Trekking the W
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Old 05-10-2012, 08:00 PM   #123
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The Adventure Begins... An Ounce Of Prevention


I woke up this morning and heard raindrops on the tin roof. A pleasant sound if you're planning to stay under the covers. Not such a pleasant sound to hear if you want to ride some miles on a motorcycle.

My boots have not proven to be waterproof despite being marketed as waterproof with a gortex liner. I've tried protecting them with creams and waxes, but nothing has proven to work completely.

I thought that I'd make my own provision using duct tape.

I think it looks pretty diesel...what do you say?
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Old 05-10-2012, 08:08 PM   #124
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The Adventure Begins... Escaping The Cold


It started to snow in Puerto Varas. It was already cold. It was already raining. I should have known that snow could not be far behind. I've been chasing Spring, but Winter has been chasing me...and it caught up.

I had to make a decision. I could travel north via Ruta 40 in the snow or travel north by water ferry on the Navimag.

Ruta 40 is a famous road which stretches south and north in western Argentina. It has a similar mystique as Route 66 in the states. However, the southern part of Ruta 40 is famous for having loose gravel and strong winds. Not such a great combination to ride on bike when you mix in a little snow or ice.

The Navimag is a water ferry that travels from Puerto Natales to Puento Montt in southern Chile and passes through picturesque fjords. It's a relaxing way to see southern Chile, but not exactly exciting.

While I was walking around Puerto Natales trying to make a decision, I saw a sign.

I saw what looked like a new yellow BMW800 GS, a motorcycle that typically costs about $16,000. However, this bike had a broken windshield, scrapes on the side and was being trailered. I can only guess that it was a casualty of Ruta 40. I've heard many stories from riders whom have ridden the southern section of Ruta 40 and regretted it. Some recount days of torture. Some recount stories of wipeouts. I was not feeling up to Ruta 40. Maybe if I had a riding partner, but not riding solo.

I decided to take the Navimag.

I booked my ticket in the morning and I boarded that same evening...escaping the cold.

Emi had some company in the cargo area. There were two BMW1200 GSs along for the ride. One GS was being ridden by Andrew and Cathy a couple from South Africa. The second GS had a sidecar and was being ridden by Matt and Kristen a couple from Texas.

There were also a few trucks and a flock of sheep down below.

On deck we had nice views of the fjords.

Clouds obscuring the mountains.

Mountains obscuring the clouds.

And when the light lined up correctly with the clouds there were rainbows.

The sunrises could be spectacular.

But they were sometimes overshadowed by the sunsets.

I'm not exactly sure how these colors were produced.

Even when it was cloudy and gray there was some dramatic scenery.

We eventually reached Puerto Montt.

See Video
Here's a short 30 second visual of the Navimag experience.
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Old 05-10-2012, 08:12 PM   #125
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The Adventure Begins... New Tread

I had a little over 14,000 miles on my bike. About 7,000 on the current tires. It was about time to put on some new tread.
I inquired around Puerto Varas and no shops seemed to have a tire in the size I needed. I was told that there was a shop in a town called Osorno that might have the right size.
I looked it up on the Internet and sent the shop, MotoAdventura, an inquiry by email. They responded back that they had the tire that I needed and that they could hold it for me.

In Osrono, I found MotoAdventura.

They had a nicely equipped store and were a retailer of BMW bikes.

They helped me put on a new Perelli MT60, the same tire that I was currently riding on.

The front tire seemed to still be in pretty good shape so I opted to leave it on.
New tread for some new adventures.
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Old 05-10-2012, 08:18 PM   #126
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The Adventure Begins... The Seven Lakes

I left Puerto Varas and once again crossed from Chile into Argentina.

I traveled through Parque Peyuhue and over the Andean Mountains. It was a rainy and cold day, but the route was scenic. I was heading toward an area known as the lakes district and specifically a picturesque route called The Seven Lakes.

The first stop was a town called Villa de la Angostura... nothing special.

From Villa de la Angostura I would ride to San Martin de Los Andes and then to Junin de Los Andes.

This is what I passed along the way.

The route was 110 km...40 km of which was gravel.











Finally arriving at San Martin de Los Andes.

I took a short break for lunch in San Martin then headed on to Junin.

See Video
Here is a short 2 minute video about the experience of traveling the road along The Seven Lakes.
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Old 05-10-2012, 08:22 PM   #127
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The Adventure Begins... Gaucho

After arriving in Junin de Los Andes I decided to ride around a bit to scout out some fishing locations.

As I was riding down this one road in the middle of nowhere I saw this gentleman.

His name is Estuardo... and he is a genuine gaucho. I stopped to talk to him.

In Spanish, I said, "I'm looking for a river to go fishing." He said, "You need to keep following the road for another 10 km to the river."

I said, "Are you a gaucho." He said, "yes." I said, "Do you ride a horse?" He said, "yes." I said, "Do you work with cattle?" He said, "yes." I said, "Cool."

Estuardo wasn't real talkative. I think that he may have been a little surprised to see a guy on a motorcycle wearing a space suit riding around in the middle of the pampa.

I said, "Can I take a photo of you?" He said, "yes."
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Old 05-11-2012, 08:21 PM   #128
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Unbelievable!

Wow...seriously. Fantastic story and pictures. Keep going!

Dave
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Old 05-12-2012, 10:32 AM   #129
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Quote:
Originally Posted by troyfromtexas View Post

I woke up this morning and heard raindrops on the tin roof. A pleasant sound if you're planning to stay under the covers. Not such a pleasant sound to hear if you want to ride some miles on a motorcycle.

My boots have not proven to be waterproof despite being marketed as waterproof with a gortex liner. I've tried protecting them with creams and waxes, but nothing has proven to work completely.

I thought that I'd make my own provision using duct tape.

I think it looks pretty diesel...what do you say?
What sort of boots are those? Some dirt bike boots are hard to make waterproof. I've tried all kinds of cremes and waterproofing stuff too ... but only ONE product actually works. When in the Antarctic I was introduced to
Sno-Seal. It's a Bee's wax and actually works. Apply generously and bake boots in oven (very low heat, 120F or so) for 20 minutes. Seems to work. I re-apply once a year. Be sure to glop on thick where sole is stitched on.

Duct tape (Gaffer tape) will not stay put for long. In serious rain/puddles I'd use some sort of plastic bags pulled on over you boots. They work! But have to be changed frequently as they will tear. Plastic bags over boots with rubber bands worked for me in Alaska for two weeks in the rain.
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Old 05-14-2012, 08:23 AM   #130
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aDave View Post
Wow...seriously. Fantastic story and pictures. Keep going!

Dave
Cheers, I hope to keep moving down the road.
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Old 05-14-2012, 08:29 AM   #131
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Adv Grifter View Post
What sort of boots are those? Some dirt bike boots are hard to make waterproof. I've tried all kinds of cremes and waterproofing stuff too ... but only ONE product actually works. When in the Antarctic I was introduced to
Sno-Seal. It's a Bee's wax and actually works. Apply generously and bake boots in oven (very low heat, 120F or so) for 20 minutes. Seems to work. I re-apply once a year. Be sure to glop on thick where sole is stitched on.

Duct tape (Gaffer tape) will not stay put for long. In serious rain/puddles I'd use some sort of plastic bags pulled on over you boots. They work! But have to be changed frequently as they will tear. Plastic bags over boots with rubber bands worked for me in Alaska for two weeks in the rain.
Hey Grifter,

The boots are Gaerne G Adventure boots. I've tried Sno-Seal and it works temporarily. The boots are suppose to have a waterproof barrier sewn in, but it appears that water was leaking in from the seal between the leather and the sole. The leather is now pretty warn and I believe that water is now leaking in from the top in heavy rain and submersion. Even when the boots were fairly new they did not seem to be completely waterproof. I'm working with the manufacturer and the retailer to see if they can help me out. The boots are great in every other aspect - style, comfort, tread, functionality. Yes the duct tape has not proven to be an effective long term solution. I tried it out just to get me through a rainy section. Hopefully I'll have a better solution with the manufacture or a local shoe/boot repair shop.
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Old 07-12-2012, 01:53 PM   #132
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The Adventure Begins... Paso Del Indios

Wow... it's been a long time since my last post. I'll try to bring y'all up to date.

From Bariloche I wanted to travel to Puerto Madryn and the Valdez Peninsula. I planned to split the journey of about 620 miles (1000 km) into two segments. From the map you can see that there really was not much in between the two locations. There was one town called Esquel in the west, one town called Trelew in the east, and in-between... there was whole lot of nothing...except pampa.

Supposedly, about half way between these locations there was a town called Paso Del Indio (The Indian Pass). It was on a road map that I had, but it did not show up on google maps. Paso Del Indio would be my resting place since it was about the mid-way point. I searched online to see if there were any hotels in Paso Del Indio, but came up empty. Well... in a worse case scenario I could camp.

Gas would be another issue I had to consider. I generally can travel about 250 miles (400 km) on a full tank of gas. I was pretty certain that I could make it to Esquel and would be able to fill up. I hoped that I could then make it to Paso Del Indio, that there would be a gas station, that there would be gas and that I would be able to fill up. Then, I could make it to Trelew and would be able to fill up. From there I could make it to Puerto Madryn. A few months back, there were reports online that there were shortages of gas in the area. To be on the safe side I filled up my spare 10 liter gas tank... and said a little prayer that there would be gas in Paso Del Indio.

I headed down Ruta 40 to Ruta 25. It was a long and flat and straight asphalt road all the way. After a full day of riding I pulled into Paso de Los Indios.

In Paso Del Indio, I would estimate there were no more that 50 houses in the entire town. Exactly two hotels. One hotel had about 6 rooms. The second hotel had exactly 2 rooms. I stayed in the hotel with 2 rooms. The one restaurant in town wasn't open, so I went to a small tienda (store) and bought some ham and bread and made a sandwich for dinner. And, one gas station with gas! Not exactly a tourist destination. However, the people were super nice.

I bedded down for the evening.

The next day, I would continue on my way. I was not looking forward to the ride, because I anticipated that the road would be long and flat and straight and boring... and it was.

For a while... then I came across a beautiful pass...The Paso Del Indio. There were dramatic bluffs lining each side of the road, rock formations the size of skyscrapers and the road snaked between them. It reminded me of Big Bend, Texas or Sedona, Arizona. I was amazed.
See Video
Here is a short 1:30 minute video that shows some of the ride. Unfortunately, I did not have my camera mounted and ready to roll when I was passing through the really scenic areas.

I continued on my ride and came across these... Patagonian wild horse. I had read an article many months ago about Patagonian wild horses, but wasn't really expecting to see any. I believe that these were wild horses because they reacted to me and my bike as wild animals do... they ran away. All of the domesticated horses that I passed along the road never reacted to me...they simply stayed still. Cool!

It was just one of those days when I had to pinch myself... and be thankful for being in the moment. It was one of those days in which I was expecting the worse...but was blessed with something unexpected.
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Old 07-12-2012, 02:10 PM   #133
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The Adventure Begins... Puerto Piramides and Peninsula Valdez


My intention for riding to Puerto Madryn was to visit Puerto Piramides and the Peninsula Valdez. The Peninsula Valdez is known for being a prime location to observe marine life such as sea lions, elephant seals, fur seals, southern right whales, dolphins and orcas.

All I really wanted to see was the orcas.

In March and April the orcas are known to hunt sea lions and elephant seals in an area of the Peninsula Valdez called Punta Norte. At times, they beach themselves on shore to attack their prey. Pods teach their young how to hunt in this manner. It is the only place in the world where this style of orca hunting occurs.

It was the first week of May, so it was rather late in the season to observe this behavior. It was late in the sea lion breeding season and late in the orca migration season. I still thought that it was worth the effort to ride across Argentina for the chance to see this phenomena. I was hoping that everything would come together.

I arrived in Puerto Piramides and planned to stay for a few days. It was a pretty small town made up of two cross streets. The population of Puerto Piramides is supposedly around 200 people. The population of the entire Peninsula Valdez is supposedly around 400 people.

On my first full day on the peninsula I thought that I'd take a ride around the area to familiarize myself with the roads. The roads were all ripio (gravel). The peninsula may not look so big, but it is about 1,400 square miles.

See Video
Here is a short 45 second video of riding the ripio on the Peninsula Valdez. About 30 seconds into the video I pass some sheep on the right and some guanacos on the left.

Along the road I came across quite a few guanacos.

Also, I came across this pond in which there were a few pink flamingos.

I reached Punta Norte after about an hour and a half of riding. It was already mid-day. Looking out over Punta Norte I caught a glimpse of the beach at low tide.

Carved into the coast were these channels. During the low tide the channels appeared to be like hundreds of little islands.

Some sea lions and seabirds were playing among the channels and looking for food. There were no signs of orcas. I had been told that they only approach the beach at high tide.

So I hopped on my bike and rode south along the peninsula. Not many people around.

I caught a glimpse of something splashing in the water. It was too far away to discern what it was. It could have been a dolphin, whale or orca. I took this photo. Later when I looked at the photo on my computer and zoomed in I could tell that the dark object in the water was the fin of an orca.

I continued on my way. After an hour and a half of riding I reached Punta Coleta.

There were elephant seals lounging on the beach. Not much else going on.

It was getting late in the day, so I headed back toward Puerto Piramides. It would be another hour and a half of riding. The sun was starting to set in the west. Again, I had the road all to myself.

I made one last stop at a cove where a fairly large colony of sea lions were sunning themselves.

They were just doing what sea lions do...lying around doing nothing.

There was this one point jutting out from the cove. When the waves crashed into the point it made a dramatic splash.

This sea lion decided to go for a swim.

It slowly approached the edge of the cliff which was about 10 feet high.

Then plopped into the water.

It made a little splash and disappeared into the sea. It wasn't fancy, but effective I suppose.

It was getting late, the sun was almost over the horizon, so I returned to Puerto Piramides. In total, I rode about 130 miles (210 km) of ripio. I believe that the whole day I only saw three other vehicles on the road. I definitely felt like the peninsula was an isolated area.

It was the off-season for tourism and much of the town shut down pretty early. There was only one restaurant open. It only had six tables, a staff of two, but made really delicious pizza.

For a chance to see the orcas I would need to be at Punta Norte at high tide. I checked the tide charts online and high tide was forecast to be at 9am. It took 1:30 hours to ride from Puerto Piramides to Punta Norte. So, the next day I got up at 7am and left the hotel at 7:30am to ride back to Punta Norte. It was dark when I started. Luckily it was not too cold. It was a little tricky riding on the gravel in the dark, but I got accustomed to it. After about an hour there was sunlight. I arrived at Punta Norte at almost exactly 9am... just in time for high tide. And then I waited. I was surprised at how high the tide reached up the beach.

Looking south, this was low tide from the day before.

This was high tide.

Looking north, this was low tide from the day before

This was high tide. All of the channel islands were covered with water.

I waited and waited, but didn't see any orcas. I got a little bored, so I starting taking pictures of some little birds.

There wasn't anything else to do. I had been waiting around for about two hours... it was 11am. I was afraid that it was too late in the season.

Then off in the horizon I saw a spout. I used my zoom lens on my camera to see what it was.

Orcas! They came from the south and swam north along the beach. They were approaching the beach.

There were three orcas... an adult and two adolescents. They were cruising amazingly close to the beach...hunting. I believe that the adult was teaching the adolescents how to hunt sea lions in the shallows. The adult would chase a sea lion, then the adolescents would mimic the behavior.

This adult sea lion stayed in the water and appeared to be watching the orcas pass by until her pups could get out of the water.

It was intense. I don't know why this sea lion stayed so close to the water. The seabirds started following the orcas. I suppose that they knew that if the orcas were feeding... they might be able to pick up some scraps.

And it happened. I believe the adult caught a sea lion and chewed it up.

The sea birds dove into the water and picked up the pieces.
See Video
They passed right by a number of sea lions. Occasionally the orcas would go under the surface, chase sea lions and thrash about. This is a short 1 minute video showing the orcas hunting for sea lions. The sea birds are following the orcas hoping to pick up the scraps. 20 seconds into the video one sea lion is seen surfacing on the beach narrowly escaping. Another sea lion was not so lucky and became prey.

I watched the morbid spectacle for about an hour. The orcas made four passes along the length of the beach. They went north, then south, then north, then south. Then as quickly as they appeared... they disappeared into the deep water. Wow... did I really just witness that.

When I returned to my bike, this little critter was hanging about.

It's a Patagonian armadillo. Cute fellow... in a prehistoric kind of way. We have similar, but different, armadillos in Texas.

I also caught a glimpse of this Patagonia grey fox.

All in all, it was a pretty memorable experience.... traveling to the peninsula, scouting the area, riding the ripio, spotting some unusual wildlife and observing the orcas hunting. I definitely felt like I was out there. One park ranger said that I would have about a 3% chance of seeing orcas hunting so late in the season. Well, a slim chance is still a chance. Glad I took it.
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Old 07-12-2012, 02:18 PM   #134
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The Adventure Begins... Things To See In Mar Del Plata

I traveled along the coast to Mar Del Plata.

The countryside reminded me of Texas.

The city by the sea.

It was both modern

And old


Old house made into a museum

Ship compass

Postcard



Old water tower made into a museum

Water tower

City view

Old hotel

Door knocker

Door latch

Stained glass window

Park merry go round

Park pooches

Food sign

Food

Theatre

Theatre

Fiat

Statue

A like mind
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Old 07-12-2012, 02:23 PM   #135
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The Adventure Begins... Husqvarna TE310 bike review

Here is a review of the Husqvarna TE310 dual sport bike. I'm liking it.
See Video
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