Land of Fire!

After battling the dangerous crosswinds on Ruta 3 for a few days (see previous blog entry), we departed Rio Gallegos on November 2 and crossed back into Chile after a short ride of 60 kms.  Another short ride to the Bahia Azul ferry;  timed it perfectly and rode straight onto the boat.  Short half hour crossing and then were on Isla Grande de Tierra del Fuego!  We planned this trip for a long time, and here we are.

Stepping foot onto Tierra del Fuego

Our jubilation didn’t last long as we headed down Hwy 257 which was dirt.  The weather changed and we got cold, wet and filthy.  The bikes rattled around a lot on the potholes and took a beating.  Had to deal with another border crossing back into Argentina and limped into Rio Grande late in the day.

Ah, but thanks for new days.  For me, November 3 was the most epic day of the adventure.  Not a long riding day – only 223kms – but just a beautiful road.  The weather was crisp and the heavy winds subsided as we rode in the morning down to Tolhuin, where we stopped at a funky restaurant for coffee and a bite.  Passed hundreds of beautiful guanacos along the way, who looked at us curiously with their dark grey faces and huge eyes.

Lots of guanacos along the road

The last 100 kms or so into Ushuaia, the southernmost city in the world, is amazing.  Beautiful mountains, lakes and fjords.  Quite similar to British Columbia actually!  We took our time and stopped for many photos along the way.

Mountains!

Pulled into Ushuaia (pop. 57,000)and really liked the vibe of the town.  Very tourist oriented and felt a little like early days Whistler or Banff.  Didn’t take long to find a good restaurant and celebrate with a bottle of champagne.  Went out for a few pints of Guiness after that!

Easy Riders

Sea to Sky Highway?

Ushuaia

We made it! Pass the beer nuts.

Took a day off to relax and hit Tierra del Fuego National Park, then a long riding day back up to Rio Grande, border crossing at San Sebastian back into Chile, dirt road again, ferry and into Punta Arenas, where we are shipping our bikes home from.  If BMW Motorrad wants an endorsement for their Adventure motorcycles, give me a call.  18,871 kms from Vancouver, Canada to Punta Arenas, Chile and the bikes performed marvelously.

Parque Nacional. Not many inhabitants south of here.

Chilly here. Argentina (not Chile).

So the bikes are now gone.  We fly to Buenos Aires in the morning and home from there next week.  One would think we would be tired of riding by now but we aren’t.  Its always a thrill to get back on the bike.

La Poderosa getting a pedi for shipment home

Mantener el lado grasoso hacia abajo!  –  Bob (Che) Matheson.

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The Adventure Continues: Ecuador and Peru.

Our plan was to post two blogs per week. It has been 11 days since our last post and there are two excellent reasons: (1) the Wifi here is poor, at least in the cheap joints we stay in, and (2) we have been riding hard and there is barely enough time to find a hotel, have a cold shower, eat rice and beans and go to bed. Mierda happens!

We entered Ecuador on October 2 and found the time to pose for a cheezy photo at the equator (see below). Our experience in this country was short and sweet – very friendly people and beautiful scenery.

Our time so far in Peru can be divided into two parts: Beaches and Mountains. Great beaches in Punta Pico, Colan, Pacasmayo and Tortugas. We made friends with the hostel / hotel owners and had enough R & R time to recharge our batteries. Good thing. It gets tougher.

Our Playa Colan Lodge bungalow

Our friend Otto the Mad Hungarian

 

 

This nice lady did our laundry and ironed our T-shirts and jeans

Pelicans at sunset in Tortugas

Rode east on October 11 straight into the Andes, and climbed from sea level to 4,500 meters (almost 15,000 feet) in short time. Suffered the usual effects of slight nausea and short of breath. The roads are impossible to describe – sweeping vistas but hard to take in while managing the millions of switchbacks and avoiding large trucks and countless animals on the road. 870 tough kms. in two days to get to Cusco, the capital of the Inca Empire and gateway to Machu Picchu.

The beautiful switchback highway into the Andes

Beware of cows! And sheep, goats, horses, pigs, dogs and chickens.

Not simple to get into Machu Picchu. Took a whole day to get close, then up at 4:30 AM the next day to enter the site at 6:30. Now, I have traveled a bit and lose interest quickly in museums, but I have to say Machu Picchu surpassed my expectations by a lot. I will not go on. If you have the chance, go there.

Vendor at the train station

Alpaca at dawn at Machu Picchu

The Gang of 3 at Machu Picchu. Hector had to take a miss due to illness.

The mountains have been exhilarating. Tonight we are in Puno on the shores of Lake Titicaca (wonderful name), the largest lake in South America and the highest lake above sea level (12,500 feet) in the world. But we are are really looking forward to sea level and the beaches of Chile.

TTFN Amigos! – Che Bob Marley Matheson.

Waiting for a mission.

“Cartagena. Shite. We are still only in Cartagena”.

We are Martin Sheen in the opening scene of Apocalypse Now (click here to view). Except we are not in Saigon. We are restless adventurers waiting for our motorcycles to arrive in Bogota to recommence our mission. Cartagena is a wonderful beach resort city on the northern coast of Colombia and we have been here for three days and will be here for two more, as flights to Bogota are full. We stayed in the historic Old Town for the first two nights, all four sharing a room hostel style. Yesterday we moved to the newer beach area for a change of scenery, and are debating where to spend our last night tomorrow. Cartagena is very lively with a population of 1 million, but we have seen everything we want to see and are anxious to get back on the road. We have all named our motorcycles, and mine is La Poderosa (The Powerful One), after Che Guevara’s 500 cc Norton. If things go according to plan we will pick up Starship Unity, Strider, Sting and La Poderosa in Bogota on Wednesday, four days from now. We rode 6,411 kms from home to Key West during the first 10 days, but have recorded only 339 kms over the past 8 days while the bikes have been serviced and shipped. While I am looking forward to seeing Bogota, I mostly just want to ride.

Cartagena

Key West was very cool. I definitely want to return. Our hotel, Eden House, was funky and friendly and we met many nice people. There was a Harley rally going on while we were in town with 20,000 hogs roaming the streets. Even though we were on BMW’s, bikers just generally get along and many were very interested in our travels. I liked the Keys a lot and am glad we made the effort to head down there.

The Gang in Key West

GO4 in Eden House pool with Wingman (centre)

Hog Heaven in Key West

South Beach, Miami

All is going well and according to plan. And for now, we wait ….

Lo siento, pero me tengo que ir. – Dogcow, aka Che Bob Marley Matheson.

Dogcow chimes in. First road report.

I am writing this from our hotel in Childress, TX at 11:00 PM.  We are at the end of Day 5 and have covered 3,328 kms since leaving home.  The weather was cold today in New Mexico but otherwise has been almost perfect.  Some high clouds at times but no rain.  Great riding conditions.  The emphasis on this segment of the trip is to make good time down to Florida.  We have spent some time on Interstates, which we would not normally do.  But a lot of the geography around here is quite boring anyway so better to go fast.

A highlight was camping on the 3rd night in the Devil’s Garden in Arches National Park near Moab, Utah.  See pictures below.  The campground was 31 kms off the highway and was very rustic and beautiful.  The best red rock formations I have ever seen.

We left Moab yesterday and rode to Santa Fe, New Mexico, which was the other highlight of the first 5 days.  We stayed in the Historic District and were lucky to be in the middle of Fiestas de Santa Fe, an annual celebration that has been going on since 1712.  At dinner we “met” Zozobra (Old Man Gloom) who was promptly burned.  See pictures below.  As his name suggests, Zozobra embodies gloom.  By burning him, people destroy the worries and troubles of the past year in flames.

So far, so good.  Really looking forward to the weeks ahead!   –  Dogcow, aka Che Matheson