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Old 12-25-2012, 09:13 AM   #181
RexBuck OP
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Location: Interior BC, Canada
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sunday Rider View Post
Merry Christmas RexBux. If you have to spend Christmas away from home, where you are at is a pretty good alternative. Best wishes for a continued safe adventure. Thanks for the latest update, I can almost smell the coffee. How will you ever drink Tim Horton's when you get back....
Thanks Sunday Rider and, Merry Christmas to you.

It seems kind of weird walking around in shorts for Christmas - the town is dead. However, did find a Juan Valdez that was open down the street for a great cup of coffee. No problem with Timmies, have never figured out what the attraction was to their coffee.

Thanks for your well wishes.
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Old 12-25-2012, 10:48 AM   #182
holckster
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Merry Christmas
Enjoying your report, appreciate your effort to post it.

These folks from Seattle are headed your way after New Years
http://advdonnh.com/
Thought you might know them?

Happy and Safe New Year
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Old 12-25-2012, 11:24 AM   #183
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Dec 14 Medellin

Was planning on taking a fairly circuitous route on some back roads, all the way to Medellin or maybe stopping in Supia if I run out of day. Looked at the weather forecast and with thunder storms predicted, decided to shorten it down a bit and make a more direct route starting on the secondary roads. With having to baby my riding in wet conditions I decided to just get on with it, and try to beat the rain to Medellin.

Had a great ride (again)on the back roads which took me back to Palestina on the top of the mountain then some nice twisted up and down roads to Hwy 25 then continued (with a bit more traffic) on the highway to Medellin. More scenery . . .













Little farm starting young coffee plants





After a few hours it started to cloud up and turn really black so, in order to make the clouds go away, I stopped and got myself and my gear ready to get wet. Worked like a charm – spit a little bit, then the clouds parted and the sun shone through. It was almost Biblical. RexBuck parting the clouds . . .

It immediately heated up to about 33C (92F) and I had to stop again and change gear. Of course, since I’ve proven I have the ability to part the clouds, I must also have the ability to make them turn into nasty, black (and I mean like painted black – complete absence of light) clouds.

The main highway going into Medellin is a pretty, twisted highway that gets up to a decent altitude then swoops down into the city. So, approaching the peak of the pass and the black is happening dead ahead. Finally starts raining and I pull in behind a broken down truck parked in the road and quickly get ready for the wet. Off we go into the maelstrom. There was water running down the road with waves in it. Fortunately, everybody was taking it easy.

Thunder and lightning all around that continued all the way into Medellin. I’m guessing it is so green and lush here they don’t worry about the lightning starting forest fires.


When I arrived in Medellin, I knew I wanted to stay at a well know place accommodating bike travelers – the Shamrock Irish Pub but, turned out they were full.

Now it’s dark and I’m not going to wander around the streets as it’s crazy rush hour traffic – stopped at a couple of nearby places that were either full or didn’t fit the bill. Wound up at the glitzy Diez for $120 for the night. Fabulous room with a great view of the city. Room very large and very well appointed. Very nice breakfast the next morning. But, really, this isn’t what adventure riding is about in my mind. View of the city from my room.





Had already planned on staying here a few days to do things like laundry, haircut and bike maintenance at the dealer. So, looked around for another place. Had a few nearby and was walking around when this guy asks if I’m looking for a hotel. He has this little sandwich shop called the Flip Flop Sandwich shop which makes good sandwiches and even has Vegemite, that vile stuff only Australians can stomach.






He gave me some suggestions including the Hotel Acqua. $65 including breaky with all the amenities (including the fastest internet I have experienced on this whole trip). Works for me. The room even has a little covered outdoor vestibule that opens out to a narrow but private balcony.

Went up the street and found a laundry – pricy but got it done. Next door was a barber so went in there. Bunch of young guys cutting hair. Told him what I wanted (short sides and bit longer on top) – he gets the sides buzzed down. Then gobs a bunch of goop on his comb and combs that in and starts to cut. Just about done and I realize he has given me one of these cuts popular with the young Latin kids – real short on the sides and then kind of a Mohawk, skid mark thing on top that usually combed up into a peak running north and south on the melon. Mmmm no David , take that down a bit more. Will see how it is when I get this crap washed out of my hair.

Took my bike over to Ruta 40 BMW as it is finally time to release the pretty worn Heidenau from its grip on my bike and put that TKC80 I’ve been carrying since Phoenix in it’s place. Hopefully will see a bit fewer sphincter clenchers on wet roads and mud. They were kind enough to work me in, changed the tire and checked out a couple of things for me.





They have a huge inventory of used bikes, many almost new and no new bikes.






Pricy little critters also – how’d you like to spend 61 million on a bike? That’s almost $35,000 – still a lot. 2012 model year with 2700 km.






Apparently in Colombia only new vehicles can be imported and they get slapped with huge import taxes. So, they are very expensive to begin with. I was told that a lot of their customers trade their bikes in each year – new bikes come in from a central warehouse in Bogotá as needed. A lot of these bikes are only one or two model years old and have 5,000 kms on them. Good business.

The service area was by far the busiest and most prominent part of the dealership.





Like their choice of beverage fridge





Really nice old BMW coming out of the service area







These tires arrived while I was there - how to wear the tread off





My tire being mounted. The bike that wore those tires down above in the forground





Back over to the hotel district, there are tons of hotels, hostels, restaurants and bars in this area. They have a nice square nearby surrounded by restaurants and bars and is nicely lit at night.





Wandered over to Shamrock on a couple of evenings and had some beers with Al – great bar and a real character. I mean, how often to you find a Scotsman running an Irish bar in South America. Al was complaining the biggest shortcoming of Ride Reports was the lack of hot chicks. Here you go Al – Jennifer, one of the waitresses. The one with the goofy grin is Al.




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Old 12-25-2012, 11:28 AM   #184
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Quote:
Originally Posted by holckster View Post
Merry Christmas
Enjoying your report, appreciate your effort to post it.

These folks from Seattle are headed your way after New Years
http://advdonnh.com/
Thought you might know them?

Happy and Safe New Year
Hi Doug

Merry Christmas to you and thanks for the wishes

Don't know Donn and Deby but will keep my eyes peeled for them.
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Old 12-25-2012, 12:19 PM   #185
Motardca
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Hi Steve, Kedgi and all the other SA adventurers,
I wish you a happy holidays and safe travels, it seems you all enjoy the journey. Keep those exciting reports and photos coming, so I can plan for next year.
Nik
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Old 12-25-2012, 12:57 PM   #186
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Motardca View Post
Hi Steve, Kedgi and all the other SA adventurers,
I wish you a happy holidays and safe travels, it seems you all enjoy the journey. Keep those exciting reports and photos coming, so I can plan for next year.
Nik
Merry Christmas Nik and thanks for your well wishes.

Oh, and Kedgi says Merry Christmas too (This is his Christmas Day Skype pose)

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Old 12-26-2012, 09:54 AM   #187
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Dec 18 Leaving Medellin

Thought I should get out of Dodge as I’m hoping to be in Cali for Christmas then over to Quito to get ready for the arrival of Mrs RexBuck (Don’t call her Mrs Geezer if you value your vital body parts – just sayin) on the first. Medellin is certainly a city I could have become real comfortable in and turn a few day stay into a few week stay. And I don’t generally like cities.

Somehow I got the wrong route loaded in my GPS and it took right through town instead of the nice scenic route out the back door. Idiot sighting #1

Stopped to change jackets and wound up taking a picture of this guys butt-crack . . . well actually I thought it was neat watching him milk his cows at the side of the road . . . the butt-crack just kind snuck in there.






This was an important stop in my journey of geezerdom and the associated forgetfulness. Last winter among a number of less significant items, I lost my Bank Card, my Camelback (the water jug you can strap on your back) and my Passport.

This year, so far I have lost my Bank Card – but, it took longer to do it than last year. I lost my Camelback last year by laying it on one of my side cases when I was changing jackets then forgetting about it so it can play Free Wiley somewhere down the road on the first bump I hit. This year I made sure I always hooked it on my highway peg so it’s right there. Except one time . . . yup, this time. . .laid it on a side case. So, another Camelback is set free to frolic in the wild with other Camelbacks, probably making baby Camelbacks. Idiot sighting #2

I think maybe the Geezerdom has just enhanced my ADD. I can be focused on a topic and all of a sudden, ooooo, look, something shiny. Just to clarify, the shiny this time was the guy milking the cows not the butt cleavage.

Still have my passport though. However, I keep forgetting to take it out of my mesh jacket pocket in a rain storm and after a couple of thorough soakings it is getting pretty rough. I know, I know . . . zip-locks are my friend.

Stopped at a pretty area with a little waterfall and there were a couple of para-gliders – don’t see many of those down here although this has to be some great terrain for those crazy guys. Test - find the parachutes










Got out to El Peñol where there is this huge rock and you can climb a massive staircase to the top. Really pretty views up there particularly of Lake Peñol-Guatape a manmade lake.
Approaching the rock





There are two sets of stairs, 735 steps to the top of the tower on El Peñol and amazingly, about the same number down on the other set. Well, that made it Wheezin Geezer Time . . . again – for all the fans.






Two kids were packing about 50# each of water up the stairs. I'll pass on that job.





Gazillions of these plants were clinging to the shear rock face





Looking at the lake











Doesn't look like you would want to back your boat trailer in too far on these boat launches.





Here is my bike in the parking lot with the Super Duper Security set up I mentioned before. Isn't perfect but it'll slow some thieving scumbag down.






As I left El Peñol, the GPS route took me almost immediately to a back road that quickly devolved into a fairly rocky single lane. This didn't make sense as I had in my mind that I should be on a fairly major road at this point. So, I turned around to figure out what had happened. After consulting the paper map and a couple of taxi drivers I determined that I had to backtrack to find the highway I was looking for. In retrospect, I probably could have stayed on the dirt road and would have eventually made it to the highway. Would have been much nicer. Idiot sighting #3

Stopped at the first place I came to in Doradal, Campestra Verde. $40 has everything except hot water. However, this is right on the main highway between Medellin and Bogotá and the passing trucks sound like they are running by the foot of the bed. They also had these moths that were the size of a small bird.




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Old 12-26-2012, 10:48 AM   #188
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Dec 19 Bucaramanga

Straightforward and uneventful day. Pretty well all auto-pistas. Of course the nice thing about those is Motos pay . . . nothing, nada, zeeero! (I know I’ve talked about these before but I just get all giddy over free stuff) We zip through, get ahead of all those trucks . . . . and then get behind the next set of trucks. Bleah!


They sure have a lot of trucks here. The main road yesterday was Medellin – Bogota. The one today I guess is primarily Bogota to the northern ports. Lots of tank trucks – saw quite a few pump jacks so I guess some of that production is trucked out.

Periodically have some sort of construction project which is a great opportunity to get ahead of a lot of trucks – I’ll bet at least a hundred in some line ups. Motos to the front of the line. When the traffic is moving the other direction, it gets a little dodgy getting to the front. Zip down the shoulder if there is one, when it is blocked or runs out, cut over between a couple of trucks and wait for a break in the traffic the other way, then zip down until something starts coming at you then squeeze in somewhere.

Was at one line up which was at a bridge and I had made it up to about 3 trucks back. Bunch of little local bikes scattered around. All of a sudden some of them start going and then head right. I figure what the hell and tag along. We bounce along a dirt road/trail next to the river and finally come to another bridge – looked like the bridge for an old highway. Crossed that, went through a little town and on our way.





The road was pretty straight for most of the day but the last stretch was nice twisties. However, the road was pretty beat up. They are building a big new dam called the Sogamoso Dam that will be over 600 feet tall and will produce roughly 10% of Colombia’s electricity. Colombia being so mountainous and having huge rivers is an ideal place for hydroelectric power. I am told Colombia exports power to neighboring countries. These pics are the backside of the new dam.








There always seem to be little motorcycles around and some of the riders are pretty decent. Others just don’t have enough power to even keep up with traffic. Going by one kid today who was on a little 125 or 150 and all of a sudden he pulls this wheelie riding down the shoulder straight up – thought he was going to fall in the ditch but he held it up for quite awhile. Seeing this little bike up on its back wheel was hilarious.

Finally came over a hill and there below me is a frickin city. Apparently Bucaramanga is a town of like ½ million people . . . who knew? Thought it might 100K, tops. So here we go wrestling Bogota type rush hour traffic to get to the hotel. Fortunately the rotten traffic was only for a km or so.

Staying at the Hotel d Leon – nothing fancy but good parking and WiFi so, I’m good.


Downtown Bucaramanga - that building on the right is a huge Mercado with about 6 floors of little individual shops.




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Old 12-27-2012, 10:43 AM   #189
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Great write up and pics RexBuck.

I see the glider in that pic near the top, just right of center. If I am not mistaken, I think he's flashing a bank card that is sticking out of what looks like a camel back. Nah, just a coincidence I am sure.

Best wishes for continued safe trip.
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Old 12-27-2012, 10:52 AM   #190
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Dec 20 Chicamocha and Barichara

Getting out of town was a lot easier than getting in. No horns honking and traffic was quite civil.

Have to interject here and comment on the horn honking at stop lights I was whining about before. Finally figured it out. Stop lights are erected right next to the stop line so the guy(s) at the front can either barely see the light or can’t see it at all. When lights change from red to green they first go to flashing amber then green. The guy at the back is just giving the guys in the front a heads up that the green is coming.

Once out of town, the road started to get pretty good – still lots of truck traffic but as time progressed it would get bunched up and slow and was easy to pass a bunch at once on uphills. Once around a pack of trucks, wide open road and so much fun.

Hit a great bunch of switchbacks then arrived at Chicamocha Canyon park.






Very well developed by the government. Guess I was early as not much was open. Had a gondola, what looked like a giant swing and a couple of zip lines but the attractions apparently don’t start going until 11:30

Typical Colombian hats, particularly the ones with black and white strips





Even had a artifical skating rink





This huge structure depicted some of Colombia's history








Walked up towards the top to take in the view and as I was in riding gear, I was sweating like a fat man in a sauna (Hmm, guess that’s what was happening)– it was 29C (85F) at about 9:30 when I arrived.

Spectacular vistas from the top looking up two different valleys. This area seems arid compared to the lush jungle in the rest of Colombia I’ve seen - almost like Northern California.








The gondola also didn’t start hauling people until 11:30 and by the time I got back there was about 3 busloads of old folks (some older than me) standing in line to ride the gondola . . . gave it a pass. Anyhow, time to hit the road and get my air conditioning going.

Was thinking of skipping Barichara about 25km off the highway and just head down to Villa De Leyva. Decided to at least go check out Barichara. Waffled about leaving then looked at the nasty clouds in the direction of Villa de Leyva and went looking for a hotel. Finally found Hotel de Pablo II. No internet but nice room, park in the courtyard (had to take my bags off to get through the door).





Sit in the park and let little kids make fun of my Spanish. . .

Nice little town. Buildings and roads are primarily stone. These guys were regrouting with what looked like clay - just sweep it in









Night in the park.




There was a band playing in front of the church when I came out from dinner. Were actually pretty good. So many of these local, small town bands try hard but I end up feeling bad for them. These guys had a couple of good singers, particularly the girl. Good crowd watching.








The couple managing the hotel had a little boy who took a liking to me and started following me around. Really cute.




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Old 12-27-2012, 11:03 AM   #191
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Great write up and pics RexBuck.

I see the glider in that pic near the top, just right of center. If I am not mistaken, I think he's flashing a bank card that is sticking out of what looks like a camel back. Nah, just a coincidence I am sure.

Best wishes for continued safe trip.
Good eye Sunday, now find the one in the other picture.

And, yah, I was suspicious of that thieving bastard.
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Old 12-27-2012, 02:06 PM   #192
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Dec 21 Zipaquira

Thought the place I was in (Hotel de Pablo II) would be ideal for a nice quiet sleep. It was! On a quiet street about two blocks from the town square, room in the courtyard well off the street. Perfect. Well, until the church started ringing fricking bells at about 4:30 which woke the neighborhood roosters up. Then to make sure we were all on board, some locals started lighting firecrackers. Now, I can understand the exuberance of some to help the Church spread the word but I’m really getting tired of the apparent need to set off bombs or strings of mini-bombs everytime the bells ring. For crying in a pail . . . 4 frickin 30 in the morning? Who the hell is up at that hour? I’m sure the roosters were wondering where the sun was . . .

Nice ride on the highway with not too many trucks. Went through Villa de Leyva which is quite a pretty little town. Bit touristy. Thought about staying but it was mid-day and I felt like riding more.





They have a few local attractions, one of which is a full petrified dinosaur skeleton. Stumbled on it on my way out of town. They found this skeleton and rather than move it and reconstruct it elsewhere, they built the museum around it. It was kind of neat. It is a Kronosaurus skeleton which looks like a swimmer and has a pretty nasty looking head.












A couple of my favorite signs down here. The one on the left - dim your headlights. The one on the right - Toll Booth ahead. Makes me smile every time. Have I mentioned motos don't pay tolls in Colombia? It's free. Hey you cars and trucks that wouldn't get out of my way, see ya! Just sayin'. OK, I won't mention it again.





Approached this one community in a valley to a distinct smell of rotten eggs. Noticed what appeared to be bits of smoke in the valley. Turns out to be brick kilns. I'm assuming they are using a high sulfur coal.








Arrived in Zipaquira and thought I would look for a hotel here. Good sized town near Bogotá where the Salt Cathederal is. Big tourist attraction, decent sized town, no brainer. Apparently it’s a brainer. As far as I can tell there are only 2 hotels here and it took forever to find them. Finally got directions from a guy at a gas station that were only about a block and a half off. Decent place – big room, wifi, parking at a lot about a block and a half away for a little under $40.

Some shots of the downtown at night











Went out and had a pollo de la plancha (grilled checken) again. Really good.




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Old 12-27-2012, 02:43 PM   #193
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Dec 22 - Armenia

Tried to find some back roads to bypass Bogotá and avoid having to deal with Bogotá traffic. Headed north of Zipaquira and just had a blast. Nice two lane road going up a steep, steep hill. Turn off onto a less smooth road. Nothing spectacular but really enjoyed wandering around the hills and farms.



Road finally turned to dirt/rock. Came to about 3 or 4 forks in the road and my GPS map was showing the road I was supposed to be on about a km away. So, guessed on all of the fork questions (When you come to a fork in the road, take it. – Yogi Berra) and got them right and eventually ended up where I needed to be.


Small farms in this area. Lot of little dairy farms with anywhere from 1 to 10 cows. Farmers wait at the side of the road with their milk cans and the truck comes by and empties them right there.


Interesting way of patching pavement – bricks. Most of the patches were quite small but this was a monster.





Stopped in a little town not on the map and had a soup with pork – nice change from eggs.





Carried on with a series of roads till I got to the highway. Was a little disappointed with the highway until well after Ibague – I thought it would be a real twisty road with light traffic. It was pretty twisty at first then straightened out. Heavy traffic the whole way.


Did I say until after Ibague? Well, then it turned crazy. Still a bit of traffic but it was spread out enough so RexBuck could have some fun. Passing can be “exhilarating” sometimes but just blasting around corners with great scenery is tough to beat. Back into coffee country.





Worked my ass off passing everything in sight going up this mountain pass only to get pulled over by the army guys at the top. Now, a side note about the army guys down here. They are very friendly and almost always have a smile on their face. They are giving the thumbs up to just about everybody. They randomly pull people over and check out their papers.


So, today was my turn. Kid shakes my hand and asks for my papers. Looks them over and then wants to check my roll bags. I issue some sort of expletive and quickly look at him and ask if he speaks any English. Nope? Thank goodness and let's try a few more for good measure - makes me feel better. Opening the roll bags on the side of the road is a huge pain. He finally asks what is in the small one – jacket, sleeping bag and tent. OK, that’s fine. Shake my hand about six more times. Take a pic and go.





Get into Armenia and the GPS map has no detail. I have a couple of addresses so just start driving around town until numbers of the Calles and Carreras get close to what I want. Park and a cop comes over to ask about my trip – doesn’t care that I’m parked where I’m not supposed to be.



Turns out one hotel I was looking for is right there, the other one around the corner and there are about 60 million more within a few blocks. Took the Hotel Palma Viva with parking in the basement and all the other stuff I like for 80,000 ($45).


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Old 12-27-2012, 05:07 PM   #194
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Still Lovin' it!

Again, thanks for all the hard work and keeping us up to date on your great Adventure. I hope you had a wonderful Christmas and I'm sure you'll have a great New Years with Mrs Geezer (oops sorry about that) Mrs Rexbuck by your side for a while. Say hi and give her a hug for us, your ADV family.
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Old 12-27-2012, 07:30 PM   #195
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Again, thanks for all the hard work and keeping us up to date on your great Adventure. I hope you had a wonderful Christmas and I'm sure you'll have a great New Years with Mrs Geezer (oops sorry about that) Mrs Rexbuck by your side for a while. Say hi and give her a hug for us, your ADV family.
Thanks for your kind words and I'm delighted you are enjoying the report. I'm really looking forward to giving the Mrs (we'll just call her that for now) a big hug for for both you and me.
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