BackpackerMoto: ADV Noob vs. Patagonia

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by BackpackerMoto, Mar 10, 2014.

  1. BackpackerMoto

    BackpackerMoto Outcast

    Joined:
    Feb 16, 2014
    Oddometer:
    206
    Location:
    The Teton Range
    [​IMG]

    It's 1979.

    I am eleven years old, sitting on our back porch surrounded by five pairs of my father's leather work shoes. Next to me is a box, filled with various jars of polish, soft brushes, leather conditioners, and clean rags. This is one of my regular monthly chores: to clean the oil and grease from his shoes, then condition and polish them to his standards. His unfair high standards, I fume. And when I am done with all his shoes, I do my soccer cleats, which are expected to be cleaned and buffed with a new coat of polish after each and every Saturday game.

    + + + +

    It's 1993.

    I am at my father's Mercedes-Benz repair shop. Over a meal of In-N-Out Double Doubles and fries, we are talking soccer and hockey. The usual father-son stuff. But mostly, I am telling him about my recent five week backpacking trip to Australia. He seems greatly intrigued, interested, and eager to hear about it. When I finish telling him about my down under adventures, he gets a curious smile on his face. I don't know why.

    We hug, and pledge to speak again next week.

    Once again, I am sitting upon a back porch. The requisite shoe polishes and conditioners are on the step to my left, on my right is the very brush I used to polish Dad's shoes. Today, I am enjoying a mild SoCal spring morning while giving some much-needed attention to my Forma Adventure boots. After 4500 miles of South American travel, they need a good cleaning; I don't want them to crack and wither. They are an integral part of my trip memories, and as I've written elsewhere, the most comfortable footwear I've ever owned. I want to extend their lifespan as much as possible.

    Taking care of my belongings was pounded into me by my father; I suspect he would have been bewildered by today's disposable society. The notion of producing something that wasn't meant to last would have utterly confused him. You had to take meticulous care of your belongings so that said belongings would endure a long time. Like those 60s-70s era Mercedes that he repaired, built to go a half million miles and stay on the road for 30-40 years. Televisions that lasted 20 years. Refrigerators, ovens, vacuum cleaners that lasted 20 years.

    Shoes, properly cared for, that lasted 20 years.

    Menial labors despised in childhood, such as cleaning and polishing your cleats, are not always such bad chores once an adult. Rather like being on a solo motorcycle journey in a distant land, these tasks allow for long periods of uninterrupted reflection.

    I've been home a little while now, and it's been great to see my friends and family, to hug my Blonde. My flight from Santiago to Los Angeles arrived on a Saturday morning, just in time to spend the weekend on the couch with her, relax and watch some games from two (of many) of our shared passions: soccer and hockey. The usual husband-wife stuff. I am beyond grateful that she was so supportive of my trip. As a good friend pointed out, my Blonde's full, generous endorsement of my misadventure was the only opinion that truly mattered.

    Related... I've been a bit surprised to learn that some of my friends were so very worried about me while I was gone. Yes, yes, not coincidentally, they're the same people who helped write Top 15 Reasons Why A Solo Motorcycle Trip to Patagonia Is Ill-Advised. What they don't know is how much I worry about THEM almost every day. How much I worry about the anchors (some real, many imagined) in their lives that keep them from doing what they love or dream about. I worry about their bottomless Excuse Bags.

    I try to remind them, sometimes gently, other times with the sledgehammer, that the annoying problem with clichés is that there's frequently a shred or even a mountain of truth to them. We're only here once. Live each day to its fullest. After all, you could die tomorrow in a motorcycle versus banana truck accident. Your brother or sister, husband or wife, could contract a terminal illness. You could be sitting in a college class and get handed a note that says your father has died.

    That's what I learned from Dad's sudden passing. Certain clichés are true. There isn't always a tomorrow, or next week, next month or next year to start living the life we want. You don't get endless opportunities to embrace your dreams, or to embrace your loved ones.

    Brushing dried mud out of one of the Forma's buckles, I think back to that curious look of Dad's, on that day when I'd recounted my Australian trip. It was the last time we spoke. He died suddenly less than a week later. For almost 20 years, every time I'd reflect upon our final afternoon together, I'd wondered what that look had meant. This slight smile and pensive knowing nod that he'd given me. It was only recently that I think I finally figured it out.

    It was pride. His pride in me.

    I wipe my eyes. I put the polishes and shoe brush back into the box. The Formas look good, not brand new, but restored, refreshed, ready for the next adventure into an unknown place with an uncertain outcome.

    And so am I.
  2. lakota

    lakota Geeser

    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2007
    Oddometer:
    3,616
    Location:
    Annapolis MD
    Damn you anyway:wink:
    There I was enjoying the epilogue when you hit me with the death of your father and got me to thinking about mine. Misty eyes at work is not always a good thing.

    Wonderful writing and pictures.:clap This was a great story. Thanks for taking me along
  3. r3mac

    r3mac Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2010
    Oddometer:
    445
    Location:
    North Shore, ma
    Very much enjoyed travelling along with your writing and photos.

    Thank you for sharing.
  4. BackpackerMoto

    BackpackerMoto Outcast

    Joined:
    Feb 16, 2014
    Oddometer:
    206
    Location:
    The Teton Range
    My thanks to you both. I'm grateful that you took the time to read it, and I'm pleased you enjoyed it.

    Amen, brother. Writing about him was a bit of a challenge, too.
  5. BackpackerMoto

    BackpackerMoto Outcast

    Joined:
    Feb 16, 2014
    Oddometer:
    206
    Location:
    The Teton Range
    I got a few more requests to put all of the photos from my trip blog onto one page.

    So if you’re more of a picture book sorta person (I am), you can see them at this direct link: backpackermoto.com

    [​IMG]
  6. clintnz

    clintnz Trans-Global Chook Chaser

    Joined:
    May 17, 2004
    Oddometer:
    4,188
    Location:
    Rotoiti, North Is, New Zealand
    Great report! Thanks for taking the time to put together such an engaging story :clap

    My girlfriend & I are planning on a month of riding some of Chile & Argentina next year & will quite likely be following a similar route to yours, maybe with a few more dirty bits added in. Like you we'll be looking to take in some hiking along the way. Did you spot any other places on your trip that looked worthy of a few days walking around apart from TDP?

    Cheers
    Clint
  7. BackpackerMoto

    BackpackerMoto Outcast

    Joined:
    Feb 16, 2014
    Oddometer:
    206
    Location:
    The Teton Range
    Thanks for the kind words, Clint! (I spent some time in NZ about eight years ago, some great roads there!).

    As for hiking, I did do a bit more than I included in the "ride" report. If you're only in-country for a month, I personally would just focus on TDP and the El Chalten/Fitz Roy areas. Sure, endless opportunities elsewhere and throughout both countries, some of them very remote, but imo TDP and Fitz Roy are stunningly iconic for very good reasons. El Chalten has quite the cool mountain vibe (lots of hikes straight from your hotel door), and Puerto Natales is a good base for TDP insertions.

    Also, as I found out, it's very handy to have some extra days to account for potential bad weather. What time of year you going? Day hiking or overnight packing? Whatcha riding? I'm already excited for you!
  8. clintnz

    clintnz Trans-Global Chook Chaser

    Joined:
    May 17, 2004
    Oddometer:
    4,188
    Location:
    Rotoiti, North Is, New Zealand
    Thanks for the tips!

    Yep, will totally be allowing for a few rest/weather days. Thinking February/March, but still flexible on that. Probably mainly day hikes so we don't have to carry too much extra gear on the bikes, but if there are any interesting 2-3 day walks with accommodation etc along the way we might be tempted.

    It's looking like renting is going to be cheaper than shipping, so bike plan A is a couple of NX400's from Ride-Chile.

    Cheers
    Clint
  9. Turborob

    Turborob Minimalist.

    Joined:
    May 14, 2008
    Oddometer:
    694
    Location:
    Wodonga, Straya
    Thanks for sharing an outstanding read; I hope you continue to share your future ventures.

    We must have almost crossed paths during your trip; we rode Santiago to Punta Arenas (via the Austral) and then north up RN40 in Jan - late Feb.

    Oh, and kickass way to end your trip; good stuff. :clap
  10. BackpackerMoto

    BackpackerMoto Outcast

    Joined:
    Feb 16, 2014
    Oddometer:
    206
    Location:
    The Teton Range
    If I'd had the choice, I would have gone in February. Weather is better.

    TDP definitely has accommodations along the way, at the refugios. And if you do want to do some overnighters, then Puerto Natales and El Chalten have places you could rent backpacking gear for reasonable prices. Keeping that extra gear off your bike is a good call.

    I came to the same conclusion: for that length of time, renting definitely cheaper than shipping, and without the logistical hassles.

    Thanks much Rob! And wow, we must have just missed each other. I see you guys purchased CG125s, I almost went that route myself.

    One day, the Austral will be completely (or very nearly) paved. I'm glad to have had the chance to do much of it in its more rugged guise.

    As for my trip finale... it felt like 47,000 people were celebrating with me. The timing of it all was once-in-a-lifetime stuff.
  11. SloMo228

    SloMo228 World Class Cheapass

    Joined:
    Sep 22, 2012
    Oddometer:
    1,874
    Location:
    SE Michigan
    Great work on this RR. One of the best I've read on this site. I do wonder why there aren't more backpackers who ride, it would seem that there'd be more crossover. That's actually how I got interested in ADV riding - I was into backpacking years before and saw these pictures of people riding motorcycles in these remote and beautiful locations and wanted to join in on the fun. Awesome that you combine the two. (I also love my Atom LT)

    Thanks for taking the time to write this for all of us to read. I think I'll give my dad a call now and see if he wants to go for a ride this weekend.
  12. BackpackerMoto

    BackpackerMoto Outcast

    Joined:
    Feb 16, 2014
    Oddometer:
    206
    Location:
    The Teton Range
    My thanks for your kind words, I truly appreciate them.

    It's funny you bring up the crossover issue, because I have wondered the exact same thing. I was going to address it at length in my report (never really fit the narrative), because on paper there is so much in common. But in my experiences, the extremists from each community rather dislike each other. It's the fossil fuel burning two wheeled hooligans against the tree-hugging self-righteous vegetarians.

    I'm an Arc'teryx whore. Guilty as charged.

    A ride with your dad... no better idea, man.
  13. crashmaster

    crashmaster ow, my balls!

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2007
    Oddometer:
    5,558
    Location:
    Alaska
    :eek1 Huge score on the weather. :freaky When I spent some time there, the glimpses of Cerro Torre and Fitzroy showed how absolutely miserable a Patagonia big wall nail-up can be. Must have been epic in that weather.

    Really enjoying your writing style, pics, and your report.

    Back to lurking. :1drink
  14. BackpackerMoto

    BackpackerMoto Outcast

    Joined:
    Feb 16, 2014
    Oddometer:
    206
    Location:
    The Teton Range
    It was TOTALLY a huge score. All the surrounding days were just soggy foggy gusty messes.

    Thanks for the words, crash. Btw, dug the No Fumar trailer from years back! :clap Was a lurker then when you posted it.
  15. crashmaster

    crashmaster ow, my balls!

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2007
    Oddometer:
    5,558
    Location:
    Alaska
    Would like to do it again amigo, among some other crazy plans I have been thinking about. Buen viaje, cabron. Keep on keepin on. Loved the posts about "backpackers." :lol3 :D
  16. BackpackerMoto

    BackpackerMoto Outcast

    Joined:
    Feb 16, 2014
    Oddometer:
    206
    Location:
    The Teton Range
    Got two PMs from disgruntled lasses about those remarks. :rofl What can you say. Nuns... no sense of humor.

    Get going with those plans.
  17. DougFromKentucky

    DougFromKentucky Just a good 'ole boy

    Joined:
    May 22, 2008
    Oddometer:
    458
    Location:
    Bowling Green, Kentucky
    Thank you for your ride report. Discovered it yesterday, finished it today. Glad I am retired and can devote the time to reading something like this report in a short time. These ride reports are important to those of us who have reached the point in our lives that we cannot go on these trips any more. We get to see places like South America, places that although I have been around this earth of our I have never been.

    I always combined backpacking and riding. Had to quit the backpacking about 10 years ago after a big heart attack. Still riding - just not as far now as before.

    Thank you,
    Doug from Kentucky
  18. RoadHD

    RoadHD Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2010
    Oddometer:
    109
    Location:
    Los Angeles, CA
    Vinnie, I was thinking the exact same thing!!
  19. BackpackerMoto

    BackpackerMoto Outcast

    Joined:
    Feb 16, 2014
    Oddometer:
    206
    Location:
    The Teton Range
    Hey there Doug! You are most welcome. I'm pleased that another backpacker moto rider has been unearthed; I maintain, there are more of us out there!

    Sorry to hear the packing days are over, but glad that you survived and are still riding. Anything that gets us outdoors and into the beautiful places of the world, whether around the corner or on the other side of the globe, is decidedly a good thing.
  20. SloMo228

    SloMo228 World Class Cheapass

    Joined:
    Sep 22, 2012
    Oddometer:
    1,874
    Location:
    SE Michigan
    It does make for an easier transition to motorcycle touring / adventure riding, I think. When I started taking longer trips on the bike, I already had a bunch of lightweight, space-efficient gear. Just seems like a natural convergence of interests to me.