Have Camera, Will Travel: Canada to Argentina

Discussion in 'Epic Rides' started by peekay, Jul 26, 2011.

  1. Manolito

    Manolito Patagonia guide

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    I'm in :freaky
    #21
  2. superfunkomatic

    superfunkomatic Funky Monkey Trunk

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    Great report and pics. Page, AZ is a total tourist trap because of Lake Powell and its closeness to the Grand Canyon - got stuck there in a hotel for week (really expensive). Looking forward to details of the rest of your trip.
    #22
  3. damasovi

    damasovi Long timer

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    peekay

    I think I saw your bike at a hotel in Ensenada.. is this right? I don't remember when but I think I did!!

    any way, I am enjoing the RR!!! keep it up it is very nice!!

    Damasovi
    #23
  4. peekay

    peekay Been here awhile

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    Hi Damasovi, I ended up stopping by Ensenada twice, for a few days each, so it was probably me!! Too bad we didn't meet up, it would have been nice to meet a local rider. I really enjoyed my time there and hope to come back!!
    #24
  5. peekay

    peekay Been here awhile

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    My original reason to ride through Page, AZ was to see the picturesque Antelope Canyon, a mecca for "landscape" photographers popularized by Australian photographer Peter Lik.

    Yet when I got to Page, I started to have some doubts. Due to safety and other reasons, a Navajo guide is required to visit Upper Antelope Canyon, so one must join one of several Navajo-authorized tours in the city. I'm fine with that, except that virtually all of the tour operators had extremely poor reviews on Trip Advisor and elsewhere.

    I also had that lingering feeling whenever I visit a popular place: thousands of other photographers and visitors have taken pictures of the canyon -- what more could I possibly contribute? I had a feeling that any picture I take will probably look like any other Antelope picture taken by anyone else.

    Well with that defeatist attitude, I contacted the tour companies anyway, and was promptly shot down: advance reservations required, and all of their tours have already sold out for the next several days!

    And that was that.

    I was at the campground office when one of the clerks suddenly said, "you know, you could just go to the canyon yourself, and grab a guide there." Huh?

    "Yeah," he continued, "most tourists don't know this, but you don't actually have to reserve a tour at all." Another alternative is to just show up at the Navajo territory, where they run trips to the canyon all day long from inside the reserve. I guess most visitors get directed to the city tour companies because whoever sends them there gets a cut. Hmm!

    So after Horseshoe Bend, I rode to the Navajo reserve, signed-up for the next trip and within 30 minutes we were on the way to the canyon on a 4x4.


    [​IMG]
    Navajo territory. I was happy not riding my fully loaded bike here.


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    Dom our excellent Navajo guide caught a little mouse


    Many photographers come to Antelope to "catch the light" (see Peter Lik's work above for an example), done by throwing sand/dust in the air to create a shaft of light, then taking a bracket of exposures using a tripod. I decided I was just going to enjoy being there and take a few snapshots handheld.

    [​IMG]
    Entrance to the slot canyon


    [​IMG]
    Neat patterns formed by erosion

    Looking at the sandstone patterns is like looking at cloud formations. One formation looks like Abe Lincoln, another looks like a heart. The huge range of light intensity from almost pure dark to blinding highlights was amazing (a tripod would indeed have been useful).

    [​IMG]
    It's a bird! It's a fish! It's a (sandstone formation)!

    Despite my earlier skepticism, I really enjoyed walking through Antelope Canyon. After the tour, the day was getting late, and I still had to ride to my next destination: Vegas, Baby! But before that I need to make a "small" detour.
    #25
  6. yamalama

    yamalama wet coaster

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    Nice pics.
    Thanks.
    #26
  7. Morinite

    Morinite KLRista

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    Fantastic work thus far. I'm subscribed for this, Antelope Canyon looks amazing, I will go there too one day. Thank you for sharing... eh?
    #27
  8. Sunday Rider

    Sunday Rider Adventurer Wanabe

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    WOW Peekay, Those pictures are breathtaking. I am glad you went to the canyon to take those. Thanks for posting them.
    #28
  9. peekay

    peekay Been here awhile

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    Hi everyone! One more quick post today to try to catch up to real time…

    It was quite late in the afternoon when my Antelope tour ended. I didn't feel like staying another night in Page, so onward to Las Vegas is the plan. Google estimates a 5-hour ride to Vegas, which means I'll arrive there at night (and once again break my resolve not to ride at night).


    [​IMG]
    Lake Powell at a distance, circa 2011

    I had a small dilemma. There was so much to see in that beautiful country. From Page, Grand Canyon is a short ride south-west. Bryce Canyon is a short ride north-west. Monument Valley is a bit to the east. Zion National Park is just a little bit out of the way. Not to mention, I'm literally a stone-throw's distance away from Lake Powell.

    All these great places I've always wanted to visit, and I was going to miss them ALL.

    "I'll ride through them next time," I said to myself. But I was afraid there wont be a next time.

    I looked at the map, and decided to ride through Zion on the way to Vegas. If I get there fast enough, there might JUST be enough daylight to enjoy a section of the park, before riding hard to Vegas.

    So off I went. My ride will take me from the Arizona border into Utah, then south-west to Nevada. Of course not long after entering Utah, the traffic crawls to a stop east of Kanab. "I don't have time for this!", I thought as the shadows started to get really long.

    Soon though a couple of F16s streaked low and fast through the skies, burners on -- pretty cool!!! I wish I had my camera out. They were probably from Nellis AFB. (Later I checked the aviation "sectional" maps for the area which showed a Military Training Route parallel to the road I was on). That took my mind off the stop-and-go traffic for a while.


    [​IMG]
    Nearing Zion, where the buffalos roam


    It was almost 9pm by the time I arrived at Zion; not much sun left. The Ranger at the gate was a bit surprised to see me arrive. I showed her my Park's Pass and went on my way.


    [​IMG]
    The promised (park)


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    Lots of wildlife at Zion


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    Beautiful curvy ride through the park


    Night arrived and the moon came out to play. I took a few remaining pictures. I do hope there will be a next time.


    [​IMG]
    A little bit of light remaining

    It was 10pm by the time I left Zion. I stopped by a gas station and checked the GPS: 3 hours to Vegas through a couple small mountain ranges. I got there in about 2.5 hours. After Horseshoe Bend, Antelope Canyon, Zion, and now Vegas, I was totally beat! I thought about taking some pictures, but hit the sack instead and slept for like 2 days. Haha!

    From Navajo territory to Mormon country to Sin City -- all in a day -- I have to admit I have nothing to complain about!
    #29
  10. orbiker

    orbiker Been here awhile

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    What is your timeline for the trip?
    Are you riding down and shipping back or a round trip.

    Be safe and relax and see and smell the roses.
    KEN
    #30
  11. peekay

    peekay Been here awhile

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    Hi Ken, good question! I planned about 7-8 months for the trip and am about half-way through in time now. I'd like to ride until February or March, and hopefully reach Argentina & TdF. For personal reasons, I'm making this trip about the journey and not the destination, so I'm ok if I stop before Argentina this time around (and continue on at a later time) -- and I'll expand my reasons for that on a subsequent post. Take care!
    #31
  12. NightShadow

    NightShadow Adventurer

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    Great pics so far. Enjoy the rest of your ride.
    #32
  13. AdventurePoser

    AdventurePoser Long timer

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    I am really enjoying the pix. I keep going back and forth in my mind about whether or not I should take a DSLR on my next long expedition into Mexico. It's heavy and to be any good needs to be accessible for quick shots, which means on the body or in the tankbag, which could make the camera very prone to walking away.:huh OTOH, my little Panasonic Lumix takes some great shots!

    Anyway, I'd love to hear your thoughts. Have a safe trip and keep the pix coming!

    Steve in So Cal
    #33
  14. peekay

    peekay Been here awhile

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    I'm probably the wrong person to consult re: to carry a DSLR or not... :D I have like four cameras with me (+ various audio/video gear) -- easily the majority of my luggage!! The other big proportion is my camping gear. Everything else I have (clothes, toiletries, spares, med kit, etc) can probably fit into one tiny bag.

    To be honest, I mostly use my point & shoot (I always have it in my pocket) but I have taken some pictures which wouldn't be as nice (from a technical perspective) without a DSLR.
    #34
  15. squonker

    squonker Eat my shorts

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    Awesome - I'm really enjoying this RR! Thanks! :thumb
    #35
  16. peekay

    peekay Been here awhile

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    Thanks everyone!!!

    Expedia listed Hard Rock Hotel in Las Vegas for $50/night -- about the same as the Motel 6 down the road -- so there I went for two nights. During check-in I was "reminded" about the $18/night mandatory "resort fee". Ouch!! I should have known better!!

    I had "plans" to do some stock photography in Vegas, but really didn't feel like it. I just wanted to decompress for a day. It's like a vacation from vacation, which made me feel a little guilty to have such a luxurious problem.

    Two nights in Vegas was all I could handle, so onwards to California!!

    The plan was to "wake up early", ride through Death Valley, then continue to Bakersfield. Those who have met me are probably in tears laughing right now about me waking up early… (maybe early in China?)


    [​IMG]
    I actually forced myself to take ONE picture of Vegas, as I left town

    So anyway, it was already 2pm by the time I left Vegas city limits (predictably) and it was definitely waaay to hot now to ride through Death Valley. Change of plans then, it would be I-15 south-west to Barstow (by the Mojave desert) then CA58 to Bakersfield, passing nearby Edwards AFB.

    [​IMG]

    The ride started out normally enough. I'm on the Interstate highway system on a gorgeous day. It's bright and sunny outside, what possibly could go wrong?? (cue dramatic music)

    We're gaining elevation and I'm passing a big semi.

    And then WOOOOSSSHHHHHHH!!!

    Is it raining?? There's water everywhere!!!

    I can't see S#*T!!! WTF??? :eek1:eek1:eek1

    WOOOOSSSHHHHHHH!!! More rain!! But it's green rain!! Smells really funny too!!

    This was all split second… I'm now realizing that HOT COOLANT was SPRAYING from the radiator overflow -- RIGHT TO MY F#K!NG FACESHIELD.

    NICE F&CK!g DESIGN BMW!!!!
    :baldy

    I can barely see anything, in the middle of I-15, cars & semis now whizzing by me and honking at me like mad, then I can just barely make out a %#&@ big ass box in the middle of my lane ahead (why now??) -- swerved and just missed it, tried to keep calm.
    :eek1 :eek1 :eek1

    I pulled to the right lane and slowed down, wiping as much coolant as I can from my faceshield. I knew I had to keep moving to keep the engine from overheating. I saw a sign for an off-ramp and took it. There was a gas station there and I coasted to a stop.


    [​IMG]
    In-helmet "view". This was after I already wiped most of the coolant off.


    [​IMG]
    Outside of helmet


    [​IMG]
    Coolant everywhere on the bike

    The strangest part here is that throughout this "experience" (to this point in time), the bike was not overheating (according to the temp gauge). The gauge stayed right in the middle of its range as usual.

    I let the bike cool off a bit. I checked the overflow bottle and of course there was coolant in there. It also meant that there was no point in filling it up at this time, until the radiator cools more and drains the coolant from the bottle.

    So I waited a bit more. Since the bike wasn't overheating, I decided to continue on to Bakersfield while keeping a close eye on the temperature gauge.

    Back on the Interstate and the bike ran totally fine. No problems, temp right in the middle of the range. How strange!!!!

    That lasted until I had to quickly slow down for the California Agriculture Inspection station. The coolant started to spray out again! Well, this time it was more of a dribble than a spray. Then the bike went into overtemp! No!!

    I guess by this time, the radiator had lost so much coolant that it could only control the temperature while the bike was moving. I tried to keep moving as best as I could to keep airflow over the rad. Luckily the cars in front of me got waived through the checkpoint, and so did I.

    I eventually coasted to a stop, killed the engine, then immediately switched the ignition on again to keep the fan running. The fan did not run. The overtemp warning was blinking like mad yet the fan was not triggered to come on. Another "questionable" engineering design, BMW!! Luckily within seconds the bike was out of the overtemp range.


    [​IMG]
    Just like that, temp back to normal


    I waited by the Inspection Station gates until the bike cooled down. After that I limped her to the Super 8 motel in Bakersfield without any further drama.
    #36
  17. peekay

    peekay Been here awhile

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    #37
  18. BeemerChef

    BeemerChef Wandering Homeless

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    Great report... curious of your DSLR? Thinking Nikon lens... very sharp. Thanks...

    Ara and Spirit
    #38
  19. terpaksangaskus

    terpaksangaskus Lonerider

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    Wow, really cool adventure..
    someday i think you should come to Indonesia.. the road more "wild" here :clap
    #39
  20. hvilla

    hvilla Been here awhile

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    Thanks for sharing, ride safe and keep it coming!!! :1drink
    #40