LoneStar's Adventure to South America

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by LoneStar, Sep 7, 2017.

  1. btrrtlwtr

    btrrtlwtr Adventurer

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    LoneStar

    just binge read this rr and your adventures with ironbuterfly. others have said it better than i could ever put to words so a big THANK YOU for the reports and taking us along .
  2. PJPR01

    PJPR01 Paul R

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    Wonderful philosophy of life...being willing to be shaped by the incidents instead of fighting them, bending like a bamboo tree when the wind blows instead of a stiff palm tree that cracks, just beautiful!

    It's a short ride up from Houston to Austin or Hill Country where I like to ride a lot as well...would be great to see a slideshow and hear about your travels in areas I've been fortunate to travel thru and live. All the best on the continuing adventure!

    I do hope you have budgeted enough time as well to enjoy Argentina...we lived there for about 3.5 years and explored a lot. The mountainous area between Bariloche over to Chile and thru La Ruta de 7 Lagos is just one of countless beautiful areas. A few days in Bariloche and Villa L'Angostura will be a treat for you I hope! Needless to say, some of the best wine in the world in Mendoza, Argentina (Escorihuela Gascon, Felipe Rutini, and also in Chile (Carmenere from Casa Lapostolle for example), with a fantastic ride past Aconcagua back to Chile. No matter where you go...beautiful sites, interesting scenery, old Welsh Tea Houses and so much to explore!
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  3. chip8150

    chip8150 Adventurer

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    Hi Joseph - I would do the 4-day ferry either going down or coming back to get the best of both worlds. Unfortunately my ride didn't involve coming back up so only rode down through parts of the Austral. I've heard feedback from others that the ferry offers a pretty sweet perspective of the landscapes. Glad to see the GS patched up and you moving south again! Get ready for some crazy winds!

    Best,
    Chip
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  4. LoneStar

    LoneStar WhoopDeDoofus

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  5. LoneStar

    LoneStar WhoopDeDoofus

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    Hey Jeff - I have not but someone else recommended the book as well a couple of years ago so I hope to read it - they said it was very good read

    Planning on catching as much of the area as I can! Wow there's so much to see still it's overwhelming - thanks!

    Chip dude I miss you guys lol - hope you're getting onto your next project already. I'm really wanting to and trying to sort it all out at this very moment...
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  6. LoneStar

    LoneStar WhoopDeDoofus

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    Update:

    Have had difficulty getting internet with any duration the last few days to update the report and photos... but hopefully in a couple of days.

    After some research about the ferries and the lack of current info on the landslide on Ruta 7 at Villa Santa Lucia, the ferries are the only option for bypassing in Chile. The simplest solution is the ferry from Puerto Montt to a port south of Sant Lucia. The next date from Puerto Montt with any space was 5 days out, and the other 4 day trip to Pto Natales was booked up with only a $2000 cabin left (yikes) so the normal slave rate of $750 was out the window.

    I had to visit Motoaventura Osorno to buy Final Drive fluid and while there decided to let them do both the FD and oil. As an aside, the FD oil came out like chocolate milk - heavily contaminated with water! No signs of fluid leaks anywhere so best I can figure is Cristobal used a pressure washer to blast some in from somewhere - Hank said likely the vent - but since the TPS had been full of water after the repairs I'll just go ahead and blame him :lol3
    BTW Motoaventura is top notch with commensurate prices.

    The owner has been running tours to Ushuaia for 18 years and does the run himself. I talked with him about the situation and told him I was planning on taking the ferry in a few days. He said the system was overwhelmed and it was likely the ferry wouldn't leave on time and a good chance I could spend a week or two waiting. He said the best way at the moment was bypassing it by going through Bariloche and back into Sta. Lucia from the Argentinian side and taking a bypass road that had been built around it, catching Ruta 7 south from there. Since the 4 day ferry was out the window for price at the time, and the next local ferry was still 5 days out, it was a no-brainer. Had the local ferry been sooner it was my preference, but not to wait another week.

    It was noon on Saturday so I canceled my hostel in Pto Montt and headed east for Bariloche. God I HATE Carnaval. That bitch has been plaguing me since I hit Cartagena in November. Yes, it was Carnaval weekend and explained the thousands of packed SUV's heading south on the freeway. An interesting encounter in the 2 hour line at the Chilean border crossing, then a bunch of bullshit in the slammed town of Bariloche. Carnaval seems to last 6 months here, as it screwed us in Cartagena, then Arica in January and now Bariloche in February. Will update.


    May be able to catch the 4 day ferry back north from Puerto Natales at the better rate when I hit Ushuaia.

    At this point, the easy route to Ushuaia is about 1150 miles and to be honest, very tempting. A part of me wants to just get there and then take my time coming back. However I'm probably going to cross back into Chile this morning and add about 600 more miles going the Ruta 7 version.
  7. michnus

    michnus Lucky bastard

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    What Carnaval what am I missing? :freaky
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  8. ONandOFF

    ONandOFF more off than on

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    Sure, there's a celebration for any significant event in the past, some of us find it quite cool actually, but just so ya know... all celebrations are not "carnaval". Carnaval Is very specific, a pre-lent party. In the US, its Mardi Gras.

    "Shrovetide starts on Septuagesima Sunday,[1]includes Sexagesima Sunday, Quinquagesima Sunday (commonly called Shrove Sunday),[3] as well as Shrove Monday,[4] and culminates on Shrove Tuesday.[5] One hallmark of Shrovetide is the merrymaking associated with Carnival.[6] On the final day of the season, Shrove Tuesday, many traditional Christians, such as Anglicans, Lutherans, Methodistsand Roman Catholics,[7] "make a special point of self-examination, of considering what wrongs they need to repent, and what amendments of life or areas of spiritual growth they especially need to ask God's help in dealing with."[8]"


    As to roads, you just can't choose a "wrong" route! And you're there so you can explore anything and everything you want while passing through. (less whatever ground, funds, and time one might lose to ferry sidetrips)
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  9. Zubb

    Zubb he went that-a-way...

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    Just caught up on the last 6 pages. Note to self . . . don't get that far behind again! Cheers to you brother and thank you for not getting writers fatigue and leaving us in the dust. It's a lot of work just to post up a 3 day ride report, but you continue to amaze. Thanks for your commitment to this side of your adventure journey.
    LoneStar likes this.
  10. Redracer675

    Redracer675 Adventurer

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    Hey Joseph, Looks like you are going to be doing a lot of FREE eating and drinking when you get back up here. I'll try to limit Amy to two margaritas so we don't get kicked out!! We have one or two good places to eat in San Antonio. :1drink My birthday isn't until September so your return and it may just coincide! Keep the words and photos flowing.
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  11. LoneStar

    LoneStar WhoopDeDoofus

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    I don't know but I seem to hit every one! Just follow me then catch up after the party :clap

    It was definitely "Carnaval" in Bariloche, Argentina this past weekend. The little crossing into Chile was slammed with people and on the ARG side the folks were talking about it. When I asked the Immigration official on the Chilean side about the crowds he said "Carnaval Argentina" and rolled his eyes then said "No Carnaval Chile!" We both laughed.

    I'm beginning to notice my virtuous patience for things is getting thin lately :lol3 It's been a long time of dealing with BS daily methinks!
  12. LoneStar

    LoneStar WhoopDeDoofus

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    Look forward to seeing you guys again and ALSO eating Mexican food in San Antonio! We'll definitely be getting together :D Tell Amy hi!
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  13. 230Rocket

    230Rocket Adventurer

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    I know your internet access is sketchy at best, but hey, you owe us some of those glorious images we've all grown used to...

    Ride far
    Dean
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  14. LoneStar

    LoneStar WhoopDeDoofus

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    So last night I found a great hotel and it had fast wifi. Got comfy and ready to finally upload some images at last. 15 minutes in, the internet goes dead. Hotel manager informs me a truck with too high of a load had just snagged the cable across the road and destroyed it. Indeed it was true.

    The shit I suffer through just for you guys :lol3

    BTW posting from slow cell :chace:D
  15. ONandOFF

    ONandOFF more off than on

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    Yikes, no likey. Hope they put the new cable up higher. Or under the road in conduit. Where was this?
  16. Sunday Rider

    Sunday Rider Adventurer Wanabe

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    Do you feel you are in a Road Runner vs Coyote episode that won't end?

    Thanks for your wonderful dialogue and amazing pictures.
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  17. twowings

    twowings Comfortably Numb...

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    Don't let us get in your way...save those beautiful pics to a USB stick and we'll catch them when you have time and access! Enjoying every bit...:D
  18. Ohio_Danimal

    Ohio_Danimal If I die trying, at least I tried

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    just glad you're still rockin Joseph. Thanks for taking this time with us
  19. LoneStar

    LoneStar WhoopDeDoofus

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    From Copiapo, the next day saw La Serena, another coastal town about half way to Valparaiso and the following day, Valparaiso itself.

    The hostels and hotels have been much more expensive than in Peru, and as mentioned before, they book up very quickly. There isn’t much infrastructure or towns in north Chile, so possibly travelers keep them booked up daily.

    I managed to find a homestay in Valparaiso for about $20 a night, and it sat high on the hillside overlooking the town below and the port.

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    Valparaiso is known for its colorful street art and graffiti, so I roamed the town for a day after the sunshine appeared and shot a few pictures. Much of the art is in alleyways and “escaleras” or stairways down the steep hillsides to streets below. The art is free, however the price you pay for much of it is the smell of urine, piles of dog poop and broken bottles, as the stairways are a hangout for drunks and homeless types.

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    Still there is much to see and it adds a lot to some of the areas. The houses in the town are colorful and the architecture is a mix of German and English, belying the heritage of Chile. As one rides through the desert areas, there are signs and even ruins of military outposts from Germany and Britain.


    Might this be the last Chevette in the world?
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    The older neighborhoods are a bit more polished, quaint and upscale, with many hostels advertising their eco-friendliness on the signs. Tourists and backpacking girls roam the streets, with the accompanying top-knotted, dreadlock wearing beardy-men in eco-friendly sarongs or whatever seems the edgiest. Valparaiso has some grittiness to it, but it's a nice town.


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    The highlight of my time there was being invited to the family dinner, a rare thing I was told by the hostess. She said they could tell I was “friendly” and wanted to discuss the U.S., my trip and spend time with them. The fools. When I came down for dinner, there was some great blues music playing and I was right at home. The hostess’ brother and his son were both huge blues fans and we had a lot fun talking about the greats. The Chilean wine was superb and the Italian meal was delicious. Our conversations were wide-ranging and entertaining, with of course the real topic being Donald Trump. Chile seems so isolated to me, sort of like an Australia, being so far south and tucked between an ocean and the Andes, that I wondered what they thought of the President. It was different than expected, them saying it seemed like the news made him out as a buffoon but they could see he was trying to help the US financially. I was not expecting an answer like that, but again reminded myself that they are not as emotionally involved as the countries closer to North America.


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    I’d contacted a few places in Santiago about my damaged wheel and was pleasantly surprised to get a couple of responses back the same day. MotoAventura emailed me quickly and said they could have the rim professionally straightened, trued, and put on a new Heidenau in 48 hours if I got the bike to the shop Monday morning. I responded I'd be there when they opened. About that time, Jules and Christine texted me they had arrived in Valparaiso and Jules’ F800 had died in the hostel parking lot, battery dead as lead. They spent the day trying to locate someone who could test the battery and charge it, suspecting a failed alternator.


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    The diagnosis from a local shop was a failed battery, despite the BMW one being only a month old, so they sourced another one that would work and planned to head for Santiago the next day.



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    I enjoyed my short time in Valparaiso and rode with them the next day, removing Jules’ headlight bulb to stop some of the battery drain in case the alternator had actually died. From Valparaiso, more greenery had begun to appear - a few trees and grass, things I hadn’t seen for a week in the desert. Getting closer to Santiago, the landscape reminded me of west Texas and the Hill Country region - brown grass and rolling hills dotted with green trees. Vineyards began to appear along the highway and there was no doubt a different region had appeared.

    We split in Santiago, as my hotel lay far to the east in an expensive neighborhood, a ten minute walk from Motoaventura. Since I had no idea of the scale of Santiago, I didn’t want to get a hostel in a different area because I knew cab rides would be very long and very expensive. The other hotels anywhere near the area were over an hour walk away from the shop so I said “F” it and decided to stay nearby. It turned out best, as I found out that a cab ride from downtown Santiago took over an hour and I was glad I didn’t have to deal with it.

    MotoAventura was in a pricey neighborhood, filled with BMW, Mercedes and similar dealerships. I’d bitten the bullet for a costly hotel to minimize the BS while waiting for the bike, but was reminded why I never do. Parking the bike near the front door, the doorman seemed reticent to let me in. Yes, I was in my motorcycle gear but still felt a bit of disdain, and then the security muscle stared at me, walking a couple of steps behind as I went to the front desk. Muscle man stood watching while the reception guy ignored me. I was the only one there and I stood for a few minutes in case he was busy with paperwork. I moved closer and he continued to ignore me. I finally stepped right to him and I could see his arrogance as if I were a leper, simply because I was in motorcycle gear and fresh off the road. He was bothered I had a reservation and could barely be civil.

    I took full advantage of the nice room, excited to see the 10’ ceilings, as it allowed me to jump up and down on the bed freely without knocking myself out cold. I had to admit it felt good to be in a nice room after some the places I’ve been and some of the places I’ve actually PAID to stay in.

    That evening, I got an email from another repair shop, IMR Motos, that he had a spare R1200GS rim he could sell me and he could pick up a Heidenau from Motoaventura to mount. I’d agreed to MotoAventura and made my hotel choice based on that, since they said they could repair the rim for about 1/4 the cost of the used rim. I was waiting at the shop when it opened and was disappointed to hear they could not repair the rim after all, their supplier’s machine having broken down over the weekend and wouldn’t be repaired for a full week.

    My other option was the used rim and I damn sure didn’t want to sit in yet another expensive city waiting a week or more. I’d also seriously considered getting the rim hammered into some form of improvement and running a tube in the tire to assure no blowout, then just putting up with the wobble since much of the south would be on dirt.

    Having ridden the wheel and tire for a few days, and felt the strong wobble and then seeing how badly the tire was wearing, I really didn’t feel like riding the rest of my South America trip wearing out tires and worrying with poor handling.

    I sat down and calculated the cost of waiting in a hotel for a week, then getting the rim repaired, even then not knowing if it truly could be. That alone would cost more than the used wheel. Worse, another week or more would be lost in trying to beat the bad weather in Ushuaia. Aside from the fact that even more delays would steal time on the way south.

    When I looked at the costs, lost time, wearing out new $250 tires quickly and the negative handling, the used wheel made absolute sense and actually was cheaper due to saving time. It turns out the owner of MotoAventura was making a run to Ignacio’s IMR Motors that very afternoon, taking the old wheel and money to him and returning with the new one. It worked out perfectly and was ready the next morning. Almost. I found many loose spokes on the new wheel and spent a while tightening them before checking out of the hotel and tentatively heading south. I’d sent Ignacio’s name to Christine and Jules, who had him work on Jules’ bike the same day. He’d pulled the alternator and sent it out to be rebuilt, then got the bike running again in one day.

    I was definitely ready to get on the road for Concepcion further south, and I hit the highway with a knot in my stomach. It seems like each time I get moving, some issue lies ahead and I’ll admit to feeling gun shy now, but the sky was blue and the sun was out!


    It took almost an hour to get out of Santiago proper, but the weather was great and the terrain was changing. Distant arid mountains stood in the haze, but near the highway green trees, brown grass and vineyards lined the road. It felt good to see green again. The region reminded me even more of the Fredericksburg, Texas area than the days before.

    Toll booth frequency increased, as did the amount of the tolls. It seemed every 30 miles there was a stop for a couple of bucks US but in soles of course. Somewhere Christine and Jules were on the road, having been delayed by a problem with their phone and GPS app. I expected to catch up to them but after a couple of hours I knew they were behind me.











  20. LoneStar

    LoneStar WhoopDeDoofus

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    I arrived late in the day to Concepcion, a bustling town that was in rush hour, finding my hostal and a parking area loaded with trekking bicycles. It wasn’t long before I was talking with six or seven from England about their trip. They had flown in with the bicycles to Santiago and were heading south. They had only been on the road a week when one of the bicycles had broken and had subsequently had to wait another week in Concepcion for the part to arrive by DHL. Distant memories. They sat packed and waiting as the part was to arrive any hour. One of the guys was to stay, having to end his trip early because of severe back spasms.


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    Wandering the streets in the fading light, I grabbed a few images before settling into the hostel that night. Looking at the map, it felt good to see that finally I was about half way down the length of Chile. Having spent so much time on repair issues, each time I’d look at a map and how far north I still was, it would seem I’d never get to Ushuaia.




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    From Concepcion, Osorno was now in striking distance - the jumping off point for either Bariloche, Argentina or the beginning of the lakes region in the more remote area of southern Chile. Either way, the doorstep to Ushuaia.


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    I chose to head for the smaller town of Valdivia with less of a busy city feel. The highway south was filled with SUV’s and family vans stuffed with luggage and people, heading for vacations somewhere ahead. On the opposite side, a continuous stream of clean and new adventure bikes were heading north, with couples and their gear returning from said vacations.

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    More and more trees appeared, with logging trucks loaded and trailing clouds of sawdust. The temperatures were getting cooler and the scenery reminded me of Canada, replete with grey skies and threatening rains.

    Valdivia arrived and though a bit crowded, was a nice little town with German restaurants and beer. People walked the river banks and lounged in the sporadic sun. After a street side coffee, the rains came and I found my hostal for the night.




    That night as I tried to remember some things for the report, I noticed I couldn’t remember the previous towns or the places I’d stayed. I had to refresh myself with the map and photos. I realized the road fatigue was now beginning to creep in. I also felt a bit guilty for having had to ride so much and not spend as much time as I’d like shooting images, but I reminded myself one can’t see or do everything, especially on a trip with a schedule.


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    Ahead lay the vaunted Austral region of Chile and I was excited, yet unsure of the routes as the massive landslide south of Osorno at Villa Santa Lucia had blocked the road and wouldn’t be clear for months. I’d read snippets of bypasses and ferry options, but could not find real and current information. I’d planned to bypass Osorno originally and stay in Puerto Varas a few miles north of Puerto Montt, but I also needed to change oil and final drive fluid before heading further south. I decided to stay in Osorno instead, and deal with the bike as well as mine some information on the situation south.


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    That afternoon when I reached Osorno, I rode directly to MotoAventura, meeting a South African from Colorado, Richard I think, on a KTM who had ridden the Amazon and down through Brazil. He'd just returned from Ushuaia. We discussed a few things and he told me he’d taken the ferry from Puerto Natales near Ushuaia all the way north to Puerto Montt to give himself and the bike a break, highly recommending it for it’s route through the uninhabited areas of south Chile’s fjords. It went into my mental bank as a possibility.

    I inquired about oil and a place to change it at the shop and was told they could do it for me the next day. I decided to let them handle it, as after so many months I find myself getting lazier.

    At the hostel, I was quite happy to see a wood stove in the room after so many cold nights in lodgings! The warmth brought back memories of my wood stove in another life. The cozy room was a nice respite from the cold wind outside that night.

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    That night I searched the internet for as much information as I could and found that ferries were the only way past the blockage, but the soonest available from Puerto Montt was 5 days out. The longer ferry to Puerto Natales was unfortunately booked up and only a $2000 cabin was available, far out of my price range. I booked a hostal in Puerto Varas just a little north of Puerto Montt and decided I’d be hanging out a few days waiting for the ferry.

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