Patagonia-Bound

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by H-Jay, Jan 3, 2009.

  1. H-Jay

    H-Jay Mo 2 C

    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2006
    Oddometer:
    404
    Location:
    Michiganland
    We are already in <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:eek:ffice:smarttags" /><st1:country-region w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Mexico</st1:place></st1:country-region> and I now have time to start a trip report. I’m also going to try and keep this and a blog going. That is Chris on the right.

    [​IMG]

    But first, starting from the beginning, what’s the plan? The plan is for two guys to head south right after Christmas, 2008 on a three month, or so, ride through <st1:place w:st="on">Latin America</st1:place>. We will travel through <st1:country-region w:st="on">Mexico</st1:country-region>, Central America and fly over the Darien Gap in to <st1:place w:st="on">South America</st1:place>. In South America, we will continue south to <st1:place w:st="on"><st1:City w:st="on">Ushuaia</st1:City>, <st1:country-region w:st="on">Argentina</st1:country-region></st1:place>. From there we will turn north and go the 1900 miles up the east coast to <st1:place w:st="on"><st1:City w:st="on">Buenos Aires</st1:City>, <st1:country-region w:st="on">Argentina</st1:country-region></st1:place>. In <st1:City w:st="on">Buenos Aires</st1:City>, I will take a little non-moto vacation with my wife, before flying the motorcycles and us home in time for an early spring in <st1:place w:st="on"><st1:State w:st="on">Michigan</st1:State></st1:place>. All in, the trip should be about 15,000 miles. Along the way, we plan to visit the great sights, such as, <st1:country-region w:st="on">Peru</st1:country-region>’s <st1:City w:st="on">Machu Picchu</st1:City> ruins, the Bolivian Salt Flats and <st1:country-region w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Argentina</st1:place></st1:country-region>’s Lakes District. We will also travel some legendary roads like the Carretera Austral (Southern Highway) in <st1:country-region w:st="on">Chile</st1:country-region> and the famous Ruta 40 through <st1:country-region w:st="on">Argentina</st1:country-region>’s <st1:place w:st="on">Patagonia</st1:place> region where BMW filmed their 2004 GS New Model Introduction publicity shots. <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:eek:ffice:eek:ffice" /><o:p></o:p>
    <o:p> </o:p>
    My friend Chris and I have identical 2007 R1200GSAs. It wasn’t planned for us to look like twins rolling down the highway. We had mutual friends but didn’t even know each other when we separately purchased our motorcycles from John Horner at BMW Motorcycles of Southeast Michigan. For my preferences, the GS Adventure comes almost complete for these types of journeys. It’s a little heavy (subtle sarcasm) and tall but makes a decent compromise between on and off road handling for long distance traveling. I may have wished for a thumper after having to pick the pig up in <st1:country-region w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Bolivia</st1:place></st1:country-region>, but for now its great for knocking down miles. The Adventure and standard GS come with adequate off road protection. The exception is the need to add a little more protection to the headlight, radiator and cylinder heads. The latter got more protection from Adventure Design’s well thought out Engine Guard Extension bars. Additional lights, front and rear, were added to help others see us.

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    Packing was another time consuming logistical challenge. The strategy is to get everything in two lockable side cases and a tank bag. The rear top case will stay mostly empty so that the tank bag can get locked up during restaurant stops in sketchy areas. Here is the obigatory stuff spread out photo.

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    Before we left town we had a bit of a fun displaying our motos during a open house Christmas party hosted by John Horner at BMW Motorcycles of Southeast Michigan. I was amazed by the interest and the number of people that already knew about the trip.<o:p></o:p>
    <o:p> </o:p>
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    We got out of <st1:State w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Michigan</st1:place></st1:State> on the Saturday after Christmas. We could not have asked for a better after Christmas present ….50 degree weather. The snow was still piled high on the side of the road but we had a clear path out of <st1:State w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Michigan</st1:place></st1:State>. After getting a nice send off from my family I cautiously rode an hour in thick fog to meet up with Chris. The big surprise for me was finding that 3 of our friends got up early Saturday and drove 40 miles to give Chris and I a send off. <o:p></o:p>
    <o:p> </o:p>
    We had 2 hard days riding to beat the bad weather. End of day 2 has us in <st1:City w:st="on">Covington</st1:City> <st1:State w:st="on">LA</st1:State> somewhere between <st1:City w:st="on">Baton Rouge</st1:City> and <st1:City w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">New Orleans</st1:place></st1:City>. We had been riding the last 4-5 hours in the rain and as dark ascended the rain picked up. Wanting to be around to see <st1:place w:st="on">South America</st1:place> we decide it’s probably time to stop for the night. The next day we headed off to <st1:City w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Houston</st1:place></st1:City>. I have family to visit and dragged Chris along.

    More later...

    #1
  2. theturtleshead

    theturtleshead Tits on a fish

    Joined:
    Jun 14, 2005
    Oddometer:
    821
    Location:
    Medellin Colombia ain,t nowhere better
    The best way to pass the Darien is the Copa flight from Panama city to Medellin then head down through the Zona Cafetera to Mikes place in Cali.
    Feel free to get in touch as you get closer to Colombia.
    Al theturtleshead
    #2
  3. pinkman

    pinkman We're stopping again?

    Joined:
    Jun 24, 2007
    Oddometer:
    20
    Location:
    Clermont, FL
    Have a fantastic trip! I'm toying with the idea of working my way down to Panama and will be reading your blog with great interest. Thanks for posting your adventure and I wish you the best of luck.
    #3
  4. Roboter

    Roboter Vagabond

    Joined:
    May 10, 2007
    Oddometer:
    932
    Location:
    Deutschland
    That by far is the coolest plate Ive ever seen. I actually tried getting it for my KTM back when I lived in Michigan.
    I've been to that shop many times. I liked them way more than the guys in Sterling heights.


    You are about to embark on a big trip! Take care! It will change your life.

    Roboter
    #4
  5. GB

    GB . Administrator

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2002
    Oddometer:
    61,031
    Best wishes for a safe journey, and looking forward to reading about your great adventure :thumb

    :lurk
    #5
  6. Kodanja

    Kodanja Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Oct 23, 2005
    Oddometer:
    660
    Location:
    Boise, Idaho
    Subscribed! Looking forward to this one! Don't spare any details and don't go through Mexico too quickly.....I'm planning at trip to Mexico this Spring and want to hear all about it. Be safe.
    #6
  7. hvilla

    hvilla Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jun 25, 2008
    Oddometer:
    161
    Location:
    Aztec, NM, USA
    I'm already jealous!! Have a great trip...looking forward to going along with you guys!!:ricky :ricky :ricky Keep the pictures comin'!!! :thumb

    :lurk
    #7
  8. H-Jay

    H-Jay Mo 2 C

    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2006
    Oddometer:
    404
    Location:
    Michiganland
    Thanks all. I'll get the report caught up soon. We did slow down and spent the day in Oaxaca.

    Roboter, Yeah I like the plate. I also have a lot of time for John Horner. He is a rider and participates in a lot of our club activities. He is also very fair minded dealer. He and his entire team are easy to work with.
    #8
  9. schismatic

    schismatic Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jun 22, 2007
    Oddometer:
    195
    Location:
    Los Angeles, CA
    sounds like an incredible journey. i grew up in michigan... now is the perfect time to go for a little ride down south!
    #9
  10. Lion BR

    Lion BR I'd rather be riding

    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2005
    Oddometer:
    4,624
    Location:
    Oregon
    Looking forward to your report.
    :lurk
    Lion.
    #10
  11. Squishy

    Squishy Elastically-kinematic.

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2008
    Oddometer:
    1,681
    Location:
    PNW
    All the best on your travels.:clap
    A beautiful part of the world i haven't yet visited, hope to soon.
    Keep the camera busy.
    Look forward to your rr.:nod

    Cheers!!
    #11
  12. sandgroper

    sandgroper Long timer

    Joined:
    Dec 26, 2003
    Oddometer:
    5,038
    Location:
    Wanneroo, Western Australia
    Best wishes in you travels, i look forewarn in seeing the pictures
    ed
    #12
  13. OaklandLion

    OaklandLion Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2008
    Oddometer:
    295
    Location:
    Nor Cal
    This is great!

    I was in Southeast Michigan Christmas week. It was super cold except for the day you left. I would have had to trailer the bikes to KY!

    Cheers!
    #13
  14. Nata Harli

    Nata Harli Accidental Tourista

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2005
    Oddometer:
    2,559
    Location:
    Kansas City, MISSOURI
    :lurk
    #14
  15. CoolBenge

    CoolBenge Been here awhile

    Joined:
    May 3, 2006
    Oddometer:
    442
    Location:
    Plant City, Florida
    :lurk

    Locked in. Envious as I can be.

    Tim
    #15
  16. motorradrudi

    motorradrudi tourguide

    Joined:
    Dec 16, 2008
    Oddometer:
    367
    Location:
    Sonthofen, Germany
    Good luck to you, and have a lot of fun!

    Best greatings
    Rudi
    #16
  17. H-Jay

    H-Jay Mo 2 C

    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2006
    Oddometer:
    404
    Location:
    Michiganland
    [​IMG]

    Wednesday morning we crossed in to <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:eek:ffice:smarttags" /><st1:country-region w:st="on">Mexico</st1:country-region> at <st1:City w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Brownsville</st1:place></st1:City> ...and officially started our Latin Trip. I was surprised by <st1:City w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Brownsville</st1:place></st1:City> and Matamors. I had expectations of two little sleezy towns full of dark alleys and questionable characters lurching at every intersection. What a surprise, both towns were relatively clean with thriving downtowns. Maybe we just missed the bad sections but across from our Hotel in <st1:City w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Brownsville</st1:place></st1:City> a new Lowes store was going up. Given the economy, that will probable be the last one build for a while. I thought <st1:State w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Michigan</st1:place></st1:State> had gone overboard building retail stores. <st1:State w:st="on">Texas</st1:State> is just a big mess around <st1:City w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Houston</st1:place></st1:City>, with the same retail store clusters repeating every 5 to 10 miles. Anyway… back to the topic.

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    We didn’t bother with any of the online immigration registration or insurance before leaving home. It turned out to be unnecessary in <st1:City w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Brownsville</st1:place></st1:City>. We got our insurance from an office near the hotel. I got seven days of limited liability with a stated motorcycle value of $17k for a little over $50 USD. The lady at the office said she had been in the business a long time and they never had a claim for a stolen motorcycle so I was OK to pass up the comprehensive coverage.<o:p></o:p>
    <o:p></o:p>
    Thursday morning we arrived at the boarder at around 8:00 AM to no lines. The worrying about crossing the boarder was far more severe than the actual event. Everyone was courteous and were more than willing to explain things. The process at immigrations was straight forward. We filled out the visa application and showed our passports to get our bodies in to the country. On advice from this site and others people we left the timing and destination vague…up to 7 days touring to Southern Mexico’s, maybe Chiapas State. I guess that gives you a more desirable tourist visa rather than the transmigration visa. Then we went to the next connecting office to import the motorcycles. We showed our titles, registrations and the all important credit card. They put $400 on the card and sent us across the hall for copies. After that we got a bunch of official looking documents and a little green laminated pass. The irony of getting a green card didn’t escape me. The official at the guard house took the green laminated pass and we were through. Total time in an out of the crossing was about 45 minutes all in the same building.<o:p></o:p>
    <o:p></o:p>

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    I did have one little problem that was my own doing. I had a color copy of my title in case I loss the original. I mistakenly gave the copy to the immigration officer. She immediately handed it back and said – not original need original. I thought it was the original and politely took exception. As I grabbed Chris’s title to show her what a <st1:State w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Michigan</st1:place></st1:State> title looks like, I realized mine did not look like …the original… so extra points for her. <o:p></o:p>
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    Our next stop was an ATM for some Pesos and a convenient store for water on the way out of town. We discovered the first weakness of Garmin’s World Map and AAA paper maps.They showed 180 as the route to <st1:City w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Tampico</st1:place></st1:City>. Actually its 101 from <st1:City w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Brownsville</st1:place></st1:City>. Route 180 branches off 101 about 100 miles down the road. It also shows as a toll road but it is not. My Lonely Planet pdf had the route correct but of course I didn’t consult it till after the fact. <o:p></o:p>
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    On the road we adjusted to using the one and a half lane highway. We quickly learned that staying closer to the ½ lane than the center of the full lane and to regularly check your rearview mirror. Those big shinny F150 pickup truck…or as some of them are labeled “Lobos” and Texas Edition Silverados have little patients getting around a moto.

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    <o:p>A brief stop for some Tacos and a drink.</o:p>
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    <o:p>Back on the road with some perfect riding conditions..far site better'en Michigan in December... as we motor on to Tampico.</o:p>
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    <o:p>[​IMG]</o:p>
    #17
  18. Jacpod

    Jacpod Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Oct 29, 2004
    Oddometer:
    283
    Location:
    Nashville
    Travel well. I signed up and will follow you closely anticipating a similar journey.

    Jacpod
    #18
  19. H-Jay

    H-Jay Mo 2 C

    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2006
    Oddometer:
    404
    Location:
    Michiganland
    [​IMG]

    Well, its our first day in <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:eek:ffice:smarttags" /><st1:country-region w:st="on">Mexico</st1:country-region> and New Years Eve, we made it to <st1:City w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Tampico</st1:place></st1:City> and checked in to a Best Western a little north of town. Hard to believe but the New Year is being brought in with gun fire just like at home. Didn’t they see the sign that said guns are illegal in <st1:country-region w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Mexico</st1:place></st1:country-region>?

    The following day we headed to <st1:State w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Veracruz</st1:place></st1:State>. We found our way out of <st1:City w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Tampico</st1:place></st1:City> after a few wrong turns and a lot of tolls to pay. It is sort of like riding through <st1:City w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Chicago</st1:place></st1:City> with all the toll booth stops. Worse yet, it was foggy so I didn’t get a chance to enjoy the view from the tall bridge south of downtown.

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    Our required stop for lunch.

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    On the way down to <st1:State w:st="on">Veracruz</st1:State> we briefly stopped at the <st1:placeName w:st="on">Emerald</st1:placeName> <st1:placeType w:st="on">Coast</st1:placeType> area to take in the interesting little <st1:place w:st="on">Caribbean</st1:place> coastal towns.

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    I saw my first banana tree and maybe my first sugar cane field. Don’t laugh. It wasn’t till last year that I saw my first cotton field.

    <o:p>[​IMG]</o:p>

    Banana Trees

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    The bananas bunches are inside the blue plastic protection bags...

    <o:p><o:p>[​IMG]</o:p></o:p>


    Hear are some more pictures of the ride.

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    We got in to <st1:State w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Veracruz</st1:place></st1:State> just as it was getting dark. <st1:State w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Veracruz</st1:place></st1:State>’s downtown was pretty and the beaches we jammed with Christmas/ New Years day celebrations. They seem to really believe in the 12 days of Christmas here. The town must be a holiday destination for Mexican citizens. After getting turned a way from two hotels that were full, we found the Costa.

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    So when we found it had rooms, we jumped on it. It was about a block off the Gulf shore. It was a bit more than we wanted to pay at $75. We found 2 sparkling H-Ds parked under the hotel entrance canopy. We didn’t want to distract from their posing …so we immediately covered up our dirty motos. <o:p></o:p>
    <o:p>[​IMG]</o:p>
    #19
  20. H-Jay

    H-Jay Mo 2 C

    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2006
    Oddometer:
    404
    Location:
    Michiganland
    Heading out of <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:eek:ffice:smarttags" /><st1:place w:st="on"><st1:State w:st="on">Veracruz</st1:State></st1:place> was nothing special except more wrong turns and tolls.
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    [​IMG]

    I stumbled across 2 things that will help us in the future. One is that Garmin World Map does limited autoroute on my 60csx, despite its advertisings that it does not. When I make a town a waypoint and press go to it will indicate the direction to the major route and if you have departed the major route. It will not navigate the secondary streets like in city nav. It also seems Microsoft Live Map site http://maps.live.com gives decent secondary street turn by turn with mileage directions in <st1:country-region w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Mexico</st1:place></st1:country-region>. I have to write it down off the computer and put it on my tank bag but no big deal. I hope this will work the same in other countries to help navigate the maze. <o:p></o:p>
    <o:p></o:p>
    Once we got to the mountains it got interesting. I imagine the best way to describe it would be like riding Deals Gap for 3-4 hours with elevation changes up to 9600 feet. Actually pictures can describe it better.


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    Big, small and pretty road hazzards were everywhere.



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    <o:p>Never road thru a high Jungle before. We were at about 7000 ft</o:p>
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    <o:p>... a pause in the road work.</o:p>
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    #20