Riding Full Circle: faux husband and wife fight their way around the world

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by ridingfullcircle, Mar 27, 2016.

  1. ridingfullcircle

    ridingfullcircle Been here awhile

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    The Roads of Peru

    In many ways Peru is an adventure moto traveler’s wet dream. Once out of any city or town the scenery just opens up and makes your jaw drop. Even in the towns, ones small enough to only have dirt roads through them, it can be fun standing on the pegs and railing through the expansive mud puddles. Oh, did I mention it’s the rainy season? Very wet days riding but also extremely swollen rivers to view.

    On our first full day in Peru the GPS chose to route us the slowest possible way to our destination. Now most of the time this would be extremely frustrating and I’m still adjusting to a traveling lifestyle, but my first reaction was “thank you Garmin”.

    We were traveling from San Ignacio to Cajamarca and it still would have been a long day traveling the more direct 428 km route, however, Garmin felt we should take the more roundabout way entering into the Amazon watershed and travel 540 km on some of the most amazing paved roads of the trip. Up to this point the best paved road was from Morelia to Zihuatanejo (near Ixtopa) in Mexico. We eventually made it through Cajamarca two days later as it was not a destination but merely a point on the map to plot a course to.

    The further we have traveled into Peru the better the riding has become with the exception of the PanAmerican coming into Lima. Now Heather may not agree with some of this. I seem to enjoy mud, landslides and creek beds a bit more. I think we would both agree though the paved mountain roads have been the best of the trip. Some of the switchbacks are so close together it feels like a slalom course. The amount of relief in this landscape is incomprehensible by North American standards Valleys on average seem to range from 2500 to 3500 meter or 8200 to 11,400 feet.

    This makes for some pretty slow going however and when combined with the fact that Peru is a vast country, we are constantly surprised by how far we still have to go during the day. Also the roads are not built to the safety standards of home. For example, we saw several vehicles with what appeared to be roof racks but we later realized were cages attached to the vehicle’s frame to stop rockfall from crushing them. Also, there is rarely a guardrail and if you screw up the first turn you’re going to the bottom some 2500+ meters below to meet the raging swollen river. Most of these roads are also single lane with virtually no pull-outs to navigate around oncoming traffic that may be a tour bus or transport truck. And even when the road seems to be smooth and fast you’ll likely round a corner to find mud, potholes, livestock and a handful of brick-sized rocks in your lane. It’s perfect!

    (This post was written by Dave. Heather doesn't always think these roads are so 'perfect.')

    Link to video here.
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  2. RobBD

    RobBD Been here awhile

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    Following ! - checked out your site as well - excellent stuff
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  3. ridingfullcircle

    ridingfullcircle Been here awhile

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    The Death Road

    Dave had anticipated this road for over a year; pretty much ever since we started seriously planning our trip around the world.

    “Oh we have to do the Death Road,” said Dave.

    “No way,” said me. “Sounds terrifying. Why do they call it the ‘Death Road’ anyway? No way.”

    In 1995, the Inter-American Development Bank claimed the road to be the ‘world’s most dangerous road.’ In 2006, it was estimated the road killed between 200-300 people yearly.

    And yet somehow there I was, curious and 56 km (35 miles) northeast of La Paz at the beginning of Bolivia’s Death Road. I envisioned diesel-belching South American busses filled to the brim with livestock and humans taking corners so fast that nothing was left in its wake but a few chicken feathers floating lazily to the ground. I envisioned coming around said corner and meeting said bus and one of us would have to give in and fall off the side in order to let the other pass. I envisioned trying to control my heavy beast of a bike down this muddy dirt road heading straight into the grill of a truck. Dave envisioned railing the corners and throwing rooster tails from his rear tire.

    Dave said we’d be going up the road from the bottom, which to me is far easier on a 600 lb motorcycle than going down because of sheer physics plus it also meant I’d always be on the inside passing lane. But he’d gotten the direction mixed up and in fact we were now ready to descend into it from the top.

    To read the rest of the story and for photos click here.
    #3
  4. GB

    GB . Administrator

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    You survived the Death Road!! Spectacular photos! Thanks for the link to your blog. You'd get a lot more interest in your ride if you posted pics and the details here. :thumb
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  5. Abosit

    Abosit Been here awhile

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    Great pictures!
    You are telling the story= you survived the Death Road.
    One memory in your box.
    So glad to have met you!
    #5
  6. ridingfullcircle

    ridingfullcircle Been here awhile

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    Thanks, I'll follow that advice! Just hoping to drive traffic to our site :)
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  7. ridingfullcircle

    ridingfullcircle Been here awhile

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    We loved meeting you as well, Nina :)
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  8. just1

    just1 Wanderlust

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    Have been following very closely. Great write ups and photos. Have been wanting to reply on your web site but it won't let me..... Have been curious of any other bike issues/repairs you guys have encountered?
    Having a beautiful spring in Revy. Bike insured and wishing I was riding with you guys. Stay safe....Gord.
    #8
  9. just1

    just1 Wanderlust

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    Riding with you both the whole time. Left message on this thread earlier. Not sure you got it. Stay safe.... Gord
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  10. ridingfullcircle

    ridingfullcircle Been here awhile

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    Hey Gord! Thanks for the message. Glad you are enjoying the reads. If you want to comment on the website you need to press TAB between the fields instead of clicking through them. So Name, then TAB not click. For some reason this seems to work better. Then there is a super faint SUBMIT button. It's not good as we are missing a lot of friends comments. Don't know how to fix this unless we use a completely different template for our website. Try that anyway! Hope spring is sprinting in Revy. Say HI to Al for me :)
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  11. ridingfullcircle

    ridingfullcircle Been here awhile

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    Like Snow But Salty

    Salar de Uyuni is over 10,000 sq km (4,000 sq m) and is considered the world's largest salt flat. It sits at 11,995 ft (3,656 m) in southwest Bolivia. (Forgive us, we are several hundred of km and a few countries behind in our posts as we are now half-way through Argentina but better late than never.)

    The slat flats look like you are riding on snow and ice. It beckons the adventure motorcyclist as it is a huge expanse of 'safe' riding where the road surface never changes (actually an altitude change of only one metre at most) and there will never be another driver to cut you off out of nowhere or a dog to dash out from behind a tree or a gaucho herding his livestock along the main highway and so it is here some people are tempted to reach top speeds on, say, a motorcycle. Why not live a little?

    Not that there's any proof or anything but Heather may or may not have reached speeds of 140 km per hour (87 miles per hour) and Dave may or may not have been tempted to beat her score when she passed him in a ruthless race. He reached 164 mph (102 miles per hour).

    Salar de Uyuni is a truly remarkable place we're glad to have seen. We were worried about our bikes afterward, which we covered wheels to handlebars in salt that looked like caked ice and snow after a trip along British Columbia's Coquihalla mid-winter but were informed about a car wash in the town of Uyuni that would wash every spec of salt off the bikes. They do so everyday for the many 4x4 tour vehicles that take tourists out onto the flats. For less than $10 the bikes were almost cleaner than the day they were born. Until we hit the next dirt road...

    More Photos at ridingfullcircle.com

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  12. ridingfullcircle

    ridingfullcircle Been here awhile

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    Talk To The Hand

    We crossed from Bolivia into Chile on April 4, 2016 at a very remote crossing that only had one other car. Aside from an official on the Bolivian side trying to extort money from us as an ‘exit tax’ we had to argue our way out of having heard it was a scam, the crossing was one of the most pleasant we’ve experienced thus far.

    The miles from Bolivia to the Chilean frontier were incredible. We saw a fox at an amazing lake after travelling through the Valley of Rocks. Every few minutes I asked Dave, “Can we camp here? What about here?” Alas, he reasoned we needed to get more miles under our belt as we were virtually getting nowhere with the amount of times I stopped to take photos. This lunar landscape was beyond anything I’d seen before and it was mile after mile of eye-catching scenes I couldn’t, well, the my eyes off of.

    Once crossing into Chile we saw flamingos and experienced some strong winds, which we were quickly to learn are very characteristic the further south we go. We now discovered free, safe wild camping. Pulling over anywhere we wanted, we set up camp and got busy making pasta for dinner. There were so many volcanoes in our midst, one which was smoking, it truly felt like we were anywhere but earth.

    A few days later we were staring at a giant concrete hand. El Mano de Desierto, was created by Mario Irarrázabal and was used in exaggeration to signify isolation and sorrow. It is located in the Atacama Desert, a barren, intriguing place devoid of plant life and any water it would seem, although the Atacama recently it made the news big time with a rare event in which the entire desert bloomed after flooding occurred in October, 2015.

    We have been meeting many other adventure riders now that we are more south and in areas where South American’s tend to recreate more and travellers congregate after the tougher travels through Central and the more northerly South American countries. We have exchanged many e-mails, business cards and stickers of one another’s dream vacations.

    More photos and stories here.

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  13. ridingfullcircle

    ridingfullcircle Been here awhile

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    Incredible Patagonia

    Well it's getting chilly down here in South America. While most of our friends and family back home are enjoying the warmer weather of spring, we are pretty much freezing our asses off in the fall months down south. Today was our record coldest temperature day for riding. The air temp was 34 F (1 C). We had a head wind of approx. 30 kmph (18 mph) and were riding at approx. 110 kmph (70 mph). Factoring all of this in, Dave, with his tendency for loving math, calculated the temperature to be -10 C (13 F) with wind chill. Our heated jackets are a god-send and so are the dry days leaving the tarmac ice-free.

    After leaving Santiago, Chile on April 10 we crossed into Argentina. While doing so we passed by Aconcagua, South America's highest peak at 6962 m (22,841 ft). Dave climbed this mountain in 2002. It's cool how we've been able to see each other's 'highest peaks bagged' on this part of the trip. (A few months ago we rode by Huascaran, Peru's highest peak at 6768 m (22,204 ft), which I climbed in the late 90s.)

    A few days later, we had the pleasure of staying with new friends in San Martin de Los Andes. We met Mario at a gas station and accepted his invite to stay in their house. His wife Carolina and Mario are lovely people who showed us a great time in their pretty town for 2 days and also fed us very well.

    Riding through the Patagonia Region has been incredible. At times the winds are strong enough to feel like your helmet is going to be pulled off your head. You lean into it as though bracing against a door jam. But we both know the wind isn't anywhere near as bad as it gets in this area and so are grateful and try not to complain too much. The scenery can steal your breath and provide a super distraction from the wind and cold. There are also many hundreds of miles in-between that are like driving through Saskatchewan. If not for the side roads into some of the world's most beautiful places, like Fitz Roy and Cerro Torre, it would be a boring 2000 km section.

    One big highlight recently was a 20 km (13 m) loop we hiked to see Fitz Roy and Cerro Torre, a few incredible peaks in the Patagonia Region. Being here during the fall might be cold riding but it's definitely the best time of year to be here for the colours. However, we did wake up to snow on our tent a few nights ago. By the time we'd gotten ready to ride much of it had melted off the highway leaving just wet roads but we had a slippery time getting out of the farmers field we were camped in. The lithium battery in my bike despises starting in the mornings (much like I do in these temperatures) so we are often jumping my bike from Dave's bike.

    Now, as we are nearing a major goal of our trip to reach Ushuaia, the world's most southerly settlement, my bike is barely ridable. The chain and sprockets are worn down to nubs after 20,000 km of riding and allows the chain to slip, which means a lot of clunking and hassle. There are no 'stores' to buy replacement parts here. A decision will need to be made whether Dave and I ride two-up on his bike for the remaining 500+ km south and then back north, retrieving my bike on the way back and popping it on a ferry we are hoping to take, or if we can find parts to band-aid it along until we can get it to a dealer. It makes me quite unhappy to think I've ridden this far on my own bike and may have to forfeit the very last bit without my bike but if it means Dave and I get to Ushuaia together, that's the important part.

    During our rides over the past few weeks along Ruta 40 and Carretera Austral we bounce back and forth over the Chilean and Argentinian borders in order to maximize scenery and stay out of extreme weather like snow storms. We've also enjoyed being able to wild camp wherever we want. This really saves the cash and has also brought us to some great places to wake up to.

    Photos on our website here.

    Attached Files:

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  14. ridingfullcircle

    ridingfullcircle Been here awhile

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    Well somehow we actually made it to Ushuaia, Argentina, claimed to be the world’s most southerly settlement, pop. 60,000 (although Puerto Williams, Chile is technically more southerly, pop. 2,300.). The best thing is we made it here together. The second best thing is my bike is also here. There were some serious doubts. And even while we were making it here, we still thought we weren’t going to make it. Ever. Despite injuries, a 3 month delay, more than a few breakdowns (both mentally and mechanically), many, many bike wipeouts, over a dozen border crossings, harsh winds, rain, mud, snow and arriving at the farthest point south at the onset of winter, Ushuaia, located only 1,000 km (621 m) north of the first piece of land in Antarctica, welcomed us on April, 24 after a howling storm through the last mountain pass spit us into the city around 8:30 p.m.

    It took Dave and I 128 days, with 85 days of actual riding to get here on motorcycles. From our second start date of Dec. 19, 2015 from Quartzite, Arizona, we have ridden 23,486 km (14,593 m). We have passed through 13 countries over the past four months and in order they were: Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Columbia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Chile and Argentina. The last two we have travelled through their borders back and forth in order to maximize scenery through the Patagonia region and also to avoid bad weather. If you’d like to see our actual route, check out this cool feature.

    Our day of riding into Ushuaia will be branded in my mind for ages to come. It wasn’t easy. Nor was it as hard as it could have been. The day started out with some pretty big concerns about my bike; more specifically the chain. The rear sprocket and chain itself are almost completely dissolved after over 25,000 km (15,540 m) of travelling over every kind of road surface you can imagine (Dave installed it well before the trip). While leaving Rio Gellagos, Argentina that morning, the chain began slipping on the sprocket, giving off disgruntled clanking and grinding sounds and lurching the bike. Dave had taken out a few links the previous day before leaving El Chalten, Argentina. Now it needed to be re-tensioned and lubed, which we did at a gas station. And off we went. What choice did we have? We knew no one in the city to ask if we could leave the bike there plus how could we travel with the gear needed for two people when we had to be prepared to camp if we didn’t make it the 574 km (356 m) to Ushuaia that day.

    Chancing it, we rode south through some strong winds and cold temperatures (about 37 F or 3 C) before adding wind chill. Within about 40 km (24 m) we arrived at the Argentina/Chile border crossing where we had to receive our exit stamps for Argentina, cancel our temporary vehicle import for the bikes, ride about 5 minutes to the Chilean border, re-enter Chile and re-import our bikes. Sadly, we can’t just show them the paperwork from the last time we entered their country. We then rode 80 km (49 m) to a ferry crossing, which took us across Estrecho de Magallanes, a channel separating the mainland from Isla Grande de Terra del Fuego, for 20 vessel-rocking minutes in some exciting, large waves. Once that was over, Dave and I, both a little green from sea sickness, disembarked off a slippery ramp with crashing waves, rode approximately 150 km (93 m) through dirt and gravel from road construction with a perfectly good, bare paved highway running a few feet parallel that wasn’t yet open, to the Chile/Argentina border, where we yes again had to get our exit stamps from Chile, cancel our temporary vehicle import, ride another 10 minutes south and re-enter back into Argentina. This was our first experience travelling through two border crossings in one day. It’s how you get to Ushuaia overland. Suck it up.

    It was here we could better talk with another couple from Chile, both on Honda bikes, whom we’d seen on the road. I was pretty excited to see another female rider, only the third I’ve met in four months of riding through the America’s. We hugged each other and talked about how cold and windy it was. They stopped in Rio Grandes, Argentina, a city 210 km (130 m) before Ushuaia, to avoid riding in the dark as they had no heated gear and were very cold. (Dave and I have heated jackets that sort of work and heated grips. It does make all the difference. Without these valuable items we never would have made it into Patagonia.)

    As it was only 4:30 p.m. and Dave and I were really excited to reach our goal that day what with my bike now cooperating and the weather holding out (meaning it wasn’t yet pissing rain or snowing), we pressed on. How bad could it be after all? It was all paved to Ushuaia from here. We’d be there in two hours…

    If either of us questioned our decision upon seeing the gathering navy blue and purple clouds bubbling up on the horizon, we never mentioned it to each other. Shortly after leaving Rio Grandes we were rewarded from over 2000 km (1242 m) of mind-numbingly boring prairies, (with the exception of our 200 km (124 m) side trip into Fitz Roy), with the onset of a stubby forest of trees permanently bent in direction of the winds that position them into place. This, we thought, would offer some reprieve from the winds. And maybe it would have had the winds stayed at 30-40 kmph (18-24 mph) per hour like we’d been experiencing. But they did not. As darkness fell we were still over 80 km (50 m) from Ushuaia and it was already 6:30 p.m. The slow going was accounted for by the scarily narrow main highway that was super busy for it being Fin del Mundo (the End of the World). So imagine passing oncoming traffic with no centre line while riding highway speeds. Then throw in darkness, a helmet visor spattered with rain. Not scary enough for you? What about adding a mountain pass with plenty of snow on the ground, and shiny roads you’re not sure are icy or just wet. Still able to tolerate it? Add winds gusts of about 60 kmph (37 mph) and sideways rain. At this point I’m riding in front with Dave behind me, his hazard lights on as mine don’t work anymore. We can both only go at most 40 kmph (24 mph). I’m getting pushed into the gravely shoulder from the winds and I can’t see how Dave’s managing. Cars are zipping past us on this mountain pass. We stare after their taillights with gathering jealousy as we shiver in the cold and, for me, maybe whimper a little. At those speeds, that last 60 km (37 m) took For. Ev. Ver. I couldn’t figure out why we were in the mountains for so long. Isn’t Ushuaia at sea level? Once the highway finally started to descend and the pavement got dry, I looked down at my odometer; 15 km (9 m) to go. Then and only then did I think, holy shit we’re going to make it to Ushuaia.

    More photos here.

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  15. ridingfullcircle

    ridingfullcircle Been here awhile

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    Torres del Paine

    In my early twenties I carried around a few mountain images that spoke to me. I was really getting into rock climbing and mountaineering and obsessed over certain mountain faces or treks around the world. One photo I actually had taped to the inside of the canopy of my Jeep Commanche while on a road trip was of Torres del Paine National Park in Patagonia, Chile. I tore it out of a calendar my parents gave me one Christmas. I’d lay in my sleeping bag in the back of my truck and stare at it thinking it had to be a fake photo. It looked like the Caribbean had met the backcountry; the water was a milky turquoise and a carpet of short, dark green brush with purple flowers lined the lakeshore. As a backdrop, huge steel-grey and charcoal walls of perfect, unscarred rock stood towering like the world’s largest cuspid teeth against a blue sky.

    Patagonia itself seemed to be the end of the earth and in a very inhospitable place, despite this photo. The winds were said to whisk climbers off the mountain tops to their death. The rock faces were covered in a prickly coat of hoar frost during most of the year and the clouds were like stretched cotton balls caught on the pointy ridgetops. When I travelled to Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia at the age of 23, I never got to Chile or Argentina and wasn’t sure I ever would. It was too far; the ends of the earth.

    Twenty calendar years later, however, there I was staring at those rock walls listening to the ting ting of my motorcycle cooling behind me. We almost didn’t make it here, I was thinking.

    After we reached Ushuaia, Dave and I decided to take a once-a-week 4-day ferry that would sail from Puerto Natales to Puerto Montt covering over 2000 km (1242 m) into the northern parts of Chile. We liked the idea of travelling by boat as we hoped to see some great scenery, avoid some of the famous Patagonia winds and save some wear and tear on our bikes. Dave’s back tire needed replacing and my chain sounded like I was dragging a bunch of tin cans.

    To get to the ferry, we needed to ride about 800 km (497m) north-west out of Ushuaia, Argentina to Puerto Natales, Chile. There was a small ferry in Porvenir, Chile that would take us across to Punta Arenas, Chile in about 2 hours. It left daily at 2:00 p.m. Because we had a border crossing, travelled a few hundred kms on loose gravel roads with high winds and bike troubles making me very slow we missed that once-a-day ferry by 20 mins. We found a hotel and spent a very windy 24 hours waiting for the ferry to leave the next day. Missing that ferry meant we’d also missed our one free day to ride the 200 km (124m) loop through Torres del Paine National Park as we needed to be in Puerto Natales the next evening, Apr. 29, to board.

    While checking online, we found out they’d cancelled that sailing but there was a re-scheduled one for May 1. This was great news as we had more time now. In Punta Arenas, we were put in touch with a motorcycle mechanic who incredibly had the parts to fix my bike. We thought we’d have to nurse it another 1000 km (621m) into Santiago, Chile where we could get to a BMW dealer. BMW parts are a rare find in South America. Dave spent the next morning fixing my bike in a driveway along the side of the hotel we were staying in. Unfortunately this was also the place for the family dog to relieve itself so he had to step around carefully and plug his nose.

    Relieved to have my bike running well again and grateful for my handy boyfriend, we set off for Torres del Paine after first stopping to reserve our space on the ferry. We found out this was the last trip for the year they would be taking passengers. It was only cargo trips from that date onward.

    En route into Torres del Paine we saw another adventure bike riding out and slowed down. It was friends we’d met while hiking around Fitz Roy. Jamie and Casey were riding two-up on Casey’s KLR 650. They informed us they’d also be on the ferry in two days with us. Looking forward to that, we waved and rode off to go explore the park. At the entry gate we found out it was about $77 CAN ($60 USD) for a 3-day pass into the park. It was late evening and we were a little shocked at the price so we turned around and found a place just outside the park to camp. Jamie and Casey had warned us it was freezing cold at night. We built a fire and cooked some soup watching the scene in front of us—one of the best views-while-camping we’ve had on this trip. We felt we were seeing enough of this national park to be satisfied without paying the entry fee.

    When we woke up in the morning it was unusually warm and we had a gorgeous blue sky. We decided we just couldn’t miss the opportunity while here so we rode to the entry and paid the fee. There’s no question it was worth it. It may have been more worth it for those who could spend 3 days travelling through and camping or hiking but even 3 hours riding through made it one of the highlights of the trip. What matter is money when you’re seeing a calendar image from your youth in real life?

    More photos here

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  16. Abosit

    Abosit Been here awhile

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    So great you had good weather.
    Some unexpected changes in schedule bring you some great experiences.
    Keep it coming
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  17. ridingfullcircle

    ridingfullcircle Been here awhile

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    Thanks Nina!
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  18. ridingfullcircle

    ridingfullcircle Been here awhile

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    The Ferry That Was Not A Cruise

    Forgive us, our posts are about three weeks behind. We’ve been pretty busy the last little while. Dave and I are now back in North America heading next to Alaska but we’ll save that story for a future post (it’s all about keeping you in suspense ;)).

    For now, we’d like to tell you about our ferry ride along the Chilean coast, which is a great way to cover a lot of miles north out of Ushuaia, Argentina into Santiago, Chile.

    The ferry from Puerto Natales to Puerto Montt in Chile was a great option for getting in front of the fast-approaching winter in Patagonia and allowed us to make our way back in a northerly direction to position us for the next part of our trip. The sailing covered approximately 2000 nautical km (1243 m) and gave us a whole new area of Chile to view, this time from a liquid highway. Dave and I arrived at the docks about six hours before we needed to. Our boarding time was for 9:00 p.m. and the ship would sail the next morning around 8:00 a.m.

    We had nowhere to go as we’d come from Torre del Paine that afternoon and were now looking for something to do. We tried boarding early but they wouldn’t allow it. We did take the opportunity to get the bikes in order for the sailing, which involved quite a bit of paperwork, having to again pass through Aduana (customs) even though it was not a border crossing and we were not leaving the country during the entire sailing. By now we’d adapted to the South American way.

    While I was sorting out the documents for our bikes in the shipping office, Dave stayed outside in the chilly air watching the bikes. When we pulled up, we saw two other bikes, both Honda 400s, and recognized them as belonging to a young Chilean couple we’d met about a week prior at a border crossing before heading to Ushuaia. When I emerged from Aduana, documents in order, Dave was speaking with them. We all decided to go for a beer, which gave us something to do in a warm place while waiting to board our vessel.

    Suso and Ariel, from Santiago, Chile, were great company. We spent a few hours telling stories in a brewery sampling local ales and eating fresh tacos. It was fun to have another female rider in my company with whom I could bounce off the challenges and highpoints of riding. We were surprised we didn’t see our other friends, Jamie and Casey, whom we’d met in El Chalten and who were also taking the ferry. Puerto Natales is a fairly small town and Dave and I had already spent a few hours walking and riding around keeping an eye out for them.

    We said goodbye to Suso and Areil, who were only putting their bikes onboard as cargo and were choosing to fly to Puerto Montt. Dave and I boarded around 10:00 p.m. and found Jamie and Casey in the main dining area. We figured the 60 or so other people onboard to be travellers and locals from all over. There were big-rig drivers, bicyclists and the nefarious adventure motorcycle riders. We looked forward to the next four days sailing through the Chilean fjords, which Dave and I thought might be similar to the ferry that travels through Alaska among the same type of mountain scenery of glaciers and narrow straights.

    In our cabin, Dave and I propped our InReach device to track the entire sailing. We tried to sleep over the noise of the crew loading the ship throughout the night. They were dragging huge metal chains along the decks to tightly secure the big rigs and, hopefully, five motorcycles. The night’s activities were also punctuated by the mournful cries of about 100 cows. In the morning I ventured outdoors only to be greeted by the nasty stench of cow crap mixed with pee. These cows were jammed in so tight in their trailers they were tripping over each other and very distraught. It was a very sad scene and the smell got far worse over the four-day sail, streaming into the dining area making it hard to eat at times. It also seemed by then that many of the poor animals were seasick and their vomit was stirred into the mix on the floor of the trailers. We’re not sure if hauling livestock on the ferry is a common act on this ferry but in the end, it wasn’t sold to us as a cruise by any means.

    Smelly cows aside we enjoyed a gorgeous first day of sailing through some beautiful scenery and passing through three of the narrowest straights of the trip. It was pretty impressive to watch the giant ship being controlled through an 80 meter wide section of rock and water. The following days became a fun routine of meal-time, movies in the theatre, dashes out to the decks to see penguins, whales and dolphins that were announced on the ship’s intercom and meeting and hearing people’s stories.

    One interesting story comes from the sea itself: one day we passed an old rusted ship called Cotopaxi beached on a sandbar. We learned its humorous story. Years ago a con-artist captain thought up a plan to sink the ship and claim the insurance money, upping the ante by saying he had been transporting sugar, which he included in the insurance scam as well. The captain sold all the sugar en route in the black market then set off to sink his ship and collect his insurance money. He chose a section on the voyage where the water was deepest; a series of underwater tunnels. Unfortunately it also happens to be some of the shallowest waters as well. If you don’t line up right, you’ll end up beached on a sandbar, which is exactly what happened. The captain was charged with insurance fraud and sent to jail. His ship remains as a humorous eye-sore along the ferry’s journey.

    In the end, the four-day ferry cost Dave and I $100 US per day. It was well worth the money for what we got to enjoy as well as for what we saved not riding the bikes over 2000 km (1243 m) to Puerto Montt. Even with the cows on-board, we’d definitely recommend this trip as an option for getting back from Ushuaia.

    When we disembarked from the ferry on May 5, Casey invited us to share a cabin with he and Jamie in a cute resort town a few hour’s ride away called Pucon. Casey generously donated some credit he had with Air BnB to pay for the four of us in the cabin. It was a really nice place and we had a blast hanging out with him and Jamie in Pucon as well as during the following week leading up to everyone’s jumping off point in Santiago. Dave and I spent the next five days planning the next leg of our trip, which you can read about in our next post coming soon.

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    #18
  19. ridingfullcircle

    ridingfullcircle Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2013
    Oddometer:
    123
    We're not ones for the paved roads.
    #19
    Max Wedge and cejnys like this.
  20. ridingfullcircle

    ridingfullcircle Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2013
    Oddometer:
    123
    After spending the last five months trying to beat winter to the southern hemisphere, Dave and I decided it would be less stressful if we rode motorcycles somewhere in-season.

    After our ferry ride in Chile, we had five days in Santiago to sort out our next destination on our round-the-world adventure and how to get the bikes there. Alaska seemed the best option. After 30,000+ km (19,000+ m) of riding, we had many items on our bikes and in our bags needing warranty, repair or at least some good old North American attention anyway. It also meant we could ride the gap between B.C. to Arizona I couldn’t ride because of an injury in Sept, 2015.

    After a few days spent searching for the best deal, we put the bikes on a United Airlines flight through E-Cargo Plus out of Santiago on May 12 and got ourselves a flight on Airmiles for May 13 (passenger flights to leave that day were going for $3500 USD [$4580 CAN]!).

    So yes to your question: motorcycles are allowed to fly classified as Dangerous Goods. On the morning of May 11, Dave and I rode the bikes to the Santiago airport, found the E-Cargo Plus shipping gate after some confusing directions and helped the ground crew ‘bag’ the bikes up for travel to Los Angeles, California, where we would continue the ride in a northerly squiggly line from Arizona to Alaska, give or take a few diversions east and west to visit friends and family along the way.

    The cost to fly the bikes from Santiago, Chile to Los Angeles, California was approx. $1700 USD ($2225 CAN) each bike. It may sound like a lot, however if you factor the amount it would cost to ride the bikes back to North America from Chile, which we never really wanted to do, flying the bikes was a cheap option. Another advantage was we’d have them within a few days. We looked at putting them on a ship but the cost was even a little more and would take up to six weeks.

    We watched while the shipping crew used hand tools to palletize our bikes. There wasn’t a power tool in the place; all sawing and nailing was done by hand. Dave removed my windshield and unscrewed the handlebars as the bike’s cost was by volume. The ‘taller’ it is, the more expensive. His windshield sits on a frame welded onto the bike so he left his in place, which cost about $200 USD ($260 CAN) more. We put all our luggage on another pallet that sat in line to be scanned along with others containing fruits, veggies and other export items.

    We left the bikes and all our baggage save for an overnight backpack, with the capable crew hoping we’d see everything in California unscathed after such a long journey. We then headed off to the E-Cargo Plus office to pay our invoice. There was some stress over how we were going to pay. Our agent for the whole process was named Pamela. She was very kind and helpful, although she couldn’t work miracles. We wanted to pay with a credit card for such a high amount, assuming it’d be no problem. This wasn’t the case. The night before we were informed we had to bring cash. As foreigners, there was no way any bank in Chile was going to give us $3500 USD ($4580 CAN) and definitely not in under 24 hours.

    In the E-Cargo Plus office, Pamela was doing everything she could to help us figure out the cash situation. Her first suggestion was Western Union but I argued the fees were going to be too large for that amount. She said she would accompany us to the Santander Bank downstairs, where we could each put a daily maximum of $1000 USD ($1300 CAN) or $600,000 Chilean Pesos on a credit card, then we could get the remainder out of the ATM. That helped a little only we’d found in five months of travel no ATM would give us more than $70-$100 USD ($90-130 CAN) per day, despite what we’d set up at home with our banks. At that rate, we’d be in Santiago for a week each taking out the maximum amount per day until we had enough. Luckily we had three functioning credit cards between the two of us, so while the line grew behind us at the bank, Dave and I watched the teller pull out an old fashioned roll-top credit card machine and begin processing our cards, complete with three call-in verifications!

    The exchange rate was far better if we used the Chilean Pesos max of $600,000 so we did this for all three cards, which translated to $1,800,000 CP or approx. $2590 USD ($3390 CAN). We still needed almost $1000 USD ($1300 CAN). The only thing we could do was wait until the next day when our daily limit would refresh itself. Pamela agreed to us paying the remainder within 24 hours and after we squeezed in an interview with CBC Kelowna in her office we rode the subway back to our hostel and waited for our flight to L.A. the next day.

    While enjoying a nice dinner down the street, we suddenly saw people running past the restaurant window. A moment later an employee from the restaurant went out and rolled the metal barriers down the windows, obscuring our view from the streets. A waiter came into the room and explained what was going on, which would have been great had Dave and I understood what he was saying. My limited Spanish deciphered we were supposed to stay in the restaurant, that there was a street riot going on but it would likely clear soon. We looked at each other, shrugged and ordered another drink.

    More photos here.

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    #20