El Burro - In Ushuaia.

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by TeeTwo, Jan 11, 2019.

  1. Guri

    Guri Adventurer

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    TeeTwo,
    My nickname, if you ask some people, will tell you which region I was born in.

    Take care, and keep posting.

    Hernan
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  2. TeeTwo

    TeeTwo Been here awhile

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    Light snow was blowing in from the east on Thursday. Juan, the owner of the Kospi guesthouse, said that only about 5% of the time does weather come from the east and makes weather forecasting difficult. Enough said as no precipitation was forecast for the day. By 9.30 the snow had turned into a chilly, light, but persistent rain. Still raining at 10.30am I set off for Esquel on Ruta 40, it was my first soggy start to a ride on this leg. One hour and 30 miles south the clouds broke and it remained dry and partly sunny for the rest of the day.

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    Lunch in El Bolson. I tried to order what I wanted, what I got was what I ordered but it wasn't what I wanted. Sometimes you just have to go with the flow...it tasted OK and the place was nice.

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    I had been seeing roadside shrines surrounded by plastic bottles for the last 1,000 miles. On Ruta 40 south of El Bolson was the mother of all shrines, I had no choice but to stop and take a look.

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    It is a shrine to Difrunta Correa, that much I learned at the site, the rest had to wait until Esquel and a Wiki check. Turns out Difunta died of thirst but was miraculously still able to suckle her child and so the myth was born. Adopted as the guardian for travelers, people stop (truckers mostly) and pay homage by leaving bottled water to slake her thirst and in return are watched over on the road, or so they believe. I didn't have a bottle - I hope I have not offended her.

    The run into Esquel and an exhibit from the old Patagonian narrow gauge railway.

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    Residencial Ski was home for the night. Cheap, clean though a little dated, in the center of town and secure parking. $20 breakfast included - no complaints.

    Set off this morning to cross the border into Chile at Futaleufu, destination Puyuhuapi, some 170 miles away. About 50% of that turned out to be unmade roads in good condition.

    Scenic eye candy to get me started, it never gets tiresome.

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    I didn't realize flamingoes were so common in these parts, this is one of several groups I saw on the argentine side.

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    No congestion at the Argentinian border on exiting. 15 minutes and most of that was the gal looking for the 'placa' on the vehicle title -not present on Virginian titles, you have to look at the registration. Wish she had asked!

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    …….
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  3. TeeTwo

    TeeTwo Been here awhile

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    … the Chilean side was just a quick. I met a German cyclist headed to Ushuaia who also started in Bogota, 8 months on the road so far.

    He was getting checked out by the agri inspector. He had slices of lemon in his water bottle, caused a bit of a kerfuffle, but eventually they let him keep the refreshing citrus despite his willingness to fish them out and dispose of them. I consumed my pear and banana before coming through the cones and aced the inspection!
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    I joined the Carratera Austral at Villa Santa Lucia, devastated by a rock and mudslide conflagration a couple of years ago. Obviously the village is still trying to recover. Rather than ride on through I decided to stop and get a coffee ...and a slice of lemon pie (one of several different offerings). Very nice, it is right on the highway and worth a stop if you need a break.

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    Checked in on the local stock market, just to see how things were going. It was a quiet day.

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    One of the signature orange painted bridges on the Carratera.

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    Matching the abundant local holly(?) that was in flower.

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    The smell of wood smoke hung in the valley on entering Puyuhuapi, my first sight of the Pacific in a while. You know it isn't a lake when you see the signs.

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    A really nice inlet that at one time seemed to be an active fishing port, not so much today.

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    Some of the local kids flashing me some signs...perhaps that is why the police vehicle is so heavily protected!

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    Hostal Scarlett is home for the night. Comfortable place and the lady of the house is cooking dinner downstairs, which is where I am now headed.

    Cheers. T2
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  4. TeeTwo

    TeeTwo Been here awhile

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    A bit of a damp and dreary start on the road to Coyhaique. Paved and unpaved roads mixed along the way, as did the light rain and dry spells. Lakes and rain forest encountered during the 150 mile ride, with one uphill section with rocky hairpins in the mountain rain forest. It was raining at that point and had me casting my mind back to the wet day on the Trampoline in Colombia. That seems a lifetime ago.

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    Hostal Don Lupe for the night, a guesthouse type arrangement with well equipped kitchen and minimarkets & supermarket relatively close. I bought stuff to stay in the for the night and watched the finale of the Speedway Grand Prix held Torun Poland earlier in the day. Great racing.

    Secure parking behind a gate - thumbs up to Hostal Don Lupe, though it is a ways from the center of town.

    T2.
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  5. TeeTwo

    TeeTwo Been here awhile

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    Once in a while I don't feel like getting on the bike. Today was one of those days. The rain showed up as forecast which didn't elevate my mood. It isn't a long ride to Rio Tranquilo, just 130 miles, but I dragged my heels in a bit of a grumps and a sense of foreboding for some unknown reason.

    Snow began to fall while crossing the 'high' pass prior to the Puerto Ibanez turnoff, I watched the temperature drop from the upper 30's to a couple of degrees above freezing. The road is paved at that point, while it was only wet I was mindful of ice forming and began to contemplate turning back. As the temperature hit 34F the road began to descend and the temperatures began to rise. I pressed on and I am glad I did, by the time I neared Rio Tranquilo the precip had stopped and so did I, to shoot a few pictures.

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    Lake General Carrera a it is known in Chile (Lake Buenos Aires in Argentina) is the second largest lake in South America after Titicaca and is in a much more spectacular setting.

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    I arrived mid-afternoon, dumped my gear off at Hosteria Costanero (not cheap, but nice) and made arrangements to go out on the lake to the marble caves. Others had posted about the beauty of the caves, they were right.

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    Not a bad setting they are in either.

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    No idea why the day started with a mental funk, but happy it didn't end that way.

    Back to Argentina tomorrow.

    Cheers T2
  6. SelbachBR

    SelbachBR Adventurer

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    Nice trip! Nice thread! In about 2 months i will do one trip to patagonia too. Best regards.
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  7. TeeTwo

    TeeTwo Been here awhile

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    On Monday I bid farewell to the Carratera Austral, but RP265 to Chile Chico turned out to be one of the best 70 miles of unmade road of the whole trip. RP265 made it into my top 5; cliff side ride in places with fantastic scenery mile after mile. Of course I had a great day to do it on, sun and clouds and wind that wasn't overly bothersome.

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    Met a couple of graders on the way, the first was on the Carratera Austral. No big deal, just a light scrape for a couple of hundred yards, tops.

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    But the guy below was having way too much fun with his CAT. A two foot berm to the left, virtually the entire width of the road churned up, only an 8 inch ribbon of hard pack to play with. I could not pick up speed to stand on the pegs as it was a one way controlled section and I had to keep up with him before he turned around. It went on like this for 2 miles. Got into the gully at right couple of times. I deployed the outriggers when necessary; it wasn't fun after the first 250 yards!

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    On rounding a bend on an uphill section I came into some wicked washboard. Already up on the pegs I gave it some gas and 10 seconds later the motor died. Just quit. $hit! Kill switch ok? Check. I quickly rolled to a stop wondering if I had a broken wire, disconnected fuel line etc ...as I went to put the side stand down it was obvious that it had bounced out of the retracted position and the safety kill switch deployed. Phew!! Must have been perfect harmonics, speed and washboard, to get it to bounce out; I have been on some rougher roads in the last 13,000 miles but this was a first.

    Another surprise, a dummy on a canopy line above the road (looking down on at a dummy on a motorcycle) at the turn off for Chile Chico.


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    But the scenic shots I hear you say!

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    Saw a condor circling when I stopped at the mirador that overlooked the mine lake (above). It landed before I got it into the view finder; it had a lot more white on the wing that the ones in Colca canyon.

    The descent into Chile Chico before the border crossing and the arrival into Perito Moreno for the night.

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    It had been an interesting day. Hotel Kelman put me up, nice room, good wifi, hot water and a decent breakfast spread for a reasonable price. The town is quiet so the fenced but open parking area gave me no concerns for the security of the bike.

    Today I headed on to Gobernador Gregores…..coming up next.

    T2
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  8. TeeTwo

    TeeTwo Been here awhile

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    This post is coming from the upstairs apartment at Hospedaje San Andres in Gobernador Gregores. Nice accommodation with room to spread out, kitchen, microwave and fridge. Only $13 a night... nice. Supermarket a few blocks away and just as important a lavadero close by to get the moto cleaned up (first wash since Formosa back in late May ...she is uber grubby).

    I'm settling in for a couple of days here, though unplanned, I was ready for a day out of the saddle anyway after 7 days in it. However, the primary reason to stay is to hunker down and wait for the winds to subside. The ride down from Perito Moreno yesterday wasn't bad, a bit gusty but not a challenge. Today the speeds are double, sustained 40mph with gusts over 50, tomorrow more of the same. The trip to El Calafate, which is up next, travels over one of the few sections of ripio left on Ruta 40. Why battle it when I have the luxury of time and a preference to enjoy it? Friday morning is a window to exit, back down to 15-20mph sustained with gusts to 25 before the winds build again into the afternoon and Saturday. I'm a week out - next week the wind is particularly benign. If you are into planning then this site is a gem for figuring these things out down here... https://www.windguru.cz/551924 … a tip from the host in Bariloche, or you could just wing it!

    My expectations of the road from Perito Moreno to Gob. Gregores were principally formed from reading other peoples travel blogs. The absence of pictures (other than Bajo Caracoles fuel stop) and often scant writings suggested a rather dull affair, just a 220 mile trip that had to be done to get to a better place (and frankly 200 more after Gob. Gregores; more on GG in a mo) - El Chaiten or El Calafate. My impression has been reshaped.

    The topography is far from dull and flat, some valleys that are travelled along and some good vistas across to the mountains.

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    Many groups of llamas and a few rhea along the way which I managed to get grainy shots of as I rode on by. A beautiful silver fox crossed the road ahead of me as did an armadillo, though I wasn't able to capture those in a photo.

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    About 20 miles outside of GG sat a very large wagon, presumably a real antique of Patagonia (why would anyone build it for fun?). Those big wheels at the rear would certainly make light duty of any rocky ground with a team of oxen or horses out front.

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    Sure it can be windy, but not so bad on my day of travel. The clouds departed and left a clear blue sky.

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    GG is a town that is trying to improve its appearance, but gaining traction is hard in a remote place like this with few tourist attractions at hand. New stores remain vacant in the town square and it is hard to understand what would drive a change to that. Still I take my hat off to these communities, they don't just sit on their hands. I will take a few photos and post them up.

    On the other hand I met up with probably the most unpleasant dog in town. Walking ahead of a few school kids it assumed the herding position and as I passed it jumped up and bit/nipped me on my thigh..ouch, little f#@ker! Fortunately, it did not break skin which would have me visiting the local hospital.

    Cheers. T2
  9. TeeTwo

    TeeTwo Been here awhile

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    It is blowing a gale outside, literally...here is the windguru chart for GG.

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    I'm going to hang here another day and take the lower blow on Friday morning. By the time the 30mph gusts reappear I will be at El Calafate.

    Riding the 4 blocks to the lavadero to get the bike cleaned this morning was enough to convince me that I was better off waiting for Friday. Saturday is another big blow then things calm down for who ever may be heading this way next week.

    I would like to say the bike is shiny but it isn't, though it is de-crudded. The accumulated road patina may never be shifted, it will take a lot of elbow grease to restore any brilliance to the paint. But this is a working donkey I'm on; c'est la vie.

    The lavadero is behind the old YPF gas station, at the far end of main street, near my apartment. The new one is at the other end of town, a stones throw off Ruta 40. Convenient for those that wish to gun it south but it robbed the town of traffic flow. Finding an open restaurant on main street is not easy, more exist on the side roads.

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    Opposite the old gas station is a huge steam traction engine used to haul goods and perform construction on the pre-paved Ruta 40. Why it was imported from London when it was built in Minnesota is anyone's guess. The tow behind grader was likely attached to it at some point.

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    Main street is lined on both sides with trees, in addition to the ones in the median. Outside the modern town municipal building they sacrificed some of the trees to carve about 4 statues, representing occupations in Patagonia. Very creative and a nice addition to the street.

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    The gaucho statue that features in a number of threads is at the YPF end and entrance to town, where I turned around. With the wind at my back it was a lot quicker walk to return to the apartment. The direction of the flag was a between gusts lucky shutter finger.

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    One of the older buildings in town and a national monument is now used as a library.

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    So there were a few things of interest to catch attention in town, though the gal in the tourist information kiosk was not busy!

    The car boneyard is a reminder that while traffic is light on the roads in these parts accidents still happen, though typically of the one vehicle kind. Most of the wrecks were rollovers. A lapse in concentration or drifting off to sleep will likely drop a wheel into the softer shoulders, with the speeds typical on these long distance lonely roads recovering is nigh on impossible I suspect.

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    See you in El Calafate at the weekend.

    Ciao. T2
  10. SelbachBR

    SelbachBR Adventurer

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    Good to know!

    Hey TeeTwo, is windguru accurate?
  11. TeeTwo

    TeeTwo Been here awhile

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    So far it seems to have been pretty good in all departments, wind, cloud cover, temps & precip. Tomorrow will be interesting to see if they nailed the brief window in the wind for my departure.

    Cheers. T2
  12. Duanob

    Duanob Been here awhile

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    I hate that when it happens and it happens to me all the time! :)
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  13. TeeTwo

    TeeTwo Been here awhile

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    The magic of Patagonia grabbed me with both hands today, it was a surprise as I am not usually prone to such things. Standing on the bluff looking at Mt. Fitzroy, across Lago Viedma, my eyes teared up. I could tell you that it was due to the wind, it was strong and certainly made the eyes water, but it wouldn't be the whole truth.

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    Ten years of enjoying and learning from other folks adventures on this forum; fuel on the smoldering fire of my own desire. Five years of dreaming, planning and building the Rally Raid CB500 thinking of this trip; nearing 13,000 miles under power on this continent ...and here I was. It just didn't seem real.

    I had this guy for company. Yes. Magic.

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    It was an emotional moment; Ushuaia is a destination, this place was spiritual and moved my soul.

    I'll stop the blubbering, a soul needs food and I'm off to have a few slices of one of these fellas. A Patagonian beer to wash it down with I think.

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    More on the events of the day will follow.

    T2
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  14. sstracke

    sstracke Been here awhile

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    What an incredible trip!
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  15. TeeTwo

    TeeTwo Been here awhile

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    Ten years of riding the AMA Polar Bear Grand Tour in the NYC tristate winters prepared me for a cold start (23F) at 7am for the journey to El Calafate. My goal was to ride the ripio of Ruta 40 without having to battle significant wind. The goal was pretty much accomplished, only in the final 5 miles did the wind really pick up.

    An early start and perfect alignment with a low, but rising sun, as I headed west out of Gob. Gregores.

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    The ripio on Ruta 40 was not so bad, keeping in the car tracks is easy in moderate winds. This section had light gravel anyway.

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    Groups of guanacos are common, they usually head away from the road and easily hop the fence. Once in a while one of them has a different plan.

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    They seem quite athletic animals and jump the fences from a standing start, though obviously some get it wrong and it costs them dearly. A horrible death that makes an easy meal for my foxy friend in the prior post.

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    I stopped at the gas station in Tres Lagos, fuel for me not the bike. The heated jacket and gloves kept me toasty, but my toes got a bit pissed off. The lady cooked up some fresh medialunes. Hot. Sweet. Buttery. Delicious. Washed down with a couple of cups of steaming café con leche. A comfort stop served by a cheerful lady.

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    I just had to take one of these shots......

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    As I neared the turn off to El Calafate some surprising traffic was encountered, heading north.

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    There were about 8 vintage vehicles spread over a 10 minute period. They were having fun, not sure what the game plan was though.

    Visiting the glacier tomorrow; I opted for a guided tour.

    Cheers. T2
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  16. TeeTwo

    TeeTwo Been here awhile

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    Perito Moreno Glacier was amazing. The glacier was approached with views of the south face, the center of the glacier is in contact with a peninsular of land (viewed from the boat, below) and separates the north face from the south. The hour long boat trip cruised past the north face. After landing, 2 hours was available to walk the various balconies, during which time I was lucky enough to witness the collapse of a roof over an ice cave, down into the lake. Thunderous cracking sounds and huge slabs of ice tumbled into the water.

    The statistics on the glacier can be searched on the web, so I won't reproduce them here, a picture is worth...etc.

    South face, center, north face.

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    For scale look for the three deck boat in the picture below,

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    The ice cave, close up before the collapse; the darker the blue the older the ice.

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    The collapse;

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    Stable again, for now.

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    Awesome.

    T2
  17. TeeTwo

    TeeTwo Been here awhile

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    Figuratively and literally Sunday was one for the birds. Hostal Shilling was a comfortable place to stay my two nights in El Calafate. Very amiable and knowledgeable staff made 'just another hostel stay' memorable. A sunny start at 9.30am for the 190 mile trip over the Patagonian steppe, was to become a long cool ride on a southerly heading, leaning sideways into a very keen westerly wind. I arrived in Rio Gallegos with muscles aching on the right side of my neck, shoulder and arm. Topical menthol gel was warranted before heading to bed, an effort to keep the muscles loose. Still, I was way better off than the cyclist.



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    Less than an hour into the ride I was passed by the two Brazilian guys on their Suzuki 650's whom I spoke with in Rio Tranquilo, Chile a week ago. A VW camper van, loaded up headed in the other direction, reminiscent of the '70s hippie generation.

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    Rhea had been few and far between, a couple of brief sightings, I had hoped to see more. It never rains when it pours they say; heading uphill I spotted a group of 20 individuals scattered on the hillside. Clutch-in and idling to a stop in an effort to avoid spooking them, I was able to observe from 40 yards away, capturing a photo or two.

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    A couple of very colorful flamingoes feeding near the road; a photo opportunity not to be missed.

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    Upland geese, indigenous to Southern Patagonia, are currently nesting. Like other ground nesting birds, proximity sends them into the skies to avoid giving away the location of the nest. The male bird in the picture below seemed to be unattached, so was more co-operative. The pair feeding in the river a few miles outside of Rio Gallegos had no reason to take flight.

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    A day for the birds, but not exclusively so. Flashes of red on the hillsides had caught my attention over the last few days, today the plant was accessible from the road. Very pretty intense red blooms in an otherwise beigey green landscape.

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    The breakfast host at Hostal Shilling described Rio Gallegos, the capital of the Santa Cruz region, as 'not very nice'. It is not a tourist town like El Calafate and it could not be described as pretty. However, taking a walk round, it had a nice promenade along the river estuary that empties into the South Atlantic. A sunny spring day, with temperatures in the 60's F brought the locals out in numbers, especially in their cars cruising slowly along the river front or in the local park near the memorial to the Islas de Malvinas conflict.

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    I wondered if this particular IAI Dagger (Israeli version of the Dassault Mirage 5) had launched any ordnance that claimed British lives in the war. The whole of Patagonia has a deep connection to the Malvinas/Falklands and the lives lost as a result of the British response to the ill conceived invasion.

    Armada Argentina also has an office on the river front. The naval office had a large model of the submarine San Juan in the foyer. The vessel suffered a catastrophic failure in 2017, imploding in the South Atlantic, sadly with the loss of all on board.

    With a few days slack in my schedule I decided to stay in Rio Gallegos for another night and ride out to Cabo Virgenes to see the Magellan Penguin colony, 100,000 birds in a carefully protected environment. An in and out trip with 140 miles on a bone jarring unmade road, torn up by the YPF trucks that service the various natural gas installations in the cape area. The road was the straw that broke the camels back ...it is never a good sign when a 2cm gap opens up between the front of the seat and the fuel tank. Fortunately I noticed it when I regained the paved road back into town, rode the 10 miles back to the hotel rather gingerly and set about looking for the cause....

    T2
  18. TeeTwo

    TeeTwo Been here awhile

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    Seeing Magellan Penguins was on my list to check off on this trip and Cabo Virgenes is host to a very large colony. The cape is also the southernmost tip of Argentina on the mainland, TDF being an island. In was an enjoyable place to visit, but it came at a price.

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    Both pivot bolts that attach the rear subframe had sheared. Obviously many miles in the making and the penguin caper had been the final straw. It was 4.30pm and I had three issues, 1) the nub end of the bolts were still in the subframe and needed to be extricated 2) to source and fit new pivot bolts of the correct dimensions and 3) and mechanical angel to do it. By 8pm I was back up and running.... Siguel at a Honda car dealership did the job, the mechanical angel, and El Jefe who made two trips out, to get a hardened drill bit to remove the nub ends and then to source two pivot bolts.

    This guy worked the magic...

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    $30, plus a decent tip for Siguel. Thank you, thank you.

    So back to Cabo Virgenes, was it worth it? Absolutely. I have never seen so many penguins in one place and was able to approach as close as a foot away.

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    I also paid a visit to the lighthouse and allegedly the start of Ruta 40. Perhaps it was kilometer 0 at one point in time, but now it is to the east of Rio Gallegos at Punta Loyola, but it made for a nice photo.

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    ...and it is a long way from BA.

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    An interesting day that had the potential to be a royal PITA, saved by a couple of willing Argentinians and a very capable mechanic.

    Now in TDF! Ushuaia tomorrow.

    T2
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  19. liv2day

    liv2day Life is about how you handle Plan B Supporter

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    Jan 19, 2016
    Oddometer:
    1,695
    Location:
    Sherwood, Oregon
    Not sure how I missed this update in my feed, but glad I browsed the forum and found the thread again. Great update @TeeTwo, the topography and scenery is stunning. Crazy that you rode through snow banked up like that, how were the temps? I know it's spring there, but the elevation must have made it a bit cool? And so cool to have the group of cyclists stop at the same time you were stopped and they wanted pictures with your bike. Did you tell 'em it's far more fun with a motor :lol3

    Great update, looking forward to seeing what comes next as I'm a bit behind :ricky :thumb
    TeeTwo likes this.
  20. TeeTwo

    TeeTwo Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Dec 19, 2013
    Oddometer:
    182
    Location:
    VA
    Hey there liv2day!

    The coldest temps I have seen were in the low 20's F on the early start from Gob. Gregores, that was unusual. Typical lows have been int he low 30's at elevation, so not so bad with the heated jacket, gloves & grips. It has been a mostly dry trip though.

    T2