My big ride - A Kiwified Dutchman heading South from LA

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Normlas, Sep 9, 2017.

  1. Normlas

    Normlas Been here awhile

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    I'm up early the next day, not by choice so much but because of the chickens and dogs started at 4:30am, then the neighbour started his music at 4:45 and whistles along......hmmmmmm.

    But the road is stunningly beautiful, here's a few pics from along the way.

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    And I take a GoPro video of some of the ride starting at the village of Ollachea;



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    I've seen lots of these signs around in Peru and they are a little worrying, my basic Spanish deciphers this as saying "don't put rocks on the road"....... so why are people putting rocks on the road???

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    Maybe to try and stop people and sell them stuff, or steal their stuff? Or maybe to try and cause an accident? who knows?

    I've made contact with Steve and we agree that we will try and catch up in Puno on lake Titicaca, which makes a big day for me, at around 300 kms, which on Peruvian roads is a LONG day.

    I spot some big fires on the way to Puno.

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    And get a look at the town by the lake as I get there around mid afternoon.

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    Steve only had a couple of hours to do from where he was so gets there before me, finds us a hotel in the centre and I meet him there without issue, our rough plan is to head to the smaller and less touristy town of Juli just an hour down the road the next day and have a couple of chill days before crossing into Bolivia.

    That evening my phone dies saying that "SIM is not provisioned" WTF??? So I end up back at our favourite pastime - the Claro phone shop for two hours and it turns out the Claro shop where we got the SIM cards 6 weeks ago in Jaen did not put the SIM card in my name and has since cancelled the card, even though I had just loaded it up with another 3Gig of data...... I'm not a happy a camper and I end up having to get a new SIM card but thankfully the guy takes pity and gives my another 3Gig of data for free, annoying but it's fixed now.

    The next day we head out to Juli aiming to fill up with gas there as we know gas is hard to get in Bolivia, as we get to Juli it turns out there is no gas station other than people selling 84 octane out of barrels, we are both on empty and the town is hugely busy with a massive political rally (the election is in a week or two) so our chances of getting a hotel is also slim.

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    We decide to head towards the Peruvian border town of Yunguyo and are happy to find the last petrol station in Peru, we also find an OK hotel in the centre and decide to stay there, make the border tomorrow and then have our chill days in Bolivia in the town of Copacabana.

    Once we settle into the hotel we take a walk down to lake Titicaca, which appears lovely from the distance.

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    But like most places in Peru, when you zoom out you see the piles of rubbish and the sewerage channel going straight into the lake.

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    And it's not smelling too sweet either......

    We then shoot into the local open air market and get a few supplies for breakfast and make plans for our border crossing tomorrow. There was a cool "motorbike" near the market.

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    Peru has been a stand out country for riding, the food has been good but the pollution and rubbish everywhere has been a bit disappointing, the people are nice and the Andes are crazy high.

    All is good in Peru tonight and we're looking forward to a new country with new challenges and sights tomorrow.
    SmilinJoe, Mainecoons, bobw and 9 others like this.
  2. oldbeer

    oldbeer Grandadventurer

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    Amazing pictures...amazing place!
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  3. HiJincs

    HiJincs Dreamer

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    I found your trip report about a week ago and have been reading about 2-4 pages a day trying to catch up. It's been an amazing read to this point. I'm happy I've caught you but now I have to wait for your next post. . . good luck in Bolivia! Can't wait to read about it.
  4. Normlas

    Normlas Been here awhile

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    Welcome aboard mate, the more the merrier, wifi here is terrible but I'll try and get an update out today.
  5. Normlas

    Normlas Been here awhile

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    Our last night in Peru is another cold one at around 7 C, we're still at over 3800 meters here and the altitude is messing with me once again, giving mild headaches all day, exhaustion and poor sleep.

    Sunset from our hotel roof over lake Titicaca

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    Later in the evening I hear live music traditional coming from the Plaza de Armas in front of our hotel and it turns out to be a big bunch of guys all playing panflutes and dancing in a circle, clearly practising for some upcoming event.

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    Next day we are up early and make the very short 2km run to the Bolivian border, one of the easiest border crossing either of us has ever had and we are through both sides within an hour.

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    The only bothersome issue is that they won't give us more than a 30 day tourist visa whereas every other country has given is 90 days at the border, the guy doing my TVIP also won't give me more than 30 days on the bike but apparently we can get both the bike import permit and our visas extended for free in any of the big Bolivian cities if we need to.

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    Welcome to Bolivia - country number 11 !

    We then ride to the nearby town of Copacabana which is also right on the lake and we play the hotel game, aiming to have a couple of chill days, whilst I'm in a couple of hotels doing the bizzo, Steve is outside looking after our steeds and making some new furry friends.

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    On the third attempt we find a nice place with a huge private deck overlooking the lake, good parking and breakfast for about $12 USD each - sweet ! Then we get on with the other new country business, first new local SIM cards for our phones, which we get done in super quick time with a new provider - Tigo, just $6 for 500mb of data for a month, we get our washing sorted, get lunch and Steve gets some souvenirs and we are proud of the fact that we are getting better at the this.

    Walking around the town we come across a religious parade and I get a few nice pics.

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    This seems to be the typical dress of the local woman, lots of layers of blankets and ponchos and black bowler hats.

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    And here's the view of Lake Titicaca from our balcony

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    Beautiful skies

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    We have a few celebratory drinkies on our deck and enjoy the sunshine, our plan is to maybe do a boat trip to the "Isla del Sol" tomorrow but most of all - to relax for a day, we figure we deserve some down time.

    We get a good night sleep but the skies are very dark this morning and there is rain over most of the lake so we will probably flag the boat trip and just hang around here for the day, eating drinking and shooting the sh1t.

    All is good in Bolivia!
    SmilinJoe, Mainecoons, bobw and 9 others like this.
  6. Cal

    Cal Long timer

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    Still reading and viewing your photos . Thanks for the hard work on this report.
    Re. rocks on the road. My take on this is trucks use the rocks as wheel chocks and then just drive away leaving them on the road. I have seen this happen many times.
    Normlas likes this.
  7. Normlas

    Normlas Been here awhile

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    Thanks Cal, I think you might be right, we've seen that happen too, but not as dramatic as the explanations I came up with :)
  8. Normlas

    Normlas Been here awhile

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    Here's a short video of the Peruvian panflute group I saw practising in the Plaza de Armas in Yunguyo the other night, interesting to see that when the women were dancing they used a little pompom on the end of a string, almost exactly like Maori women do in traditional NZ dancing. It's NZ it's called a poi. You can see how cold it is there by all the clothes people are wearing.

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  9. Normlas

    Normlas Been here awhile

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    It stays a pretty average weather kinda day and we don't get up to anything much, it clears in the afternoon and we find a nice roof-top bar for some further relaxation.

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    We see the local rubbish collectors come by and are amazed to see two women standing hip-deep in trash in the back of the dump truck and dumping the rubbish directly around them....

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    Unfortunately, the next day is no better and the forecast for La Paz - where we are heading to, is rain most of the day. So we decide to stay put and have another chill day, although we do get out for a short boat ride to the "floating islands" an recommended attraction within a half hour boat ride of here.

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    Turns out we fell for a classic tourist trap and are taken to a small "floating Island" where we are left for an hour, it's so bad that we can only laugh at where we end up.

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    It's a floating dock made of polystyrene and wood loosely covered in reeds and contains just a single restaurant which gives kickbacks to the boat skipper for bringing us there and stranding us for an hour......

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    Although there are some nice views and we have a fun time.

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    Back at our hotel and a huge thunderstorm rolls in across the lake in the evening.

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    Luckily everything is closeby and we end up at a nice restaurant and spoil ourselves with a filet mignon dinner which is excellent and only about $8 USD !! yum!!

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    Later that night the thunder and lighting gets very impressive and I try and capture some of the show on my phone;

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    It storms hard most of the night and we are woken with a hail storm - it's not looking good for us leaving Copacabana for yet another day !!

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    The forecast for La Paz is rain all day again and so we decide to stay another day, neither of us have any interest in riding in the rain through a busy city especially at these cold temps. Although we are slowly going stir crazy...

    And here's another one for the electrical safety thread, the power point next to my (metal framed) bed, surely this is not live???

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    Actually, it is live, and I end up using if for the whole time we're here, I just have to be careful not to stretch out to the right hand side of the bed when I wake up.....

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    The forecasts for here and La Paz look good for tomorrow and as nice as this place is, we are both looking forward to moving on in the morning, fingers crossed.
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  10. Juan Cruz

    Juan Cruz Just riding

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    This kind of RR makes me realize that I need to get out of this office, take my bike and go for an endless ride.
    Thank you for this motivation.

    Amazing pictures and story.

    Te mando un abrazo desde Buenos Aires.
    Ride safe
    Normlas likes this.
  11. gman71

    gman71 Adventurer

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    Hello my friend :)

    Just to let you know I am still here, and reading/riding along with you. My app mysteriously blocked me from replying and posting to you, which I have now finally sorted (after a few months) on the desktop (email address needed updating)- so now back to the couch with my smartphone.

    You therefore missed several of witty retorts and observations about your adventures, which I shall recap for you now; you just have to work out what they relate to.

    "Looks like the Molesworth"
    "Another statue of a dude on a horse- see what I was saying?"
    "You shouldn't drink that shit. Seriously"
    "Looks like the Molesworth"
    "That wouldn't have happened if you had a BMW"
    "That wouldn't have happened if you had a BMW"
    "Looks like the Molesworth"



    Ride safe :)


    G
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  12. roadcapDen

    roadcapDen Ass, Grass or Gas, no free rides.

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    Keep your eye out for these...San Pedro cactus (hallucinogenic Choma) :choppa
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  13. Normlas

    Normlas Been here awhile

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    Thanks for that and also thanks for the PM, I'll get in touch with you when we get into Argentina!
  14. Normlas

    Normlas Been here awhile

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    Hi dude,
    good to have you back !

    There were lots of places in Colombia and Ecuador that reminded me of the Molesworth too, but I can honestly say that the riding here in Bolivia and Peru are like nothing we have in NZ - it is truly stunning and unique - you need to get your arse over here!

    Just resent you that email,hope you can help out.

    Cheers,
    A
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  15. Normlas

    Normlas Been here awhile

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    The wifi has been terrible everywhere we have been so I am a bit behind, here we go, finally leaving Copacabana after 4 days of bad weather .....

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    I also discover that my international driving permit (IDP) has expired and is required here, the problem being not only the police stops and checks here, but my health insurance is not valid unless I am legally driving in the country, which I am not without my IDP, so that is a big problem!!

    As we leave Copacabana we purposely avoid a police check point we know about just outside of town (through Ioverlander) and start out with a few kms of pretty nasty stony/dirt/mud road.
    But we get some great views of the lake as head towards the ferry.

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    The ferry is just a barge with a 25hp Yamaha on the back, but the guy has clearly been doing this for a long time and we get across the channel in no time, on our way to La Paz.

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    As we reach the big smoke, we run into a problem that Bolivia is unfortunately famous for, they have cheap gas here but won't sell to it to foreign vehicles, we are turned away from three different gas stations as we enter the city and we're not happy - what the hell??

    Then we run into Pablo - a random guy on a DL1000 who I chat to at a traffic light and he ask us if we need some help, we say we need gas and he says - no problem, follow me.... He takes us to two different gas stations, one has no gas and the other also refuses us service, then the third will fill our bikes and register it under Pablo's license plate but still charge us more than the going rate, we end up paying over 8 Bolivianos per litre instead of the local rate of 3.5, but at least we have gas, then Pablo takes us to our hotel near the central bus terminal and all is OK. Meet Pablo - good people!!

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    The next thing is to try and get my IDP sorted so we head down to the local Automobile Association to see if I can get mine renewed here, or some other sort of temporary license, this includes out first collectivo ride - shared minivans that fill this city and are how everyone gets around.

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    The Bolivian AA lady is super nice and helpful but she can't issue me a new IDP or a temporary license and recommends I just bride the local police if I get stopped or suggest that I am passing through the country, but that is not the problem, it's riding around without health insurance that scares the hell out of me......

    On the way back I get out in the centre and visit the Franciscan Cathedral and take a walk around the centre of La Paz - a very vibrant city.

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    In the evening I start sorting out what I can do to get a new IDP from the AA in NZ, the thing being that it will take 2 to 3 weeks to get a new one to me.....

    One of the ADV highlights of Bolivia is the Death Road, a famous road out to the jungle town of Coroico from La Paz that used to be the main route and kill 200 to 300 people per year because of the huge drop-offs, nasty corners and poor gravel road conditions - a must ride road for us and on both of our wish-lists.

    So the next day we head out to Coroico on the new and good road, aiming to take the death road back to La Paz the next day, some stunning views along the way.

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    I took some GoPro footage of the ride but the wifi is so slow it will take weeks to upload...

    We are back at altitude and end up peaking at over 4kms before getting down to Coroico which lies at 1800m in the Amazon jungle and so is nice and warm. But in the jungle you also get jungle sized bugs, check out this cricket-like thing !

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    We end up finding a reasonable hotel (without wifi) and have a chilled afternoon sinking a few drinks in the town square, here are some shots of the valley from our hotel's roof top.

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    I end up having a pretty restless nigh as I worry about the IDP and lack of health insurance on the day we ride the death road.......

    Sunrise from the hotel

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    We are up early and head out to the death road, loads of photos and videos to follow as soon as the wifi improves!
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  16. Normlas

    Normlas Been here awhile

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    We have a basic breakie of yogurt and bananas and are on the Death Road before 8am.

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    And the good news is that this is the only road in the Americas where you have to drive on the left ! Woohooo, just like home !

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    The temperature is perfect and the jungle scenery is just incredible, with huge drop-offs to the right hand side and jungle covered cliffs to the left.

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    Here you can see the death road snaking along through the hills.

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    But it's not called the Death Road for no reason, and there are lots of crosses all along the road that remind us to keep the hell left and away from the edge. When this was the main thoroughfare, between 200 and 300 people died on this road every year.

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    It just gets more and more serene and we have the road to ourselves for most of the morning.

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    If you look carefully you'll see Steve coming along the road in the pic below.

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    We get to the top earlier than we think as the Death Road is not as long as we thought and we get through the whole thing in less than 3 hours. At the top there's a little shop selling the essentials, including bags of coca leaves.

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    We stop for a coffee at the top and I leave my mark on the back of the road sign.

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    The top of the Death Road meets back up with the main road we came in on and we follow it back towards La Paz, with some more stunning views along the way.

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    I have some good GoPro footage of the Death Road and the road back to La Paz which I'll post as soon as it's uploaded (including me having a brain fart and riding into the ditch, thankfully on the left hand side).

    But..........I still have this serious issue with my insurance so instead of going through La Paz and South as we had planned, we end up going back to the same hotel we were in two days earlier and I need to get some bureaucratic stuff sorted - my favourite! My only other option is to head back to Peru where an IDP is not required and hence I would be insured there, but I am loathed to go backwards.

    Luckily my awesome girlfriend Lisa back in NZ comes to the rescue and helps me to get a new IDP from the AA and also calls my insurance company to get the details of whether a scanned copy is enough for me to carry to be legal in Bolivia - otherwise it will take 2 or 3 weeks for the original new IDP to reach me....

    Thankfully the insurance company are happy for me to carry a copy of the IDP and confirms this by email to me and Lisa scans the new IDP in and emails it over - yippee!! Problem solved for the meantime and I am back on the road and heading South.

    View from the hotel roof (The Bolivian Passport Hotel).

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    This all takes a couple of days of arranging and I also catch an annoying head cold so we end up staying in La Paz for three days. Steve is thankfully patient and happy to stick around whilst I get my stuff sorted. The weather here is also very wet and cold so a few chill days are well timed. We do get out one day and ride the entire teleferico system all over the city - a fantastic and cheap way to get around above the traffic and mayhem of the city.

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    The teleferic system runs in a huge loop around the city except for one piece which is still being built and we have to walk around the South edge of the valley of La Paz for about 30 minutes, turns out this goes straight through the witches market, where people are burning many offerings to the dead and shops are filled with weird and wonderful things, including lots of animal fetuses, especially lamas and goats......hmmmmm, k.

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    Then we take our last teleferico ride back towards our hotel, near the central bus terminal.

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    The next day I do a bit of bike-wrenching, replacing my low beam bulb (again), tightening a few bolts that have come lose, checking and oiling the chain and engine oil and she is all good to go again.

    We are both keen to get out of the city and although we wake to rain, we get some clear weather at around 9AM and head out of La Paz, battling the crazy traffic and heading South to the town of Oruro, about a 4 hour ride. Leaving the city I blow through my first police forced stop and thankfully they don't give chase.... :) I just don't feel like trying to explain the whole IDP copy thing...... a mildly nervous moment was had.

    We're now in Oruro, a pretty average town and in a rather below average hotel, aiming to head to the mining town of Potosi tomorrow for some sight seeing and touristy-time.

    All is good in Bolivia once again, thanks for following along all and I hope the get some videos of the Death Road up soon.
  17. Normlas

    Normlas Been here awhile

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    Here's part 1 of the Bolivian Death Road

  18. Normlas

    Normlas Been here awhile

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    And here is part two of the death road, including me riding into the ditch - whoopsy ....

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  19. HiJincs

    HiJincs Dreamer

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    Oh Boy! You're lucky as crap. That could have gone south really quickly.
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  20. Normlas

    Normlas Been here awhile

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    Yep, it was just a second of inattention adjusting my mirror, but luckily all ended well and I went to the left hand side of the road and not the right, and the ditch was pretty shallow!