My big ride - A Kiwified Dutchman heading South from LA

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

  1. powderzone

    powderzone Been here awhile Supporter

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    This post made me laugh - not the part about the laptop - the wind and Caleta Olivia being a dump. I worked down there back in ‘95 ranging from Rio Gallegos to Nuquen but but was unfortunately based out of Canedon Seco, about 20km inland from your current location. Going to Caleta was like going to the city. And yeah it’s a dump. On the plus side, instead of wasting money on a plaza de armas, they built the big concrete ode to petroleum workers. Lol

    That particular area always had a weird vibe...the people were more serious. The Begrano that was sunk during the Falkland/ Malvenas conflict was stationed in Ushuaia and Comodoro Rivadavia just north of you. Many of the young men who died, hailed from that region, which might explain the vibe.

    And the wind...oh the WIND. I warned you about that. Everything I owned was sandblasted after a few months.
    If you can handle the wind, try to get north to Comodoro for New Years. It’s a larger city with more things to do.

    Good luck w the laptop and Happy 2019!
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  2. Normlas

    Normlas Been here awhile

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    Hey thanks powderzone, I will be heading north through comodoro but it will almost certainly be after New year's Eve, the wind today is stronger than it was yesterday and the forecast for tomorrow is even worse. it's no fun riding in those conditions, bordering on insanely dangerous.

    I'm still not that keen to head back West and redo the routes that I've already done, and this side of Argentina looks nothing like New Zealand which is also nice. So I will probably just continue to slowly cruise up the Atlantic coast, and maybe venture inland a little bit, any recommendations you have for between here and Buenos Aires would be much appreciated.

    Happy New Year hermano !
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  3. powderzone

    powderzone Been here awhile Supporter

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    There are some amazing petrified forests near Caleta Olivia (But...it’s south of you about 80 km) and more near Sarmiento (west of Comodoro). Definitely worth a side excursion from town.

    North of there is Puerto Madryn, a weird city in the middle of Patagonia where everyone seems to be Welsh. There’s whale watching near there as well but I recall the prime season being earlier in the year. Magellan penguins as well which is a cool experience.

    As far as routes go, the best quality road is #3. There’s lots of great gravel options but it’s honestly a maze of oilfield roads and dead-ends so use offline maps if you get off the beaten path. If you check out the petrified forests near Sarmiento, you can loop north on #24 to Paso de Indio to then connect back to the coast. There’s some cool rock formations in that area but is quite remote so fuel up at every opportunity.
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  4. DavidM1

    DavidM1 Unicorn hunting

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    I'm having a look on the net at the moment - seems to be sweet FA there. Chubut Province is about 90% the area of the UK and has only 4 main roads!

    Had a look at Ruta 3 on street view - https://goo.gl/maps/nNTSEaXZFA62 - I'm really not envying you.

    I think I struck Patagonia off my to-do list about 4 RRs ago.

    Hope the back gets better, that can't be good in that wind. Good idea to sit it out. Happy New Year in Patagonia to you.
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  5. KiwiMac

    KiwiMac n00b

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    Happy New Year bro, the trip looks to have been epic so far - can't say I have read all the posts, I got too far behind so I figured I would work my way backwards to page 21! You take care and I'll look forward to a trip to Everest when you get back!!
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  6. Normlas

    Normlas Been here awhile

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    Thanks mate, you too ! Are you going to the top?
  7. Normlas

    Normlas Been here awhile

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    So I'll have to backtrack a few days as it's been ages - back to the dumpy little town of Caleta Olivia. I spend the morning 'beating the feet' around town and hitting every computer store there but they are all either closed or can't fix my PC for another week or two, everyone is winding down for the holidays.

    I decide to head North to the bigger town of Comodoro Rivadvia as powderzone and a few others suggest in order to find a new years eve party. It's still crazy windy and I battle a 60km/hr side-wind for the short 2 hr ride there to find that the place is super expensive, I play a long and arduous hotel game to find a pretty sleazy little place for 1000 pesos a night - which is a lot and about twice what I have been paying, but at least it has parking and is reasonably central. After exploring the town it turns out everything is shut at about 4pm and staying shut! The streets are deserted and it's not looking good for a party, I ask a few locals and they all apologise for their city !!! Seems new years is a small and family thing here and the whole city soon shuts down. I am lucky to be able to get some supplies and a haircut...... NOTHING is open and I end up back at my sleazy and overpriced hostel having sandwiches for dinner and a couple of quiet drinks, I head out to town at around 10pm to find anything and I fail, even the bars are shut !! So it ends up being a total lost cause for new years eve, I didn't even see any fireworks at midnight !! WTF Argentina, sort it out!

    The next morning I am away early because of yet more strong winds forecast during the day and am on the road before 8am - just feels wrong to feel this healthy after a new years eve ..... My goal is the town of Trewel about 300k up the the road and it's another wind-fighting day, I stop at a gas station for some coffee and meet a Moroccan/American rider on an 800GS called Mhamed and we quickly get along and decide to travel on together. He also started in the US has been to Ushuaia and is heading for Europe next via Buenos Aires. Turns out he ran into Steve a few weeks back - small world this bikers world...

    We get into Trewel and play the hotel game with little luck, the roads are empty and as in most of Argentina, they are all one-way roads. As we ride through town I take a left turn on one of these wide and empty roads when some idiot decides to try and take me on the inside and I hit their car - hard ! My super heavy duty panniers take the punishment and I have no apparent damage and luckily don't go down or get hurt, the side of their car is f$cked, both the driver and rear door are destroyed !! My first real crash on the entire trip. Mhamed saw the whole thing as he was right behind me and is also amazed I stayed upright and didn't get hurt, the people in the car, a young couple with a toddler, are concerned and apologetic as it's clearly their fault. I tell them that I am OK and that they can go and they quickly leave, our guess it that they didn't have the mandatory insurance and were happy to escape with a destroyed left hand side of their car before any cops showed up. I'm a little shaky and take 10 minutes to chill and compose - but all is is good with me and the bike and we decide to leave Trewel and head for the beach resort town of Puerto Madryn which had been recommended to both of us by various people.

    We play another tiresome hotel game and eventually find another expensive hostel, but it's nice and new and has great parking. It's already late in the day by now so we hit the town and Mhamed decides to shout me dinner after a very long, tiring and trying day.

    Meet Mhamed - a very cool dude and kindred spirit and we get along extremely well, and an excellent steak dinner. Gracias me nuevo amigo !

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    I'm going to split this post into two as it's a biggie - lots of nice pics in the second half, back soon!
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  8. Normlas

    Normlas Been here awhile

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    The next day in Puerto Madryn and I head out to get my pc fixed and find a super nice guy who is also a biker and will put other work aside to fix my machine that day! And he does a great job replacing the power socket and organises a new power pack (number three!) - and pretty cheap at about 40USD total - I'm very happy to have my baby back in working order.

    It turns out that no bank here will take my Chilean Pesos and so I am stuck having to go to the crazy expensive ATM, that charges $12 USD per transaction and only lets you get about $140 USD out. We have a relaxed day, do some bike maintenance and Mhamed cooks us a beautiful Moroccan lentil dish for dinner which we share with a few other travellers at the hostel and have a great night, along with sinking an entire bottle of local whiskey.

    The next day we decide to ride together for the seaside town of Las Grutas, about 300km up the coast, thankfully the winds have died down here and it's nice and warm.

    Coffee stop along the highway somewhere.

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    We get there to find the place is heaving with local tourists and not really our kinda place...

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    We decide to continue on and check out some wild camping spots further up the coast but we both needs petrol, the first station we get to has none and tells us to go to the only other one in town which has huge queues.

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    It takes us almost an hour to get gas but have no choice but to wait in the hot sun.....this will unfortunately not be our last battle for gas.....

    Then we head about 50kms up the coast and check out a few wild camp spots from Ioverlander but I'm not impressed and suggest we hit a dirt road we saw and try and find a better spot for the night and we find an absolute winner !!

    Here we have just arrived at our beach paradise

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    and we quickly get sorted and build camp.

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    About 500m up he beach we saw a small collection of commercial fishing boats and decide to walk back there and see if they'll sell us some seafood. I joke and say that if they had some shrimps our night would be made...

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    The guys say no problem and apologises that they only have prawns, caught today and they cost 150 pesos per kilo, I ask for 1.5 Kg and they charge us just 225 pesos, or around $5 USD !!! woohoo!

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    He then weighs what he put in the bag on a huge scale attached to his car battery, says its 2 kilos instead and just gives it to us - we both love seafood and walk away happy and giggling like little girls.

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    Here's a short video I made of us very pleased with ourselves, our beach camp and our big bag of fresh prawns.



    As the sun sets over our camp the place just gets more and more beautiful. Here comes the photo dump.

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    And of course the prawns, which we cook in sea water and enjoy with french bread and avocado.

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    We are feeling very pleased with ourselves and have a great night gorging ourselves on fresh prawns and we end up getting through the entire 2 kilos worth (just).

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    After a restful night listening to the waves crash on our private beach we head away and aim our steeds for the town of Rio Colorado. Its warm in the morning and the temperature just keeps rising, we have literally ridden into summer and for the first time in ages we are back in shorts and T-shirts and every vent on my riding gear is open - wonderful !

    At a gas station in Rio Colorado we meet another biker, Abri from South Africa on a KTM adventure 990 and he decides to join me and Mhamed for the evening, we find a very nice hotel in town, do some serious negotiating and move in and I finally get my blog updated!
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  9. ScotsFire

    ScotsFire And then a drifter rode into town...

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    Those are damn near lobsters not shrimp.
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  10. dano619

    dano619 Been here awhile

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    Nice update......your buddies tent is a freekin condo!! room for dancing girls!!
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  11. Normlas

    Normlas Been here awhile

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    And then there were three.......more to come soon!
  12. SOLOKLR

    SOLOKLR Back to work

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    So you're going to ride all the way to Alaska now right?
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  13. Normlas

    Normlas Been here awhile

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    Rio Colorado is a sleepy little country town and the evening temperature is perfect as we stroll around and find a restaurant with outside seating. Our hotel (Le Masion) is well above our normal standard although the guy running it is a bit of a dickhead.

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    We have a comfortable night and head out after a rather small breakfast from our super-cheap host and hit the road. Normally I like to ride at around 90 to 100 km/hr for about an hour and then stop for a break and the guys also like this tempo. Here we are at our first break, meet Abri.

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    The countryside is slowly changing, after about 3 weeks of low and brown pampas the shrubbery is slowly getting taller and greener as the temperature rises and the winds reduce, there are even a few trees now! But it's still crazy flat and there's very little of anything between towns. Most of our stops are at large trees on the side of the road that give some shade.

    As we pull in to our lunch stop of the day, Abri's bike is smoking and smelling like burned electrical components !! Mui Malo ! And true to the reputation of the KTM's he spends an hour or so ripping out melted electrical cables from his bike.

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    And we get the usual locals wanting pics with the bikes.

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    Luckily meltdown doesn't kill anything critical and his bike is running so we continue after lunch for the town of Santa Rosa. Here's another break stop along the road. We are all in good moods and having a great day.

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    We had originally planned to camp as we all like camping and are well prepared but when we get to the municipal camping in Santa Rosa it looks like a bit of a dump and is in the middle of nowhere so we decide to play the hotel game. There's nothing on Ioverlander so I end up using google maps to find a good hotel. As we ride into town we see a petrol station with huge queues and several that have no gas (they put road cones in front of the pumps if they have run out of gas and they seem to run out all the time around here). It's very hot and we don't feel like sitting in line in the sun for an hour so we carry on and hope to find a gas station in the city centre (which we do).

    Mhamed took a pic of us in action on the road.

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    That night in the hotel the heavens open and it absolutely pours down with thunder and lightning for most of the night - we're very happy to be looking at it from the comfort of our hotel and not from the inside of a tent! We end up going for a walk to find some dinner and find a good buffet place for just 220 pesos per person, about $5USD and we feast! Restaurants don't open till 8pm at the earliest here so you have to get used to eating late.

    The next day Mhamed and Abri are heading off to Buenos Aires together as Mhamed is shipping his bike to Spain to continue his RTW adventure and Abri is heading home back to South Africa after a short 6 week ride around Chile and Argentina.

    I have decided to head North towards Paraguay, Lisa is coming to Buenos Aires in early February and Argentina and Chile are just a bit too expensive for me to blow another month in, especially since prices have gone up considerably in the last two weeks with the start of the high season, some places have doubled their prices! I've heard great things about Paraguay, that it's much cheaper and much more 3rd world and less developed than Chile and Argentina which I love. So my rough plan is to head up there and check it out and return to Buenos Aires in early Feb.

    So it's sad goodbyes in the morning, Mhamed and I have really bonded in the last week and a half riding together and it turns out we have very similar habits in our travel, given we've both been on the road for over a year I guess that makes sense - you end up learning the same lessons and picking up similar habits. We've only known Abri for a couple of days but he has fitted in to our little group super well.

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    Adios Amigos!!

    We head off in different directions and the weather going North is not looking good with very dark skies and it starts spitting on and off. The countryside has changed again and I now ride through mainly agricultural land, massive flats with corn, peanuts, potatoes and wheat. I also pass some huge fields with sunflowers and I guess Abri and Mhamed do too as they send me this pic later in the day.

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    I had aimed to make it to Rio Quatro (as in the 4th river, they put it on road signs like Rio IV), but I decide to stop at the little agricultural town of Realico and find a nice little hotel just before the rain sets in. Here's a random pic from my hotel room, could be any of a hundred hotel rooms...

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    As I settle in I realise that it is exactly one year since I left LA and spent the first night at Slab City - wow, what a year it has been, simply awesome!! I celebrate with a nice steak and a few drinks in Realico and feel very reflective but also very content and happy. I just LOVE this lifestyle, it suits me perfectly.

    The next day the weather forecast is so good I take a screen grab .

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    I have a nice ride for about 3 or 4 hours in perfect riding conditions. At one break stop there is some interesting roadside shrubbery......

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    I rock into the pretty large city of Rio Quatro, play a difficult hotel game in the heat as there are no hotels on Ioverlander and the first two I find on google don't exist, then I find an overpriced dump before I land at the Hotel Venecia, with great parking, a perfect location and OK rooms for about 14USD a night = done! I might chill here for a couple of days, it's time for another oil change and I might do that here tomorrow.

    All is good on the road my friends!

    And then there was one .... onwards and upwards !
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  14. ScotsFire

    ScotsFire And then a drifter rode into town...

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    Glad your pace is keeping you mentally and emotionally fresh. Many of these reports have the poster getting burned out after a few months. I am a little worried about that for my trip next year as I’ve got pretty aggressive goals on the way south, but will totally hit the brakes once I hit a couple of waypoints.

    Excited you’re headed to Paraguay as not many folks get there.

    Thank you again for all the effort you’re putting into this. I have greatly enjoyed and appreciated the report.
  15. Normlas

    Normlas Been here awhile

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    There are a couple of countries I would love to go back to and spend more time in, like Guatemala, Colombia and Mexico especially. But I don't really want to go back through America or Canada, I much prefer crazier, less organized and more third world type of countries. I think if I was going to get carried away then I would head for Africa......
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  16. Normlas

    Normlas Been here awhile

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    Thank you for your kind comments, I really love getting feedback and to think that there are people out there I have never met who are enjoying this journey with me.

    I think that traveling is actually quite a skill and you get better at it the longer you travel. It is not for everyone and some people who thought they were travellers quickly work out that it's actually not for them. If there is one overarching principal that I think helps a lot, it is to decide to be happy. That regardless of where you find yourself there is always something to be happy about and to identify that and focus on it even in times of adversity, to remember that we are the lucky few who are able to do this.

    If you start every interaction with this attitude, with a smile, then things will work better, people will be nicer and life on the road will be easier.

    Just my 2c worth.
  17. Abri de villiers

    Abri de villiers n00b

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    Hey Dutchi!!!! Super cool meeting the LEGEND HIMSELF! Was a great time riding with you and Mohammed! Guy's like you and Mohammed is the reson we dream, please continue your adenture for many days more, us normal guy's (gewone mense) needs to dream and we dream through you. You now have the responsability to carry my dreams.
    The photo it will tresure for life.
    I'm waiting your arival in South Africa. Save travels Dutchi! IMG-20190105-WA0004.jpg
  18. gman71

    gman71 Adventurer

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    The USA is pretty crazy and disorganized at the moment. Just sayin'. But probably best avoided regardless. Claro.
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  19. Normlas

    Normlas Been here awhile

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    Hey Abri ! Good of you to chime in and thanks for your kind comments, it was great to meet you too and was fun riding, have a safe trip back to SA and hope to see you there one day!

    Take care amigo.
  20. Normlas

    Normlas Been here awhile

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    Claro hermano
    I couldn't go back even if I wanted to, they have wall now :lol3:imaposer
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