Reality quickly shattered my plans to have to ridden my DR to the highest altitude ever achieved. I had mapped out a route to nearly 6000 meters using google maps satellite and a few other sources but when the day came, the rain, which had been coming down hard for several days had completely blocked the Bolivian salt flats which I had to cross to get the mountain. I woke up early, still eager to give it a shot but when I arrived at the salt flats this is what I saw. DSC_2299 by Windham Taylor, on Flickr DSC_2295 by Windham Taylor, on Flickr This is the day I arrived to the salt flats. Should have gone and taken pictures then because I think it would be hard to have a much worse experience than I did here. DSC_2283 by Windham Taylor, on Flickr I turned around and stopped by the tourists offices that are scattered through Uyuni and asked about road conditions out of Bolivia. They showed me pictures of deep snow in the mountain passes to the south and said that all the tourists were being evacuated due to extreme flooding. I didn't feel like sticking around another day so I decided to take the easiest route out of Bolivia and into Chile, despite the rain which had really started to come down. What should have been an easy ride through 170 miles of well maintained dirt roads turned into a nightmare of freezing temperatures, deep water crossings, and slick red mud. I knew the border closed at 7 which gave me about 10 hours to reach it. The first few hours were ok but after a time, the rain picked up and the wind was howling though the 12,000ft mountains which left me freezing to the bone and wishing I had some shelter. At the top of the passes, the rain turned to sleet which stuck to my visor and made visibility almost 0. About half I stopped for a quick lunch and realized that to make it before close I was going have to pick up the pace. I pushed on as fast as possible, but with numb hands and treacherous roads I was only able to keep moving in second gear. The last 5 hours I did without stopping and finally rolled up the border at 6:50 - 10 minutes before it closed. The Bolivian side was shutting down but stamped me out right before they closed. As I was wearily climbing back on the bike, one of them rushed up and told me due to the time change I wasn't aware of, the Chilean side had been closed for an hour. I was tired and not feeling like setting the tent up again that night but before I could start, they invited me inside the Aduna and handed me a beer. We chatted for an hour or so while I warmed up and then the kindly told me I was welcome to stay in the guard shack on an extra mattress. I gratefully excepted and it didn't take long to pass out that night. Too tired to bother making dinner. The only picture I took all day. Far too wet to take out my Nikon. Untitled by Windham Taylor, on Flickr The next morning I was up early and the first one at the border while I waited for it to open. It was an easy crossing and I was into Chile in about an hour. The scenary changed rapidly as I rode into the Atacama Desert, the dryness that Northern Chile is famous for still took a couple days to dry my boots out. Not a lot going on here so I spent the last few days high tailing it to Santiago. 1,200 miles of highway on a DR isn't exactly what they are designed for! Stopped at the famous "hand of the desert". DSC_2309 by Windham Taylor, on Flickr DSC_2308 by Windham Taylor, on Flickr Pounding pavement Untitled by Windham Taylor, on Flickr Took a dirt road off the main highway to find a campsite. No traffic so I set up right beside the road. DSC_2335 by Windham Taylor, on Flickr DSC_2337 by Windham Taylor, on Flickr DSC_2340 by Windham Taylor, on Flickr DSC_2353 by Windham Taylor, on Flickr Another 400 mile day saw me close to Santiago. I camped out in the mountains again and woke up early pick up a couple things in the city. I needed a new RAM mount and front tire. Tunnel was out of commission but the construction worker told me since I was on a motorcycle I could use the trail over the top. He even held the chain for me while I drove under. Managed to take a few wrong turns before I found my way across... DSC_2355 by Windham Taylor, on Flickr Had a little life left in the old tire but it was not doing well on dirt. Not bad though, 16,300 miles on it. Untitled by Windham Taylor, on Flickr Arrived to hostel "Casa Matte" which is a famous biker hostel in Santiago. I don't think I mentioned it but my bank cards were stolen in Bolivia so I'll be here waiting for replacements for a couple of days before leaving south. Still deciding on what route I should take to Ushuaia. Chile or Argentina? Nice to hang out with some like minded travelers. We have cooked dinner together and hung out on the roof top late into the night talking about our many adventures on this incredible continent. Untitled by Windham Taylor, on Flickr Untitled by Windham Taylor, on Flickr Enjoying Santiago but I'm ready to see Patagonia and ultimately Ushuaia. Won't be long now!