Wedding Vows in Action: Riding South from Seattle

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by ADVegan, Nov 14, 2018.

  1. ADVegan

    ADVegan Been here awhile

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    After the Atacama desert I had no idea what to expect when entering Argentina. I guess I lazily thought the landscape would continue to be barren for awhile. I set my sights on a long ride to the town of Purmamarca after a suggestion at a gas station. The landscape started changing the way it does when you leave Nevada and enter Utah ie it went from absolutely nothing to beautiful rock formations. (I don't know if the rocks are really that beautiful or if they just look that way after days in the desert.)

    Red Hills.jpg

    The town of Purmamarca was quaint with a distinct European tourist vibe. I was a little tired, so I found some public wifi to book a hotel and got a beer to drink at a table in a public square. I was really feeling Argentina at this point! As I had the beer, I realized I was definitely priced out of the last-minute hotel options in the area. The next stop was an hour down the road, so I saddled back up and rode toward San Salvador de Jujuy. About 20km outside of SS Jujuy, I left the Utah landscape and entered extreme greenery. It had recently rained just a little bit, so the smell hit me hard and I realized how much I hate deserts. That's one of the things I (usually) love about riding when I try to explain it to a non-motorcyclist. You get to smell so much that you never would in a car! That can obviously be good and bad. I used to live in West Seattle, there was a large commercial bakery I would drive by getting home that baked sourdough at night, SO GOOD. I'm getting way off topic.

    The owner of the hostel I stayed at was a 60yr old rider who showed my his bike and leather panniers with pride. In the morning we talked for about 2 hours and really hit it off even through the language barrier. There were two roads to Salta, my next destination, and one looked a little twistier and he said it was a must-ride. I found myself on what was basically a one lane road divided into two and more bends than a large intestine. I was still in awe of the greenery of the landscape and thinking "Argentina is the perfect country!". I stopped at a fruit stand (common theme for me) and chatted with the owner and her son who for some reason was really into tennis and kept asking me about Wimbeldon. I think there was a little confusion over where Washington was. Usually people think DC, and I correct them about 50% of the time but London questions were a first.

    Narrow couple hours with a lot of cows (and bulls):
    Cow in road.jpg


    Walking around the main plaza of Salta was surreal, the best way I could describe it was like a budget Spain. I mentioned that to a local young lady I met and she was pretty insulted. More because of the colonialism than the "budget" part. Truth hurts girl! No, I'll be more culturally sensitive in the future. For reference on the "budget" part, the Argentine economy is in shambles. In 2015, it was 9 Argentinian pesos to a dollar, last year that became about 35/1. In July 2019, it dropped to 45/1 and as I write this in November it's about 60/1 and expected to slide further. If I stay here long enough I might just be able to afford to stay longer! In 2008, I had the opportunity to study in South Africa for 6 months on an exchange program I was fascinated by the hyperinflation in neighboring Zimbabwe. I don't know why, it's incredibly tragic, but it's so interesting to me. I've been telling people here to buy gold and silver, but they just tell me "Hey dumbass, I don't have any money to do that with." and I have to say "well yea, good point." But still I persist! (Not the worst idea in other countries either, wherever you are.. OK I'll stop)

    I almost just kicked this paragraph off with "Despues Salta.." ('After Salta' in Espanol). Without Rachel around to speak English with, my brain has converted to thinking in Spanish first. That's a pretty cool sensation, I just wish I had a bigger vocabulary once my mind goes there.

    Despues Salta, I rode to a tiny town called Cachi. Beautiful ride, with the last hour or so unpaved. The insulted young lady in the previous paragraph told me I had to go and she was quite persuasive. The next day I had my first ride on the famous Ruta 40 which basically streched the length of Argentina. I will spend a lot more time on this road, but from Cachi to Cafayate was only 3.5 hrs, I prepared for a leisure ride and was greeted with other-worldly views and 3.5 hours of washboard. Actually I think they somehow packed 8 hours of washboard into that 3.5 hour stretch. Washboard roads on a motorcycle have a way of bending time.

    Hadn't done the "ADV Salute" this entire report, so here we go:
    Salute.jpg

    I motored on the highway toward Catamarca for my third ride day in a row. It was a straight and very hot long ride and even though I wasn't interested in Catamarca I had to take a forced rest day. I sitting in the lobby debating whether to stay or go and asked when I needed to check out, about 30 minutes ago was the answer, so the decision was made easy.


    Roadside stop in the heat to eat an entire watermellon. These folks were great and we chatted for an hour or so. I think I just wanted a rest.
    watermellon.jpg
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  2. ADVegan

    ADVegan Been here awhile

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    I'm now in Cordoba, and fully caught up on this ride report for the first time! Maybe ever. Cordoba is a big city, and for some reason I keep riding like we were when Rachel was here. She likes cities more so we would ride to cities and stay maybe 4 days to rest and then repeat. Now, I do the same thing but on day 3 I think to myself -wtf am I doing in this city?! Maybe I'll learn, but probably not. I feel like being caught up gives me more space to talk about what this trip has been like, minus the chronological record I normally rely on.

    Exactly one year of blue line:
    Scribble Map.jpg


    Yesterday marked the one year anniversary of leaving Spokane, WA on the bike. Pretty incredible when I think about it. My life has changed so much. It's been long enough that I feel like this is all I know and going into a job and being in the US seems very foreign. I now completely understand the people who hit the road for a year and wind up riding for 15 (although I haven't cracked the code on their finances, nobody wants to discuss that with real numbers- it's taboo!). Part of it is the just the fear of going back to your life before the ride. To half of me, it sounds so wrong. Not necessarily mundane, but just i don't know- wrong! The other half of me is ready to not be broke. It's easy for me to get into a scarcity mindset and make rice in my thermos in a hotel room because I know having a meal out is $4. Just $4! Going back to the Pacific Northwest is going to require some mental re-entry. Rachel and I are still talking, and we even did a video chat with a counselor. We are realizing there are some major differences in how we think and operate and travelling together on the bike was like a pressure cooker for those ingredients to interact. In a lot of ways I think that's actually positive. In "normal" life maybe those things wouldn't have surfaced as readily because of the constant state of busyness and social events. (It's always somebody's effin birthday, can we get on a 5 year celebration cycle with those damn things? While I'm on the topic, the Oscars and all the award shows should be every 5 years too.) We've both agreed that we need to be in the same place geographically to sort things out and decide what each of us wants to do.

    We are targeting the end of the year to be back in the Seattle area for that, so in the meantime I'm heading down to Ushuaia! I think I can make it down there and up to Buenos Aires in about that amount of time. Several people have offered to buy the bike, but I don't think they understand the paperwork involved. They just hear me say I want $8k US for it and here the used KTM 1190s on Mercado Libre are $20k US and up. Everyone else tells me its basically impossible unless you sell to another traveler on Horizons Unlimited but most people over there seem to be looking for less expensive machines. I did recently hear that you can leave the bike in Uruguay for up to a year so I think I might be a good choice. That way I can return to the US and within a year either sell, ship or get my ass back down here and keep the wheels rolling depending on what happens with the rest of my variables. What will be, will be!

    Oh I have to add this- I was at a gas station in the middle of a long hot day, puttin' in work on the KTM and I look over and see this- not hatin' just sayin'! (Just means there are three smarter people than me out here)

    GSs.jpg
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  3. Cal

    Cal Long timer

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    I have noticed a change in your philosophy since the start of your trip and I can relate. What ever became of the over heating problems?
  4. ADVegan

    ADVegan Been here awhile

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    I feel different, but I'd be curious to hear more on that if you felt like elaborating!

    The "overheating".. ahem yes. Well, after extensive research and tearing the bike down, removing the tank, lifting the front end of the bike into the air 21inches, (harder than it sounds) burping the coolant several times, delaying ride days, and pulling hair out I found the solution- remove the oil temp from my "Favorites" menu on the dash so I don't stare at it all day. Seriously. I'm convinced there was nothing wrong with the bike, just loaded down with all our gear, very hot temps and hours of 2nd gear riding it's going to run a lot warmer than normal. It's also possible that I had one rad hose that had backed off it's proper position by about 2mm. I never saw leaks from there, but I did push it back where it was supposed to be right before I decided to stop worrying myself with bike temps. That was the Mexico event.

    In Peru, it did overheat once and puke some coolant, but I had been riding offroad (slowly) for 45 minutes and transitioning from about 9k ft to 16k feet. I didn't really realize how far up in altitude I had gone. The thin air is much less effective in a radiator so I'm pretty sure that's what happened. I also know water boils around 184F at 16k ft, but I don't know if that would have an impact because the system should be under pressure. (If it wasn't under pressure I would expect it to boil more often) I am not an expert in anything other than "twist right wrist for go"..

    I just refilled the aux tank and have been fine since.
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  5. Cal

    Cal Long timer

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    Nothing in particular, you are just more easy going and seem to be meeting and interacting more with local people. I find on my trips which are mostly solo I make an effort to interact with others and if in a group ride or with a buddy locals generally do not approach as much.
    Ya staring at the gauges can be a problem, I have a voltage meter I stare at a lot lol
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  6. Sjoerd Bakker

    Sjoerd Bakker Long timer

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    Black electrical tape can fix the Volt meter:jack
  7. Cal

    Cal Long timer

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    Yes Sjoerd it is a V strom and I dont suppose you would know any thing about electrical problems on one now would you?:lol3
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  8. ADVegan

    ADVegan Been here awhile

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    Haha I had a Vstrom 1000 with electrical issues! The magnets in the stator came loose and I had to jbweld them back in place. After that I added a voltmeter and stared at it too!
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  9. Cal

    Cal Long timer

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    Mines a 650 and I updated the reg/rec with a Shendengen SH 775 and suzuki had a recall for the stator so I had that changed also, no problem now for 65,000km I'll let Sjoerd talk about his 1000,I think he had problems like yours twice but I believe he had 165,000kms on the bike.
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  10. ADVegan

    ADVegan Been here awhile

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    Well I couldn't stay caught up for very long! All good. I wrote up a whole post about my experiences since Cordoba, and then saw a post on Instagram about varying the length of your sentences and how boring writing can be to read when you don't. It got stuck in my head. I realized I don't vary. I only use long sentences and now I can't write normally. I'm stuck.

    I left Cordoba and its 100 degree humid weather for the surrounding hills and a German town called Ville General Belgrano. It was very German. The place reminded me of way back in California at the start of our trip when we rode through Solvang and of the "Bavarian" town my brother lives in: Leavenworth, WA. I have mixed feelings. On one hand the towns are give me a feeling of quality and I appreciate the clear, collective intention. And I also feel the fake-ness seeping through the cracks. Either way, it was great to be outsid of the big city. I rode to neighboring La Cumbrecita which is a little smaller and if possible, more German. On the way out I noticed my gas gauge hadn't been changing with the kms. That happens about once every tenth tank. I figured I was about ready for fuel, pulled into a gas station and put in more gas than should theoretically fit. Glad I stopped! Riding out to La Cumbrecita the bike was limping and surging over 4k RPM and I started getting concerned I finally had clogged fuel filters. But then it went away. Instead of riding the 8 hours I planned to Mendoza, I chose to return to Cordoba and see how it ran. No problems. I was due for an oil change anyway, but I didn't want to spend anymore time in Cordoba so I chose to "risk" it and make the 8hr trek to Mendoza. Everything went smoothly, so I got the oil change and keep riding with my fingers crossed that the fuel filters will last to Ushuaia and up to Buenos Aires.

    Ville General Belgrano- featuring Oktoberfest:
    VIlle Belgrano.jpg

    La Cumbrecita:
    La Cumbrecita.jpg



    Mendoza was relaxed. Two brothers from Seattle messaged me on Instagram and said a mutual friend had told them about our trip. They'd purchased BMWs in Colombia and ridden South. Our paths were crossing, so we decided to meet up for dinner. It was great talking with them and reminded me of meeting @massiveuniball way back in Mexico. There are just certain things it's hard to describe to someone who hasn't ridden this part of the world, so we bonded over shared experiences. The next day I did a wine tasting tour. It was decent but I felt a little lonely. The only other English speaker on the tour was this very small man from Malaysia who told me "I've never had this 'wine' before" nd would make a funny face after each tasting. We didn't have the same shared experiences that I did with the Seattle bros.

    Seattle Bros:
    Seattle Brothers.jpg


    I debated and debated whether or not to ride to Santiago. They're having their protests/ riots there right now, and watching the videos online it looked to be right on the knife-edge between "that looks fun" and "things could go really wrong". I decided to go. Then I reversed that decision. In the end, I shelved my visions of going to get involved in the inequality protests, learning a thing or two, and bringing the revolution back to the US like a modern Che Guevara in Motorcycle Diaries pt 2. You're welcome Dad.

    Instead, I put down a lot of KMs through very windy territory that looked like Wyoming. Riding in this wind is rough. It mostly blows from the West, and tries to push me into oncoming cars. Luckily there aren't many other vehicles since I utilize both lanes trying to keep the bike upright. It also makes me feel weird mentally, like hypothermia. I'll get to a town after 3 hrs in the wind and think "ah, it's only 4 hours to the next town. I'll ride. It's only 2pm. Wait, is 4 hours a lot? No, it's fine that will put me there at 7 with stops. Wait, is 7 late?" Spooky.

    Budget is depleted, but there are not many towns anyway. Roadside oatmeal it is:
    Oatmeal.jpg


    Unfortunately I didn't see any of these creatures!
    Jabalies.jpg

    Eventually Route 40 tucked a little closer to the Andes and I got shelter from the wind and the scenery became really gorgeous. So this is Patagonia. I rode through several towns that looked like authentic Whistler Villages, eventually stopping for a rest day in Bariloche.

    Just outside Bariloche- there is so much amazing riding and scenery down here. I can't take pictures of all of it, you just have to come check it out!
    Bariloche.jpg


    The next few days were filled with incredible landscapes that really made me regret selling the GoPro we had. We weren't using it because Rachel would just hold her phone up in the air and that was good enough. Now I'll see something and stop to take a picture and ride 100yds further and want to stop again. I cut back into Chile to try to avoid some wind which seems to have worked. I've been riding a mix of fantastic asphalt and good gravel roads and I can't recommend a ride here enough.

    Actually, you know what I really recommend? Buying a KTM 1190 with about 50,000km on it in Ushuaia or Buenos Aires this December- it's time to live your life! I'm not selling you a motorcycle, I'm selling you the realization of a dream! I'm selling you freedom! I'm selling you the power to say yes, to take charge and seize what you want, the rules of society be damned! Just bring some fuel filters.

    Should be in Ushuaia in a week or so.
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  11. ADVegan

    ADVegan Been here awhile

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    The day after my last post I had a long gravel ride on the way to Puerto Guadal. That was the plan. About an hour and a half into it, I got a flat front tire. The first of the trip! I pulled to the side of the gravel road, and realized the bead was totally unseated on both sides of the rim. Shoot. I forgot I was supposed to plan for this! I pulled the wheel and tire off the bike, and just couldn't get it re-inflated but I couldn't find any holes either. It was about an hour and a half to a town in either direction and not a busy road. I barely had to wait at all. A man showed up, and we did our best to communicate and then we decided we'd need to take the tire into town. I assumed he would give me a ride as far as he was going and wish me luck on my way, but as I went to get in the truck, he told me to stay with the bike. Like it was the most obvious thing. He was going to drive an hour and half into town, get the tire re-inflated and bring it back to me. I was floored. I waited 3 hours, hoping and trusting he would turn back up and only 5% wondering what I would do if he didn't. Or if the rim was damaged and the tire wouldn't work. Then I see his blue truck returning. I went up to the window and said "buenas noticias" which I THINK means "good news?" and he shook his head "no", then smiled and said "Siii!" and I remounted the tire and was on my way. He would only take the roughly $5US the mechanic had charged him for the tire and nothing for his time. Unbelievable that he took the time to do that. I vowed that I will stop and help people more. I always think I want to be the kind of person that does that stuff but it's never the "right time". But it's never going to BE the right time unless I just go out driving like I work for AAA. Good realization and I'm looking for ways to pay it forward.

    Flat Tire (2).jpg


    Hero of the day!

    Tire Help.jpg
  12. CROSSBOLT

    CROSSBOLT Been here awhile

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    Very cool! And the example of a beautiful person!
  13. Cal

    Cal Long timer

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    Nice story, People are basically good. You will always remember that flat tire.
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