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Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by JimsBeemer, Mar 6, 2019.
And here is our route, from exiting Bolivia to entering Santiago.
Thank god it is KILOMETERS and not MILES haha.
Two weeks in Santiago! It was just a few days shy of our longest stay on our trip, which was 2.5 weeks in Guadalajara, Mexico, when we stopped to take Spanish classes. Given the state of protests, we did not go to the historic downtown area, where most of the museums and other interesting architectural buildings are located. But while waiting for the Rekluse clutch to break free from the UPS/Chilean-customs stronghold, we did do some sightseeing, besides eating too much of Carol's cooking (I've gained weight on this trip!). We took an all day winery tour that took us 2 hours south into Santa Cruz, and we toured around town using Uber (very inexpensive and very prevalent - very short wait times for drivers. And one day we bought a hop-on/hop-off bus pass that allowed us to see some of the city (they have modified the route to avoid the areas most involved in the protests). But for sure there were several days dominated by my calling and emailing Rekluse, UPS-USA, Orbital SA (Chilean importer) and UPS-Chile, trying to get the clutch moving along.
I wanted to install the Rekluse clutch myself, and Dos Ruedas, the shop where I had scheduled service done, and bought tires, said I could use their shop space to do so, no charge. They had never seen such a clutch before, and were very interested to see how it worked. Based on UPS info, I went ahead and tore out the OEM clutch on a Thursday, expecting the Clutch to arrive that day or Friday AM. But due to a delay caused by Chilean customs, I ended up with the bike sitting there in their shop until Wednesday of the next week! They were so nice about it - I really can't say enough about them. Great people, very knowledgeable and they work on an lot of BMW's. When I was putting the clutch back together I was looking up the torque spec for the spring bolts on my iPad, and Christian, the head mechanic, asked what I was doing and then immediately said "10nm, and the cover bolts are 12nm" And he was right!
We toured four wineries on a long day in a tour bus, from the nearby Maipo valley then going south to Santa Cruz and the Colchagua Valley. We heard again (and again!) the story of the Carménère grape in Chile - it is interesting. This varietal was thought to be basically extinct since the late 1800's , due to a pathogen that wiped it out in Europe and the USA. For years Chile was known for their Merlot - it had a J'en sais quoi that made it special. In the 1990's, a European specialists (oenologist) was in Chile in the fall, and saw these grape vines with leaves turning red and asked "what is that?" The answer was it was Merlot - to which he said "Merlot doesn't turn red in the fall" and the growers said that some of their Merlot grapes did, they assumed it was due to to local micro climate or soil conditions. The specialist said "Those are not Merlot vines - that is Carménère !" The name Carménère comes from the french word for "crimson" because of the color of the leaves in the fall. For 150 years, Chilean vintners unwittingly preserved this varietal, which thrives here because the pathogen that wiped it out elsewhere has never made it to Chile. And we saw Merlot and Carménère vines side by side; the leaves do look identical (and leaf shape is pretty much how you tell one grape from the other). During the period before this discovery, Chilean "Merlot" was actually unwittingly a blend with 50% or more of Carménère, which accounted for the "special taste" of Chilean Merlot. Today Carménère is a recognized (registered) varietal and Chile is very proud of it. Though it looks just like Merlot while growing, it is actually more closely related to Cabernet Sauvingon.
Listening to a grower talk to us about his grapes - he is probably telling us the story of Carménère
We saw small scale wineries that produce 10,000 bottles a year, and big ones that produce hundreds of thousands.
Cellar with wine aging in barrels. One oak barrel costs up to a thousand dollars. At one winery we were told that there is a looming oak crisis; the global production of wine is going up and up - and although oak is a renewable resource, it takes about 100 years for an oak tree to mature to produce the wood that has the requisite character and porosity to be used for wine barrels, and there is simply not going to be enough at some point.
This winery was very water conscious - they built this waterway with lots of aquatic plants, in the middle of their vineyard, where all unused water from irrigation run-off and cleaning in the winery (a lot of water is used washing out tanks and other equipment. The design of this is such that the water spends time here, and the ground filtration and aquatic plants filter the water and purify it before it is returned to the aquifer and local river.
This is the river that the water in the previous picture eventually returns to. The owner explained to us that this is a "private river", and that you cannot use the water without paying the owners. They own the water in the river, but not necessarily the land the river runs through - strange to my thinking. The existence of such an ownership model is, we were told, one of the many issues behind the protests in Chile at the moment.
This is a very small winery (bodega) near Santiago that we toured by Uber. You can see the "smog line" looking back into the city - we were told that this time of year it is actually not so bad. In winter they get an inversion layer that traps the smog, and the tour guide said that then you cannot see the city at all from this view.
Our tour guide explaining about how they stack bottles for aging. They are not labeled until just before shipping, because the label depends on what country it is going to. Interesting note about this woman giving the tour: She lived in and went to high school in Hollister, CA, the small farming town that Carol and I lived in the last six months before we left on our trip! We have met so many people on our journey, from Mexico to Chile, that have spent some time or have relatives who have or are living in the USA.
This is Levi Faber and his family. Levi is a family friend of my youngest son's in-laws. He works for the US State Department here in Santiago, and our daughter in law connected us with him by email. He was very helpful in giving us advice on where to stay (and not to stay) in Santiago, much appreciated. Picture is from when we visited their english speaking church (filled with ex-pats).
Los Condes was so tranquil and "normal" - you would have no idea of the civil discord happening not so far away in the center of the city. This was a Sunday concert in the park.
Random art-work in Los Condes. It is obviously a "well-heeled" neighborhood. We walked through one section that to me was very much like Los Gatos, a well-to-do neighborhood just south of San Jose. We saw fancy cars and fancy stores.
One night we registered for this special wine experience at “Vinolia”, a wine tasting bar and restaurant nearby to our apartment in that "Los Gatos-like" fancy neighborhood. We had a sommelier guide us through a smelling experience in their “sensory exploration room”. In the metal jars there were various "essence of ...", and a stopper at the top of the jar. The smells were all things that are often ascribed to wine, like anise, plum, leather, on and on. You had to remove the stopper, smell it, and then try to name the smell before turning over a wooden block at the base the jar that had the name on the bottom of it. It was fun - and I sucked at it! Once I knew what it was, I totally smelled what it said it was. But I only got a few right up front before lifting the block to read the description. It reminded me of a game my kids used to play with Jelly Belly Jelly Beans, which have distinct flavors like watermelon and popcorn - the game was to put one in your mouth, blind (color is a give away) and say what it was. I sucked at that too!
One plus as a result of the delay in delivery of the Rekluse chuck was that we got to see these guys - Mike and Mike, fellow riders from Canada. We first ran into them in Mexico, at the border with Guatemala. We ran into them on the road a few times going through Central America, and then we were on the Stahlratte with them. We've kept in contact by WhatsApp but this is the first time we've seen them since Colombia. They are doing the trip in pieces - they come and ride for a month or so, then find a place to store their bikes while they fly back to Canada to work, then come back and ride some more. Was great to see them - we have re-united with quite a few of our Stahlratte commrades along the way! Mike Neudorf, left, and Mike Siemens, at right, holding a bag of bread rolls that Carol sent home with them (I mentioned she was enjoying cooking).
Workers cleaning the windows on a high-rise across from our apartment.
We took Uber to the Parque Metropolitano, a huge park on some hills in the middle of town. We took this "Funicular" up the hill, stopping part way up for the zoo, and then getting back on to go to the top where there is an altar and statue to the "Virgin of the Immaculate Conception" and associated church. Great views of the city.
This is at the top, near the altar. This was a Bishop of some historical importance, as best I could tell.
The zoo was small but well done.
The Virgin of the Immaculate Conception. There is an altar or sanctuary (not sure of correct word) in the base of the statue - lots of people inside praying.
A short walk from the Virgin of the Immaculate Conception, you come to the station for this teleferico, which goes the full length of the park with one intermediate stop. It had great views, and we took it all the way to the end to get to a Japanese garden.
View of the "Sky Costenera", the tallest building in South America, from the Japanese garden.
This is in another park, which we visited the day we got the bus passes. We have seen this same basic telescope icon all around Santiago, and we have no idea what it is about. Hope to figure it out. It shows up again and again.
On our bus tour day, we got as close to city center as it would take us, then took an Uber to go to the Plaza Armas, where things were both normal and not so normal. Normal was this little girl playing in the fountain.
Cathedral at the Plaza de Armas.
Plaza de Armas, Santiago
One of the signs of things being "not so normal" was the graffiti, which was everywhere. This is the base of an historic looking church.
Entrance to a (closed) museum (Museum of Contemporary Art, the "MAC"), with a sign saying that the museum workers are for dignity - I don't know how that message plays into the politics here.
And then in the midst of the graffiti, there was this wall mural, left untouched, which I thought was amazing. Nice.
We went to the Sky Costanera (means "Sky Waterfront" as best I can tell) and paid to take the elevator to the observation deck at the top - floor #61. Best view of Santiago you can find, for sure.
View from the Sky Costanera. Our apartment building is behind and just to the right of the Marriott tower.
And more views.
The clutch! It finally arrived on Tuesday, and I rode across town to pick it up, and also told our AirBnB host that we needed to extend our stay one final time, through Thursday night. That would give me Wednesday to install the clutch, and then Thursday to get packed up and plan our next step. But ... someone else had reserved the apartment, so we could not stay! We had to check out as scheduled the following morning (Wed).
That put us in a bit of a rush. I got a hotel in Pirque, south of Santiago, for two nights. It is near the Concha y Toro winery, which I wanted to visit. Then on Wednesday morning, we checked out and headed to the shop to install the clutch. Carol had her panniers and all of her luggage in the apartment - so we had to get her and all that luggage into an Uber, then I got on my bike, with all my luggage, and rode to meet up with her at the shop.
We got right to work on the clutch, and got it installed, broke in per procedure, and adjusted. But it was a full day - we left the shop for our 45 minute ride to our new hotel at 5:30 PM - which is rush hour. And then we hit a standstill on the freeway due to an accident. So Carol got to use her auto clutch a lot right off the bat! I was envious as I sat moving 20 feet at a time, letting my clutch out and pulling it back in with each incremental lurch forward.
I have to say - the Rekluse clutch is a riot! It just makes you grin. I enjoyed letting the mechanics at Dos Reudas try it out and watching the looks on their faces when they put the bike in 1st gear and let out the clutch at idle (against instinct), and then rolled-on the throttle and pulled away. But best was when Carol tried it for the first time - I made a short video.
Here are a few photos from the install.
Carol's bike sitting in the shop with OEM clutch pack removed - it sat here for six days. I felt bad it was taking up the space, but they were cool with it.
Carol soaking the new friction discs in oil. The centrifugal actuator thingy (I forget Rekluse's name for it) is the front most piece in the bag - it goes on as the last after all the other discs.
New clutch pack going in!
10NM! The one tool I did not have with me for this job was a torque wrench. Dos Ruedas loaned me theirs.
Just about ready to try it out - Carol is reading the adjustment and break in instructions on my iPad.
This is Christian - he seemed to be the chief mechanic, and spoke the best English. He was a great help to us, and bought us lunch in addition to lending us tools and space! Thanks Christian.
And while we were wrapping up - Mike Siemens showed up (one of the two Mikes from earlier post). He is storing his motorcycle with Dos Ruedas while he goes back to Canada, and was there to drop it off, and so he got to give the Rekluse a try. His question was "how much does it cost!?" As if; "I want one!"
When we left Dos Ruedas (Date stamp: Wednesday December 11, 2019), I knew we were in for a slog, because it was 5:30PM. But as we pulled out, Google's estimate was 45 minutes to our hotel in Pique, not so bad. Then we got onto the (very modern, USA-like) freeway, and came to a standstill (also very modern, USA-like). My google map showed an accident ahead, and all three lanes came to a stop. As I mentioned earlier, it gave Carol a good chance to use the Rekluse clutch right out the gate, but it also turned our 45 minute ride into 1.5 hours!
When we got to the hotel and turned into the driveway, I got an adrenaline rush as I plowed into the unexpected deep gravel and struggled to stay up. I was just thinking "Oh no - Carol!" when I heard her exclamation, and I knew. She dropped her bike (for the thousandth time) and her left pannier came off. That pannier has taken a beating - she usually goes down on that side. The latch mechanism (BMW) no longer securely holds, and with some minor persuasion the pannier can slide back off of the mount. The latch doesn’t support any weight, it just has to keep the Pannier from moving backwards. It has fallen off twice while she was riding. I had been using zip-ties to keep it attached to the pannier frame, but Carol felt uncomfortable with that and convinced me (her own idea, ingenious other than it's flaw, as you will see) to get a hose clamp and use that, which I did back in Argentina. The virtue of the zip tie in this application is that it will break when push comes to shove - but the metal hose clamp was not so willing to give up the fight, and held on tight as the box came of, and with the hose clamp holding tight, the hinge/latch that it was holding to the frame got twisted horribly. We were right at the gate to the hotel, so we just carried the pannier in, and I didn't even look at it in detail until the next day.
That next day I went out to where the bikes were parked thinking I could bend the hinge/latch back into functioning condition using my pliers and some other tools I had. Then I took a good look at it. I thought I was going to have to go back to Santiago and use the shop at Dos Ruedas - it was really mangled. If I was at home, I would have drilled out the rivets that held it together, and used my bench vice and anvil to pound the thing back into shape, re-riveted it back together, and it would be good as new - well, good anyway.
I thought maybe the hotel (this is a rustic, country hotel/spa with lots of grounds, pool, and buildings to maintain) might have a workshop with a bench vice, so I asked, and the woman at the desk got a young man, Jonathan, to help me. He came and took a look at the latch, saw what it was about, and went and grabbed some wire, a hammer, big pair of piers and some wire dykes. I thought there was no way to get that tangled mass back into shape w/o removing it and taking it to a bench vice, but he used those tools and a big rock and got it back functioning, using the wire to replace the one hinge piece that had sheered and come out. I started that morning off thinking "no way in hell I'm fixing this here!" to it being back in functional shape, thanks to Jonathan!
And I used a zip-tie to secure it this time.
Carol and I with Jonathan
After fixing the pannier with Jonathan's help, we grabbed an Uber for the short drive to Concha y Toro, where we had purchased tickets for an afternoon tour and tasting. In general I think the smaller wineries are more interesting, and produce some of the better wines. But Concha y Toro is so epic, I just really wanted to go and see it. It is one of the largest (in the top 5 - they list themselves as #2, others say #4) wine producers in the world. By any account, Concha y Toro produces over 1% of the worlds annual wine production. I was interested to learn more about a winery of this scale, and a wine label that is such a staple in the supermarkets and beverage stores back in the USA.
We scheduled an English language tour, and we ended up being the only people in our "group", so it was really a private tour, and our tour guide told us as much and said we could take all the time we wanted for questions and pictures since it was just us! We learned that the name "Concha y Toro" comes from the last names of the founders mother and father (in Latin countries, women keep their name upon marriage). The winery started out as summer home for the family (home was Santiago) and was built on European model. The grounds of the estate are modeled after an English countryside manor, and you could imagine people playing polo in the fields. Starting in the late 1800's, the founders (Don Melchor de Santiago Concha y Toro and his wife, Emiliana Subercaseaux - thanks Wikipedia), grew grapes to make wine for themselves, family and friends. A wine enthusiast, the Don brought back French varietals to cultivate in his vineyard. They had a cellar made (which we got to tour) where he stored and aged his wine, and it was often broken into. At some point a rumor was started (and these were superstitious times) that the Devil lived in the Don's cellar. Seeing an opportunity to stop the theft from his cellar, the Don actively promoted this concept, and that is how his private cellar came to be the Casillero de Diablo, the Cellar of the Devil. They have many sub-brands, but the Casillero de Diablo should be familiar to anyone who has browsed the wine selection in any major USA supermarket. Today Concha y Toro is a publically traded company - you can buy stock in the company on the NYSE.
I did not realize until our tour that Concha y Toro owns Fetzer (California) and Tapiz (Argentina) wineries - both are well known. They also have investments in Australia. One thing that was mentioned, which has come up at a number of the wine tours we've done, from small wineries to big, is the emerging importance of the Asian market, and China in particular. In terms of growth potential in this industry, this is where it is at - we heard the same story in Argentina. Our guide told us that Concha y Toro makes special wines only for sale in China, that are easy drinking, because that market is new to wine, and not ready for the "big bold cabs" as are so popular in the west. Also -wine tourism has become popular with the Chinese, and is now one of the major people groups they see coming through on tours.
The grounds of the original family estate, modeled after an English manor.
Carol with our tour guide, at the back of the original family manor (summer home). It was still being used as a residence up into the 1990's. Now it is used for some office space, and to host meetings of shareholders and host important guests. There was a helicopter out on the lawn when we were there, and our guide said it was transportation for "someone important"
The grounds. Not bad for a summer house.
Of course there are vineyards. A company this large has vineyards all over the world, not just Chile, but all of the grapes for production under the Casillero de Diablo label are grown here.
This is a "discovery garden", where they had 26 varieties of grapes growing. It was interesting to compare the shapes of the leaves - at this point the fruit all looks the same. With one exception - there is one grape that she showed us that is red right from the outset. It has very few redeeming qualities as a wine grape except for it's color, and it is used in wines of lesser quality (think "sold in boxes") to add a deep red color.
Carol and I at the stairs leading down to the Devils Cellar (Casillero de Diablo). Our tour included souvenir wine glasses, which are in the boxes we are holding. We don't have space for souvenirs! But we have them with us for now - until they break!
Wine aging in barrels in the Casillero de Diablo. This was one of at least four rooms in the original cellar, all of this size and all filled with barrels. The cellar was built in the late 1800’s and has survived four major earthquakes unscathed.
Well look - there he is! These bottles are from a special 2009 vintage that is still aging, and will not be for sale. It is for "special, significant shareholders" You want some, buy a lot of stock and it's yours!
Don't I look like I belong?
Entrance to the bodega.
Almost done with the "Wine Segment" of our grand trip! At my retirement party, I made a big poster map showing our planned route from California to Ushuiaia, with pictures of places we intended to see along the way, and there was a "wine" theme in that display, exactly where we've spent the last month or so, in Argentina and Santiago. So it was always in the plan
We left Pirque for Santa Cruz and the Colchagua Valley, which is only about 2 hours south. We had been to Santa Cruz before, on the wine tour we took by bus from Santiago, but we had been told that we should stop there specifically to see the Museo Colchagua. This is a private museum that is sort of a combined natural history and cultural museum, and it houses fossils as well as works of antiquity up through modern times, focusing on the natural and cultural history and heritage of South America and Chile in particular. It is considered to be one of the finest museums in Chile - and it did not disappoint. However, the owner is a controversial figure, Carlos Cardoen. How controversial? This quote (source is in hyperlink - click on text) sums it up:
"Just who is Carlos Cardoen? Apparently he is a man of many talents – he is an entreprenuer, philanthropist, investor, engineer, and a much-loved local hero (he earned the title “Chilleno of the Year” in 2006.) Sounds like a great guy, right? I thought so too – until learning the titles “fugitive” and “international arms dealer” are also on his résumé."
He is accused by the US of supplying weapons and weapons materials to Iraq (during Saddam Husein's rule). But there is another side to the story and a quick search on the topic shows that it is complicated. So there's that. But the museum was in fact amazing - well worth the stop over.
Santa Cruz is in the center of the wine territory (hence our previous visit) so we did take the opportunity to eat out a nice restaurant and enjoy a nice bottle of wine. Carol had salmon, I had beef. She got sick! She insists it was just a bug (she doesn't want to admit that something that tasted that good could have made her sick), but I'm convinced it was the salmon, which I did have one bite of, and it was delicious. In any case, we had to extend our stay an extra day so that could work its way through Carol's system. I felt so bad for her, but she rebounded quickly.
Reconstructed jaws and teeth of a "Megalodon", a giant pre-historic shark. This is based on fossil findings in the Atacama desert. Big fish!
It is amazing that one man could have managed to gain possession of so many ancient artifacts. These are from the Moche civilization that existed around 0AD to 600AD - we visited ruins of these people near Trujillo, Peru of the Huaca de Luna. They were particularly known for their pottery sculpture, and the museum in Pero had some great samples, but we could not take pictures - no restrictions here.
Simon Bolivar's signature - in the flesh! This was a nice, ironic find. One of the main reasons we went to Sucre, Bolivia, instead of just going directly to Uyuni, was that I wanted to visit this museum that had the Bolivian declaration of independence, signed by Simon Bolivar. But due to the unrest, that museum was closed, and we ended up stuck in Sucre unable to move for a week, and missing Uyuni (which I'm still not over, lol). But here in this museum they had a display about Bolivar, including this order he had signed. So I got to see his signature (FWIW) after all!
There was a room dedicated to the history of the church- I thought the symbology of this statue was interesting.
There is a huge display of Incan artifacts, including a lot of gold jewelry and statues. Amazing display in terms of quantity and quality.
A good portion of the museum covers more modern times - a whole room of horse carriages and their design and role in society, for example. But the most interesting is the display about the big Chilean mining accident in 2010, that trapped 33 miners 700m underground for over two months - all were rescued. This is the "rescue capsule" that was used to pull them out one by one. It is a very emotionally charged display - hard to go through and not get chocked up watching the footage when they pulled them out to safety.
Not much in the way of noticeable protest activity in Santa Cruz - and the graffiti was more ... something.
Leaving Santa Cruz, looking back into the valley, and the end of our time in wine country, at least until we return north after Ushuaia.
Lookout over Colchagua valley - and some not so nice graffiti regarding the president. So there were some signs of protests.
From Santa Cruz we got back on the Panamerican (Rt 5) and headed south to Chillán (Hotel Cañada). One full day of riding on the freeway (it is just like a US interstate) made us decide we needed to get off of that, and so the next day we veered to the east and the coast, going through Concepcion and then south along the coast for a ways, staying at a hostel inland on Lake Lalalhue (Ecolodge Lanalhue Hostel). From there we took the long way to Temuco (Hostal Callejon Massmann), and then on to Motocamp in Pucón. Motocamp comes up a lot in ride reports covering Patagonia - it is a camp and hostel made and run by motorcyclists, for motorcyclists, and it shows in every detail.
From what I've read about Motocamp, I expected to meet other riders there, but we were the only ones there! Turns out we were early - their season really kicks off after Christmas, and they were closing the next day for a week. Was still a nice stay (beautiful location!) and maybe we'll stop there again on our way back in a few months, and if so hopefully meet up with some other riders then.
Walking back from dinner in Chillán, we ran into a protest starting up.
Protest signs on a college in Chillán, right off the town square.
Ecolodge Lanalhue Hostel - it was situated up on a hill, and was just a beautiful place to stay. We were the only ones there - the owner doesn't even live here, so we were truly the only ones.
Pretty bird at the Ecolodge.
Enjoying some Colchagua valley wine on the deck of the Ecolodge.
The Ecolodge was so remote, and the moon would not be out, so I realized there should be good stargazing opportunities. I dug out the tripod for my camera (which I've almost ditched several times - but when I have used it I am glad I have it!) and with the camera on the tripod, I used the remote control app on my phone to take some 15 to 30 second exposures to try and get this - the Southern Cross! My camera is nothing fancy - not an SLR. It is a Sony HX400 "bridge camera" and does a great job. I love this picture
Driving through the mountains from Lake Lnalhue to Temuco, the sides of the roads were ablaze in yellow due to this flouring shrub. Do not know the name - reminded me of Forsythia, a bush that blooms yellow as soon as the snow starts to melt in upstate NY where we used to live. But I'm sure this is not the same - climate here is "costal" and reminded us very much of the area along Hwy 1 north of San Francisco up to the Redwoods. Lots of logging operations along this route.
We stopped to get a closer look at the yellow blooms.
Heading further inland on the way to Temuco, we got into the "amber waves of grain" farmland - endless acres of wheat fields. These fields are still mostly green - but we saw plenty of amber fields about ready to harvest.
On the way to Motocamp - Volcan Villarrica.
Our bikes were lonely at the Motocamp!
I wonder how many trip reports have this picture - I know I've seen it a few times. My oldest son, Caniel, is an avid home brewer, and he has his own keg and tap setup, with a modified freezer that he hacked to maintain beer temps. So when I sent him a picture of this - he did not geek out over the Kawasaki engine body, the radiator drip pan or the wrench tap pulls - no - he sends me back a response saying "Cool - variable flow taps. Those are nice!" How you see it depends on your hobby I guess!
The last one of these we saw was at the Bolivian/Argentinian border, and we've knocked quite a few km's off the total, but still - 1748km is a long way to go!
There is a huge (HUGE) deck that overlooks the river - this is only part of it. The Motocamp is designed to handle large groups, and to do so well.
Motocamp has a bit of beach on the river. I was going to go fishing, but their fishing pole that they loan out was broken :-(
Everywhere you look there are "motorcycle details", like these handles on the doors to the dorms. Carol sleeping in the background - just noticed that! Hope she doesn't mind :-0
Carlos and (we think it was) Lena, who made us feel very much at home and welcomed as guests, even though we were the only ones, and despite the fact that they were trying to close things down for their one week of "summer vacation" before their busy season starts. They work for the owner - who we did not get to meet.
When we woke up the next morning at the Motocamp, Carol found that she was suffering from vertigo. She has had problems with this for about 10 years after a virus did some damage to her inner ear - almost any time she gets a cold or congestion for whatever reason, she gets vertigo. It has happened two or three times on this trip, and we just stop and wait it out. Since they were closing for their vacation week, we couldn't stay there, so we got a hotel at nearby Villarrica, which is a town right on the lake by same name. It was only a 45 minute drive, and we took it real slow. Every speed bump we hit I heard her "oh!" over the intercom, and she told me "I'm telling myself that the bike is going straight and is not spinning around!" We got to the hotel in early afternoon and she took some decongestants and felt good enough to walk around the lake with me, and today (hey look, I'm updating in real time for a change!) she felt much better, and we took a kayak out on the lake.
Assuming she feels up to it in the morning, we will leave tomorrow, headed to Orsono, where we are going to do some moto shopping at Motoaventura Chile, a big motorcycle accessory shop. My Alpinstar boots were new when I left, but I don't think they are going to make it to Ushuaia (Carol replaced her's in Santiago) and we need new visors for our helmets, which I've ordered in advance. Also, they have a Puig windscreen that fits Carol's BMW F700GS, and we are going to take a look at that. The Givi that she has now produces some nasty turbulence right at the top of her helmet, and it shakes her head, aggravating her vertigo symptoms when they are a problem. I'm hoping the Puig will be better - we'll see.
Afternoon after leaving the Motocamp and checking into our hotel. I'm holding her close so she doesn't fall over, lol! She was able to walk in a straight line for the most part. The weather turned gorgeous, and the views of the volcan from the waterfront are stunning.
This bird is very common - I don't know the name, but it reminds me of what in California we call a "Killdeer" (due to the sound it makes). This bird, like a Killdeer, lays it's eggs on the ground, and if you get near a nest, it makes a racket and tries to draw you away from the nest, just like a Killdeer.
Artwork on the storm wall at the lake front.
With a view like this you end up taking way to many pictures I probably had 50, but I trimmed that down to about 10 keepers. This is at sunset, and the sun has already set at lakeside, but it is still shinning on the volcan.
Steam rising out of the caldera. This volcano is very active, and erupts every few decades - the last one of significance was in 2015. In 1971, ~15 people in Pulcón and Villarrica died from the hydrogen sulfide gas stemming from an eruption.
Kayak rental at the lake.
Earlier this afternoon! It was a beautiful day - temps in the 70's, very little wind.
It is Christmas time - even though it doesn't feel like it to me, being summer. I enjoy the cultural things that are the same as much as the ones that are different; this was a line of gift wrapping booths in downtown Villarrica, supporting various charities, similar to what you'd find in the US at this time of year. And with only 3 more shopping days left ... the stores were crowded with shoppers.
So .. we were trying to figure out; "Will we make it to Patagonia by the end of the year?" when we discovered that we are technically already in Patagonia! Steak dinner, and for me, 7 yr aged Cuban rum to celebrate. Carol went with her new favorite Pisco sour. Patagonia!
Thank you for sharing your trip here. Love the pics and storylines.
At retirement age it takes a lot of courage for most of us to stop saving, and start spending. You're helping me decide to get over that hump. Cheers!
Indeed! It is like jumping off a cliff - I know what you mean. I had a financial plan in place for years (with this trip as the end goal), with targets that we met and financial models that showed that we'd be ok (I use Personal Capital - an free online financial tool - quite happy with it). But still it was a leap (at least for me) to say "I'm going to stop receiving a paycheck". And now that I'm a year and a half into retirement, it no longer seems scary! But I remember the feeling at the time.
Glad you are along for the ride as it were, and are enjoying the trip report. It is encouraging to hear that - helps motivate me to continue the effort.
I mapped out a scenic route from Villarrica to Osorno that minimized the amount of time on Rt 5, the Panamerican "freeway" (not "highway" - it is like an interstate freeway here in Chile). Google kept trying to say "this way (Rt 5) is faster!" but I thought I had it all settled to direct us via scenic-but longer route. But after half an hour or so riding on beautiful back-road highways, it dumped us onto the Panamerican, way sooner than I had planned. I still don't know exactly how that happened, but I'm sure it involved operator error some way or the other!
I had the route (the scenic one) downloaded to my NAV VI, but it has been flaking out on me recently and I wasn't able to follow it because was doing this thing where the display keeps randomly changing screens. This is happening more and more recently, and appears (from some threads on various forums) to be a known issue that probably cannot be resolved short of returning it to Garmin, which isn't going to happen on this trip. So I'm pretty much stuck to using my phone from here on out, which works well enough. Main thing with the Nav VI is the display is so much easier to see. I did upgrade the firmware today - I'll see if that has any effect when we ride tomorrow.
In any case, we did pass through some beautiful scenery, and in the end the shorter-than-planned route may have been a blessing; Carol's was pretty much but not 100% over the vertigo issue, and she admitted that she was glad when we arrived because her eyes were starting to bother her a bit.
We came to Orsono to stop at Motoadventura, which is a great motorcycle rental, repair and accessories shop that was recommended to us by one of the mechanics at Dos Ruedas in Santiago. They had easily the best selection of gear we have seen in any store since we left the states. We got new visors for our helmets (wow - forgot what it was like to look through a clear visor!) and I got new boots. We considered getting a Puig windscreen for Carol's F700, but then we read that it would interfere with her Barkbusters hand guards. We were considering maybe trying the clip-on deflector that I see on some peoples rigs, but the salesman at Motadventura actually talked us out of it based on the screen design on Carol's Givi windscreen. We've made it almost 17,000 miles as is, and Carol figures she can make it the rest of the way with it.
The countryside here continues to remind us of New England in the summer. I think anyone from that part of the USA could come here and feel "at home", except for the reversal of seasons and the language! I may have said this before, but I really feel like here in Argentina and especially Chile we are on a "different trip" than the "other trip" we did from Mexico to Bolivia. The society is so western by comparison, and the geography so familiar; parts of it like California and the Pacific Northwest, others like New England, but all familiar (to me at least). It is like we were transported to another continent, and that "other trip" is a disconnected memory.
This is on the back roads before Google put us back on the Panamerican.
That is Carol in the lead. This was beautiful - we would have had another hour of this if Google hadn't insisted on getting us to the freeway :-(
This is on the Panamerican, Rt 5. It was not a horrible ride by any means, but the back road route was really nice and hard to compete with. A freeway is a freeway, even if it is going through beautiful scenery, you don't feel as connected to it as you do on a good back road.
Saw several billboards for Stihl power tools. Just seemed like Pennsylvania or upstate NY - would expect to see the same advertisement there!
Merry Christmas to me! Nicest boots (or at least most expensive boots) I've ever owned. Was impressed they carried such a high-end brand at Motoadventura. And pricing was basically same as if I had purchased then from Revzilla. Up until now I was wearing a pair (new at start of trip) of Alpinstar Web boots that had served me well, but I had just about worn through the toe on both feet. I'm not sure what I do that causes that - I don't drag my toes going around corners, at least not often! In any case, I expect I'll be good for the rest of this trip and more with these Daytonas.
Superb pics and narrative, Jim & Carol The auto clutch is remarkable... I have a DCT Africa Twin and I can't imagine riding with a plain jane manual again as I had done for over 30 years! Keep it up and congrats on reaching Patagonia!
Merry Christmas! You’re in deep now :))