Xplore2Gether - California to Ushuaia

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by JimsBeemer, Mar 6, 2019.

Tags:
  1. Rippin209

    Rippin209 Long timer

    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2015
    Oddometer:
    3,264
    Location:
    Los Banos CA
    Just ran across your ride report and I'm not up to date but so far it looks great, awesome to see a couple out there having an adventure together.

    Have fun and stay safe
    JimsBeemer likes this.
  2. Davidprej

    Davidprej Davidprej Supporter

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2012
    Oddometer:
    879
    Location:
    Lafayette, LA
    This is a good one. Great writing with a little different insight than others. And, as a novice off roader, to see 'The Mrs.' handle everything thrown at her is encouraging.
    JimsBeemer and Rippin209 like this.
  3. JimsBeemer

    JimsBeemer 2017 R1200GSA Supporter

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2014
    Oddometer:
    709
    Location:
    San Jose, CA
    Thanks - and glad to have you along. I am constantly aware of how lucky I am to have my wife riding with me. We have met a few other women riders, but clearly they are few in relative number, and fewer yet are over 60! We both agree that sharing this experience together has been huge, and I can't imagine having done it otherwise.

    Thanks! FWIW - we were pretty much novices off road, when we started. I'm getting to like it! Carol - not so much :-) But she has improved tremendously, and she gets it done when that's what we have to do. We have made friends with some other riders who go out of their way to find the dirt path - that's not us. But there is almost no way to do this trip and see the places we've seen without hitting the dirt path from time to time.
    95Monster, Rippin209 and Davidprej like this.
  4. JimsBeemer

    JimsBeemer 2017 R1200GSA Supporter

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2014
    Oddometer:
    709
    Location:
    San Jose, CA
    Here are some pictures from our "detour" that avoided Rt 40 between Gobernador Gregores and Tres Lagos. I took a geo-tagged Go Pro photo where the asphalt came to an end on 288, and based on that we rode 80 miles on the unpaved section of 288 (which remains unpaved until it joins 40 just before Tres Lagos), compared to t he 40 miles we would have done on Rt 40. But the road was, I think, a very different quality road.

    I think if it was just myself, I would have gone Rt 40. But I think the way we went, though long, was probably the better choice for Carol, so I'm still pleased with the decision.

    DSC07382.JPG
    Our cabaña in Gobernador Gregores - Cabañas Sanvin. GG is not a "destination" other than a place to stay along the way, but this was a very nice stay. We stayed an extra day due to weather forecast. Reasonable internet, full kitchen, grocery store nearby.
    GOPR8234.JPG
    Google decided to route us (needlessly I might add) out of Gobernador Gregores to Rt 27 via this pretty good dirt road. That's Carol in front, like a pro.
    GOPR8243.JPG
    Once we got onto Rt 27 - it was a great road. Good pavement, and almost zero traffic (I think we counted 7 vehicles other than us the entire way to 288). We got on the road a little after 7:00 AM, and the winds were not bad at all - it was a nice ride. Reminded me of Hwy 50 in Nevada.
    DSC07396.JPG
    And along the way, we saw this family of Rhea! This is the first time we have seen them on our trip. Turns out it is like waiting to see your first bison as you enter Yellow Stone -after a while it is just another bison - there were quite a few Rhea on this route.
    GOPR8254.JPG
    Carol "booking it"down Rt 27. It is an interesting bit of rider psychology: On a road like this - if I am in the lead and I get above 65, Carol will say (over our intercom) "can you slow down a little?" But if she is in the lead ... she'll do 75+ mph! She is aware of this dichotomy. My theory is that when you are following, you have more to take care of, mentally. She never stops leading even if she is behind - she is always looking ahead of me for traffic and/or obstacles, often telling me about them before it has registered with me. Honestly, she is a better rider than me in that regard - I tend to zone out and just "cruise". And in addition, riding behind, she has to pay attention to me - how fast I'm going, etc. But if she is in front, she only has to worry about the one thing - the road in front of her. In any case, if it is a good straight road with no traffic - we have come to the agreement that she takes the lead!
    DSC07413.JPG
    This is at the junction of 27 and 288. We stopped to rest - Carol often lays down when we stop to rest, she says it makes a big difference. I have learned the phrase "Ella está descansando" (she is resting) to reassure passer-byes when they stop to see if she needs help!
    GOPR8263.JPG Not long after the 27/288 intersection, the pavement came to an end.
    GOPR8264.JPG
    Then 288 turned from "asfalto" to "ripio" - pretty much like this, a little less gravel even, the entire 80 miles.
    DSC07420.JPG
    Carol, now behind, on 288. You get a sense here of how desolate this stretch of road is.

    DSC07418.JPG
    Lots and lots of Guanaco on this route.

    DSC07425.JPG
    iOverlander mentioned this set of abandoned buildings as a campsite - we stopped her for a rest. The building blocked the wind, which was continuing to build throughout the day.
    20200111_213134.jpg
    And we made it! Our motorcycles in the side yard at the Hosteria Tres Largos. From Gobernador Gregores to here: 170 miles, 80 of those on un-paved 288, a bit over 6 hours total trip time, ~4 hours "in the saddle"

    Attached Files:

    95Monster, jowul, AngusMcL and 3 others like this.
  5. JimsBeemer

    JimsBeemer 2017 R1200GSA Supporter

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2014
    Oddometer:
    709
    Location:
    San Jose, CA
    We are now in El Chaltén, and the internet is really bad. Several sources state that the internet for the entire town is via satellite connection to El Calfate, a single connection run by one company, shared by every hotel in town. It took me a long time (hours) to upload the photos for that last post - I think I will wait until we get to El Calafate before I update more. But today we road (two up - on my bike) 20 miles of dirt road to get to a lake, then took a boat to get to a trail, and hiked up to the base of a glacier. It was awesome. We ate lunch watching condors soar over the tops of the mountains - I have pictures! But will be a few days; we plan to stay here for another three days before moving on to El Calafate.
  6. MrMac

    MrMac Long timer Supporter

    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2007
    Oddometer:
    2,363
    Location:
    Dacula, Ga.
    That's interesting! My wife (who has the exact same bike as Carol, sans Recluse!) does the same thing!
  7. Turkeycreek

    Turkeycreek Gringo Viejo

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2010
    Oddometer:
    3,359
    Location:
    Banámichi, Sonora, Mexico
    Mi esposa también.
    MrMac likes this.
  8. Davidprej

    Davidprej Davidprej Supporter

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2012
    Oddometer:
    879
    Location:
    Lafayette, LA
    "...we have come to the agreement that she takes the lead!"
    Ha! You are a wise, and very lucky, man!
  9. Big Spag

    Big Spag ONESPEED

    Joined:
    May 5, 2009
    Oddometer:
    128
    Location:
    Fredericksburg, TX

    Great ride! My wife and I are leaving for Colombia to Tierra next December. If you get back in the states, would love to have coffee with you to get some ideas for our trip. Safe travels.
    95Monster and JimsBeemer like this.
  10. JimsBeemer

    JimsBeemer 2017 R1200GSA Supporter

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2014
    Oddometer:
    709
    Location:
    San Jose, CA
    We experienced a major milestone today: We started our trip exactly one year ago! January 16, 2019 we pulled away from our rental home in Hollister, CA and headed south. We didn't enter Mexico until February 1, so that's another milestone coming up - one year out of country. Not to special, but interesting enough; the trip meter I started when we left turned 18,000 miles just as we arrived at our hotel. Lots of miles, lots of days - seems strange that we are nearing the end.

    We rode today from El Chaltén to El Calafate in some pretty strong winds, but unlike fellow advrider OhioDanimal (you should check out his ride report if you are not already following), we managed to stay upright :-) But also unlike him, we did not ride in the wind on the deep gravel sections of Rt 40 - great description of that also in his ride report.

    But in our ride report, all was windy but asfalto (asphalt) and we got to El Calafate quickly (~4 hrs with lunch stop). We will spend four nights here - we have reservations for a hike on the Perito Moreno glacier two days from now, and we will do some other hikes (Cerro Cristal - we think). But we will also take time to catch up on some "housekeeping" (finances, trip report, etc) as well as recuperate from the four straight days of trekking we did in El Chaltén - we aren't as young as we used to be and we feel that reality in our sore muscles and, for carol, her knees. Our time in El Chaltén culminated in an epic 13+ mile hike to Lagos de los Tres, which is at the foot of Mt. FitzRoy, the iconic peak of this region of Patagonia. It is often hidden in the clouds, and had been so every day we were there up until day of our hike (our last full day there) - and we were blessed to have an incredible view of the mountain. We were not originally even going to be there that day; we extended our stay by one day due to the wind forecast, and that extra day is what gave us this view.

    I'll post more photos in next few days, now that we have reasonable internet, but here are a couple of pictures from our Mt. FitzRoy hike.

    DSC07705.JPG
    DSC07767.JPG
    95Monster, jowul, Cal and 6 others like this.
  11. JimsBeemer

    JimsBeemer 2017 R1200GSA Supporter

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2014
    Oddometer:
    709
    Location:
    San Jose, CA
    We're would love to do that. If we air freight to Houston (one of several options), it could happen!
  12. RidewithAB

    RidewithAB Just Ride! Supporter

    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2013
    Oddometer:
    418
    Location:
    Dallas, TX
    any chance of posting some GPS tracks? thanks, love the report! ...AB
    JimsBeemer likes this.
  13. Davidprej

    Davidprej Davidprej Supporter

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2012
    Oddometer:
    879
    Location:
    Lafayette, LA
    I am very intrigued by your travel pace. Ride for a day or two, but then stay for 2 or 3 days in one place to explore and rest. This is what I was thinking of doing and your ride is strongly reinforcing that strategy. If one is not on a time constraint, what's the point of riding every day? Although, I realize that not everyone has the luxury of unlimited time, so to each their own. Keep up the fun and keep us updated when you can. Although I think I can speak for most of us following by saying that we know what a commitment the updates are, so - first priority is to enjoy the ride, second is to update us Advrider inmates.
    JimsBeemer and ScotsFire like this.
  14. JimsBeemer

    JimsBeemer 2017 R1200GSA Supporter

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2014
    Oddometer:
    709
    Location:
    San Jose, CA
    Yes! If you check our shared Garmin map, it is fairly straightforward for me to upload any of the tracks you see on that as a GPX file.

    https://us0-share.inreach.garmin.com/Xplore2Gether

    If I was given a date or range of dates that are of interest, I would be happy to upload the corresponding GPS track. Here is the track for our "detour" from Gobernador Gregores to Tres Lagos, avoiding Rt 40.

    Attached Files:

  15. JimsBeemer

    JimsBeemer 2017 R1200GSA Supporter

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2014
    Oddometer:
    709
    Location:
    San Jose, CA
    The main point is the lack of a time constraint, as you have said. Not having a hard "must be finished by .." date has allowed us to take our time, and we are so thankful for that. Carol in particular does not have the riding stamina to do the long days in the saddle I read about in other ride reports, which has been a positive thing in that it has forced us to travel more slowly, stopping in places others might ride on through, and then, again, having the time to stay longer if we want.

    Thanks for your comments re: priorities and acknowledgment of the effort to keep the ride report updated! I am happy to do it to share with others, but also so that I will be able to look back on it later and remember. That is why it sometimes stylistically tends towards a travel diary, because I'm recording thoughts I want to read later and remember, in addition to places recorded in photographs, all of which I'm happy to share.
    95Monster, Rippin209, jowul and 2 others like this.
  16. JimsBeemer

    JimsBeemer 2017 R1200GSA Supporter

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2014
    Oddometer:
    709
    Location:
    San Jose, CA
    We had filled up our Giant Loop gas bags back in Gobernador Gregores, just to be safe. We were running low on gas and cash as we left Tres Lagos. The one and only ATM machine in that town was out of cash, and the YPF gas station only took cash. Our range was significantly reduced due to the winds - we both lost nearly 10 mpg over what we usually get (we always reset the average mpg gauge as well as a trip meter when we fill up).

    Needing gas but low on cash, I decided we were carrying two gallons of gas in the bladders - we might as well use it. My R1200GSA was going to make it there, but Carol's F700GS, even with the auxiliary Camel tank, was going to come up about 30 miles short. I read somewhere that it is not good to let a modern fuel injected motorcycle totally run out of gas if you can help it, so about 10 miles before I calculated she'd be on fumes, we pulled over and emptied one of the two gas bags into her tank, which got her easily into town.

    That anecdote is more or less a plug for the Giant Loop gas bag - this is the first time we have used them the entire trip. And we have carried them all this way particularly for Patagonia, which is the only place I really expected us to need them (but if I had not installed the Camel tank on the F700GS, we would have used them several times by now). The great thing about this product is that when you don't need it, it rolls up to a very small package and is easy to stow away. Awesome.

    When we got to El Chaltén we found that the YPF station there also only took cash - but the ATM machine was dispensing. Word to the wise - down here, load up on cash when you can! The ATM fee's are exorbitant, but my Charles Schwab account refunds those. We read that you should expect to pretty much pay cash for evertying in El Chaltén, but we found that the restaurants we went to took either credit or debit card, and our hotel also. But the gas station, grocery store, and I'm sure others only take cash - even if they have a Visa sign on their front door (was situation at grocery store)!

    DSC07431.JPG
    We strapped the gas bag to the top of one of our side pannier using Rok straps. The bags come with lots of Mole loops. And the fabric loops at either end (loop Carol is holding in this picture) cleverly fit into the latch of our pannier lid, so that when the lid is locked, the bag is also locked down. Carol gets the credit for figuring this out.

    DSC07433.JPG I have a collapsible silicone funnel (green in photo) that I have used for oil changes and now, filling up the the gas tank. Main gas tank on the F700/800 is under the seat, for those not familiar.

    20200116_104403.jpg
    When the gas bag is empty, it rolls up this small. It does not come with the velcro strap - that is my addition.
  17. Denro

    Denro Adventurer

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2009
    Oddometer:
    18
    Location:
    New Brunswick Canada
    Thank you for sharing your you're beautiful adventure!
    JimsBeemer likes this.
  18. JimsBeemer

    JimsBeemer 2017 R1200GSA Supporter

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2014
    Oddometer:
    709
    Location:
    San Jose, CA
    Day one in El Chaltén (date stamp, January 13, 2020) we checked into our hotel, Pudu Lodge, and then did a short afternoon hike to a nearby waterfall, Chorillo del Salto. You can drive to it, but there is a nice trail that parallels the road and we needed to test our walking legs for the days to come.

    DSC07449.JPG
    The waterfall - and people. El Chaltén is said to be the trekking capitol of Patagonia, and it shows. You will not get that "alone in the wilderness" experience here, at least not during high season, which is when we find ourselves here.
    20200112_191705.jpg
    The short walk from town gives some great views up the Rio Las Vueltas, a river fed by glacial run-off. This is looking north, away from town.
    20200112_192022.jpg
    And same vantage point, looking south back towards El Chaltén.
    20200112_204836.jpg
    Argentina and beef - yes! You can get a great steak dinner for very little, and the quality is really good. That is a red pepper on my steak - not ketchup, btw! The best beef we've had on our trip was while we were "stuck" (due to protests) in Sucre, Bolivia. The restaurant was a recommendation from some other travelers in our hotel, and it was a hole in the wall, but we had this amazing grilled (parrilla) tenderloin (lomo). I assume it may have been imported Argentinian beef. But in any case - once you get into Argentina, it is not only safe to order steak again (not necessarily true in say Perú!), but it will usually be really good steak.
    jowul and Davidprej like this.
  19. JimsBeemer

    JimsBeemer 2017 R1200GSA Supporter

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2014
    Oddometer:
    709
    Location:
    San Jose, CA
    Day 2 in El Chaltén: We went on an expedition to the Glaciar Huemel. This involved riding (two-up on my bike) ~20 miles down on a dirt road (Rt 23), then getting on a boat to get across Lago Desierto, then you have four hours to do the hike up to the glacier overlook, and back. It was more than enough time - we ended up back at the boat dock an hour early - should have stayed at the glacier longer! One nice thing about this trek was that because the number of people on the trail is constrained by the size of the boat that you have to take to get there, there are relatively few people.

    DSC07474.JPG
    On the boat going across Lake Desierto to get to the trail.
    DSC07475.JPG
    On the boat ride, we saw Andean Condors soaring over the glaciated peaks
    DSC07472.JPG
    Extreme zoom to verify - yep, it is a condor. The white "collar" around the neck, which you can just barely make out here, is a tell-tale sign.
    20200113_113146.jpg
    The Huemul glacier. This is as close as you get on this trek. It is more impressive in person than the pictures capture.

    vlcsnap-2020-01-19-18h22m33s043.png
    I have a pair of compact binoculars that I brought with us at the last moment, and they have been so nice to have. Especially watching birds (here we watched the condors) is very nice. They are 10x 65-deg wide-field optic. The mag is a bit high - you need to steady yourself. But I wish my camera at comparable zoom had the field of view these binoculars do!


    DSC07535.JPG
    This is peak melt run-off season, and the trail had some wooden bridges that were completely underwater, so we had to jump!


    20200113_121639.jpg

    DSC07553.JPG
    On the trail back to the boat dock (it is a loop - you do not go back same way you came), we came to this random fire extinguisher in the middle of the forest, which is so strange! What good is that unless a fire happens to randomly start exactly where the fire extinguisher is? I was really curious, so when we got back I asked the ranger-lady, "Porque hai un extintor de fuego en el medio de bosque"?!" which I think translates to "why is there a fire extinguisher in the middle of the forest?! She rolled her eyes and in that rapid Spanish that the Argentinians and Chileans use, tried to explain to me - and I didn't get most of it, but enough to understand that it had to do with their having the yurt at the dock (sort of a warming hut) where they served hot coffee, and government regulations. That makes sense - government regulations requiring a loan fire extinguisher at a random location (not near the yurt, mind you) in the middle of the forest - that I understand.
    DSC07559.JPG
    This is the boat that took us to and from the trail.
    DSC07577.JPG
    From El Chaltén, you have to ride (or take a bus) on this dirt road (continuation of Rt 23, same road that brings you into El Chaltén). It is a nice ride, good road and some great views along the way. There were a lot of bridges to cross like this, and you really needed to ride on one side or the other with the three board track, because there were missing planks in some places. I took it as a challenge to ride the center of three boards all the way across. The training we did in Guatemala with Jose Pinto taught me how to do that; one of the training exercises was to jump up on and ride the length of a ~10' 4x4. It is all about practicing "look where you want to go", not "where you are", and certainly not "where you do not want to be"!
    jowul and Davidprej like this.
  20. JimsBeemer

    JimsBeemer 2017 R1200GSA Supporter

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2014
    Oddometer:
    709
    Location:
    San Jose, CA
    Day 3 in El Chaltén, we decided to hike to a mirador (overlook, lookout) that was supposed to have views of a glacier. About 2/3 of the way there, Carol's knee was starting to ache, and we still had a good climb ahead of us to get to the mirador. Since the next day we were planning a LONG hike to the base of Mt. FitzRoy, we decided she would go back and ice her knee and I went on alone. It was a cloudy, drizzly day, and once I got to the mirador, you could just barely see the glacier and some of the mountains behind it. I could tell that if it had been a clear day, it would have been a stunning view, but as it was, it was was a nice walk, but not so much to see at the end. As I can tell from reading and talking to others, this is what to expect at least 50% of the time when you are in Patagonia - it is not clear and sunny as a rule.

    DSC07579.JPG
    All around El Chaltén the hillsides are covered with this yellow-ish blooming bush, and it looks so "soft" - but I learned the hard way that it is a thorn bush! As we were walking, I put my hand down on one of these to feel the softness of the blooms and was rewarded with jab in my palm.
    DSC07581.JPG
    This hike quickly afforded nice views of El Chaltén This is just starting up the trail, looking north. The view here is of just the northern most part of the town, which is where our hotel was (it is somewhere in this photo).
    DSC07591.JPG
    We've enjoyed (as is clear I'm sure from my posts) the various birds we've seen along our our way. This guy was really colorful.
    DSC07592.JPG
    View of El Chaltén, looking south.

    DSC07599.JPG
    My reward for my efforts! There is a glacier in the background, surrounded by majestic mountains. Trust me.

    DSC07604.JPG
    The glacier fed this river which was flowing fast and hard with glacial melt, with that special glacial melt color. A sort of grayish light green.