7CBROWN

7CBROWN

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Chile is… Appropriate.

24 February 2012

Villarrica, Chile (lake district)

53 miles

Yesterday was so nice here so we decided to stay another day to enjoy the sunshine and the beach! Every time we say this It ends up raining and cold and this time was no different! Dark clouds, wind and rain all day. made the best of it. Put our rain gear on and found some warm drinks and still hung out on the beach. Still got wet, just in a different way then expected.

Chinese circus was in town so we went and dried out under the Big Tent. Always entertaining in every country.

The storm did not calm down in the night. Rained, blew and thundered like mad all night long. We stayed dry in the tent but it was a restless night due to the fierce wind.

25 February 2012

Villarrica, Chile (Lake district)

12 miles Dry out day!

We went to town to pull everything out and hang dry it in a nice dry cabana for the day. We have found that in most of the towns we visit in Chile the Cabanas are cheaper than the hotel rooms. Much bigger with fully stocked kitchen so cooking is much nicer compared to our one burner unleaded fuel stove (on the bathroom floor), and the meals more colorful.

26 February 2012 CELEBRATE LIFE! HAPPY BIRTHDAY SMELLIN!

“Who the ell is Hellen”

Conaripe, Chile (lake district)

85 miles HOT SPRINGS.

More rain today so we wanted to take advantage of the MANY hot springs here. So many due to the numerous active volcanoes in the area. Beautiful setting. Lush forests and waterfalls. Some natural pools built right along the river and some wooden pools (think a bigger boat box friends). Really beautiful setting to bad all the pools were just a little cooler than bath water and the rain did not help. We did not stay to long. We got out and put our rain gear back on to go try to find a spot to dry out again. Again we found a Cabana. Wood stove this time and dried EVERYTHING out so nicely. AAWWWH!

27 February 2012

125 miles

Osorno, Chile

After many days of the KLR shooting star running a little rough. Dying while stopping, would not idle with out giving it a lot of gas, missing out and just running rough. Not shooting, but more like farting. We knew we needed to give her a little love. OK a lot of love. Oil change. Valve adjustment. Spark plug. Fuel filter. If all that doesn’t help we need to find more love. We wanted to get to a little bigger city just in case we needed some more supplies or help. We have been in small tourist towns for the past week. On our way to the bigger city climbing a small incline, cruising on the freeway the shooting star blew out some black smoke, slowing down and popping. She made it to the top of the hill, pulled over and she died… After a couple of minutes of heart pumping and kicking she started up again. We coasted down to the town below in the middle of nowhere. No hotels no services. We found a gas station with a cover(as it was raining,of course) and started pulling her apart. I really don’t like it, nothing I can do. Adjust the valves which are all tight, Pull out the spark plug and it is so corroded. maybe with a little salt?!?! (WOW that was a really great time out on the salt flats in BOLIVIA) Put a new plug in her. Piece her back together. She fires right up and sounds so much better, so much better. She is as good as new. Ride to the next town, in the rain, and find a dry spot for the night right before dark. Oh the adventure of it all. Never know what is going to happen around the corner or over the hill. As is life. gotta go with it, breath and go your own way.

28 February 2012

Ensenada, Chile

88 miles

Started riding just in time with the rain today. Found a nice cabana on the lake. Dried out again. Changed the oil in both bikes. We have a small problem now. Camille’s Shooting Start has a “somewhat” stripped out oil drain screw. We put plumbers tape around the screw thread and for now it’s not leaking. We now have to find a helicoil for it. It needs to be addressed before we hit the desolate hwy. 40 in Argentina. We will try to fix it really soon. They are running smooth now though. About 28907 on the bikes and 4141 since we left Cusco Peru 2 months ago. still headed south, still raining and still loving every moment as wet as it might be. Love the adventure.

P1040623 Our sweet camp spot on the lake BEFORE it started raining.

P1040650 Our way to the hot spring BEFORE it started raining.

P1040652 Our work shop. With a little dry patch to work.

P1040655 YUP> Out with the old in with the new.

P1040656 Oil change in the sand and it stopped raining for a little while. SWEET.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Welcome to Chile

 

20 Feb. 2012

Cacheuta Argentina-Rio Blanco 160 miles

Today we found our way to the border.  Which by the way was pretty confusing to say the least. Along the way we passed the highest peak in the southern hemisphere , as well as the western hemisphere.  Aconcagua 6960 meters HIGH.  It was a clear day and we could see just about the entire mountain except for the very top.  What a beautiful day it was today.  Clear sky's and big big peaks.  Oh how we love the mountains.  The boarder is at the top of the pass and Wow! it must                 be the most beautiful border so far. We just chilled in line with all the cars and flew Camille’s Kite while waiting in line.  We actually had to do the boarder procedures twice.  Don’t ask.  The borders are suppose to be easier than Central America right??  So far it really has not been any easier for us.  In Central both boarders are right next to each other and everything is close by.  Here you can cross into Argentina and not get stamped in for another 15 miles??

21 Feb. 2012

Rio Blanco- San Fernando Chile 180 miles

Today was Agriculture riding down the main hwy. of Chile. Hwy. 5. Grapes,Grapes,Apples,Apples,Peaches,Peaches, and so on.  Pretty flat and uneventful except for the fact that we are covering ground quick on this Hwy.  Which is exactly why we are here.  There are no roads that stay in the mountains here.  They all just go east to west up and over the Andes criss-crossing from Argentina to Chile or the long and fast freeway north to south.

22 Feb. 2012

San Fernando-Salto de Laja Chile 223 miles

More freeway riding again today.  Now the scenery is starting to change from fruits growing everywhere to huge tree farms for as far as the eye can see.  Still pretty flat.  The temps. are really good now though.  Its not hot anymore and the days are starting to get longer.  Tonight we camped on side of the Hwy. next to a little creek with some nice big shade trees.  Oh and it was free camping, or “squatting”.  This is nice because nothing is free or cheap down here.

23 Feb. 2012

Salto de Laja- Lago Villarrica Chile 190 miles

Well now the scenery is getting better.  The road is starting to get hilly with some turns.  Trees are everywhere now.  We have just started to enter what they refer to as the Lake District of Chile.  Today we have officially enter the Patagonia area.  The lake Villarrica is big and very beautiful.  There is a huge snow caped volcano in the, not so far, distance.  It’s “touristy” here for a reason. Its very nice.  Tonight we are at a pay campground with full  amenities,  We are right on the shores of the lake.  Camille prepared a beautiful dinner once again.  This one was with all local things. Redwine,Apples,Nectarines,cheese,crackers,basil,blueberries,and salami.  Wow it was so so delicious.  EAT LOCAL!

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Aconcagua 6,960 meters. The highest peak in the southern & western hemisphere

P1040589Argentina-Chile Boarder.

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P1040620Lake Camping.

P1040629Amazing fresh dinner.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Don’t cry for me Argentina

 

12 February 2012

250 miles

Villa San Agustin

It was a very hot and very boring ride today in the desert.  Hardly a turn in the road.  Just fighting not to fall asleep.  Today we pulled into town and caught the tail end of the biggest race of the year here in this desert town. Mountain bikes, Motorcycles, dune buggies, cars. everything was racing. We were  able to  see the last few cars finish.  It was a huge race.  so so many drunk people everywhere.

13 February 2012 

20 Miles

Villa San Agustin

This morning while loading up the shooting star I noticed a screw loose on my Luggage rack. stared to screw it in just to realize the thread from the inside was stripped. The hotel owner had a drill and after a little time found a bit to drill through the frame of the bike. We put an extra long screw through. It is solid now.

After we were done with that it was late and HOT so we decided to stay another day. We rode around the desert and checked out some petroglyphs that you can see from the road.

14 February 2012

San Juan, Argentina

147 Miles

Arrived in wine country today. Right out of desert country with nothing to grape vines everywhere. I’m pretty excited about this.

15 February 2012

San Juan Argentina

Paul has been sick for 3 nights in a row. Bathroom issues. When he got up this morning and stared packing to leave I told him to just go back to bed because we are not going anywhere until we go to a pharmacy and he gets better. I found him some drugs that worked through out the day and by evening he was doing much better.

16 February 2012 HAPPY BIRTHDAY PAUL!

Mendoza, Argentina

116 Miles

All Paul wanted for his birthday was a Argentinian Steak as big as his face and new tires, front and rear for the Honda.

  Finding  a tire shop that quoted us $400 USD for 3 tires and still  does not include instillation we kept looking. After checking a few more shops we found ALL tires are expensive here in Argentina and thought Chile would be even more expensive because everything else is in Chile.  We got the Honda new front and rear tires and the KLR just a new front tire at a cost of $380 USD. CRAZY!

We went out to celebrate Paul Birthday that night. We had a really late big lunch so that steak would have to wait. We found the busy night street with tables an chairs lining the sidewalk.  A great people watching spot. Sat down at the Irish pub and finally had some good Whisky! Happy Birthday Paul. We were celebrating!!

17 Feb. 2012    0 miles

Mendoza, Argentina

Today was a day for moto. Maintenance .  It was time to try and find some new rear wheel bearings and a rear brake line.  Yesterday someone told us where the Honda shop was, so that’s where we began.  Luckilly they did have my rear wheel bearings, but not the brake line.  Good the bearings are more important since the brake line has a slow leak and can still be manageable with a few pumps of the foot. The Honda shop sent us around the corner to the mechanic” Thulio”.  He was quite the character.  He had to tell us about every foriegners bike that he ever worked on.  A very high energy funny guy.  The first set of bearings from the shop was the wrong size.  So we both walked around the corner to exchange them.  The second set would not fit my old seals.  So off he went on his moto. to find yet another set.  Third times the charm.

Tonight we went out for my special b day dinner.  After some reserch we found where the best steak in the country was suppose to be. “Don Marios.”   I must say that the steak and the night was one of the nicest ever.  Try and eat a steak that is 2 inches thick.  No problem.  It really does just melt and come apart in your mouth. By far the best Steak of my life.  Cant forget the 2 bottles of really really great red wine.

18 Feb 2012

Maipu Argentina  40 miles

Today we had lunch in the middle of a beautiful vineyard under a huge shade tree.  After lunch we did a tour of the winery.  What a very informative tour.  I tried some white wine that was actually really good.  Luck would have it that we picked the vineyard that is all organic. They make a wine that is fully organic which has no added sulfides. so so tasty.

  Today we camped out at a camp ground right in the middle of vineyards.  They just told us at the vineyard that it rarely rains here in the desert.  Well around 2 am. it started raining.  It rained rained and rained hard most of the night.  At around 430 am. Camilles  motorcycle fell through the tent and onto me.  Ripped a big hole in the tent.  Lesson learned.  When putting your bike around the tent make sure it is leaning out.  Not IN!!  Everything including us was soaking wet!!

19 Feb. 2012

 

Cacheuta, Argentina 45 miles

A very small village with a huge hot springs resort.  It’s a holiday today and this place is so so busy we cant even fit into any of the pools that are hot.  We get into one that is not allowed for kids. Its just not hot either.  I turn up the hot water coming into the pool and we sit next to it for an hour.  We ride down the road just a bit and pull over to camp for the night.  I see someone go down to the river with a fishing rod.  I decide to go have a look along the river.  Once I reached the river bank I look down and to my surprise it’s the primitive hot pools that we have wanted all day long.  What are the odds that we camped right across the street from some sweet hot pools.YEah!!!

P1040439Da Race.

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P1040498Check this guys packing job out.

P1040506New Bearing!!

P1040516Best Steak EVER!

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P1040543Wine anyone??

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P1040570Glory Hole!!

P1040575This is why the Steaks are so so GOOD here.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

One last Day in Bolivia

 

     8-2-12  Tupazi , Boliva 23 miles Dirt

     Well on the map that bounced of the bike the other day it said that Tupazi was a pleasant town.  I would have to agree.  We decided to stay another day here and enjoy the swimming pool and things.  Today we rode up some dried river beds and dirt roads.  The scenery here is so beautiful we had to go explore some of it before heading onto Argentina.  Red rocks and Balanced rocks are everywhere.  If this was in the states it would for sure be a National Park area.  We found a swweet spot for lunch under a large thorn tree.  Crazy thing happened.  It started raining late at night and it rained all all night long.  That’s the first time we have seen the rain come down for hours and hours.  Usually its short showers.  The next day those dried river beds were raging rivers that you could boat down.

9-2-12 Tupazi-Humahuaca Argentina 160 miles

     Today was boarder day.  We try and figure its going to take up most of our day.  A couple of guys we met last week told us it took them 7 hours here.  It turns out we were only here for 1 hour.  Everyone is going the opposite way of us.  They all want to get into Bolivia and we want to get out. We arrived in a small village Humanhuaca.  Its actually a tourist town because of the red rock cliffs here.  Our first night in Argentina and our room actually has a heater???WOW!!

10-2-12 Humahuaca-Rosario de la Fronterra 240 miles of Hwy.

    Well it feels good today to finally be able to cover some ground.   I cant believe it!!  At the gas stations they also sell food,oil,and ice cold beer.  What a concept eh. Some people may not understand just how awesome this really is.  It saves you hours.  It is now so hot that we went from having heat in our room last night to now having A/C.  The rooms here are more expensive, but you usually do get more for your money.  Now we have been paying 30-45 dollars a night for a a room.  The room tonight is a small chalet out in the country.  We are starting to be able to tell that Argentina is much more together than any other country that we have visited thus far. Free filtered bottled water at the gas stations. WHAT??  Did I mention that the police don’t even stop you at any of the road blocks here so far.  I think the riding here is more dangerous than anywhere we have been so far.  The cars here absolutely fly, or go really really slow.  Its pretty dangerous when they fly by doing 80+ miles and hour.  Some cars are going 45 while others are doing 80+.  In the past we are just about the fastest thing on the roads.  Not so here!!!

11-2-12 Rosario de la Fronterra-valle de Catamarca 237 miles

     Now we are in very tropical climates.  Its almost 90 with tons of humidity.  Along the road today is mostly sugar cane fields mixed in with tobacco.  There is so so much sugar cane growing all over the Americas.  Huge barns with tobacco hanging up drying.  Toward the end of the day we did manage to get into a little different scenery.  Now it seems we are starting to enter grape and olive country.  so what do we do?  Yep buy some local Malbec Vino and cheese stuffed olives for our wonderful dinner that Camille prepared for us.  Our room tonight is the best so far.  Its actually a full cabin with kitchen and all.  It sure is nice to spread out all of our stuff for a change.

P1040405

P1040409

P1040410P1040419These are photo’s from our last day in Bolivia.  A nice day of river bed dirt bikes.

P1040425 At the Argentina boarder we saw for the first time how far it is to the end of the road.

P1040428 Northern  Argentina.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Potosi Mining, Salt Flats and Desert.

 

3 February 2012

0 miles

Potosi, Bolivia

Today we visited the some old mines of the “Magic Mountain” in Potosi Bolivia. An old silver mining town the\at used to be one of the wealthiest cities in the 1700’s. They have been mining this mountain for silver since then. It is still producing silver and being turned into swiss cheese, due to new tunnels still being created. We took a 5 hour tour of the mines, which 3 hours of it was in the mines. Miners are still working in there. They do not mind us being there for a couple of reasons. We brought them gifts. Coca Cola, Fanta soda and Coca leaves. They also like us to see the conditions they are working in to share with the rest of the world.  Underground in the dark, needless to say, is unsafe working conditions.   There is NO fresh air at all. Staying all day underground is a very tough job.  Their life expectancy is around 40.

We were a little nervous to take a tour inside the mine. Being underground for  3 hours was longer than either one of us thought we could take.. It is all mind over matter. Just remember to breath what little dusty oxygen there is. We had to at time crawl through tunnels; climb layers of ladders to get out of holes; and walk through clay and water. We really enjoyed the opportunity in the end. Happy to experience it and really see first hand what it is like inside an operating mine. Happy to make it safely out.

4 February 2012  0 miles

Today was a day of chores. Since getting gas is such a problem here we decided to start getting it the day before.  Cleaned the air filters today.  Bought some veggies for cooking dinner and breakfast.  Did a little laundry and a little blog updating. 

5 February 2012.

130 Miles

Potosi- Uyuni Bolivia

Beautiful ride today. Finally the rain clouds were all around us instead of right on top of us. Dropped down into the desert. Really beautiful landscape red rocks and cacti. Headed toward the Uyuni Salt Flats, the largest flats in the world.  You Can not get to Uyuni without riding dirt roads. It is the wet season so the dirt turned into slick mud in a lot of places. This is why we have dirt bikes, to have fun on the dirt. We have been really excited to see this place and ride out on it. When we arrived in town we meet 7 other motorcyclists, who just came back from a jeep tour because they did not want to bring there bikes on the salt due to the knee deep water at the entrance of the flats. We need to go see for ourselves.

6 February 2012

63 Miles of Dirt

Uyuni Salt Flats, Bolivia

Well we spent the first half of the day riding around for 3 hours trying to find the road to the salt flats.  At one point the clay road was so so slick Paul’s bike slid out as he flew over the handlebars into a nice roll.  Luckily it was soft clay with no cacti around and he and his bike were ok.  It is desert and flat out here and there are dirt roads going everywhere in every direction. Getting directions in Spanish does not really help us. After ducking inside out of the rain and hail storm and taking a good long look at Google Earth we found our way out there in the late afternoon. Sure enough there was a lot of water on the flats turning it into a Salt Lake. We could see dry salt only a few hundred yards away. We decided to walk through it to see how deep it is. If it goes past Paul’s knee we do not go. The water is right under and we decide to go for it. What a dream like feeling. It feels as though you are riding in the sky for the flats are reflecting the sky above and at the same time riding on top of a calm lake. You can ride as fast as you like for it is flat and smooth with nothing around for miles. Really glad we did it only wish we had more time out there. The sun was setting and we had to make it back to town for a good motorcycle wash. We found one with a serious high pressure hose for the big rigs. We were defiantly overcharged but we had no choice and it was worth it for the experience we had out there and we would do it all over again.

7 February 2012

153 Miles of Dirt

Uyuni- Tupazi Bolivia

Beautiful desert riding again today. Dirt, washboard road for 150 miles. We will never complain about the washboard in Idaho again. Every dirt road I’ve been on in Idaho is better than this one. Huge washboard here. Paul said his eyeballs were rattling.  Believe it or not this road is a Bolivian National hwy.  Only 10 percent of roads in Bolivia are paved. I’ve never seen any place that resembles Utah as much as southern Bolivia.  I’m not sure, but I am guessing that maybe this is the exact opposite parallel as Utah??  The landscape was so beautiful every bump,wash board, and river crossing was worth it.  One thing they don’t have in Utah was the Giant Condors soaring over the red rock cliffs!!

PICTURES

P1040257

Inside the Silver Mine in Potosi. Paul said “those look really heavy” I Told him to go try lift one for them. The miners did not mind actually they were happy to have a gringo help out.

P1040280  Climbing up a ladder out of the deep dark hole.

 

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 Cool desert picnic.

 

P1040349 MUD.

 

P1040371P1040372

Going for it at the salt flats.

 

GOPR0293GOPR0299

 

GOPR0318GOPR0322

We got a little salty. nothing too major but needs to be washed off before it starts corroding.

 

P1040389 Desert of many colors.

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Saturday, February 4, 2012

First day in a LONG time w no rain

 

By Paul

La Paz – Oruro  144 miles

     Well after riding around in circle’s the other day in La Paz for hours and hours trying to find our way out it was much easier today.  We found our way out of the city this morning with no problems.  The ride today was pretty nice.  We had just about no rain for the whole day.  Today we are on the most (major) highway in Bolivia. Hwy. 1.  Well lets say what we have seen from over our handle bars today. First there was lots and lots of dead dogs.  Then there were farmers cleaning off there sacks of carrots by walking on the sacks in the ditch water. Oh and then there was a full size bus coming at us with no windshield or windows at all.  The drivers were all bundled up.  It looked really funny.  And the last thing we saw that was interesting was a fuel truck with a blown out tire in the rear that was smoking heavily.  He was going slow as if he knew he had a blow out but didn’t really care.  We passed that truck in hurry. 

     Upon arriving in Oruro we ran across two others that were on Moto. tour.  They flagged us over to have a chat.  Rob was on a Tennere 660 and Joe was on a DR 650.  They were from New Zealand and have been on tour for 2 months.  They were getting a local Bolivian motorcycle enthusiast to go fill up there gas can so didn’t have to pay the 2.5 times more for the fuel. ( As foreigners here in Bolivia we have to pay a lot more for the fuel.  This is thanks to the bordering countries coming over to smuggle fuel back to their country.  So us on motos. are caught in the loop hole.  This really sucks for us.  Most gas station wont even give you gas at all.  It takes too much time just to find fuel here.  We don’t really care about paying the surcharge.  We just want GAS!!  Its one of the few things that we cant do without. Now we have learned to find our gas the night before so we don’t ride around all morning wasting our time getting on the road.)  After about 5 times to the gas station they refused to fill the gas can for him anymore.  They still did not have enough fuel in their tanks and would have to deal with it in the morning.  It is also illegal for them to fill gas into any kind of a can here in Bolivia.  Some will do it for you; but most will not.  We fill our gas bags out of our tank before we go fill up at the station.  Camille and I had dinner that night with Rob and Joe.  We were heading in the opposite directions so we looked at maps over dinner and exchanged some info.

Oruro-Potosi (13,300 ft.) 198 miles    

      Today we were riding at very high elevations once again.  Between 12,000 and 16,000 ft.  It rained on us just about all day long today.  Its amazing that it can be so so cold and still raining.  There was one long stretch when the rain turned to hail.  Pretty good size hail at that.  I would say about marble size and at this elevation there is Nothing.  Nowhere to get out of it and hide.  No trees,no buildings. Nothing!!  All you could really do is just keep riding, but at a much slower speed.  Then it got to the point that the hail accumulated on the road so much that vehicles were sliding off into the ditch.  Luckily Camille and I do have some experience riding on icy roads so we were OK.  Oh  and then there was the lightning storm.  Its not the best feeling when you see the lightning storm ahead and your heading right into it.  Again we are about the highest thing out here on the road.  I thought to myself “ At least we have rubber under us right”.  As you may be able to tell today was a long very cold day.  Yes we also needed gas today and we were in the middle of nowhere and the station would not budge at all and refused to give us anything.  Luckily  they told us of a house around the corner that was sell it out of jugs.  Good thing because Camilles shooting star would not have made it to Potosi.  Sorry no photos. from today.  Just wasn’t really in the mood.