Saturday, 31 January 2015

Closed Forecourt To Santiago To San Rafael

Closed Forecourt behind us and enough gas to go to a new country we felt lucky.

With heading into Chile we wanted to take 3 - 4 bottles of red wine with us however we met some other moto riders and completely forgot what we were doing…. age is a bastid when mixed with excitement.

Up and over the pass in Santiago, should be easy enough …, we arrived amidst a line of traffic 2 km long to the border, it took us four hours , 3 hours was just waiting on the road, ridiculous.

P1220765 by twomotokiwis, on Flickr

The lineup moved s l o w e l y lucky we where on a dowhill so I did not need to start Maya up every time the line moved 10 meters, pictured here I rapidly and dangerously accelerated to about 3 km/hr

P1220763 by twomotokiwis, on Flickr

Finally through the border we had developed an “issue”, Maya had started to clatter and it did not sound nice, we continued on to Santiago with my diagnostic head trying to work it out, all symptoms pointing to a dead hydraulic cam tensioner.

The Zig Zag down on the Chilean side

P1220770 by twomotokiwis, on Flickr

Santiago was our fixit place as we were heading to the KTM dealer so as luck would have it we were in the right place to sort it, how often does stuff shit itself on the way to the dealer …. WOH HOH

New Front and rear tires to take, new hydraulic cam tensioner for the rear cylinder, new inner cables made for the throttle and we are as flash as Michael Jackson.

So yes, in 80000km our unreliable KTM has now had 1 new stator, 1 new water pump and now one new hydraulic tensioner ….not bad at all I say.

We also had the pleasure of meeting Radim and Lauren, travellers out of the US and Kiwis Charlie and Janet.

A great meeting and catchup with Radim and Lauren and a coffee shop in a supermarket we ended up staying for dinner then they kicked us out at closing time then we gas bagged in the carpark for another hour … travel and KTMs … good times.

P1220825 by twomotokiwis, on Flickr

Next was Charlie and Janet who fluently understood everything we said cos they are Kiwis, it was a nice feeling.

The afternoon started with a coffee (patten forming here) and we decided to go out for a local pizza, they said one big one was good enough for 5 people, we didn’t believe them but decided to ordr on only to star .. just as well we did, it was about 600 mm round!!!!! holey moley…good times.

P1220837 by twomotokiwis, on Flickr

Our stay (thanks to Jaime) was excellent and became full on, we tried to catch up with the local lads too and simply ran outa time ….CHECOSO when we come back mate we can have a “kick TMK outa the country” party, our final place before heading back to reality.

The view from Jaimes apartment

IMG_5910 by twomotokiwis, on Flickr

And at night

IMG_5923 by twomotokiwis, on Flickr

The fixits were sorted with new throttle inner cables being made, I installed our new tensioner, cleaned our prefilters and reoiled them and got some new tires, this time a Heidenau rear and Pirelli MT 21 front for the rippio and mud south, Maya now as sorted as she can be for the assault south.

In a form of good luck with leaving the wine behind I found some Flore de Caná rum which was a real surprise, coupled with that we got some Ginger Ale so yet again the stars aligned for some nice grog drinking.

While at the KTM dealership I also spotted the new 690 Enduro, Mayas little brother .... although the little brother is tall....I like

P1220775 by twomotokiwis, on Flickr

Anyone going in there be careful cos there is a patch of kiwislobber underneath the 690

P1220778 by twomotokiwis, on Flickr

Erick the store manager and I, very nice guy and helped us get everything sorted, Erick also speaks very good engilsh so that took the difficulty out or getting stuff sorted.

Thanks Erick, we appreciate the help you gave us in getting sorted , for any travellers this shop is pretty well stocked with all sorts so for getting something KTM done and bought this is the place to be.

P1220773 by twomotokiwis, on Flickr

Getting everything sorted out we hit it back to our friends in Argentina to Finca Rita in San Rafael, a few days to do some volunteer work while Clint and Rosie come from New Zealand beginning of February.

A chance to help John and Annette and me to work hard at my next years winter stores gained in Brasil, nothing like good hard work to strengthen that inner core which is seriously needed and reduce those handles.

One one thing when you are on the road for a while is keeping an eye on your bod and making sure you do exercise or it starts to bulge in the wrong places, not good when the verandah covers the tool shed.

Plum harvest has just started so putting them out on the drying rack was the beginning.....San Rafael up next

Saturday, 24 January 2015

The El Leoncito National Park

Finally leaving the nice place we carried on to the national park for star gazing, interestingly they have great facilities there including a sheltered camping ground, toilets, hot showers, wifi, table and chairs and a large asado cooking area ….. all free!!??.

IMG_5836 by twomotokiwis, on Flickr

They have observatories there which you can pay to see the stars so the money from that helps fund the project.

IMG_5860 by twomotokiwis, on Flickr

We didn’t go to the telescopes as the weather packed it in and was blowing like hell with lightning again, they normally boast 300 + nights still and calm but not this year.

IMG_5841 by twomotokiwis, on Flickr

Talking a walk up to the massive cascade (not piss take) was relaxing, the water was freezing cold.

IMG_5811 by twomotokiwis, on Flickr

Some more old ruins

IMG_5824 by twomotokiwis, on Flickr

The following morning we woke in Antarctica, WTF …. it was COLD, the previous day shirt off at 35 plus degrees.

With fickled weather we continued to pull the tent and get organised, no sooner we got it nearly all packed down the rain came and swiftly in the desert … again.

Our mision for the day was get to Santiago, 360 km plus one border crossing, easy.

Nup, arriving at the gas station the woman was saying we have no gas, the guy at the pump asked us “just the bike”? … yes, he said quick come in, so he filled us up which was cool so there was a little left, the cones went up behind us and the station forecourt closed.

Hualilan To Barreal

Having set the good mood by the rangers we headed to San Juan to pick up some stuff left there by our travel buddy Gail, onya mate really appreciated the delivery.

Not wanting to stay in the big city we took a shortcut road, only 10 km into it we discovered the road was closed for reconstruction so no go, we then attempted to take another road which was boney as hell, we let the tires down to help but it was loose and deep then boney and rocky, Mrs.G then said turn right.

Hmmmm, looking up the turn right it was apparent nothing had been up there for quite some time and the rain had destroyed the road turning into a rock climbing fest for a suitable rock crawler 4x4, not two up on an adventure bike, admitting defeat we turned around and took another back road, although it had also been hammered by the rains it was passable so we were on a win.

Backing tracking a bit up the main drag we turned off into a sweet wee valley and stinking hot again again with the temp gauge bumping 45 degrees.

Occasionally we would get a smooth section in the middle of nowhere

P1220699 by twomotokiwis, on Flickr

More different layers changing colour with the sun

IMG_5763 by twomotokiwis, on Flickr

This time the road was in less than ideal shape but was still a road and mostly tar sealed, an uneventful ride saw us get into Barreal so we decided to stop there, finding accommodation with a shower was preferable.

It was proving to be difficult with all the pousadas closed for siesta (seriously) then we met a young couple in the tourist center, they heard us wanting to find somewhere to stay and told us where they were staying….wifi, parking, quiet, price +/- ok ….and a swimming pool, sold to the Kiwis!!!

Getting set up we through the togs on and B lined it to the pool …. with no camera … ya shitting me, the scenery was quite good.

Guys you will just have to imagine nice bulbous boobies, sorry for not taking the camera although Ellen did have the tab and managed to snipe off one shot of some hot product, yes a KTM coloured chair.

pool by twomotokiwis, on Flickr

It was so nice a place so we decided to stay one more night, wine, views as asado, boobies … life was good.

A slight contrast from the night before

IMG_5706 by twomotokiwis, on Flickr

The groovy hostel

IMG_5707 by twomotokiwis, on Flickr

Great view

IMG_5769 by twomotokiwis, on Flickr

Monica our local asado chef extraordinaire

IMG_5783 by twomotokiwis, on Flickr

Maya had undercover parking this time, bit tight but we managed to wedge her in

IMG_5767 by twomotokiwis, on Flickr

Awful place

IMG_5771 by twomotokiwis, on Flickr

We did do some exploring again which was cool, gravity was lite on the moon

IMG_5757 by twomotokiwis, on Flickr

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IMG_5758 by twomotokiwis, on Flickr

Next, up to the observatory at the national park

Rodeo To Hualilan

Starting our normal day the mission was to see Paso Agua Negra, getting to the gas station was our first surprise of the day, no gas!! ouwh no.

We were directed to another station that had some so we were lucky enough to fill up, we also learnt the next town did not have it either so we were going so we had to do about 530 km without refilling,...ok we filled the supertanker full with 39 liters.

Grateful for getting gas and Maya with a full belly we hit it to Las Flores then on and up to Aqua Negra for the day.

P1220589 by twomotokiwis, on Flickr

Beautiful is the only way to describe this place again with mineral poring out of the ground making an array of colors.

IMG_5443 by twomotokiwis, on Flickr

At the top, 4780 meters is was a little cold and our lunch spot, I even resorted to putting on my beanie cos my ears got cold.

P1220586 by twomotokiwis, on Flickr

Heading back down we took in the sights, a well earned reward for the trip up.

IMG_5457 by twomotokiwis, on Flickr

The ice formations at the top are called Penitentes and you can read about em here

IMG_5423 by twomotokiwis, on Flickr

IMG_5425 by twomotokiwis, on Flickr

Wicked cool clean colours

P1220570 by twomotokiwis, on Flickr

Arriving back down at Las Flores we checked out some accommodation as the weather was looking ominous, again it would mean selling Maya as they were wanting Chilean prices so we opted to travel on given we had time up our sleeve and search for a more economical place to stay away from the border town.

We found a camp ground, the owner was nice as were the 6 - 7 dogs running around, I was keen on a good nights sleep and didn’t see this happening there as there were asados and parties going on as well as chickens and 6 - 7 dogs.

I didn’t have a fluffy feeling about the place so I pulled rank and we continued on our merry way, only a few km up the road the weather was darkening again, that's ok cos it was bloody hot, only a few more km along the temperature dropped, I started feeling cold and it was an airy feeling coming across.

The temperature dropped from close to forty then down to below 20, then it felt even colder, I thought I was having an attack or something bad, the clouds were black, it started to rain, slowing down from poor visibility we slowly climbed from 1900 - 2600 meters and into the abyss.

By this time I was starting to shiver, closing all vents etc, cresting a rise it then became apparent we had just ridden into the edge of a hailstorm with the hills and road white from hailstones.

P1220599 by twomotokiwis, on Flickr

P1220597 by twomotokiwis, on Flickr

Our temp gauge reading about 4 degrees, 10 minutes earlier nearly 40 degrees … no wonder I felt weird.

By this time I am starting to doubt my judgement of where we should have stopped for the night, the next town a long way off so we were both looking for a camping place to stay.

With the weather still swirling around and looking like having another crack at us we rode on, in my mind I thought at least we could carry on into the evening if we needed to and we were on tarseal so could hightail it if needed.

Cresting the pass and making our way back down to about 2000 meters we were on the edge of the crap so it was looking better, our moto gods deciding we needed some help came to the party.

We arrived at Hualilan, you won’t find it on the map as it is an abandoned old mine.

We pulled in and rode the 400 odd meters to the ruins, 4 - 5 creek crossings I was weary of on entry, although dry showed signs of scaring from rain.

There was one building, a single room with a door opening but no door, a window opening but no window…..and a roof!! WOH HOH

Check out the new digs bro

IMG_5462 by twomotokiwis, on Flickr

Checking the place out we decided we had been handed the winning lotto ticket for the night and set camp inside to escape the weather.

Come on in to the lounge, bedroom, kitchen, laundry and en-suite

IMG_5474 by twomotokiwis, on Flickr

The view from the kitchen window to the non undercover parking

IMG_5471 by twomotokiwis, on Flickr

As soon as we set up and got organized the sun came out as if the weather makers said “ok you win”, what a feeling with a jet signing off on the clear sky

IMG_5561 by twomotokiwis, on Flickr

Our chosen stop then handed us some rewards, a few photos and a neat place to explore.

IMG_5534 by twomotokiwis, on Flickr

Hualilan - Maya by twomotokiwis, on Flickr

Mayas parking spot for the night, outa sight outa mind ...don't look down

IMG_5520 by twomotokiwis, on Flickr

Even a small cactus flower was out making it feel good

IMG_5685 by twomotokiwis, on Flickr

Venturing out the back I discovered the rabbits had a series of underground tunnels which were trying to swallow Maya

IMG_5480 by twomotokiwis, on Flickr

Upon night fall it was clear we had chosen wisely, all around us the sky was alive with lightening and rain, the weather starting to encroach on our piece of paradise, camping by candle light

IMG_5582 by twomotokiwis, on Flickr

Bed time was an appreciative dry space to store gear and have our tent, water was in short supply by this time so we put our pots out to collect some rain water, that turned out to be a big enough deterrent to stop the rain…. ... can't win sometimes

As we lay in bed the angry sky lights lighting up our room like a floodlight it was a little hard to get to sleep, coupled of course with the occasional LOUD bang and claps from close lightening strikes.

Finally the morning arrived, safe and dry our pots had been blown away by the wind and we were void of any water, it was 120 km to the next town so no biggy, we had a mouth full of water each.

While packing up Maya the park rangers turned up with “what are you doing here faces”, a bit of spinglish, smiles and chats and they were soon on our side realizing we were there as friends and not doing any harm, I explained we took shelter from the storms and the discussion ensued as to the angryness of the storms.

We must have looked poor and hungry as the head lady told the young girl to go to the car, she did and came back with some Churros kinda thingies and gave them to us for breakfast, some more chats, hand shakes etc they were on their way and us again being grateful for being handed breakfast from out of the blue.

Interesting how one event leads to another and good comes from it all.