Gasolina No Hay

To Perito Moreno

“Gasolina no hay. Este tarde.”

“Cuantas horas?”

“Algun horas. No se. Este tarde.”

“Donde hay? Cuantos kilometros?”

“Ciento trente.”

I’ve just eaten a wonderful tarta frita (sopapilla) and had a nice hot cup of cafe con leche at a gas station with no gas. We’ve travelled 140 miles on the current tank, and have 81 miles to go before a station that, allegedly, will have gas. It //should// be fine…

….

It was, more or less. We ran out of main fifty miles out, and I slowed to 50 mph to conserve.

Any day out of the ground

25 February, 2018 – El Calafate to Gobernador Gregores via motorcycle, 331 km / 206 miles, 45 in gravel – 2-minute read

I had a coworker who used to say, when asked how he was, “At my age, any day out of the ground is a good day.” Today I dumped the bike, but we didn’t get hurt; it was a good day.

We had planned on traveling to Perito Moreno town today; instead we covered half that distance. The road wasn’t just dirt, which I expected, but was deep gravel – gravel piled in furrows, sometimes 8 inches deep, gravel so loose that pushing the bike across it was difficult, much less riding. And with occasional cross winds gusting at 40 mph, I’m grateful to have only dumped the bike once.

I felt good about today till a few minutes ago, when a Google streetview image showed gravel further up our route. Now I’m trying to figure out whether the road has been paved since, and what I can do to avoid another day like today.

Glacier

25 February, 2018 – El Calafate to Perito Moreno Glacier and backvia motorcycle, 152 km / 95 miles – 0-minute read

I hadn’t planned on posting today, it being Sunday… but we drove to see this today:

Not so easy…

24 February, 2018 – Rio Gallegos to El Calafate via motorcycle, 305 km / 190 miles – 3-minute read

Well, the day wasn’t quite as expected. But perhaps it should have been – expected, that is. I should have expected the wind.

In Ushuaia we saw a t-shirt with a road sign of a palm tree blowing sideways, like in a gale force wind. We laughed, thinking that most of our windy days were behind us. I expected the wind to abate as we headed to the mountains. But under the sign was a town name: El Calafate. In the mountains. Where we were headed today.

And it was windy, windier than we’ve experienced since north of Cordoba. Windy enough that I rode the side of the bike, keeping it at a crazy angle on the road to keep straight.

But, at the end, it was also beautiful. We came across a ridge to see a green, glacier-fed lake spread before the snowy peaks – we’ve arrived in the Patagonia mountains. And tomorrow, I hope, we’ll be seeing a glacier, too.

Saturday morning

Coffee and steak and the prospect of an easy day and a glacier — these make for a good morning. Today we plan to drive just to Calafate, where I expect to get in by 3 p.m., and then drive on to Perito Moreno glacier. Today is going to be a good day. It already is.

North

23 February, 2018 – Ushuaia to Rio Gallegos via motorcycle, 580 km / 360 miles, plus two border crossings and a ferry ride – 1-minute read

I’m pushing myself to extra caution this morning, reminding myself to go slowly, double check every move. I’m elated – and I know now would be the easiest time for a careless accident. After perceiving victory is the time to avoid a true defeat. Sun tzu? I don’t know where it came from. But I’ll use it today.

That was this morning; I’m happy to say that today was without accident. We traveled all the way back to Rio Gallegos, where were greeted and embraced by Victor, the apartment renter cum friend. It was like coming home.

Today was amazing; I felt light, with the weight of my 2.5 year journey at rest. Today was just a ride. If something happens and we have to haul the bike, it’s okay; leave it, heartbreaking, but okay, too. I can let this demon – the panamerican -rest.

Beyond the End of the World

I have some big decisions coming up over the next few months, but for today, I’m glad to be taking a break from traveling. We were lucky enough to book a Piratour penguin watching trip, the only one in Ushuaia that allows you to walk on the island with the birds. Well worth spending an extra day in town, and the $160 each for the afternoon – where else could I walk within a few feet of a thousand laughing penguins?

And tomorrow we plan to ride all the way back to Rio Gallegos, 8 hours of riding, two border crossings and a ferry ride. But if we can make it, then the day after we’ll get to visit the Perito Moreno glacier outside of El Calafate; the journey continues. And so I must sleep now.

The End of the World

We made it. We made it. We made it. Somehow I don’t feel the reality of it. We had to go back to the sign twice; the first time we forgot to get a picture of us together. The second time at the “end of the road” sign felt more real, yet… the trip isn’t over yet. But now we’ll be heading north.

In the morning we road through the last of the Tierra del Fuego road, up into the mountains with excitement building. At the signposts entering Ushuaia we stopped for a victory moment, then realized we still weren’t quite through.

Later, in the park, we visited the last post office, a tiny shop run by an aging old man who was carefully sweeping the floors when I entered. Out of the wind, the small stove warmed the wooden building, which jutted out over the bay. A placard inside with the distance to Alaska and a motorcycle silhouette seemed to perfect, and is now one of the few souvenirs of our PanAmerican Highway journey.

On the way back we stopped at a lake, looking out and eating a small picnic, our celebration. The past three years have been focused on this trip, and now, except for a small ride back up to Santiago for us to fly out, the trip is done.

Three years; in a way, almost six years have been focused on this, ever since my friend planted the seed of this crazy adventure. I’m grateful, and a little apprehensive. What’s next?

Last night

20 February, 2018 – Rio Gallegos to Rio Grande via motorcycle, 376 km / 234 miles, two border crossings and a ferry ride – 3-minute read

I can’t believe we’re in Tierra del Fuego. Some part of me felt like I’d never finish this crazy trip, like maybe it wasn’t worth it, or that something would come up to prevent it. Of course, I’m not in Ushuaia yet.

We made good time today, considering we crossed two borders, the Strait of Magellan (via Ferry), and about 30 miles of unpaved road. Our time was definitely helped by the fact that we didn’t stop for lunch, due solely to the fact that there was nowhere to stop for lunch.

At the first border we met a Brazilian woman traveling solo on a Yamaha Tenere, a bike just a little smaller than mine. Impressive. She and we met up a few other places throughout the day: at a fuel station, the ferry, and, through chance, at the diner where we had dinner. We could communicate little in the overlap of our Spanish, but it’s great to talk to someone on the same leg of a pilgrimage.

The newly-washed air filter is functioning beautifully, and I was back up to 13 miles per liter on today’s second tank of gas. (Miles per liter is an economy measurement specific to those traveling with American analog bikes in foreign countries, I suspect.) And I had some company installing the filter this morning; the owner of last night’s “apart-hotel” came out to chat.

Victor is a deeply genuine man, older, living in Rio Grande. The wifi password to our internet last night was his granddaughter’s name and birthday, and his eyes gleamed brightly as he told me. This morning, saying goodbye, was tearing, somehow, the way it is when you find someone who really cares about you, just because you’re human. He told us unequivocally to call him if we had any trouble here, and he would drive his pickup out to find us.

And that’s it for today. I’m in a comfortable hotel room this evening, looking forward to a short 160 miles tomorrow to arrive at Ushuaia, southernmost city in the world.