Where are we?

Friday, March 23, 2012

Home for a Week

I am guessing that a lot of our regular followers have signed off. I understand, but it will take me a while to digest this trip and return to normal. Some of my closest friends say this was not my state when I left so I cannot return to it. I have lost all interest in these esoteric, academic and nit-picky arguments, but given that I raised it, I want to say a few things.

I think that we, here in the USA, are the ones that are out-of-touch with the normal. I am watching BBC news right now, and they arguing about how long the government can keep information on individuals in their files. Yawn!!!! Now I am watching Ma Jing in China talking about the domestic market being saturated and making case for entering the global market. Now I understand . No I don't. Life is much simpler than we make it.

What we did for two months in South America was rub elbows with the people. These people were very different from me in background, education, income, experiences, expectations, living conditions, and anything else you can add to the list. We in the United States of America are different. And let me add, we don't understand the rest of the world. We can't given our coddled environment.

I am not blaming anyone, not even my mother; I don't think you could expect to live the way we do and expect any real understanding of how the rest of the world lives. Let's leave it at that I am really glad to be home to enjoy a standard of living that I enjoy as a result of getting a good education and working hard, but more than any other reason is that I was born white in a family that expected me to go to college in the United States. I may sound like a Republican, but after this trip I am not.

I wish that we could send 300,000,000 people on a similar trip, just so they can appreciate what I am feeling after a week at home. I called Yamaha this morning and they say they cannot provide the motorcycles. Rest my case. I am not going to change everyone, so let's break out the wine and celebrate. We are the luckiest people on earth; let's not forget this simple fact. If I had been born at 14000 feet in Bolivia, I would be a different person. Primarily, I would have tougher feet.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

I Cannot Believe It Is Over!

But it isn't....The visual images & memories will last forever. As the trip progressed, Dave & I talked often about how do you convey the amount of visual memories, sounds, smells & interactions that 2 months & 7,416 miles of travel thru 4 unique countries provides. The answer is 'you can't'. We tried as best as we could with our blog, but the pictures & words don't do justice to the emotions & understandings that one gains by immersing yourself in other cultures.

We are thrilled & extremely pleased that so many of you followed the blog & joined in our adventure. Thank you.

It is also more than appropriate that we sincerely thank our wives who understood that this adventure was important to us & the compelling desire we had to explore this part of our world by motorcycle. We are both extremely grateful for their support.

Some of my favorite distant memories are the discussions around the campsite...(many of those with you who followed this blog). To have 2 months to share observations, thoughts, (solve a few world problems) with Dave & just plain enjoy each other's company just amplified the richness of the experience. We laughed often & on a few occasions...the chins quivered. It doesn't get better than that.

We look forward to compiling our images, video & thoughts into a coherent package for presentation to other fellow riders & any of you with interest.

I am not going to close with ANY thoughts or suggestions of OTHER trip ideas that MAY have come up. I don' t like violence!

Thank you all again for joining in our adventure.


Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Adios Juan,

Adios, Juan. Please send our bikes as soon as possible. Oh, just send them when you get around to it.

Claro cellular in South America sucks. My oil leak is in the same camp.

Juan Carlos has six bikes, waiting for seventh before he ships them north. When you take off from Santiago it is 6995 miles north to Seattle. That's over 7000 miles if you circle to the south. Jim and I did 7500 miles in four countries.

La vida es buena. Coge el anillo de oro.


Jim and I went to the Santiago airport last night, waited for a couple of hours, flew to Dallas, and connected to Seattle. We did it!!!!

We spent the last night in the Andes south east of Santiago, reluctant to get too close. We stayed at a family style cabana resort that suited us perfectly. The owner spoke good English, as he had retired from the Chilean navy and had spent some time at Bangor on submarines.

We asked about dinner and he said they were closed until the following weekend. We returned to our room and pretty soon his little Indian gal showed up with chicken sandwiches for dinner and hot water in a real Thermos for morning coffee. Surprise, the water was still piping hot this morning.

We departed for Santiago about 8:00 and Jim did a magnificent job of navigating through this town of 12000000. We got to Juan Carlos's warehouse about 10:00. The drop-off was too easy. Juan did a power of attorney, and made copies of a few other papers and then drove us to the airport. We were there at noon.

We then took a bus to Santiago for lunch. Three hours in this place was perfect. We finished lunch and went to the park to sleep. Surprising how many young kids we saw smoking. In fact, in affluent Chile, we saw way more tattoos, body piercing, obesity and smoking. Wow, the benefits of being rich.

It over, except for the memories. Jim and I both agreed it was a hard trip but one that exceeded all expectations. If you don't go down that dirt road that you don't know where it goes, then you will never discover what we did. Two months and we were tired, but we could have gone on for much longer. If you are young, do it now. Nothing like being an old guy wondering why you can fall asleep at 8 pm and not wake up until 7 the next morning.

Hope those of you that have followed our blog have shared in some of the fun we've had. I told Jim, I could not have gotten along with anyone as easily as I did with him. It was a lot of great conversation, experiences and the list goes on.

Thinking about the Balkans on rented machines with our wives on the back seat. Life is partly dreams.


As we left the coast to retry another venture back into the Andes, I spotted the ski resort of Portilla on the map. So off we headed for the mountains. I knew of Portilla as a place that international ski teams would go to practice in our northern hemisphere summer. This road is also a primary pass into Argentina. The climb was mild until we encountered 29 switch backs to arrive at the old hotel I had seen numerous times in ski magazine photos. The halls were lined with autographed pictures of the various ski teams going back many years including a signed picture of Jean Claude Killy, Lindsay Vonn & many others. We had a wonderful lunch, spent time on the internet making arrangements for our trip home in the ensuing days. This was a special day as had the opportunity to visit a place that I had heard so much for so many years.

Friday, March 9, 2012

A Truckers's Strike and a Parade

Just out of San Antonio we went through a small town that was unusually congested. First past the square where every truck in the department was parked. They were protesting something important. Apparently not totally popular with everyone because after I let one of the protesting truckers go in front of me a guy on the street flipped-him-off and yelled at him.

Onward to get us out of town. Not to be; we came to a parade of Mujeres that want clean water or something equally worthwhile. You know it is a good cause when they have "Indians" with their drums, chief and out-of-toon/time band supporting the march. We had no choice but to pull over as they came out of nowhere.

Riding toward San Felipe, we couldn't find any place to camp. Out of desperation we turned into the first motel we saw, the Tahiti Motel. Strange, they had a big steel security gate and a timbre. Jim buzzed and they let us in. He asked if they had a room with two beds and how much. No, all rooms have one bed and the crowd of young women gathered around Jim were excitedly asking him how many hours we wanted the room before they could give us a price. Finally, a young man (Jim says the pimp) came out and said we could have a room for the night for about 50 dollars. We parked our bikes in a little parking stall with its own gate so that no one could tell who was renting the room. Jim slept on the floor after a rousing jacuzzi in front of the mirrors and trying out all of the equipment. When we left in the morning we had to go out through two big electric gates. Scratch this experience off of my bucket list.

Lunch in Puerto San Antonio

This was worth the price of admission. Before turning inland, we decided to treat ourselves to a big seafood lunch in the port of San Antonio. As soon as we pulled off the highway the hawkers started calling. One guy clinched it when he gave us parking just outside of our window plus one or two parking attendants watching our bikes.

After the attendant said it was illegaal to park in an unmarked spot he offered her 1000 of our Chilean pesos. We found out later this also included her or another parking attendant standing there until we returned. Every time I looked out the window, the hawker was looking my way and gave me a thumbs up.

When we drove in we had noticed a very rough and steep crossing of the railroad tracks. We made it with a little pause, but the next guy didn't, and the train was coming. No problema.

California 100 Years Ago

After we fled the wet Andes, we headed for the coast. Lots of pine plantations, grape vineyards, seaside resorts, avocados, walnuts, tomatoes, salt ponds and seaports. Loved every mile of it, and my reaction is this must be what California was like a hundred years ago. Funky, inexpensive, no crowds, working people and winding roads. Today the coastal area is supported by tourism, timber and agriculture.

If you wonder where your sea salt comes from, we saw it. Amazing this brackish water produces such white salt.

The big fear of the forestry guys is arson. Signs everywhere telling us to not toss a match and to watch for arson. Even an arsonist's car. Big fire breaks and several significant burned areas.

Why do the farmers in Chile harvest so much more per acre than the farmers in California? Simple, they pick more fruit from each tree. Why? ELECTRICITY!!!! If you climb through this farmer's barbed wire fence you come to his 400 volt grass-cutter. If this doesn't stop you going in, try crawling under or through it with a sack of avocados.

Earning a living from the Ocean

We can say that all of the people we saw that earn their living from the ocean work harder than just about anyone I have ever seen.

There are the fishermen that run their big pangas out through the surf to net a few fish and then crash back through the surf before being dragged away by a tractor. We rushed to a few boats as they came in and the biggest haul we saw was about a five gallon bucket full. Pretty discouraging for three guys working a half day and running out a few miles with a 75 to 150 horsepower outboard. Do the math.

The other hard workers are the kelp harvesters. They gather kelp on the beach and drag it above high tide line. Then they dry for 8 days and sell. Jim found they sell for about 25 cents per kilo. Then it has to be transported. What does this guy get paid. Remember he has to feed his horse.

Camping on the Coast

Apparently we are late season campers. We had the campground to ourselves, except when a young couple came in and camped near us for about 2 hours.

An Era Gone Bye

Jim just looked at my photos and went, WOW!!!! We are camped in a monoculture, all planted in rows and we feel threatened by what genetics, forestry, and industry has done to us. God help us. I just continue to marvel at how smart all of the Sahara Club "professionals" must be to know how bad all of this forestry must be. God save San Francisco.

We have seen it all today. We passed an old hacienda that dates from the Spanish days. The workmanship was out of this world, but it has been abandoned. I went back and took photos, because I felt like I was seeing something that doesn't exist.

Imagine the Spanish taking over this country in the 1500s and everything seems to work. But in the 1700s the locals rebel and kill everyone. Well, not everyone, but a lot of people. I manage to keep my hacienda, my cattle and my loyal servants. Times are tough, and I don't mind saying so.

Now I have my cattle, but I can't take care of the roof. What the hell, everything is not perfect. Let's preserve half of the house.

Now we are camped on the coast. It is a perfect radiata pine experience. All of the trees in a row. Now look at what this produces. It scares me.