22 February 2012

Cormac McCarthy excerpts

''...an old man came forward and addressed him in a spanish he could scarcely understand, speaking with great earnestness into the boy's eyes and holding his saddle fore and aft so that the boy sat almost in his arms.  He was dressed in odd and garish fashion and his clothes were embroidered with signs that had about them the geometric look of instructions, perhaps a game.  He wore jewelry of jade and silver and his hair was long and blacker than his age would seem to warrant.  He told the boy that although he was huérfano still he must cease his wanderings and make for himself some place in the world because to wander in this way would become for him a passion and by this passion he would become estranged from men and so ultimately from himself.  He said the world could only be known as it existed in men's hearts.  For while it seemed a place which contained men it was in reality a place contained within them and therefore to know it one must look there and come to know these hearts and to do this one must live with men and not simply pass among them.  He said that while the huérfano might feel that he no longer belonged among men he must set the feeling aside for he contained within him a largeness of spirit which men could see and that men would wish to know him and that the world would need him even as he needed the world for they were one.  Lastly he said that while this itself was a good thing like all good things it was also a danger.''

and another one...

''Long voyages often lose themselves. You will see. The road has its own reasons and no two travelers will have the same understanding of those reasons.  If indeed they come to an understanding of them at all.  Listen to the corridos[stories] of the country.  They will tell you.  Then you will see in your own life what is the cost of things.  Perhaps it is true that nothing is hidden.  Yet many do not wish to see what lies before them in plain sight.  You will see.  The shape of the road is the road.  There is not some other road that wears that shape but only the one.  And every voyage begun upon it will be completed.''

-Cormac McCarthy, The Crossing

the darnedest thing... books make me think!

08 February 2012

Pure Patagonia

Location: San Carlos de Bariloche, Rio Negro, Argentina
Estimated distance ridden since Colombia: 16,000 km
different Argentine border crossings: 9
most extra fuel carried: 16 litres
midnight roadside carb cleanings: 1
culvert camping count: 2
Southern highway (Carretera Austral) towns that begin in C:  Caleta Tortel, Cochrane, Chile Chico, Coyhaique, Cisnes, Chaiten, etc etc

all you can eat (AYCE) lamb, chicken, and steak?  yes.  i threw in the towel after a wimpy 4 hours. definitely have not been riding a bicycle recently...

glacier perito moreno flows out of the southern ice fields.

it is massive, and the cross section shows how it has scooped up rock and folded back over itself over the ages.

when chunks fall off (called ''calving'') it makes a huge splash.

thanks to a lifetime of stupid gum ads, i felt an overwhelming desire to brush my teeth.  the other tourists were either jealous or disgusted, not sure which.  after reviewing this photo, i decided maybe i should stop storing my toothbrush in with the wrenches.

getting ready to carry fuel for the next 700km without functional gas stations...

the sky is always amazing along Ruta 40.

evening solo cruising in the loose gravel and washboard along Ruta 40

around 11pm, after dumping in the last of my reserve fuel, my carb blocked up and i cleaned it on the side of the road.  20kms later, i tucked into this culvert for the night.  i used the moto to deflect the wind.

the real reason people ride the famous Ruta 40 is to access the Andes, like this beautiful Ruta 41.

with some irrigation, the farmers make the earth green.

paso roballo, the argentina gendarmeria nacional.

this is the chilean side of the border.  about equally tranquilo

shadows sweep across the valley as i bump along to suzi's familiar hum.

the salty lakes have flamingoes.  i promise.


riding along the rio baker.  
pinochet sold the rivers themselves, so now a company is planning to make a massive hydropower project that involves running powerlines to the north of chile (for the mining region) in the longest continuous clearcut ever.  not to mention they will dam and flood one of the biggest, most beautiful rivers in patagonia. if you like fishing, or forest, or free flowing rivers, visit this site: Patagonia without Dams.  The Patagonian people are mixed on the project, but almost everyone in favor supports it because HidroAysen has offered them generous incentives to vacate their property or similar. 

I stashed the moto at Olga and Simon's farm for a few days to walk with Sylvie, the Belgian walking all the way to Punta Arenas.

halfway done at 1000km mark (mas o menos)

days of empty gravel road, mountains, and rain

the waterfalls were all going off full bore thanks to the rain.  nice to stop for a drink.

demonstrating proper use of cane poles for hiking.

Lada Niva sits by the Rio Baker.  many people live on the other side of the river and use rowboats to get back and forth.

classy digs for the night

if you want to go further, you'll have to take a boat.

reduzca velocidad (reduce speed)

my rain gear is no longer waterproof at all, so i adopted some plastic sheeting from the road crew

walking in the rain is nicer with a friend

then, all of a sudden there is a smashed Corona and the fjord pops into view

at the end of the road, there is a parking lot.  beyond that, a town accessible by 7km of boardwalks

beyond the boardwalks is the bleakest playground ever

about all i felt like doing after reaching the swingset at the end of the boardwalk at the end of the road was going inside for some cocoa.

tidal boat parking in Caleta Tortel

Berta makes great empanadas.  AND she gave me a sheepskin for the moto

Caleta Tortel, Chile

Olga and Simon's house is a great place to chill out and do some maintenance

The lakes' colors are dictated by their watersheds.  a minor divide makes a big difference!

more pastry in patagonia. this one is called a sopapailla.  dough fried in pure beef fat.  behind is lago general carrera.

thanks to my maintenance, the brake plate bracing arm came loose, locking my brakes until they shattered.  so i carry cookies, to ease the pain of such moments.

what is left of my brake shoes

dawn patrol near cerro castillo

this unimog looks like it is making a wisecrack out of its PTO hole

gauchos roam the backroads

steak, potatoes, onions and peppers on the fire.  not pictured is me passed out in a cow pie next to a bottle of Flor de Caña rum.

replacing loose hardware with whatever i could find.  luckily my brake shoes are the same as the indian-made HeroHonda 125.

crazy whitewater

owain makes use of the foliage

the plants here are massive!

like a true friend, i waited under owain and hannah's tarp while he fixed a puncture in the rain

apparently i had time to get creative and give suzi a nice floral arrangement.  just a further reminder not to take myself seriously

a delicious treat from the panificadora esquel, in Esquel, Argentina.  The sun came out the moment i crossed back into argentina.  gas got cheaper too.
I am stashing to moto for a few weeks to visit with my brother in the Buenos Aires area.  Catch you in March...