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September 17, 2021, 4:35 pm
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Day57-So Near Yet So Far!, Tue, Feb 22, 2011

2 border crossings, a ferry ride, 90 miles of dirt, gravel and sand

Start & Stop: Rio Gallegos, Argentina to Rio Grande, Tierra del Fuego

Mileage:  251 agonizing miles

Hotel: Hostel Antares, Echeverria 49, (9420) Rio Grande, Tierra del Fuego, Tel: 02964-420722

Fuel: $3.267 Argentine Peso /l liter ($0.82 USD/1 liter) or $3.09 per gal!

Currency Exchange: $1 USD = $4.02 Argentine Peso

Dean: Todays goal is Ushuaia – 320 miles.  At 50 MPH thats 7 hours.

Lisa: Well, I‘ve been telling Dean to stop being upset about his bike because it could just as easily been my bike that had the problem

I should have been quiet because today was my day.  In spades.

We got up at 5 and sorted things out, packing, tromping up and down the stairs of the hotel, back and forth to the parking lot and just doin’ the routine. We are heading for Ushuaia and “The End of the Road” so we want to be organized.

First thing arriving at my bike is the smell of gas. Ooookay, here we go. On closer inspection (remember it’s very dark out) my bike has puked several gallons of gas everywhere.  Sweet.  And yet we can’t find out how it happened.  This is just swell.

Dean: I checked all the tank fittings, hoses and could not find a leak source!

Lisa: I go about my business packing thinking it has to have just suffered the siphon effect when I parked yesterday with a fresh fuel cell overfull.  About this time Dean decides that he would like to start with a few mas Argentinean pesos and since we know where the bank is from searching it last night, we should just stop by there on the way out of town.  Simple and seems like a good idea.  Since Dean left his cash card at home by mistake, Sue has deposited money into my checking account and I am drawing money for him.  We got a few hundred dollars last night but he paid cash for the room so wanted to replenish.

Gearing up, I reached into my jacket pocket and – here we go – no cash card.  Seriously.  I am NOT in the mood.  I tore apart the bike, my gear, my ortlieb bag meticulously – nada.  Both of us made a trip back to the room to search and at this point it’s pretty clear:  I left the card in the machine the night before.  You have to be kidding me.   It’s now 6:45 and we should be on the road.  But nope, I gots to go track my card down, or try to.  After the credit card fiasco, the LAST thing I want to do is have to call Alan to cancel that too.

Soooo….instead of heading toward Ushuaia, I need to ride over to the bank to see what time they open.  I think I’ll just go back to bed and start over.  But instead, I gear up and throw a leg over, hitting the ignition as I do it.  Oh, so it’s going to be one of THOSE days….the bike won’t fire.  What.  The.  Heck.  I finally get it to engage but it’s running REALLY rough. I took off down the street but limped it back to the hotel, thinking we were going to have to tear into it.  I ran it for a while, nursing the idle back to life and rode another few blocks.  MAN, this thing is running like garbage but I do make it to the bank by 7:30.  The security guard informs me they open at 8 am (first good bit of news so far and I’ve been up for hours).

I went back to get Dean and we pulled up just as they opened. I went inside, praying that someone had turned in my card but the first suit I spoke to told me that I could come back at 3pm tomorrow.  Nope, you clearly do not know me.  A few suits later and I have El Jefe, who upon hearing that I am not complaining about their machina but, rather, telling them their customer (me) is an idiot, leaves the bank and goes next door.  He returned with a new set of keys from somewhere and disappears into the closet behind the cash machine.  He emerged about 7 minutes later clutching MY CARD!!!  I wanted to cry, I was so excited.  The first decent thing to happen in an already very long morning.

So I have successfully added about 2 hours to our day because I am clearly addled but finally Dean doesn’t think this is all his fault. The bike seems to have healed itself so we head south.

Dean: In sequence,

1.  ~60 miles we must cross do a border crossing at Monte Aymond (Argentina/Chile).  This was uneventful.  No trucks and only 3-4 cars.  And one red Kawasaki Vulcan.  We do not meet the rider (who we later learn is Herbert), we were both in different sequences of immigration and customs.  This takes ~25 minutes

We are first in line to board the ferry.

2.  Ride another 30 miles for the Straits of Magellan ferry crossing.  We came upon the long line of 15 trucks and ride to the front of the line.   Several gas tankers and other trucks all boarded before us.  Then half empty, the ramp closes leaving us wondering why they would depart half empty.  It seems that we arrived at the “hazardous load” ferry.  No touristas allowed.

Herbert Krein, Uruguay with his Kawasaki Vulcan

Riding the unpaved "locals" road to San Sabastion. Approx 90 miles of hard-pack dirt and a little loose gravel.

This is where my V-Stromopotamus died! It was a loose negative battery bolt.

But we do get to meet Herbert Krein from Uruguay on the Kawasaki Vulcan.  What we thought would be easy and quick turned into a 90 minute wait.

3.  Ride another 25 miles to Cerro Sombrero where the main road becomes unpaved … for ~90 miles!  We were told the main road is mess with loose gravel, repair, many trucks and autos.  Margaret mentioned the “locals” road, Y-257, west that parallels the main road to Onaisin then east to San Sebastion.  Not much traffic, road in better shape.  We decide to take the road less traveled.  We are not good unpaved road riders so we start conservative a 25 MPH learning the tracks and mounds of gravel.  For most part the “locals” road was in great shape and soon were riding 35-40 MPH.  This took approx 3+ hours.  And that road goes way out in the boonies!

Lisa: About 20 miles into this, waaay in the middle of nowhere, Dean slowed waaaay down and then stopped. As I pulled up to him, he took off again -it was pretty clear that he was having bike trouble. Less than a mile later, he was stopped again and very agitated – his bike was dead as a door nail. But I saw his headlight flicker as he played with the key so it occurred to me that he might have a broken battery terminal. We immediately pulled the seat and BOOM! his negative connection has come loose. 3 minutes and he was good to go. I love that! We took a few minutes to eat last night’s leftovers and enjoy scenery.

Dean: 4.  make s second border crossing (Chile/Argentina).  Again, only a couple cars and trucks parked out front.  Here Herbert catches up with us and we meet another couple riding 2-up, Heidi and Jorge on a Honda African Twin.  Our day turned social!  :)  Another 35 minutes at this crossing.

With the 2-hour loss finding Lisa debit card, the 90 minute ferry wait and 90 miles of unpaved road, we’ve run out of time and darkness approaches.  We decided to cut our day short of Ushuaia and look for a hotel in Rio Grande.  Herbert stays with us which we appreciate cause he speaks good Spanish. We had a great dinner with Herbert and talked till 11PM!

5.  We’ll continue ~135 miles to Ushuaia tomorrow!

22 comments to Day57-So Near Yet So Far!, Tue, Feb 22, 2011

  • V Twins

    Hard to believe it is five in the morning and I wake up thinking about Lisa and Dean. Are they ok? Did they make it? Congratulations on incredible patience! Ride on- we are watching!

  • Gary Buch

    Remind me never to ride anywhere with you two.

  • John H

    LL is becoming a diagnostic tech! Good call on the battery cable.

    The issue with LL’s bike made me think of another possibility for the problems with both bikes: do they still have the CA required vapor cannisters installed on them? This contraption is supposed to capture the fuel vapor from the fuel tank instead of letting it escape to the atmosphere, never mind that when they malfunction, much more vapor escapes to the atmosphere that would have otherwise (i.e. the puddle of fuel on the ground). On BMW GS’s at least, letting the bike take a nap or over filling the tank can flood the vapor capture cannister and make the bike run like crap, if it will run at all. One of the first mods to be done before venturing off pavement is to remove the vapor cannister and re-route the vacuum lines properly.

    I am sure some of the Stromtroopers can tell you step by step how to do this on the Wee if it gives you more trouble. If this unit is still in place on JC/NB’s bike, I would get rid of it ASAP.

    Keep persevering, y’all are going to make it!

  • I’m loving how you two just keep on keepin’ on –
    as they say, when the plan goes astray…..

  • H Marc Lewis

    Your “adventure” has captivated me for months, and right now looking out my office window at the snow-covered streets I can’t help but feel envy — even though the “until something goes wrong” part of Adventure seems to have kicked in with a vengeance.

    From Google Maps it appears that you are already about as far from L.A. as you’re going to get, so I’m already considering your trip a success. I can’t express how much joy and cheer you’ve given me this winter with your travels and blogging. Thank you from the bottom of my heart!

  • H Marc Lewis

    Ditto what John H said. My BMW would act just like your Wee-Strom did in Rio Gallegos if the charcoal canister got filled with fuel. It would start rough, and run rough for 10-15 minutes, then clear up completely. Plus removing the charcoal can gives you a nice lump of “empty space” where you can put something else (spare parts, for instance).

  • Steve H.

    Looks like they made it 2-23-2011 near 0745 PST! Woo Hooo! Congrats guys. Well done.

  • Diane Z

    What an adventure! I don’t return calls at our business when I arrive at the office, I read your Blog first-thanks for the thrills, can’t wait for the snow to melt so I can fire up my bike.

  • Brother Tom

    Contrats!!! Just checked SPOTS and it appears you have arrived in Ushuaia – well done. Tom

  • Jim Carroll

    Clapping Clapping Thumbs Up Clapping Thumbs Up Thumbs Up Clapping.

    Keep Going?!

  • CONGRATULATIONS!! Just saw you at Lapataia. What a wonderful feeling to see that sign, eh? Now its time to head for the barn!

  • Voni

    Wow! You know drama!
    But, almost there has to feel really good!
    Celebratiion time!

  • Nancy

    Congratulations! Looks like you’ve arrived! Like Bob and Sylvie, I wait each day to see what is going on with you guys! When I was on the road one day without internet access, I even called Jim Bain to find out what was going on! Thanks for sharing your adventure with us!

  • This whole thing has been exciting, educational and fun; for me. You were both so awesome to share the journey as you have. Big Hugs…ô¿~)

  • Van Freidin

    Next London to Vladivostok? Just a few boarder crossing…

  • Robert Van Dine

    Lisa, when you get to Ushuaia, there is a nice restaurant on the top of the hill(overlooking the city)…if interested ask a local inquiry, and they will know of it.Also, an interesting lore is that the original Indians who occupied Ushuaia, wore no clothes! Go figure!

  • John H

    Looks like y’all arrived and even went a little further.
    CONGRATULATIONS!!!

  • John C

    Happy to see you made the end of the road in Tierra
    del Fuego, and I hope you’re both able to return at a
    more leisurely pace as there is so much to enjoy in
    Chile and Argentina.

    Congratulations to you both on overcoming the many
    tribulations you encountered.

    Best,

    John

  • Puppychow

    Congratulations! I bet you are doing the happy dance! So are we! Can’t wait for the pictures of you two smiling from ear to ear! :)

  • Gary and Kitty

    Congradulations just one more item checked off the bucket list!

  • Lori

    Have you heard from Herbert Krein since his motor cycle
    Accident in Africa that left him in real bad shape?

    • Dean

      Lori, No! I was unaware he had an accident in Africa.
      I have attempted to email him but no response. Please let me know if you hear something.

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